It's Monday, and since nothing interesting happens on Monday, let's recap the happenings in racing on the weekend.
Verrazano and Goldencents, Derby preps
Verrazano won the Wood Memorial, Goldencents won the Santa Anita Derby. We all know that. Verrazano was impressive again, but not nearly as impressive as he had been. I don't really know how much he was asked, but had that race been 9.5 or 10 furlongs, Normandy Invasion. There were some debates yesterday on Twitter about which one was the better horse. My 2 cents: Verrazno is an overall more talented horse, but in a 10 furlong or longer race, Normandy Invasion would win.
I was very happy that Goldencents rebounded and won the Santa Anita Derby. He pressed on the outside, but was more relaxed this time and it worked out. I'm cheering for him in the Kentucky Derby, he's out of a Manitoba-bred mare. My dad also trained his great-grandmother on the dam's side for her last start or 2 at Hawthorne in the 80's, so I kinda have a connection. To me, he looked like he could do 10 furlongs, but it will depend on how much other speed he'll have to deal with and what post he gets.
Sunland Stakes races; Moonifisant looks like a freak
Sunland held two Stakes races for Quarter Horses on Sunday, the Grade 2 Bank of America New Mexico Challenge Championship and the Restricted Grade 2 New Mexican Spring Futurity. Jess Featureme Quick was the 3/5 favorite, but finished a clear 2nd behind Feature Mr Who. The two had competed in the same trial, with Jess Featureme Quick winning and Feature Mr Who finishing 2nd. Feature Mr Who came from post 1 yesterday, a gate that does extremely well in the 440 yard distance. May that have helped? I don't know, maybe.
But the real highlight was the Spring Futurity. After winning his trial by 3 lengths in the fastest qualifying time of 15.007, Moonifisant remained undefeated, holding off Threedeewoodee by a 1/2 length. The crazy part was his final time: 300 yards in 14.706. Incredibly fast for a 2 year old. The track record at Sunland is 14.594, so Moonifisant was 0.112 seconds short of the track record. I think he'll be a freak, he looked incredible to me. I assume he'll either be going for the Ruidoso Derby next, or possibly hold off for the Zia Derby and continue to race against NM breds. I'm also interested to see how fast they go in the Grade 1 West Texas Futurity on Sunday. Dynasty Edition is the fastest qualifier to that, winning his trial in 14.887.
Ajax Downs gets 30 days
Quarter Horse racing in Ontario can breathe a sigh of relief. It was announced on Friday that Ajax Downs had made a transitional funding deal and will race 30 days this year. 10 less that last year, but it's better than nothing. Brian Bell, a top jockey at Ajax, told me a couple weeks ago that Ajax has enough money in their purse account to race for 3 more years. Hopefully the track will start working to grow handle, as it's pretty terrible now. We still don't know how many Quarter Horse dates Fort Erie will race.
HANA releases 2013 Track Rankings
The Horseplayer's Association of North America released their 2013 Track Rankings list. Of the 67 tracks ranked, 2 things remained the same: Keeneland was ranked #1 (for the 5th year in a row) and one of my favorite tracks, Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, was ranked last. Some other interesting ones, Sam Houston is ranked 6th, Fort Erie was ranked 2nd last, and Saratoga was 9th. I'm surprised Saratoga isn't a bit higher, it's outranked by Tampa, Houston, and Hawthorne, none of which are tracks you would guess would be higher than the Spa. Aqueduct is, not surprisingly, the lowest ranked of the 3 NYRA tracks, placed 17th. HANA will have the full chart of takeout rates up on their website this week.