Part 5 Breeders' Cup Thoughts: Wrap-up
Click here to read the First Installment
Click here to read the Second Installment
Click here to read the Third Installment
Click here to read the Fourth Installment
West Point Thoroughbreds President Terry Finley will share his thoughts leading up to the Breeders' Cup. This is the final installment.
It's Tuesday, and the 2007 Breeders' Cup is now in the rearview mirror. Despite Mother Nature's best efforts; I think that the weekend was a success. Of course, we would have loved for our results on the track to have been better. We brought five horses to the Breeders' Cup that I expected to run very well. Anyone that knows me knows that I am not one to make excuses. However, I certainly think that the track impacted some of our horses' performances both positively and negatively. I read this morning that the handle on Saturday's eight races was down twenty percent. That's indicative of the fact that many handicappers don't like to bet on races run over sloppy tracks because the results are too unpredictable. Longshots and off track specialists often rule the day in sloppy conditions. I understand the fact that all the horses have to run over the same surface, but some will handle the going better than others.
We took our fair share of licks on the track this weekend. High Finance, Lear's Princess, and Irish Smoke certainly did not get over the sloppy going the same way they did over other surfaces. You could see a few jumps into the race that they were not moving the same way that they normally do. If you had told me prior to Saturday that Lear's Princess would finish tenth in the Distaff, I would have been incredulous. Dream Rush missed the break a bit in her race, hustled to the lead and those first quarter-mile efforts probably took away from her last quarter-mile punch. The one bright spot was Awesome Gem. The Breeders' Cup Classic is the richest race on American soil. Things have to really fall into place to make a run in a race like he made. He very well might have benefited from the track condition. We knew that he would have to run his best and have a few other horses run less than their best to be a factor. Awesome Gem ran his typical determined race, and he got up for third over Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. It was a tremendous effort. I like to say that Awesome Gem cashed a "saver bet" for us with his result. After coming out on the short end of four earlier races, he certainly buoyed everyone's spirits.
It is really clear. To win a Breeders' Cup race requires a little luck and a lot of ability. The horse needs to be at their peak performance, and you need to catch a few breaks. We might have caught a break in this Classic with the wet weather, but it adversely impacted other runners. I realized at the end of the day that everything seems to even out. We beat horses we never expected to because of track conditions, and we had horses run poorly that we expected to run well. That's the yin and the yang of a sport that will always keep you humble. Most importantly, all of the horses came out of the race healthy.
Outside of the races themselves, I couldn't help but think that for ten days, prior to the Breeders' Cup; the weather could not have been more spectacular. Unfortunately, the only glimpse we got of that glorious weather began about thirty minutes prior to the Breeders' Cup Classic. I'd like to think that the racing gods stepped in to lift everyone's spirits. The best comment on the weather I heard all week was when Rick Violette said, "We play this sport outdoors. Sometimes it rains. Unfortunately, we don't have an umpire that can call a rain delay."
Overall, we knew that win, lose, or draw this weekend would provide our Partners with memories to last a lifetime. Logistically, we encountered a few hiccups, but throughout the weekend our primary focus was on providing the Partners with the best experience possible. When you can't control everything (my calls to Mother Nature kept going to voicemail), you are always bound to hit a snag. When I look back on the entire weekend, I am proud of my team and the hard work they put in to help us overcome any obstacle put in our way. Personally, I got the biggest satisfaction seeing so many Partners and sharing in this thrill of a lifetime with them.
I was also fortunate to have my entire family there on Friday and Saturday. My wife Debbie was there by my side, as always, and my children Erin and Ryan were able to fly up from their respective schools. Sharing moments like this with your loved ones are priceless.
I am also thankful to have been able to share my thoughts with you over the past few weeks. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you.