The Whitney Handicap certainly lived up to it's billing as the Race of the Year. The top three horses in the race all showed up and the two heavy weights gave us a dramatic stretch drive that will not soon be forgotten. Musket Man, the dark bay colt, demonstrated, once again, his amazing class and consistency. His trainer, Derek Ryan, on the other hand, showed just how classless he could be.
Musket Man place third in the Whitney and was not even beaten by a total of two lengths. Ryan, felt the performance could've been better had his horse gotten the pace setup that was supposed to take place, with Haynesfield pressing Quality Road on the lead. That feeling I can understand, Musket Man seems to never get that perfect set up that will allow him to have his breakout performance. However, Ryan took things to a whole new level, when he just stopped short of accusing other trainers of fixing the race.
"What is it? Everybody's afraid to be Todd Pletcher?" "Instead of running a proper race they are sucking up to Pletcher." Those two quotes are taken right from the horse's mouth. Here is a newsflash for Ryan, the jockey aboard the horse who Ryan is referring to, was Ramon Dominguez, who was riding Haynesfield, the same horse that broke through the gate prior to the start of the race. Did Ryan forget how much energy and power it takes to break through those things? Dominguez was probably more worried about getting his horse around the track safely by that point than trying to run with Quality Road.
Ryan didn't stop there, but kept on going, next taking aim at Quality Road. He called the brilliant colt out on "quitting" when looked in the eye after having everything his own way. He then went onto say "Don't get me wrong. He's a good horse, but he's not as great as we are making him out to be." Well, Ryan seems to forget that in the Met Mile Quality Road had anything but a smooth trip up front, setting some lightning quick fractions and still had enough to hold off a late charge by none other than Musket Man.
What was Musket Man's excuse in that race? He had the pace, was the distance too short? How could that be when Musket Man has run some bang up races not just at longer distances, but shorter too? Don't get me wrong, Musket Man is a good horse, but Ryan needs to learn that great horses don't need perfect trips to win.
I can understand Ryan's frustration. He has one of the best, most consistent, and most honest horses in racing, yet he just seems to keep running into buzz saws. What I can't understand, and what I will not defend is when one accuses other trainers and jockeys of sucking up to other trainer, a nice way of saying they fixed the race, to make sure they will still get rides. Then going further by taking shots at one of the nations leading older males. Racing needs more class acts, not more sore losers coming up with crazy conspiracy theories.