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Old 12-04-2008, 08:34 PM   #1
Tim Y
turf historian
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 5,596
The Match Race that never was

After Affirmed toyed with, and then defeated Bid (Shoe made three separate moves on him in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Laffit moved just enough to thwart each attempt) old Buddy Delp was screaming for a re-match. It wouldn't have mattered as MATCH races are more about racing style than some nebulous "class" folks magically anoint to certain horses.

So when the "mouth who thinks he roars" (You know Drug Positive Dutrow as we refer to him) began taunting Asmussen to dust off Curln for the match race, it was wise of the latter group to suggest their meeting only in a race, not a match. The glucocorticoid enhanced, Brown, "busted foot," bomber would have a decided style advantage. Their meeting head to head would prove little to anyone but the mouth.

Review all the major match races this century from Zev/Papyrus, Capot/Coaltown, Armed/Assault, Typecast/Convenience, Swaps/Nashua, Seabiscuit/War Admiral, Alsab/ Whirlaway, to the "match races within a race" of Affirmed/Alydar. Sunday Silence/Easy Goer and you see the SAME THING: whichever gets out of the gate first and establishes position can play "cat and mouse" the rest of the trip much akin to a pursuit bicycle race at the Olympic games. We all know what Leroy Jolley needed to do to beat the great Ruffian: hone the speed of Foolish Pleasure to the point that the race would be decided in the opening fraction. Regrettably, while that gained the logical advantage, it cost the rest of the world a racing icon.

In a complete field race there are other pace prompters pressing, others making moves, traffic etc.ALL to overcome whereas in the match, the pacesetter has ALL the positives (in this case maybe even another drug positive) on their side.

The real trick would be seeing two horses (let's say an Affirmed and a Forty Niner) that have exactly the same racing style go head to head, or match Curlin with Affirmed Alex (two dedicated closers).

They are exciting however, but prove only that style wins.

Last edited by Tim Y; 12-04-2008 at 08:39 PM.
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