Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fractured leg ends Harbinger's career: Trainer Bill Mott gets win number 4,000

We will begin with the ‘disabled list.’ Jockey Robby Albarado was Curlin’s regular partner. Curlin, who won the Dubai World Cup in 2008, was two-time Horse of the Year. Albarado was aboard a horse called Hunt for Candie in Wednesday’s first race at Saratoga. He finished sixth and was galloping out. Albarado was unseated. Tests revealed that Albarado had fractured the clavicle and had a broken knuckle in the left hand. He will miss three to four weeks which means he will be on the sidelines for the Saratoga meeting. I checked the web to know what clavicle is. It is the collarbone and it is an area of the human body that is highly vulnerable to breaking and injury.

Now, we go to England. Ryan Moore, three-time champion jockey, is nursing an injured wrist. Moore was at Windsor for Monday’s twilight meeting. He fell from Rocket Rob. Nothing was broken. There was severe bruising and the wrist swelled up. Moore has not ridden since. Tony Hind, Moore’s agent, has confirmed that the wrist is sore as of Thursday morning. A return next Monday is likely. Moore is behind Paul Hanaghan and Richard Hughes in the English jockey standings.

I am late writing about last Saturday’s Shergar Cup jockeys’ competition at Ascot. Ireland got an encore. Richard Hughes, Pat Smullen and Fran Berry represented the Emerald Isle. Ireland won one race. Europe won two and Great Britian won two. Ireland had four second place finishes. With 80 points, Ireland won. the Shergar Cup. Europe had 72, Rest of the World had 45 and Great Britain tallied 43.

There were 28,000 in attendance at Ascot. Fran Berry, who now rides for John Oxx in Ireland, won the Stayers Cup with Bernie The Bolt and ended up with 35 points. He won the Silver Saddle Trophy as the top rider. He also received 3,000 pounds in prize money. In the final race of the competition, Berry was second with Gene Autry. He could not catch Olivier Peslier on Gramercy but the runner-up effort gave Berry enough points to go to the top.

“It is a personal highlight to be here. In fact, it is a dream come true. I was the happiest man ever to come second,” Berry commented on his Gene Autry ride.

Here are new inductees to the Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. Jockey Don Pierce was picked by the historic review committee. Pierce rode 3,546 races and retired in 1984. Randy Romero, Personal Ensign’s rider, is another inductee. Buster Millerick is in and he trained Native Diver. The historic committee also selected Harry Bassett, champion rider in the 1870s. Azeri, Best Pal and Point Given were picked in the equine category.

A 70 year-old jockey won a race in America on Tuesday. Richard Rettele trains thoroughbreds and occasionally rides them. He trains quarter horses on a regular basis. Rettele rode Fearless Fred to victory in the $15,000 Queen City Dash at River Downs. Quarter horse racing is over short trips like 350 and 400 yards and marginally longer.

“Race horses have been my total living. I rode quarter horses before records were kept. I have to take it easy. Nice horses keep me going, if not, the road gets awful long,” Rettele commented.

There is one fact that makes the Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Saturday quite special. Ten run in the 2400-metre race on the grass. This year marks the 36th running of the Sword Dancer. Expansion was third in the Man O’ War and is the 3-1 morning line favorite. Bearpath was fourth in the Man O’War and is one of the better fancied runners. Telling landed long odds last year and is back to defend the title. However, a great deal of attention will be focused on Grand Couturier. This is the fifth consecutive year that Grand Couturier will run in the Sword Dancer. A winner of the Grade I contest in 2007 and 2008, Grand Couturier ran fifth as the public choice in 2009.

Trainer Bill Mott has conditioned several champions in his career. Theatrical, Paradise Creek and Escena come readily to mind. How can the list be complete without Cigar? Mott, at 45, was the youngest (trainer) inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1998. Last Saturday, Mott got his 4000th win at Saratoga. Mystic, a Mott pupil, won the seventh race. Kent Desormeaux rode. Now 57, Mott won his first Classic this year (Belmont Stakes) with Drosselmeyer.

Mott thought aloud. “4,000 is a big number and I guess, to some extent, it is an elite club and I’m happy to do it. Sometimes you get hung up on these things. I have seen it happen with jockeys and ball players. Nice to have it today at Saratoga. It is a sunny day. I will always remember it.”

Here is stakes action at last week’s end in America. Concord Point was the 4/5 favorite in the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park last Saturday. Martin Garcia ride for Bob Baffert, Jr. Kaleem Shad owns Concord Point who beat Exhi by a length. The 1800-metre race was run in 1 51.12 seconds. Concord Point was coming off a victory in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows in late June. Tapit is the sire and the dam is Harve de Grace who is by Boston Harbor.

Bob Baffert watched the race in California. Owner Kaleem Shah said, “Bob said that I should get on the plane. I had to head out here.”

Jockey Garcia is having a productive year. He spoke. “He is a beautiful horse. I love riding him.”

This is what the favorites did at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian (Saturday) day last week. I am using a vertical order.

First:9/5 was second
Second: 3/5 won
Third: 1/5 won
Fourth: 1/5 second
Fifth: 1/5 sixth
Sixth: 2/5 third
Seventh: 26/10 eighth
Eighth: 7/10 second
Ninth: 11/10 seventh
Tenth: 3/2 second
11th: 3/10 second
12th: 11/10 third
13th: 7/5 third
14th.. 3/5 second
15th: 24/10 third… another at 24/10 but slightly less money bet was the winner

In 15 races, two favorites won. In 12 races, favorites were in the top three. The highest-priced favorite in the 15-race card was in the seventh at 26/10. You can see that betting is terribly lopsided in America. It is what I call the bandwagon effect. Six on money choices failed to deliver.

The $150,000 Hambletonian was taken by Muscle Massive. Ron Pierce was the winning driver. Jimmy Takter, a Swedish-born horseman, trains Muscle Massive. Pierce left, took the trip, was out of the pocket in the lane and wore down Lucky Chucky, the 3/2 favorite. The time was 1 51 for 1600 metres on a perfect sunny day with the temperature in the low 80s.

An amount of 8,391,600 was bet on 15 races. France Germany, Monaco, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Malta were part of the wagering network.

A paragraph on the Test Stakes at Saratoga last Saturday is warranted. Champagne d’Oro, Miguel Mena up, tracked the pace-setting Pica Slew. At the 3/16, Champagne d’Oro led and drew off to win by four and one half lengths. The time for the 1400-metre Test Stakes was 1 22.71 seconds. A daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, Champagne d’Oro is out of Champagne Glow by Saratoga Six.

Jockey Mena spoke about his trip. “I had a great trip. She broke sharply. I was right there with the leader. She switched leads around the turn and came through. There were no problems and we got the money.”

Harbinger, the world’s highest rated horse, has been retired. The four year-old Dansili colt fractured a leg last Saturday. Surgery was performed on the same day. The injury was career-ending but not life-threatening.

Harry Herbert, representing Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, expressed his feelings. “It is with regret that it has been decided to retire Harbinger. The operation was successful and Harbinger is recovering well. He has given us the ultimate thrill at the very highest level.”

Sir Michael Stoute, the doyen of British trainers, paid tribute. “He could have been a world champion. It would be a blow to anyone, he was a great horse and a lovely character with a great mind.”

Sir Stoute had a comment on Workforce, the runaway Epsom Derby winner who flopped in the King George won by Harbinger. “We had to back off. He is well, back cantering. We’ll soon decide about going back to fast work,”

There are 12 runners left at the six-day declaration stage for the Juddmonte International at York coming Tuesday. Dick Turpin, a Hannon runner, has been entered at a cost of 50,000 pounds. Richard Hughes has shown optimism about Dick Turpin getting the 2000-metre journey.

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