By Gene Kershner
Back from sunny California and the conclusion of the 2013 Breeders' Cup is in the books. Below are my thoughts from the 30th anniversary edition of the world championships from Santa Anita.
- My favorite race of the weekend was Dank's performance in the BC F&M Turf. Solid filly who was an easy key horse and probably best favorite (besides Wise Dan) over the course of the second day.
- Loved The Fugue's performance in the BC Turf against the boys. Only a late closing Magician stopped her from claiming the mile and a half race. Keep an eye on her in the future.
- John Velazquez' horrible fall off of Secret Compass on the far turn, who broke down and had to be put down, was a rare ride for trainer Bob Baffert. His regular mounts are typically for Pletcher so this combination caught my eye on Saturday.
- Another bad gate break cost Palace Malice any chance. Just as he did in the Travers, the slow start cost him any chance on the Santa Anita strip against the speed in the race. When will I learn?
- With Orb passing on the Grade 1 Cigar Mile for retirement at Claiborne Farm, does he rate the 3-year-old male divisional champion based on his two a Grade 1 victories earlier in the year? A third G1 win would have locked up my vote, but his late season woes are weighing more heavily than his wins. Will Take Charge's only G1 is the Travers and was a nostril away from a second in the Classic. I'll have to weigh more heavily on this one.
- Princess of Sylmar, victim of a track bias in the Distaff, may have watched the 3-year-old female crown go out the window when Beholder took the home-track advantage and turned it into a huge win. In this case, however, the Princess won four straight big Grade 1's one where she beat older horses in the Beldame. A split of head-to-head match ups with Beholder makes this decision rather dicey.
- It's amazing how three horses repeated out of the 14 BC races - Groupie Doll (F&M Sprint), Mizdirection (Turf Sprint) and Wise Dan (Mile) and a fourth won a different race (Beholder). Fort Larned (Classic), Royal Delta (Distaff) and Trinniberg (Sprint) all failed in repeat bids.
- Santa Anita has one of the most picturesque settings in all of sport. The backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains is breathtaking and morning workouts standing around Clocker's Corner is one of the coolest spots on any track. Sure I'd love to see a BC at Belmont or Woodbine, but it's hard to argue with the Great Race Place.
- I was glad to see Mucho Macho Man win the $5 million Classic from a sentimental standpoint. He was my first ever Derby selection for The News in 2011, and he didn't disappoint that day finishing third behind eventual winner and super-horse Animal Kingdom.
- TMZ reports (not often you see that in a racing blog) that the Village People are planning on playing a party for the Macho Man according to owners Dean and Patti Reeves.
- It's been a good year for local trainers, first Fort Erie trainer Nick Gonzalez winning the $1 million Queen's Plate with Midnight Aria, and with Finger Lakes conditioner Jeremiah Englehardt winning the $2 million BC Juvenile Fillies via DQ with Ria Antonia.
- Hopefully Englehardt can calm his filly's over zealous owner's excitement by keeping her on the Kentucky Oaks trail, as opposed to the Derby trail as some reports out of New York have hinted at.
- We'll recap my 2013 Kreskin prognostications next week and it's not pretty. Not one bit.
- In case you were wondering, Buffalo Raceway opens in two months on January 8th.