(Dennis’ Moment, with owner Dennis Albaugh, at Churchill Downs as a 2YO / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Some random thoughts and observations from the wide, wide world of racing sports on Saturday:
Maybe, just maybe, we got a clue on just how whacky and crazy this year was going to be on Feb. 29 when Gulfstream Park ran the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes.
A lot of us were just waiting for the long-anticipated return of what was sure to be the next coming of the next great horse. Pins meet needles. Chills meet bumps. Butterflies meet stomach.
It was the return and 3YO debut for Dennis’ Moment, a wonderful and striking son of Tiznow — who dazzled and dashed for much of his 2YO season. Well, he was impressive in the races where he didn’t nearly fall down.
It was supposed to be the start of something great, and a beginning of the serious race toward the 2020 Triple Crown.
It was all supposed to be.
But, then again, 2020 hit. For the first time, maybe.
Dennis’ Moment — my #1 choice for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby and so much more — ran an inexplicable 10th.
Dennis’ Moment — my hopeful, my future, my racing fancy — didn’t really run much at all, finishing last.
Dennis’ Moment was no moment at all.
After the race, trainer Dale Romans sent the colt to Kentucky to be examined. Fully. From head. To toe. To be honest, I needed the same thing.
Nothing serious was found to be wrong. But something was found to be needed. A vacation. A rest. A downtime.
And, Dennis’ Moment got it.
Until just recently.
On Saturday morning, the colt was back. In Louisville. Under tack. In control. In spectacular fashion.
On Saturday, the colt got his second published worked since returning to serious training on Sept. 26. Just like his first work, which was 3 furlongs in a steady :36.80, this one was a bullet.
This one was bullet-like, too.
On Saturday, Dennis’ Moment covered a half-mile in :47 flat and that was the fastest time out of 56 to clock the distance.
On Saturday, Dennis’ Moment was back to having some moments. Some real good moments.
“Great work today,” said trainer Dale Romans, when contacted via text on Saturday. “He’s as good as he can be.”
It is not known yet where or just when the colt will return to the races, yet. Plans are still in the making.
But it is good to see Dennis’ Moment flash some of his 2YO brilliance, and that plans are to be made.
“Don’t know where’s he’s going to run,” write Romans. “But he’s doing great.”
2020 will be over soon.
(Trainer Tommy Drury / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Tommy Drury Is As Good As They Come:
As I write this on Saturday afternoon, the G1 Preakness Stakes is still a couple of hours away. Don’t know who wins it. Don’t really care, at this moment in time.
What I do know is that trainer Tommy Drury, who has made the best and most of his time with the 3YO colt Art Collector, is a true winner. True. Winner.
There is not a better guy in this industry.
None. Zero. Nada.
The man knows how to train Thoroughbred horses. That we know. What he has done to turn Art Collector into a Graded Stakes winner, and, perhaps, a Classic winner, is nothing short of remarkable.
After all, this horse started the career in the barn of Joe Sharp and on the grass course. It was only after Sharp had a series of positive drug tests show up that owner Bruce Lunsford decided to change barns and give this colt to Drury.
All Drury has done since? Win. And, get Art Collector ready for the biggest race of his career.
The team missed out on the Kentucky Derby just a few weeks ago when Art Collector grabbed a quarter in his last major work before the “Run for the Roses.” It had to be a gut punch. After all, neither Lunsford or Drury have ever come close to winning the world’s biggest race, and both of those gents are from the Louisville-area.
But if it hurt Drury, you could not tell. Not from his words. Not form his demeanor. Not from his commitment. I talked to Tommy the day after the news of the foot injury, and the man was as honest, and genuine as the first time I ever talked to him.
He was going to get his horse ready for the Preakness Stakes. He was going to get his mind set on getting ready for the Preakness Stakes. He was going to go and try to win the Preakness Stakes.
Today, Tommy will saddle Art Collector for the Preakness Stakes. He has shared some text messages. And, he has shared the moments with his children.
The man has never left Skylight Racing Center to travel to other venues. He has never left his family to chase the limelight. He has never left a leaf unturned or anything in the satchel.
He just does his job.
He just does his job very well.
And, he just loves what he does, very much.
No matter what happens today, Tommy Drury is a man who you have to root for; cheer on; and yell encouragement to.
He is a man who this industry needs more of, so very much.
He is a man who this world needs more of, so very, very much.
(Factor This / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Factor This Is A Real Factor Going to Breeders’ Cup
You don’t hear much news or noise about this 5YO horse by the name of Factor This.
After all, the world has come to expect that any Grade 1 Stakes race on the turf in this country is going to be won by Chad Brown, right?
Whatever the day. Whatever the race. Whatever the moment.
After all, Brown has a stockpile of turf runners that few can even compare or imagine. And, normally, he will roll out 1, 2, 3 or maybe even 4 of them to try his best to win a Grade 1 event.
Smoke ’em, if you got ’em, right?
Well, you may want to consider this gray horse of Brad Cox’s. Well, you just may want to think about this guy Factor This. After all? He may just be a factor going into the Breeders’ Cup.
On Saturday, the son of The Factor ran for the 7th time this year.
On Saturday, the son of The Factor won for the 5th time this year in the G2 Dinner Party Stakes at Pimlico and on the Preakness Stakes undercard.
And, per normal, Factor This was quick. He was tough. And, he proved capable. He won, again. For fun. Again.
In fact, Factor This’ only two losses came in the G1 Old Forester Turf Classic (when 2nd to a Chad Brown horse by the name of Digital Age), and in the listed Colonel E. R. Bradley Stakes at The Fair Grounds way back on Jan. 18.
Factor This has only one running style, mind you. There will be no secret strategy with him. And, it won’t be hard to find the steely gray when he races, either.
He will be on the front.
But do not mistake, either. This guy has guts. When the horses come to him, he isn’t like most grass runners who fire and fade. He grinds. And, grinds. And grinds.
Don’t know where Cox may try him next.
But it is getting awfully tough to ignore this horse. And, that’s what many will do come Breeders’ Cup time. After all? He is not trained by Chad Brown.
Stay Tuned. More. To. Come.