Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Supremely Awful Arguments: Constitutional Nonsense (Part 3)

Textualism, literalism, or that's not exactly what it says

There are several variations on this theme:
"Just apply the plain language"
"The language is clear, so don't change it"
"It means what it says"
"It says what it means"
Etc., etc., etc.

Sounds good, sensible, easy.
Stop the Justices from twisting what the Constitution actually says and means.
Just stick with the text as written by the Framers.
Don't add or change anything.

Oh, really?
Even if the result is absurd? Dangerous? Suicidal for the community or the nation?

Now that wouldn't happen, would it?
That's an exaggeration, isn't it?
By just applying the text, the wording, the very language of the Constitution?

Oh yes!
And that's one of the major reasons why an insistence on textualism, literalism, "just apply what it says" is pure constitutional nonsense.

Let's delve into the Constitution.
Actually, don't need to do that.
Let's start at the very top of the Bill of Rights.
Right there in the 1st Amendment.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." [My emphasis.]
That's what it says. Verbatim.

Let's start with the very first word of that very first amendment.
What about the president?
What about a federal bureaucrat?
What about a federal agency?
What about the FBI?
What about a federal magistrate?
What about a federal trial judge?

May they prohibit free exercise of religion? abridge freedom of speech? of the press?
The 1st Amendment only says "Congress."
So just apply that, and don't add to or change what the amendment literally says?
So Congress isn't allowed to trample on freedom of religion, speech, or press.
But all the other officials and institutions of the federal government may?

Well, thank God, the 1st Amendment has NOT been construed literally, strictly according to its text, its plain language.
Instead, it has been "interpreted" to apply to all government officials and institutions.
Even though "that's not exactly what it says."

But textualism and literalism are even worse than the foregoing suggests.

Let's try the "no law" language in the 1st Amendment.
To begin with, that plain language mentions only "law."
It does not mention executive orders, agency determinations, or judicial decrees, etc. that violate freedom of religion, speech, and press.
So those would be permitted to violate our basic 1st Amendment rights?
Again, thank God, "law" hasn't been literally applied either.

But back to that entire phrase, "no law."
No law? None? Not any?
Should that text, those plain words, that constitutional language be applied literally?
Exactly what it says?
So no law?
Not even if necessary for the health, safety, welfare, and security of the community and the nation?

No law prohibiting religious human sacrifices? (And let's remember, many if not most religions in history believed in them.)
No law requiring that a deadly sick child be provided life-saving medical health care regardless of the parents' religious objections?
No law forbidding flying into buildings or slaughtering heretics or infidels for religious religions?

No law prohibiting--you know--falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater?
No law prohibiting verbal threats (whether or not carried out)?
No law prohibiting a soldier from telling his military commander, "Go F yourself," when the soldier dislikes the commander or the commander's order?
No law prohibiting an individual from telling national security secrets to an enemy?

No law prohibiting the press from doing so?
No law prohibiting the press from publishing deliberately false stories that ruin someone's reputation?
No law prohibiting the press from publishing child pornography?

And of course we could go on indefinitely--if not interminably.

The point should be clear.
And that's just the very first amendment.

"Congress" means Congress.
"Law" means law.
"No law" means no law.

And yet, thank God, that plain language, that text, has not been literally applied--"interpreted" if you prefer (although it's hardly really that).
Thank God that, instead, over the years the Court (and lower courts and judges) have generally been more reasonable than that.
Thank God that, instead, over the years American constitutional jurisprudence has been concerned with the underlying principles, the broader constitutional concepts--not simply a literal, narrow reading of "plain words"--and not overly concerned with "that's not exactly what it says."

And we haven't even discussed textualism and literalism and plain meaning with regard to those terms in the Constitution such as "liberty," "due process," and "equal protection."
How are those to be applied literally?
What is their plain meaning?
Even if it were a good idea to "just apply the text," how would that be done?
Those terms, and so many others in the Constitution, simply have no fixed, pre-determined meaning.

"Liberty" includes exactly which rights and freedoms? and which does it not?
Then there's the old saw about liberty versus license. That's always clear!

"Due process" literally means the process or procedure that is due, or the right amount, or right amount owed or to which one is entitled.
And that is exactly what? and how much?

And "equal protection" of the laws?
Everyone to be treated equally under the law?
No differences in treatment? No distinctions at all?
Even when those differences or distinctions are entirely relevant? For example, academic ability and admission into state universities? Athletic ability and playing on a state university sports team? Substance abuse and rejection from a highly sensitive government position? Etc., etc., etc.

Oh, of course different treatment based on relevant criteria is fine, perfectly permissible.
But not based on irrelevant criteria--that would be "discrimination," not legitimate differentiation.
Ahhhh, so it's a matter of relevant versus irrelevant.
That's always clear!

So, to start with, "equal protection" really means "equal protection except when differences are constitutionally relevant."
But beyond that, what is constitutionally relevant is not exactly fixed or pre-determined--not by the text; and not by anything else.
Indeed, what is constitutionally relevant or irrelevant has been difficult and controversial throughout our history--and without the slightest help from the constitutional text which says nothing about it.

Consider that the Supreme Court did not rule that race was an irrelevant (and therefore impermissible) criterion for different treatment, at least for segregation, until 1954; and not for marriage until 1967.
It did not rule gender to be an irrelevant (impermissible) criterion for different treatment regarding government benefits, professions, education, etc., until 1971.
It did not rule sexual orientation to be an irrelevant  (impermissible) criterion for some different treatment until 2003; and for marriage until earlier this year.

And none of those criteria, or any seemingly countless others, are even implied in the text of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause--let alone whether they, or any other criteria, are to be treated as relevant or irrelevant.

Well, we could go on and on with this.
But what should be more than clear without further examination is that the argument for textualism, for literalism, for just applying the plain words is nonsense.

Yes, it sounds right, sounds simple, sounds like the way to rein in a "rogue" judiciary that's "making law instead of just applying it."
But even the slightest examination shows the argument to be thoughtless or silly at best, and mindless or dangerous at worst.

Again, to close, consider textualism, literalism, "just apply the words" as applied to "liberty" and "due process" and "equal protection"--even to the 1st Amendment's terms of "religion" and "speech" and "press."
What is the clear, unmistakable, and specific meaning of each of those that would enable the Court to "just apply the words?"
And even if some of those terms--perhaps "speech"--were susceptible of a specific meaning, should the Court actually limit the Constitution's protection to that? Exclude all other forms of expression?

And then there are terms such as "no law" in the 1st Amendment.
Should the Court just apply the plain meaning of that?
"No law" against any religious, expressive, or press activities regardless of the dangers or risks they present to health, safety and security?

One would certainly hope not.
And certainly hope that those who advocate textualism, literalism, "just apply the words"--and complain "that's not exactly what it says"--would actually consider the realities and ramifications before they spout that utter nonsense.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Supremely Awful Arguments: Constitutional Nonsense (Part 2)

It's not mentioned in the Constitution

(A delay in getting to this one. But, come on: the Saratoga meet!
The Whitney, the Jim Dandy, the Alabama, the Travers, the Woodward, plus, plus, plus.)

So, "It's not mentioned in the Constitution."
Another one we hear all the time.

This one may even be worse than "Leave it to the states" or "to the people." (See Part 1.)
At least those arguments appeal to sentiments of federalism and democracy.
"It's not mentioned" simply appeals to ignorance.
Ignorance about the Constitution itself. About the Bill of Rights. About the very notion of free government.

We hear it whenever the Supreme Court protects a right or liberty--i.e., what the Court rules to be a right or liberty--that isn't specifically identified in the Constitution.
Those who disagree with the decision, be they talk radio hosts or "expert" commentators or Justices themselves, will parrot this one.
It's utter nonsense.

Indeed, the only virtue in this supremely awful argument is that it's bi-partisan and bi-ideological.
Conservative Republicans dredge this one up whenever an unexplicit right they don't like is protected by the Court--e.g., the right of privacy, the right to choose, Miranda warnings, etc.
And liberal Democrats resort to it when the Court protects some unspecified right that they disfavor--e.g., campaign spending, business freedoms, individual gun rights unconnected to state militias, etc.

But whenever the argument is raised, and whoever raises it, it's utter nonsense.

Let's consider the recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision recognizing the equal right of same-sex couples to marry.

"The right to same-sex marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution."
That's what we've heard from those who disagree with the decision, including some of the dissenting Justices.
The correct response to them should be, "Yes, and therefore what?"

The right to marry, itself, isn't mentioned--opposite or same sex.
The right to choose who to marry is not mentioned--opposite or same sex.
The right of a married couple to have sex is not mentioned.
The right of a married couple to have children is not mentioned.
The right of a married couple to raise their children--same.
The right of a married couple to seek advice about raising their children--same.
The right of a married couple, or anyone else, to have friends--same.
To join a group--same.
To have friendly gatherings--same.
Even to have family gatherings--same.
Etc., etc., etc.

Would anyone doubt that all of those are pretty basic rights?
Essential aspects to life in a free society?
Would anyone think that government in America should be permitted to deny them with impunity?
Deny them without some very very strong reason, like public health or safety or some other societal necessity?
Even though none of those rights are mentioned in the Constitution?
Even though none of them are even implied?

Well, except for the word "liberty."
That word is in the Constitution a few times.
But nothing more specific than that to refer to any of those unmentioned rights.

Benjamin Cardozo helped explain the notion of basic rights--mentioned or unmentioned--in the Supreme Court's 1937 decision in Palko v. Connecticut. His opinion is the foundational expression in American law for determining which rights are "fundamental" and, therefore, constitutionally protected from violation by any government--federal, state, or municipal.

The critical point, as Cardozo put it, is whether a claimed right is "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty." Whether a claimed right is "essential" to a free and just society.
Not whether it happens to be one of the few guarantees actually listed in the Bill of rights.

Indeed, we nearly didn't have a Bill of Rights because of fear that the "it's not listed" or "it's not mentioned" argument would be raised in the future. The Founders and Framers were worried that, by listing some rights, those freedoms that were left unspecified might later be denied.

Yes, ultimately the arguments favoring a Bill of Rights--e.g., that a partial list was better than none at all--won the day. (See e.g., Jefferson's correspondence with Madison on the subject of a "declaration of rights.")
But the fears about the "it's not mentioned" argument have become reality.
That argument is precisely the nonsense we hear regularly about rights not specified in the Bill of Rights.

But the "it's not mentioned" argument  is even worse than the foregoing suggests.
In an effort to foreclose such an argument, a provision was added to the Bill of Rights. The 9th Amendment. That addition makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that the list of rights specified in the Constitution is necessarily very limited, and that unlisted rights are not to be denied.
(9th Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.")

This was James Madison's attempt to put a nail in the coffin of the "it's not mentioned" argument.
It was his more delicate way of saying that that supremely awful argument is utter nonsense.

Of course, not every right that might be claimed is deserving of constitutional recognition and protection--i.e., is implicit in and essential to the American scheme of liberty.
But the fact that such a right is not "enumerat[ed] in the Constitution" is irrelevant.

Now, before concluding, let's be clear that the "it's not mentioned" argument is not the sole province of conservatives and Republicans. Liberals and Democrats resort to this utter nonsense as well.

Let's take campaign spending.
The dreaded Citizens United decision.
Right or wrong, wise or foolish, the fact that spending money on political campaigns or issues is unmentioned in the Constitution is itself irrelevant.

Yes, the 1st Amendment speaks of free "speech." And spending money on political campaigns or issues is not speech.
No, it certainly is not.
But picketing--e.g., to protest a company's low wages--is similarly not mentioned in the Constitution, nor is it exactly speech either.
Marching--e.g., against the Boy Scouts' or other private organizations' discrimination against gays and lesbians--is not mentioned and not exactly speech.
Wearing some symbol--e.g., a black armband to protest war or a red ribbon to support AIDS research--is not mentioned and not exactly speech.
Burning the American flag--for whatever reason--is not mentioned and not exactly speech.
Etc., etc., etc.

Yes, all of those activities are engaged in for the purpose of expressing support or opposition or other opinions.
But the terms "expression"and "activity"are nowhere to be found in the 1st Amendment.
It specifies only "speech."

Well, it might be asserted, but aren't all those "expressive activities" kind of part of the broad notion and purpose and principle of free speech?
And so is spending money to produce a political documentary--just like the one at issue in Citizens United.
And so is spending money in support of a political party or candidate.
They are ways of expressing one's views, akin to speech.

To be sure, there may be some very strong arguments for limiting such political spending.
But not because "it's not mentioned."

There are strong reasons for limiting or prohibiting some expressive activities.
For some, the reasons are clear--e.g., setting fire to property to express opposition to the owner's bigotry or to police brutality.
But the fact that picketing and marching and wearing a symbol and burning the flag--and campaign spending--do not happen to be specifically mentioned in the Constitution is a wholly illegitimate reason for rejecting a claim that they are, or ought to be, protected constitutional rights.

Regardless of the possible reasons for limiting or prohibiting certain expressive activities, the "it's not mentioned" argument is not one of them. That argument, whether applied to expressive activities or the right to privacy or any other unspecified right, is utter nonsense, devoid of historical or constitutional basis.
In fact, it's contrary to both.

Next up: a related supremely awful argument--"Textualism, literalism, or that's not exactly what it says."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Supremely Awful Arguments: Constitutional Nonsense (Part 1)

Arguments the Justices sometimes make.
Pure nonsense. [And that's euphemistic.]

We hear plenty of these arguments from talk show hosts, from "expert" commentators, and from the Justices themselves--either fuming or ecstatic about some constitutional ruling. They are spewed by both conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, on and off the bench. But only when those arguments support their respectively preferred results. They are otherwise disregarded--as they should always be.

To be clear. This is NOT about whether a particular constitutional ruling (e.g., on same-sex marriage, campaign finance, abortion rights, gun rights) is legally correct or sound policy. This is solely about the bona fides of some of the arguments repeated incessantly as though they were compelling. In fact, they are utterly without merit in constitutional cases. Again, pure nonsense.

Let's begin with this favorite:
This matter should be left to the states

Where to start with this one?

First, it totally begs the question.
It begs the question at the very heart of virtually every constitutional issue for which it is raised.
That question is whether a constitutional right is involved in the first place.
If such a right is involved, then it's certainly not up to the states whether to honor that right or violate it.
[N.B., we are discussing United States Constitutional rights. The states are generally free to protect a claimed right under their own State constitutions or their own laws--whether or not the same right is protected under the federal constitution or other federal law. We are here addressing arguments made about United States Constitutional matters at issue at the United States Supreme Court]

It's certainly not up to the states whether to honor or violate freedom of speech, or free exercise of religion, or the right to counsel, or the right to trial by jury, or the prohibition against forced self-incrimination or against cruel and unusual punishment--or any other right protected under the United States Constitution.

Nor is it up to the states whether to treat persons equally on the basis of race, or gender, or religion, or ethnicity, or any other classification that the United States Constitution protects against discrimination.

No, the states don't get to choose when it comes to United States Constitutional rights.
If such a right is involved, the states are not free to violate it.
So the threshold question--before leaving it to the states--is whether such a right is involved.
If no such right is involved, then the matter can be left to the states.

Stated otherwise, to argue that the matter should be left to the states is to presume that no United States Constitutional right is involved. But that's the essential question to be decided.

And who decides that?

Second, under our system, the courts decide whether a constitutional right is involved and whether it has been violated. Ultimately, regarding the United States Constitution, it's the United States Supreme Court that has the last word.
Not the states.

States don't get to decide whether same-sex marriage, campaign spending, abortion rights, gun rights, or any other claimed right or liberty is protected under the United States Constitution.
States don't get to choose whether they can abridge, infringe, or deny a claimed right that is protected under the United States Constitution.

No, in our system, the judicial branch decides those matters--i.e., judicial review.
And the ultimate authority in making such decisions under the United States Constitution is the United States Supreme Court--i.e, Chief Justice John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, the Federalist Papers.

So, in cases involving a claim of right under the United States Constitution, it is of course pure nonsense to argue that the issue should be left to the states.
Nonsense to argue that the states get to construe the United States Constitution for themselves.
Nonsense to argue that the states get to decide what is a United States Constitutionally protected right.
And, if it is such a protected right, nonsense to argue that the states get to decide whether to honor or violate it.
Unless, of course, we are to do away with the Supreme Court's power of judicial review.

And unless we do that....

No, whether something is a United States Constitutional right--and thus must be honored--is not up to the states.
Whether it's gun rights or campaign spending that conservatives and Republicans generally favor.
Or the right to choose or rights of the criminally accused that liberals and Democrats generally support.
Whether those rights must be recognized and protected under the United States Constitution is a matter for the United States Supreme Court, not the states.

Now, with all the foregoing in mind, consider this:
A case at the United States Supreme Court to interpret the United States Constitution and to decide whether something is a United States Constitutional right and whether such a right has been violated.
An argument is made that the matter should be left to the states.
Left to the states--not the United States Supreme Court--to interpret the United States Constitution?
Left to the states--not the United States Supreme Court--to decide whether or not something is right protected by the United States Constitution?
Left to the states--not the United States Supreme Court--to decide whether to honor or violate a United States Constitutional right?

Yes, there is a certain appeal to the "leave it to the states" argument in our federal system of government in which the states do retain sovereignty over many matters.
But not about the meaning of the United States Constitution, and not about honoring or violating a United States Constitutional right.

So leave it to the states?
(Yes, I'm now repeating myself for emphasis about this utterly nonsensical argument that's repeated ad nauseam.)
That begs the entire issue of whether a United States Constitutional right is involved.
That must be answered first.
If the question is answered in the affirmative, then the states certainly don't have a choice.
Only if it's answered in the negative--only if there is no right protected under the United States Constitution--may it be left to the states to decide whether or not to recognize such a right themselves under their own laws.

Then there's the closely related argument:
Leave this matter to the "people"--i.e., to the voters

As before, not if a United States Constitutional right is involved.
Whatever was said above about the "leave it to the states" argument applies here as well.
Just as nonsensical.

No, whether something is a United States Constitutional right is not subject to a vote by the people.
And no, if something is a United States Constitutional right, it's not subject to a vote by the people to honor or violate it.
Again, unless we are to do away with the United States Supreme Court's power of judicial review.

And yet, we hear these arguments repeatedly. By those who don't know any better and, worse, by those who do or should.

Next Supremely Awful Argument: It's not mentioned in the Constitution.
We'll deal with that in the next post.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Saratoga Highlights 2014 (Top Ten: #'s 6 - 10, & a Human!)

In the last 2 posts we looked at Highlight #'s:
1, V.E. Day, winning the Travers
2, Itsmyluckyday, winning the Woodward

3, Moreno, winning the Whitney
4, Wise Dan, winning the Bernard Baruch
5, Palace, winning the Forego

On to #'s 6 to 10--and that Human.

Highlight # 6
The Big Beast, winning the King's Bishop

Yes, very big, and his previous win at Saratoga a month earlier was beastly. So trainer Tony Dutrow decided to promote his 3 year old potential star from that 6 furlong allowance race to this Grade 1 at an eighth of a mile longer. He did not disappoint.
(click any photo to enlarge)
The Beast Gaining
Adam Coglianese

The Beast's Neck
at the Finish
Lauren King c/o AC
Kept relaxed behind front running Fast Anna and Wildcat Red, the Big Beast got his cue from Javiar Castellano into the stretch. By the final pole, it was clear that The Big Beast had the momentum. At the finish, he had pulled a lengthening neck ahead, leaving all the others behind, including odds-favorite Coup de Grace and Noble Moon.

Highlight # 7
Wicked Strong, winning the Jim Dandy

Wicked Strong
Chased by Tonalist
Bob Mayberger
Six weeks earlier, he finished 4th in the mile and a half Belmont Stakes. Now, at Saratoga, in the Jim Dandy at 3 furlongs shorter, Wicked Strong faced Belmont winner Tonalist once again, as well as Commanding Curve (2nd in the Derby), Kid Cruz (1st in the Dwyer), and several other talented 3 year olds.

Wicked Strong
Pulling Away
Adam Coglianese

Unlike in the Belmont where he paced several lengths behind, this time Wicked Strong was kept close to the front runner by rider Rajiv Maragh. Equipped with blinkers for the first time, he took the lead from Legend at the turn and headed home. Tonalist, moving into 2nd, gave chase. But the Jimmy Jerkens trainee never gave way and was a powerful 2 and 1/2 lengths ahead at the wire.

Highlight # 8
Stopchargingmaria, winning the Alabama

Being Chased
Chelsea Durand c/o AC
She was 2nd best as a 2 year old the year before at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Spinaway. But she began the 2014 meet with a 5 length romp in the Coaching Club Oaks. She returned 4 weeks later for the Spa's premier race for 3 year old fillies run at a long 1 and 1/4 miles.

1st at the Finish
Lauren King c/o AC

Off as the even-odds favorite, the Todd Pletcher trained Stopchargingmaria was kept close to pacesetting Size by rider Johnny V. By the stretch she had taken the lead and the front runner was moving backward. But several others were giving chase, including a steadily closing Joint Return, followed by Miss Besilu and Fortune Pearl. At the finish line, she had held on by half a length, and Owner Mike Repole was back in the winner's circle with his wife Maria for who the filly was named.

Highlight # 9
Close Hatches, winning the Personal Ensign
Close Hatches
Wiring the Field
Adam Coglianese

It was a field full of winners. Stakes winners: Antipathy (Shuvee), Majestic River (Molly Pitcher), Fiftyshadesofhay (Ruffian), Belle Gallantey (Delaware Handicap), Princess of Sylmar (Kentucky Oaks, Alabama, etc.)--and Close Hatches. Let's just say the 4 year old filly was on her way to 4 in a row, including 3 Grade 1's.

Close Hatches
Finishing the Romp
Lauren King c/o AC
Despite the talented challengers, the fact is that none of them could challenge her at all on this day. Out in front at the start of the 1 and 1/8 mile Grade 1 for 3 and up fillies and mares, the Bill Mott trained Wonder Woman under Jockey Joel Rosario just destroyed the rest of them in a performance to behold. She stayed in front through the distance, and reached the finish line 5 lengths before anyone else.

Highlight # 10
Condo Commando, winning the Spinaway
Condo Commando
Loving the Splash
Chelsea Durand c/o AC

The Rudy Rodriguez trained filly won her 1st race--a 5 and 1/2 furlong sprint for 2 year olds a month earlier at Saratoga--by 12 lengths! Now, in the 2nd race of her career, the Grade 1 for juvenile fillies over 7/8ths of a mile, she made it look even easier.

A 'Splash-tastic'
13 Length Win!
Adam Coglianese
After a rough start out of the gate, jockey Joe Bravo took Condo Commando to the lead and well...For most of the 1 minute and 24 seconds and change, she put on a veritable solo performance. The talented Angela Renee, By the Moon, Darling Sky, and others, simply tried to finish in the same zip code.

As Tom Durkin roared in his very last call of his career at Saratoga, "Splash-tastic!"

Highlight Un-Numerable
Tom Durkin's
Last Day
Adam Coglianese
Tom Durkin, Winning at Saratoga for 25 Years

As legendary as Saratoga Race Course itself.
Tom Durkin, NYRA announcer since 1990, retired from the booth on August 31 last year, ending his storied career with another storied call in the Spinaway Stakes. (See above.)

Tom Durkin
Adam Coglianese
If the winner of that race was "splash-tastic," then Durkin has been "Fan-tastic" for all his fans who have loved his being so "Call-tastic" for so brilliantly calling some 80,000+ races over the years.

Yes, race fans--and the millions more not-so-fans who nevertheless tuned in to the classic races each year--will sorely miss that "mellifluous baritone voice and his vivid imagination" (as the New York Times' Joe Drape put it). But for those of us who visit Saratoga during the coming meet (and for some of us that's almost daily), there will be The Tom Durkin Replay Center at the race course where some of Durkin's classic calls can be heard while watching videos of the races.
Bob Mayberger
Tom Durkin
The Voice
Bob Mayberger

It has really been a treat--no, a feast!--to listen to Tom Durkin all these years. Even if I had heard The Voice just once, calling Rachel Alexandra's victory in the 2009 Woodward, that would have been enough for a lifetime.

Wishing you all the best of the best Mr. Durkin--which is exactly what you gave us.

So that's Saratoga Highlights 2014.
Ready for the meet? Opening Day tomorrow, Friday July 24.
Hoped this helped get you psyched for a great 40 days worth of the best.

Thanks again to Bob Mayberger and Adam Coglianese (as well as Lauren King and Chelsea Durand) for all those great photos they provided.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Saratoga Highlights 2014 (Top Ten: #'s 2 - 5)

In the last post we looked at Highlight #1, V.E. Day, winning the Travers.
Let move on.

Highlight # 2
Itsmyluckyday, winning the Woodward

The Woodward, year after year one of America's premiere races--and my favorite--for 3 year olds and up, has a storied history. Some of the greatest races won by some of the greatest champions. Havre de Grace and Rachel Alexandra and Curlin and Lawyer Ron. And before them, there was Ghostzapper, Mineshaft, Lemon Drop Kid, Cigar, and Holy Bull among others.(See e.g., previous posts on the Woodward in 2011, in 2012, and in 2013.)

Last year's Woodward was a rematch between 4 year olds Moreno and Itsmyluckyday. Moreno had scored a few weeks earlier in the Whitney (see Highlight #3 below), but this time Itsmyluckyday was triumphant after a gruelling stretch run.
(click to enlarge any photo)
Itsmyluckyday(center) pressing Moreno
Bob Mayberger
Under rider Paco Lopez, Itsmyluckyday pressed Moreno throughout the race, and was tailed himself variously by Long River, Romanish, and Prayer for Relief. Then, just when it seemed the front runner might pull away, Itsmyluckyday came from 4 lengths behind, drew even, and ultimately won the duel by half a length.
Itsmyluckyday by Half a Length at the Line
Adam Coglianese
It was a huge victory for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. who had not won at Saratoga in eight years, and for his prize colt who had just recently returned after a year out with a pelvic fracture.

Highlight # 3
Moreno, winning the Whitney

As a 3 year old, he led the field in the 2013 Travers until he was nipped at the finish by a hard charging (and eventual 3 Year Old Champ) Will Take Charge. (See Will Take Charge, Winning the Travers.) But he returned to the Spa in 2014 to defeat all comers in the even richer Whitney Stakes. (Last year, the purse for the Whitney was a million and a half.; the Travers was a million in 2013.)
Moreno Running His Race Up Front
Adam Coglianese
With Junior Alvarado aboard, Moreno proved to be the best of a talent packed field that again included Will Take Charge, as well as Palace Malice, Prayer for Relief, Last Gunfighter, Romansh, Departing and Golden Ticket.
Moreno Fends off Itsmyluckyday
Bob Mayberger
In accord with trainer Eric Guillot's plans, Moreno was allowed to run his race--up front and fast--and this time, at a furlong shorter than the Travers, he was able to fend off a different hard charging challenger, Itsmyluckyday, by more than a length. (As we discussed above in Highlight #2, the Moreno-Itsmyluckyday rivalry continued in the Woodward.)

Highlight # 4
Wise Dan, winning the Bernard Baruch

On the last weekend of the meet, the 7 year old Champ, two time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, returned to Saratoga again triumphant. In his previous visits, he won the Fourstardave in 2 consecutive years. But this time, it was just a few short months since undergoing colic surgery.
Wise Dan Takes the Lead
Bob Mayberger
Trainer Charlie LoPresti, owner Morton Fink, and rider Johnny Velazquez were all understandably emotional at the extraordinary courage and resiliency of their noble athlete. The fans were too.
Wise Dan Challenged by Optimizer
Bob Mayberger
Apprehension filled the crowd when Wise Dan reared in the gate and nearly unseated Johnny V. But they roared with delight when the champ took the lead from Five Iron and Sayaad in the stretch. And the decibels rose even higher when Optimizer put their favorite to the test.
The Champ Would Not Be Denied
Adam Coglianese
Wise Dan  would just not give. He held on to win by a nose. And he did so in just a few short seconds shy of the turf course record for the mile and 1/16 set in 1991.

Highlight # 5
Palace, winning the Forego

On that same amazing Woodward Day of Labor Day weekend, fans were treated to another triumphant return, This time it was New York bred 5 year old Palace, who had won the Vanderbilt a month earlier in the meet. This $20,000 claim by trainer Linda Rice has turned out to be one of the most brilliant adoptions in recent horseracing history. With the Forego, Palace had earned over a million and a quarter since he was claimed.
Takes the Lead
Bob Mayberger

Though he had already proven he was a top quality sprinter in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt, there was some doubt how he would handle the extra 1/8 of a mile in the 7 furlong Forego. At the top of the stretch, he passed Weekend Hideaway and Zee Bros for the lead. But Big Business, Vijack, and Capo Bastone were making their move from the rear.
 Palace by 3 and 1/2
at the Finish
Adam Coglianese
Palace apparently didn't mind the extra distance one bit. The closers couldn't catch him. Not even close. With Cornelio Velasquez at the reigns, he extended his half length lead at the top of the stretch to 3 and 1/2 at the finish line.

In the next post, Highlights 6 - 10, and a human!