November 15, 2010

Bad Choices and Turf Championships

Paddy O’Prado lost a huge opportunity when his connections decided to run him one race too late on Breeders’ Cup Day at Churchill Downs. By choosing to run a superior turf horse on the dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, they turned their back on a $3 million purse and the most important race run on turf in America. The result was a non-threatening 5th place finish to Blame and Zenyatta. Meanwhile two good horses, but far from world beaters, named Dangerous Midge and Champ Pegasus battled down the lane to finish a clear 1-2 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. With the Eclipse Award decisions pending, I wonder if his connections not only cost him a win in the Breeders’ Cup, but also an end-of-the-year championship. O’ what might have been.

Imagine if you will Paddy O’ Prado in the Turf field.  I can.  I visualize the talented grey three-year-old in a menacing stalking position, before pouncing as the field straightens out for the stretch run. Champ Pegasus and then Dangerous Midge would have no answers for their more talented foe. Jockey Kent Desormeaux would drive Paddy to the wire a few lengths clear of his pursuers. The eruption of emotion from the large partnership group of Donegal Racing would be heard throughout the Churchill grandstand.

It did not happen. As we all know, trainer Dale Romans and managing partner Jerry Crawford went a different way. The decision still bothers me. Was it based on greed? Or arrogance? Did they really think that there horse, who has never won a race on dirt, would win the Classic? I hope their $150,000 paycheck for running 5th in the Classic provides some consolation, but then again maybe not … The 1st place check in the Turf was $1,620,000.

As for the Eclipse Award, I believe he should still receive the honor. His competition includes Gio Ponti, Winchester, Champ Pegasus, and Dangerous Midge. The latter ran only once in America, and was rather nondescript in Europe. Champ Pegasus won only two graded stakes in California. Winchester has two grade one wins, but plenty of losses including a poor performance in the BC Turf. That leaves Gio Ponti as the main competition for Paddy O‘Prado. Now I have nothing negative to say about Gio Ponti, but as marvelous a horse as he is, and as wonderful a career as he has had, he managed only 2 wins in 7 starts this year. His 2nd to Goldikova in the BC Mile did nothing to hurt his resume, but he was no match for the great mare. I prefer the resume of Paddy O’Prado, who has four graded stakes wins on the turf this year, albeit in races for three-year-olds. His only recent loss on grass was a fine 2nd place finish, when he made an early move to the lead in the Turf Classic. It was his first try against older, on soggy grass, and farther than 1 ¼ miles. It seemingly was the ideal prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. If only.

I believe in Paddy O’Prado. I see him as the finest grass horse in our country, and he is my choice as the most deserving horse to win the Eclipse Award as the Outstanding Male Turf Horse of 2010. Too bad his connections did not give him a chance to prove it in the Breeders‘ Cup. Now we will have to wait and wonder if their arrogance cost him a turf championship.

Photo Courtesy of Reed Palmer Photography


Anonymous said...

Would have been better if you wrote this before the race, just sayin'

Brian Zipse said...

I did ...

william said...

couldnt agree with you more....didnt think he belonged in the derby either...i believe it was the greed, didnt they say something along the lines of his stallion value if he wins?

Brian Zipse said...

They did, and it hurts the sport.

LDP said...

I hope it did not cost him the eclipse, because I do think he deserves it. There is no other turf horse that has a resume good enough this year to beat him. Point Given won HOTY while only beating 3yr olds, and doing it dominatingly. Paddy swept some of the most prestigious turf events for his age group, just like Point Given did. He should still get this award.

joe_depaolo said...

Dude, I wouldn't expect a Christmas card from Dale Romans :-)

Completely agree on that part of the blog. Paddy belonged in the turf. It was a good FIRST guess on your part.

Completely disagree on the second part of the blog. You cannot give Paddy the eclipse without his having beaten older. Maybe he would've won the BC turf. But his connections didn't give him the chance.

Not that he's a runaway winner of the award this year, and not that his 2010 was as good as his 2009, but Gio deserves the honor yet again, IMO. Personally, I give him 3 wins on this year's campaign, as Karelian ABSOLUTELY should've been taken down for carrying him to the center of the course in the race at Tampa, IMO. Add to that the second to Goldi (in which he beat Paco Boy and Proviso, among others), and that's 4 of 7 races this year in which he has nothing at all to be sorry about.

As for the other 2 (throwing out Dubai as it was on synthetic), he got a horrible trip in the Manhattan, and STILL didn't lose to Winchester by much. And in the Million, he got a rare bad ride, IMO, from one of the best in the business.

Winchester, despite beating Gio head to head, didn't quite do enough in his other races to deserve the honor.

Subpar year for the Cat, but still enough to put him at the top of a very questionable crop.

Brian Zipse said...

Gotta agree with LDP on this one Joe ... Three-year-olds or not, Paddy O'Prado won this year, while Gio Ponti did not. 4 graded stakes for him, and only 2 for Gio. I would not be upset if Gio got it, because he is a wonderful horse, but I prefer Paddy's season. The Point Given anology is a good one LDP, thank you.