There I was… I was outside today enjoying a fine cigar. OK, it was average at best… But, the sun was shining, and I was reading some racing magazines, catching some rays. Then comes my old pal, “The Mouth.”
His real name is Frank, but everyone calls him The Mouth. He started in on me as I was in mid-draw. The cigar was burning smooth, and Frank was red-hot. He was about to tear me a new one…
He knows I have started to like poly surfaces. I have read, and made it a point to educate myself as much as possible. I have felt it is in my best interest to educate and prepare. But, Frank was not having any part of it. He asked me what I was thinking…
I told him that the surfaces vary. Some play speed, and others roll for the closers. Some are sticky in the heat, and speed can be dulled. But, overall, the runners come back tight and ready to run. I have seen a few have had injuries masked by this surface. But, overall it is gaining my confidence.
He then proceeded to tell me how many have back-end problems after they come off. I agreed… He told me it takes runners many starts on dirt to get back in road shape… I agreed again… He then told me that for a surface that needs little to no water, he has seen the water truck making regular rounds. As with that point, I agreed again… Funny… I started hearing The Mouth…
I have second guessed myself after many losses. I have tried to educate and prepare for this type of oval.
After the running of the Bluegrass, I had doubts. It seemed like Frank could see right through me, and knew it was on my mind…Odysseus, under Rajiv Maragh, was not going to finish the Derby Trail… The great run at Tampa Bay caught my eye, and made me a believer. It was only after he went to the poly track at Keeneland, did he have any problems.
Was it bad luck? Was it there all along? I guess I’ll never know…. Frank started me thinking. He is a good handicapper, and I guess if you get past his loud voice, there could be some stimulating truth. Satish Sanan said it was a little odd to have a bone chip in the back of the knee. With limited knowledge of the injury, I found it weird and unusual… All that I knew, was my runner was not going to race at Churchill Downs.
Sanan said, “It is a tough game, and they will be back.” That I believe… The doubts about the surface are coming back like a nightmare. Have I jumped too quickly to accept? Is there a trial period that still needs to be observed? For the many that have taken to the track, and the many that have not broken down, I have questions again… I guess my cigar visit just made me question myself as a player.
As Frank walked away, I put my stogie out on the steps… I really didn’t mind our talk. It made me think, and I guess I am back to the drawing board.