Back to reality after the Breeders' Cup. Whew, big difference going from standing on the rail with a microphone as Golden Horn, Runhappy and American Pharoah jaunt around Keeneland to walking around the farm with Miles, looking at retirees and rehabbers, although, Eagle Poise still moves like a machine as he gallops around the backfield. He's still the track record holder at a mile and three quarters at Woodbine, as I was reminded on Twitter this week. That's cool. Now, to find another...
The Breeders' Cup and Keeneland produced a weekend (week) of sport unrivaled in our country. I was skeptical - weather, traffic, surface - but they nailed it. I heard some complaints about the Bourbon Lounge, and the condition of the turf, that's all. The Bourbon Lounge sounded like an oversight and the turf, well, it's something to think about if the Breeders' Cup returns to Keeneland another year. Unfortunately it rained early in the meet and they ran on it, which if you were in those races you wouldn't complain. More rain during Breeders' Cup week didn't help. Standing next to Frankie Dettori and John Gosden, minutes after the Turf, you could feel their dismay as Golden Horn "labored" in it. They were sportsmen, taking a shot knowing they were barely armed. I found myself yelling for Golden Horn in the stretch, without a penny bet, just because of his charisma during the week. Some horse.
As for the horse. American Pharoah awed us once more. To think there was talk of retirement after Keen Ice ousted him in the Travers at Saratoga. As Dale Romans said that afternoon, "Run him in the Classic and you'll see 20,000 people watching him train. I doubt he does retire him. I don't think Mr. Zayat wants to go out like that. There's so much emotion, in every way. He's a sportsman, he doesn't want anything given to him. I bet he's back. Go back in history and look at the Triple Crown winners that got beat, nobody talks about it, nobody remembers it. This horse will be the same thing. He didn't tarnish his reputation today."
He polished his reputation with a flawless performance in a depleted edition of the Classic. Losing Beholder took the intrigue away from the Classic. Also, give an assist to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, as it took Liam's Map, the only other speed horse who could have made Victor Espinoza, at least, think about what to do during the Classic. Leaving the backside, if American Pharaoh had Liam's Map in front of him instead of clear blue sky, it would have added the missing element to the Classic. As a jockey, there's no moment like the moment you have to go after the frontrunner knowing there are closers waiting to launch. Instead, American Pharoah romped in isolation, a parade of one. Which, I'll admit, was one of a hell of a parade.