Weekend Recap: Untapable Unstoppable, Churchill Takes Hit

Untapable may take on the boys in the Haskell Invitational (Photo credit: Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

Untapable put in another solid performance in winning the Mother Goose (G1) and may take on the boys next, the Churchill Downs meeting ended with a huge decrease in handle, and the July 4 weekend will offer up plenty of reasons to avoid the barbecue and head out to the track.

Untapable Unstoppable

The brilliant three-year-old filly Untapable made it four in a row with a 9 ¼ length victory in Saturday’s Mother Goose (G1) at Belmont Park. She has now won her four races in 2014 by a combined 31 lengths.

Trainer Steve Asmussen did not rule out a date to take on the boys in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on July 27. Asmussen trained Rachel Alexandra, who won the 2009 Mother Goose and then went on to beat the boys in the Haskell.

The filly earned a rather light Beyer Speed Figure of 94 for her Mother Goose win, the lowest number of the year for the daughter of Tapit. She earned a 100 for her win in the Rachel Alexandra (G3), a 106 for her win in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and a 107 for her victory in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

While jockey John Velazquez rode her in the stretch, she looked capable of running faster and she looks as if she is going to be real tough in her next start. She also was making her first start off nearly a two-month break.

The filly has now won six of her eight career starts for earnings of $1,304,725, and a win in the Haskell would put her firmly in the race for Horse of the Year.


What Level is a Good Level?

Churchill Downs ended their meeting with a handle decrease of $49 million, a loss of 11.76% compared to last year. According to stats at Players Boycott website, if we remove Oaks and Derby Day, the decrease is nearly $48 million, or -25.6%. Average field size was down 0.54 starters per race. (-7.05%).

These are the numbers for the 36 regular days of the meeting:

• Total handle: -$47.9 Million (-25.64%)

• Avg Handle per Race: -$103,315 (-20.50%)

• Avg Handle per Day? -$1,331,856 (-25.64%)

So how does Churchill Downs spin these numbers? About what I expected. Here is Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery:

“Our Spring Meet was a success on many levels, headed by continued growth in Kentucky Derby and Oaks Week, the ongoing popularity of night racing, the excitement surrounding the introduction of our ‘Big Board’ and a range of new events and activities introduced in our new Grandstand Terrace and Pavilion venue and the Paddock Plaza, now in its second year.”

The CDI public relations blunders throughout the spring meeting are well documented, and on top of that handle plummeted by $49 million. How is that a “success on many levels?”

Maybe Flanery was talking about sea level. Perhaps handle was better in Bikini Bottom and Mr. Krabs opened up an OTB at the Crusty Crab. That’s all I can come up with.


Stars and Stripes Day, United Nations Stakes Highlight Weekend Betting Action

If your barbecue gets rained out, there is no need to worry, as there is plenty of outstanding stakes action on tap this weekend.

On Saturday at Belmont Park, it is the first Stars and Stripes Day which features the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1). Both the Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks are 1 ¼-mile turf races for three-year-olds, with the Oaks restricted to fillies.

Also on the July 5 card are the $500,000 Suburban Handicap (G2), $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3) and the $200,000 Dwyer (G2).

There are four stakes at Delaware Park on Saturday including the $300, 000 Delaware Oaks (G2), and on Sunday the $500,000 United Nations (G1) will be contested at Monmouth Park. The race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

The $1 million Queen’s Plate is run at Woodbine on Sunday along with three other graded stakes.


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