THRU THE BINOCULARS
By JOHN PIESEN
Sometimes, make that often times, it pays to read my weekly column on this venue.
Last week was one of those times.
In Friday's column, I picked Moonshine Mullin to win the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap the following evening at Churchill Downs.
You can look it up.
Check Out John's WINNER'S CIRCLE Selections Daily here online.
Other than the Derby and the Oaks, the Foster is the biggest race of the Churchill meeting, and the field of seven included Will Take Charge, the reigning 3-year-old champion from D. Wayne Lukas, and Revolutionary, fresh off a Pimlico Special victory for Todd Pletcher -- not to mention four Hall of Fame riders: Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Johnny Velazquez and Calvin Borel.
And, yes, Borel was aboard Moonshine Mullin, clearly the controlling speed of the nine-furlong race from an inside post.
Calvin indulged Jaguar Paw, an 80-1 shot, with the early lead, blew by him at the quarter-pole, shifted to the fence (where else?), and held off the cavalry to win by a length and change at a $22 mutuel.
It was the biggest career win for trainer Randy Morse, and judging by the way that Borel celebrated, you would have thought it was the biggest win of Calvin's career. But we know better.
One would think that Moonshine's next stop would be Saratoga, but Morse, the smart Arkansas boy that he is, told inquiring media that -- although he will have stalls there -- he wants no part of Palace Malice in the Whitney and/or the Woodward.
Morse, who claimed Moonshine Mullin last year for $40,000 from Steve Asmussen and Maggi Moss, has a better idea.
"If nothing goes wrong," he says, "we're going to Japan for their big race. The money is good, they (the Japanese) pay all our expenses, and all my owner (Randy Patterson) has to do is put up the entry fee."
And besides, no Palace Malice.
I think maybe we're looking at a precedent here.
Speaking of Borel, he caught a good night's sleep at his Louisville pad after winning the Foster, and on Sunday afternoon he was back at Churchill to ride a 3-year-old maiden named Rocket Time for trainer Albert Stall in race seven.
Actually, Calvin didn't have to do too much riding.
After breaking slowly from the three-hole, Rocket Time rushed to the lead along the rail, and made like Secretariat in the Belmont, winning by a dozen lengths under a hand ride. His time of 1:35 3/5 for the mile was a full two seconds faster than older allowance horses went the same distance an hour earlier.
Rocket Time clearly is a horse to watch. His next stop likely will be the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, which makes sense because his trainer, who gave us Blame a few years back, calls Louisiana home.
Then it might be on to the Breeders' Cup Classic, a race won by Blame, although Zenyatta was a length in front two jumps past the wire.
Another horse to watch, albeit on a much cheaper scale is Dear John. Trainer Charlie Harvatt claimed the 7-year-old gelding for $12,500 last week for $12,500 at Monmouth Park, and will run him back July 4 at the same facility at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass for the same price.
Speaking of Monmouth, there is a good chance that sports betting will be introduced there, and at the other New Jersey racetracks, as early as September, just in time for the NFL.
But the other news in Jersey is not so good.
It was leaked this week that, starting in 2015, the next three Breeders' Cups will be held at Keeneland, Santa Anita and Del Mar.
Bottom line: don't hold your breath waiting for the Breeders' Cup to return to Monmouth Park -- or to New York for that matter!
Meantime, the Belmont Stakes produced the worst possible result for Monmouth.
If California Chrome had won the Belmont, and came back healthy, chances are that he would have come to purse more big bucks in the Haskell, Monmouth's showcase race for 3-year-olds, and chances are they would have had lines extending to Point Pleasant Beach for the occasion.
Whatddya think? 70,000? 80,000?
But what do they say about the best laid plans?
No Triple Crown winner. California Chrome will be out several months, and I would not be surprised if he never races again.
And Tonalist, the Belmont winner, will take the Jim Dandy/Travers route. Seven of the last 10 Travers winners came out of the Jim Dandy, and trainer Chris Clemente couldn't help take note.
The bottom line for the Haskell: no Classics winner in the field, leaving Bob Baffert to win the race like he always does -- perhaps with Bayern, who looked good winning the Woody Stephens Stakes on the Belmont undercard.
While we're talking Jersey here, news is that the five-star Revel Hotel and Casino will be filing for bankruptcy any day now. I'll leave the ramifications to gaming experts, but I have to believe this is no small thing.
Sad to hear that Rosie Napravnik will be sidelined for several weeks after breaking her leg in a training mishap at Churchill Downs. Hope Rosie makes it back soon. She's the best ambassador the game has.
On the other hand, happy to hear that Cowboy Jack Kaenel is mulling a riding comeback.
"I'm tacking eight (108 pounds), and I'm feeling great, says the Cowboy (yes, I gave him that nickname), "...and I just need someone to give me a shot."
At the age of 16 in 1982, Kaenel became the youngest rider to win a Triple crown race (on Aloma's Ruler in the Preakness), a record that still stands.
So that makes Kaenel virtually the same age as Smith and Stevens so why not give him a shot?
Thanks for tuning in. Have a good weekend, check out my daily selections on-line and/or on the John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283), go Buccos, and see you back here next Friday.
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