All in SID FERNANDO
Well, it finally happened. American Pharoah did what so many before him over the last 37 years had attempted and failed to accomplish. A Triple Crown winner, the first since Affirmed in 1978, when the game was so vastly different to what it is today that the achievement bridges a gulf of time to reflect upon.
This year's Triple Crown preps were notable for producing a number of high-class contenders, and, coincidently, it was the first year of mostly all-dirt trials since major tracks in California, Kentucky, and Dubai abandoned synthetic surfaces for the real thing.
Plot: An ambitious two-pronged plan is hatched by some guys in Hong Kong, to take a local horse from Sha Tin Racecourse to the United States with the aim of winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on dirt in early November. First, though, they'll prep in a Grade 1 race on dirt at Santa Anita in California in early October as a practice run for the main event.
Sid Fernando talks about how Wesley Ward's successful raids on the elite European race meetings goes in some way to dispel the myth that Lasix is a performance enhancer. Time after time Ward sends out winners in Europe at meetings such as Royal Ascot but with Lasix being a banned substance it shows that maybe there is too much faith put into the drug in America.
Read Sid Fernando's excellent column on how race tracks across North America are shedding the All Weather tracks and returning to Dirt surfaces. But just why would they want to do this?
His like is endangered nowadays. I was jolted by thoughts of this while watching the HRTV broadcast of the Eclipse Award Ceremony from Gulfstream Park on January 18. Wise Dan was the equine star of the evening, a "people's horse" in the same way as Curlin. He, too, is a two-time Horse of the Year and top older horse, plus top turf horse. But Wise Dan is a gelding, and he's by the unheralded Wiseman's Ferry. And he's a turf miler - the weakest division of North American racing.