The Brock Talk

Monday, September 19, 2011

Brock on Brock

Every now and then I’ll receive a tweet. “He’s entered.” Or I’ll get a message on Facebook: “Looks who running at Santa Anita/Monmouth/Belmont/Saratoga tomorrow.” At the suggestion of a friend on Twitter, I finally have him registered on my Watch Mail. Got one the other day as a matter of fact.

Brock is in the third race at Belmont Park Wednesday. The race does not have much noteworthy about it. It is just a weekday maiden special weight for a purse of $51,000. Making his sixth career start for trainer Steve Asmussen (photo right), Brock has time and room for improvement to be kind.

At one point, Brock was Mr. Popularity, Joe Cool on Campus, all that and more when he sold as 2-year-old for $2,300,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Calder Sale last March in Florida. As a son of Distorted Humor, and out of the A.P. Indy daughter Tomisue’s Delight, Brock certainly had an impressive catalogue page and it showed as the next richest horse sold was a Smart Strike colt for $825,000.

Distorter Humor had already sired Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brand (gr. 1) winner Funny Cide and a host of other grade 1 stakes winners. Distorted Humor is among the leading producer of stakes winners and earners and demanded a $90,000 stallion fee the year Brock was bred.

But it was mother that brought most of the fire power to Brock’s bloodlines. Tomisue’s Delight won more than $1.2 million on the track include grade 1 stakes such as New York’s Personal Ensign and Ruffian Handicaps. She had already produced a stakes winner (Mr. Sidney) from six foals, of which three were also winners. She also produced Save Big Money, a stakes-place earner of more than $240,000, and is a full sister to 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, both by Horse of the Year A.P. Indy.

Things seem to be going well for Brock after the sale and leading into his career as a race horse. He stayed on schedule with his early training and by the summer, he was in trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn at Saratoga.

Brock went off at a relatively popular 7-to-2 in his first start, but ran into a buzz saw and finished eighth of nine horses that day, more than 18 lengths behind a rookie Stay Thirsty. Stay Thirsty of course, is on a two-graded race winning streak having taken the Jim Dandy (gr. 2) and Woodward (gr. 1) at Saratoga recently. That was Brock’s only start as a 2-year-old.

More than seven months later, Brock tried another group of maidens, this time on the West coast at Santa Anita and at a farther distance of one mile. Although Brock was the second choice of the bettors again and he ran a better race, Brock finished a well beaten fourth, finishing more than 14 lengths behind the winner. Again Brock had met another steamer in Midnight Interlude, who would go on to represent trainer Bob Baffert in the Kentucky Derby on May 7, but it was time for Brock to make some progress.

Brock made his next start at Churchill Downs on May 7; except he was not running in the Kentucky Derby. Brock was still in maiden races, this one just following the Derby. Brock finished seventh, more than six lengths from the winner. The race was far from impressive, but again there was some improvement.

Brock started again at Churchill a month later, but his progress seemed to have flattened as he was fourth for the second time, this time 10 lengths from the lead. In his four career races, he had beaten by a combined 48 lengths.

Brock was not bred for a fast start and his blood dictates that he should like the longer races. But frustration must still creep into the minds of Asmussen or the team now behind Stonerstreet Stables when considering Brock. Stonerstreet, of course, was founded by the late Jess Jackson and runs under the yellow colors made famous by their Horse of the Year winners Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.

And Stonerstreet horses are not for early retirement. Both Curlin and Rachel Alexandra ran in the year following their Horse of the Year award. Certainly – even as blue as Brock’s blood - they are were not ready to give up after only four starts.

And sure enough, Brock responded in his last race, finishing second in a maiden special weight race at Monmouth Park July 11.

Wednesday Brock makes his sixth start in the third race at Belmont Park going a mile around one turn. Belmont Park line maker has Brock listed as the 2-1 favorite and if that holds, it will be the first time Brock walks into the starting gate favored.

Brock has been training well leading up to this race with five furlong bullet work at Monmouth Park in 1:01 2/5 seconds breezing a week ago Monday. Asmussen followed that with another Monday work this today at Belmont, working as easy three furlongs in :38 2/5ths.

Wednesday’s maiden race is a short field with second choice Crushing breaking from the inside post at 5-to-2 odds. The Chad Brown-trained son of Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo seems most comfortable running near the lead, similar to Brock. However, there appears to be no speedsters to lead the way for this race, which makes it a bit more unpredictable. If there is an unusually slow pace, there is every reason to believe that both or either one of those two may lead this race early.

Or any of the six contenders could try to steal the race by trying get a lone lead. On paper, nobody looks like they want the lead, but Post Ranch and RJ's Affair are making their first starts, both with 8-to-1 morning line odds.

However the race may set up or where ever Brock may finish Wednesday, we’ll still be pulling for him here at The Brock Talk.

Similar to when I followed Hall of Fame Cardinal outfielder Lou Brock during my childhood – I’ve been following Brock the horse. I use the Watch Mail to follow equine Brock now instead of the Sporting News which I used then to follow the St. Louis Cardinals. And through the miracle that is TVG I will get to see Brock race live Wednesday instead of the days old box scores on which I had to rely in the weekly Sporting News.

I don't really care about Brock Lesner and the Dallas Cowboy status disqualified Brock Marion from my favorite list. But Lou Brock is my all-time favorite baseball player.

Although he needs a win and a direction change in his career, I’ll take my support a step further with equine Brock. There will be some financial support for Brock at Belmont from Brock at Lone Star Park.

Brock on!


The_Knight_Sky said...

ha ha. Almost forgot about this one My blog is named after a horse named The Knight Sky. Die-hard fans may remember him. So I guess Brock has pulled even with me.

Good luck to Brock the horse and for those playing these long term DRF watch horses.... Always consider the exacta backwheel with non-favorites.

Unknown said...

Love that bet. Since I'm more of a trifecta guy, love the all-favorite-all or all-all-fave.

Always wondered where you got that name...

The_Knight_Sky said...

Well Brock got the place today.

There's a reason why I expound mercilessly on the backwheels and tri-fecta as a show on "long term" plays.

The cat is out of the bag now.
He'll be favored or co-favored until he breaks his maiden.