Another hodgepodge from the ol’ Skirka brain today. Hopefully the recent heat wave hasn’t melted anything in there!!
First off, and obviously most importantly, why are “Lebron,” “James,” and “King” the three most spoken words in all of news this week? When he finally makes a decision (I guess that would be Thursday at 9 pm) then it will be news. Does ESPN really have to have a reporter in every possible landing place for the “King?” (And by the way, Lebron is obviously a great player, but shouldn’t you have to win, I don’t know, at least a game in the NBA Finals to earn that nickname? If Lebron is the King, what is two-time NBA Champion Adam Morrison? Czar Morrison?) How many “experts” can sports news shows put on to guess where Lebron will end up? That’s really must-not watch television – people offering their opinions on what Lebron James is thinking!! Really!?!? I’d rather watch qualifying for the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest than those weenies.
On Tuesday, I went out fishing on my favorite party boat out of Point Pleasant for the first time this year. It was at least 100 degrees and the combination of sweat, clam juice, and conger eel slime (that’s the real winner right there) made for a very slippery afternoon. But one thing I didn’t mind was the heat. I’ll admit it was very hot – but would you prefer it was 38 degrees, raining, and dark at 4:18 pm. I’ll take the heat over the winter any day.
I was a little disappointed to look at the field for the Grade I Man o’War Stakes at Belmont on Saturday. Gio Ponti is on the morning line at 1-2 – that .5 to 1. It’s a shame that there aren’t enough solid turf horses around right now to spice up the division’s top races. I miss the Einstein’s, English Channel’s and even Presious Passion’s of the world. With all due respect to his seven competitors, but as soon as Gio Ponti breaks cleanly from the gate, that race is pretty much over.
Don’t blame the heat on Friday if you go online at 1:10 pm to check the results of Monmouth’s first race and you don’t see anything. The twilight racing experiment begins tomorrow at Monmouth Park. First race 2:10 pm.
Pretty close to every week, I find a new favorite song. This week’s tune is “Misery” by Maroon 5. One word: wow.
I was told I could make it official today. The giveaway for Rachel Alexandra’s return to Monmouth Park will be a T-shirt.
If you, or anyone you know, are from the Seattle area, have them turn on the Emerald Downs Fox Sports Radio show on Saturday morning around 11 am eastern. A certain Monmouth Park Blogging “celebrity” may or may not be making an appearance (well, you won’t see me, but you’ll hear me) to talk about the day’s Pick 5 sequence and stakes action. Should be fun.
Pretty much a lock to be mentioned on the radio show is Battlefield morning line favorite Banrock. He’s one of my favorite horses, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again this weekend.
Either before or after the Battlefield, I need to find Banrock’s trainer Tom Bush to see if he is wearing a cape and/or utility belt. Last weekend, I said hello to Bush in the paddock before the Salvator Mile. I then walked directly to the administration building where who other than Tom Bush was walking out the door. How did that happen? Tom Bush may in fact be Batman!!
Life lesson/cliché of the week: you only live once. Unless you’re a character from ABC’s Flashforward, none of us know how long we have left. Make sure you live life to the fullest, do what you want to do, and don’t get sucked in to having other people waste your time. Sometimes you have to cut certain things or certain people loose and focus on what makes your life more enjoyable. Some things or people just aren’t worth wasting your time with. Sometimes it takes a little while to realize you should pull the cord, but when you do, yank it like you’re starting a mower and spend more time with the things or people that make you happy. All of our time is too precious to be wasted on minutia.
Brad Thomas’ Thursday Trip Notes
Race 2 – Go Perfect was much improved, finished decently, and pulled up well. He’ll be rounding to form as the conditioned claiming fields thin.
Race 3 – Bestcasescenario, a first-time starting juvenile, was slow to settle, but showed good acceleration when middle-moving.
Race 7 – Jersey-bred, 2-year-old firster Mo Sunny Day showed promise on a dull rail for a barn lethal when dropping to maiden claimers.
Race 2 – Dahliatrickdecat was very green in her debut, but displayed real ability for her low-profile outfit.
Race 5 – Sandinershoes, surprisingly nimble for a mare of her size, can both accelerate mid-race and finish well. She can develop into a top New Jersey-bred.
Race 8 – Fore Pals made multiple moves and still finished decently in his needed last when second off a long layoff.
Race 9 – Cactus Charlie prematurely middle-moved wide into the fastest part of the pace behind two stakes quality rivals.
Race 11 – Gone Astray pulverized the field at a mile distance well short of his best and should develop into a Grade I force at nine furlongs or more.
Race 2 – New claim Backbackgone finished vigorously going too short and should fit well on the drop and/or stretch.
Race 6 – Somolia had no chance given her trip and the lack of pace. An additional furlong would be a big help.
Race 6 – Firster Desert Witch had a lot of run and showed grit fighting through multiple adverse situations.
Race 10 – Mystic Miracle had no room while full of run in deep stretch, but continued his improvement.
Race 3 – National Kid might have had an easy trip, but he was playing around all race and moves super fluidly. He has Grade II potential, or higher, on firm ground.
Race 6 – Vengeful Wildcat showed athleticism, quickness, stamina and a relatively-lengthy stride. Dead on the board at 20-1 for a barn that normally is well-bet, he had tons of room to improve – especially if he learns to turn a tad better. Legit futures factor for long, one-turn Belmont races.
Race 6 – Meistersinger was green, but good-finishing in his debut and wants two turns – like his dam.
Race 10 – Erstwhile grinder Fantistico Roberto sure learned to quicken second-time blinkers and first-time stretching to nine furlongs!
Did You See of Hear That?
In the 3rd race on July 3, jockey Elvis Trujillo and 9-1 Destinedtobemine – despite breaking a bit slowly – beating Eibar Coa and 1.10-1 favorite Peace Talker to prime, pace-pressing position just off the flank of a 24-1 early leader? The former has a perfect trip while the latter was hung wide to out-of-the-trifecta oblivion.
In the 4th race on July 4, jockey John Velazquez – knowing he had a long run to the first turn – coolly allowing slow-breaking Austintatious to creep up into super striking position without hard use or excessive ground loss? Velazquez also smoothly settled his fresh mount on the backstretch when the classy horse threatened to get rank.
In the 5th race on July 4, jockey Roberto Alvarado using a strong combination of right-handed whipping, left-handed striking, reins crossing, and hand urging to cajole weakening Our Eponene into holding on for a dead-heat victory? Alvarado always has been a hugely underrated finisher who wins much more than his fair share of photos. (Jose Lezcano was on the co-winner.)
In the 11th race on July 4, announcer Larry Collmus calling Machismo the winner just past the sixteenth pole? Runner-up closer Love Cypress still appeared to have momentum and at least a 40% chance (seemingly!) of getting up at that point. A mortal announcer would not have had the machismo to make that call. No way!
In the 12th race on July 4, Hunters Seacret completely blowing the first turn, being hung absurdly wide throughout, and only getting beaten 23 ½ lengths? It would be fun to see how well she can route if able to stay near, just near, the rail!