Before we get to the horses, a note about the Iron Horse.
In case you missed Sportscenter today, Mike Ditka noted that the Illinois Republicans, back in '04, asked him -- make that begged him -- to run for the open U.S. Senate seat against a Democratic unknown named Barack Obama.
But Da Coach turned them down.
Seems that Mike didn't want to give up his ESPN football gig to make the race for the Senate -- a race in which, in view of his enormous popularity, he would have been 1-9.
Heck, Obama probably would have voted for him.
Talk about changing the course of history...
Speaking of same, it sure looks like our friends the Sheikhs sure are changing the course of racing history.
No longer will racing be known as the Sport of Kings. Henceforth, it will be the
Sport of Sheikhs.
Consider that in the past two weeks, while most of us were occupied with the
World Series, trick or treating and the elections, the Sheikhs were making a
On top of their domination of the Breeders' Cup -- and Criticism's victory in the
the Long Island Handicap, a John Piesen Hot Line (800 212 2283) best bet
at $10.40 -- they made a certain nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn an offer he couldn't
Last Friday, Bob Frankel, the majority owner and trainer of Champagne/Hopeful winner
Vineyard Haven, sold the Kentucky Derby contender to Sheikh Mohammed for the proverbial undisclosed sum.
Personally, I doubt that even the Sheikh knows -- or cares.
As for Frankel, who has accomplished everything in this game except winning
the Kentucky Derby, he is undergoing seller's remorse.
"I turned down their initial offer, which was very high," Frankel told Bloodhorse,
"but they came back with a higher one -- and that I couldn't refuse. It was a lot of
money to turn down.
"I really didn't want to sell, and, in my heart, I feel terrible about it. I was actually
hoping he wouldn't pass the vet.
"He will make a terrific 3-year-old, certainly a serious Triple Crown threat."
Of course, minority partner Joe Torre also picks up a nice chunk of change, although
I can't believe that ol' Joe really needs the money.
I would think that Joe was looking forward to being at Churchill Downs the first
Saturday of May to see his gray colt run in the Derby. Instead, he'll spend the day
in the dugout watching his Dodgers play the Padres.
As for Sheikh Mohammed, he now boasts the season's best 2-year-old colts in his
Dubai barn. He already has Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman, whom he
landed back in September when he bought Stonerside Stable from Houston Texans' owner Robert McNair.
On the same day that Sheikh Mohammed revealed his purchase of Vineyard Haven,
his brother, Sheikh Hamdan told Bloodhorse that he bought the 4-year-old Merchant Marine -- third to Curlin in the Jockey Club Gold Cup -- for a (what else?) undisclosed price.
"Quite a successful sale," said seller John Fort.
This deal reflects the differences between the Sheiks and those of us who don't
have gushing oil wells in the backyard.
When Shakis got stopped cold on the fence while making a winning move in the
Breeders' Cup Mile, owner Hamdan merely shrugged, and wrote out a check for
On the other hand, the pained screams from this writer, who bet three figures on Shakis, and gave him out on his Hot Line, could be heard from here to Dubai -- the new home of
Midshipman, Vineyard Haven and Merchant Marine.
Not to mention the new home of Away, the dam of Eight Belles, whom the Sheikhs bought over the weekend for $2.5 million at Keeneland; and Hystericalady, for whom they got for $3 million at the same sale, and Black-Eyed Susan winner Panty Raid.
We're not even counting previous '08 acquisitions War Monger, Tasteyville, Barbecue Eddie, Summer Doldrums, Pascal and Indian Chant (thank you very much Maggi Moss).
I guess the Sheikhs didn't get the memo about a recession.
Hey, there was one who got away.
The IEAH boys put back some of their Big Brown profits at Keeneland to purchase Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Stardom Bound for $5.7 million.
Guess the Sheiks weren't interested in this one. The underbidder was Frank Stronach, who was said to be having a lean year.
Speaking of the Breeders' Cup, here's my favorite story from synthetic heaven.
It seems that Juror No. 4 in the Sen. Ted Stevens corruption trial in Alaska pleaded with the presiding judge to dismiss her so that she could visit her dying father in California.
The judge, a man of compassion, granted her wish.
The juror, a lady named Marian Hinnant, went to California allright, but not to visit her
She had tickets to the Breeders' Cup!
Finally, don't look for jockey Dominguez at Aqueduct this week.
Ramon, who tripled on Sunday, will be serving a week's suspension carried over
That said, look for jockeys Prado and Coa to make an impact Wednesday in
the Pick Six, which will offer a 48K carryover from Sunday when "no one
All six races, including the fourth leg -- the $65,000 Rare Blend Stakes for
3-year-old fillies on the grass -- are wide open with no obvious singles.
That reminds me...
As far back as I can remember, the feature race in New York (and most everywhere
else) went as the next-to-last race on the card.
But last Saturday, Aqueduct ran the Long Island Handicap as race seven on the
nine-race card. And, likewise, the Rare Blend will go Wednesday as race seven
on the nine-race program.
Not a big deal...but the implication is obvious.
Tracks always ran the feature as the penultimate race in order to keep the betting
public on the premises as long as possible.
No longer is that a factor.
The betting public now is at home watching on-line.
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