Day one of the Breeders' Cup - over
So the Star Spangled Banner went well.
Three young attractive women from Texas came and sang in that warbly way and Americans everywhere held their hand over their hearts. Prior to the start we were humorously asked to encourage: "All Forces veterans to salute their flag.'' One of the journalists here queried how we were supposed to do that? Tackle an old age pensioner and demand they salute?
So it was a flying start for the Europeans with an early victory for Man of Iron in the Marathon. All credit to an exceptionally cool ride from Johnny who dropped out and avoided the early fractions before coming with a late run. I'm sure connections are extremely relieved and it franks the form for Mastercraftsman too who beat Man of Iron by seven lengths in the Diamond Stakes.
Godolphin blamed a long season on the defeat of Mastery. It is quite possible that he ran up to his mark though. Father Time finished behind him again and he may have been beaten by an improving type who was more suited by the surface and a step-up in trip.
Lillie Langtry was very disappointing in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Johnny felt that she didn't handle the course, but the plan is still to return to Ireland and train her for the Classics next year. I'm actually a little bit gutted about the winner Tapitsfly as I saw her work earlier in the week and really liked her. An unnamed British journalist made a few negative comments about her and I let it put me off. Frustrating, but it's my own fault.
Woo-hoo! Henry did it with Midday! Even post-race he is looking as cool as the proverbial cucumber. And what a ride by Tom Queally! I thought he'd had a rush of blood to the head when he made an early move down the back straight but he pitched it perfectly and bustled her up for an ideal slot rounding the home turn. That is five Group Ones this season for the 25-year-old, and hopefully he will now begin to get recognition outside of the usual Racing spheres.
Queally was quoted as saying: "‘The biggest win of his career - undoubtedly. Nine times out of ten the race won't work out that way for you, but today was today. I am over the moon.'' What a nice lad, and what a great jockey.
Midday looks set to stay in training next year which will be a treat for all of us. I realise the importance of breeding these fillies, but it is so good to see them come back as four-year-olds. I'll look forward to seeing Midday in races like the Nassau, Yorkshire Oaks, and possibly back at Churchill Downs to defend her crown.
From one legend to another in Henry and Bobby Frankel but it wasn't to be for the World record holder. It always looked like being a tougher renewal than last year for Ventura and she found Informed Decision too good for her on the day. The pace wasn't as quick as ideal for the 2008 Champion and as a result her finishing kick was not as potent as expected. Up in trip now maybe or perhaps the Breeding barns beckon.
Two wins now for Julian Leparoux, hopefully Johnny will return with a vengeance tomorrow for my top jockey bet on him.
We make him a 9/4 chance to be the Top jockey for tomorrow's Breeders' Cup races, with Garrett Gomez close behind at 5/2. For those that think it might be a day for Frankie 4/1 is available.
I'm almost glad I'm not having the best day's punting. I can't be awarded the Pick Six, a host of rolling Pick Threes, and a super-trifecta if I've had it off today can I?
The closing race saw the Ladies' Classic - what a bizarre ride by Robert Landry on Careless Jewel. I thought she had a massive chance but not with tactics like that. She completely set it up for the winner Life is Sweet who has finished fourth behind Zenyatta on her last two starts. Another good piece of collateral form indicating the mare will run a huge race tomorrow. She's will definitely go off favourite on the Tote over here. Local runner, unbeaten, and with a higher profile than Lady GaGa, the locals won't be able to leave her alone.
So we're halfway through and I am off back to the hotel to enjoy a cooling ale. With a bigger day tomorrow I will be sure to adhere to our Grey Goose sponsors here at Santa Anita and 'sip responsibly.'