Breeders' Cup - day two preview
Another fantastic start for the Europeans with an inspired ride from Frankie Dettori aboard Pounced. It seems to pay to be close to the pace on the turf course with Frankie keeping John Gosden's juvenile handy throughout.
Frankie came sailing by the winning line and up past the Press box where the Brits were up on their feet cheering. He knew exactly where to look for a home celebration and gave him the full treatment despite the fact that I'd backed Viscount Nelson. The Americans are significantly more subdued than us. I'm not sure the frivolities go down that well but you've got to cheer a home win haven't you?!
There is a much bigger buzz about the place than yesterday. I think the two-day meeting works well but I'd have loved to have seen what it was like as a single day. Merchandise is flying off the shelves and people are unashamedly decked in the bright purple Breeders' Cup colours.
Nick Luck, over here working for ESPN is close-by looking suitably British in a pin-striped grey suit. Great broadcaster and they love him over here. It's funny but you seem to get even more English and use bizarre English colloquialisms. Twice now I've said 'argy-bargy' and 'higgly-piggledy'. Expressions that would never enter my vocabulary back in Blighty.
California Flag has just romped home in the Turf Sprint, an incredible run from the track-record holder. Gotta Have Her ran a great race in second for Jenine Sahadi who I embarrassingly thought was a woman trainer earlier in the week.
It paid almost 9/2 on the tote over here. A massive price considering his name. Perhaps they aren't quite as patriotic as I'd originally thought.
Over the tannoy has come the announcement that Gio Ponti is a 'ridgling'. Curious to know what one was the office kindly looked it up for me.
The explanation is as follows: "A ridgling or rig is a male animal with an undescended testicle. An undescended testicle is not a serious or life-threatening condition, though it may cause the animal discomfort at times."
Poor Gio Ponti. He may be in discomfort at times and now runs that risk that following an epic win in the Classic he could be greeted in the winner's enclosure with ''Gio Ponti has only got one ball''. As it happens I do quite fancy him at a big price. I know he was beaten last time out but it was on soft ground at Belmont and prior to that he notched up four consecutive Grade Ones.
We have the Dirt sprint in the next race where Fleeting Spirit will carry my money. I backed her earlier in the week but might have a saver on Gayego. I'm not worried about the draw for the filly as the favourite Zensational will come like a bullet from the gate and she'll be forced to tuck in behind and come late and fast. The same goes for Gayego who has a great finishing kick.
I've already touted up Alfred Nobel in Juvenile dirt and I'm not going to abandon him now. Aikenite looked a little slow behind Noble's Promise in the Futurity but could plug on for a place.
The Mile is a real head-scratcher. I was worried that Goldikova was going in her coat when I saw her earlier in the week and there doesn't seem the confidence behind her that Freddy Head exuded last year. She's an amazing filly but this seems a harder race with the unexposed Zacinto, Gladitorus who will benefit from medication here, Cowboy Cal, and Delegator all having chances. Freddy has not discounted Goldikova remaining in training next year which would be a treat, but I do wonder if she's beaten today whether that thought will be abandoned.
Mastercraftsman should win the Dirt Mile which looks his for the taking after some of the form he's shown this season. He looked very well when working this week and it's not the best of renewals but I just have a funny feeling it might not go to plan. I hope I'm wrong though.
None of our runners in the Turf need any introduction. I kind of hope Dar Re Mi wins as I think it would be sweet justice following the Prix Vermeille debacle. Conduit has looked incredible all week though and is as popular with the Americans as he is at Freemasons Lodge.
I can make a case for plenty of runners in the Classic but Rip Van Winkle is the obvious one. So much fuss has been made of his feet this week and I'm wondering if it's all been inflamed by the transparency of the system over here. If he were at home no of us would ever know about his setbacks, but Aidan has been forced to communicate with the Press here because everything is scrutinized on the track in the mornings. For Ballydoyle, that cannot be a bad thing. If he wins, he looks like a horse that has overcome adversity to prevail, and if he's beaten, we all know he's had problems with his feet. Just four hours to go until we find out.