Friday, 3 April 2009

Keenely Awaited

And they’re off for the Keeneland Spring meet, otherwise known as the finest two-and-a-half weeks in American racing. For the most part, this is racing as it’s supposed to be: a beautiful track, lots of available information, races that are actually interesting from a sporting perspective plus free Video & Audio (well, video really, for whatever reason I can’t get the audio to work on the live stream).

By now, horsemen should have come to grips with Keeneland’s polytrack, and the initial heated two-camp shouting duel has calmed down to a more reasonable discussion about the surface's pros and cons. The results are more predictable too, thanks in part to alterations done on the track after the first meeting earned a lot of scorn for it’s unhandicappability (a word this blogocommentalist is pretty sure exists). Some of those results were, in my opinion, more due to the horsemen's strong perception of an anti-speed bias than to the existing bias itself. I remember first quarters of 25 flat in 7-furlong allowance races during Keeneland’s very first polytrack meet. After such races, commentators would point to another entirely unpredictable result on this weird surface, but have you ever seen a high-class 7-furlong race with such a slow first quarter (on any surface) that didn’t end in a weird dash to the line?

Salt in the Soup

Could somebody explain to me why there is a purse of 50k for a 4 1/2-furlong race for unraced 2yo’s in today's 2nd race? They shave off the purses of several of their major races because they have to save money, but they can still blow away 50k (several times) on pure gimmick races? Setting aside the question if 2yo’s should start in April in the first place, would that race have attracted a lesser field if run for half the amount? And if so, would anybody have noticed?
I guess they just want to lead buyers at their current 2YO sale to believe that Thoroughbred owners will pretty much get paid for anything.

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