It was not a good day to be a horse out of my Equibase virtual stable this weekend. Absolutely none of my horses won this weekend, and of those, all but one was a favorite. I guess this serves as a reminder of two things: one, why I shouldn't be a bettor, and two, horses don't run on paper.
What was so shocking was how badly some of these all-star horses were beaten. As for Music Note's dismal performance in the Ogden Phipps, finishing a career-worst fifth place, there really was no rally, which I don't ever remember seeing from this filly. My first thought was I hope she wasn't injured, because a flat performance is a far cry from this game horse's usual self.
And then the Stephen Foster! I was screaming my head off once again for Einstein, but this time in vain, as not only did the big horse stumble at the start, he was boxed in for most of the race, kept having holes shut on him, and was too big to thread through them when they did open. He made a big rally when he was able to bully is way through a hole at the last possible moment, but it was too late in the last furlong of the stretch, and he finished third--THIRD--behind (of all horses) Macho Again and Asiatic Boy. Now, I've liked Macho Again in the past, but this horse is very inconsistent and, in my book, is not Grade I material. I wish it'd been at least a better credentialed horse to beat Einstein if it had to happen. I don't think the best horse won in this race, however, as Einstein was just the victim of a terrible trip. I don't have any blame for Julien Leparoux, as he did everything he possibly could to keep the big horse out of trouble and put him in the positions he needed to be in.
And then there was the Californian, with my two boys, Rail Trip and Mr. Napper Tandy entered to run. Once he had Ball Four put away, I thought at least Rail Trip would be back in the winner's circle, but the longshot Informed snatched away the lead in the final strides and dashed those thoughts. At least he stayed for second money. Meanwhile, my poor Mr. Napper Tandy must've been kaput from his huge effort in the San Franciscan, and finished next to last. I still love you, boy!
And then today's race with Indian Blessing was a complete shocker. Of all horses to turn in a limp handshake of a performance, I didn't think it would be her. In her first start since running second in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, Indian Blessing finished fourth behind a field that normally wouldn't dare to lick her heels. The ungraded Desert Stormer Stakes was Indian Blessing's first race at Hollywood Park, and her trainer, Bob Baffert, quipped immediately after the race that it would be her last. This should put into focus how hard it is to come back from the long trip to Dubai and put in such a hard performance. Curlin came back in virtually the same amount of time last year when he won the Dubai World Cup and then won the Stephen Foster. Each year, I think I will gain a greater respect for that amazing champion.
Probably the most thrilling race of the weekend had to be Miss Isella's harrowing surge to victory under Calvin Borel in the Grade II Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs. In a patented rail-hugging ride, Borel guided Miss Isella alongside one of the leaders, Distinctive Dixie with Jesus Castanon aboard. Isella was well beside him when Castanon tried to shut Borel out, throwing Miss Isella into the rail. In a feat of sheer bravery and athleticism, Miss Isella didn't let the scare intimidate her and shot out of that tight spot to then dogfight with Swift Temper before eventually taking the Fleur de Lis by 3/4 of a length. (Oh yeah, this was a race that I was sure Santa Teresita would stroll home in, I should mention.) Count Isella the newest member of my barn, but after this weekend's luck, that could be curse in desguise.
In a twist of irony, one of the horses I kicked out of my barn this year turned in the performance of a lifetime when denying Kip Devile his comeback in the Grade III Poker Stakes. Sailor's Cap came back after a 6 1/2-month layoff to draw away from the rest of the field. Favorite Kip Devile finished (what else?) a dismal fourth, having no excuses while being the clear early leader. Unfortunately for Kip, I doubt this bad luck is a product of being a horse I favored. In his last start, the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, Kip finished tenth place after a year steadily declining in performance. Dare I say it's time to either give this guy a long break, or consider retirement?
If I don't turn in the Bemont Part III blog tomorrow, I give you all persmission to hunt me down and hog-tie me to my computer so that I may do so. That's another way of saying I shall not fail you this time.