2012 Haskell: Round 4 of East Coast vs West Coast Conditioning
If this was a boxing match, the other side would have already thrown in the towel. Thus far the West Coasters are up 7-2 after the Derby, Preakness, Belmont runnings. Only Union Rags stemmed the tide, and he injured himself in doing so.
On Sunday 3 California-based horses make the journey to the Jersey Shore to take on 3 East Coast heavyweights at a somewhat neutral setting. While CA horses train mainly over synthetics at DelMar and Hollywood, Eastern based horses have been making the dirt rounds in the mornings at Churchill and Saratoga, respectively.
Seemingly a perfect setup for West Coast/East Coast rivalry. Thus far the edge may belong East with 2 Derby entries vs 0 for the West, but the 2nd place Belmont finisher Paynter is the likely favorite that will even out the score. Repeatedly during this TC season on my blog, after the fact I boasted of West Coast supremacy during the 3 big classics.
Although the East had many more runners, West Coast conditioned animals took home 7 of 9 placings in the 3 jewels of the Triple Crown.
The 2012 Haskell lineup seems to be a perfect mix of contenders from both coasts:
In the corner for the West….
Nonios, Jerry Hollendorfer: DMR/HP, 6Fx2 over synthetic
Paynter, Bob Baffert: DMR/SA, 7Fx1 at Belmont, 6Fx3 over dirt and synthetics
Handsome Mike, Doug O’Neill: HP, 6Fx4 over synthetic
And the challengers from out East….
Dullahan, Dale Romans: CD, 5F repeatedly over dirt – remember the panicked 1m before the Belmont?
Gemologist, Todd Pletcher: all 5F at Saratoga over dirt
Stealcase, Mark Casse: 5F at Saratoga
My Haskell picks in order:
Of course, now that I have pre-emptively pounded my chest for aggressive conditioning, it’s likely the West Coast dominance will come to an end. But we still have the upcoming bloodbath at the 2012 Breeders Cup over the Santa Anita dirt that will entail these East Coast pieces of fine china finally having to ship 3,000 miles and run on someone else’s home turf.
EDIT: (15min after the race…)
I am floored to see the stat that Baffert has now shipped and won the last 6 Haskells he has attempted. How much better do you have to be than your fellow trainers to travel 3,000 miles and beat everyone six times in a row? And in this case with his second stringer – Paynter.