November 28, 2009

Along Came Blame

Lightly raced Blame, ridden by Jamie Theriot, impressively rallied down the lane to win Friday's Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. The three-year-old son of Arch covered the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:49.39. It was only the eighth race of his life and his first attempt in racing’s elite company. Blame was given much respect by the betting public and was sent off as the second choice at 4-1 in the loaded 14 horse field. Following his career, you never would have guessed such a big win for this horse just a short time ago.

He did not make it to the races until the Fall of his juvenile season, where he finished 3rd and then 1st in two maiden races. He did not return to the races until June of this year where he finished 3rd and then 1st in a couple of allowance races at Churchill Downs. He did not make his first stakes appearance until August and his first graded stakes was run in September. He did not score his first graded stakes win until Halloween and he did not capture his first grade 1 win until yesterday. A late bloomer to be sure, but then along came Blame.

Blame was five wide coming off the final turn and eventually took the lead inside the eighth pole. Roger Clemens favorite alibi, Misremembered, who had a short lead on the final turn, fought on from the rail and the brilliant Einstein battled from the outside, but it was to no avail as jockey Jamie Theriot was confident in the amount of horse he had under him in Blame. Watching him during the race, you could never feel overly confident that he would be able to get up and then hold off the late chargers.

He does not make it to the lead of his races until the closing stages. He never falls too far behind in the early part of his races, but just far enough to be out of sight of the leading pack. He waits for the real running of the contest to commence before he puts it into high gear and methodically wears down his tiring opponents. In the final eighth of a mile of his races, you can be sure, along came Blame.

Jamie Theriot urged his mount to a neck victory in the Clark over fellow three-year-old Misremembered. The Clark is the most important handicap race after the Breeders’ Cup and it brings Blame to a new level in racing’s elite. Trained by Albert Stall, Jr., Blame earned $259,872 with the win. The colt has now won five of his eight starts for $616,747.

He did not make onto the elite list of three-year-olds until the day after Thanksgiving. He was on no one’s list of Winter book of Derby favorites at this time last year. When many of the best three-year-olds were preparing for a run at the Triple Crown races, he was completely off the radar. As the dog days of Summer rolled around, he was still on no one’s short list of elite colts in America. At Breeders’ Cup time, he was not quite ready to be in California to run in the Classic. Now as the season is ending and we discuss the top colts in the nation, there he is, and with next year's Classic being held at Churchill Downs, he needs to be on a short list of early selections.  Along came Blame.


NetworkEmpowerment said...

I love the "Along came Blame" every other paragraph, reminds me of a poem. He sure did surprise a few and was competely off anyones radar early. The good thing is he'll probably return next year, adding more great things to next years fantastic looking handicap division.

Anonymous said...

Just wait til they get a load of this horse in Dubai. His next win will be in a 10 million dollar race.


Unknown said...

This is a nice read, Brian, I enjoyed that! And thanx for the heads up; I've never heard of him til now..I'll be looking for him on next yr's cards :)

Steve Munday said...

Great writing Brian!

I love the way Al Stall managed Blame. Unlike trainers who annually rush horses into the gate of the KY Derby, Stall let Blame mature at his own pace.

He won the Fayette in what looked like a glorified workout and I couldn't wait to get money down on him in the Clark.

With Zenyatta retiring, Rachel Alexandra has no worthy rivals. Maybe Blame is up to the challenge? It should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Two people had Blame early last year, myself and Abe (two year old specialist) over at the PACE forum. Then Blame disappeared and the Derby hopefuls list had to be pruned.

His breeding was nice, I remember thinking the kind of breeding that looks great to Dynaformer fans and durability enthusiasts. And he actually wins too.

Vodka just won the Japan Cup. Fabulous mare. The Year Of The Filly continues.

Brian, your blog is much easier to read in white. I like black, but easier to read this way.