Bobby Zen

The Week in Review

On a day when there were three stakes races, two of them Grade I’s, at Santa Anita, the biggest draw on the Monday card was a maiden, Eagles Flight (Curlin). He drew more fans to the paddock than were there for any of the stakes. That’s what happens when you’re making your first start and are a half-brother to the great Flightline (Tapit). Crank up the hype machine.

Eagles Flight, sent off at 11-10, won by 2 3/4 lengths, drawing away with ease inside the final sixteenth. Flavien Prat, who also rode Flightline, was aboard. He covered the six furlongs in 1:10.07 and received an 89 Beyer figure.

No, he’s not the second coming of Flightline. But who is? It’s going to be a long, long time until we see another horse who is that good. But Eagles Flight showed that he is a talented horse and should develop into a major stakes horse.

“I was very happy,” winning trainer John Sadler said. “We got this one under our belt. He ran a good race and he got a lot of experience in one race. He was down on the inside, was off a little bit slow, got a chance to eat a lot of dirt. It was like three or four races worth of experience rolled into one.”

Sadler believes we will not see the best of Eagles Flight until he gets him to go around two turns.

“He will be better with more distance,” he said. “I think we will know his talent level when he gets stretched out to a mile. There are a lot of good horses that can win going short but that’s not really their thing. This looks like a distance horse to me.”

So far as the next start for Eagles Flight, Sadler hasn’t thought that far ahead, but he said it will likely come in an allowance race. Flightline debuted on Apr. 24, 2021 in a six-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita. He was next seen in a Sept. 5, one-mile allowance race at Del Mar.

“I haven’t decided anything yet, but an allowance race will probably be next,” he said. “That sounds about right.”

He said that one of the main differences between the early careers of Flightline and Eagles Flight is that the hype for Eagles Flight started well before his maiden voyage.

“What’s different is that the spotlight was on the horse from the first jump,” the trainer said. “That’s what is a little bit different. Flightline, people got worked up on him after his first couple of starts. With this one, there’s a brighter light on him from the beginning. But I’m used to that. Everybody says is this a lot of pressure? No. What’s stressful is when they can’t run and this horse can run. He’s going to be a nice horse.

“It was really cool because there were a lot of people there and it was a great day of racing at Santa Anita. That was a hot maiden race. The horse with the numbers (Santarena) was second. It was a fun day.”

With more fun to come.


My Annual Rant About the Pennine Ridge S.

Okay, so maybe there are more pressing issues in racing, but I still fail to understand how NYRA ever named a race after Pennine Ridge (Cure the Blues) in the first place and why they won’t change it to recognize some horse or person more deserving of the honor. The fact is Pennine Ridge just wasn’t a very good horse.

He was 9-for-46 lifetime and his biggest win came in the 1994 GII Jamaica H. He won four stakes in all, including two Grade III’s and a listed race. But the real problem is how he ended his career. Nine of his last 12 starts were in claimers, including the final four of his career. He bowed out on Nov. 18, 1998, finishing fourth in a $40,000 claimer at the Meadowlands.

It has been suggested to me that NYRA named the race the Pennine Ridge because the horse, before he hit the skids, was owned by former NYRA Chairman Allan Dragone, who passed away in 2006. Dragone is an important figure in the history of the New York Racing Association, so here’s how you can fix the problem and still honor Dragone–just rename the race the Allan Dragone S. Problem solved.

The Met Mile Belongs on Memorial Day

NYRA has done a superb job with Belmont Stakes day. By adding numerous major stakes to the card it has become the best single day of racing in the country outside of the Breeders’ Cup. But there has been a price. The weeks leading up to the race and following the race don’t have any sizzle, and the biggest problem is the Memorial Day Card, which used to feature the GI Met Mile. The Met, always one of the best races of the year, alone turned the day into a big event. This year, on Memorial Day the feature was the GII Wonder Again S., which was run as the second race. It’s just another stakes race. You can have it both ways. Put the Met back on Memorial Day and it won’t be that missed on Belmont Day because there are so many big races. Maybe they could move the Wonder Again to Belmont Day to fill the void.


This was a weird one. On the overnight, in the condition book, in the program and in the Daily Racing Form, Monday’s first race at Belmont at the Big A was listed at 5 1/2 furlongs. Then they went out and ran it at five furlongs. It seems that in the track program, the diagram showing the circumference of the track had the race starting at 5 furlongs, and that’s why they placed the gate at the five-eighths pole…even though every other piece of information clearly stated that the race was to be held at 5 1/2 furlongs

“Monday’s first race at Belmont at the Big A was run at the incorrect distance of five furlongs due to a program diagram error,” said NYRA Vice President of Communications Pat McKenna.  “The race was written at 5 1/2 furlongs for 2-year-old maidens, however due to an outside-vendor issue the corresponding race graphic in the program portrayed a five-furlong race. The five-furlong race was won by War Tax with Jose Gomez up for trainer Carlos Martin.

“This is a highly unusual scenario and despite the correct distance being written in the program, on the overnight and across wagering platforms, the race was unfortunately contested at the incorrect distance. NYRA will review its protocols to ensure this scenario does not present itself again.”

Sometimes all it takes to fix these issues is a little common sense. Somebody must have noticed that the gate was in the wrong place. Just move the gate back a half furlong and make an announcement that the diagram in the program is incorrect. The vast majority of bettors no doubt believed they were betting on a 5 1/2-furlong race. Would the outcome have been any different if it were run at 5 1/2 furlongs? Maybe. Maybe not. But the bettors deserved to have the accurate information made available to them regarding the distance of the race. The crew of stewards, led by New York Gaming Commission Steward Braulio Baeza, Jr., dropped the ball.

The post Eagles Flight Passes First Test, and the Best May Be Yet to Come appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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