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Jul 20, 2007

Through The Binoculars


Bad news from Belmont Park.

Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches has spiked a fever, and will miss Saturday"s Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont.

Rags to Riches was scheduled to breeze Monday morning at 8:45 at Belmont. With that in mind, at 9:45 I called Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr., now the agent for Johnny Velazquez, for an update.

"Can"t talk now," said Junior. "Too busy."

Talk about your red flag.

Sure enough. Moments later, trainer Pletcher made it official.

"We will pass on the Oaks," he said. "The filly's fever this morning is 101 degrees, which is not high, but a little beyond the normal range. We will take the conservative approach. She hasn't seemed herself the last couple of days. We won't breeze her unless she is 100 per cent. Our plan now is to point for the Alabama."

The Alabama will be run on Aug. 18 at Saratoga.

Dear Racing Fan:

There are "Horses For Courses" and there are also "Horsemen for Courses".
I've noticed throughout the years, certain stables always account for the BIG UPSET WINS while the racing public flounders around and bets the other way. These LONGSHOTS win for certain "smart-money" interests.

You are being given the opportunity to participate in a RACING EVENT that I consider the BIGGEST, the SAFEST and the MOST POSITIVE KILLING closing weekend at Belmont Park.
These contacts don't like for me to list winning results they have had the privilege of being in on. They prefer to keep their knowledge of potential WINNERS secret and confidential, so as not to lower the price we are expecting.


We will be in a great position to win loads of profits on these potential longshots.
So let's get started! Don't wait. This information is so hush-hush it will only be available through my office, so please call me personally 1-518-331-4637, or toll free at 1-866-256-5500,
no later than Friday and Saturday after 9:30 a.m.(E).

Yours For Winners,
John Piesen

P.S. I'm looking forward to having a GREAT DAY... so call me Friday and Saturday and then again on Wednesday, July 25th for more good news, including my Saratoga Opening Day Special Winner ABSOLUTELY FREE!* That's right! Qualified callers* get this winner when calling Wednesday.

Now the good news...

One of the good things about working the live meet at Oaklawn Park is profiting on the Arkansas-based runners as they move on to other venues.

This year has been Exhibit A.

Curlin and Hard Spun, both of whom raced at Oaklawn, have gone on to become two of the four serious 3-year-olds in North America. Three Spa runners - Delightful Kiss, Flashstorm and Going Ballistic - comprised a $4,300 trifecta in the Iowa Derby.

There are many more examples.

Just check out the past weekend.

At Delaware Park, Moon Catcher won the Delaware Oaks at 9-1, and Xchanger won the Barbaro Stakes at 9-2. And Silent Pleasure won the Tiznow Breeders" Cup at Louisiana Downs.

(And Oaklawn"s own Calvin Borel had a pretty good weekend in his own right. He won the Cajun Jockey Challenge at Evangeline Downs, and collected the Espy for leading both cases beating out Robby Albarado.)

Perhaps the most intriguing winner over the weekend was a 2-year-old.

Obviously, with Saratoga and Del Mar on the horizon, it"s not too early to be looking at the 2-year-old crop. And we saw a potential star juvenile on Saturday.

If you caught the sixth race at Arlington Park, you saw a first-time starter named Sebastian County, 8-1 under Larry Sterling Jr., get left at the post in a full field of 12, then circle the field to win going away, with five furlongs in :59 1/5

Now note the connections.

Sebastian County is owned by Toby Keith, the country music superstar, and is trained by Don Von Hemel, who has been saddling winners for a half-century, mostly in the relative obscurity of the Midwest circuit.

Von Hemel is one of those traditionalists who prefers to take his time with young horses so don't expect to see too much of Sebastian County the rest of the year. But you may want to look for him next winter on the Arkansas Road to the Triple Crown, a road traveled in recent years by the likes of Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Lawyer Ron, Curlin and Hard Spun.

Speaking of Curlin, that brings us to Steve Asmussen...and the second biggest racing story of the weekend.


There were two incidents involving stewards - half a world apart -- on Saturday.

At Finger Lakes, trainer Asmussen ran his good New York-bred 3-year-old Chief"s Lake in the New York Derby, and he was the 5-2 favorite in a 10-horse field.

Berry Bound, a 15-1 shot, led from the bell until the head of the stretch, where he was joined from the outside by Chief's Lake. They played bump-a-dump through the lane. Chief's Lake indeed had the entire length of the stretch to catch Berry Bound, but couldn't get by. 

The winning margin was half a nose.

You may never see a better race all year.

You knew there had to an inquiry. And there was. The head-on showed Berry Bound coming out, Chief's Lake coming in, and they bumped several times. Clearly it was 50-50.

And then the stewards went and took down the winner.

A travesty of justice.

A similar injustice (only worse) occurred earlier in the day, halfway around the world in a race at Longchamp called the Grand Prix of Paris.

Midway through the race, a sheik horse crossed over in front of another horse, and dropped the rider. It was as blatant a foul as you'll ever see.

As it developed, the sheik horse went on to win the race.

And 30 seconds later, the race was made official.

I guess it was another case of the rich getting richer because later in the day the same sheik (Juddmonte Farm) won the featured stakes at Belmont Park and Monmouth Park with horses trained by Bobby Frankel., who has made a career of getting his number put up.

One of Frankel"s winners was First Defence who wired the Long Branch Stakes down the shore. He certainly was impressive, and no doubt we'll see this colt in the Haskell. But you may want to keep an eye on the runnerup - a colt named Get Serious from the Forbes barn.

Making only his third career start, Get Serious was trapped down on the fence for most of the race. Once he found racing room above the eighth pole, he came flying, and was getting to the winner, who was 1-9 through most of the betting, and closed 1-5.

OK. So Asmussen had a good weekend. Frankel had a good weekend. How 'bout The Toddster?

Just how great is it to be Todd Pletcher?

In three big races at Delaware Park, Pletcher sent out Cotton Blossom in the Delaware Oaks, King of the Roxy in the Barbaro, and Indian Vale in the Delaware Handicap.

All were odds-on can't miss sure things.

And all got beat!

Bad news for the bettors...but for Pletcher, why worry?

While Indian Vale was finishing up the track, uncoupled stablemate Unbridled Belle merely won by seven at 8-1. And Unbridled Belle's task was made easier, when Indian Vale's jock opened a hole for her leaving the quarter-pole.

What"s more, Pletcher on Saturday won the Round Table at Arlington Park with the four-legged Pavarotti, and on Sunday won the Bowling Green at Belmont with Sunriver.

For a player, the bottom line in virtually every major stakes is Pletcher. Win or lose, the Toddster is the main dynamic.

Of course, that will hold true more than ever at Saratoga where Pletcher will run the first or second choice five or six times a day - and certainly in every 2-year-old race.

And just how short will Rags to Riches be in the Alabama?

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