Nov 18, 2011
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By: By JOHN PIESEN
WHAT'S WITH DAVID?
Where have you gone, David Cohen?
Since migrating from Maryland to New York five years ago, Cohen has established himself as a Top Three rider on the NYRA circuit. Forget about that he has become the biggest Jewish sports star hereabouts in a half-century. We're talking Sandy Koufax.
Cohen has done OK at Belmont Park and Saratoga, but it is Aqueduct where his star has shone brightest. So how do you explain his 2-for-45 start to the current Big A meeting? Compare that to 17-for-46 for arch-rival Ramon Dominguez.
We doubt that David Cohen suddenly has forgotten how to ride. More likely, he's in a slump. All athletes are prone to them.
Even Steve Cauthen, at the height of his Man of the Year popularity, went through an 0-for-120 blackout. This was such a big deal that my boss, the sports editor of the New York Post, flew me to Kentucky for a first-person interview. Back in the those days "so-and-so told the New York Post was a big deal."
Not for a minute are we putting Dave Cohen on Cauthen's level...but the modern-day players are betting this guy (especially at Aqueduct) with both fists.
Now, Cohen has had nine seconds during his 2-for-45 stretch. A nose here, a neck there, and Cohen could be 7-for-45 and we wouldn't even be having this discussion.
More serious than Cohen's losing streak is the fact that his business is trending down. Instead of riding seven or eight daily, he's down to four or five.
But talent is talent...and it's only a question of when (not if) Cohen will resume booting home the winners.
One thing I noticed right away about Cohen is the fact that he does some of his best work from the one-hole. Many riders get intimidated by the one-hole, including some Hall of Fame jocks, but Cohen has a knack of coming out running from the one, and that's a big edge over the Big A's speed-favoring surface.
The track has really been at its speed-favoring best thus far this meet. Long or short, wet or fast, you need to show speed. Keep that in mind the next time you think about fighting the casino traffic on the Belt Parkway, or, better yet, visit your favorite simulcasting venue.
Speaking of Dominguez, he will be staying home Saturday to ride eight (mostly chalk) rather then head south for a shot at the big money on Delta Jackpot Day at Delta Downs.
Yes, that's right. Delta Downs, a racino located in the backwater town of Vinton, La., is the capitol of the racing world one day a year -- and that day is Saturday.
Eight stakes will be run that afternoon, topped by the $1 million, Grade 3 Delta Jackpot for 2-year-olds. And besides the $600,000 first-prize money, the winner is guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Thus far, no horse has registered a Delta-Derby double, but there's always a first time. Ya gotta be in it to win it.
Which is why Bob Baffert is sending Drill to Delta a mere two weeks after the colt's dismal showing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Martin Garcia will be in from California to ride Drill, who will have the distinction of being the first Grade One winner to compete in the Jackpot since the race was inaugurated in 2002.
Despite his 17-length loss in the BC, Drill was made the 2-1 favorite from post six in a field of 14, and may be a lot less if his free-spending owners get down. Make a note to see if they made the trip from LA and Phoenix. To get to Vinton, La., you really need to want to.
Speaking of Baffert, he was supposed to have his strongest BC contingent ever two weeks back at Churchill Downs. But several of his horses, notably Euroears, The Factor and said Drill were dead on the board, and Bullet Bob wound up 1-for-10 -- his lone winner, Secret Circle at 2-5.
At least, Bob did better than Pletcher (0-for-12).
I would expect that the long-striding Drill, returning on two-weeks' rest and 3,000-plus miles airborne, will have his problems with Delta's tight turns, and will be vulnerable.
If Drill is gonna get beat, the one to do it a New Jersey shipper named My Adonis.
George and Lori Hall, and trainer Kelly Breen, who won the Belmont Stakes last June with Ruler on Ice, are the connections of My Adonis, who has the advantage of a race over the track -- a five-length blowout in the 500K Jean Lafitte on October 22.
Obviously, Breen, taking a page from Willie Sutton, knows where they keep the money. The Jackpot purse exceeds the combined purses for the three racing days this weekend at Breen's home base of Monmouth Park.
And Breen had no trouble finding Delta Downs. He's run several horses in Vinton, notably West Coast Bernie, the '08 Jackpot runnerup.
Elvis Trujillo makes the trip down from the Jersey shore to ride My Adonis, who will break from the five.
You might want to use My Adonis in the gimmicks with some bombers, notably Tiz Moe (Theriot); Longview Drive (Rosario); Seven Lively Sins (Leparoux). and Basmati (Nakatani). The lineup is completed by: Laurie's Rocket (Hernandez); Sabercat (Melancon); Jake Mo (Simington), and Doug's Buddy (Stokes).
That would be Rex Stokes III, who gets the call on Doug's Buddy only because regular rider Rico Walcott has commitments Saturday in Barbados, a nice place to have commitments.
I guess Calvin Borel wasn't available to ride Doug's Buddy, who was vanned 2,300 miles from western Canada for the race, and whose trainer, Joan Petrowki, has never run a horse in the United States in her 40 years in the business.
Speaking of Borel, Calvin's agent dropped word the other day that CB will ride the winter at Gulfstream rather than at Oaklawn Park, where he has ridden every winter since 1991. It is doubtful however that the loss of Calvin will have a negative impact on Oaklawn's casino trade.
Trainer Larry Jones also won't be back in Hot Springs.
Jones, who spent the last 10 winters at OP, will be taking his entire string, including Havre de Grace, the Horse of the Year in waiting, down to Fair Grounds. And Gabriel Saez will be down from Delaware Park to ride first-call on everything except HDG.
Havre de Grace would not be the Horse of the Year if: Animal Kingdom had won the Preakness or the Belmont, or if Game On Dude or Flat Out had won the BC Classic, or if Goldikova had won the BC Mile, or if Union Rags had won the BC Mile, or maybe if Tizway stayed sound.
But none of these things happened...so Havre De Grace -- despite her fourth in the Classic -- will be elected Horse of the Year.
Meantime, the Stay of the Year goes to Richard Dutrow Jr. In a landslide.
You will recall that a month back, Dutrow was socked with a 10-year suspension. Next day, he got a 30-day stay (during which time he has been spending more time in the
NYRA winning circle than the Coglianeses.
And now comes word from Albany that Dutrow's stay has been deemed indefinite.
This means, among other things, Dutrow will be permitted to run Redeemed, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, Saturday in the 100K Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct. Jockey Prado will be back from Churchill for one day for the call.
Who knows what's next for our guy Dutrow?
An Eclipse Award?
A Law and Order episode?
He da man.
Thanks as always for tuning in. Have a good weekend, I'll have my best bets available here online and keep the John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283) at your ready, and see you back here next weekend for some holiday specials.
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