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Submitted by John Piesen on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM

SAME TIME NEXT YEAR

With the 2013 Triple Crown reduced to history (golden oldies section), it’s never too early to look ahead to 2014. That said, I’ve already got my horse, Is it too early to get down in Vegas?

His name is Kobe’s Back - yep, named for the  two-legged Kobe...and his hopefully imminent comeback to the Lakers.

If you were next door at Hollywood Park last Saturday you know what I’m talking about.

With jockey Bejarano riding for trainer Sadler, Kobe’s Back was a gray blur rallying from Beverly Hills to win the Proctor Stakes by a pole under double wraps.

Yes, I know it’s a long way from five and a half furlongs in June to a mile and a quarter next May. But, hey, that’s what I do. Sometimes I’m right. More often I’m wrong. But racing is all about taking chances.

And, on the day after Pop blew the cover in game seven (why no Parker on the floor in the final minute?), why not tout a horse named for a hoops legend. 

And why not do it in a column titled Thru the Binoculars two weeks after the original Thru the Binocs was collateral damage in the unfathomable demise of the New York Post racing section.

(Oldtimers will recall that I launched Binocs in the Post back in the day...so I take its demise as a personal insult).

But life goes on, and what thing that doesn’t change is the fact that "sure things" are anything but.

Two recent examples: Royal Delta and Animal Kingdom:

In case you missed it, Royal Delta, 1-9 in the Fleur de Lis last Saturday evening at Churchill Downs, got beat five lengths under Mike Smith, much to the chagrin of pick six and pick four players everywhere.

And that wasn’t the worst thing to happen to jockey Mike last weekend.

One week after after his heroics on Palace Malice in the Belmont Stakes, Mike was down the road at Monmouth Park to ride Itsmyluckyday in the Pegasus Stakes.

Well ,maybe not so lucky.

Mike felt Itsmyluckyday take a bad step coming out of the first turn, and pulled the colt up. This was kind of significant because Lucky was the 4-5 second choice to Verrazano, the 1-2 chalk from Todd Pletcher, in a five horse field.

Verrazano went on to win by 20. Lucky? He’ll be out an estimated four-to-six months. More likely he’s done.

I’m glad Lucky will live, but I have to feel sorry for the 27,000 folks at the Jersey oval, who spent up to eight hours waiting for what looked to be a compelling match of two superior 3-year-olds.

As for Animal Kingdom, you’re not going to believe this.

Chances are you read or heard that AK’s excuse was that he didn’t like the track after he finished ninth, beaten 20 lengths, on Tuesday in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, the scheduled finale of his racing career before he goes to stud this Fall in Australia.

But the real story was that AK evidently was trying to get a jump on his next career.

Folks in the paddock couldn’t help notice that AK seemed more concerned with improving the breed that day than racing for a mere 300K purse.

Said owner Irwin: "When I saw in the paddock that Animal Kingdom had five legs, I knew we were in trouble."

Yes, Binocs was right on the scene.

Speaking of Pletcher, I notice that the Toddster is running nine on Saturday up and down the east coast, four of them in stakes, most of them as the chalk (what else?).

If you are thinking in terms of nine-horse parlays, herewith:

Belmont Park:
Race 3: Unitarian
Race 10: Dreaming of Julia (Mother Goose Stakes)

Monmouth Park:
Race 1: Elena Strikes
Race 9: Doctor Chit
Race 10: Coconut Shrimp

Parx:
Race 6: Sweet n Discreet
Race 9: Travelin Man (Levine Memorial)

Colonial:
Race 5: Hudson Steele (Da Hoss Stakes)
Race 6: Channel Lady (All Along Stakes)
(And not an uncoupled entry in the bunch!)

No Pletcher at Churchill on Saturday, but beware the Brothers Borel.

Calvin will be riding the 2-year-old filly More Than Beauty for brother Cecil in the Debutante Stakes going as race seven. Beauty steps up into stakes company after winning her debut over the track by a pole. According to my pals at the track, it could have been two poles if Calvin desired.

The Debutante will not be easy. All 11 fillies in the field exit a winning race, mostly by open lengths. Can’t recall the last time that happened.

Speaking of Churchill, we pointed out in this space last Friday that Rosario will replace the retired Dominguez as the travelin’ rider to watch on future Saturdays.

And, sure ’nuff, Joel won two of the four stakes on the CD evening card....and was second on Golden Ticket at 20-1 in a third, the featured Stephen Foster, which one would think would be raced under the sun, not the moon.

Fort Larnard, who replicated his BC Classic performance wiring the Foster, will be seen next in the Whitney at Saratoga.

Which reminds me: Can you imagine a Saratoga without the New York Post?

The racing Gods won’t like this.

Speaking of Saratoga, it pays to note that the Spa is precisely where newly-named NYRA honcho Christopher Kay will have his baptism of fire.

Indeed, Kay may be the best lawyer in the game, and a perfectly nice fellow, but he has as much racing background as Mike Kay.

Namely zilch.

But we wish CK luck. He’ll need it.

While we are looking ahead, Delauney, the fastest horse since Groovy, will go next on July 6 in the Smile at Calder. Rosie will ride for trainer Amoss and owner Ms. Moss.

In the meantime, the winners just keep coming online and on the John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283). This week’s examples: Indy Tune ($6.90), Money in Motion ($11.80), Roses for Romney ($8.80), Rakin’ Gold ($21.80), and Tahoe Tigress ($6.80).

Hey, the racing season doesn’t end with the Triple Crown. It’s just beginning.

Thanks for checking in, have a good weekend, go Buccos (especially as dogs). Keep the Hot Line on speed-dial, and see you back here next week

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