Starter positioning, "magic" jockeys, and Arc trials
by DICK POWELL
There is, after all, life after Saratoga and Del Mar, and the European racing season on the flat is heading for its conclusion. The Breeders' Cup is only eight weeks from this coming weekend, so things are happening fast since there won't be any major races inside of four weeks out from it.
If you paid attention at Saratoga on a daily basis, it served as a great scouting mission for subsequent racing. At least when you look at the past performances of a horse that made their last few starts at the Spa, you should have a strong context to place them in.
We had a huge day of betting Belmont Park on Saturday and hope you are buying the Daily Selections on the BRIS web site. The object lesson is, win or lose, pay attention to the whole race. Win or lose, watch the replay one more time and don't just watch the horse that you bet on. It might pay dividends down the road.
One major pet peeve I have happened at Belmont Park on Sunday. I was having a conversation last week with someone in the industry and told them that if it was up to me, I would fire every track starter that insists on not using the starter stand and chooses to stand on the ground. It drives me nuts as there is no way you can see the outside horses as well as the inside ones and the starter stand is just as close to your assistants to communicate with them.
Sure enough, in Belmont's fifth race, FROSTYJCHARDONAY acted up in the gate and Angel Arroyo had to get off. Just as he did, the field was sent on their way with the Frostyjchardonay leaving without a rider which resulted in him being declared a non-starter. Don't know, or care, who was to blame, but if I ran a racetrack, which I don't, the starter would have been up in the stand and not on the ground.
There is a rider in Hong Kong named Joao Moreira and he is known as the "Magic Man." It is not an exaggeration since the native of Brazil often times defies odds and his prowess produced improbable results. Moreira is so good, computer players, which Hong Kong has many, have to make his presence in the saddle a data point since he moves horses up and when he gets off, they move back down.
On a lesser scale, the same thing is happening at Presque Isle Downs. Antonio Gallardo dominated the 2016 meet but that meant he would take his tack to more lucrative circuits. With Monmouth Park winding down, he has been back at Presque Isle for the past few weeks and he is back to his old tricks.
Not that Presque Isle doesn't have a legitimate rider colony, just like Hong Kong has a legitimate rider colony, but the presence of Gallardo on a horse that he had not been riding is a powerful handicapping factor. He is starting to get back on last year's leading trainer Teresa Connelly's horses and his win percentage with her was 40 percent then and they are already four-for-10 this year.
At this point, Gallardo might not help your price but at least you can be sure that you will get a terrific ride from him.
The fabulous weekend of prep races for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) weekend took place this Sunday at Chantilly, and if you playing the Arc, which you should since it might be the greatest horse race in the world, go back and watch the replays of the three races run at the same distance as the Arc -- 1 1/2 miles.
The Prix Niel (G2) was run for three-year-olds and CRACKSMAN was an easy winner. After the race, his owner said that he would be unlikely for the Arc since trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori have ENABLE, the magnificent filly that has won four straight Group 1 stakes in England and Ireland while beating males by over four lengths in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1). So, forget the rest of the Niel runners.
The Prix Foy (G2) was won by German runner DSCHINGIS SECRET, who was the fourth betting choice in a field of six. He would need rain on Arc Day to have any real chance. Second-place finisher CLOTH OF STARS went off as the 17-10 favorite and had some traffic trouble with a furlong to go. Andre Fabre has won the Arc seven times, so he merits attention as it was his first start in four months. Fabre truly uses these races as preps for the Arc so expect a lot of improvement for the winner of the Prix Ganay (G1) earlier this year.
The Prix Vermeille (G1) is usually the headliner of Arc Prep Day and many three-year-old fillies have come out of it and gone on to Arc glory due to the weight concession they get running against older and males. This year's renewal was won by five-year-old mare BATEEL, who was a handy winner by 2 1/2 lengths in the fastest time off all three preps and led a sweep of the top three placings for her sire Dubawi.
Originally a British runner until this year, she loves soft turf so her connections will be doing a rain dance for the first Sunday of October outside of Paris.