The weekend's winners and losers
Todd Pletcher (Winner): He always has an arsenal of 3-year-old talent, but this group, for quantity and quality, is outrageous. Pletcher defeated 2-year-old champion Hansen in the Holy Bull Sunday at Gulfstream with Algorithms, who looks like a very nice horse. Three races earlier he won a two-turn allowance test at Gulfstream with El Padrino. Oh, and he also won the Forward Gal for fillies with Broadway's Alibi, who won by 16 ¾ lengths. Might she also be a Kentucky Derby contender? Next up: Discreet Dancer, maybe in the Fountain of Youth.The Meadowlands (Winner): Under new operator Jeff Gural, the Meadowlands handled $3,089,435 Saturday night. It was the first time the Big M topped the $3 million mark this year. And there wasn't a single night in January 2011 when it reached $3 million. Gural also won his battle with controversial trainer Lou Pena, who threw in the towel and dropped his court fight over his being banned at the track. Gural, who is trying to revive harness racing at a track that has slipped considerably, is off to a good start. Michael Beychok (Winner): Beychock collected $1 million when he won the National Handicapping Championship. Yes, he was good, but how about this guy's luck? He won the contest when Glorious Dancer won Saturday's last at Golden Gate by a nose. That put him in front by one whopping dollar. The NHC (Winner): The NTRA threw a lot of resources into this year's National Handicapping Championship and created something bigger and better than ever by offering the winner a $1 million prize. It worked fabulously and proved that handicapping contests are a rare growth area in this sport. The next obvious step is to emulate the poker tournaments and get on television. Hansen (Loser): OK, so he stumbled at the start of the Holy Bull, but he recovered and was allowed to open up by 4 ½ lengths, and the fractions weren't crazy fast. Algorithms blew right past him, leaving no doubt who the better horse was. He'll have to improve off that performance to remain among the elite in the division. Juan Carlos Guerrero (Loser): The trainer's Bahama Bound was a distant third in Saturday's Affectionately at Aqueduct, continuing a frustrating 2012 for the conditioner. He was booted at Parx Racing and can't seem to win anywhere else. He's 0 for 12 on the year. Since 2009, he's 278 for 819 at Philly/Parx (34%) and 18 for 120 (15%) everywhere else. Jamie Ness (Winner): On Friday through Sunday, the trainer went 11 for 21, including a 5 for 11 run at Tampa. He's 33 for 72 at the Tampa meet, good for an insane 46-percent winners. The Sunshine Millions (Winner): I have hated this concept from the start, but must admit that this year's Florida-only competition at Gulfstream was quite good. In Musical Romance and Awesome Feather, they had two champions on the card, and Mucho Macho Man, the winner of the Classic, was a marquee 3-year-old last year. They bet $13.9 million on the card (up a bit from last year), proof once again that the bettors will respond when offered quality racing. It's time now for Awesome Feather to step up and go for a race like the Apple Blossom. Rachel Alexandra (Winner): Her brief stay in an equine clinic turned out to be no big deal and mother and son are doing fine. How about this boy and Zenyatta's foal meeting on the racetrack? Say in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Bill Finley is an award-winning racing writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today and Sports Illustrated. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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