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Oct 06, 2006

Through The Binoculars


Tough week for the grand old game.


Philadelphia Park had to close shop on Monday because of a water main break.


Great Lakes Downs had to cancel the same day because the jockeys wouldn’t ride over what they deemed an unsafe racetrack.


The nation of Japan went broke betting Deep Impact (who ran third) in the Arc.


The sheiks collared the weekend hat trick, winning the Belmont stakes with Ashkal Way and Discreet Cat, and the Arc with Rail Link at 12-1!


The Meadowlands closed down its entire grandstand level, and turned out the lights.


I gave out It’s No Joke on my phone service (1-888-612-2283) on Saturday at Turfway as part of the NTRA Pick Four. Right horse. Wrong venue. The horse was scratched at Turfway, shipped to Chicago, and won the Hawthorne Gold Cup at $17.40.


Sorry about that.


But I’m really sorry about what’s going on with Discreet Cat.


The unbeaten 3-year-old looked like the second coming of Dr. Fager winning the Jerome on Sunday. But are the sheiks sending him to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup? Of course not. Instead, he’ll be pointed for the Cigar Mile at Belmont.


And then, presumably, it will be on to the breeding shed.


Alas, like so many nice horses before him, alas, we hardly knew ye.


It doesn’t take a genius to understand why Discreet Cat will not go to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The same sheik who owns Discreet Cat also owns Bernardini so why cause a problem?


The sheiks don’t like problems. This week, for example, the nation’s racing fans were out there waiting breathlessly for the sheik-to-sheik showdown between Bernardini and Invasor in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Saturday at Belmont.


Wow! What a shock! It seems that Invasor caught a cold the other day, and won’t run, leaving Bernardini to gallop at 10 cents to the dollar. By comparison, Discreet Cat was five cents to the dollar in the Jerome.


And, contrary to some reports, I did not give out Discreet Cat on my phone service.

But my man Russ Harris had him the best bet.


Bernardini, unlike Invasor, seems to be on target for the Gold Cup.


The 3-year-old superstar breezed five-eighths in 1:03 1/5 Tuesday morning at Belmont Park.


Bernardini is doing as well as he was going into the Travers,” trainer Albertrani told the media hordes. “He has given us every indication that he is as ready as he was for the Travers, and he’s ready to go.


Albertrani continues ---


“I think that with every race Bernardini has matured mentally, and physically. He looks so good. With every race, starting with the Preakness, he has developed, and gets better and better. He is just a delight to be around. He’s very professional. Very easy to handle.”


Albertrani, a good guy from Brooklyn, certainly has come a long way in this game.


“Tom,” I said to him, “…remember the old days when you were riding 20-1 shots on the inner track at Aqueduct?”


“John,” he said, “what 20-1 shots? They were 50-1.”


The Gold Cup, thanks to Bernardini, will be the main event on a Super Saturday card at Belmont that will feature five Grade 1 races. Excitement enough so that you can tear yourself away from the baseball playoffs and college football for a few moments.


And the best news is that you’ll be able to single Bernardini in the NTRA Pick Four, which will be televised by the deuce from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Eastern – unless a women’s bowling event runs long.


Here is the schedule:


5:20  -The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic from Belmont.


5:40 – The Shadwell Turf Mile from Keeneland.


6:00 – The Gold Cup from Belmont.


6:17 – The Goodwood from Santa Anita.


NYRA meanwhile is proud to announce that it will offer two of its very own pick fours – on races 2 thru 5, and on races seven thru 10. Post for race two is 1:30, and post for race seven is 4:08.


Although it is doubtful that Nick Santagata will have a mount in any of those races, he deserves congratulations from the racing community for reaching the 4,000-win milestone the other day at Philly Park before the water main broke.


Moreover, Saint Nick needs only two more winners at The Meadowlands to become the first rider to win 1,000 races at that track – grandstand or no. As I mentioned the other day, Santagata, who devotes hundreds of hours each year to children’s charities, is a credit to the game.


And, finally, you all know by now that the major 3-year-old who was changing trainers is Lawyer Ron. We broke the story in this space last Friday without naming names, but most of our readers figured out the horse in question.


So Lawyer Ron goes from Bob Holthus, a true gentleman and first-class trainer who had Lawyer Ron from day one, and who won six stakes with him, to Todd Pletcher.


All Pletcher had to do last Thursday at 11 a.m. was to send an assistant over to the Holthus barn, next door at Churchill, and take the horse. But don’t worry. He called first.


Here is an update on trainer Pletcher’s numbers this year.


Through Tuesday, Pletcher’s runners have earned $20.7 million, or $11 million more than runner-up Scott Lake. By the end of the week, he no doubt will break his own one-year-old mark of $20.8 million.


Pletcher has won 86 stakes this year, including 46 graded stakes, and likely will run the favorite or second choice in five Breeders’ Cup races.


Pletcher has yet to decide whether to run Lawyer Ron against Bernardini in the Classic.

It would seem a mismatch on paper. After all, Lawyer Ron is a miler who tops out at a mile and a furlong.


European horses traditionally run well in Breeders Cups at Churchill, but according to my man in Paris, none of the first three finishers in the Arc will be coming to Louisville.


At the present time, Bernardini is listed as a generous 8-5 in the Classic futures. Hurricane Run is the 4-1 favorite for the Turf, George Washington is listed as the 8-5 chalk in the Mile, and Ouija Board is the 2-1 fave in the Filly/Mare Turf.



But a word of warning. Pletcher has Wait A While geared up for the Filly/Mare Turf.


And Round Pond is 12-1 in the Distaff.


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