August 8, 2010

Don’t Blame Me for Gushing

“We were super confident,” Gomez said. “It’s just one of those things you don’t want to say too much so you can let the horse do the talking. He’s trained magnificently for this race and every other race I’ve ridden him in. He’s a magnificent older horse and I can’t wait until we go farther.  “If you watched me ride him, I never hit him. I actually moved up at about the three-eighths pole and I felt pretty confident then. I was just biding my time until we turned for home. I just didn’t want to sit too long because he’s got a long consistent run and just keeps coming. … He kept staying on and in that last eighth of a mile, when I finally got right to [Quality Road], I said ‘I got him.”
Garrett Gomez had good reason to be confident. His charge Blame rallied relentlessly down the stretch to do what to some was the unthinkable, and nail Quality Road a few strides before the wire.

No matter who you were rooting for, yesterday‘s Whitney Handicap lived up to advance billing. It was supposed to the best race so far in 2010, and it was. Yesterday’s race was a shining example of why we watch horse racing.  Three of the best horses in the nation put on a show, and they produced a thrilling stretch run.

Yes, I said three. Musket Man deserves his props. After being forced wide on the first time, the gutty little Yonaguska colt chased Quality Road around the track, and once again ran a big race. It’s clear that he is not quite as good as the top two, but he is quite a horse in his own right. He is still my early pick to win this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile. But make no mistake, yesterday was all about Blame, and he could not be a more deserving star.

Winning stakes in relative anonymity until yesterday, Blame continues to climb to the stratosphere of the racing world. I saw the Al Stall trained bay win last Fall’s Clark Handicap as a three-year-old; I was very impressed. I saw him rally on a speed track to win this year’s Foster; my respect for him grew. In the Whitney, he turned it up another notch. In beating the best male horse in America, he now smoothly steps into that title. Claiborne Farm’s Blame is now the top male horse in the nation. Yesterday’s win was his best yet, his fifth straight in graded stakes, and the scary thing is, he still may be improving. I have a feeling this horse will never be underestimated again.

“I tried to put him into the bridle, but he was just going through the motions, which is strange for him. I was hoping there’d be nobody there, so I got to drifting. I was trying to make it more difficult for the horse on the outside.” So said disappointed rider John Velazquez who was aboard the race favorite.

As for Quality Road, he ran a very good race, but it was not quite what his staunchest of supporters were hoping for. The terrific talent, who can make the speed figure dials spin, has still not proven that he can beat the very best gong a route of ground. Does yesterday prove he can not? Absolutely not, but the question lingers. Until he beats Blame, Zenyatta, Rachel, or all of the above at a classic distance, we just don’t know.

What’s next for these two titans? Well the ultimate answer is the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a showdown with a couple of ladies, but for the immediate future, the Jockey Club Gold Cup would seem to be a sensible stage for Blame-Quality Road II. We shall see. For now I am going to watch the replay of the Whitney about a dozen more times. Race of the year so far? I’d say so!


Anonymous said...

Blame ran a tremendous race but the one thing that irritates me about Quality Road is his ineffectiveness once eye balled by another horse. He spits it everytime. I would like to see blinkers thrown on him for his next start. Plus the next time he won't be conceding any weight to Blame.

Jonathan said...

Let's hope so as I will be seeing a US race track for the first time on 2nd Oct at Belmont Park (been to woodbine when Pilsudski won and Ok Cigar was beaten by Alphabet Soup).

Brian Zipse said...

Let's hope this battle does Quality Road some good in the long run, Anonymous. Good luck Jonathan, I am sure you will see some excellent horses that day.

Anonymous said...

BLAME,is the real deal....i came to that conclusion after watching him win the stephen foster.....the more you watch the replay of the whitney is the more will be able to appreciate the ease and proffessinal manner of this victory.....ease in this case has nothing to do with margin of thing is certain for me....i will never bet against blame who in my opinion is the best male in racing over a distance of ground....things are looking spectacular for down da road....i can see blame vs zenyatta including some good fillers,because for what its worth the rest are mere fillers in comparison to these two outstanding athletes....bring em on 2910 make it happen.....a spectacular year for horseracing and its fans and we have been waiting a long time for this.......thanks zipster.....zatt's all!

LDP said...


Check out Paulick Report, I think you'll be happy. 3 of the 5 Best of Blogs are yours! Zipse DOMINATES! Ok back to the topic. Blame ran fantastic. To give him a rest off a performance like that is a smart move. He has put together 3 very nice performances, he deserves a bit of a rest.

Brian Zipse said...

Thanks LDP, I did see that ... a very nice honor.

Latest word ... Blame to the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Quality Road to the Woodward.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Rinterval to Arlington on August 28th as she finishes her conditions.

Brian Appleton said...

Blame was terrific, his kick in the stretch was one of the best closing efforts I've seen all year and it was all in a hand ride! I can't wait to see what he does with faster fractions up front and more pace to close into. Nice call Brian, I thought for sure Quality Road had this one easy.
Very glad to see Blame heading for the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, I might be able to finally see him in person.