A Star-Filled Weekend at the Shore!!

Posted by Brian Skirka on Sunday, July 25, 2010 5:59 PM
Comments (10)

It was definitely a fun week to be at Monmouth Park this Friday through Sunday as there were appearances by such superstars as Matt Carothers, Rachel Alexandra and Big Joe Henry.


Ex-Monmouth Park employee and current TVG talent Matt Carothers made the trip from California this week for Rachel Alexandra’s return and it was great to meet him and see him in action.  Matt is one of the few people I’ve ever met who makes everything he says entertaining.  He could be selling jewelry on QVC and I would watch because of his personality.  Not to mention, he is an extremely good handicapper.  Those of you who saw Brad Thomas’ “Shades Off” videos on Saturday and Sunday morning could probably imagine, but not laughing out loud (for the most part) while holding the camera for those segments was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  Here’s hoping Mr. Carothers is back at Monmouth Park very soon.


As for Rachel Alexandra, her Lady’s Secret win was a “TCB” kind of effort – “takin’ care of business.”  Did I honestly think she would win by more?  Yes.  But it wasn’t like she was tooth and nail to get her nose down on the wire.  Not that I expected them to say anything different, but the connections after the race were very happy with Rachel’s effort.  I talked to jockey Calvin Borel, who said “Rachel is back.”  I don’t think it’s fair to say that Rachel is back to her dominant 2009 form, but it was nice to see her in the winner’s circle again – and judging from the ovation, the crowd surely enjoyed her return.    


This upcoming week should also be a doozy as we’re getting close to a little race we here at Monmouth Park like to call the IZOD Haskell.  With a field likely to include Kentucky Derby 1-2 finishers Super Saver and Ice Box AND Preakness 1-2 finishers Lookin at Lucky and First Dude AND the up-and-coming Trappe Shot, this is setting up to be one heck of a race.  By the time Haskell Day roles around, I will have worked 12 straight days, but I have a feeling it’s going to be worth it!!


Brad and I will return on Thursday with more Haskell happenings.  We should have some pretty good info as Thursday is the Haskell Press Conference.  As always, please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on Rachel’s performance and anything related to the upcoming IZOD Haskell.  


Brad Thomas’ Sunday Samplings 


Rachel Alexandra was professional in her Lady’s Secret victory, but hardly spectacular.  Giving only five pounds to a runner-up she would have been conceding at least 15 pounds to if the race was an old-school handicap, the camp lacked her A+ Game turn-of-foot.  Frankly, I was expecting just a bit more.  She reminded me of Spectacular Bid’s win in the Iselin at the tail of his career.  Runner-up Queen Martha obviously is a filly of graded quality with future options on both dirt and turf.  Third-finishing Ask The Moon wan her heart out while out-classed, but showed she truly can rate and also is back in peak form.


The Haskell Invitational originated as a handicap and many years was the first race ever contested by top members of a 3-year-old crop under such conditions.  Here are my theoretical weights for 2010’s edition:


Lookin at Lucky       123
Super Saver           121
Ice Box                  120
Trappe Shot           120 
First Dude               119
Afleet Again            116
Our Dark Knight       115
Uptowncharlybrown  114


Scale weight is 126, so top-weight Lookin at Lucky’s substantially below par assignment, and the tight-spread among the top five, is indicative of the 2010 3-year-old crop’s present standing against past generations.


Trip Notes

July 23

Race 8 – Beautiful Life finally improved 4th time out in 2010 despite backstretch traffic and racing on a dull rail.  She finished decently, too, despite being a better fit going a shorter, one-mile distance.


Race 10 – Beyondallboundrys took the Dearly Precious Stakes with a sharp display of light-footedness, high cruising speed, and multiple runs.  Her pedigree says two turns and she likely has graded ability going a middle distance.


July 24


Race 9 – Quepos made a couple moves despite post and traffic issues.  Could be best stretching back out at this stage of his career.


Race 9 – Ready to Dazzle was run off his feet early while stepping way up in class and would be well-suited by a drop to combination conditioned claiming company.  Even overmatched here, he managed to finish with an honest late run. 


Race 10 – Led Advantage was rank, unruly, and on the worst part of the track off the stretch-out, yet still held amazingly well in the stretch.  She needs to get off the rail.



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As for Rachel Alexandra, her Lady’s Secret win was a “TCB” kind of effort – “takin’ care of business.” Did I honestly think she would win by more? Yes. But it wasn’t like she was tooth and nail to get her nose down on the wire. Not that I expected them to say anything different, but the connections after the race were very happy with Rachel’s effort. I talked to jockey Calvin Borel, who said “Rachel is back.” I don’t think it’s fair to say that Rachel is back to her dominant 2009 form, but it was nice to see her in the winner’s circle again – and judging from the ovation, the crowd surely enjoyed her return.

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  • Brian

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.