This is a place for friendly and civil discussion of horse racing of all types including handicapping.
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Good on you for that superb pick, Plus.
Here's a video of the race for anyone else interested:
Thanks for the link Steve, and congrats to Plus2lbs for the pick.
Observations - that's a good race caller (big understatement!).
Many US race fans complain(?) about the field size of our Kentucky Derby, yet the Melbourne Cup had a field of 24. Track probably lends itself to larger field sizes, eh?
Matthew Hill with his inaugural Melbourne Cup call did an exceptional job, I agree. He was mentored by the long-time Cup caller, Greg Miles, who called 36 of them. It's an interesting story because Hill predicted at 16 he would one day call The Melbourne Cup & so it's literally a dream come true for him. The sweep & width of the Flemington course handles the very large field. Such a pleasure to watch instead of that ridiculous turf course at Del Mar.
It's a great race & to my tastes, much more interesting than anything the Breeders Cup offers. Superbly well-conditioned horses running 2 miles without the crutch of drugs on race day.
My preferences have morphed over the years to the extent that I have only a sliver of interest left in the U.S. sport. Unless or until the sport is reformed here, I don't expect that to change.
Big fields aren't a problem when you have very wide (or no) turns. Remember, Royal Ascot often has 30 horse fields going 1 mile on the straight, and I saw the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket live on TV back in October with a 30+ horse field going 2 1/4 miles over the Rowley Mile. On that course, that's 1 mile straight from the gate, a slight bend to the right, and 1 1/4 mile homestretch. Easy to safely run that many, lots of drafting NASCAR style until the final 1/4 mile or so. Here's the 2013 running with 33 (!) in the gate!
Del Mar has the same problem of every flat-racing turf course in North America except for Woodbine (the best), Kentucky Downs (second best), Belmont Park and maybe Colonial Downs (RIP). They're afterthoughts. The tracks are all cookie-cutter 1 mile dirt ovals (and a few 9f like Arlington/Saratoga/Gulfstream), with the turf course(s) added to the infield as an afterthought, especially at places like Churchill Downs which didn't have them originally.
So you're running on 7 furlong bullrings with very tight turns and short homestretches. Del Mar has the shortest homestretch ever used for a BC, a measly 919 feet on the dirt, never saw the turf number but it's gotta be 860 feet if that. Turf isn't our main business so of course they don't give a crap about them.
Thanks for the link. That is a cool race over a magnificent course.
Would you believe that Santa Anita, with a 1 1/4 dirt oval, has a homestretch of only 900 feet? True. That means SA has relatively sweeping turns on that track but still only a 7 furlong bullring for the turf. As you say, quite rightly, turf is an afterthought here in the U.S.
Agree with your other points, as well.
What makes the Thoroughbred such a wonderful athlete is the ability to run fast across a wide spectrum of distances (relative to the specific distance, of course) I believe we do a disservice to the breed & the sport by serving up, by & large, a very short spectrum of distances. I'm likely in the minority here but I find it boring. Plus, if a horse doesn't fit into the mold but would excel running longer distances, what happens to those & I'm sure there are many? If they're lucky they get jobs doing something outside racing or serve as pleasure horses. If they're unlucky...
Thanks..great race. The ride was the best from a jockey I've seen in...
Can't remember when..
Santa Anita is a 1 mile oval (not 1 1/4) with a 990 foot stretch but where the discrepancy happens, If you assume they're identical in shape, is that Santa Anita's finish post is 71 feet closer to the clubhouse turn than Del Mar's. At Del Mar, the 15/16 mile pole is before the turn begins, while at most 1 mile tracks it's somewhere on the curve itself. Churchill Downs has a crazy long 1234 1/2 foot stretch... and if you've been there you know the finish post is almost at the turn, and CD's track has long straights and tight turns at the ends.
I believe we do a disservice to the breed & the sport by serving up, by & large, a very short spectrum of distances.
I'll go back to my favorite quote by Federico Tesio: “The Thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians, or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby. If you base your criteria on anything else, you will get something else, not the Thoroughbred."
Let's look at that a bit closer. The Epsom Derby is a 1 1/2 mile turf race for 3-year-olds. So, it follows that the ideal Thoroughbred is... one that can succeed at 1 1/2 miles turf at age 3. Not 6 furlongs on dirt at age 2.
It also follows that Thoroughbreds probably should be able to run at distances slightly longer or shorter than that. 5 furlongs is generally accepted as the shortest legitimate race distance (anything shorter and you're in Quarter Horse territory). That's 7f shorter than the real Derby. So let's go the other way, 7f longer brings you to 2 3/8 miles. Longer than that and you're getting into National Hunt racing.
Unfortunately in North America we race/breed towards the 5f end but ignore the 2 3/8 mile end.