Dec 31, 2009
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By: John Piesen
TRAINERS IN THE NEWS
As the racing year -- and the decade -- winds down, several trainers, from the rich and famous, to the obscure, are in the news.
Let's take a look...
Levine, a Brooklyn guy, fell from grace after making it big-time in the New York training colony in the '90s. It happens. He lost his owners. Just ask Leroy Jolley.
But now Levine, with a fresh supply of owners with deep pockets, is back on top, winning races the last two years in New York and in Jersey at a 20 per cent clip. And, moreover, he has his first-ever serious Derby horse -- Buddy's Saint.
On Wednesday, Levine will run five at Aqueduct (weather permitting), and all are serious.
They are Lady Limit in race three; Catchuptothesun in race four; Essex Ferry in race five; R Little Nugget in race seven; and Of All Times in race nine.
All are in form, all will be ridden by top jocks, and all are speed.
Don't say you weren't warned.
Persaud is the only other trainer with five in on Wednesday at the Big A, but, unlike Levine, all are longshots. But longshots are the specialty for this talented young conditioner.
WEDNESDAY, GET MY BEST LONGSHOT
AT AQUEDUCT AND WIN BIG
I've dug deep into my connections here at the Big A, and found some reliable info on a shipper , and this overlooked horse should pay even better than my Sunday best bet, Kaffiend, who won $6.30. I am releasing this and two more standout plays today, and urge you to get aboard for a nice payoff.
When the Eclipse Awards are announced on Jan. 18, Asmussen is certain to repeat as Eclipse trainer. And, if Rachel Alexandra gets Horse of the Year, Super Steve will become the first trainer since Carl Hanford (Kelso) in the '60s to attain a consecutive Horse of the Year hat trick.
Hey, since Asmussen every year runs the most horses, wins the most races, and tops the money standings, who knows? He'll probably win 20 straight Eclipse Awards.
Props to racing writer Jay Hovdey for his Eclipse vote for Bob Frankel.
It is worth noting that five Frankel horses have won stakes since his passing, capped by Proudinsky's victory in the San Gabriel on Sunday at Santa Anita.
Pletcher this year settled for second to Asmussen in the money standings, and will settle for second to Steve in the Eclipse voting. But not for lack of trying.
In recent days, the Toddster is 10-for-21 over the Aqueduct inner track, and will run major players in three stakes this week: Atoned, Nite Light and Tiger's Rock in the Gallant Fox on Thursday; Distorted Passion and old friend Awesome Ashley in the Interborough Handicap on Friday, and Ibboyee in the Count Fleet on Saturday.
Pletcher, as is his custom, also this week acquired another ready-made stakes star -- the '09 Met Mile winner Bribon. Last spring it was Quality Road. Two years back it was Lawyer Ron.
Indeed, the rich get richer.
Unlike the Asmussens and Pletchers of the world, Miceli is a blue-collar trainer who counts every winner as a blessing.
That's why it's worth noting that Miceli, an ex-rider, has won three races from five starters at Aqueduct. On Sunday, he scored a one-in-a-lifetime inter-state double: EZ Passer at the Big A, Who Is Lady at Fair Grounds.
Seewald, another blue-collar trainer, has been looking for years for his next Teddy Drone, and he may have found him.
Last Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, Seewald saddled 2-year-old firster named Uptowncharleybrown for a nine-length victory in '17 and change for the six and a half furlongs.
WILLIAM (RED) TERRILL
Back in the '80s, when every winner was an adventure for Red Terrill, and I was toiling as the beat man for the New York Post, we would often compare show-biz notes.
Red's father was a Broadway actor whose credits included playing opposite Al Jolson, and his mother was a Ziegfeld Follies girl. My mother was a vaudeville singer, who often told of appearing on bills with Jolie.
In the '90s, Red, in his sixth decade, became an overnight sensation himself. He won five Grade Ones with the magnificent gray filly Turnback the Alarm, and the '95 Alabama with Pretty Discreet at an $86 mutuel. He also trained stakes-winners Stolen Zeal, Saxuality and Light Up New York before his retirement in 1999.
On Sunday night, Red, at age 80, passed away at his family home in Saratoga Springs, a matter of hours after E Z Passer, co-owned by his brother Robert, won at Aqueduct.
The family torch passes to trainer Chad Brown, who is married to Red's granddaughter.
That would be Terrill Brown, named for her grandfather.
Rest in peace Red.
Thanks for tuning in. See you back Friday here for a look at the first racing weekend of the new year. And don't forget to check out my selections here online and/or on the John Piesen Hot Line (888 612 2283).
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