- A couple of readers picked up on the story of the delay in an ambulance getting out to Fleet Indian after she was pulled up during the Distaff. ESPN did have a shot of her owner Paul Saylor standing with the horse at 4:09, eight minutes after the race was over. I remember thinking at the time that he looked calm and composed. Little did I know he was awaiting medical assistance for the horse, and neither did the commentators on ESPN. According to Saylor, an ambulance did not come for "damn near 20 minutes." And Saylor was not that calm in a subsequent interview, in which he hurled two complaints with one stone.
"They had to bring it over from the Sports Spectrum (now known as Trackside Louisville). I tell you what, I don't know if it's the Breeders' Cup or Churchill (that is responsible), but I'm going to find out and I'm going right after somebody's throat because if she had had a fracture, we would have lost her. Everybody was screaming about the track bias, which should not have happened either. If you weren't on the rail, you weren't going to win. But that (the time it took to get an equine ambulance to Fleet Indian) was friggin' unbelievable." [Bloodhorse]Churchill denied that the ambulance had to be brought in from elsewhere, instead citing a supposed regulation that prohibits two ambulances from being on the track at the same time. Huh? I'd love to hear an explanation of that!! An ambulance was of course tending to the more severely injured Pine Island.
I'm still shocked that Denman missed Pine Island's fall. Looking back, you can see the spill just as ESPN cut away to a close-up shot. I didn't see it at the time, and had no idea that something had occurred. Did you? I had a nice exacta box with her and the winner, and was looking around for the familiar black silks and red cap in the stretch while wondering why I hadn't heard Denman call her name; but I didn't know her fate until the disturbing replay of it afterwards, for which I was totally unprepared. Watching the tape, I hear that Chris Fowler jumped right in after the finish to say that both favorites had been injured.
"She was running good. We got on the backside, and I asked her to switch leads, and it happened so fast," Castellano said. "She broke down. I don't know what else to say." [AP]To his credit, Fowler immediately picked up on the irony of Michael Matz and Edgar Prado being the winning connections as a horse was stricken on the track with a life-threatening injury. Jeanine Edwards did a sensitive job interviewing Matz afterwards, who didn't smile until asked about Barbaro. (And did I miss something while going to the bathroom, or was that virtually the only mention of the Derby winner all day?) Ms. Edwards was emotional after getting the bad news from Dr. Bramlage on her being put down, reporting that Ogden Phipps declined going on the air, "not if I don't have to."
Nick Luck tried to interview Castellano moments afterwards, but there was no sound on the wireless connection; and you could then see Luck trying to actually push the rider into an accessible spot. I was thinking that a guy who just went tumbling off a horse probably didn't appreciate that! Nonetheless, excellent job there by ESPN, who was right on top of that situation, as Luck soon after reported that Castellano would ride Bernardini. I also have to say that Round Pond's owner Rick Porter could have shown more sensitivity to the situation when he was presented with the trophy in the winner's circle.
As for Round Pond, it doesn't get much easier for Edgar Prado. He just rode the live rail, except to ease around the tiring Healthy Addiction on the turn; then ducked right back to the golden path. Happy Ticket ran an absolutely fantastic race, wide against the bias on both turns and totally out of her stalking game; yet she rallied for third, placed second after Asi Siempre was DQ'd. What a game mare she is! Balletto, who with the favorites out was the only horse left under 10-1, made a run, but never one threatening enough to earn the emphatic stretch call that she did from Denman. Asi Siempre ran well enough to justify Patrick Biancone's confidence of her ability on the dirt.
It was Round Pond's first Grade 1 win of the year, and her second stakes win of the year in five starts. She's by Awesome Again, his third Grade 1 winner of the year. Round Pond is out of Trempolino half sister to Black Minnoloushe and the Grade 1 winner Nasr El Arab. Don't know if it's enough for her to win an Eclipse in a wide open division; the race will certainly be looked at as skewed as a result of the inside bias. Personally, I think Happy Ticket should get some consideration, but considering that she lost to Round Pond in both their meetings, that would be a tough call.
- One reader, I think it was Nick, wrote in last week to say that the rail at Churchill was dead! I had checked out the charts for Thursday, and he was most assuredly right, check them out! That track changed drastically between then and Saturday. The rail bias and the tragic Distaff will only up the intensity of the call to move to synthetic surfaces. (Though I imagine that bias players are salivating over betting on, and against, some of these horses in their next races.)
- One criticism of Bailey; after the Distaff, in defending the Churchill surface as safe, he denied that there was a strong bias. I beg to differ.