Front Page News - June 11, 1973

It was refreshing to see all the front page stories on Rags to Riches as reported in Equidaily. 
Racing doesn’t make the front pages as much these days but the most media coverage I ever recall occurred on this date, June 11 1973 when Secretariat appeared on the both the covers of Time and Newsweek for the week.. 

This prompted me to look for some other more obscure Secretariat trivia. When Secretariat was euthanized because of laminitis on October 4 1989, (his obituary appeared on the front page of the New York Times the next day) an autopsy was performed and it was discovered that all of Secretariat's vital organs were normal in size except for his heart. The typical horse's heart weighs 8 1/2 pounds, Secretariat’s weighed 22 pounds.

Amelia Would Be Proud

My Mea Culpa:

A overly confident blogger once wrote:

A mile and a half for any three-year old is terra incognito, so look carefully as Rags to Riches does her Amelia Earhart imitation just short of the 3/8s pole.

Being totally wrong is simple and like my handicapping admitting I'm wrong is simple.

A Small Sorority:

Rags to Riches joined a small sorority of great fillies yesterday. The greatest of which was lying just a few yards away, buried under a flat stone in the Belmont infield, surely Ruffian must have been smiling yesterday.

I find it ironic that Pletcher who is known for carefully planning campaigns wins his first Classic based on a decision made four days prior to the race, as they say, "the best laid plans of mice and men". And now the second guessing will start. Should they have run her in the Derby? Why didn't they run her in the Derby? As I recall it was Tabor's, not Pletcher's decision not to. The Horse of the Year talk is all premature. The Las Virgenes and Santa Anita Oaks are nice Grade 1s but they won't mean anything when the HOTY voting rolls around. Have people forgotten that Invasor is stabled at Belmont? And in retrospect, Carl Nafzger is looking like a genius for keeping Street Sense on the sidelines and now my boy Street Sense is the fresh horse should Rags or Curlin show up in the Travers. Bring them on, he'll whip their asses.

ABC Coverage and the NYRA:

I can't say enough bad things about ABC's coverage of the race. ESPN's coverage before the switch over at five o'clock was their standards fare and well done as usual, it had one too many human interest stories for my taste but you saw the races you wanted to see. The Acorn went off a few minutes after ABC came on and I knew they did not have time to cover it live but at least mention the race and show the last quarter mile on tape, at worst they could have used it as a segway into discussing Rags to Riches. Instead they chose to run a piece about day care center for race track workers, this was the first of an endless number of human interest segments. Yeah you need the human interest stuff but do they have to run it at the expense of the racing coverage? It's plain stupid to me. Surely I thought they would cover the Grade 1 Manhattan. But here again not a mention of the race or a bit of tape. Just more repetitive babble from Mayne, Bailey and Edwards.

Those geniuses at the NYRA set up the program and they must realize that having these races seen on live television is going to drive up overall handle on the day. So why don't they schedule these races to ensure they get coverage on ESPN if ABC is going to totally ignore them? What not run the Acorn and Manhattan as the 5th and 6th races and put the Foresta and Birdstone in the ABC dead zone. No wonder they're bankrupt, whomever is running the NYRA are a bunch of idiots.

The Ruffian Movie:

I watched most of it but turned it off just before the match race. I did not need to see how they treated the breakdown, the original was horrific enough for me.

As a TV movie it wasn't bad, I liked Sam Sheppard as Frank Whiteley. The races segments had a Seabiscuit quality to them (a little too Hollywood) by which I mean they were too polished to make me believe there were real. Having Dave Johnson on board as the announcer was a touch of realism I enjoyed but Dave was a lot thinner in the 70's. The portrayal of Braulio Baeza was right on, Braulio never smiled and if I was Jacinto Vasquez I would consider suing for making him look like a mindless submissive boy instead of one of the best jockeys of his day.

ABC's Belmont Coverage - Too Much Talk, Not Enough Racing

ABC like NBC, when they covered the Preakness, has chosen to totally ignore the undercard. Since ABC came on at 5PM they have chosen not to cover the Acorn or the Manhattan but if you want to hear Kenny Mayne, Jeanine Edwards and Hank Goldberg repeat themselves over and over about Curlin, Hard Spun and how dangerous it is to be Robby Albarado, you are in luck. I have resigned myself to watching the Manhattan on streaming video on Youbet. Meanwhile, ABC runs an American Express ad featuring Ellen DeGeneres and plugs their Ruffian movie just as Better Talk Now and English Channel are battling it out in the stretch. ABC's coverage makes NBC look good.


Truisms are usually simple and here at Not To The Swift when it comes to handicapping I like to keep it simple.

One truism about the Belmont Stakes is that it's either won by the best horse or the only horse who could actually run a mile and a half.

In the first category we have horses like Afleet Alex, Empire Maker and Point Given. In the second category you have horses like Jazil, Sarava and Commendable.

I think this will be one of those years where the winner comes from the second category. So here's hoping another deserving Cajun jockey wins his first classic and that's why I pick Imawildandcrazyguy and Mark Guidry to the win the Belmont Stakes.

A Ticket You Couldn't Throw Away

Here's a gem from the Not to the Swift Archive(which is located in my basement and not open to the public).

I usually crumple up my losing tickets, I don't know why maybe because I get some kind of closure out of it (closure, man is that word overused). Anyway with the Ruffian movie set to air tomorrow night I thought I'd share one of only two tickets that I have ever saved.

This is my two dollar win ticket on Ruffian from her last race, that famous and tragic match race against Foolish Pleasure on July 6, 1975, yes Ruffian was gone but this was a way to hold on to her.

Amelia Earhart Made a Similar Mistake

In 1937, thirty two years after Tanya became the last filly to win the Belmont, Amelia Earhart’s plane nosedived into the South Pacific. She was attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air. Many things contributed to her failure, maybe her equipment failed or maybe she made a math mistake calculating the amount of gas she would need but to make a long story short, she ran out of gas.

Fast forward seventy years to Belmont Park this Saturday as Rags to Riches (360) like Amelia tempts fate and tries go where no filly in modern times has gone. While some see the decision to run Rags as a sporting gesture and that it may be, the move is out of character for the ever careful Pletcher and smacks more of desperation than sportsmanship. Like Earhart, Rags to Riches will fail because Pletcher has overestimated her abilities and underestimated the colts she will run against. A few good workouts against Circular Quay in the mornings doesn’t mean much these days. She is a standout in a weak three-year old filly division and has only raced once at a mile and an eighth and never against colts. Her immediate family includes two Belmont winners, neither one of them was a filly. Of course, she would not be Todd’s first miscalculation of the season, all his best colts have crashed and burned this year for one reason or another and why should Rags be any different? A mile and a half for any three-year old is terra incognito, so look carefully as Rags to Riches does her Amelia Earhart imitation just short of the 3/8s pole.

The Greatest Belmont Stakes

In my mind the 1978 Belmont Stakes will always be the greatest race I ever saw, yes I was there that day. Followed closely by Secretariat's Belmont, yes I was there that day too.

Next in my mind is Conquistador Cielo's win in 1982. It was a miserable, rainy day at Belmont. A cold wind was blowing into the grandstand and every seat was wet. As you may know Conquistador Cielo won his Belmont six days after he took the Metropolitan Mile over older horses. By today's standards that would be two Grade 1 wins in one week by the same horse; A record Woody Stevens set that I doubt Todd Pletcher or anyone else will ever duplicate.

Racing Has More Than A Nail Infection . . .

Digger’s entry in the Belmont Stakes was just about as welcome as a nail infection; the entry of the over matched colt says a lot about what is wrong with racing in general and the Triple Crown in particular, the absence of sportsmanship by Street Sense’s owners and a misplaced sense of sportsmanship that borders on abuse by the owners of Digger is an infection that is damaging the sport.

Street Sense’s owner has every right to do as he likes, everybody knows racing is an expensive game and only a lucky few hit pay dirt. When Darley comes calling it’s hard for any rational person to turn them down. But the problem now is that commercial breeding concerns now drive all major decisions in racing, to the obvious detriment of the sport. This has not always been the case, after Secretariat was syndicated at the end of his two-year old season in 1972, the great colt won the Triple Crown but also managed to lose three races that year (the Wood Memorial, Whitney and Woodward). Would a breeding syndicate be willing to take a chance like that now? The answer is obvious, they would not. Is Street Sense as good as Secretariat, obviously not, but what’s missing now is a lack of sportsmanship on behalf of both the breeding and racing connections. Secretariat’s connections took on all comers and mistakes were made but in the final analysis the horse proved his greatness. No one these days has the patience to lose or the patience to wait for a horse to truly prove his greatness.