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Oct 09, 2003

Racing Today

By: John Piesen


Let’s be honest here.

The whole racing world knows that Candy Ride was the best horse to race in North

America this year. But for some mysterious reason, Candy Ride is skipping the

Breeders’ Cup Classic, and probably won’t get a vote for Horse of the Year.

The whole racing world also knows that Mineshaft was the most accomplished horse

to race in North America this year, and, at this writing, he is clearly the leader in the clubhouse

for Horse of the Year.

But Mineshaft also will miss the Breeders’ Cup Classic (please let me remind you that you

read it here first on Sept. 17), and stands the chance of being dethroned by the Classic

winner, especially if it’s Medaglia d’Oro.

And Medaglia d’Oro will be no worse than second choice in the Classic!

It Medaglia d’Oro does indeed add the Classic to his earlier Grade 1 victories this year in the

Strub, Oaklawn Handicap and Whitney, and win Horse of the Year, it would be poetic justice

for Bobby Frankel, the dominant trainer of the new millennium.

In the past week alone, Frankel:
1) broke Wayne Lukas’ one-year record of Grade One victories with Sightseek in the Beldame, and
2) announced his engagement to Bonita Boniface of the prominent Maryland racing family, and

the inspiration for Bonita Farm. Frankel, a lifelong bachelor, is 62. Bonita is 31.

When Jerry Bailey hand-rode Sightseek across the line for Frankel in the Beldame, it sent the

folks at Equibase scurrying to their computers to update the Hall of Famers’ remarkable 2003

statistics.

The boys in the backroom discovered that:

This was the 23rd Grade One victory this year for Frankel, breaking the old mark of 22 set by his

good buddy D. Wayne Lukas in 1987.

“I was just thinking,” says Frankel, “that I finished second in another 10.”

The victory inched Frankel to within shouting distance of Lukas for the one-year earnings record.

Lukas holds the mark with $17.8 million set in 1988, the year he won his first Kentucky Derby with

Winning Colors. With three months left, Frankel’s horses this year have earned $16.4 million.


I’d say that Frankel stands a good chance to break that Lukas record. For the Breeders’ Cup

alone, Frankel will saddle Sprint favorite Aldebaran, Distaff favorite Sightseek, the aforementioned

Medaglia d’Oro in the Classic; Tates Creek, Heat Haze, Wild Spirit…

It’s only October 8, and Bailey already has broken his own record for one-year earnings. He set

the record last year with $19.2 million. He already has $19.4 million this year, and, barring

injury, he’s a cinch to exceed the $20 million milestone.

Bailey’s victories aboard Sightseek and Birdstone last weekend gave him 59 stakes victories for

the year, meaning he needs nine more to equal Mike Smith’s record of 68, established in 1994.

When Smith set the mark that year, nailing Jorge Velasquez, Smith’s agent, Steve Adika, equated

Smith’s feat to Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak. Who would know the record would

stand for less than 10 years?

With the likes of Aldeberan, Sightseek and Medaglia d’Oro on his Breeders’ Cup dance card, Bailey

may break Smith’s record with two months to spare.

Speaking of DiMaggio reminds me of one of my favorite racetrack stories, albeit one tinged with

sadness.

Back in 1989, while staffing Aqueduct for the New York Post, it occurred to me that jockey Chris Antley

seemed to be winning at least one race a day. Sure enough, I checked it out, and found that Antley had

won at least one a day for 25 straight days.

I started to chronicle Antley’s feat daily in my “Through the Binoculars” column, and the racing

establishment started to take note. The streak reached 30, then 40, then 50.

At that point, I mentioned to Antley that he was bearing down on DiMaggio’s streak.

“Who,” Antley asked me, “…is Joe DiMaggio?”

Regardless, Antley finally reached 64 days before the streak ended, and for Chris, may he rest

in peace, that was a career highwater mark.

In other racing news:

In case you missed it, Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkins won two major stakes within the span

of 18 hours last weekend, naturally with longshots. On Friday evening, he won the Meadowlands

Cup with Bowman’s Band at $26.20, and the next day, knocked off the Frizette at Belmont Park

with Society Selection at $18.40.

Bowman’s Band, who had been trained up this point by Michael Matz, was one of six winners that

evening for Ramon Dominguez, putting him up 19 on Russell Baze for the jockey title (359-340). Ironically, four

of the six winners came as a sub for Joe Bravo, who fractured a vertebrae in a spill the previous night.

It was a particularly untimely blow for Bravo, who was looking forward to riding Valid Video in the Breeders’ Cup

Sprint. More irony: Bravo went down on a horse trained by Dennis Manning, the trainer of Valid Video.

Bravo, despite all his accomplishments, has ridden only one horse, the fielder Miss Legality in the 1991

Juvenile Fillies, in the Breeders’ Cup.

Congratulations to young Ray Ganpath, a young Jamaican who works mostly as an exercise rider at the New

York tracks. Society Selection was his first stakes-winner in the United States. Ganpath will be looking to hit

the jackpot when he rides Society Selection back against Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies.

But such are the vagaries of racing that Jerkens was denied a weekend hat trick when House Party (at 3-5) couldn’t

catch second-choice Harmony Lodge in Sunday’s Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont.

While handing out congratulations, how ‘bout Julie Krone! Less than six months back in her comeback, she

rode five winners last Sunday at Santa Anita. It could have been six if Yankee Gentleman hadn’t missed the

break in the Ancient Title.

And wasn’t it a nice gesture to see sprint icon Kona Gold lead the post parade for the Ancient Title?

While talking about jockeys, it will be an interesting last weekend of October for Jose Santos.

On Oct. 25, Santos will be re-united with Volponi in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Santos, who won the 2002 Classic

on Volponi, was fired by trainer Phil Johnson after the Whitney, but the horse subsequently lost three straight

races with Bailey and John Velazquez aboard.


And, on Oct. 29, Santos will be back aboard Funny Cide for the opening-day Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct.

At least that’s the plan.

Funny Cide looked like his old self working three-quarters in 1:11 4/5 yesterday at Belmont. Trainer Barclay

Tagg is hoping that a Discovery victory will clinch the 3-year-old title for Funny Cide.

The connections of During, Congrats and Dynever also are eyeballing the Discovery.



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