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Jun 20, 2008

Thru The Binoculars


Remember Big Brown?

Hey, I'm serious.

It has been only three weeks since Big Brown, the Godzilla of the sports world, schlumped home dead last as a "foregone conclusion" in the Belmont Stakes.

Within 48 hours, Big Brown was relegated to yesterday's news as Tiger, Willie and the Celtics stole the back page -- and the front page.

But now Big Brown is back in the news...although the story was buried on page 12 of  Daily Racing Form.

Big Brown's connections announced on Thursday that the Derby/Preakness winner will be pointed for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3 at Monmouth Park down the shore.

So what's going on here?

Since the Derby, trainer Dutrow has been saying that he has no interest in the Haskell, and that Big Brown will have two more starts before going off to stud -- the Travers at Saratoga and the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

(Of course, this discussion becomes academic when it is decided to retire the colt on the spot.)

So what happened?

Did trainer Dutrow suddenly change his mind about the Haskell...or was he overruled by owner Iavarone?

Methinks the latter.

Whatever, it's never a good thing for owner and trainer to be hanging on different pages.

Says Iavarone:

"The Haskell makes the most sense for Big Brown for a number of reasons, notably the weather. The Jersey shore doesn't get the heat and humidity of Saratoga. We're hopeful the Haskell gives him the perfect platform."

Iavarone insists that the fact that Monmouth will offer $50,000 bonuses to him and to Dutrow if Big Brown runs in the Haskell is not a factor in his decision.

Presuming that Big Brown indeed goes to the Haskell, it will be interesting to find something for the Monmouth racing office to run against him.

Da' Tara and Dennis of Cork, one-two in the Belmont, are going the Jim Dandy/Travers route. Casino Drive is back in Japan. Racecar Rhapsody was bought by the sheiks, and is headed for Dubai.

They probably will get some of the bench players from trainers Asmussen, Pletcher and Zito.

Go, Anak Nakal!

Speaking of Dutrow, was it not unfortunate that Richard was too ill to testify Thursday morning at the Congressional hearings into "breeding, drugs and breakdowns"?

This was the hearing where Rep. Jan Schakowsky, the acting chair, declared that "horses are doped up on cocaine, and that many experts say that Eight Belles was a disaster waiting to happen.

"To professional breeders, Eight Belles' pedigree should have raised alarm. But they went on with her anyway."


I better tell what the congressman said to a friend who is thrilled that his mare is currently in foal to Unbridled's Song (the sire of Eight Belles).  

And,  speaking of Eight Belles, I just came across an article written by an upstate New York racing scribe.

In the article, he ranks the top 10 three-year-old fillies of the season, starting with Proud Spell, who will be at Belmont next Saturday for the Mother Goose, and continuing down to Golden Doc A in the 10th spot.

Conspicuously missing from the list is a filly named Eight Belles.

Yes, I have been concerned since Louisville that the Eight Belles tragedy would become a footnote to Big Brown in this racing season.

I guess I did not know, however, to what extent.

I'm also concerned that trainers Gasper Moschera and John Campo, and jockey Larry Snyder are not in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, and I'm also concerned that there has been no progress in finding a Commissoner of Racing.

During a phone conversation with Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day on Thursday, I mentioned that my personal choice for the job would be the guy at the other end of  the line.

"I agree we need a commissioner," Day said, "...but I wouldn't want the job. I'm not nasty enough."

"I disagree," I told him. "I know nasty, and you can be pretty nasty."

One example -- I pointed out to Day -- was the Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park.

Day was riding Broadway Forli, the 3-5 favorite, from post eight in the mile race that started way up in the chute.

At the break, Cordero, riding the seven, and Amy, riding the nine. made chow mein of Day and Broadway Forli. Amy and Cordero went on to finish one-two, and Broadway Forli checked in third.

Moments later, a furious Pat Day would have killed Junior in the jocks' room if security and the valets didn't pull him off.

Then, moments later, the stewards disqualified Amy and Cordero's horses, and put up Broadway Forli.

At the hearing the next day, the three wise men ruled Cordero and Amy blameless...but fined Day for "using abusive language."

Pat surely has mellowed (haven't we all?) since then, but I still think he could find that nasty trait to do the job as commissioner.

New gimmick-wager on Saturday -- the $100,000 guaranteed 60-minute Pick Six
combining six races from four Eastern tracks to be run within a time frame of 51 minutes

The races, in order, are race six at Belmont; race seven at Monmouth; race eight at Delaware Park; race seven at Belmont; race eight at Monmouth, and race 10 at Philadelphia Park.

I'll be handicapping all those races plus speaking to my contacts at each venue finding out who's hot, who's not, who's on the muscle and who's ready to win. I am really excited at tomorrow, I have won many full cards and pick-6's in my 30 year career. Saturday's Pick-6 gives us many opportunities to cash tickets.  If you would like to join me, I'll give you the same horses I bet myself. You won't have to wonder who the right horse is or who the insiders like starting right now, you'll get the right horse and your the insider. Best of all, I am am not just available, I am affordable. Just $25, half off my regular fee gets you the pick-6.

I will have my 1-2-3 picks for the six races right here after 9:00am (ET)
or at the office, 1-888-612-2283.

Keep in mind the first leg goes at 3:40 (EST); the sixth at 4:28.

The wager, which has a $2 base, will continue every Saturday through August 30. If it goes unhit, it will carry over to the following Saturday.

In this era of instant gratification, this wager sounds like a pretty good idea.

Hopefully, the weatherman will cooperate. Four of the six races are slated for the grass.

Enjoy the weekend.

We'll see you back here on Monday.

Yours For Winners,
John Piesen

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