Friday, March 14, 2008

Rooneyitis

The list of Kentucky Derby hopefuls is gearing up and getting my attention. This is old news, but I was reminiscing with Michael about how the racing secretary writes condition allowance races as preps for the monsters. Of course I'm referring to the recent romp by War Pass in just such a tailored allowance at Gulfstream a few weeks ago. This is useful for the big guns but a dirge for the rest of the entrants.

war passWar Pass cruising to an easy 7 1/2 length victory in his conditional allowance on Feb. 24th.

The race is usually customized with a provision by date, such as, non-winners of a race (of the winner's share of the purse), oh say, $60,830 since December 1st. This date typically is one day after the last winning race for more than that amount (i.e. Nov. 31st, by maybe one dollar). This tactic is useful for the connections to get a relatively easy race for a big horse that's been freshened up. It's complicated but commonplace. If you can read a condition book, you're familiar with the process.

breeders' cupIt happened to us during the eighties at the Meadowlands. Michael was training a solid allowance filly, Continuous Pursuit, who was at the end of her career and broodmare-bound. Imagine looking over our race on the overnight and seeing that we're in against Princess Rooney. Remember her? The 1984 winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff? The first Breeders' Cup victor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame?


You'd like to exit a horse's career on a win, not a distant second. Our filly's stable mate had unfortunately (or fortunately) become caste the night before our scheduled duel with the Princess. Stated neighbor was done up in poultice and left white streaks on the stall walls. So, in order to get scratched from race, we swapped stalls with the neighbor. When the state vet arrived to inspect our filly, we exclaimed that SHE had been the damsel in distress on the previous night by getting caste as evidenced by the white stuff. We then jogged her as required, and being a bit gimpy anyway, our claims were substantiated.

Exasperated, the state vet mumbled, "looks like another case of Rooneyitis."

Best of luck to War Pass in the Tampa Bay Derby tomorrow.

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