Friday, November 4, 2011
Cup runneth over
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- We're back at the Breeders' Cup again, an event that can be a big payday if you're a "money rider" with lots of mounts.
Last year, we had Blame and a couple like Pluck and More Than Real, horses that were coming off wins and were shorter prices in the wagering. This year, we were able to end up in 11 of the Breeders' Cup races. These runners are a little bit higher up in the odds, but it doesn't mean their chances are any different to me. I still think my horses have a good shot.
We did a lot of traveling to try to get on these horses after Del Mar ended. It felt as if I was on an airplane every weekend. We went to Keeneland. It was supposed to be four days, but four turned into six, six turned into eight and eight turned into 10. Back and forth, here and there, we were able to hustle and pick up some good mounts.
One of the horses that isn't here, Blind Luck, was a big mount for me this year. She's in the November Sale at Keeneland, and it's a little disappointing, because you never want to see a horse not run to its top performance. In every other race she always showed up, and I wish she could have come here. She could have run in the Ladies' Classic, so it wouldn't have been as if the rivalry between her and Havre de Grace would have continued since Havre de Grace is going to the Classic. Blind Luck could have won the Ladies' Classic, but I'm in there on a horse that I think has a really good shot, so life goes on.
I ride a horse named Sweet Cat in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. I didn't ride her last time out at Keeneland in the Jessamine Stakes, but I was right on her hip turning for home, and I thought she ran a quality race. She was in the middle of the whole fray the whole time, and the ground was soft like it should be today after Thursday night's rain. She's owned by a new group, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and any time you start a new partnership, it's good for the game. We need to get more people involved in the sport, and to go out and spend some money on being involved with horses is a lot of fun. It's good to have these people supporting racing and nice to see them hit the big-time with their first major horse.
My horse Shotgun Gulch in the Filly & Mare Sprint has her work cut out for her. That's a race with horses like Turbulent Descent and Switch. She tries hard, but she didn't run too well here in the spring. Our saving grace could be that the track is a little different in the fall. It's a little deeper, not like Derby time when it's a little tighter with a little more bounce in the track. I think that will help her, and she just keeps coming, so hopefully she'll run better than she did last time.
Cambina, the one I ride in the Filly & Mare Turf, has a lot of European form. She came over here and did well this year, and I won three stakes races on her -- including the Grade 1 American Oaks. She's a little bitty thing, like a deer. Hopefully she'll run good.
In the Ladies' Classic, I'm on Miss Match. If you look at her races and a couple of the names she's been running against -- such as last time out in the Goodwood Stakes when she was fourth to Game on Dude, Awesome Gem and Coil -- you're inclined to give her a pass for not winning. The start before the Goodwood, she was in a race where First Dude, Game On Dude and Twirling Candy were the top three finishers -- the Hollywood Gold Cup. In the Vanity Handicap, she ran third behind Blind Luck and Switch, but going back to this March at Santa Anita she actually beat Switch in the Santa Margarita Stakes, a Grade 1 that she took by a head. She's running against really quality horses.
This filly runs and she just tries. She's got a bad left eye and she wears a bubble on it, so she kind of leans in a little bit when she runs, but she always gives me a good effort. I've ridden her four times and won two on her.
Saturday will be different for me without being on one of the top contenders in the Classic, but I think I'm coming in under the radar with a horse that has a lot more upside than people realize. I'll tell you more about that on Saturday. It's going to be a great weekend of racing.