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And It's Chincon...From Out of Nowhere!!!

Posted by Brian Skirka on Thursday, July 08, 2010 4:41 PM
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First off, happy Fourth of July to all the Monmouth Park Blog readers out there.  We still have a day of live racing left on Monday so don’t put down those Daily Racing Forms just yet!

Sunday’s BetFair/TVG United Nations featured one of the most impressive closing kicks I have seen since I’ve worked at Monmouth Park.  Having a rooting interest in Straight Story, I actually thought I had a chance in mid-stretch of the U.N., but eventual winner Chinchon absolutely Midnight Luted (that’s the verb for power housed – see the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Sprint) past the field in a matter of strides.  That was one impressive performance from a horse that should have a serious say in the Breeders’ Cup Turf if his connections choose that path.

We’re less than three weeks out from July 24, which means the return of last year’s Haskell winner and reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra is right around the corner.  It’s really been an unbelievable year so far at Monmouth Park with how well the Elite Summer Meet has gone – and Rachel’s approaching appearance just makes it that much better.  I can’t wait to see a packed house and people with signs saluting the [East Coast] “Queen of Racing.”  It’s really something to witness when a horse has the ability and appeal to bring fans to the track.

Last weekend, maiden winner Justaroundmight was my selection in the Grade III Boiling Springs Stakes.  She was bottled up in traffic pretty much from her opening stride and was never able to shake free.  This Sunday, Dover Crescent – second to Justaroundmidnight in her maiden score – came back to break her maiden at second asking.  Look for Ms. Midnight to be a major player in the Filly and Mare Turf Division in the future.

Lastly, I just wanted to say a word about one of my favorite horses Trust or Bust.  As someone who has been following the races at Charles Town for a little over a year now, Trust or Bust had grown to be my favorite horse at the little West Virginia establishment.  He was a 4 1/2-furlong specialist - kind of the Charles Town version of Joey P.  He always gave his all, never backed down from a fight, and if he went down, he went down fighting.  He'll always be my first "Charles Town" horse and I'm really going to miss him!!

Brad Thomas’ Why I Like Horse Racing – Part II 

Horse racing is a game in which nothing, and nobody, is what it or they seem.

The variables are vast and subject to interpretation and the human players come from every social strata and walk of life.  Regardless, however, and with a nod to Independence Day, sheer fortune and the relentlessness of the parimutuel system render equal those not necessarily created so.

At least half of modern day horse training seems to be public relations.  Years ago, I knew a career assistant, now deceased, whose name never was printed in any program, but who was as good a hands-on horseman as you’ll ever find.  He just didn’t have the personality to be the frontman.  He told the truth.  All the time.  Frankly, hilariously, and wonderfully profanely.

One of his first jobs was with a famous trainer who got jealous and defensive when a foresighted owner began to see through the rough veneer and recognized the talent, intuition and skill of the young assistant.  The position was terminated.

The spurned aide seethed and stewed for a decade as his former boss raked in the money and accolades while his own career plodded in place.  But then something happened.  The superstar trainer began to lose a number of horses through the claim box who suddenly went on to do phenomenally well for their new, no-name connections.  It was the talk of the track.  What was up with so-and-so?  Had he lost it?

“No,” my friend said.  (Sanitized version for family blogging.)  “He’s the same half-..… hack and turf club toff he’s always been.  But I did pay him a visit for a week about a month ago.  I already had a good tan, so I grew a mustache, let my hair get long, and pretended I couldn’t speak English.  Ya’ know, no hablo Ingles? 

“He barely looked at me.  Didn’t matter anyway.  He wouldn’t remember me even if his next shady bloodstock deal depended on it.  He hired me as a hot walker.  One day, he owed me $39, gave me two twenties, and held out his hand for the dollar change.  What a spit!

“But I did get to know his horses. Rrrrrreal well.  The shyster charges the top day rate on the backstretch, but still goes cheap on feed and never looks at the feet.  I put together a little scouting report.  Complete with recommendations for how to move’em up.  Made it all nice and neat and printed it up on the copier he has in his own office.  Sold it to ten guys for $500 a piece and made five times that much betting.  Pero, yo escribo Ingles!”

 
 


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  • Brian
    Skirka

Brian Skirka graduated from Rutgers University in 2007 with a degree in journalism. He currently works for Monmouth Park’s marketing and publicity departments and is in his fifth year working at the track. In the past, Brian’s work has also been published on www.thebigm.com and www.ntra.com.