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Ordinarily, these would be the dog days of Chicago sports.
It always happens at least twice a year. Now, and again in February.
Sometimes, our local dogs are such hounds, these days last from February through February.
The biggest offenders are the Chicago Bears, who are nothing more every year than the same old 1950 flathead four chassis and drivetrain - still recovering from the war, you know - with a new hood ornament and the revolutionary addition of cupholders, only because the league ordered them to add them to the list of options. It's the Bears' only acknowledgement that we are in a new-but-getting-older century. John Fox represents the ashtrays and cigarette lighters we miss so much.
Like the North Siders clinching early, my under 7.5 on the Bears season is making me so confident even the scary clowns had better stay out of my way this Hallowed Eve.
And Arlington Park tears our guts out every summer, the sharp PolyTrack knives of six or eight races three or four days a week cutting us all the way from Kentucky Derby weekend to beyond Labor Day. Folks up at the palatial suburban oval have tortured us, or at least me, into such submission; there's no will left to even pull out the summer finery and make a day of it.
Ah, but this year, we have the Cubs. It's been fun, and getting funner, but you'll have to scroll up or down the rail to catch the real Beachwood experts on the boys in blue.
The other shops don't give a damn, but we do. So it's time for a little reminder: Just two days after the Cubs' tango out of the seven-song dance card early next month - I ain't got no goat, ain't got no disco, but I'm of the age we don't talk about such things out loud or by name - the Conestogas land in Arcadia, Calif., home of beautiful Santa Anita, for the 2016 Breeders' Cup Championships.
Is America the land of sporting opportunity? Apollo thinks so, and I won't argue with the heavyweight champion of the world. From this zip code, seems right. It's been a great year, human and equine, and it's not over yet.
Just like all the other young hopefuls disembarking in Hollywoodland, hoping to break into the biz, workouts are happening, plane reservations are being made, stalls are being assigned, scripts being greenlighted.
And, lo and behold, the three classic winners from the Triple Crown trail are confusing, retired, and retired. That is a head-slapping turn of events. This might be the most lucid example of racing's challenges when it comes to sustaining itself, not unlike trying to find a good tomato for your Super Bowl salsa.
Remember, we're not losing a Secretariat to the business, like we did in 1973, dontcha know, but it's at least perplexing.
Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, is working well, but they almost always do. After eight straight including the Derby, Nyquist ran into Exaggerator and his mud in the Preakness and the Haskell. He finished a mediocre sixth last out in the Pennsylvania Derby. Which Nyquist, who is HQ'd at Santa Anita, will show up?
Preakness winner Exaggerator has been retired to stud.
WinStar Farm president Elliott Walden spoke out of both sides. "He is a sound horse that passes all physical exams, but as the only 3-year-old to test all the Triple Crown races and summer classics, he's a horse that is asking us for a rest. The fact he remains sound after 15 big-time starts in the last 16 months is a testament to his ability, consistency, fortitude, and class. He is an extreme racehorse - a tough, durable throwback to the old days, like Curlin."
Then why not run him in the Breeders' Cup, or not, pasture him out and bring him back next year? And call Skilling, because he needs mud, baby.
Grandson of Smart Strike and son of the great Curlin, out of the Vindication mare Dawn Raid, Exaggerator certainly has the pedigree to succeed. The only horse to run in all three Triple Crown races this year, he also won the Santa Anita Derby and the Haskell Invitational, all in the sloppy mud he craves so much.
If there was a deal to be made, this was the time, because how would he have done in the dry stuff next month? But he provided a few thrills and chills we'll remember.
Belmont Stakes winner Creator has been sold by WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay - who bought his share just days before the Belmont - to the Japanese Bloodhorse Breeders' Association.
Son of Tapit out of Argentinian mare Morena, Creator also won the Arkansas Derby.
Back on the red carpet, our spies have eyed California Chrome working well for the Breeders' Cup Classic, where he'll be exclamation-point favored for a fantastic season finale.
Super female turfer Tepin seems back on track after winning the Woodbine Mile and then losing the First Lady Stakes in an October 8 wheelback 21 days later. That bodes well for a monster effort, although you won't get a price.
Our friend Frosted has been designated for the Breeders' Cup Classic assignment. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, not wanting to run the short, two-turn Dirt Mile.
I despise the debunked concept of multitasking, invented by slavedriving bosses seeking only worker dominance. But I will have to give it a thought as our batsmen in blue forge ahead and I'll have a mess of handicapping to do.
But, woof, I wouldn't trade these here dog days for anything. My cats - one of whom is at least half named for a race horse - would have none of that anyway.
Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.
There has been virtually no criticism of hitting coach Todd Steverson. We'll see how long that lasts.Continue reading "Hitless Wonders" »
Posted on Apr 24, 2017