Monday Morning

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Monday Morning. Snow. Again. The long, arduous winter careens on, tenacious, unforgiving. Dictina’s Boy, Royal Bonsai, Three Steps Ahead and Border Agent love it; they gallop, buck, roll, dance in the snow. Loose horses always look fast, puffs of air billow from their nostrils, snow erupts with each hoof fall – call Budweiser and offer new footage for a new commercial. My wife Anne wonders if they’re cold. I wonder if they know how good they have it. All are veterans of many miles on the track – Royal Bonsai will return to the races in 2015, the rest are long since retired. Anybody who’s been around them will say the same thing, “Well deserved.” And they’re probably right. When spring arrives – if spring arrives – they’ll go back to some semblance of work. At the most, learn to follow hounds and stay in line. As for today, they’re enjoying a snow day.

Interesting weekend of racing in the books. No Nay Never lost his undefeated record in the Swale Stakes, ran well but ambushed by Spot as they turned for home. Over confidence, perhaps. Still, a decent effort off a big break.

At Aqueduct, Samraat continued his undefeated record, winning the Gotham over Uncle Sigh and In Trouble. All three ran hard. Captivating stretch drive as Samraat (name sounds like a Darley horse) took command, then held it by a neck and held it by a neck and held it by a neck. New York-bred doesn’t do much in front but he’s tough. Hard to fault him, as he can stalk, relax and finish. Cool to see Rick Violette with a potential Derby horse.

Watch Samraat win the Gotham.

Quote of the Day: “I don’t think he’ll need a race before Royal Ascot, good horses don’t need preps, I’d like to train him to either the St. James’s Palace or hopefully the Jersey Stakes, I think it’s more in his realm seven eighths. If he runs as well as I’m hoping he does (in the Swale), then we’ll give him a good break, let him down a notch, gallop him through the month of March and into April, then start his work schedule and go right over to Ascot. Hopefully have a good showing there, then the main target to make him a stallion is the King’s Bishop at Saratoga.” – Trainer Wesley Ward, before No Nay Never finished second in the Swale

Gallop Out. Passing Shower will win next time, longer and maybe turf. Not that I’m telling John Shirreffs what to do…

Random Observation. Jockey EJ Zayas rides too short.

Sister Act. Jack Fisher, you’ll have to wait. Chiffonade, a half-sister to champion 3-year-old jumper Schoodic, made her second career start at Gulfstream Park Sunday. The 3-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid ran well, finishing second by a neck to She’s Justified. Owned and bred by Edie Dixon, Chiffonade is campaigned by Michael Matz.

Miles, 5, Quote of the Day: “Just relax.” When asked what we were going to do if school is closed Monday.

Cheltenham Countdown: 8 Days.

Valdez Watch: No news is good news from the Alan King camp. Listen to King talk about his novice chasers. As for the competition, Arkle favorite Champagne Fever schooled at Leopardstown over the weekend. Watch it here.

Cheltenham Quote of the Day: “So long as I have a winner, I don’t give monkeys which horse in which race it is. If Goodwood Mirage acts on the track, he will run a cracker. I am worried about him coming down the hill because he has a floating chip in his joint – some days it is grand, other days it is not. That and he wants gelding.” – Trainer Jonjo O’Neill, in a Cheltenham press release.

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