Monday, March 16, 2009

'09 3 year old Crop better than '08 Crop?

Still 7 weeks away from the Kentucky Derby and already I have read many media articles and blogs on how the 2009 crop of 3 year old's is so much better than the 2008 crop.

Really? Is that not just a bit premature? I realize Dutrow and the IEAH clan don't give the public a warm fuzzy feel, but man do they love to bash Big Brown and his 3 year old competition of '08.

I know we are in a instant gratification twitter crazed world right now, where opinions are lightning fast and immediate, but I like to let a 3 year old crop mature and judge them throughout the Derby Trail, than over the rest of their 3 year old campaign and finally follow them into the handicap division before granting proper judgement.

This past weekend the winners of the Gulfstream Park Handicap and the New Orleans Handicap were Smooth Air and Macho Again. Smooth Air, second to Big Brown in the Florida Derby is now 6-3-3 from 14 starts with earnings of $932,200.

Macho Again, runner up to Big Brown in the Preakness, is now 5-4-0 from 16 starts with earnings of $1,076,619.

Other '08 alumni of note include Gayego with 5 wins and $833,020.00 in earnings and Colonel John with 5 wins and $1,440,330.00 in earnings.

I think if you ask any of the owners and trainers of the '09 crop to cash in and sign on the dotted line right now for the above wins and earnings , they would ask you for a pen.


Anonymous said...

Good salient points, and it is so encouraging to see these horses running past the 3 year old campaign

malcer said...

Valid Points, but you should inspect those numbers a little more in-depth. Going into the GP Hcap Smooth Air was a proud winner of the Ohio Derby (which is as close to cheap money as they come). All of his earnings and stats came from 3yo restricted races, except for his 2nd place in the Tallahassee - a statebred stakes. Still, that was enough to be the favorite from Cool Coal Man, another horse from last years 3yo crop in a field of 6 that hardly lived up to Grade II status.

Macho Again didn't compete against older horses until he had to, starting with a 7th place in the Sunshine Millions Classic. In a NO Hcap field of 11, there were 4 older horses, the only one of notice being It's a Bird, who spend last season in the claiming and lower stakes ranks, before getting another magical Wolfson-boost and capturing the (restricted) SM Classic. No older horse in any of the two races competed in last years BC or even any of the major BC preps!
I agree that it's way soon to evaluate the current crop, but if those two are the best argument you can find for last years 3yo's, I don't think you have an argument.

malcer said...

Forgot your other two examples. Colonel John has not once raced against older horses, so I'm not sure why you mention him. Even in a weak crop, somebody has to win the 3yo races. Gayego only faced older horses once, but I agree that winning a Group III in Dubai is quite an accomplishment.

SaratogaSpa said...

Malcer-can't argue with your analysis of the competition in the handicap fields, you have a point.

You said: "Colonel John has not once raced against older horses, so I'm not sure why you mention him"

Colonel John ran in the 2008 Breeders Cup Classic which featured 7 older horses in the 12 horse field.

Colonel John finished 6th, behind Ravens Pass (3 year old), Henry the Navigator (3 year old), Tiago (4 years old), Curlin (4 years old) and Go Between (5 years old).
He beat out the following older horses: Champ Elysees, Duke of Marmalade, Fairbanks and Student Council. Colonel John was scheduled to go in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap but was scratched.

Thanks for Reading.

malcer said...

Sorry, missed the boat on Colonel John, somehow I discounted the race altogether because he wasn't in the money. It'll be interesting to see how his BC form holds up when he returns. On paper, he beat some quality opposition, even if Duke of Marmalade was a shadow of himself.