29 March 2010

Playing chess with myself

Is not a euphemism for anything lurid, although Bishop to any "G" spot always make me chuckle. I don't play chess with myself because I am not smart enough to throw myself a head fake.

An article on posits Pletcher could have eight starters in this year's KD. Eight starters! If the man had half the field, I would still make it better than even money against him winning it.

It's easy to make fun of his lack of success in the KD, the man doesn't have to prove himself to anyone as a trainer-Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl and he would be on the top of my list, a dirty nose separating him from Montana-but at what point does the marginal utility of having him as trainer start to work against one as an owner?

From what I gather, the man is a perfectionist. That level of dedication to his craft is commendable and to be emulated but it cannot be maintained in the weeks, days, hours and minutes leading up to the race. If he saddles eight, or six or five, that is time he is not devoting to his other charges.

For a race such as the KD and all it promises, one cannot afford to overlook anything. Who knows the difference between winning and losing? A girth too tight or too loose? A stray grain of sand, perhaps, under the saddle cloth rubbing the horse the wrong way and making him lose interest before the windows close?

Horse fitness is not a zero sum game. Horses are not chess pieces and in theory he could win the eight horse blanket photo but life never does seem to work out that way.

I don't imagine he cares what the press writes about his "0"fer, he probably sleeps well at night and if nothing else, one has to admire his Sisyphean resolve. I also imagine he wants to win this race, badly, but it probably doesn't haunt him-yet.

Insiders know things, better left unsaid for public consumption. He knows what horses are legitimate and what horses are running for ego. Owners have egos and I imagine Pletcher is adept at navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of narcissism and pettiness his job engenders. Even then, strange things happen in a horse race. I guess that's why they created an institution around the event.

He will have them all as fit as he can make them and roll the dice. But there is a moment, after the dice are cast and before they land where a stray breath or random shaft of light can affect the outcome of the roll.

This supernal tightrope is where he pays his bills and why owners are willing to let him give them a run for their money.

How attenuated do they want him to be?


Steve Zorn said...

Supernal and attenuated in two consecutive paras. Nice.

Pletcher also ruins, or discards, a lot of horses that might have been "useful" in other hands. He starts out with hundreds of two-year-olds, and the ones that don't fit the program (i.e., aren't Derby material) fall by the wayside. Some are used as workmates for their more talented or sounder colleagues, some just get dumped in claiming races. Either way, if they were my horses, I might be a tad annoyed.

The_Knight_Sky said...

Scylla and Charybdis of narcissism...

Looks like someone's been listening to The Police.

What a run Mr. Pletcher is having. But everything can fall apart in a jiffy. I'd never count those chickens before they hatch.

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