From time to time, we will point out horrendous rides that absolutely compromise their horse’s chances of making a clear, definitive and winning move in a race. Some times, we will look very closely at Stakes races and the high profiles events that draw your attention. On other times, we will critique other races, when we are aggrieved.
On the flip side, and to be honest to the jockey colony, we will be reviewing rides that absolutely help, assist and greatly improve horses and their respective chances of winning races. And, we plan to make the case equally between good rides, and bad ones — in our opinion.
Today, we turn the focus and The Pressbox binoculars on Manny Franco and his horrendous ride on Rate for Me in the 6th race at Saratoga, a 51/2-furlong event on the turf. In this sprint, Franco encourages his 4YO gelding early to get engaged in the race. After breaking a couple of lengths behind the pacesetters, the son of Exchange Rate takes the tip from his rider and moves up along the hedge into a menacing position.
It was then that Franco throws on the breaks and jerks his horse into neutral. And, all of a sudden, he loses several key lengths and key position, as the leaders move on, and, the eventual winner, Grand Sky, moves into a good closing position.
Again, moving into the stretch, Franco pushes the gas pedal and guides his mount along the rail — with absolutely nowhere to go or negotiate any possible spot, whatsoever, for a free run. You guess it? Breaks applied again.
Finally, Franco — in his third significant body move on his horse — forces his horse to the outside. And, once again, Rate for Me, responds favorably. Without any chance of catching the winner by this time, the horse moves forwardly to nearly nab third place, losing it by only a nostril.
Do yourself a favor and put Rate for Me, who had come into this race with back-to-back wins under Franco, in your stable mail. Any kind of ride, other than the one he got today, and he is a contender against the same types.
We welcome your input and thoughts, as well.