Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (6)

The California horse racing industry is advertising a healthy purse increase effective Dec. 26, opening of Santa Anita Park, in an effort to spread the word in advance of the meet and increase field size. The increase will come courtesy of the betting public via a hike in pari-mutuel takeout. … With repeated claims that at least $300 million could be gleaned for purses nationally through a change in the pari-mutuel model, particularly as it relates to ADW, one wonders why the takeout increase is necessary.

Speaking of broken models is it time for Kentucky to revisit the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund, which supplements purses only for Kentucky-bred racehorses? Since most fields in KTDF-eligible races are 95%-plus comprised of Kentucky-registered horses, is it even necessary, and does it discourage non-Kentucky horses from competing at a time when they’re needed to fill races? … The new Turfway Park condition book is out, and for December, the purse for maiden special weight events drops from $21,000 to $20,000 with only $9,300 available to, say, an Indiana-bred or New York-bred. Given the issues in Kentucky racing right now, I just don’t get it.

By the way, an open $5,000 claiming race at the Northern Kentucky track will now go for $7,000 instead of $8,000. ... Anyone paying attention out there in Bluegrass Land?

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has its hands full with the fallout from the performance of Life At Ten in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Many of us held our breath hoping she’d get around the track at Churchill Downs, and the jockey did the right thing by not asking her to run. But the issue is what happened before the race and, though stones have been thrown for more than a week, the only answer is a change in or enforcement of pre-race protocol. The mare’s owner lost, and so did the betting public, whose misfortune got no mention from officials after the incident. Not a pretty moment for horse racing. … One individual, in an e-mail to The Blood-Horse, had wagered on Life At Ten and said, “They’ve gotten me for the last time.”

As for the two-day World Championships (the Ladies’ Classic situation aside), I’ve heard the usual complaints but believe it was one of the better ones from a racing standpoint, and the ability of Churchill Downs to accommodate the event shouldn’t be overlooked. … Really like the later post times and having a few races under the lights; in fact, would like to see it go a bit more into prime time. So the question is: If the under-the-lights scenario proves successful, and only one potential host track can accommodate it barring major capital investment? … You can fill in the blanks.

More on Churchill: Keep hearing comments on the condition of the turf course, but none from trainers or jockeys. Maybe it’s me, but after seeing it in person for four racing days and since looking at it on television, it appears green and uniform. It does need rain, but have you seen the turf courses at some of the other tracks now racing? Enough said.

I have no dog in this fight, but can someone explain to me the pharmacological difference in two micrograms per milliliter of the anti-inflammatory drug bute versus five micrograms per milliliter? I’ve been writing about equine medication (not necessarily by choice) for about 14 years, and still struggle with it. I wonder how the public reacts—or if it even cares about such things as therapeutic medication.

As much as I have enjoyed watching Zenyatta run, and don’t expect to see another one like her in my lifetime, some of the post-Breeders’ Cup Classic dialogue has been disturbing to the point of being detrimental to the mare, her connections, the industry, and writers with a passion for the game. A sampling of comments from several related blogs at tell the tale quite clearly. … Pedigree writer Avalyn Hunter weighed in and was told: “You know, Ms. Hunter, you really did not need to post on this topic. There has been more than enough negativity toward Zenyatta posted in multiple blogs on this site.” Note: The negativity in the blogs is perceived, not based in fact. … Jack Shinar’s blog got this comment: “If Blame is a tremendous horse then Spectacular Bid is a god.” Note: Completely off base and off topic. … Jason Shandler got this, along with being called a moron: “It’s a good thing this is only your opinion.” Note: It’s not. … Yours truly was told: “And if you really wanted to write a blog to celebrate Zenyatta, you wouldn’t have brought up the Horse of the Year award.” Note: Completely missed the point. … Ian Tapp was pounded for writing that Blame had it in final hundred yards and in the gallop out. Note: Simply an observation. ... And, finally, from the kingdom of make believe, this comment appeared on Steve Haskin’s blog: “Long live the Queen! It is time to return to a monarchy with Queen Zenyatta as the Queen and Steve Haskin as the King. A kinder, gentler blogging nation.” Note: Hello! Things that make you go hmmmm, indeed. … For those of you, and there were many, who were able to comment and keep on point despite a very emotional topic, it was much appreciated by the bloggers. Racing, its horses, its stories, and its issues are real, not fantasy.

Here’s the tote board morning line on Laurel Park in Maryland closing as a racing and training venue next year: 99-1.

My wife during a recent conversation asked me why horses that participate in equestrian sports are vetted before competition, but racehorses aren’t. I explained to her that racehorses are—at least those that compete at NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance-member tracks that must offer pre-race exams. Then I got to thinking, however. … If Karen, a racing fan, doesn’t know that, what about the rest of the public? Is there a reason this stuff doesn’t appear in every racetrack program to explain to the public just what is done for racehorses and integrity on a daily basis? Why is it a secret if this industry is about transparency?

Sources in the Keystone State said more subpoenas were issued in the ongoing grand jury investigation involving individuals on the racing side at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania. … What exactly will come of this?


Leave a Comment:


Churchill Downs 1) misloaded horses; 2) watered a turf course so that a horse slipped on it and was destroyed; and 3) failed to scratch Life at Ten, and they did such a great job it would be the best permanent site? Hmmm.

Are you equally upset by some of the equally extreme comments that have been made against Zenyatta? For instance: 1) comparisons to Peppers Pride; 2) saying before the BC that she was unable to run on dirt, so that her wins didn't really count (it's clear that her poorest races were on the Del Mar Polytrack); 3) comments about Blame having a "comprehensive" or "ambitious" race schedule (maybe five times in one year seems like a lot in the post-Ghostzapper era).

Can we all now say that she's far eclipsed Personal Ensign, who for years was feted for defeating two, count 'em two, males in her career? Can we agree that Zenyatta was been the whipping child for 1) people who hate synthetic tracks and 2) people who treat speed figures, especially their own, as gospel? I recognize that for certain types, Bellamy/Quality Road running a big speed figure loose on the lead against a short field means more than the visually impressive and much more difficult feats of Zenyatta.

As to Blame's role in racing history, the first question to ask is how Blame compares to, say, Curlin, let alone the greats of the past. The second question is whether Blame will ever receive a single vote for the Hall of Fame.

15 Nov 2010 1:33 PM
Mike in SB

First I like Kentucky and having the Breeders' Cup there in a rotation with the East Coast and the West Coast would be the best way to hold the Breeders' Cup in my opinion. But if the Breeders' Cup is deterimined to have a single site, and it seems like they are, I would not pick Churchill Downs.

I have been to each of the (recent) Breeders' Cups in Kentucky and the weather has been tough and Churchill Downs is not the most fan-friendly track in the country. If there is one site I believed it should be Santa Anita, there will be a dirt track, the weather is great, and if you want to run in prime time, without the need for lights, 5 p.m. Pacific time is 8 p.m. Eastern.

15 Nov 2010 1:43 PM

From the writer to Dave: Going to agree with most of what you said. There were plenty of ridiculous assumptions--but they came from the commenters on blogs, not the bloggers themselves, who I can assure have nothing but respect for what Zenyatta has accomplished, HOTY debate aside. ... As for speed figures, I agree--you can keep them. As for Churchill, no correlation to my knowledge between the breakdown and the watering of the turf course.

15 Nov 2010 1:52 PM
Craig Wheeler

Thank you for a thoughtful and interesting article. You're so right about the disturbing and detrimental reactions, both pro and con, when it comes to the Zenyatta issue(s). The level of acrimony & vitriol that has been heaped upon bloggers, columnists and those who are brave enough to comment on said articles is unbelievable.

What folks are willing say to each other when hidden behind a screen name, somewhere out in the ether, is borderline psychotic at times. I grew up on the SoCal track circuit in the 70s. We were often foul-mouthed, surly & often disagreed -- on the merits of say, Cougar II vs. Fort Marcy, ad nauseum -- but with a level of respect that seems to be missing today. I often go to YouTube to watch old races and was shocked to see the comments, literally death threats, being aimed at anyone who dared admire J.O. Tobin's victory in the Swaps Stakes over Seattle Slew.

I can only surmise that these are not real "racetrackers." We had our differences and still do, but there is still equal truth and dignity to be had from the opinion of a hotwalker at Fairplex or that of a Turf Club matriarch at Santa Anita. As a matter of fact, sometimes the "worm's eye view" is the truest in this game. Sorry to be so long but I felt I needed to say this somewhere and your blog seemed a safe place to do so. Cheers! ~ cw

15 Nov 2010 2:30 PM

Dave seems to be someone with firsthand knowledge as to what is going on at Churchill Downs, So dave can you tell us how much extra water they put on the track, and can you give indication as to what caused Sir Michael Stoute to scratch Workforce even though they heavily watered the course at Mr. Stoute's request to give the course some give?

These things seem outrageous and embarrassing for some one to come on and try to give an opinion and amateur opinion considering the person most likely knows very little about horse racing in general. Most likely a West Coast Zenite who has decided to troll the blogs to put in his two cents.

Zenyatta deserves the Hall of Fame due to her record, albeit against the weakest possible competition in 16 or 17 races and done purposely to protect an unbeaten record. But Horse of the Year 2010 = Blame.

15 Nov 2010 2:38 PM

I bet on Life At Ten, and I want my money back!

15 Nov 2010 2:48 PM

A quick comment on the turf course.

The photographers that were nealing right next to the slip were not wet or covered with any kind of residual water when they returned to the press room to upload photos.

The turf course did not have fresh water on it and if there was water present, it would have been absorbed by the dry ground quickly, due to the drought/dry conditions at the course.

The assumption that the course was too dry may be more accurate to a cause, but the leg slipped and kicked out the other leg for Rough Sailing.

15 Nov 2010 2:58 PM

Re: therapeutic medication:

No horse on "therapeutic" bute should be running...if the horse is in therapy it is not healed.

Only healed horses should run. That solves that, now, doesn't it?

Also, no stinkin' Lasix except for bleeders and only on race day. You can't go on it until your horse bleeds...mandatory time in between races, too, for bleeders.

... and NO Lasix for workouts. That should help with electrolyte inmalances, ulcers, other gastrointestinal disorders and especially calcium leaching from growing bones. ...

LAT was patheticically handled ... but you can bet we'll never see a jock interview again before the race!

Negativity in blogs: We may not be able to perfectly define it but we know it when we see it.

15 Nov 2010 3:09 PM

I bet on Life At Ten and used her heavily in exotics. I know I'm not getting my money back. Too bad for me that I bet earlier in the day and left the satellite facility.

15 Nov 2010 3:14 PM

If you are not prepared for people to disagree with you, why do the column?

15 Nov 2010 3:22 PM

You say some interesting things ... and then you get to the points on Zenyatta. First of all, blogs are just opinions all around, they are not fact (whether perceived or not), not reality. My reality is not yours is not Draynay's or Paul Higgins, etc.

I'm not pro or con Zenyatta at the expense of any other horse, I love all the horses. In any given race, one horse can be better than another.

So, what I guess a lot of Z's fans don't understand is why it is OK for non-fans, doubters, and haters to say the most egregious things about her, her races, and her connections, and her competition and that seems to be OK -- then when others counter with their points about Zenyatta, they are termed zealots or crazy or nasty. The venom seems to run both ways.

It's just interesting that people who want to say things that are detrimental to Zenyatta, her connections, her competion, and pretty much the air that she breathes are letting fly all over the Blood-Horse and other blogs -- if anyone wants to defend her, they're zealots. You can't have it both ways.

You bloggers tend to run with provocative headlines to get hits, we all know that. Perhaps Avalyn Hunter didn't have to title her article with her wish Zenyatta had lost sooner (many wish she hadn't lost at all). She goes on to "praise" Zenyatta, but she does damn with faint praise and again gets into faulting the connections and the competition. Provocative but her opinion, not a fact!

And, I'm also looking at another Blood Horse blog that appears there today that opines "Zenyatta Has Earned Horse of the Year" -- and if you read the comments, there are many haters who have weighed in.

So, while you are pointing fingers, point at all, because there has been a lot of bad cess spread around on the Blood Horse blogs and others over the past few years against any number of horses, not just Zenyatta but Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, Quality Road, Mine that Bird, Super Saver, and the list goes on and on. All anyone needs is anonymity and they let fly!

Bottom line, Mr.  -- don't try to come across that YOU are the voice of reason and that fans of ANY one given animal are just nasty --  cause again, the nastiness and negativity are all over the board.

15 Nov 2010 3:23 PM

The debates over Zenyatta vs Rachel and Zenyatta vs Blame have been going on for a year now. Some of it is healthy debate but most of it is hateful and ridiculous. I have seen some of the nastiest remarks from posters that I have ever seen and quite frankly, I don't get it.

I don't understand the hatred and anger that posters seem to feel when someone disagrees with them. If these people who have so much passion for a horse used it in a productive manner, they could fix things in this country that is in such trouble.

When it gets down to it, it really doesn't matter who is Horse of the Year. Everyone's life will remain the same no matter the outcome. Being nasty and mean-spirited is not going to change anything and it certainly won't change anyone's opinion.

15 Nov 2010 3:27 PM

From the writer to dianeche: We post comments in agreement or in disagreement with said subject matter. The issue isn't disagreement in a rational manner, it's over-the-top attacks from those who are instantly offended by those who don't agree.

15 Nov 2010 3:30 PM

From the writer to MonicaV: I think you sum it up nicely. ... Can you imagine if those who comment focused on commenting on the other items mentioned in this blog--those of far more importance to the health of this industry--rather than the Z/Blame pissing match?

15 Nov 2010 3:35 PM

Give me a break...Life At Ten debacle was a joke! I've seen horses standing in ice before races to hide their gimps, horses that were "walked" into races after having their hocks tapped just days before running ... Racing has much farther to go than scratching a horse that tied up pre-race.

Also, Churchill's track manager and supervisor over the gate crew should both be fired. He was too caught up in the Workforce camp's pressure to soften up the track than he was about making a safe course for the rest of the horses.

Zenyatta is HOTY. The general public still doesn't even know who the heck Blame is. For the extra money Z brought to the racetrack, Churchill could have and should have refunded Life At Ten's bettors' money.

15 Nov 2010 3:36 PM
Soldier Course

Hmmm ... Someone's surprised that the Blog Stable dialogue turned vitriolic after the BC Classic? Remember last year?

15 Nov 2010 3:43 PM
Soldier Course

Re: Life At Ten

I'm glad the owner has had the gumption to speak up about the fact that Life At Ten should have been scratched.

Does anyone know if a vet is present at the starting gate to make assessments for problems that reveal themselves at the last minute? If so, where was the vet at the BC Ladies' Classic gate? If not, why not?

When Barbaro broke out of the starting gate prematurely in the 2006 Preakness, I heard some TV announcers say that a vet checked him out before he was reloaded. I have watched my tape of that moment countless times, and I have never been able to see a vet checking out Barbaro.

15 Nov 2010 3:56 PM

Purses should match claiming prices to discourage cheap racing and the racing into the ground of so many poor bottom-level horses. Extra purse money no longer offered to claimers, especially at racinos where purses for bottom-level claimers can be up to 5 times the claiming price like at Monmouth this year which is very dangerous to horses. It should be allocated in ways to encourage and reward sound equine management and higher-quality competition and to create financial incentives to retire horses while they are still healthy and sound enough for a second career even though some greedy, heartless and ruthless owners, trainers, vets, and track owners want to squeeze the last drop out of the "inventory" even if it kills.

15 Nov 2010 4:00 PM

From the writer to SoldierCourse: Yes, the vet(s) was there. This was an unusual case because she apparently looked fine (no visible movement problems, for instance) but apparently wasn't well (if you go by what the jockey told ESPN). So if the vet(s)/stewards weren't aware the mare wasn't feeling well ... you can see how it could have happened. The question now is what can be done in the future to ensure it doesn't happen again?

15 Nov 2010 4:01 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for providing a lick of sense in a chaotic mess. This is horse racing's not a fairytale.

15 Nov 2010 4:01 PM

I was there at the BC and although I had "good" seats, most of the view of the track was blocked by photographers, booms, lights, tote boards, etc. I saw Life At Ten walk over and saw her in the post parade but I did not get to see most of her warm up.

I was shocked at what happened but when I got home and watched the replay I was stunned. Stunned to know that the trainer, jockey, ESPN crew and all of the TV viewers knew something wasn't right.  

Stunned to see that no one did anything to stop her being loaded. If she had broken down, how on earth could have racing explained that? As it was, the betting public, Life At Ten's fans, her owners, the sale company about to sell her, etc., lost that day. But more importantly, Life At Ten deserved better.

As far as the blogs go, one reponse reaps many more reponses. It becomes almost like the old game where you whisper something in one person's ear and by the time it makes it around the circle, the statement is completely different. I've almost gotten to where I don't respond at all. Almost.

As far as Churchill as permanent host, just say no. The weather can be dicey (think 1988 BC). Churchill is a pain to deal with (no blankets, no backpacks allowed). Now a backpack with a laptop in it is OK to come in but a backpack with a camera is not?????? That makes so much sense.

I vote for alternating between the East and West coasts. I got a better view of the races, better weather and MUCH less cigar smoke blown in my face all day at Santa Anita.

15 Nov 2010 4:13 PM
Soldier Course

Mr. LaMarra:

On ESPN Jerry Bailey clearly saw a problem before Life At Ten was loaded. Even the jockey said he thought something was wrong. If the vet was there at the gate, why didn't he see this and why didn't the jockey summon him?

15 Nov 2010 4:19 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Life At Ten should have been scratched. There is no debate about that. But who exactly was the vet at the gate? I could easily see on TV that the poor mare was tied (cramped) up, something Todd Pletcher confirmed when he said that she was having an allergic reaction to the Lasix. Actually she needed some Gatorade. Lasix is a diuretic and a horse's electrolytes can easily be throw off from the drug. Imagine having a leg cramp all over your body. I'm not saying that Lasix is the ONLY reason a horse will tie up, but by stripping the water and electrolytes it certainly can't help. Remember that John Shirreffs retired Life Is Sweet because of repeated tying up bouts? So, maybe we (N.A. racing) should not give Lasix UNLESS the horse has already bled. Just a thought.

As far as the dry turf course being watered incorrectly, of course we all want the safest surface a horse can run over and the water content certainly plays into that. Trainers also need to have the correct shoe tacked on. That being said, maybe Rough Sailing had the correct shoes and he still just slipped. All of the other horses seemed to get over the turf course just fine. The public will never know.

15 Nov 2010 4:24 PM
Zen's Auntie

Tom, you know what I have noticed? Even though the motivation may be different both love and hate cause people to say silly things.

15 Nov 2010 4:41 PM
Jim C.


How conveniently you forget to mention that Jason Shandler referred to John Shirreffs as smug on his blog. I wrote Eric Mitchell to complaint, and he had Shandler edit the comment. So please do not act as if Blood Horse employees shoulder no blame here (no pun intended).

Another thing, re: Ian Tapp. He made the assertion that Zenytta NEVER got past Blame after the wire. I sent him screenshots of the TVG race video, which clearly shows her getting her nose past his head two strides after the wire. I think the Blood Horse has an obligation to the historical truth to see that comments such as Tapp's are corrected.

15 Nov 2010 4:43 PM


I can only imagine how outlandish and offensive some of the posts from the pro-Zenyatta extremists have been, especially since we, as readers, don't get to see the posts that are not fit for being published. I would guess that for writers such as yourself and Jason, the pro-Zenyatta supporters must feel like a tidal wave. And I also get that the number of posts that support Zenyatta far outweigh the number of posts from her detractors. And I also understand that it's not a crime to critique Zenyatta and her racing record, and I've done so myself. However, I am still amazed at the negativity being direct towards Zenyatta. What bothers me is when writers and bloggers only comment about the negatives while failing to mention the positives about her. Like I just wrote, there is nothing wrong critiquing Zenyatta's record, but when all that a person contributes are critiques, then how are Zenyatta fans, the moderate ones, to feel? We're only talking about one of the most popular, unique, and accomplished horses of our lifetime! I have made critiques of Zenyatta, but I've balanced it with admiration for her amazing winning streak, her sensational Breeder's Cup performances (we are talking about a female!), her versatility (synthetic and dirt), her personality, and her impact on her fans and the general public. And guess what, because I was balanced I have not once been by the so-called zealots. I think there are 2 possible reasons why a writer or blogger who claims to be a fan of Zenyatta would only write about the negatives. 1) They read so many pro-Zenyatta comments, some which undoubtedly are outlandish, and feel the need to ground the conversation. Unfortuantely, some spend all their efforts trying to ground the conversation that they forget to post whatever positive feelings they have of Zenyatta. 2) I do believe that there were a number of writers and bloggers who pegged their egos to the conviction that Zenyatta had been vastly overrated by the hype-machine. They spent much effort before the Breeders' Cup pointing out the weaknesses in her resume and claiming that she simply wasn't fast enough to compete with elite males on dirt. Now, they are tying their egos to Blame's head, and using the fact Zenyatta lost, even if by just that head, as proof that they were right about Zenyatta all along; they also spend their time focusing on the Horse of the Year debate, arguing why Blame should win, without ever discussing Zenyatta's legacy and her contribution to the sport (and the BC ratings!), something at least as important as who is Horse of the Year. So yes, I can understand how there are those out their in disbelief over what some of the Zenyatta extremists have written, and feel that they must bring balance to the discussion by pointing out Zenyatta's faults. However, when these people spend all their time trying to balance out the Zenyatta extremists, they end being just as unbalanced as the people they are protesting. The fact some of the Zenyatta supporters are so radical and ridiculous should not be an excuse for people, especially professional writers, to fail to recognize the many positives about Zenyatta.

15 Nov 2010 4:50 PM

The 2010 Breeders' Cup was my first experience with Churchill Downs and most likely my last. I could not see a single race because I could not see over the crowd. I could have watched on TV and seen it better. We had to walk miles in a seemingly erratic pattern to get to our seats. The weather was miserable. The fans themselves were very friendly but the track employees were abrupt and unfriendly. Not a good first experience.

15 Nov 2010 4:51 PM

Three observations.

The Life at Ten ordeal is the jock's and track vet's fault. Why would the jock tell the world and not tell the vet? Makes no sense.

Calvin Borel proved to be the typical roughneck he has always been. Thought maybe the limelight would have straightened him out. Not a chance.

Mike Smith should own up to the reason Zenyatta got beat. He was too engrossed with the media to let her warm up pre-race. (not even to a trot!) He sat on her letting the cameras click away. You might be able to get away with that in California but not in KY with the sun down and 38 degrees.

15 Nov 2010 4:55 PM

From the writer to Jim C: I believe Jason S. said the trainer's comments were smug, not that he was smug. Anyway, I'm splitting hairs. ... As for Ian T.'s assessment, we discussed the following day what we saw at CD the night before, and we both saw the same thing. ... I hear there is a Jim C. that attacks The Blood-Horse on other sites. Are you one and the same?

15 Nov 2010 5:06 PM

From the writer to GunBow: I get what you're saying. Look, there is no problem with pro-Zenyatta people; honestly I haven't spoken to anyone with anything negative to say outside of some nitpicking about the races in which she ran. But that happens to all horses, doesn't it? As I've said before, have never seen anything like her and probably won't again in my lifetime. I personally can't give a horse much more praise than that.

15 Nov 2010 5:10 PM


Thanks for responding. I do want to clarify that I wasn't directing anything toward you personally. I have always sensed your respect for Zenyatta.

15 Nov 2010 5:21 PM

Who would have thought back in the day, I'm glad I run my horses in Delaware and Pennsylvania ?

15 Nov 2010 5:39 PM

Does anyone remember in the winter of 1970 at the Fair Grounds when Jack Van Berg, then the country's leading trainer, had a positive for Talwin (sic) and his winning horse was later disqualified. A big bettor had a bomb that finished second, but the ruling gave the old line that the disqualification does not affect the pari-mutuel payout. The bettor sued Van Berg for the value of the winning ticket, and won the case. Or am I just hallucinating?

15 Nov 2010 5:40 PM

From the writer to readers: Just got a comment from someone calling a BH writer a thug. ... Can we change the subject? Anyone care about the state of racing in KY or MD, critical racing and breeding states? How about the state of the industry in general? Breeders' Cup experiences?

15 Nov 2010 5:41 PM

Tom ,

Why on earth would any one be surprised at the emotion that followed The BC? The lights had barely dimmed and the writers were looking for a (headlines to entice, etc.) This shocks you how?

15 Nov 2010 5:53 PM

Having no set criteria for HOTY leaves only opinion. When we argue, it is for our own standard, our own criteria. We all need to remember that words are powerful, especially adjectives and adverbs. It would be helpful if we proofread our comments for the content with the goal to communicate without provocation and with a little more humility. (we are not gods). Like what you said about balance, GunBow.

15 Nov 2010 6:03 PM

From the writer to brokentree: Of course there was emotion. But in my reality I didn't read any headlines that said Zenyatta stinks. What is really going on here? It's quite telling that most of this discussion is focused on the Zenyatta-related item, yet not one person commenting said anything about the lunacy of the "Queen and King" comment that appeared on another blog on this site. ... You're showing your hand here. Time to get real.

15 Nov 2010 6:03 PM
Lisa Andres

The types of nasty, vitriolic comments that are being left are, unfortunately, part of an epidemic that has struck this wired world we live in. Not just here, but when you read comments for stories on cable news networks websites, on businesses' facebook posts, web forums, you name it...anywhere comments are allowed, you see the cruelest, most hateful words from people. The anonymity of the Internet seems to empower people to say things that they wouldn't dare say to someone's face; it allows them to lose all civility because they're not accountable in any way for the things they say. There must be some field of psychology that can better define this ugly phenomenon.

15 Nov 2010 6:06 PM

Lets not make this HOY debate too!!!!!!!!!! Last year was bad enough. There were great performances by more horses than just Blame or Zenyatta . GUNBOW thanks for putting reason to this mess. Negative comments go both ways just like last when it was Zen and RA. Can't we celebrate both horses? And to the person above that said he saw Zenyatta's head pass Blame 2 jumps past the wire, I saw the same thing through my camera.

What I think should be looked at is how well did CHD really did host the the BC. I personally don't relish any later post time than we had for the BC. Night time has its place in june to august and maybe september but november in kentucky no way, and I really don't want to see a Derby under the lights either.

Mike in SB, I agree with you about California as better place for prime time racing in November and I have never been to SA or any other California track as I live smack in the middle of the midwest. It was damn cold friday especially in the evening. Saturday was only better because it was sunny all day but weather will always be a question in Kentucky in november. I do favor a rotation of tracks as opposed to one permanent location for the BC. But if its night racing you want maybe it best to stick with summer or warmer locations.

The Life At Ten debacle was the worst black eye horse racing could have received. Jennie, I want my money back also along with several from my group. It seems to me that several people could have notified a vet or the starter. something was wrong with her but chose to keep their mouths shut. I hope they level some fines somewhere.  Can anyone tell me how we're supposed believe that all races are run fair after this? Even the jockey fight didn't bother me much but espn and the other networks played to the hilt Its just like the media use catchy headlines or phrases on TV to increase viewership and I don't think they can remain completely blameless for the negativity of some of the comments that have been made in the last week. Maybe we should say hmmm and think some more before we act.

15 Nov 2010 6:07 PM

1) This is my second Breeders' Cup at Churchill and I have never had a problem with a Churchill employee or not thoroughly enjoyed the experience. While it's tough to see the races when your in the cheap seats like I was, using the monitors and listening to the race call I was able to track the horses until they got to the stretch where I could see them.

2) Two things are lost in the HOTY debate and the Life At Ten debacle - Goldikova's incredible performance and a truly remarkable horse race in the Classic, no matter who won.

15 Nov 2010 6:16 PM

Sidekickflats, I was wondering how I went through security both days with my camera bag that set up similar to a backpack and you were not? I may have had to take everything out for them but I was able to put it all back in and go through. That would disturb me if I was allowed a laptop but not a camera. Did they give you any reason?

15 Nov 2010 6:20 PM
Michael M.

I think that Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez should both get a hefty fines for not following protocol Involving Life At Ten, every jockey knows that if a horse is not acting right in the post parade you inform the track vet to look at her and let him make the decision to scratch her or not and that would take the pressure of the jockey and trainer. Also the owners would it got their entry fee back ($60,000),and the fans could have change their bets. Overall it was a black eye for racing by two of our leaders in racing. Sad.

15 Nov 2010 6:21 PM
Life At 38

Regarding track vets. Having both witnessed and heard stories told by trainers, the vet checks we saw on TV following the crosscountry jumping (excuse the ignorance as I do not typically follow that sport) at the international event held in Lexington earlier this were FAR more in depth and hands-on then those pre-race vet checks at the tracks with which I'm familiar.

Many a tale has been told to get a horse vet-scratched or to avoid a scratch. The low-paid track vet is seemingly no contest to a vaguely experienced trainer. ;

I had been an owner for several years before I realized that there were pre-race vet checks and, as a very hands-on owner, I'm not surprised that many fans have no clue. However, I wouldn't advertise the checks. You do know what they call the vet who graduated at the bottom of his class?

As far as the insane and less than respectful blogger comments go: I read a blog earlier today where the blogger mentioned that she was surprised the commentors were able to find their keyboards under the pile of cats - which I found very amusing. Many of the ugliest comments seem to come from those who are either drunk or have not clue about the subject matter. The Internet has expanded to where everyone is able to share their opinions, but, while hiding behind their keyboard, many have forgotten simple good manners.

15 Nov 2010 6:35 PM

Guess I am busted. I am a card-toting member of the Z fan club I admit that and you are right that part of your post came off to ME that anyone who praises the horse is a just a wacko to be dismissed and those who have control (writers are the only ones whose opinions count ); maybe so ... personally had I bet on LAT I would be camped outside CD until I received my money back. (And it is my opinion that is exactly what they should do!)

15 Nov 2010 6:38 PM

From the writer to brokentree again: Yes your opinion counts. It's rare that I don't post a comment received on this blog. I do, however, reserve the right to edit them. ...

15 Nov 2010 6:55 PM

From the writer to Lisa Andres: A very refreshing comment indeed. Certainly food for thought.

15 Nov 2010 6:56 PM
Jim C.

"As for Ian T.'s assessment, we discussed the following day what we saw at CD the night before, and we both saw the same thing. ... "I hear there is a Jim C. that attacks The Blood-Horse on other sites. Are you one and the same?"

First off, I already emailed Ian Tapp screenshots of Zenyatta getting her nose past Blame two strides after the wire. Do you deny that she did?

Second, Jason also personally attacked Zookeeper, an ardent Zenyatta supporter. His comments were then edited. Do you deny this?

Third, not sure what you are referring to about attacking the Blood Horse on other sites.;Can you give me an example, or are you just attempting to defame me, or chill free speech? I am a regular Blood-Horse customer, and have bought several books and items from them in the past.

I am very fond of Steve Haskin and Lenny Shulman. I wish Jason Shandler exhibited the same amount of class. It's the Jason Shandlers of the world I object to. I actually like Ian Tapp's columns, it's just his problems with the truth I have trouble with. I wish Jason Shandler exhibited the same amount of class.

15 Nov 2010 7:03 PM

I find it pretty hard to take this critique seriously, since so many writers and bloggers these days post essays that are deliberately provocative. Jason S. can be extremely argumentative and even rude towards those who comment on his blogs. So perhaps it would behoove your staff to tone down the rhetoric as well in order to change the tone of the dialogue. It's unfortunate that interactivity seems to promote rants. However, some critical comments about the industry are valid.

15 Nov 2010 7:06 PM
Jim C.

One more thing, Tom. Let me know when you have the courage to run the screenshots of Zenyatta getting her nose past Blame two strides after the wire. Ian Tapp has the screenshots, as does Eric Mitchell. What is the Blood Horse waiting for?

(I acknowledge that it is not necessarily germane to the Horse of the Year debate. But Tapp said REPEATEDLY following the race that Zenyatta NEVER edged past Blame, which is demonstrably false. Why are you so afraid of the truth?)

15 Nov 2010 7:14 PM

The state of racing in Kentucky is absymal right now, and if David Williams is elected governor in 2 years we may as well all kiss the industry goodbye. Did you know that Turfway is holding 5, count em, 5, stakes races their whole meet while other tracks hold 10 or more? It's really sad to think that a horseman can make more money racing in PA, Louisiana, or Indiana than he can in the so-called Horse Capitol of the World.

15 Nov 2010 7:18 PM


The problem I had was on Friday and I must say that the security people were very apologetic regarding the policy. I showed up with a backpack that held my wallet, my camera bag and an extra pair of socks. Laugh if you will, but it was cold!

Anyway, they said that backpacks were on the list of prohibited items and would not be allowed. I could take it back to the car or throw it away. The camera bag was fine. They then told me that if I had a laptop in the same backpack, it would then be considered a laptop bag and that would be acceptable. (???) My friends had a large camera bag that was OK and a large tote bag which was also OK. I told them nicely that the same backpack had been allowed into the last 2 BCs at Santa Anita and that they might have some unhappy people if they did not allow backpacks in. The manager was right there and very nice and called up to the powers that be who reaffirmed that backpacks are not allowed into Churchill Downs period.Evidently the list of prohibited items was listed on the website but I didn't think to check regarding the appropriateness of a backpack.

Anyway, I rolled up said illegal backpack, my friend put it in his camera bag that was the size of a small suitcase, I put my wallet and socks into the camera bag and we were let in. The sad thing was, they never checked the camera bag. I could have had a bomb, drugs, booze, you name it and it would have gotten in.

It was a pain but not much of a problem. It was however, a problem for others. There was a person that came after me that had a very nice camera in a camera case that fit over her shoulder like a backpack. They would not let it in and she explained that it was her only camera case. Nothing doing. She had to take it back to the car and I'm not sure what she used to hold her camera.

Perhaps you arrived later and the security personel were tired of fighting the battle. Or maybe, someone came to their senses. On Saturday, I left the offending backpack at home and brought the world's largest tote bag and everyone was happy.

15 Nov 2010 7:20 PM

I have been to many a racetrack and watched thousands of races. Been to Santa Anita, Calder, Gulfstream, Belmont, Longacres, Bay Meadows, Walla Walla, Sun Downs, Dayton, Salem, et al, and though a would not call myself a expert I do know a thing or two, about the Sport of Kings. First off...It is HARD to win at any level of racing and to win 5 races in row is rare.. to win 19 in a row is a once in lifetime event. Zenyatta and HER crew strapped in on everytime. She won and won and won. I saw her race live just once at BC 2008...I feel lucky to have seen one of the great ones... Blame beat her fair and square. But she was flying down the lane and blew by all the rest in a race that she gave it her all and got beaten by a short neck. It was a CLASSIC! Not bad for a girl.

15 Nov 2010 7:31 PM

From the writer to Jim C: Your comments have been posted, so much for saying I'm against free speech, which is outrageous since you don't even know me. Jason has a way of handling his blog, I have a way with handling mine. You're a bit tough on Jason. He is a news writer as I am, Lenny and Steve aren't. We have to address issues others on staff don't have to touch. If you don't like Jason's blog--or mine--don't bother commenting. It's a matter of choice. As for Ian, a good guy and very smart. ... By the way, you didn't answer the question as to whether you bash The Blood-Horse on other sites. We don't do that here, by the way.

15 Nov 2010 7:32 PM

From the writer to greenO: Thank you for addressing something of substance and importance, rather than who was in front at a certain point in the BC Classic. Honestly, this industry has real problems. Thanks for commenting.

15 Nov 2010 7:35 PM
robin from michigan

First, I would like to start off with Dave, somebody that said that Zenyatta was being compared to Peppers Pride. To tell you the truth, OK granted, Peppers Pride raced only in New Mexico, but you still can't take away from the fact that she ran in 19 races and won all 19 of those races. In the history books, it does not matter where Peppers Pride ran, the fact is that Peppers Pride raced in 19 races and won all 19 of them. You cannot delete Peppers Pride out of the history books, as winning 19 races in a row, no matter how hard you try. So, Zenyatta getting the credit as being the only female horse to win her first 19 races in a row is not going to happen. Peppers Pride won her 19th race, at the same exact time, that Zenyatta was just getting started, and Peppers Pride was the first one to do it, for over a hundred years. And you can compare Peppers Pride with Zenyatta, because they raced in the same kind of races, that was pretty much easy wins for them. The only races that Zenyatta really had to work hard for was the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic and the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, both against boys. All the other races were pretty much easy races for Zenyatta to win. And there was somebody that said Zenyatta deserves to be in the Horse Racing Hall of Fame. And to tell you the truth, no matter if Zenyatta becomes Horse of the Year this year or not, yes Zenyatta does deserve to be in the Horse Racing Hall of Fame. So, does a horse that a lot of the Zenyatta freaks don't think deserves the Hall of Fame honor, and that is Rachel Alexandra. And no matter how much you Zenyatta freaks hate Rachel Alexandra, yes, Rachel Alexandra does deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, and I don't care about what you guys say. Maybe Rachel Alexandra is not as popular as Zenyatta, but Rachel Alexandra does deserve the honor, just like Zenyatta does.

15 Nov 2010 7:40 PM

The Life At Ten situation was just completely frightening. Sounds like not all vet-checks are equal, don't you think? Remember Quality Road's outburst at the 2009 BC? You just knew he had to be scratched because it was obvious the horse was totally stressed. With Life at Ten, you had professionals saying she was off. I am thankful there is an investigation and the owners stating she should have been scratched.

As for the blogs, many comments are meant to engage or enrage and that includes the blogger and the posts that are made by the public. The one behavior I personally abhor is when the horses are spitefully used in spews of negativity and I mean any horse.

15 Nov 2010 8:05 PM

From the writer to wildblueroan: Sorry you don't take the "critique" seriously. You must be jaded. After 12 years as news editor here, I'm all about seriousness and issues. So what's your beef?

15 Nov 2010 8:23 PM
Jim C.

Tom said: Jason has a way of handling his blog, I have a way with handling mine. That's what makes it so great. If you don't like his--or mine--don't bother commenting. By the way, you didn't answer the question as to whether you bash The Blood-Horse on other sites. We don't do that here, by the way."

1. You are correct: Shandler does have a way of running his blog: denigrating Zenyatta, and engaging in personal attacks against her supporters and connections. Let's see how heavy Shandler's blog traffic is a year from now. I think you run an honest blog, but you only aim your fire at Zenyatta supporters, not detractors. There are some pretty outrageous comments that Shandler runs. I do not see you calling them out. I think you know the handles.

I just find it a little ironic how the Blood-Horse, which has benefited greatly from Zenyatta's remarkable run, serves as the center of gravity of Zenyatta detractor-dom -- Shandler's blog in particular.

2. And I am still waiting for an answer as to when the Blood-Horse will post the pictures of Zenyatta edging her nose past Blame two strides after the wire. Instead, you let Ian Tapp persist with the mythology that it never happened. Why won't you run the photos?  Afraid Claiborne will pull its advertising?

3.;As for you question of whether I bash the Blood-Horse on other sites: The only time I EVER mentioned the Blood-Horse on another site is in connection with the Life At Ten episode.  I made a comment on Ray Paulick's site that I doubted whether the Blood Horse would cover this fiasco in-depth.Where is the hard-hitting investigation of the Kentucky Racing Commission's cover-up? In that comment, I alluded to the Blood- Horse's non-coverage of the Burna Dette episode, something Ray Paulick covered in great detail. As a paid up subscriber, I encourage the Blood-Horse to investigate the issue (as it did not with Burna Dette). Tell me, Tom, why didn't the Blood Horse cover the Burna Dette tragedy?

15 Nov 2010 8:26 PM

Have been reading the comments and just wanted to drop a line saying I really appreciate the way you handle the comments. Even when it's clear that someone is getting under your skin, you're always polite and attempt to direct the conversation back on topic. It definitely makes me want to come back to your blog in the future.

In regards to the Life At Ten situation...I've read so much on it and still can't quite follow the chain of events, even having watched it on television. I read one article that claimed an ESPN producer, after Velasquez made his comments in the post parade, alerted the stewards. Not sure if that's exactly what happened (but kudos to that producer if it is). Also, while yes the vets should have been notified, shouldn't the vets also be paying close attention to the horses? Especially at the Breeder's Cup? If people at home who don't make their career in equine science can tell that something's amiss, shouldn't the track be employing vets who would have red flagged her without hesitation?

15 Nov 2010 8:39 PM

From the writer to Jim C: Don't no what to say at this point. Jason posts all the comments that aren't obscene, pro or con. He has no problem with posting criticism, which isn't the case with other blogs on this site. The point of his blog was who he likes for Horse of the Year. Period. ... I heard about the photo you have, but I really don't care because it's irrelevant to who won the race, and certainly irrelevant to this blog. I know what I saw, but I don't trust my angle, and I certainly wouldn't trust anyone else's. The only thing that matters here is the photo-finish. Please stop jumping on Jason and Ian. They have passion for this business and work their asses off. If you don't agree with them, fine. If you want to continue the conversation, you can e-mail me at

15 Nov 2010 8:51 PM

I don't have a "beef," I merely meant that your critique of criticism by blog readers seems a bit one-sided. When writers publish deliberately provocative opinion pieces, use titles such as "Its a Shame Zenyatta Didn't Lose Sooner" and are as acerbic as Jason S., they are bound to draw reaction in kind. IMO, both "sides" should tone it down. Certainly the people writing for publications such as yours should express themselves in a mature, professional manner. I avoid Jason's blogs, but seriousness and issues sounds great to me!

15 Nov 2010 9:17 PM
uncle mo time

Lets get onto something positive...start a weekly blog on Uncle Mo! Nothing like our hopes for a Triple Crown winner to distract all the nastiness! Hoping for an Afleet Alex colt to come along and kick some butt next year too after seeing some of them race this year...

15 Nov 2010 9:24 PM

Overall, the hot HOTY debates are a positive, horse racing may be on the FRONT PAGE of the sports section instead of buried on page 12.  The Zealots are great!  We need Zealots.  Remember Sunday Silence/Easy Goer?  Ironically, Rachel/Zeny was more heated and they never met!  Getting fans to show interest in the SPORT and not just the gambling lifts us all up.

What's wrong with a permanent location for the BC?  The Triple Crown is held in eastern tracks, the west gets nothing.  Santa Anita is in one of the most beautiful settings in a great neighborhood in a big metropolis.  The odds of Santa Anita having better weather than Louisville or New York are 1-9.  But I live in California, and I'm willing to offer this:  Two straight at SA, then one at CD, followed by two straight at SA then one at Belmont, etc.  It was 84 degrees in L.A. today.

Hmmm, now I can also address the takeout controversy in Calif.  I'm all for a boycott of Calif racing starting Dec 26, the day it takes effect.  The bettors have been squeezed like a lemon and now Calif is getting the bulldozer to squeeze some more out.  IF THEY WANTED TO INCREASE THE QUALITY OF RACING, THEY SHOULD HAVE LOWERED THE TAKEOUT, NOT INCREASED IT!

15 Nov 2010 9:27 PM
Laura Mitchell

Hi Tom et al.,

My comments:

Life At Ten—has given us all the opportunity to use the word “debacle.” Nothing else fits.  The finger-pointing, buck-passing, and blame-shifting over the past week has been sad but predictable.  It’s one more illustration of why racing needs a governing body and someone with the authority to investigate incidents and take corrective action.  At least she didn’t break down on the track.


Fan experience.   I was able to attend both days. I’d give Churchill Downs a C+.  I found the personnel to be polite, and the fans were friendly. I enjoyed the racing.  There seemed to be plenty of light at night.  The prices for food and drink were in line with prices at other sporting events.  I brought in a small cinch pack and a blanket with no trouble.  

For next year they need to triple the janitorial staff.  The public areas under the grandstand were filthy. Part of it was the attendees’ fault; apparently, throwing away one’s trash is a lost art.  However, it’s up to the venue to pick up the garbage if the fans do not.  (Is it that bad at the Derby?)  

Signs directing traffic to public parking at the stadium and fairgrounds were wholly inadequate.

Next year I won’t be buying tickets via the early sale.  Did anybody else have trouble getting the seats they wanted? I was unable to get anything but 1st floor bleacher seating because the ticketing system wouldn’t sell single seats anywhere else.  Better seats were offered on the Breeders' Cup website as late as a couple of weeks before the event, but by then I had my ticket in hand.  


Say what you want about Zenyatta’s campaigns, Team Zenyatta deserves a lot of praise for the way they have shared her  with  the public.  She has been the face of racing for a lot of new fans and has rekindled a love for the sport in former fans.  There are lessons here for other owners and trainers that can benefit the entire industry.  Team Zenyatta has done a good job using social media.  Maybe more horsemen will think about having a YouTube channel the way John Shirreffs does.  It projects such a positive image of the industry.  It shows kind people and happy, healthy horses at work and is a great counter to assertions that racehorses are maltreated. I’d like to see more horses with official Facebook pages, blogs, and/or websites.  I’m not suggesting that every horse needs to be as physically accessible as Zenyatta (she is unusually tolerant), but virtual access is enough to build a fan base.  There must be other  horses that would appeal to new fans and engage current ones.  The undefeated Awesome Feather?   An honest, hard-knocking gelding such as Brass Hat?  Uncle Mo—how about a Derby Trail diary from him or his connections?  Who will step up when the Queen retires?

15 Nov 2010 9:37 PM
Arts and Letters

Just as in the the world at large, it's the extremists who cause the most trouble.  Some people can't find anything nice to say about Zenyatta, despite all her accomplishments.  Equally annoying are the "fans" who can't take even the slightest criticism about their darling.  So you get long streams of comments with people saying the same things, over and over, and sounding increasingly shrill.  

Me, I'm off to watch Cheltenham.  Kauto Star for Horse of the Year!

15 Nov 2010 9:57 PM

I read Bloodhorse every day and agree and disagree with your writers all the time. I never saw Zenyatta before last year's Breeders' Cup but after that race I became a fan. I grew up wearing yellow and gray when Kelso ran as did many a little girl.

The fan base for Zenyatta reminds me of the New York fans that would cheer Kelso.  Making him work on the track between races in the afternoon, a few days before a big stakes race was something  Mrs. Dupont did for his fans so they could see Kelly.                  I think your writers bait some of these bloggers because after some of the comments I have seen posted in the past they surely know where the red meat is.

After watching HOTY honors go to RA last year after Zenyatta won the Breeders' Cup against a stellar field, don't hold it against Z's fans if they do not understand why Blame is supposed to be a HOTY hands-down winner for winning the Classic when the horses he previously beat ran last and next to last in the Classic. Also, his owners could not retire him fast enough to stand him for a big fee since he will be known as the one and only horse to beat Zenyatta, whose fans are told is treated like a baby and asked to do nothing important so why should she be horse of the year?

I was at Preakness and saw Blame win at Pimlico. He is an impressive horse. In another year he might have been the only champion, but he will not have that chance. The only horse to carry 129 pounds, in a Grade One event, and win this year will be standing for pictures at Hollywood Park a little longer. She will be doing things for the public classy people like the late Mrs. Dupont would understand. If she does win HOTY this year it may upset KY stallion owners, but it will thrill the people who made the ratings go up watching TV, and the folks who paid hard earned dollars to enjoy a day at the races. They wanted to be able to say they saw her in the flesh. When is the last time you saw a fan base like that. It does not just happen because someone printed some signs. She earned it with every win. She does not hold the place in my heart that Kelso does, but in this day and age of the lightly raced horse she has stayed around long enough to love. She is the real deal. It is surprising the industry writers don't get it. The nasty bloggers are over the top, but the industry can't help but take a little heat when they are so out of step with the wave energy these fans bring to the sport. Confusing because you complain when nobody pays attention and then when someone does you get upset because they don't love the horse you want them to.                             &nbsp I love attending Churchill and go to the Breeders Cup when it is there, but not a horse broke down at Santa Anita, and it is a beautiful place. That is the joy of having it move from place to place. I think wonderful tracks to have it at next would be Woodbine or Saratoga, very nice tracks as well. In the year of Big Red's return, Virginia's Colonial Downs has one of the best turf tracks in the country.

There is a whole winter of racing about to take place, and then the young three year olds struggle to find a place for themselves for the first Saturday in May. The future is racing toward us. Lets watch it like the dysfunctional family we race fans are and argue and enjoy it like only we can.

15 Nov 2010 10:12 PM

I love Churchill, and thought that both days of the BC were exciting - great racing with the exception of the Turf; I am hoping that race will improve next year.  The increase in handle is a big positive.  LAT was a big negative; how this situation is addressed  is very important to the racing public who risk their money  and to the welfare of the horses who are risking their well-being.

I am very reassured by the sanity of your comments re: disturbing Zenyatta posts.  Your observations are rational and are what I look for from you, Jason Shandler Avalyn Hunter, and the Blood Horse mag and site.  

15 Nov 2010 10:18 PM

Tom, I just want to say thanks for your always thoughtful columns. I don't know much about horse racing other than I love watching the horses and I learn a lot from your columns.

Like others have mentioned, the Internet has created a place where people can anonymously sling personal insults about just about anything they are passionate about. I believe in debates, and will always think Zenyatta is a horse for the ages, but you'll never hear me say that anybody is somehow a terrible person because of their opinion about a horse race.

Just wanted to cheer for you continuing to be respectful, regardless of the arrows getting shot in your direction. Cheers.

15 Nov 2010 10:18 PM


..."dialogue has been disturbing to the point of being detrimental to the mare, her connections, the industry, and writers with a passion for the game."

Tom, you got to help me out with this one. If you omit, ignore and refuse to post the vulgar, obscene, threatening blogs - then what are left with? People that disagree with you? People with a different take on things. How in the world is that detrimental to the mare, her connections, the industry and passionate writers?

You make mention of some examples. But for the love of God, I can't see where they're detrimental to the mare, her connections, the industry and passionate writers.

Tom, help me out. If someone suggests that Ms. Hunter perhaps didn't need to question Zenyatta's connections about her campaign then it's just their opinion - much like Ms. Hunter's opinion to run the story in the first place. People do a right to their opinion, Tom, don't they?  And it's beyond me that you think it is detrimental to the mare, her connections, the industry and passionate writers...don't you think?

Another example you use is "If Blame is a tremendous horse then Spectacular Bid is a god". I actually thought that line was a bit clever. But Tom, come on, detrimental to the mare, her connections, the industry and passionate writers? For a clever, however negative, opposite opinion?

Tom, I'm starting to think that maybe you have a problem and not the "civil minded" fans.

15 Nov 2010 10:28 PM
Bill Daly

I'm very concerned about the situation in my home state of Maryland. First, we hear that racing will be severely curtailed next year. Then, we hear from Mr. Stronach that, no, that won't happen. Then, the minority partner [Penn National Gaming] says there's no way racing can continue at Laurel the way they're bleeding money. What the hell is going on here?

In the meantime, some Maryland breeders have pulled up stakes and have relocated to Pennsylvania or have given up. Nobody seems to have a clue as to what's going to happen, but I would have to wager with Penn National on this one.

Mr. Stronach has made promises before that he hasn't been able to keep. I'll tell you one thing I know. If Frank DeFrancis were alive and still owned the tracks we wouldn't be in this mess.

15 Nov 2010 10:48 PM

Nice last paragraph LaMarra. I hope Paul Jenkins doesn't bend over for the soap in Leavenworth!

15 Nov 2010 11:15 PM
judgement day

The liars at Penn National get called to the carpet tomorrow. Can't wait to see Tom's follow up story on trainer Stephanie Beattie; don't know if she can't get her stories straight. Set the record straight about Contrary, Tom. I plan to at the grand jury tomorrow.  

15 Nov 2010 11:22 PM
Zen's Auntie

Spot on Lisa Andres, folks have lost the art of civility in wired conversation especially in the  face of opposing opinion. not just hear but regretfully everywhere.

Writings can be quite bold (read "real easy sport a brass set") when not forced to have that converstation over coffee and look a man in the eye.  

Thanks Laura Mitchel for the insightful fan review - I certainly hope CD does NOT become the new permanant Home of the BC. I like that it moves around.

Yes there are other fine horses to fall in love with--that's the best thing about the racing being continuously moved by the heart of horses.

There are several good Juvenile races coming up Delta JP and Princess on  the 20th and the 27th has juvenile stakes at Aqueduct

My daughters say MO and PLUCK should have 24-7 (Or at least some time during the day) stall web cams so they  an check in on them to see them just doing their training thing.

They have foaling cam feeds on some websites; crimminy, we watched osprey hatching and a bear being born on the web live one year - why NOT live feeds of some upcoming TB stars to prompt new fan interest??

Jus ta thought.

15 Nov 2010 11:37 PM
The Regular Guy

Tom - your headline of "Things that Make You go HMMMM" was most appropriate. Enjoyed the entire thread. Alas, I coudn't switch my ticket on Life At Ten in time, and would have hit the trifecta. Life goes on and I'm sure the debate will. You always handle your blog with class and never duck any detractors.

16 Nov 2010 12:31 AM
Shepody Bay

Re Life At Ten, I was astounded to see her being loaded into the gate after the jockey and trainer comments, and just the look of her she was so stiff. I remember one of the roving reporters saying that she had talked to the "AAEP On Call" vet and he said the track vets would be looking at her. Or so they would have been if the proper protocol had been followed by the trainer and jockey.

But think about it.....the vets out on the track and the gate crew are not watching close-ups of her and listening to the interviews on ESPN, and probably didn't even really see her well until she got to the gate. The outrider might have had a clue what was going on but is it up to him to tell the vets that something might be wrong with the horse?

By the time they get near the gate everything is happening really fast. Obviously nobody told the track vets that there was a problem, and the trainer and jockey were responsible for that. I guess the stewards weren't watching TV, either.

So the people who should/would/could have scratched the horse were oblivious to the problem. Thank God no one was hurt and yes, all bets on her should have been refunded, no question.

16 Nov 2010 1:05 AM

Sidekickflats, man what a double standard freaky policy that is and what gets me they didn't even inspect your camera bag. I had to take my camera and two lens out for them. On friday I think I should have brought xtra socks and a pair gloves to my fingers and toes were pretty cold by the end of the day. Not sure I like the night post times in November in Kentucky.

16 Nov 2010 2:16 AM

I agree with mustang. I didn't attend breeders cup this year because I thought it would be a waste of money no matter how close to the action I sat. I attended my first Derby this year, flew from California, paid $1,800 for 2 seats at the finish line and still I wasn't able to see a thing!!!!! people in front stood on their chairs and completly blocked my $1,800 dollar for 2 min. view, $1,100 airline tickets, and overpriced $400 per nite hotel. And I sat in rain the entire time. And the Derby Museum was closed!!!! I had to wait to until I returned home to "watch" the Derby and see what happend. Unbelievable. Oh well, I still love Churchill, but I wouldn't attend another big event, I'll go appreciate the Downs on a regular day.

16 Nov 2010 2:44 AM

One thing that always makes me go "Hmmmmm" is things like Rick Porter taking Havre de Grace from Tony Dutrow, who did a great job with her and sending her to Larry Jones.

I admire and respect Larry Jones, but he quit. It's just wrong what Mr. Porter did, to take away a horse like that. My opinion of him has gone way down.

16 Nov 2010 6:39 AM

From the writer to John: We omit the vulgar, yes, and we are left with plenty, as you can see. I can speak only for this blog but to my knowledge the issue and criticism had fair and full airings on blogs written by Jason, Avalyn, and Ian. The pro/con debate does no one a disservice; in fact it's healthy. But making it the focus of every post does do a disservice.

16 Nov 2010 8:12 AM

From the writer, an update on the Turfway Park situation. ... Purses have been trimmed for the upcoming holiday and winter/spring meets to maintain a weekly stakes schedule. All the money for the stakes is from "association funds," meaning they all qualify for black-type designation. ... These races, many of them $50,000 events, give the better local horses an opportunity to race given the fact the middle and top is almost gone KY in the winter. ...

16 Nov 2010 8:16 AM

I am looking at the industry as a whole and what has started going on the last few months I don't understand. Jockeys falling from horses/horses breaking down in workouts/five out of six horses in a race are trained by the same person. Stewards handing down good decisions but the jockey gets to race anyway. I love horses and a good race, but when you get to the point of being afraid to watch because you don't know which race a horse and jockey are going to be hurt or you start betting on which jockey can stay on a horse rather than which horse is going to win something is wrong. My hope is that all involved come together so the industry doesn't fall to the wayside. Politics aside, Zenyatta should get HOTY.

16 Nov 2010 8:40 AM

As far as queen z pasing blame passed the wire she did another stride and she would of had him. Let's quit putting blame on Mike for zenyatta losing. It wasnt his fault nor Zenyatta's. it happened but look at the ground she covered to and the horses she passed no other horse could of done that Queen Z is still the queen and I hope she continues to race to prove it to everybody that wants to doubt her now just becasue she lost by a mere nose. Z and Mike deserve a chance to get back to the winners circle where they belong  Horse of the year Zenyatta.

16 Nov 2010 8:44 AM

You've really stirred up a hornet's nest with this simple blog post, Tom!  Now that I've read all 80 comments, I think I'll pop a couple of Rolaids and try and take my mind off horse racing for the next few hours.  

16 Nov 2010 8:54 AM
Ian Tapp

Jim C.,

I just saw your comments here. Again, thanks for the screenshots from a few yards after the wire where Zenyatta appears to have a nose ahead.

Please see my blog. I believe the initial discussion sparked when a commentor said "with another stride or two [Zenyatta] would have swept past Blame."

While I disagree with this statement, I now acknowledge that she was briefly a nose in front a couple jumps past the wire (according to your screenshot), but she never "swept past" him. Mentioning this is nothing against Zenyatta, but rather my personal assertion to give Blame some credit. I don't equate a momentary, narrow advantage with "passing," especially considering Blame galloped out well ahead of her. My point, as I've said repeatedly, is that we should give Blame credit for holding her off, and also give Zenyatta credit for her gallant performance.

I'll post this on the TrueNicks blog--feel free to comment there.



16 Nov 2010 9:18 AM

I have absolutely no problem with people stating a polite logical point of view. However, to rehash comments taken out of context isn't what I call being fair. Neither is it being fair to generalize that a fan of one horse isn't a fan of other horses also. Last year was all venom and poison with heated arguments on the blogs over HOTY.Why are we back to that same level this year?

To lump fans of a particular horse as zealots is disturbing. The poison flows from both sides of the arguments. To believe QR is a brilliant miler is not an indictment of him as an underaverage horse. We've seen plenty of brilliant milers, Goldikova included. To say Zenyatta or Blame should be horse of the year is not an indictment of either horse, it's merely a point of view. To attack one or the other as unworthy is ridiculous.

Without Blame or Zenyatta, this Classic would not have been as memorable. To bring up Rachel Alexandra into this discussion goes beyond the confines of common sense. (I mention that because some folks have brought her into the fray...and I just don't understand it.) Exactly what is the average fan to do?

I love Zenyatta, and Rachel A. and Blame, and Uncle Mo, Big Drama, etc..etc. Sometimes I think it is the writers of the blogs themselves that pit fans against each other. Sort of like ESPN showing the jockey fight every 15 minutes. It's sensationalism but not journalism.

Why was Steve Haskin labeled "King" by one commentor? Perhaps its the poetry of his vision and his words that deeply touch the emotions, and endear fans to him, while Jason sure reminds me of shock jockeys like Howard Stern.

As to Kentucky...without horses? That's like putting a Jack Daniels distillery in a dry county. Oh wait...that did happen in TN. Don't worry, Pennsylvania would love to have all those TBs standing stud here. In horse racing...the less politics the better, unless you're NY I guess.

16 Nov 2010 9:47 AM
Sue M

Wow. I just subscribed to Bloodhorse and the vitriol is a turnoff. I'm a Zenyatta "fan" not a freak, thank you. I also think RA should be in the Hall of Fame. As should Z, and Curlin for that matter.

The writers HAVE seemed to make light of Z's proponents, as though we are less "educated" about horse racing - that I've noticed. And some anti-Z posters I've seen everywhere on different sites, as though their personal mission is to make make light of Z's accomplishments. I think fans are made up of a variety of people with varying degrees of knowledge about horses, racing, etc.

Regarding Life At Ten, I feel mostly sorry for the horse and the cavalier way Thoroughbreds are sometimes treated by trainers/jockeys, whomever. The pre-race protocol should be reviewed and straightened out. If she'd broken down, I can't even imagine the fallout. It was hard enough watching Rough Sailing go down.

BTW, we were at the race (first time for me, although I've ridden my entire life and followed the TC races and BC for some time). We had a great experience, and regardless of outcome saw some phenomenal horses (Awesome Feather, Uncle Mo, Goldikova, Zenyatta, etc.). We live in Toledo and are used to iffy conditions, but the weather will always be a question mark in Kentucky in November.

16 Nov 2010 10:01 AM
Susan from VA

I can't understand how the track vets didn't know there was something wrong with Life At Ten before the race. I was watching on ESPN and the commentators were all talking about how she was off and asking Pletcher and her jockey what they thought was wrong with her BEFORE the race actually began. I was sure she would be scratched.

16 Nov 2010 10:26 AM

If one was betting on the results of the exhaustive investigation being conducted by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on the Life At Ten matter, here is the odds-on favorite on what will and will not be included: With respect to the letter of the rules of racing (in Kentucky) that report will state no party was guilty of dereliction of duty. What it most assuredly won’t say is a problem was made aware to all these individuals some of whom were tasked with safety for horse and rider as well as integrity for the wagering public; with the problem revealed and while there was ample time to react, no one did.

In conclusion, despite no breach of rules, all concerned should have done better. Finally a formal apology to Life At Ten’s owner and to anyone that placed a dime wager on her won’t be in the text.  

Wouldn’t it be nice if, just this once, racing would refrain from suggesting they’re right and the rest of the world doesn’t get it? Bet on it, they won’t.

16 Nov 2010 10:26 AM


I also read where Mike Smith was talking to Gomez after the race. I doubt he was thinking of the coolout. He was way too emotional to even think about it. Let's not make this the make or break part of this race, when it was evident that the start of this race was clearly her demise. Even with one eye swollen shut, as one photographer mentioned, she still tried to make a race of it running in and out of traffic, stopped by QR,back in the race as Smith kept dropping goggles. She was closing the fastest of any horse on that track including Blame.

He never had to raise a whisker as his trainer said. Perfect trip, Stall told the gentlemen of "Down the Stretch." I doubt anyone could say that Zenyatta benefited from a troubled free trip. If so, they are delusional. Zenyatta proved to be the better horse that night but Blame had the better trip. You all complain of the winners of the Derby when they are not your picks as being "questionable" winners. The Derby is the only race where the best doesn't always win? Why is that?

We will never know in this race as Blame was conveniently retired with his light racing career and Zenyatta is finally getting her just retirement after completing her, get this, career as a 6 year old.

16 Nov 2010 11:06 AM
Fuzzy Corgi

Jim C., have you thought of switching to decaf?

16 Nov 2010 11:06 AM


I think it's interesting that you are concerned with the comments written in response to some blogs, but not the comments of some bloggers themselves. I stopped reading Jason's column because he seemed to be baiting his readers. That's just my take on it. As for the passion horses like Zenyatta stir ... good! Other sports embrace this kind of frenzy and emotion. Horse racing should, too.  

16 Nov 2010 12:23 PM

A $3,000,000 race with 14 horses allowed to pass through the gate, only 8 horses entered and 7 horses actually ran...doesn't that say a little about the condition of the turf course? how well did the horses who ran over the course come out of their respective races? I was there and it sounded like they were running on pavement!

16 Nov 2010 12:38 PM
Jim C.

Good idea, Fuzzy Corgi. Wow, the past three years have been the Golden Age of horse racing, with Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. I wonder whether there will ever again be as much electricity, passion, and excitement as we have seen the past three years.

16 Nov 2010 1:10 PM

If they are looking for a permenant venue for the BC Churchill isn't it... As much as I love Churchill, when it was at Santa Anita there were NO injuries. At Churchill there were some, I think the horses' and jockeys' safety should come first.

16 Nov 2010 1:27 PM

Rachel, I want to second your comment on Bute, and raise you one on Lasix:  I think Lasix should be eliminated completely, for this reason:  if we race bleeders and they win due to the advantage Lasix gives them, then we perpetuate the bleeding problem in the breeding shed.  Just my two cents.  Agree completely with everything else you posted, and I appreciate the intelligence with which you have always contributed.

Tom, terrific article again.

16 Nov 2010 1:35 PM
Pedigree Ann

The problem I have with the Zenyatta Zealots is that they seem to be totally ignorant of the history of the sport. They make extravagant claims of her doing so many things no other horse has done before, without seeming to have even checked whether they are true or not. I fully believe that Zenyatta had the ability to do unprecedented things beyond her BC Classic win, but she never got the chance.  

16 Nov 2010 1:42 PM

Kinda surprised Tom didn't correct this comment:

"And you can compare Peppers Pride with Zenyatta, because they raced in the same kind of races, that was pretty much easy wins for them...."

robin from michigan 15 Nov 2010 7:40 PM

For the record, Peppers Pride raced only in New Mexico and only against New Mexico-bred horses.

Zenyatta has raced outside California and ran against the best horses from the U.S., as well as international competitors.

I notice you also felt compelled to label everyone who followed Zenyatta's racing career "Zenyatta freaks," as well as dragging Rachel Alexandra into a conversation in which she had not been mentioned.

Those partisan statements simply elicit more of the same. Ditto for columns headlined with "red meat" bait such as "It's A Shame Zenyatta Didn't Lose Earlier" and the insulting of commenters that goes on in the BC Chat blog.

I don't see how any of that helps horse racing.

16 Nov 2010 2:16 PM

From the writer: Got an interesting comment from a reader, but it went astray. ... However, it suggested that people who do what I do may not have the proper credentials and perhaps got their jobs by "who they know." ... It should be so easy. ... So I thought, is it any wonder some may ask, 'Who is this unqualified clown?' Here's some background: I was born in South Jersey and saw my first horse race at Liberty Bell Park in 1972 at the age of 8. Went to the track frequently growing up--the Bell, Keystone, Delaware, Atlantic City, Monmouth, Freehold, Dover, Brandywine, etc.--and saw three of them close. (Yes, I've been there, and it ain't pretty.) Graduated from Rutgers with a degree in English and minor in Journalism. Worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as a municipal government reporter and copy editor before getting a job at DRF. Moved to Lexington, KY, in 1994 and have been here since. Became news editor at TBH in 1998 but have covered horse racing and its issues for more than 15 years. I don't consider myself a "Turf writer"--dropped out of the organization--but rather a journalist that covers an industry, and a very tough one to cover at that. My job demands I be fair and objective, but not to the point of rolling over. If sometimes I seem too direct, it's the nature of the culture of growing up near Philly, and I don't apologize for it. I may be direct, but people should have a good idea of where I'm coming from. And that's the most important thing. ... And if you think I'm not a real racing fan, spend some time with me at Turfway Park on Friday nights in the dead of winter watching the locals run. While there I could also introduce you to people in the horse business who are fighting for their lives and really don't have much time to worry about Horse of the Year arguments. ... Hope that helps.

16 Nov 2010 2:28 PM

From the writer to Cathy: Missed it, yes, not a good comparison involving Peppers Pride. Your comment will suffice as the clarification.

16 Nov 2010 2:31 PM
hoist the flag

Churchill does a nice job with big crowds, has a decent facility and puts on a good show.  But, Kentucky fall weather is iffy--there actually was snow in the forecast for Friday this year.  Surface issues aside, it's hard to beat Southern Cal. weather, and with the artificial surface coming out, Santa Anita might be the best option.  Belmont has the right size facilities, but not the weather.  And, for whatever complaints people may have about the staff at Churchill or Santa Anita, NYRA is in a class by itself when it comes to bad customer service.  As a NYer, I'd prefer to go elsewhere for the BC, and my preference is SA followed by Churchill (unless someone can undo the "renovation" of Gulfstream Park so that could be on the rotation again).

16 Nov 2010 2:35 PM

Here's something new to make you go hmmmmm:  Zenyatta was featured along with Cleopatra as "Divas Who Dared", in an article written in The New York Times today, by Maureen Dowd.  How's that for national attention to horse racing, and guess who is once again the featured Queen?

16 Nov 2010 2:49 PM
Mike Relva


Why don't you have the guts to admit you're ANTI ZENYATTA?

16 Nov 2010 3:19 PM


As it stands now, the HOTY award voting process seems to lack a proper standard, and it is affected by the voters' personal relationships & perceptions; some people think a G1 is a G1, whether it is a restricted race vs. fillies & mares or vs. 3-year olds exclusively, and it should take into consideration the horse's popularity and what it does for the industry in general.

Others (like me) believe the deserving  horse is that which prove its ability on the track more than once a year, by winning OPEN G1 races and stepping out of their comfort zones often, regardless of whether the horse has a following as the most popular one in the industry.

I see it this way: If having horses like Zenyatta, Blame, Quality Road, Uncle Mo, etc., facing each other is what generates the most handle, the biggest draws and the largest TV ratings & media coverage, while also settling the debate about which is the best horse in the land, why doesn't the industry do something to make sure they actually race against each other MORE than once a year?

Without getting into the HOTY debate, do you think a point system based on a country-wide race series ala Nascar, one that rewards owners, trainers & horses who actually compete against each other at the the top level all year, could put an end to all the subjectivity regarding the HOTY award?

16 Nov 2010 3:37 PM

WOW !!!  I am weary after reading the opinionated comments, however, I want to make one suggestion. Consider Hialeah as the permanent location for the BC...

16 Nov 2010 3:39 PM
Mike Relva


I think JIM C's comments are interesting. It's easy to go into spin control, but the fact of the matter  its evident who respects Zenyatta and who doesn't. History will note that a six yr. old mare who was back over twenty lengths nearly beat Blame on his HOME TRACK. When I hear some that obviously know next to nothing regarding racing declare Zenyatta isn't that good I think of all the individuals like HOTY trainers Baffert, Lukas,and many others that state and realize Zenyatta is a once in a lifetime horse. The ones that delite in slamming her really tip their hand of how little knowledge they have. Spin it anyway you like, but there's no getting around the fact there's too many in the business that are of the opposite opinion. It's about that simple! Zenyatta's connections could teach RA's connections a thing or two about  how to maintain a horse by placing them first instead of using a horse up in one year to gain HOTY! Blame is a very good horse but will never get into the HOF. Ticket sales and ratings will decrease next Breeders' Cup ,no doubt. Fans and writers cry about the fact of racing's precarious position and when a horse like Zenyatta arrives some don't appreciate  where she has taken racing. Some never get it, their loss! Zenyatta's place in history is secure.

16 Nov 2010 3:46 PM
Richie D

Mr. LaMarra - nice creditials however I doubt that will matter to some of the people I see posting on this blog.  I read many blogs on this site and post once in a while, this is by far the most UNcivilized group I have seen. Seems like nobody can have their own opinion without being ridiculed or called out.  I have seen Zenyatta run live in California 5 times and am a huge fan.  Do I believe she was a better horse on BC day, of course I do, but she lost by a head.  That is what the chart shows and the rest is history.  I don't think she lost anything in defeat.  It was a great race, is she HOTY??  I don't care, she is the best i have seen run and years from now they will still be talking about her HOTY or not!!!

The Life At Ten situation was a real black eye for horse racing and I doubt there will be much done to Pletcher or Jon V.  in my opinion they should have the book thrown at them but I am not holding my breath!!!

Already looking forward to next year and the Uncle Mo show!!!!

16 Nov 2010 3:49 PM
Bet Twice


As much as I love Santa Anita (my home track), I think we should try to preserve the BC on both coasts.  Like the Super Bowl, I think the BC should rotate around the country to bring new fans.  

Churchill turf - I think the surface was an issue (marred by a breakdown) and Workforce would not have scratched if it hadn't been so hard.  

Life At Ten - if the jockey says she isn't right and the trainer says she isn't right, she should be scratched.  What a ridiculous spectacle watching her canter around the track.

Zenyatta - Easy solution to all those with their feathers ruffled.  Don't write blogs about her.  I think there is a little of the pot calling the kettle black, with outrageousness on both sides, but if one really dislikes the dialogue, don't write the blog.

16 Nov 2010 3:51 PM

"Here’s the tote board morning line on Laurel Park in Maryland closing as a racing and training venue next year: 99-1."

Am I wrong in reading this as: chances are very good for it to continue? Can you tell me more about what prompted this comment?

Sorry to be ignorant about the situation in Maryland, I live in California and I've been pre-occupied with our own problems, of which you are probably well aware.

16 Nov 2010 3:55 PM


Thanks for giving your readers a little background. Interesting opinions can come from anywhere, but valid comparisons really come from those that have "been there and done that." You seem to have a good give and take with your readers, and your tone seems fair and balanced, which is refreshing.

16 Nov 2010 3:59 PM

From the writer to Leon: A point system has been discussed from time to time. ... Bill Shanklin wrote an analysis on this very topic in the latest issue of TBH dated Nov. 20, but I believe it will be posted online this week. U should read it. Interesting.

16 Nov 2010 3:59 PM

From the writer to Zookeeper: The post means I doubt Laurel will close. Long and short of it is there is a proposal to be discussed later this month on the future of racing in Maryland given the fact local voters approved of a slots parlor near Laurel but not at Laurel. Racing will get revenue from the slots parlors in the state.

16 Nov 2010 4:01 PM

From the writer to Mike: Good comment--but cheapened by your allegations of spin.

16 Nov 2010 4:22 PM

You said, "Really like the later post times and having a few races under the lights.... If the under-the-lights scenario proves successful, and only one potential host track can accommodate it barring major capital investment?"

One potential host track? Hello, you forgot Woodbine!

Weather in Toronto is no different than you will find at Belmont, Churchill or any other "eastern" American track in November. Grand turf course. Excellent Polytrack. Light that are better than Churchill, not as hard on the eyes and more like daylight. And dirt races can be run earlier in the day if desired at Fort Erie, thus providing three surfaces, lights, a world-class facility and a turf course that is one of the best, if not the best, in North America. Also a top-notch gate crew.

Woodbine hosted the BC once before and got rave reviews from participants, so why is Woodbine not even being considered as a regular host for the "World" Thoroughbred championships?

Just wondering...

16 Nov 2010 4:46 PM

From the writer to Terry: My bad on Woodbine and Santa Anita (races would be at night on the East Coast with a later post time). ... Can't argue about the lights at Woodbine and the great turf course. I think it has come up recently as a potential host, but because of slots, a lot of space has been eaten up for race viewing. That said, the property is huge, so I guess something could be done. ...

16 Nov 2010 4:49 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks,but I call it like I see it!

16 Nov 2010 5:25 PM

Pharmacology is way out of control because many of the trainers know, almost exactly, when blood levels will clear the tests.

I practiced medicine for over 30 years and wouldn't treat my cat as shabbily as these clowns over-medicate their runners......Furosemide loses much of its diuretic effect in the presence of pheylbutazone....Right in the research.

16 Nov 2010 5:42 PM

From the writer to Mike R.: I'll give you this one. Thanks for commenting.

16 Nov 2010 5:49 PM

From the writer to Richie D.: Jason Shandler will handle the Uncle Mo show in his blog. He won't be able to contain himself. ...

16 Nov 2010 6:15 PM

Regarding Life At Ten - Both John V. and T. Pletcher should be held accountable.  It is up to the trainer and the jockey to make sure that the horse is OK before running them.  They knew she was not OK.

Regarding Churchill Downs - I don't like the running under the lights.  I certainly say no to have Churchill be the permanent host for the BC.  I liked Santa Anita much better.

16 Nov 2010 6:20 PM

Gun Bow,

I quote you "I do believe that there were a number of writers and bloggers who pegged their egos to the conviction that Zenyatta had been vastly overrated by the hype-machine. They spent much effort before the Breeders' Cup pointing out the weaknesses in her resume and claiming that she simply wasn't fast enough to compete with elite males on dirt. Now, they are tying their egos to Blame's head, and using the fact Zenyatta lost, even if by just that head, as proof that they were right about Zenyatta all along."

Tom LaMarra is not alone in feeling that he had come under sniper fire.  That bullet also grazed my head (LOL).  I tell you one thing, Blame's head looms very large in this debate.  A win is a win is a win's like a cube ...turn it over and over and over again and it is still 5" x 5" x 5".  Blame scored a huge win by a greater margin than he beat Quality Road in the Whitney and many Zen-worshippers/crusaders are trying to diminish this colt rather than give him his due.  I was not a big fan of his because he got a 5lbs allowance from Quality Road and barely won the Whitney, with QR appearing to be training off in that race.  I also thought that Rachel Alexandra would have had his measure, had she run in the Stephen Foster instead of the Fleur D'Lis based upon the comparitive Beyer Speed Figures and the ease with which she won her race on the same track/day.  Then he got humbled by Haynesfield in the JCGC at Belmont park which didn't impress me.  However his Breeders' Cup form has made a believer out of me.  I've revisited his previous races going back to the Clark last year and have to revise my opinion of this colt.  He is indeed a crackerjack and one that is growing on most people who reflect honestly on his performances.  Blame is no flash-in-the-pan.  He's a giant killer that is growing larger in the view of those who are connossieurs of the sport.  Its a pity that he's being retired now although understandably so.  He is a worthy winner of the BCC that does not deserve to be overshadowed by the second-placed horse whom he has met once and beaten by a greater margin than he beat QR. How cold is that fact ? (no pun intended).

Zenyatta is a great mare, perhaps the greatest of all time but that is still debatable because of the infrequency with which she faced the cream of the crop.  I have to tell you that I'm delighted that she proved me wrong again (only in terms of my handicapping the particular race) but not in terms of my estimation of her capabilities.  It was a dangerous gamble on my "famous" moniker (LOL) as you know very well, but it was thrilling and great fun to beat the odds ...and upset the wishes of Zen-crusaders like Mike Relva, Jayjay and Lazmannick etc.  

I love Zenyatta, she has been amazing to watch even when her competition was way overmatched.  Her idiosyncracies of pricking her ears once she's made the lead and shuffling her right front leg in the winner's circle are the stuff of a unique celebrity horse, however I don't and wont let those take away from appreciating Blame (whose head saved my "famous" moniker ...ha ha ha hocus pocus am I ...goodbye Rumpelstiltskin).

That Blame's head might have salvaged some ego is perhaps true but I think more than that, he kept those myriads of ...lets call them Zen-zealots ...grounded to reality, lest some they might have gotten away with elevating her above Dr Fager, Damascus, Buckpasser, Big Red, Man O'War, Native Dancer, Spectacular Bid, Seattle Slew, Affirmed & Alydar, Holy Bull and Cigar even though she ran against top class colts only twice and once on dirt.  Blame's head should clear the fantasy out of a lot of heads IMO. Peace.    

16 Nov 2010 7:07 PM

Goldikova was named HOTY in Europe.

Congratulations to her connections, who know what it takes to win such an award, one that is decided by a point system and voting by journalists and readers.

16 Nov 2010 8:28 PM

Guess where Quality Road and Haynesfield finished in the Breeders Cup Classic?

Answer: Second to last and dead last.

The question we need to ask ourselves is this:

What was Blame beating all year long?

It looks like he was beating a miler in “Quality Road” and I don’t know what he was losing to in this New York bred they call “Haynesfield”.

There were a lot (…and I mean a lot) of Turf writers at the Jockey Club Gold Cup and these Turf writers have memories like elephants. They “never” forget.

Many of them (which I overheard) are disgusted with Blame and have had enough of him when they witnessed “with their own eyes” a New York bred dismantling him by 4 lengths.

Zenyatta in a landslide for 2010 “Horse of the Year”. It won’t even be close.

16 Nov 2010 8:33 PM

Leon said: "Others (like me) believe the deserving  horse is that which prove its ability on the track more than once a year, by winning OPEN G1 races and stepping out of their comfort zones often, regardless of whether the horse has a following as the most popular one in the industry."  

This is my first time posting on this blog so I'll introduce myself a bit by stating that I've followed racing for over 40 years, and by profession am a historian and librarian so I do have a knowledge of, and appreciation for, the past.

That being said, in response to Leon: your criteria would totally eliminate ALL two-year-olds for HOTY consideration. Please contact  Favorite Trick (1997), Secretariat (1972), Moccasin (1965) and Native Dancer (1952) so they can return their awards. Your criteria would also require that Man O'War (1920 - only one race not restricted to 3YO) and Native Dancer (1954 - only one graded race and only 3 total) return theirs as well, meaning both Man O'War and Native Dancer would NEVER have been HOTY. There are other examples including Count Fleet (1943), Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977), Azeri (2002), etc. who never faced (or won against) what you call "open" competition who none-the-less have been given the ultimate award. In fact, I came up with no fewer than 15 HOTYs who wouldn't have won with your criteria, including THREE TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS -Affirmed, Seattle Slew and Count Fleet - in their signature years! And that doesn't even begin to look at the "leave their comfort zone" statement. How many HOTY winners never left the New York or east coast circuits, never left dirt, etc? How can an older male even leave his comfort zone?

Until there is OBJECTIVE criteria, i.e. a point system or something very close to it, voting for HOTY comes down to the intangible "Horse of the Year is awarded to the horse, irrespective of age, whose performance during the racing year is deemed the most outstanding." Subjectively "DEEMED the MOST outstanding" (my emphasis) by the turfwriters and racing secretaries with all their preferences and biases - not earned by any objective criteria. And therein lies the problem.

16 Nov 2010 8:59 PM
Mike Relva


Blame won fair and square,nothing I can deny about that. But, like Jack Van Berg says"I can't see anyone going to see Blame". He's right and you know it. He wasn't the star of the show, she was. Also, I read even after Blame won, everyone wanted to see her while he was almost by himself in his stall. Zenyatta sells tickets like Secretariat. Please tell me you think Blame and QR is regarded that way. lol. Not even close! He will never be in the HOF. Let's don't confuse him with greatness.

16 Nov 2010 9:04 PM
Bet Twice

Pedigree Ann,

It's not nice to call people ignorant, particularly when defending your very subjective point of view.  As a very wise rabbit once said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

16 Nov 2010 9:49 PM


May i remind you that the colt you are berating which was dismantled in the JCGC, destroyed the giant again in the BC Classic and he was given 5lbs by "the miler" and only won by a nose, whereas he GAVE AWAY 3lbs to the "Queen" and beat her by a decisive head.  Now tell me who's better based upon the facts on the ground (not immagination)?  Bear in mind that the "Queen" had the full length of the long stretch at Churchill Downs to get the job done while carry 3lbs less weight on her larger frame.  Please dont say "but she's a mare" ...a horse is a horse of course of course (from the famous "Mr Ed" jingle ...if you are old enough to recall).  come on Bro. give Blame what's due to him, some respect.

16 Nov 2010 9:53 PM

Z Never headed Blame before or after the wire.  You need to buy a dictionary and look up the word 'parallax'.   You are viewing two strides after the wire at an angle which gives the edge to the outside horse.  It is an optical illusion.

16 Nov 2010 9:56 PM
Bill Daly

Hmmmmm, Governor Christie seems intent to destroy horse racing in NJ. If the panels recommendations are enacted we've seen the end of harness racing in the Garden State and more than likely a diminished thoroughbred industry as well. Stan Bergstein wrote an excellent piece in the Form about this issue and it really should bring everyone's blood to a boil who loves horse racing.  The attitudes of state governments - particularly NJ - re the industry is very short sighted. Guys like Christie haven't really thought a whole lot about the ripple effects of putting this industry out of business in NJ.  Those green spaces will never come back. Nor will the jobs.  It really rankles me to hear people who know absolutely nothing about horse racing put it down.  They say it's dying.  Did they watch the Breeders' Cup?  Didn't look dead to me.  

16 Nov 2010 10:04 PM

Mike Relva,

Racing is larger than all its current stars.  After Zenyatta some other star will arise sooner than you think.  As one who seriously stands up for the welfare of the horses, just wish for Uncle Mo and Awesome Feather to stay healthy next year and you'll see what I mean.

Everybody knows that Zenyatta is a great one but you knock down her conqueror, Blame, in order to make your point, compelling others such as myself to have to rally in his cause, thus appearing to be against Zenyatta when in fact this is not so.  Please be reasonable.

16 Nov 2010 10:05 PM
david h.


Please elaborate more on the Maryland situation and also on the writer "judgment day" who mentions a grand jury with Stephanie Beattie. Her and about five others have gotten away with it for far too long at CT and Penn. Finally, why does the racing media give trainers like Pletcher a free pass? Life At Ten should have not even have left the barn if Pletcher was doing his job. And what about Quality Road's performance? How does he explain that? Thanks and keep up the good work in the Mid-Atlantic area of racing.

16 Nov 2010 10:16 PM
Mike Relva


You are bright, detected that a long time ago from your posts. A lot what you're saying is correct also, but maybe on my part it's a knee jerk reaction from all the junk I've heard about Zenyatta and her connections. Yes,new stars will emerge but how long until a horse runs up a 19-0 score and almost beats the tidal wave back in their last career race?

16 Nov 2010 10:31 PM

To : Mike Relva re: Your Post of:

16 Nov 2010 3:19 PM


Why don't you have the guts to admit you're ANTI ZENYATTA?"

It is detrimental to having rational conversations and discussions to resort to name calling and labeling. Please post something of substance without being insulting.

To summarize, this is what I have posted all summer:

1.  I think Zenyatta was probably the best horse racing this year.  

2.  I want horses to have the opportunities to prove their abilities on the track.   For example, this is what I respect and admire about Jerry Hollendorfer with Blind Luck, she proved her quality all year long.  

3. I am grateful for Z being in the BC. However, sadly, I don't think the other part of Zenyatta's campaign let her prove herself in totality on the track. (i.e. one top class race with top class competion, Z. finishing second to Blame). I think this is why there is such inflammatory posting still going on.

3.  I think she would  have won coast to coast in the top races, including at Saratoga or in the Hollywood Gold Cup or Pacific Classic. To me, it is sad she didn't have the chance.

4.  I saw her win the BC. Distaff, and I will remember her as one of the best ever.

Mike, I think that you should check out carefully what other people post, and that resorting to name-calling and labeling is never a good choice.  

16 Nov 2010 10:36 PM


You win the Award for Best Comment!

16 Nov 2010 10:54 PM


By reading the last few blogs - I say - here it goes again.

I think Gun Bow had it right in the beginning. The Zenyatta detractors are hanging everything on the head of Blame to justify their long held opinion of her.

Never mind that some people have already voiced their opinion that Zenyatta was the best horse in the Classic (Peter Ellis, Bob Baffert). Never mind the fact that Zenyatta is still ahead in the NTRA poll, as well as the Horseracingnation poll, or a recent poll done over at Paulick Report that overwhelmingly says Zenyatta should be HOTY.

You see, the only thing that matters to Zenyatta detractors is that she lost. And these detractors are going to ride "Blame's head" as far as they can to justify their opinion.

16 Nov 2010 11:02 PM
Bet Twice

I don't think another Zenyatta will come along anytime soon. When was the last time a U.S. mare won 19 in a row (13 of which were G1's)? When was the last time a mare won the BCC? When was the last time a mare was 2nd in the BCC? When has a 6 year old ever won the BCC? The answer is never, Pedigree Ann, never.

I think its worth mentioning that an older male horse wins the BCC at least every other year (the rest of the time its a 3 year old male). Blame isn't exceptional, though he is a very good racehorse. Is he better than Curlin or Invasor or Ghostzapper or Mineshaft? Probably not, so if people are suggesting there will be another Blame in a year or two, they are probably right.

The reality is, mares don't win many major open races in America (either on dirt or synthetic). Mares don't do what Zenyatta did in winning the BCC or even in losing to Blame. I don't know why the bar is suddenly higher for her than for Ruffian or Personal Ensign or Azeri, but for all of you who think you'll see another one next year, I wouldn't hold your breath.

And Ranagulzion, email me at the end of 2011 if Uncle Mo goes undefeated in his division. Then I'll get excited. Then email me again if he races in 2012 and wins the BCC. Then email me again if he races in 2013 and people in my office actually know his name. That will be something worth arguing about.

16 Nov 2010 11:15 PM


"After Zenyatta some other star will arise sooner than you think."

When was the last time a horse has been a star of this magnitude for three seasons? I know there have been some but not in the last decade. That's a pretty long time to wait. Granted, the next one may be right around the corner but you can't blame people for celebrating the one they have, rather than waiting for another one somebody else may deem worthier.

16 Nov 2010 11:16 PM
Mike Relva


Maybe what I should ask is how  long has it been since a horse has made a similar impact as Zenyatta in racing?

17 Nov 2010 10:01 AM


The system I propose would not eliminate the importance of restricted races; they would still get points, but not as many as when they win an open race. If a 3-year old wins the TC, and there is no dominant older horse or mare, the system would still give the award to the deserving 3-year old.

Anyway, you just made my point. Imagine what would have happened if Affirmed at 4 & Seattle Slew at 3 had BOTH been undefeated the same year, and had never met on the track? Which one should have won HOTY? Seattle Slew for his undefeated triple crown, or Affirmed for sweeping G1 stakes in open company all year? Which one would have been "the horse, irrespective of age, whose performance during the racing year is deemed the most outstanding."?

I don't care how this is done, but the sport NEEDS and MUST promote head-to head match-ups more than once a year. It is the VERY ESSENCE of any sport: Lakers vs Celtics, Red Sox vs Yankees, etc. I think it is ironic that the motto of the breeding industry is "breed the best to the best and hope for the best" when in reality, we have a sport that has horses of the quality you mentioned never facing each other ON THE TRACK, where they should...


Let's see...Zenyatta's 1 for 2 vs males in G1s in a 20-race campaign, has won 2 BC races, all of it in the US.

Goldikova has won the BC Mile 3 years in a row, was just awarded HOTY in Europe, was champion older horse in Europe in 09 & 10, and has beaten males in 8 G1's in different countries. I think she is a horse of that magnitude and MORE...this decade or any other...

17 Nov 2010 10:35 AM

Leon...Seattle Slew was 4 when Affirmed was 3...Affirmed, a horse beaten 2x by Slew in 1978...and Affirmed was still HOTY in 1978.

17 Nov 2010 12:07 PM


You're absolutely correct, Goldikova is a star of that magnitude. I was only considering horses running mostly on American soil. I plead guilty. Forgive me for thinking like an American horse racing fan.

17 Nov 2010 12:21 PM

 Bet Twice and Zookeeper you both made valid points which I agree. Yes, Laura we do need criteria for HOTY. You would have thought after last year, these boneheads would have learned a lesson. The award is so open I was told by a voter that it can include many attributes even what the horse has done for racing on and off the track. Of course it has never helped her in the past 2 years but the majority of voters are on the east coast. With all the chemical warfare,poor consideration for the horses by some trainers and owners, tracks who put fans last on their list, etc., one starts to sway away from this game. Zenyatta's magnetisim brought many back to this dying sport. You have to be from Mars not to have noticed this.

If the Uncle Mos and Awesome Feathers of the world can repeat what Zenyatta has done by winning 19 in a row, then lucky us. Too many horses have been stars and yet never made it to the Derby.

17 Nov 2010 12:25 PM
Pedigree Ann

Bet Twice, I have seen so many people saying things like this:

Zenyatta, by winning 17 races in row, had broken some "Recognized World Record." Or that 19 for 19 is a world record. Check your Guinness. Kincsem, another world-class mare, 54 for 54, and Camarero, 56 in a row and 73 for 77. The so-called "Citation record" was something concocted by some media type to get the word out to the mainstream press that Cigar was a seriously good horse, even if he wasn't a Triple Crown winner.

And another person mentioned that she won under 129 lbs, conceding 10+ lbs to her opponents, as if that had never been done before by a mare. I was able to find several outstanding mares who had done as well or better (Silver Spoon carried 130, conceded 23+) in a few minutes with a Racing Manual.

I calls 'em as I sees 'em. If people are ignorant and post on  boards trumpeting their dubious claims, they should be called on it. Is it impolite to tell people they are wrong about verifiable facts? I hope not.

Zenyatta does not need extravagant but false claims to establish her place in history. I wish some of her more rabid fans would understand this.

17 Nov 2010 1:46 PM

Re: the horse who slipped on the turf course ... Hey, it happens. My own horse did it and I can promise the ground was fine and we weren't racing; we were just cantering a loose turn and she was fooling around a little. The course seemed fine to all who looked at it. Some things really are just accidents and miss-steps and happen running free at pasture too. I was heartened that there were no other disasters and that it was a Breeders' Cup we can in general regard as successful (and great racing, too!). I reserve any opinions on the Life At Ten situation until all the facts are in.

17 Nov 2010 2:03 PM
Soldier Course

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States Congress. The first recipient was George Washington.

Dr. Jonas Salk was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1955, a few months after the first polio vaccine was administered.

Can anyone here imagine someone arguing that Dr. Salk should not have been given this honor because his research spanned seven years (1948-1955) and was not all confined to the year 1955?  

17 Nov 2010 2:31 PM
Mike Relva


Give me a break!!!

17 Nov 2010 4:37 PM

Mr LaMarra, You wrote this: "Can you imagine if those who comment focused on commenting on the other items mentioned in this blog--those of far more importance to the health of this industry--rather than the Z/Blame pissing match?"

With due respect, I wrote a response predominately about my opinions regarding the use of drugs in racing.  For whatever reason, it was not posted.  Was it because I took a stand against drug use?

I see so many posts that denigrate other horses, are downright negative that I wonder why a polite post is not published.  Was it because I ended it with praise of Zenyatta?  Was I considered a zealot?

17 Nov 2010 5:49 PM

Bet Twice (by the way, a very game racehorse; quite enjoyed his duels with Alysheba),

I don't mean to be a wiseacre, but if Uncle Mo goes undefeated in his division next year (which I highly doubt), people in your office will know his name, as it will likely mean he has won the Triple Crown.

The neat thing about Zenyatta is that she attracted interest to racing outside of the Triple Crown, which is much tougher to do.

17 Nov 2010 6:16 PM


Thanks for the correction. Sorry I got the ages and years switched.


If the point system I suggest would have been in place when those superstars you mentioned were still active, Don't you think their campaigns would have probably been different? However, being as good as they were, I have to imagine most of them would have won the award anyway.

Besides the obvious benefit of the head-to head match-ups between potential & defending champions in terms of handle, attendance, promotion, advertising sales and media coverage, a well-defined "HOTY race series"  in each region or circuit would show owners & trainers the required path to decide the most important awards on the track; it would also help as a basis in setting stud fees for new stallions, as well as mare values at sales, and it would promote the entire industry like never before, while eliminating the subjectivity of the status quo.

The irony in this is that we already have a race series in place that meets the above criteria, which is the Triple Crown trail, followed later on by the Haskell & Travers. There is NEVER any arguing about who the top 3-year old is because of it.

It is about time to do the same for the HOTY award. To me, this is such a no brainer...

17 Nov 2010 7:43 PM

If the turf course was actually wet enough to cause such a slippage, I doubt that Workforce would have been a scratch.  Like Convene said, accidents happen.  I have had horses break down without any signs of problems prior.  Such is the sport, as much as no one likes to admit it.  

It's highly irritating that there are so many naysayers attacking Zenyatta constantly throughout her entire career.  But one thing a person learns quickly in this industry is that the moment people hate you it means you are doing very well.  Someone as great as her is going to have a large following of selfish, jealous idiots who don't understand the significance of her appearance in the industry the last few years.  

I know the big debate now is over the Eclipse award for HOTY, but we don't need to see her receive a statue to signify her greatness.  We all know she is great as she is and doesn't need a superficial title, which isn't anywhere near as significant as being known as The Queen.  Just about everyone knows that anything involving voting means politics and bias.  The Eclipse Awards should perhaps take a closer look at how the Cartier Awards work.

I am just glad we had some juvenile stars and that the Turf Queen, Goldikova will be racing next year to hopefully hold the new fans that Zen has brought into the game.  If only the racetrack management could wake up and smell the coffee and take advantage of the spike in fans of the sport, but that would be asking far too much.

17 Nov 2010 8:48 PM
Jason Shandler

Looks like things have settled down a little here for you Tom. At least you get a nice, little break before January when Blame wins the HOY award. After that, all the whining will heat up again. As I see it, our jobs are simply to keep it real. Just lay out the undisputable facts and hope voters will eventually see the only logical answer is the horse that won head-to-head and conquered males in prestgiuos races all over the country. The other horse stayed in California and wouldnt even face males in her own state. This isnt a HOY campaign, not even close. Take out all the Oprah, 60 Minutes and media sensationalism, and what do you have left? Still just the facts. Blame had the better 2010 season. It's rather simple if you just keep it to facts and not let the emotions of the fans take over.

17 Nov 2010 9:17 PM

From the writer to maryann727: Please resubmit your original comment. I went back through the comments received and don't have it. Thanks, Tom

17 Nov 2010 10:16 PM
Mike Relva

Some individuals it kills them almost, cause Zenyatta has garnered many fans that love and respect her for her contribution in racing. Perhaps they should look at their own little miserable lives before slamming racehorses. Agree with one reader that stated that Blame will end up as a trivial game question.

17 Nov 2010 10:34 PM
david h.


I commented on "judgment days" comment, Stephanie Beattie, Todd Pletcher and your good work on the local tracks and I don't get posted or a response. Whats up???

17 Nov 2010 10:56 PM

I also posted earlier, it did not appear. Trying again...

I really have to add something else. It seems to me, in HOTY conversations, there are too many misperceptions. Just because you support Blame or Zenyatta, does NOT mean you hate their rival. In fact, how could you not respect and admire both rivals in a most memorable Classic. And then conversations devolve after a supporter claims one to be more deserving than the other. It's like a mud wrestling competition that gets carried away and quickly becomes sucking quicksand.

Did anyone see the "Inside Edition" clip of a cat backing down two alligators? Zenyatta's  fans have felt like that cat in all blogs for over a year. (The NTRA site seems to be the most vile and toxic these days). The confidence is there, even though they might get swallowed up by other bloggers. This year they are stepping up their support.

And don't tell me another horse will come along soon. I haven't seen a horse like Zen since Seattle Slew....that's 32 years...and I sure don't have enough years left in me to wait for another. Do I support Zenyatta for HOTY?  ou bet I do. Do I have any negative feelings toward Blame? No way; he was sensational, and has my utter respect. I can find no fault in Blame, nor with his supporters. Their arguments are quite logical.

My problem is with comments that fall into a cesspool of insults and name-calling from either side. I prefer civility, but it's difficult to find any more, as the sport of kings falls into the mire of the sport of street brawlers.

17 Nov 2010 11:51 PM

From the writer to david h: Your comment(s)have been retrieved and posted. ... The Penn thing remains in grand jury from what I understand. At this point, and as always, its innocent until proven otherwise. This issue (part of it anyway) was addressed in a news story (see link: in which Stephanie B. told her story. Let's leave it at that for now. ... As far as trainers getting a free pass, the Life At Ten thing ain't over yet. ... as for the Mid-Atlantic, when you're born there, you care about it.

18 Nov 2010 8:02 AM

From the writer to all who comment: If your comments are retrieved well after being initially sent, I think they appear in the thread based on when they were sent. ... Sorry, but that's how the program works.

18 Nov 2010 8:04 AM
Mike Relva


Well said!

18 Nov 2010 10:31 AM
Wager for Tom

Tom, can we do a friendly wager on whether Laurel Park will conduct a real meet next year? I say NO! Perhaps we can wager a Reds hat vs. a Pirates hat???

18 Nov 2010 11:18 AM


Isn't having your own blog enough for you? Tom wrote of many things on this blog, yet the one you chose to comment on is the darn award??? I guess obsession is not restricted to fans of Zenyatta.

18 Nov 2010 1:38 PM

jshandler wrote: "It's rather simple if you just keep it to facts and not let the emotions of the fans take over"

There you have it--the fans mean nothing.

18 Nov 2010 2:09 PM
Soldier Course


Breeders' Cup has been bragging about its figures for this year's event: attendance, handle, TV ratings, etc. All up. Take away Zenyatta and "the emotions of the fans" and see what those figs would look like.  

18 Nov 2010 3:26 PM
Mike Relva


Guess the reason of this year's ratings for Breeders' Cup being up 180 percent was because of Blame? Right. lol

18 Nov 2010 3:30 PM

From the writer to Wager for Tom: I don't do the gambling thing on this blog. ... But I wouldn't mind a Pirates cap, and I do believe Laurel will race next year. The question is, what constitutes a "real" meet????

18 Nov 2010 3:37 PM

I have to paraphrase a bit...when you take out Oprah, and 60 Minutes, and media sensationalism what do you have?  Same thing you had before Rachel and Zenyatta started lighting up the stage...a dying sport with no media coverage.

18 Nov 2010 4:44 PM

Slew - You're talking to deaf ears but thanks anyway for making sense and keeping it truly real. :)

Another thing I've been dying to say to all who ridicule the emotional fans: You should be grateful to them, in this pari-mutuel world you got their money. So you should thank them instead of making fun of them. In fact, you should praise them for their lack of realism and their meager $2 souvenir tickets. After all, they contributed to your enormous winnings, didn't they? The more emotional they get, the richer you are... so what's your beef?

When they are gone, you will be left betting against people who are just as brilliant as you are and their money is not as easy to get. Best of luck to all!

18 Nov 2010 5:15 PM
Mike Relva


Totally agree with your comments. Without Zenyatta and RA, let's see if we have those thousand-plus blog comments.

18 Nov 2010 5:55 PM
Bet Twice


Agreed, if Mo wins the Triple Crown, its another story.  I would love to see a TC winner, but the last 30+ years suggest I shouldn't count on it (similar to the nearly 30 years it took for a mare to win the BCC).

My point wasn't to call out Uncle Mo but to suggest, as Zookeeper did, that Zenyattas don't show up in racing every year and even very brilliant racehorses often don't stick around as long as she did and race as consistently.  Its really the whole bird in hand argument which Zookeeper covered beautifully.

Pedigree Ann,

You are right, we should never forget the accomplishments of a Hungarian mare from the 1870's or a Puerto Rican horse that raced in the 1950's.  Whether or not the comparison between their race records and Zenyatta's is at all relevant is another question.  Neither Kincsem nor Camamero ever raced in the U.S.  Camamero only raced in Puerto Rico and Kincsem raced primarily in her own country, which was then Austria-Hungary.  Its problematic to compare Zen's record with Citation or Cigar, but not because of a horse from the 1870's.  Clearly you are interested in horse racing, how about comparing apples to apples for a change.

18 Nov 2010 9:46 PM

Mike Relva,

If you are satisfied with the system in place, why do you always complain about a bias in the HOTY voting?

18 Nov 2010 9:57 PM

Bet Twice - That's exactly what I was thinking: a bird in the hand. I'm glad you understood my point, not too many did. Like you, I fail to see the relevance of bringing up horses of yore and/or of other continents to deny Zenyatta the accolades she deserves for three wonderful years of racing in America. But... what you gonna do?

19 Nov 2010 12:23 AM

Boo Hoo I write a blog and people disagreee with me.

HOTY is a fake award.

One year the BCC does not matter the next it does.

Azeri gets it but not Z is not worthy? Please.

Where is the integrity of the award?

19 Nov 2010 12:59 PM
Soldier Course


You highlight a point that is very much worth noting: Zenyatta brought massive attention to racing outside the context of the Triple Crown series.

Another rare thing about Zenyatta: How many other deep closers have even approached her 19-1 record?

19 Nov 2010 3:30 PM

Bet Twice, Mike Relva, Zookeeper,

None of us know the future. Horse racing is very risky and many potentially great horses falter because of injury (most recent example being Eskendereya) but who's to tell that Uncle Mo, Awesome Feather or some other unknown quantity won't emerge next year to set the world alight. Let's wish the budding stars best of health and hope that their connections are more enterprising than Zenyatta's (while doing right by the horse).

19 Nov 2010 4:42 PM

Zookeeper; you are 100% correct.

I think Jason signed in using the wrong name, he was suppose to use his alter ego Draynay.

Z horse of a lifetime.

LAL retired people will realize what a gift Z was.

19 Nov 2010 5:57 PM


20 Nov 2010 6:07 AM

We've been to Churchill Downs for the last two Breeders' Cups they've had there. I told my husband that we're not going back to the Breeders' Cup 'til it's in California, Florida or Texas again. It was bitterly cold by the time of the Ladies' Classic on Friday night and I would have left early if it hadn't been such a big race. It was impossible to get good photos of either the Ladies Classic or Classic because it was so dark. Please bring it back to California!

20 Nov 2010 7:17 PM

I'd like to see the Breeders' Cup continue to move around.

Weather is dicey in November throughout most of the country. Ain't nothin' nobody can do about that.

Can Calder, Gulfstream, or even Hialeah accomodate a BC?

Never been, don't know much about the tracks, other than the usual "bias stuff'."

21 Nov 2010 7:32 AM


21 Nov 2010 8:07 AM
Mike Relva


Don't know what world you're living in, but horses don't fall from the sky that almost went 20-0!

21 Nov 2010 4:38 PM

I'm not gonna comment here Tom. You got some scary dudes with even scarier opinions. I'm off to Jason's blog. It's more gentle, and if he's talkin 'bout Uncle Mo.....well I'm there.

Took me half a day to read all these comments and it still boils down to..

1. Those that love Z

2. Those that hate Z

Give it a rest people. Next year we'll have a new horse to love or hate.

And BTW there is no horse on this earth worth hating. They give their all. Shame there's not more people like them.

21 Nov 2010 10:55 PM


22 Nov 2010 2:56 AM
Pedigree Ann

Since my previous mailing hasn't been posted, I will respond again to Bet Twice. MY POINT was that Zenyatta didn't need inaccurate exaggerations to ensure her place in history. She has already done that quite nicely, thank you.

And the dismissive attitude toward Kincsem is offensive. She was the champion of Europe; she won her era's version of the Arc 3 times in a row. The locations at which she won races are now in 7 different countries. And before WWI, Hungarian breeding and racing was second to none on the Continent.

If the Zenyatta fanatics are going to claim 'all-time records' and 'greatest of all time', comparing with horses of other eras is not out of bounds, IMHO. What does 'all-time' mean otherwise?

27 Nov 2010 10:21 AM

To Pedigree Ann- It's quite one thing to voice your highly slanted opinions.  It's quite another to do so with manners and dignity, something your messages all tastelessly lack.

01 Jan 2011 1:44 PM

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