So, we come to the weight-carrying feats of local champions of yore.
No thoroughbred’s career had a chance of being memorable unless it included at least one weight-defying performance fuelling arguments on street corners, in bars and around domino tables.
Derby winners were so rated according to their subsequent exploits with welter weights. In 1972, Balladier,a “dark horse” who won a lowly “E” Class handicap for his pre-Derby prep, accomplished the unthinkable by winning the then most valuable Derby (purse J$12,900).
The public was stunned and immediately dismissed the winner as “rubbish!” They should’ve taken the loud hint from the number of stars Balladier vanquished that day. With so much up for grabs (all of $8,000 to the winner), everybody who was anybody showed up. There was Adonis (by Zaleucus out of prolific winner-producing mare Beauty); Gabriela (Governor’s Cup winner also bred by Orange Valley) and Guineas winner, Piccolo Pete (the little boy’s selection; Orange Valley again) all from Billy Williams’ camp.
The field read like a Who’s Who of racing’s three year olds. One of the best, most competitive Derby fields included Out Yonder (Zaleucus again, this time trained by Michael “Buddy” Silvera); Rebeldeen (legend George Hosang for popular owner/trainer combo UN4/Gerry Skelton), Paddy’s Doll and Zareba (yet another Zaleucus-Caroline Park offspring owned by the iconic Derby winning partnership of J.W. “Judge” Hardie/Doctor Victor Magnus). This field was its own Hall of Fame.
Who was the unheralded Balladier? Del Weller wrote:
“Balladier appeared to be the most illogical of the declarations.
He had his first taste of combat on February 12, in ‘D’ Class at 5 ½ furlongs and had been last but one. On this performance, the Classification Committee rated him ‘E’.
His trainer, Nigel Nunes, renowned polo player and son of a Steward of the Jockey Club…., had been granted a licence only a few months before this race and was therefore a ‘babe in the woods’ to all and sundry.
But after his initial appearance, Balladier had won his two races since — the first over 8 furlongs and the other over 10 furlongs in the Eggie Sutherland Memorial Cup on June 3, the richest race of the year for ‘E’ Class horses after which he was promoted to ‘D’. His chances were considered slim by most as evidenced by his 25/1 odds”
Balladier made a mockery of those odds under visiting Panamanian, Jose “Juicy” Bravo, by shooting past the leaders at the half mile; taking control; and winning as he liked from Rebeldeen (staying on) with Zareba, Piccolo Pete and Adonis next. But this wasn’t the first time a horse had risen from obscurity to win a Derby as, eight years earlier, Duesbury (trained by Michael Silvera for “Judge” Hardie/Doctors Magnus and Dryden) accomplished a similar feat as had Right of Way (ridden by “Gussie” Douglas) in the last Derby run at Knutsford Park.
In 1977, lightening struck again as the indomitable Legal Light, who made his debut in April; was unplaced in the Governor’s Cup and trounced by Bounty Hunter in his Derby prep, silenced the stands by winning the Derby at 9/1.
The similarities among Legal Light, Balladier and Reca, who all went on to repeated scintillating weight carrying performances in “A1″, are remarkable in retrospect. Legal Light was the most durable of them all and his longevity puts him at number one, but all three were in the habit of carrying 133 lbs+ in the top class at long distances and defeating rivals, most carrying less than 100 lbs.
To this day, despite recent mollycoddling of champions like Eros, The Viceroy and War Zone, it remains the mark of a true champion to carry top weight to victory Like Legal Light, Reca, Balladier and the incomparable Monte’s Stitch. This unnecessary pampering of our recent Derby winners has denied them the opportunity of proving themselves a cut above their predecessors.
The series finale is next!
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
Readers have reveled in the unbeaten exploits of Hilly’s Halo (advised on July 13 “to be followed all the way to the top”) and Peking Cruz (similar advice on July 28). Last time we met, I advised that Laguna Point produced a CT “1.5 fifths faster than open $180,000 standard” and “can win” a small race which she did emphatically on September 12 at 7/2! I also assured readers that Dysfunctional’s CT, like Hilly’s Halo’s was “also better than Grade 1” so it surprised no Clocked-in reader when he trotted up (September 15) in Overnight Allowance. Yum, yum!
Let’s see what’s happened since we last met:
September 8, 2018 [TV -0.4 per 200m (Rd); -1 (RunJohnnyRun) -7 (Hover Craft)]
Casual Drink (-5) could be the best 2yo seen so far (R5; 2yomsw; 1100m; TV-2) making all and drawing clear impressively in 1:06.4! Her CT (1:07.1) equals the standard for 2yo Stakes. This barn rarely winds up debutantes tightly so she has plenty in the tank.
September 12, 2018 [TV-0.2 per 200m (Rd) (Formal Justice; Urban Principal) then, sloppy, -0.5 per 200m (Rd); -5 (str)]
Virtuoso (-3), second, is the one to take from (Race 8; 3yomdncond; 1300m; TV-3). Her time of 1:21.0 (CT 1:21.3) is 4/5ths second faster than this grade. The winner Sendamessagetomama (-6) produced a CT (1:21.0) that’s only 1/5th second faster than nw2 but should improve as she’s still unexposed.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2018 [TV -0.4 per 200m (Rd); +1 (str)]
Blue Moon (-3) defied a long lay-off [Race 6; 5yonw3; 1000m (str); TV+1) for a facile win in 0:59.4! Her CT (0:59.3) is 3/5ths second faster than nw3/OT. He should win again.
Classy Miss (-4) took six months off between her 2nd and 3rd starts but came good (R4; 3yo fillies mdncond; 1100m; TV -2) clocking 1:07.4 (CT 1:08.1) in the process. Her CT already beats nw2 fillies (standard 1:08.3) and she’s open to improvement. The 2nd, Queen’s Highway/3rd, Giaconda (-1) are good enough to win a fillies’ maiden (CT1:08.3; standard 1:09.1)
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Tomorrow’s English racing feature is the Ayr Gold Cup, a favourite back-end sprint handicap. The two to concentrate on at this early stage are Shanghai Glory who I’ve been waiting on patiently all season to race on soft and Golden Appollo for whom this race has been a target since 2017. The former ran as if something was amiss in the Portland (Ryan Moore up) on September 15 so the latter gets the nod.
A week later the first leg of the popular autumn double, the Cambridgeshire, run over nine furlongs straight at Newmarket, should prove a perfect fit for Afaak who has been begging for this sort of big field handicap at beyond a mile. This stiff course suits horses, like Afaak, that stay10f.
It’s NFL time again. My pre-season Superbowl pick, Green Bay Packers, have already suffered the standard injury to talisman Aaron Rodgers but, like predecessor Brett Favre, it’ll take an amputation to keep him off the field. My anticipated other Superbowl team, Jacksonville Jaguars, have started well.
I won’t be surprised if, thanks to Jon “Chucky” Gruden, three playoff contenders come from the NFC North’s mighty jungle where the Lions sleep every night. In the AFC, I’m rooting for Miami, San Diego and Cincinnati. Expect three Ryans (Fitzpatrick, Tannehill and Matt) to have great seasons.
It ain’t easy with PO’s early deadline but three week 3 suggestions for fans of the game with the foot-shaped ball are the Ravens (-5) who should benefit from 10 days rest against the weak Broncos; Dolphins (-3) who could feast off a Raiders side in turmoil; and, week 3’s upset special, the Saints (+3) who should cover or win a close game in Atlanta.
I hope readers are keeping the English racing notebook onside always. Those who did profited when Breathless Times (noted May 4 after a promising run on Lingfield’s polytrack: “his career is still in relative infancy; and he’s sure to keep improving. He could be a great long-term sprinting prospect.”) After two unexceptional runs on turf, he returned to polytrack (Chelmsford; September 15) and obliged at 9/4!
Another notebook horse:
Star Terms [2yo ch.f. Sea the Stars – Best Terms (Exceed and Excel)]: tried in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes after winning a nursery off 83, she improved by leaps and bounds, quickening up nicely two furlongs out and only outstayed close home to finish 1 ½ lengths 2nd to 101-rated Fleeting. A Group race in France could be hers before the season ends.
Good Luck! Daniel Sedin Jersey