One Down, One to Go

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Breeders’ Cup Saturday. The good news of traveling from England to California is you tend to wake up early, as your body is seven hours ahead. The bad news is you’re a little off your game at the end of the day. Well, I was off my game all day yesterday, including a disastrous stint on HRRN. Hopefully, it’s not archived somewhere. But, we move on…

Perhaps it was the jet lag but I couldn’t quite get the feel for Friday. Four Breeders’ Cup races (three new ones, one original), overcast skies, back at Santa Anita again…perhaps I’m over it all. Not the fault of the Breeders’ Cup, but it has changed since the first time I came to California for the Breeders’ Cup. Back in 1997, at Hollywood Park, I wrote a story about Shane Sellers and Mike Smith, their friendship, the joy delivered and the pain inflicted when Skip Away won the Classic.

Yes, it’s different. Life, I guess.

I’m a purist, I liked it better when there were eight races, one day, that’s all and when the show traveled to places like Lone Star and Arlington Park. I understand why it has changed and don’t begrudge the Breeders’ Cup for its expansion, it has put a lot of money into a lot of hands and that’s good for the game. But, for me, it’s lost its rhythm.

Untapable was brilliant in the Distaff, as was her jockey Rosie Napravnik who announced her retirement on national TV after the race. Pregnant, she rides today and that’s it. Some have a natural flare for drama and a natural tendency to deliver. Napravnik has always had both.

Beyond Napravnik’s performance, Goldencents was brilliant, winning his second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Lady Eli had one anxious moment in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, right about when the garland of purple and yellow flowers were draped over her withers. Wesley Ward produced Hootenanny off a two-month layoff to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Today, it’s nine races. Yes, nine races. Dank, Sweet Reason, Artemis Agrotera, No Nay Never, Flintshire, Hardest Core, Main Sequence, Secret Circle, Toronado, Shared Belief, California Chrome…they should provide some rhythm.