The Summer of 2012by TVG Analyst – Joaquin Jaime

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It is starting to feel like my two favorite meets on the Thoroughbred racing calendar are going by quicker and quicker each year. But, as Del Mar and Saratoga come to a close, it gives me a chance to reflect on a few of my favorite moments from “The Spa” and the place “Where the Turf meets the Surf.” Only two days into the meet, we saw Ramon Dominguez become just the second rider (following Hall of Famer Johnny V.) to win six races on a card at Saratoga. It’s an amazing accomplishment considering the great riders that have been given a leg up in the 144-year history at Saratoga. I know that Todd Pletcher receives more 2-year-olds compared to other barns, but the dude has been ridiculous with his babies at the meet so far. He has had 20 wins (through 8/29) with his 2-year-olds at the current meet with big maiden winners Kauai Katie and Dreaming of Julia the major standouts. Questing in the Alabama was an absolutely awesome performance. As she was going into the far turn and I saw the splits of :22 4/5, :46 and 1:09 3/5 for three-quarters of a mile, I thought for sure she would start to back up. That was not the case and she ended up drawing off in the stretch to win by nine lengths. She’s definitely going to have a say in a couple of months in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Yes, Distaff. I still can’t say Ladies’ Classic. With the fractions she carved out, her performance in the Alabama to me was more impressive than Wise Dan in the Fourstardave and Zagora in the Ballston Spa. I won’t be shocked if others disagree. With all the 3-year-old defections this year, the Travers Stakes was not one of the best in recent memory. But at the end of the day, it still provided a thrilling dead-heat between Alpha and Golden Ticket in a race I will definitely not forget. It’s hard not to mention Willy Beamin; he wins a stakes race on Wednesday vs. NY-breds, then comes back three days later on Saturday to win the King’s Bishop. Who does that?! Only Babe, I guess. Over at Del Mar, there are a few meet highlights that stand out in my mind. First, is the Best Pal Stakes with Know More for trainer Doug O’Neill. I heard over a week out that Doug had this 2-year-old working real well and he was going to run him in a Grade 2 to debut. I was somewhere around 0 for my last 10 on steam horses so I decided to pass. Well, that didn’t work out so well - Know More rallied late and paid $19.20 to win. Genius move by me. My favorite performance of the meet goes to Winding Way in the Rancho Bernardo. She had shown speed in her first two races, then completely missed the break in the Rancho Bernardo. We knew she was talented going in, but her wide late rally to get the victory after being dead last was very impressive for her third career start. It was good to see a 3-year-old that competed in the Triple Crown still on the racetrack in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1). I didn’t think he would win, but I definitely thought Dullahan would run better than people expected. It looks like the Dubai World Cup is a long term goal for this colt, who should never race on anything but synthetic again. Seeing how much fun the Donegal Racing partnership was having in the winner’s circle definitely made me want to join a racing partnership. Not sure I can get in on anything for the $8 dollars I currently have in my wallet. My two favorite meets may be ending, but the best time of the year is still coming up. Number one is the Breeders’ Cup and the all the prep races leading into the event on November 2-3. Outside of racing, post season baseball is just around the corner as well as College Football and the NFL. I hope everyone out there has had a great summer and continues to enjoy the remainder of Del Mar and Saratoga. Now, let’s see if the Los Angeles Dodgers can actually stop losing to teams that are 30 lengths back and rally to win the NL West.

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