BaroqueAgain1 wrote:IMO, speculating about drugs (the lack of) somehow being behind Arrogate's non-performance doesn't make a lot of sense. He won the World Cup, and Dubai doesn't even allow race-day Lasix.
There were so many poor performances from very good horses (Mor Spirit, Stellar Wind, Lady Aurelia, Marsha, Drefong, Unique Bella, Lady Eli, Arrogate, etc.) that I have a hard time believing that they all just stopped being good. The only thing they have in common is Del Mar.
The configuration of the tracks, dirt and turf, was tight, with sharp turns and very short stretches. That turf course should never have had fourteen horse fields.
Del Mar is very pretty and it makes for a nice 'boutique' meet, but I hope they never run the BC there again.
They might've had "Del Mar" in common but a lot of horses who did win also had never run there before either. I think that's a convenient excuse but there are more factors, already Lady Eli you can remove from that list since she was injured out of the gate. Unique Bella was a very vulnerable favourite, I think people failed to remember the F&M Sprint had never been won by a 3yo for one thing, then there are other factors like experience, fitness for another. Her ride did her no favours but anyway I was against her chances early on (even though I'd have loved to see her win she was no mortal lock). Some of the big faves had no prep races either and trained up to it, which is always a risk. Even outside of the usual fresh/firing off a layoff vs a horse that needs races under themselves, BC races are no ordinary race. Worked for Gun Runner but maybe less some of the others (and while he didn't have a recent prep, his last start was only 2 months back and he'd raced consistently since June so fitness was not a concern).
Stellar Wind was fighting off a) a long layoff and b) the Sadler angle who for whatever reason can't seem to get his horses in peak conditioning for the BC. Also I think very few people thought she looked like a winner in the paddock. Mor Spirit? Really? He's a good horse I'm not sure if I would've qualified him as a "very good" horse but he wasn't exactly a super star, and though BB is usually good at running horses off a layoff, his last race was in June and it was sizzling but it wasn't exactly reflective of his career as a whole.
The only one that truly and genuinely stunned me that I've not heard an explanation for so far was Lady Aurelia. But like Som said, sometimes horses just don't fire.
Not saying that Del Mar isn't a quirky track but one must be careful of falling into the trap of blaming the course or looking away from other factors that can contribute to a horse's poor performance. Also I think the "common denominator" angle can be a fallacy especially in a case like this, where aside from being race horses, some of these very good horses couldn't be any more different. Different distances, different run styles, etc. If it were solely a course thing then you'd think there'd be a difference between the dirt and turf results, and/or you'd see a pattern emerge amongst the winners. There didn't really seem to be one, the only really common thread that seemed to come up was potentially a dead rail on the dirt but that didn't stop a horse like Gun Runner...