Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blame beats Quality Road in a photo in the Whitney: Andreas Suborics, German champion jockey, retires

Here is a pot pourri of racing news. There is a retirement in Germany. Three-time German champion jockey, Andreas Suborics is hanging up his boots. The 39 year-old Suborics was kicked in the head by a horse in Hong Kong this spring. Suborics was advised that riding would carry a high level of risk and the Hong Kong incident contributed, therefore, in no small measure, to the retirement decision.

“I hope to stay in racing and at the moment, hope to be of use in some role at the upcoming Baden Baden meeting, “ jockey Suborics stated.

Suborics had 1,500 winners. He won 81 Group races and 16 of them at the highest level. He won several races on the world stage. Two races come to mind. I was at Arlington Park in 2001 when Suborics won the Million with Silvano. I had wagered on Hap who finished second with Jerry Bailey. The other race was the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day in 2008. Overdose, the Hungarian sprinter ridden by Suborics, made it all in the 1000-metre Group I (straight) race. The race was declared void because Fleeting Spirit’s stall did not open and a false start was declared. Fleeting Spirit, a Dettori mount, was one of the fancied runners. The Abbaye was run after the last race in the Arc card. Overdose was a scratch. Given the state of confusion at Longchamp, lot of fans including me, thought that Overdose had won. The Abbaye was a race that Suborics won but did not win it officially owing to a gate malfunction.

Here is a note about a French racehorse. Vision d’Etat won the French Derby in 2008. He also won the Prince Of Wales at Royal Ascot last year. The Eic Libaud trainee ran 12th of 14 horses in the World Cup in March at the Meydan. After several vet examinations, the son of Chichicantenango is returning to the races. He lines up in the Group III Prix Gontaut-Biron on Saturday at Deauville. Vision d’Etat has four Group I wins in his resume.

Odysseus was a hot commodity on the Kentucky Derby trail in March. The Malibu Moon colt won the Tampa Bay Derby. One of his victims was Super Saver. After a disappointing race in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, Odysseus developed laminitis. Owner Satish Sanan of Padua Stables, confirmed that the sophomore was euthanized on Monday. Odysseus won three races from five outings. Persimmon Hill (by Conquistador Cielo) was the dam of Odysseus.

Satish Sanan, however, had things go his way at Saratoga on Sunday. Majesticperfection, the even money choice, ran away with the Grade I Alfred G Vanderbilt stakes. Shaun Bridgmohan had the Harlan’s Holiday colt at the helm of affairs and the pair won by two and three quarter lengths in a time of 1 08. 63 seconds for the 1200-metre trip. Majesticperfection was third in debut in the slop at Fair Grounds in January. The Sanan-owned colt has since won five races in a row. In his last start on June 25 at the Prairie Meadows, Majesticperfection did a demolition job of his adversaries when winning the 1200-metre Iowa Sprint Handicap by five lengths in 1.07.1.

Majesticperfection beat Big Drama, Bribon and Gayego, three accomplished sprinters. Steve Asmussen, the winning trainer said, “honestly, we hoped we did not waste those fast times without a grade and he is a great stallion prospect. The Vosburgh (Belmont Park, Oct 2) is next and then it is on to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.”

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan heaped praise on his mount. “He broke smart and sharp. He made my job a lot easier. He felt comfortable. I knew before Prairie Meadows (Iowa Sprint Handicap) race that he was a real deal.”

Blame and Quality Road went at it hammer and tongs in Saturday’s Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. Quality Road was the half money favorite. When the pair reached the wire, it was Blame, Garrett Gomez up, who had his head in front. Quality Road dictated terms and Blame lay fourth and in striking distance. Jockey John Velasquez took repeated glances down the lane to ensure that he had the opposition measured. Angling out of the pocket, Blame was asked for a run early in the lane. Quality Road’s margin was cut every stride and was mugged on the line by the resolute Blame. The half went in 48 seconds and the favorite’s backers must have thought that the Whitney had been put to bed. It is significant to point out that the last 200 metres were run in 12 seconds.

The 1800-metre Whitney was over 1800 metres on the main track and was run in 1 48.88 seconds. Six ran and Mine That Bird ran fifth and is now winless since the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Blame was a 34/10 chance on American tote. Blame has won five consecutive races. The four year-old colt by Arch won the Grade I Stephen Foster at Churchill in mid-June. Quality Road was giving Blame five pounds. Blame heads to the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Quality Road will race in the Woodward Stakes.

Albert M Stall Jr, trainer of Blame, was thrilled. “The 48 half was little nerve wracking but it kept us close. From the 3/8 to the wire, he (Blame) can sprint with anybody. After the race, we were all hugging one another. That is why we do this. That is why we are up at 5 A M seven days a week for something like this.”

Let us devote a paragraph to the Grade II Best Pal Stakes run at Del Mar on Sunday. The $150,000 race over 1300 metres for two year-olds was won by J P’s Gusto. The time was 1 16.61 on Del Mar’s polytrack. The win payoff was $6.80. It was the third consecutive win for the David Hofmans-trained J P’s Gusto who made it all and beat back a strong challenge from Sway Away, the 3/2 favorite. J P’s Gusto won by one half length. In his debut, J P’s Gusto ran sixth after a lot of trouble in early May.

Pat Valenzuela was aboard J P’s Gusto, a Successful Appeal colt. It was jockey Valenzuela’s first stakes win at Del Mar in five years. He has been plagued by drug addiction and substance abuse questions. He is getting a new lease on life. Valenzuela was Best Pal’s regular rider.

Trainer Hofmans spoke. “We are right on schedule. He ( J P’s Gusto) loves this track. He skips over this track and not all horses do that. He deserves a shot at 7/8 and will take his chances in the (Sep 8) Del Mar Futurity.”

In my next blog, we’ll take a look at the Hambletonian, the trotting race. The West Virginia Derby and the Test Stakes will be looked at. Trainer Bill Mott got his 4000th winner at Saratoga. Another subject will be Harbinger’s retirement. There will also be a preliminary look at the Juddmonte International at York next Tuesday. Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Saturday is another high profile race we will preview. There is Group action at Deauville at week’s end. The Milliion at Arlington is on Aug 21. I will be there and will file a report.

I am looking at tickets for the trip to Europe in September-October. The Q E II Stakes at Ascot and the Arc weekend at Longchamp are on my plate. I will try to get some harness action at Vincennes in Paris.

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