Wiggins Talks Rachel

With Rachel Alexandra being retired earlier this week, I thought it would be timely to catch up with her previous trainer Hal Wiggins, who was one of the major reasons she accomplished as much as he did. Wiggins, who retired from training shortly after Rachel was moved to Steve Asmussen, now lives in Texas. He is semi-retired, but works as an advisor for Legacy Bloodstock.

Wiggins, truly one of the nicest guys you will ever find in this sport, was as gracious and candid as always.

 

JS: How are you enjoying Texas?

HW: Really enjoying it; all the sun and spending time with my grandkids. It's great. We're from here, so it was really just coming back home for us. It's nice to stay connected to the industry (with Legacy) too. I've got the best of both worlds.

JS: At the time you were retiring I know you said you wanted to stay involved, but this thing with Legacy seemed to come along a little quicker than you expected.

HW: It really did. Mark (Toothaker) and Tommy (Eastham) and I talked, but I didn't expect anything to come of it so soon. I was just at the Keeneland sale and it was great to be back in Kentucky. I'm really enjoying the work.

JS: And I read you're still getting up at 4 a.m., just like when you were training?

HW: (Laughs). It's true. For 30 years I needed an alarm clock to get up. Now, I haven't set the clock and I don't need to get up that early but I still do. Of course, I still go to bed very early, so maybe that's why. Luckily, my newspaper comes very early in the morning.

JS: What was your reaction to Rachel's retirement?

HW: I wasn't surprised. I thought it was going to happen at some point this year. I was hoping she would make the Breeders' Cup and was looking forward to it even if she wasn't going to face Zenyatta in the Classic. The Distaff still would have been nice.

The timing (of the retirement) was a little odd. I thought she ran tremendous in the Personal Ensign. She beat that filly ( Life At Ten) that won five or six straight races by 10 lengths that day, but she just got caught at the end. I thought she ran fine.

JS: Her 2010 campaign was very strange to me, almost from the start. What did you make of it?

HW: I was really surprised too. First off, and even Steve (Asmussen) said it, they tried to rush her back for the Apple Blossom. Even when they got (Oaklawn) to push it back a week I thought, ‘one week isn't going to make a big difference.' It just seemed like the whole year was kind of off kilter.

At the same time, I think Steve did a great job with her in 2009, winning all those races. It was very aggressive and they got what they wanted out of her. But I think they paid the price. I think the Woodward gutted her.

JS: So you think the Woodward took that much out of her. What makes you say that?

HW: Just watching the race. She was all out and I think sometimes when a filly has to do that she has a hard time coming back, even with rest. It might have quit being fun for her. When she was running against 3-year-old fillies she was never extended; she did it so easily. After races, she was dragging the rider around the track. After you give everything you have a couple times, it takes something away from them.

JS: Do you think she may have been left in the barn too long before getting started this year?

HW: It's hard to say. I wasn't around her and I don't want to second guess. Steve is an excellent horseman and if he felt she needed the time off she probably did. But whether he gave her two months or six months off, I don't think she would have been the same in 2010. And that's not to criticize anyone. Steve did a great job with her and he made her Horse of the Year. I was proud of her the whole time. But never in my mind did I think it was the time off that changed her.

JS: Do you think you and Mr. Morrison would have tested her against males at some point if you guys had kept her?

HW: I think we might have. We talked a little bit about that and I think he had a little inclination to do it at some point. He just didn't want to do it in the Triple Crown. I mentioned the Belmont at one point, but that probably wasn't going to happen. We had decided after the Oaks we were going to the Acorn and then a race at Philly Park or Delaware against fillies, and then back to New York again. The colts may have come sometime after that if the timing was right.

JS: Would you have gone to the 2009 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita?

HW: I think so, because she ran so well at Keeneland and won pretty nicely. But I think we would have gone to the Distaff.

JS: I remember talking to you in March of last year when she was getting really good and you told people not to get their hopes up about the Derby because the owner wasn't going. But part of me recalls you saying that if it were up to you, you might have run her in the Derby? Do I remember correctly?

HW: Yes, that's correct. I would have been on the fence, but I think I might have if it was my decision; especially if the Derby came up the way it did. And don't foget, I would have had Calvin on her too. There is no way that Mine That Bird wins that race without Calvin. Any other rider would have been tapping on him early in the race when he was so far back. But he was patient and knew what he was doing.

I think Mr. Morrison was worried that in a 20 horse field, if she broke slowly she could have been 13th or 14th, or something like that, and it would have compromised her. That was his decision. I trained for him for 30 years and he's a very, very wise man. I have so much respect for him. I would never try to talk him out of something or change his mind. But if I owned her, I probably would have gone for it.

JS: It's funny how everything might have changed if she would have run in the Derby.

HW: It is. If she would have won, maybe he would have kept her, no matter how much money he was offered. It's hard to give up a Derby winner (Laughs).

JS: I think the most disappointing thing for fans is that she never got to face Zenyatta. Do you think she would have met her at some point if you guys still had her?

HW: I think so, probably this year. We might have been undefeated the rest of last year if she stayed in filly races and the other mare would be undefeated too. I think there would have been a lot of public pressure on us to make it happen. I would have enjoyed it. That's what racing is all about. It would have been great for our industry.

But I could see it wasn't going to happen this year. Not with the way Rachel was running and the other mare not leaving California.

JS: At their best, who would have won?

HW: (Laughs). At a mile and eighth or a mile and a quarter?

JS: Both.

HW: I say Rachel would have won at a mile and eighth and at a mile and quarter it would have been as close as you could ask for. Of course, they probably would have entered a rabbit, but Calvin knows her so well I think he would have gotten her to relax just fine.

JS: What was her best race?

HW: It's tough, maybe the Preakness. Calvin told me she despised the surface (at Pimlico). It was supposed to rain that day but it never did, and they didn't water the track. It was dry and he said she was fighting it the whole time.

What she did in the Woodward was very special too. For a 3-year-old filly to beat older males in a grade I was great. And she went very fast early in the race.

JS: Some say she didn't face the best of fields in the Woodward.

HW: That wasn't her fault. If you look back at the two horses she beat (Macho Again and Bullsbay) those colts did nothing after that. It took a lot out of all of them.

JS: Looking back at it all, I guess you're just proud to be part of her career?

HW: I am. People love her. I still get calls and mail from people that I don't even know. She was really something special. I hope she enjoys that sun and grass in Kentucky. She deserves it. And I hope she enjoys retirement as much as I am.

513 Comments

Leave a Comment:

sodapopkid

Its a shame Hal didnt be with her in 2010 or the rest of 2009.  I can see by the way he talks she would still be running today and she would have been managed correctly , like Zenyatta.

He even admits those males in the Woodward werent all that.  Sad, he didnt get to continue training her.  Just goes to show how greed took her heart away..

30 Sep 2010 12:24 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Jason

   That is the most brilliant, timely, and fascinating interview I have ever read. Thank you very much. I hope you get an award for this one. Vegas did you good young man. Wow !!! It brought tears to my eyes. The great Hal Wiggins said so many things that I had been thinking. I was going to write on your blog yesterday but never did that Rachel would have had Calvin in The Derby, and there was no way that MTB wins the Derby without Calvin's truly great ride. I always believed that Rachel would have raced against the boys at some time if she had stayed with Wiggins and the previous owner. In my opinion we would have seen an unbelievably great career from start to finish. Hal Wiggins-Thank you so much for your candor, class, and insight. You truly are one the the great horsemen. I was so saddened for you and Rachel when she was taken from you. Continue enjoying your new career !!!!!!!!!!!!!

30 Sep 2010 12:52 PM
Pam S.

In the face of great opposition from the JJ proponents ("No other owner would have challenged Rachel the way he did"), I have always said it would have been better if Rachel had remained with her original connections.  Better for the horse and, I think, better for racing.  Nothing in this interview with Mr. Wiggins changes my mind, that's for sure.  

Rachel's sudden retirement has surprised and saddened so many fans, and it probably wouldn't have gone down this way with the former connections.  We might have seen Rachel win the BC Distaff, and later face off with Zenyatta for a $5 million pot.  She might not have needed so much time off.  She might have faced and defeated males in her own good time -- maybe even in a prep for last year's BC.  Or this year.  Right now she might be preparing to defend her crown in the Ladies' Classic, or who knows, maybe even thinking about turf.  

Seeing her overall campaign in 2010, I would gladly trade the holy triumvirate of the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward for what I described above.  Hey, Rags to Riches won the Belmont (more  impressive), Serena's Song won the Haskell, and personally I hated watching the Woodward.  Was it a Horse of the Year campaign?  Can't deny that.  Was there a better alternative?  Now that, I think, could be argued.  

30 Sep 2010 12:55 PM
Isabella

Spoken like a true horseman.

30 Sep 2010 1:03 PM
RachelLover

Well, now I'm crying again.  Thanks, Jason, for this article.  Somehow it makes the sadness a little better to hear from Mr. Wiggins.

30 Sep 2010 1:03 PM
Alex

Happy Retirement Rachel Alexandra. You are one of the best fillies in history. I look foreward to seeing your children race. ps Remeber the whole world loves you.

From Alexandra

WINNIPEG MANITOBA CANADA

30 Sep 2010 1:04 PM
Mike Relva

JASON,

Great work. How many time do you recall in the past yr. on your blog that I stated the same thing that RA was gutted in the Woodward and had a carry over?

30 Sep 2010 1:13 PM
Dakota

Mike Relva,

Mr. Wiggins said what many of us have been saying all year. The difference is, when we posted similar thoughts on blogs, we were called "haters" and "bashers" by some of Rachel's fans. Agree 100% with his line that "it might have stopped being fun for her".  

Thank you, Mr. Wiggins, for her brilliant Oaks win and for taking such good care of her.

30 Sep 2010 1:33 PM
Funny1991

Rachel you will be missed

30 Sep 2010 1:33 PM
momscammand

It always amazes me that everyone talks about RA vs. Z while Z gets away with running against inferior mares/filles.  If Z is so great, why don't we ask why Z didn't go to Ascot or Dubai (she was invited, just didn't go; was that sportsmanlike?). I love watching Z run; however, I distinguish entertainment from true greatness and abhor all the journalist hype about Z vs RA. Shame on the racing world for encouraging and catering to all this naive droolery (makes good bucks today but isn't a long term money-maker).

30 Sep 2010 1:38 PM
Alexaso

Great work, Jason, with your last two blog entries.

Wiggins is a class act. This is helping me get over the way she was retired.

30 Sep 2010 1:38 PM
Billy's Empire

The thing that sticks out to me is Hal stating that Rachel would of won at 1 1/8, and Zenyatta might of gotten to her at 1 1/4 last year. That was my thought and argument last year when comparing the two. Rachel had a year that will be remembered for a long time.

Hal is a great horseman. Too bad he retired, as he was training for our syndicate.

30 Sep 2010 1:41 PM
MyBigRed

Thank you Jason for the article and THANK YOU Mr. Wiggins, for training Rachel Alexandra. I wish she would have stayed in your care. Perhaps someday, will you write a book about Rachel? We would Love it :) God Bless You.

30 Sep 2010 1:42 PM
Zookeeper

Excellent interview, Jason. Mr. Wiggins is a class act and his opinion is very valuable. He knew Rachel so well. Reading his thoughts about last year's Woodward vindicated my own feelings about it. I hated it then and I still do. I will never watch it again. It took everything out of her and robbed her fans of the joy to see her brilliance again in 2010. Things could have been so different... that's what so sad about it.

Thank you Jason for a superb interview and for the perfect timing. Thank you Mr. Wiggins for your candid, respectful and insightful responses. You are loved and admired by many people. Your fans have not forgotten you and they never will. Neither will they forget the beautiful filly you cared for, trained and developped into a great champion, the one and only Rachel Alexandra the Great.  

30 Sep 2010 1:55 PM
The Rock

Great interview Jason. The question about facing Zenyatta stuck out to me. Looks like he wouldn't have travelled West with RA if he had her this year. I guess the Apple Blossom would've been the only opportunity they both would've had at meeting, even in his care.

Well done Jason. To me with his words just brought on a calming influence to this RA retirement.

Next race, next case. Let's get to some BC prep talks. I've capped the Belmont and Oak Tree card already. Can't wait for Red Desire to run. I wonder how she'll handle the soft turf. Its a shame that Gozzip Girl & Forever Together are not in their 2009 form. Otherwise, this would've been the best G1 race this weekend.

30 Sep 2010 2:00 PM
Mike Relva

As a Zenyatta supporter always known and stated what a great racehorse RA is and wish nothing but a long healthy life for her.

30 Sep 2010 2:03 PM
olivia newman

What a brilliant interview! Hal Wiggins is such a kind, respected person. I think he deserves all the credit for Rachel's success. I am at ease with her retirement, she wasn't quite the same. I'm just glad she's retiring safe and sound. We all love you Rachel:)

30 Sep 2010 2:10 PM
CDR

What a fascinating article.  How different things would be for so many if one little detail had been changed.  I always respected what Mr. Wiggins did with Rachel.  After all in the Preakness, she was running on his training.

I was all for the Preakness and the Haskell but I really didn't want to see her in the Woodward.  

At any rate, it is nice to dream about what would have happened if she had been left in her original owner's barn.  Her 2010 campaign never made much sense and her retirment made even less.  That being said, I am so thrilled I got to see her at Monmouth.  I was stuck in four hours of traffic getting there and once I saw her face walking over, it was all worth it.  

30 Sep 2010 2:12 PM
Rachel

I think Mr Wiggins shows the way for us all here...he's class all the way, believing everyone only had the best intentions in racing a very great filly, who, after all is only an animal, who ran her best everytime for us.

You did good, girl.

30 Sep 2010 2:13 PM
sodapopkid

By reading between the lines here,  Mr.Wiggins clearly states he would have sent RA to run in the BCL at Santa Anita in 2009.

Clearly also,  Between the lines,  He wont' put other horsemen down, thats not a good thing to do to each other, but cleary, this man was not for the way RA was managed last year.  

Would you have gone to the 2009 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita?

HW: I think so, because she ran so well at Keeneland and won pretty nicely. But I think we would have gone to the Distaff.

30 Sep 2010 2:24 PM
Susan

Jason,

Wonderful interview with Mr. Wiggins, and kudos to you for getting it. It was time to hear from him. Everything he said was what a lot of us thought all along. When an agressive campaign works, it's historical, but even so, the horse will sooner or later, pay the price.

30 Sep 2010 2:26 PM
Carlos in Cali

Timely interview Jason,..but, I caught the 'low blow' by Mr. Wiggins:

"Of course,they probably would have entered a rabbit".

Huh?..When has Zenyatta ever needed a rabbit?..

 

30 Sep 2010 2:29 PM
Lucy

  Thoroughbred fillies are sensitive creatures and they don't forget. This is why Zenyatta is handled with kid gloves and it is why she is still racing.  I had a good show filly (thoroughbred) go through a traumatic accident and come out sound physically after surgery but mentally, she was never the same.  Her confidence was gone.  I honestly believe this happened to Rachel in the Woodward.  It would have been much better to save older males for another year and not put a three-year-old in such a situation.  She gave all and something was forever left on that track.

30 Sep 2010 2:35 PM
el

Wonderful article, Jason and Hal.  Just goes to show money doesn't always talk.  He spoke volumes.  Hope JJ reads it.

30 Sep 2010 2:37 PM
Rich C

Rachel is gone because Mr. Jackson had to make it all about him and not the horse.  If he cared about his filly she wouldn't have run in the Woodward after tangling with the boys already in the Preakness and Haskell.  He would have given her a much deserved and needed breather and showed up at the Breeders Cup like a true sportsman.  Rachel already won on the "plastic" so he had no excuse. And as for the excuse about Curlin losing on the "plastic???"  Please, give me a break.  He wasn't complaining when Curlin had that super 5 furlong work on the plastic before the classic and when Curlin was making that huge move in the classic.  (Remember Trevor Denman's call - "Is this believable?" as Curlin began circling the field) Curlin didn't have a problem with the surface. He was a tired horse as proven by his lackluster wins against allowance horses when he returned from Dubai.  Mr. Jackson takes his ball and goes home when he is losing and comes up with excuses when he loses.  It's a shame because Rachel could have and should have been at the Breeders Cup last year.  It didn't have to be in the classic.  The fans just wanted to see her there.  I hope we don't have to hear from Mr. Jackson for a long time.  

30 Sep 2010 3:12 PM
Rarco8

I feel bad about her retirement, but they made the right choice. Obviously she wasn't the same horse this year. Even though she ran her heart out this year, another loss, or injury would hurt alot worse than winning one more race. Her three year old campaign took alot out of her, but that's the choice they made, so let's be happy she retired sound, and now I can root for Zenyatta to do the same

30 Sep 2010 3:25 PM
Ted from LA

RA would have won the Derby by 10 lengths.  Do doubt in my cobweb cigar smoke infested mind.

30 Sep 2010 3:26 PM
2:24

Awesome stuff Jason.  I really enjoyed this interview.

30 Sep 2010 3:30 PM
Hal Wiggins Fan

Not to take anything away from steve, but I think Rachel's fan club would be bigger and broader if Hal wiggins still trained her instead of steve.

30 Sep 2010 3:41 PM
Greg J.

Jason,

Great interview, answered alot of questions I had, thanks...

30 Sep 2010 3:47 PM
Lauracrown

Thank you for the timely interview with Mr. Wiggins! Thank you,Mr. Wiggins, for your care of Rachel Alexandra. Her Kentucky Oaks remains my favorite of Rachel's races. Thanks also, for your thoughtful insights regarding Rachel. You are much admired by us racing fans! Wishing you a wonderful retirement!

30 Sep 2010 4:07 PM
txhorsefan

Since it would be plagiarism if I just copied and pasted what Zookeeper said, I won't do it, but I will simply echo/ditto exactly what she said and add my thanks to you, Jason for writing this.  Thank you for the interview with Mr. Wiggins, definitely a class act individual.  Thank you, Mr. Wiggins, for sharing your thoughts so eloquently with Rachel's fans who are stinging at the sudden announcement.  Thank you, Zookeeper, for saying so well what has been in my heart and mind but I've been unable to express clearly.

30 Sep 2010 4:16 PM
In aint easy being good!

I agree with all of you and Hal wiggins is all class. I am going to miss rachael she was so fun to watch and horses liker her dont come around often!

Great interview but now its time to move on to the greatest show on earth the rodney dangerfield of horse racing and his name is Blame! Watch the smooth operater October 2nd and get your popcorn ready! Then in november when he laughs at Zenyatta.

30 Sep 2010 4:18 PM
Mike Relva

CARLOS IN CA

Please. Wiggins is a CLASS ACT ALWAYS,it wasn't a "low blow". If it were me wouldn've been slamming Jackson and his trainer,but he's above that.

30 Sep 2010 4:34 PM
Trebloc

Great interview. Mr. Wiggins sounds like one of the good guys in the sport.  Glad he is still in the game.  

30 Sep 2010 4:38 PM
slee

Nicely done Jason, thanks!

Classy responses from a classy gentleman, Mr. Wiggins.

(though I disagree about one thing he does - when I retire [I should live so long], I AIN'T getting up at 5:00 am any more and I don't care HOW early the paper comes!)  ;-)

30 Sep 2010 4:40 PM
Diane J

Carlos in CA - agree completely!  I cannot think of one time the Mosses entered a "rabbit" to help Zenyatta win.  I love the loyalty Wiggins has to Rachel - I really wish she could have stayed with him.

30 Sep 2010 4:41 PM
ctgreyhound

Oh yes, Hal Wiggins...the voice of reason. His superior training set Rachel up for what was to come in 2009. Jackson's rush to make her a superstar became Rachel's undoing. You are witnessing two ends of the spectrum: the class & the crass.

30 Sep 2010 5:07 PM
sidekickflats

Interesting interview and Mr. Wiggins does seem like a class act. A few things stuck out.

1. His feeling that the Woodward gutted her.

2. His feeling that the layoff wasn't the cause of her problems this year.  See above.

3. His support of Calvin.  Many people have blamed Calvin from day 1 of this season and that's not the case from Mr. Wiggins (at least from this interview)

4. His belief that Rachel would have run in the Distaff last year. Of course, if Rachel was undefeated in the filly races and enters the Distaff and Zen is undefeated last year as well, would Zen have faced her in the Distaff or if Rachel had won the Distaff and not run in the Woodward, would Zen gotten HOTY for the Classic victory?  We'll never know.

5. My only complaints and they are minor - Zen's connections haven't entered a rabbit yet so not sure where that statement came from. I'm not so sure that Rachel would have beaten Z at a mile and an eighth but unfortunatly we will never know.  But I had a great time at the Apple Blossum anyway.

On a bit of a tangent, assuming Rachel is 100 % sound, and if they didn't want to go to the Beldame/ Classic why not let her run in the Gr 1 Spinster.  I know it's on plastic but as Mr. Wiggins said, Rachel had won well on it before. It's been won by wonderful fillies and mares before and it would have been a nice last race.  And the crowd would have come out in droves!

30 Sep 2010 5:15 PM
Slew

Thank you Jason for getting an interview with the ONE man who knew Rachel best, and knew how to treat a lady.

Thank you, Mr. Wiggins for your superb training job...and your concern.

30 Sep 2010 5:24 PM
sodapopkid

Mike Relva, thats true, but I dont think to many trainers want to rag the other,  I dont think that looks to good. Me, I am like you, I would be slamming Jess Jackson, but Hal is beyond that, Anyways,Hal knows the world knows the truth,  who really trained RA.  the proof is in the years. But , I do bet that underneath his breath, he is shaking his head and swearing...

 

30 Sep 2010 5:29 PM
Terlingua

Jason,  Great interview with Mr. Wiggins.  And Mr. Wiggins, thank you and Mr. Morrison for Rachel --- we have loved this incredible mare and wish her well forever.  I just don't want JJ buying another great horse and repeating the pattern.

30 Sep 2010 5:34 PM
Cheryl G

I like and respect Hal Wiggins very much. With that said, he is changing comments he had previously made about Rachel's racing career plans.

Thanks for the great article though, it's always great to hear what Hal has to say.

30 Sep 2010 5:38 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Ted from LA

  Ten lengths in The Derby !!!! More like 20-30. Have another martini and smell the roses. You were close but no cigar. Well, maybe ten, we'll make it between 10 and 30 and call it even. She has never been better or happier than she was that week, that's for sure. Hal Wiggins did a super duper training job with that filly. That Oaks was something really special. She was moving like a well oiled machine, perfectly tuned. She burned rubber in fourth gear. I remember very clearly people saying before the Oaks that if she was in The Derby she'd win, then the Derby trainers saw her Oaks and breathed a sigh of relief that she wasn't in The Derby. Happy Trails Rachel.

30 Sep 2010 5:54 PM
Lynne Veitch

Thanks to Mr Hal Wiggins for speaking about Rachel.  At least all those who are still shocked by Jackson's abrupt announcement can read here and perhaps feel a little better.

30 Sep 2010 5:58 PM
Will W

That's an interesting piece of information, Jason, that Wiggins thinks the Woodward gutted Rachel and that, especially for a filly, it would have been hard for her to come back to form be her layoff 2 months or 6 months. Wiggins draws attention to the fact that Macho Again and Bullsbay never ran a lick afterward to drive home the point that Rachel was negatively impacted by the Woodward and that racing probably ceased to be fun for her in the aftermath. Explains why Asmussen gave her such a long rest, but then JJ complicated matters by trying to rush her back to face Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom even though she had missed training time due to bad weather at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans. The long rest, though needed, clearly had to compromise her conditioning and fitness. Wiggins also did not second guess Asmussen or criticize any of Borel's rides. Nevertheless, Rachel did put together an impressive 2010 campaign for any horse but the HOTY as you pointed out, Jason. She was slowly rounding back to form and ran a solid filly, Life at Ten, who'd won a string of big races, into the ground in the Personal Ensign but tired and just got run down late. No indication from Wiggins that he gives any credence to the speculation that Rachel is injured confirming your assessment, Jason, that Rachel is sound. Wiggins thought the timing of the retirement was odd again giving weight to your view that Rachel's retirement was ridiculous the day after a spectacular work.  Wiggins seems also to confirm to some degree your contention that her 2010 campaign was mismanaged by his comment that she was brought back too quickly in order to run in the Apple Blossom. Reading between the lines I'd say Wiggin's comments leads one to believe the culprit in this mismanagement is not Asmussen or Borel, but Jess Jackson who too micromanaged the horse not allowing Asmussen, a consummate trainer, to control her training to the degree an owner should.  Your interview with Wiggins, Jason, was a real coup and one timely bit of journalism. You asked all the questions that the racing world wanted to be posed to Wiggins. Kudos to you. May it win you some turf writing awards.

30 Sep 2010 6:03 PM
SGunne

Very nice interview and Hal Wiggins is such a nice guy and class act.  As others have said Zenyatta has never needed a rabbit and I really doubt Rachel would have beaten her at 1 1/8 or 1 1/4, but 1 1/16 would have probably have been Rachel's race.  Either way they are both wonderful.

30 Sep 2010 6:36 PM
mglynn

Great article Jason, Mr. Wiggins is a Class act and you can feel his affection for the filly. I for one am glad that she had this man in her corner. I don't think we fan will ever know the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say. Prayer for a happy healthy retirement. I am a zenyatta fan and i pray that Win lose or draw she comes home safe this weekend.  Who knows maybe one day we will see offspring of these two great mares race that would be something!

30 Sep 2010 6:55 PM
The Rock

Jason,

Quit knockin the California Horses! lol. Saw your little zing on THS. Tranquil Manner huh...? I'll give you props if he comes through. Driven By Success looks good on paper, I just don't like the rail. He's not much of a sharp breaker, per Todd Pletcher's comments earlier this week...

30 Sep 2010 7:26 PM
Batwood

Mr. Wiggins is one class act.  Respect is earned and he sure earned it. I dont beleave it was a low blow about saying they would enter a rabbit.  If Zen's connections didnt somebody else would have.  Zen wouldnt need a rabbit and RA could run a rabbit into the ground.  She did in the mother goose she ran two rabbits into the ground.  I dont know who would have won if the race had of played out but either mare is tops in my book.  I was so looking forward to the BC races and in some ways still am but certainly there will be something missing.

30 Sep 2010 7:30 PM
Ranagulzion

I admire Hal Wiggins' candor and horsemanship but I wouldn't trade Rachel Alexandra's 2009 campaign for the one he had in mind ...no way.  Her 2010 season got spoilt by some backward decision ...that is, going back on what proved successful last year, like ducking the Stephen Foster.  That was a very costly error in light of the rush to prepare her for the botched Apple Blossom match up with Zenyatta.  Had she won the SF or been 'nosed out' by Blame we wouldn't be having this discussion now.  Also JJ should not have been so crass/cavalier with the retirement announcement of such a superstar and fan favourite.  His judgment is just way off this year but he gave the racing world quite a treat with Rachel's campaign last year.  Let's not take that away from him.    

30 Sep 2010 7:44 PM
NJTrotter

Advertisement banner on The Bloodhorse web site is so appropriate, "Greatest Horse Racing Rivalries", it states.  Except the one that never happened - RA vs. Zen.  JJ, not one of my favs, is now the bad guy.  Bad JJ, he retired RA with no explanation.  He ran her against the boys one too many times. He doesn't like running on "plastic."  He did all these bad things.  Now enter the good guys.  Now who might that be,  Well Mr. Wiggins for one - and the only one.  Not the Mosses.  I'll get to them later.

Maybe all of us are a little bitter about what has transpired regarding RA.  The Woodward was not needed, at all.  After the Haskell maybe a prep for the BC Distaff.  That's right, the Distaff (I refuse to call it the Ladies Classic).  A perfect ending to a perfect season - win or lose. A showcase for her fan base to witness.  Didn't happen.  Which brings us to 2010.

All I know and all I wanted to see was Ra vs. Zen in the PE in Saratoga because that's where great horses race, Saratoga, the premier track in the country.  But the Mosses can't go there, might ruin the streak.  After all Sec was beaten there by Onion. That didn't blemish Sec's greatness.  So this "Great Rivalry" never happened. But that's how the game is played today.  In today's racing world do you really think Affirmed/Alydar would have happened?  Of course not.  Alydar would have skipped the Preakness and waited for a tired Affirmed in the Belmont.

So we never got to see RA and Zen square off.  When horses of this magnitude come together it creates a buzz.  No buzz, no race, nothing but conjecture.  Thank you, JJ for retiring RA without an explanation to the loyal fans.  Luckily, I got to see her race live four times.  And a very special thanks to the Mosses for keeping their princess under wraps and keeping the streak alive.  Tell me, what horseman in their right mind who owns a magnificent champion like Zen would not want to see their horse race at Saratoga in a classic dual with a creature like RA. If horses could talk, I can just imagine Zen saying to RA, "Let's do it, girl!" And Ra replying, "Bring it on, sister!"  It just boggles the mind.  

30 Sep 2010 7:45 PM
Helen

Unlike Mr. Wiggins, I believe that Mine That Bird had a very good chance of beating that weak 3-year-old crop in the '09 Derby, even without Calvin aboard.  Firstly, he was very impressive the way he galloped over the Churchill Downs surface the week before.  Secondly, he was shuffled so far back after the break by circumstance;  Calvin had nothing to do with the way it set up.  Thirdly, while the front-runners were killing each other up front slogging in the quagmire, a refreshed MTB came flying home the final quarter in under 24 seconds, the fastest since Secretariat's Derby.  Rachel would have been staggering home that extra half furlong in the 10f Derby.  I believe MTB would have passed her, just like he almost did in the 9.5 furlong Preakness.  It seems odd to me that on the one hand Mr. Wiggins believes MTB would never have won the Derby without Calvin, yet without Calvin MTB almost beat Rachel in what Wiggins classifies as her best race.  Well, who did she beat in the Preakness?   Mine That Bird, the horse he doesn't give credit to for winning the Derby.  Ironically, if Calvin had chosen to ride MTB in the Preakness, Calvin would have surely taken the rail home, rather than the outside route that Mike Smith took, and MTB would have been a dual classic winner going for the triple crown.  Additionally, Zenyatta has never used a rabbit;  she doesn't need to.  

30 Sep 2010 7:50 PM
sweet terchi

Thanks for a great interview Jason. Mr Wiggins is a class act.I agree, I believe RA would still be racing if she had been handled right. It was tough enough for her to be wrenched from her loving stable and thrown in with strangers who were unable to show her the patience and love she needed, because after all this is a money making deal and they couldn't waste time going that route. They have feelings, and she also probably couldn't come to terms with it. At least she retired healthy, and may she grace this earth for a goodly number of years.

30 Sep 2010 7:53 PM
Paula Higgins

Excellent interview Jason. Probably the best one yet. Great questions and very interesting answers. He was very forthcoming. I definitely get the impression he would not have raced Rachel in as many races against the boys, probably mostly against the girls. Kind of reminds me of John Shirref's road map. Sorry had to say that. I think Rachel would have won the Derby hands down. No contest. I guess it now makes a majority of us who think the Woodward did her in. She did pay a price but she made racing history and that can never be taken away from her. I will miss her alot. Whatever her connections did or did not do, the facts remain the same, throughout 2009 she rose to every occasion and every race. She had heart.

30 Sep 2010 8:03 PM
Audra

I believe the "entered a rabbit" comment was directed more at an effort to wear Rachel down than as a Zenyatta would need a rabbit to win.  

Thanks for the great interview--Hal is and will always be a class act.  Rachel had a fantastic racing career hampered only by the wishes of the humans directing it.  Everyone makes bad decisions and I think JJ and Asmussen were on such a high with her ability they asked for and pushed for too much--and definitely way more than was necessary in 2009.  It is unfortunate, but hindsight is 20/20 and maybe they won't make the same mistake in the future.  

On another note--GO Zenyatta!!!  I'm so hoping that she stays undefeated, and gets her chance to win the Classic again--I know there are many many great horses in the mix (Blame!!) but I truly hope for the sport of racing that she continues undefeated, wins the Classic, and gets HOY.  I don't care if she's mainly run in California--she is undefeated and has remained in Grade I company for I believe nearly all of her races and this should be commended.  It is truly a remarkable feat in a sport where most "great" horses run less than 10 races before they are retired to make money in the breeding shed.  Kudos to her connections for allowing all of us to enjoy her!!

30 Sep 2010 8:07 PM
Ida Lee

Great interview...thank you.  I believe with every fiber of my being that if my Queen Rachel had been in the Derby, she would have won easily, as she did the Preakness, and would have won the Belmont...HELLO!!!! Finally, Triple Crown winner and first Filly ever to win it.  Somebody pinch me!!!! It was a beautiful dream.  Be happy sweetheart...I'll be visiting you as soon as I can  get to KY.

30 Sep 2010 8:09 PM
Bigtex

Honestly, let Rachel enjoy some pasture and let her just be a horse again.  If she ever shows signs of being on her toes and starts getting frisky again........get some gallops going and see if the spark is still there.  If so, let her roll for 3 furlongs and see what the watch says!  Let's see how she feels after that....

I'm just sayin....!

30 Sep 2010 8:09 PM
sidekickflats

NJ Trotter,

What are you thinking?????  Zenyatta went to the Apple Blossum, Rachel didn't.  Zen's went to the BC last year. Rachel didn't.   Zen's going to the BC this year(knock on wood).  Rachel is not.  Why should Zen ship to NY to race Rachel in the Personal Ensign?  I would have loved to see her go but Rachel would have finished 3rd instead of second. Would that have made you happy??

30 Sep 2010 8:16 PM
MTBFan(still)

Hal's responses are very respectful and 'gentlemanly' but he is also honest about what he feels about Rachel's unusual 2010 campaign [and her Woodward run]. Totally fascinating. I know I heard him say "fillies run with fillies" at the Oaks?? But I wish he'd been with her this year. Rachel did wonderfully last year but she could have been so much more. We haven't seen her full potential... "She could have been something. She could have been a contender."

30 Sep 2010 8:17 PM
Zen's Auntie

Well this is the best inside look at Rachel I have seen yet. Hal Wiggins is a CLASSY guy. Great timely piece Jason thanks.

Sidekick & Helen - you think he meant "they" as in Zens connections? I didnt read it like that I think he just meant "they" as in all possible entrants in the race.  Maybe I just think too much of Hal to belive he meant it that way - especially when its not been the least bit true.

30 Sep 2010 8:45 PM
Bonnie O'

Hal,

I wish she would have stayed with you.  Regardless of what you say, she was your filly and she loved to see you smile!

30 Sep 2010 8:48 PM
Rosalie Giordano

I think he was very diplomatic the way he answered all of te questions. But come on! Zenyatta would have kicked Rachel's butt at either distance.

30 Sep 2010 8:59 PM
Jason Shandler

Thanks all. Hal is a pleasure to talk to. What's sad is, you have to go to him to get anything answered. The other trainer isnt allowed to talk, and even if he was, wouldnt give anyone the time of day anyway.

30 Sep 2010 9:10 PM
Helen

I would just like to add one more thing... Mr. Wiggins cannot be serious about the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes for Rachel.  But, what do I know.

30 Sep 2010 9:10 PM
Helen

I agree with you Jason.  Although the interview lit a fire under me, Mr. Wiggins was incredibly forthcoming, and I thank him.

30 Sep 2010 9:21 PM
dianne

What a nice man.  Why didn't you say Steve Asmussen Killed Rachel trying to change her style?

Live long sir!  You deserve good things.

30 Sep 2010 9:23 PM
sodapopkid

Jason,  Where is Gunbow?  I am looking forward to his take on RA's abrupt retirement.

30 Sep 2010 9:29 PM
Linda in Texas

Thank You Jason for really to the point questions.

And thank you Mr. Wiggins for your calm, quiet and thoughtful ways of training your special Rachel Alexandra. I can see now why she learned so much from you and did everything you wanted her to do.

She wanted to please you because she respected you and you her and she knew it.  

Really nice interview Jason and welcome back to Texas Mr. Wiggins.

30 Sep 2010 9:36 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Hey Jason

   Why in the bloody 'ell isn't this tremendous interview not the headlines???? Is there news forthcoming that they don't want to step on? Once again, this interview was brilliant and deserves the spotlight. It's hidden away for crying out loud sakes !!!!

30 Sep 2010 9:41 PM
sidekickflats

Zen's Auntie,

It sounded to me like he meant the Mosses. Why else would anyone enter a rabbit unless for a closer?  And he was specifically asked about Zen and Rachel not Zen and Rachel and the rest of a field.

That's why the Apple Blossum proposed by C. Cella was perfect (except of course for the timing).  It allowed for Rachel and Zen to run plus 10 others picked from the invitees.  It also guaranteed $100,000 for each filly who entered the starting gate. With a full field there would have been a fairer chance for all involved.  

Going to the races on Saturday?

30 Sep 2010 10:04 PM
klc1975

Zenyatta has never run close to Rachel's best times at 9 furlongs. So how do you think she would have beaten her?  10 furlongs, Rachel would have needed to be in her absolute Oaks form to hold off Zenyatta.  But I would give Zenyatta the upper hand at this distance 4 out of 5 times.  But at 9 furlongs? Rachel 5 out of 5!

30 Sep 2010 10:06 PM
Paula Higgins

sweet terchi, you said something that deserves repeating: they have feelings. I think we forget that these horses who run for our pleasure DO have feelings and many times we have no clue what is going through their heads. How they are feeling is a factor in any race and the one factor that may be most crucial. I read that Rachel likes candy. I hope she gets all the candy she can eat and then some. She deserves a very happy life. She gave her all.

30 Sep 2010 10:22 PM
Mike Relva

ROSALIE

Hate to admit it but the shorter distance and RA at her best might prove difficult for Zenyatta.

30 Sep 2010 10:24 PM
Pam S.

Jason,

This interview IS, as one poster said, a timely piece of journalism.  It's as if, after the Beatles took over the planet, you found the one guy that used to be a Beatle but they kicked him out of the band, and you interviewed him.  It's a must-read.

Also, interesting what you just said about "the other trainer."  I always did think he talked about the weather an awful lot when someone wanted to quote him.  Weather must have been on the short list of topics he was permitted to discuss freely.

30 Sep 2010 10:31 PM
PJJ

Rachel was a front runner (prey).  Whereas, Zenyatta (hunter) is like a lioness,  she trails behind then attacks.....Thats the best way to describe this mare....

Zenyatta absolutely loves a challenge..... She will love the BCC again...

30 Sep 2010 10:34 PM
draynay

Rachel will be missed.  Greatest 3 year old filly ever.  No filly in my lifetime will ever do what she did.  Can't wait to visit her next year.

30 Sep 2010 11:09 PM
Racemar

Great interview.  Mr. Wiggins is a class act. I was at the Woodward last year, and when Rachel returned to the winners circle, she was an exhausted horse, you could see it in her eyes. Even though, I will never forget the show she put on. I worked at Saratoga for 15 years, saw many great races, but I will never forget how the stands absolutely shook to the rafters. I saw her race this year in the Personal Ensign, I thought Calvin didn't need to go out with Life at Ten, but Rachel kept on running. She is all heart. Bye girl,  rest up & enjoy your new life.

30 Sep 2010 11:11 PM
Mike Relva

PJJ

Hey,how's it going?

30 Sep 2010 11:12 PM
Kyoaks09

Jason,

I couldn't agree with you more on your assessment of Steve's "personality".  Although I do feel that he's been no more than a puppet for Jackson and obviously wasn't allowed to comment on many areas of Rachel's career, I question whether or not things would have been much different even if he could have.

Cheryl G.,

I would love to know what you were referring to in your comment that Hal seemed to be "changing comments he had previously made about Rachel's racing career plans".  I would assume that you are thinking that he was the one that made the comment that "fillies should run with fillies".  If I am correct in that assumption then you need to know that although that comment was made at the Oaks, it was NOT made by him.  That was an opinion expressed by Dolph Morrison and it was taken out of context.  Yes, he made that statement but in reference to the Triple Crown races.  I'm not suggesting that I agree with his opinion but he felt that the Triple Crown races should be a "showcase for the stallions and that fillies should run with fillies".  When asked in the press conference if that meant Rachel wouldn't run with the colts, he laughed and said "Now I didn't say that.  I said in the Triple Crown races.". Unfortunately the only part of those statements that seems to be remembered and quoted is that "fillies should run with fillies".  I assure you that Hal would LOVE to have run Rachel in the Derby.  I hope this clarifies this for you and for MTB Fan.  If I am incorrect in my assumption of why you feel as though Hal changed his comments, please correct me.  

30 Sep 2010 11:39 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Pam S.

   Funny, funny post. I wonder what else was on that short list of things he is allowed to talk about, the price of beans?  I read that interview with Pete Best years ago also. It was a good one, but not this good. This is the timeliest of all time.  Beats Gunfight At The OK Corral breaking news in the Tombstone Epitaph. Even the gd Battle of the Bulge.

30 Sep 2010 11:41 PM
Heather

Great interview and wow, Mr. Wiggins is a stand up, super classy guy.  Such positive energy.  

30 Sep 2010 11:47 PM
sidekickflats

klc1975,

Times are not everything. Rachel is one fast filly but Zen has a way of getting there no matter what the pace scenario is. And a faster pace to run at should help a deep closer anyway.  At a mile and an eighth to a mile a quarter ( and beyond!) easy to say Zenyatta.  At a mile to a mile and a sixteenth I think I would have had a heart attack.

Too bad we never got to see who was right on the track.

30 Sep 2010 11:54 PM
christy tate

thanks for the nice interview. i agree with everyone who wishes that Mr. Wiggins could've stayed Rachel's trainer cause things would've been different, but it's all hidnsight now. and it's better to look foreward than back.

30 Sep 2010 11:59 PM
LauraS

KLC1975 said: "Zenyatta has never run close to Rachel's best times at 9 furlongs. So how do you think she would have beaten her?  10 furlongs, Rachel would have needed to be in her absolute Oaks form to hold off Zenyatta.  But I would give Zenyatta the upper hand at this distance 4 out of 5 times.  But at 9 furlongs? Rachel 5 out of 5!"

Well, KLC if you look at each horse's best times at 8-1/2 and 9 furlongs, it's a draw.  Rachel's best time at 8-1/2f was 1:43.08 in the 2008 Golden Rod; Zenyatta's best was 1:40.30 in the 2008 Lady's Secret and she has 6 sub-1:43s in 8 races at the distance while Rachel cracked 1:43 just once in five tries, this year at the LaTroienne.  At 9f, Rachel's best time was her 1:46.33 in the Mother Goose (one turn); Zenyatta's best 1:46.85 in the 2008 BC Ladies' Classic (two turns) and with the exception of this year's Apple Blossom their 9f times actually match up pretty well in their six efforts each.  

Rachel Alexandra has always MADE the pace in her races and Zenyatta has always run TO the pace in hers-and for most of the last two years the tactic has been to slooooow dooooown the pace in hopes that the front runners can hold her off. (And that's worked out so well!) That's why her times have been slow. Different styles of racing can skew perceptions of ability - but the only number that really counts is the finish.  It's my personal opinion after 40+ years of following racing that Zenyatta can and will run down anything in front of her - she loves the challenge.

Congratulations to Hal Wiggins on developing one of the flashiest and best-loved fillies to come along in a very long time. Her record at three is right up there with Busher and Twilight Tear.  Rachel Alexandra was very good for racing last year and now deserves a content retirement with just enough babies to keep her happy.  She will be missed.

LauraS

01 Oct 2010 12:53 AM
Bellwether

RITE FROM THE HORSES MOUTH...ty...

01 Oct 2010 1:21 AM
Island whirl

If there were more individuals like MR Hal Wiggins in the sport of thoroughbred racing. for crying out loud, horse racing would be one of the most popular sports in this country.

01 Oct 2010 1:50 AM
Aluminaut

I know it's been said, but...............Great Interview Jason.  

01 Oct 2010 2:07 AM
Freetex

I remember Rachel's powerful work right before The Oaks.  She motored like a tornado, all on her own call.

Too bad Mr. Wiggins was not kept as her trainer. Big mistake!

01 Oct 2010 2:17 AM
jayjay

It's sad that horsemen like Hal doesn't get more horses like Rachel and Zen.  I think the Hal Wiggins of the horse racing world would make a big difference as far as keeping our stars running longer and well taken care of.  He mentioned that RA would still be undefeated this year if he was training her because he would stick with the fillies for pretty much most of 2009, he wouldn't have gutted her for a stupid trophy.  One thing that hit me was that, what an awesome race it would've been this year if both RA and Zen are undefeated, a 3 race match up to crown the queen of horseracing.  Imagine the thrill ??

What he said about the Woodward gutting her, it showed in her first 2 races, it wasn't fun for her anymore.  I remember posting a link to DRF about thoughts from a bunch of trainers when asked what they thought of 2009 campaigns, everyone pretty much said it was tough on the filly.  JJ says something to the effect of "it was great, she did everyting we asked of her."  Now I'm pissed because I can't get it out of my head, the two fillies being undefeated and racing each other all year.  The Mosses brought her to AB to take on the challenge, I'm sure they would've said yes to a best of 3 match up.  Horse racing will be the talk of EVERY sports media the whole year.  It would've been a worldwide event. ARGH!

01 Oct 2010 3:08 AM
LaurieK

When Rachel was with Mr. Wiggins, she was treated as a flesh and blood creature, and not an extension of someone's ego.  When she was sold to Jackson, that's what she became.  Would that that sale had never happened, we would still be enjoying her exploits.  

01 Oct 2010 4:34 AM
PJJ

Mike R.  Doing great.  I guess we Zenyatta fans are looking forward to her getting one step closer to immortalism, aren't we?  

I guarantee that Mr. JJ has lost a lot of credibility with the fans now.   Unexplained reason,  but everything he has done all season seemed 'unexplainable'.

Mike, You gonna be at at the tracks tomorrow?  Me, I wont get to the tracks but I sure to hell wont leave the television or computer all evening long.

I can't believe such a small write up from Mr. Draynay.  What gives?  

01 Oct 2010 6:07 AM
Amy

Thank you Jason, now I truly understand the big picture.

01 Oct 2010 6:50 AM
Marci

Jason and Mr. Wiggins,

Thanks for asking and answering the questions we all had. Finally some common sense and frank talk. The other guys sound like politicians. If Mr. Wiggins still had her we would be blessed with sight of her for probably 2 more years. Money isn't everything. Anyway, she wins in the long run. I can't wait to visit her when I go to  Kentucky!

01 Oct 2010 6:51 AM
John Piesen

Good (make that super) piece on HW, Too bad that JJ and Steve failed to mention Hal in their retirement press releases.

Incidentally, I have a piece on Rachel currently up on my web site "johnpiesen.com. It offers some different perspectives.

01 Oct 2010 8:37 AM
i tell it like i see it

Nice interview. I've always liked Hal Wiggins and do wish the horse had been left in his hands. Rachael never won a race that a former G1 winning Filly or Mare was entered. To think she could beat one of the best Filly/Mares ever in Zenyatta at 1 1/8 or 1/1/4 doesn't cut it in my opinion. Heck she got beat at that distance by Zenyatta's understudy and again and again by even less. They ducked Zenyatta for 2 years for good reason, they couldn't beat her. On top of this the fact that it has been repeatedly said by many that it only took a Macho Man or Bullsbaby to "gut" her is very telling. Neither one of those two will ever be considered one of the greats. RA is history, time to move on.

01 Oct 2010 8:42 AM
Slew

It seems to me that we have all been wondering why JJ didn't keep Mr. Wiggins as RA's trainer.

I think this interview gives us a glimpse into that.  Mr. Wiggins is secure enough in his own abilities, that he is the one trainer who would have had the cojones to say NO to JJ's plans.  Again, thank you Mr. Wiggins for your candid thoughts, and your loving care of RA.  We certainly miss you.

01 Oct 2010 8:48 AM
The Rock

Jason,

How do you plan to attack the turf stakes races at Belmont given the amount of rain they've taken? I wonder if they'll be able to use it seeing how they've cancelled the last 2 days of racing there. I wanted to unload on Red Desire but now I have cause for concern given the conditions of the course.

Having said that, can Interpetation do what Telling did at Saratoga this summer? Pull off victories in the same race in consecutive years? He'll get the same type of surface he endured last year that's for sure...

01 Oct 2010 8:59 AM
Racingfan

Very nice interview. I am sad that Rachel is retired and surprised at the timing like everyone else.  But I am also quite surprised that so many are condemning the choice to run in the Woodward.  I specifically remember a number of posters complaining that they took the "easy" route by choosing that race instead of the Travers. Nobody was hollering for them to put her in a filly race.  It was one of those two and it is unfortunate that that race was so tough on her! But it seems that with the fans it was a no win for them.  It doesn't seem fair to second guess everything they do. If they were trying to choose the easier spot for her benefit then it is unfortunate that it turned out the way it did.

01 Oct 2010 9:06 AM
AnneatETC

Thanks Jason - Great reading

CarlosinCali - True Z has never needed a rabbit before, but she never faced RA either (and I think a rabbit would have been needed if she had)

Billy's Empire - HW said "it would have been as close as you could ask for" NOT Z might have gotten to her...

As for me - I'm just glad I was around to enjoy the RA ride!!  

01 Oct 2010 9:08 AM
Mike Relva

JASON

That's probably the only thing you would agree with me about,"the other trainer". Always said I didn't  respect anything regarding him.

01 Oct 2010 9:08 AM
annie

Such a nice man!

01 Oct 2010 9:18 AM
Billy's Empire

The way Rachel ran last year, where she accelerated on the turn and spurted away from the rest of the field, Zenyatta would of been 6 wide trying to run her down, but Rachel would of galloped across the wire in front at 1 1/8. She was brilliant last year at the distance, and although I think Zenyatta is a fabulous race horse, at 9 furlongs, Rachel would win. Anything past that distance, the Big mare would run her down. Her stride is so long and fluid, she gobble's up race track and motors home. BUT, if Rachel was on the rail saving ground, and Zenny was wide, IMO, Rachel takes that race. Her times prove that. I know she is a great closer, but eventually, you run out of ground.

Oh, and the zinger by Hal about the rabbit, I read that as Hal saying that Zenny's connections would enter a rabbit to soften Rachel up and not let her get an easy lead, b/c if she was alone on the lead, Zen would not catch her.

Dang, we missed one hell of a race!  

As Nancy Kerrigan screamed "WHY? WHY, WHY WHY?"

Big Races this weekend,

any upset winners? locks? Is Twirling Candy the real deal? Crown of Thorns back to old form?

Rail Trip better on dirt? Can Lucky beat the odds in this derby? Will Blame be even money? Jaycito go for the Gusto in the Norfolk, or is JP the real deal? Forever Togther, more desire to win than Red Desire? I need to deposit money in my account!!!

01 Oct 2010 9:29 AM
wilde

I loved the article with Hal Wiggins..Was great.  I wish Hal & Calvin were still the driving force behind Rachel's career. The mare would have been managed better and still be racing happy and heading to the Breeder's Cup..then retire on top.  

I know that Lotta Kim is in foal and hopefully with God's help, a full sister or brother will be here to make us all smile again. Hal, I hope you and Calvin make the next one just as famous. you have to come out of retirement for that foal!  I started watching Rachel because of my friends at the Diamond D Ranch and their relationship with you..Rachel is what made me a racing fan.  I will miss that mare.  Good luck to you and Calvin...keep an eye on "Lotta Kim" for me....  

01 Oct 2010 9:53 AM
Gary at Rough Creek

Jason,

You did a real service to the sport with this interview.  Thanks for the idea, the effort and the questions.  Mr. Wiggins seemed very forthcoming, within the gentlemanly limits he obviously observes.

I am somewhat perplexed though by a couple posts saying that Rachel should have run in The Foster.  Did you not get the memo?  Did you not see for yourself that running against tough male competition gutted Rachel?  If not, then please listen to Hal Wiggins.  He said he thinks it (especially the Woodward) gutted her, even getting 8 pounds.  She's no Zenyatta.  Zen gave weight to the 3 YO's in the BCC last year, and carried just 3 pounds less then the older males, and she chewed them all up, with plenty left in the tank.

So please, don't ask these fillies, especially front running fillies, to do too much.  If not for Rachel (for whom it's too late), then for the next filly.  

01 Oct 2010 10:27 AM
Sylvester

Rachel's career is a catch 22.  If Morrison had kept her, she would have finished 2009 undefeated and fresh but fairly obscure. She would've returned in 2010 most likely just as good as the 2009 version or perhaps even better but still largely unknown to the general public. JJ (love or loathe him) brought her to the spotlight and gave some much needed exposure to racing, but in doing so, ran her into the ground. Which is the better scenario?  Hard to say, Rachel would still be hell on hooves but wouldn't have attracted any new fans like her 2009 campaign did.

01 Oct 2010 10:47 AM
Ragsy

This interview answers the questions most all people thought. Missing Rachel Alexandra right now, my plans for the Breeders Cup are now canceled All I wanted was to see Rachel...

01 Oct 2010 11:19 AM
Convene

Interesting interview! Hal Wiggins is a very wise man and I think so much of what Rachel turned out to be was because she began her career with him. As for the Zenyatta/Rachel matchup, it's hard to say ... but I feel that a front runner, no matter how good, is always vulnerable to a deep closer like Zenyatta. The closer essentially goes for a warmup gallop and unleashes one super-race at the end. The front runner will always have used more, maybe too much. Which is the better horse? I think it's a little like comparing apples and walnuts. They're too different. These two ladies are both stars and, altho I'll always favor Rachel, I take nothing from the other. I'm still very honored to have been in the world to see Rachel in her glowing prime. Thanks Hal Wiggins for launching her so very well.

01 Oct 2010 11:29 AM
Pam S.

Sylvester,

I disagree that Rachel wouldn't have attracted any new fans to the sport with anything other than her 2009 campaign.  That's just it -- the Woodward wasn't needed.  Even the Haskell, though she was brilliant in that race, wasn't needed for people to love and follow Rachel.  Rags to Riches won the Belmont, and that was about the last we saw of her, much to the fans' disappointment.  Believe me, fans would have loved to see Rachel, as the Preakness/Haskell winner, continuing to run, tangling with older mares including Zenyatta, making it to two Breeders' Cups, maybe trying the older males THIS YEAR and maybe trying grass.  

To me this is a sad case of JJ wanting to show he could snub the BC where his beloved Curlin lost, but still win HOY.  I can't understand anyone who loves horses -- and believes they matter more than trophies -- thinking it was worth it.  The way last year ended up and this year shook out, I don't even think JJ thinks it was worth it.

01 Oct 2010 11:36 AM
sidekickflats

Laura S - brilliantly said!

Ragsy - not come to the BC because Rachel's not there???  I'm disappointed too but I'll be there to see if Blind Luck can beat her elders in the LC, to see if the AMAZING Goldlikova threepeats and of course the Classic.  You might want to reconsider.

Billy's Empire - you said that Rachel would win easily at a mile and a eighth.  The only time Rachel ran that distance against older horses last year was in the Woodward.  She was all out to win and Macho Again almost got her.  I believe he was giving her 8 pounds as well.  After seeing Zen close past Gio, Twice Over, Summer Bird et al in the Classic do you really think that Zen couldn't have outclosed Macho Again and by another whisker - Rachel?  

01 Oct 2010 11:52 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Sylvester

  Good points. Steve Asmussen deserves some credit too. He maintained her greatness until The Woodward. If she wouldn't have run in that race the rest of 2009 and this year would have been a different story. It is my belief that a trainer has to stand up to an owner if he thinks a horse shouldn't be running in a race. We are speculating as to who was really calling the shots, although we presume it to be Mr. Jackson. We don't really understand their relationship or if Steve had different opinions about where and when to run her. It probably will all come out someday. I was extemely disappointed when Rachel was taken from Mr. Wiggins and it hampered my enthusiasm about rooting for her after that, but Mr. Jackson, Rachel, and Steve Asmussen did run a campaign for the ages. One race made the difference. Run a week or two later, or against females in her next for a break and she might not have "been gutted." I don't think she would have run at SA on synthetics under any circumstances. Mr. Jackson hates synthetics because Curlin lost on it. Was Rachel destined to be run into the ground, were they going to push the envelope at some point anyway, even without The Woodward. Who knows? But her 2009 was amazing, and in watching replays you can see Rachel's greatness in her fluid, powerful stride. She did not run the same this year. Either retire her after The Woodward, or don't run in it and it's an entirely different picture and she may have been in this year's Classic which is still shaping up to be a dream matchup, but with Rachel in it at her best would have shaken the world to it's foundation.

01 Oct 2010 11:54 AM
Afleetalexforever

Enjoyed the interview a great deal, I also enjoy Mr. Wiggins candid comments and answers.  For those that have been detractors and said that Rachel had distance limitations, it’s wonderful to see Mr. Wiggins put all that to rest.  This filly in 2009 had no distance limitation, that’s why Mr. Wiggins mentioned the Triple Crown races, the longest races when talking about the Derby at 10 and the Belmont at 12 furlongs. Those that have watched her races objectively recognize that when Rachel Stalked or rated comfortably during the first 6 furlongs, she exploded on the final turn and the race was over very quickly.  That’s why hearing him speak of the Belmont and Derby are so fun, Rachel was fit and primed to run at almost any distance last year.  Every race sets up differently, her Fantasy, Oaks, Mother Goose, Haskell, Fleur De Lis and Lady’s Secret all give indication that she was able to rate beautifully, as much as 5 lengths back of the early speed in the Mother Goose.  

Running in that type of race her form in 2009 unfortunately scared the connections of almost every filly or mare running away.  I’ve pointed out a few times that on the morning of June 27, Jerry Moss is quoted in DRF as saying that they were coming East to take on Rachel.  There were no current excuses regarding travel or how she didn’t travel well.  As a matter of fact they were saying at the time that she travels absolutely fine.  Unfortunately the Mother Goose performance should have been tempered quite a bit as that 9furlongs in 1:46.33, which is the fastest 9f time we’ve seen in quite a while on dirt at any track in the world in the last 4 or 5 years, absolutely shook Jerry Moss to the core, so much so that 2 days later, Just 2 days later he came back in another interview on the 29th of June and said they were staying in California, and would not come east.  

This is not meant to be disrespectful; this is meant as a statement of fact. The articles are found in the drf, so the one real chance we had to see the match up of both horses at their peak, could have happened if Jerry Moss had held up his end of the promise he made but he didn’t.  Its fine that he didn’t nothing wrong with that.  But let me ask you this, did we want to see an early year match up of a horse that gave her all in a race against males on a dirt surface that they all cherished against a horse that beat a number of horses that had never run on the surface they ran on in the BC.  That would have been very unfair and unsportsmanlike to see that matchup.  When both horses were peaking in 2009 is when the matchup should have happened, there was the Beldame, the Personal Ensign and the Woodward, 3 races open to Zen and Rachel, instead of seeing the match up we were disappointed.  And in my opinion the reason for that is because Moss knew that what he saw in the Mother Goose on June 25th of 2009 would have easily derailed his plans to have this mare finish her career perfect.  And at any distance (9f, 10f, 12f) The way Rachel separated herself from her competition without urging was scary for Moss to watch, it would not have been a matter of Rachel holding on last year, in the races we’re talking about (if they had run against each other on these specific days), the Oaks if Zen had run against Rachel that day she loses by 8 lengths, the Preakness with as much as Rachel hated the surface would have been close, very close, its possible if Zen took to the surface that day she beats Rachel, but comparing her closing kick to MTB’s form at the time, quite similar, MTB’s actually seemed to be more explosive, the Mother Goose, if Zen is running against Rachel that day Rachel wins by 10 lengths, and the Haskell, in that race an off surface if Zen had run that day in those conditions she would have probably finished off the board, in the Woodward, Calvin would have had no choice but take Rachel back off that pace and due to Saratoga being deeper would have been a closer race but I still say Rachel wins by 2 lengths on that track.  With something in reserve I might add, she would not have been gutting it out in the stretch if she is able to get a breather that day, even with Zen in the field she wins. But that’s 2009 and we all know that she was different in 2010, that’s why the tables turned and Jess had to run from competition because she wasn’t ready to do anything close to what she did in 09. Jackson’s mistake and his fault but no one and I mean no one is perfect, comparing the two owners, Rachel’s Legacy is in stone, and wont be questioned, compare that to Moss who hasn’t let his horse prove itself, her legacy will always be questioned due to 16 races on synthetics and all of the excuses, (can’t travel, Rockies too high, gotta play at home sometime, retire, unretired, too many excuses, not enough significant races run on dirt). Again not disrespect just factual.

The horse that we saw this year in Rachel was ill prepared for the NO race, the La Troinne and the Personal Ensign, yes the Woodward took a lot out of her, but she was rushed from the start and that’s what put her behind the eight ball.  Again I take so much enjoyment in her detractors talking about her distance limitations, and then we hear the man that knew her best, and still does talk about 10 and 12 furlong races.  I wonder who would have an inside line on how she would have performed in longer races a blogger on blood horse or Hal Wiggins, Rachel’s first trainer; I’ll go with the Hall of Famer and his thought process.  Thank you for this interview Jason, tells a lot about the greatness of this filly and he super trainer Hal Wiggins.

01 Oct 2010 12:33 PM
Carlos in Cali

Rail Trip spurts away from the JCGC field turning for home and defeats Fly Down/Blame.He'll finally get to show his true brilliance on the dirt.

Tell A Kelly easily wins the Oak Leaf and is well on her way towards her Champion 2yo Filly Eclipse Award.She's explosive,can't wait to see her @ CD.

Zenyatta wins handily as Andrew Beyer tries to recover from the Big Mare's swift-kick he received in the paddock.  :)  he'll be ok.

01 Oct 2010 12:37 PM
Pam S.

Yeah, Dr. Drunkinbum, I think we are saying pretty much the same thing.  My "fantasy career" for Rachel could have taken place under the new connections or the old ones, with some differences, but in both cases skipping the Woodward.  Think the fans would have loved it.

I feel for you, Ragsy, but I also think you should go anyway.

01 Oct 2010 12:38 PM
D. L. Paris

"Thanks all. Hal is a pleasure to talk to. What's sad is, you have to go to him to get anything answered. The other trainer isnt allowed to talk, and even if he was, wouldnt give anyone the time of day anyway."

jshandler 30 Sep 2010 9:10 PM

Way to go Jason!  Thanks for saying it like it is.

Truly,

Curlin/Rachel/Zenyatta fan.

P. S.

If anyone is interested, there is a most magnificent creature/horse appearing at the World Equestrian Games tonight.

Check out Moorlands Totilas in the Dressage.

01 Oct 2010 12:43 PM
Carlos in Cali

AAF,

Thanks for the laughs.My belly aches now.

01 Oct 2010 12:52 PM
happy gilmore

Ragsy,

Good thing RA isn't going to the Br. Cup if she would have been your only reason to go. No matter what race they had entered her in you would have been terribly dissapointed in another loss. She wasn't going to win either the Classic or Filly/Mare Classic anyway.

01 Oct 2010 12:55 PM
The Rock

Carlos in Cali,

As much as I would want Rail Trip to prevail, I just can't see him going 10f's off a long layoff like that with foot issues and prevaling while the favorite is in tip top shape. If Quality Road can't beat him while 100%, how is Rail Trip going to at less than that coming off a layoff. Remeber, Dutrow soups up his horses just as Kent D does.

01 Oct 2010 1:03 PM
RA in real light

If RA had never been sold she would have even more than the 6 races she has to date. No other owner/trainer combo is a skilled at making their horses look better than they really are than JJ and SA. They did a masterful job of selecting races in 2009 that looked big in name only. They entered her at the right time and right race where she didn't have to beat much to add a big name race to her resume. They ducked the longer and tougher races where she would have been beat. Give these guys some credit where credit is due. They wrote the "legend" of RA by orchestrating victories where they could find weaker beatable opponents. It ended up in the biggest travesty in HOY voting ever.

01 Oct 2010 1:08 PM
time out please

AAF,

I started reading you comment but the "stuff" got so deep and there was no end in sight to your ramble that I quit when it started reading like blah blah blah blah. She just isn't as good as people led themselves to believe.

01 Oct 2010 1:14 PM
RA in real light

my last post was meant to read she would have more than the six losses she has to date if she hadn't been sold.

01 Oct 2010 1:16 PM
Carlos in Cali

The Rock,

I'll take a stand against Blame simply because I doubt he's 100% geared-up for this race.Rail Trip always runs well fresh and should get a favorable trip stalking Haynesfield,or maybe even be on the lead w/sensible splits.Plus,I think Rail Trip is a better stayer than QR and is proven @ 1 1/4,whereas Blame has yet to run that far(I'm sure it won't be a problem),but not in this 'prep' race.If fit enough,Rail Trip should have the upper-hand because of his turn-of-foot breakaway moves.

The only negatives I see are Dutrow's less than positive results with Stardom Bound & I Want Revenge when they were turned over to him.We'll see.

01 Oct 2010 1:45 PM
Carlos in Cali

The Rock,

Also,1st time on dirt from synthetics too. You know what usually happens with these "California horses" right?..

01 Oct 2010 1:51 PM
Rachel

Hey, did Blame make it into New York this morning?

01 Oct 2010 1:55 PM
Sue

Great interview. I love these trainers who really know and love their horses.

Rachel, hope you have a good retirement and lots of great offspring.

You are a great filly. But I think you could have been even greater with your original connections.

01 Oct 2010 2:03 PM
Helen

To add to the comparison of the best final times of Rachel and Zenyatta at shorter distance races (8.5-9furlongs) provided by LauraS 01 Oct 2010 12:53 AM, a comparison of Ragozin speed figures also provides insight into a matchup between these two mares at the shorter distances.  Understand that with Ragozin numbers the LOWER the figure, the BETTER.  While Rachel's career best Ragozin is 1/4 for both the 9furlong Kentucky Oaks and the 9furlong Haskell, Zenyatta's career best Ragozin is -3/4, for the 8.5furlong 2008 Clement L. Hirsch.  Zenyatta actually has a better speed figure at the shorter distance than does Rachel, indicating that it would not be a given that Rachel would prevail in a 8.5-9furlong contest with Zenyatta.  

01 Oct 2010 2:34 PM
mr kennedy

Afleetalexblahblahblah ( good point time out please)you ended your rambling lecture with this in part,

"Again I take so much enjoyment in her detractors talking about her distance limitations, and then we hear the man that knew her best, and still does talk about 10 and 12 furlong races.  I wonder who would have an inside line on how she would have performed in longer races a blogger on blood horse or Hal Wiggins, Rachel’s first trainer;"

Afleetalexforever 01 Oct 2010 12:33 PM

To hear the man talk about 10 and 12 furlong races? Actually what he didn't say is far more telling. Nowhere does he initiate any conversation about 1 1/4-1 1/2 races. He's not out there insisting at all she could have won there. Nowhere does he claim RA would have had no problem at those distances. He exibited no confidence she would have excelled at either. He merely "thinks" she would be ok. In fact in his mind RA would have beaten Zen at less but he isn't sure at longer. He also admits that while the lesser competition in the Woodward wasn't her fault it was enough to gut her. Finally he never once hinted she might have been one of the best ever and his silence speaks volumes on that. It's clear to me that while he holds her in great esteem he doesn't think she's up there with the best ever.

01 Oct 2010 2:52 PM
petie

Sad to see her bubble burst and her going out this way. Happy hosin RA!!

01 Oct 2010 2:54 PM
The Rock

Carlos,

I don't believe in any of these races going on this weekend as preps. Everyone wants to win. What these trainer's are saying is that its ok if there horses lose as long as they put in a performance that's worthy enough of running in the Breeders Cup. Blame will be ready to run. I come from west coast breeding. Actually more like mexican bloodlines foaled in california. lol. And I like to root for my west coast horses. But realistically, I'd be surprised if Rail Trip finished in the exacta. Foot problems, going 10f's off a layoff. That doesn't spell 100% to me when you need to be against this caliber of field.

01 Oct 2010 2:57 PM
Householder

A little off topic...Did you look at Saturday's card at Hollywood Park Jason?

Ya got J P's Gusto and Jaycito for 2 year old title in the Norfolk.

Ya got one of the few to have beaten Blind Luck at 1 1/16 on this track taking on Zenyatta (Switch).  

Ya got Sadler putting his money where his mouth is again with the 3 year old Twirling Candy taking on older in the Goodwood.  

I know your a Hollendorfer fan as well Jason.  We have my favorite "blue collar type" Lilly Fa Pootz in big against Grade 1 company in the Yellow Ribbon!  Just how good is Wasted Tears (who's not here) and just how close was Lilly to her last time out?  

01 Oct 2010 3:00 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

What an interesting interview Jason!  I appreciate your directness and Mr. Wiggins' candor.  He called it as he sees it and I agree with him.

01 Oct 2010 3:16 PM
The Rock

Ok, picks for this weekend

Belmont:

Race 5 MSW: I really like this Gold Trader (12). Was wide and came from far back in his debut at the Spa going 2 turns and turf and finishing 4th on a speed favoring surface. I don't like the post and the boggy conditions are a ?, but he should move up big time in this spot and I think he'll show a bit more speed this time around. (4) Film Making, Son of Storm Cat out of the very good turf mare Film Maker had trouble in the same race that the 12 is coming out of and should like the off going just as mama did. Could get some good medium prices on these two.

Race 6: Vosburgh: Girolomo, Snapshot, Wallstreet Wonder, Riley Tucker - Snapshot is my top pick. Was caught wide last time out in the Smile on a surface that most horses have a love/hate relationship with. I'm gonna go with the latter last time out. Ran a good 2nd to Bribon in the True North and should get a good stalking trip. Wallstreet Wonder could steal this one as well.

Race 7 Flower Bowl: Red Desire - Love this horse. Question is the soggy ground. Outclasses this field by tons. Forever Together is just not the same & since Gozzip Girl had that huge trouble in the Garden City last year, she hasn't been the same since. Shared Account would be the possible upsetter and loves soft ground.

Race 8: Beldame - Life At Ten & Unrivaled Belle - As long as they don't kill each other up front, should be 1-2 all the way around.

Race 9: Joe Hirsch - Interpetation, Never on Sunday, Winchester, Treat Gentley, Paddy O' Prado - This race really can go either way. Everyone will be rooting for POP, but the price is too small for my liking. Interpetation gets the same kind of course as he did last year when he upset Gio Ponti. After what Telling did in the Sword Dancer this summer and the price he'll be, got to play him. Never On Sunday would be my upset pick. He's got good Euro form and likes the off going. Those turns at GP are very tight and I believe he'll find Belmont's turns to his liking.

Race 10 JCGC: Blame/ Fly Down-Haynesfield - Blame is the class of the race. He's sharp, training well, should get a respectable pace up front to chase home. If someone was going to upset, I'd go with Haynesfield. If Rail Trip let's him get too comfortable, he could be tough to catch. 10f's is the question though. Fly Down is a horse for course and should get first run on the fave. Good from as well. I love Rail Trip, but if it wasn't for his foot problems and going 10f's off the layoff, i'd pick him to upset. But i just can't.

Oak Tree -

Race 3 Alw Nx1 - Jet Blue Girl & Go On Babe all day long. Slight saver with those two on top to MissDealorNoDeal.

Race 4 MSW: Dixie Cross & Bejarano should crush the opposition. Lots of firsters in here while DC ran big first time out.

Race 5 Alw Nx1: Mensa Heat, Blue Jay Attack , Square Deal: BJA is the top pick. Should get position on the rest. But one of these 3 can take it.

Race 6 Norfolk: JP Gusto/ Accafella-Jaycito - Really want to beat the fave, but I just can't get myself to do it at this point. There's really not a lot of speed, and you can do anything with this horse. Chalky payoffs here.

Race 7 Lady's Secret: Zenyatta/ Switch-Satan's Quick Chick - Should be a decent enough pace for the bottom two to compelte the chalky exacta.

Race 8 Yellow Ribbon: Gypsy's Warning - This would've been Tuscan Evening's race to lose if she were alive. Instead we have a solid group of G3 horses looking to get an easy G1. Gypsys Warning is my play. Hibaayeb has tons of class but her form is just all over there place. You never know what you're gonna get. If she's a medium price though, she's worth a stab.

Race 9 Goodwood: Crown of Thorns - Really like this one. Think he's set up for a big one here. Seems like he hasn't lost a step since he was injured during his 3 year old campaign and early this year. Great comeback race should set him up nicely for a stalking trip behind Twirling Candy, who will be tough to catch in his own right.

Indiana Derby:

Lookin at Lucky - Thisskyhasnolimit/St.Maximus Gato. hammer the exacta. The latter looks like a good one on paper. If he doesn't get cooked on the front, he could put up a good fight.

Sunday

Oak Leaf - Tell A Kelly will win this handily. She's scary good.

Good Luck all

01 Oct 2010 3:50 PM
Stacey

Agreed, Hal Wiggins is a class act and sign me up for the I Wish Jackson Kept Rachel With Hal Wiggins Society.

Regarding a rabbit in the RA vs Z race that never happened... You can bet you're sweet arse that Team Z would have entered a rabbit against Rachel. Yeah, they never did before but they never faced RA before. They would have done EVERYTHING in their power to gain the slightest edge, that's just common sense.

I think the only chance that Z would have had against last year's RA at 9f would have been RA getting burned out in a speed duel early and as Mr Wiggins said at 10f it would have been a nail biter of a photo.

But as I said elsewhere before, I think Makybe Diva would have cleaned both their clocks over any surface. Can you imagine if THAT race ever happened?! Wow wee! Throw in Goldikova and Quality Road at 9f and you've got the race of the century! If only...

01 Oct 2010 4:04 PM
Kat

Why I do not think the Woodward was a "positive" experience for Rachel, the idea that this race alone "gutted" her is a little simplistic in my mind.  Rachel had a pretty tough season previous to this race.  This race against older males may have been one race too many for her in 2009.  In addition, Bullsbay and Macho Again (although this horse was inconsistent, he has some good wins and places in his record) alone did not "gut" her, she was tested repeatedly through this race and they were just the 2 there at the end.

01 Oct 2010 4:09 PM
Slew

AAF: I didn't read Mr Wiggins discussing the Triple Crown at all.  He mentioned the Kentucky Derby and the BC Ladies.  So I believe he is very aware of her ability at certain distances, although he felt she could have taken the 10f Derby, it was the 20 horse stampede that worried them.

01 Oct 2010 4:13 PM
Cheryl G

I have notebooks with Rachel articles so it's always wonderful to hear what Hal has to say since he was her original trainer. The Belmont comment threw me a bit.

Kyoaks09 - I was referring to other statements made by MR. Morrison, Rachel's previous owner and also statements made by Hal. We don't need to go back & forth on this issue. Rachel is a very special filly, I for one am sad she is retired, but she is healthy and that's what is most important.

01 Oct 2010 4:26 PM
Secretariat

Excuses...excuses...it never ends with the Rachel Alexandra excuses...

When you "lose" you have to start making up the "excuses".

I can't say it any simpler than that, people.

01 Oct 2010 4:35 PM
Leon

He would have done this, he would have done that. He didn't even know when or where they would have faced boys.

He would have done what his owner would have asked him to do, and she would have not been horse of the year.

I'm sorry, but he is just another monday morning quarterback.

01 Oct 2010 4:38 PM
Tim

Nothing but lip service from a former trainer. What is he supposed to say, "We know she isn't in the same class as Zenyata"? Come on people trainers say all their horses would win or they wouldn't have any clients. When is the last time you heard a trainer say we know we can't win this race, but we're running anyway. You don't handicap most races by what trainers say unless they say they are just hoping their horse runs well.

01 Oct 2010 5:17 PM
shuvee

Rachel at age 3 would have given Zenyatta all she could handle, IMHO. What a great race that would have been!

It is much more difficult to keep fillies and mares in form than it is with colts, which is why you must give Shireffs big props for his work with Zenyatta. Rachel's campaign this year and her failure to return to form reminds me of Lady's Secret's campaign the year after her Horse of the Year season. Their hearts just weren't in it anymore.  

01 Oct 2010 5:17 PM
Mike Relva

I TELL IT LIKE I SEE IT

So you can't see the greatness of RA? That's probably what you do, move on and not appreciate a truly gifted racehorse.

01 Oct 2010 6:13 PM
Mike Relva

LEON

That's a boneheaded comment. Wiggins is a class act and you can bet your jar of pennies on the fact if he continued to train her she wouldn't been burned after running one to many races last yr. You don't know what you're talking about. Maybe Wiggins could dumb it down for you!

01 Oct 2010 6:17 PM
Mike Relva

KAT

The Woodward gutted her without a doubt. I'm certain Mr Wiggins being in the business for over thirty yrs knows what he's talking about.

01 Oct 2010 6:20 PM
marktoothaker

Great job Jason, Hal really enjoyed your interview and I appreciate you and your followers kind words about him Hal has been a huge asset to us at Legacy and we are so glad to have him on the team. There are lots of RA stories around the barn.

01 Oct 2010 7:52 PM
Householder

As I look at Lookin at Lucky in those Mike Pegram silks along side Bob Baffert I can't help but think of Real Quiet...  

01 Oct 2010 8:10 PM
Regal Ransom

Secretariat,

Your right on the mark!

Lose=Excuses

01 Oct 2010 8:11 PM
skyfire

Afleetalexforever, I think you are right on!!

01 Oct 2010 8:19 PM
Paula Higgins

shuvee, ITA with everything you said. A 3 year old Rachel could have beaten Zenny at the shorter distances. The longer distances would have been a struggle against Zenyatta. I also think Rachel would have won the Derby against the group that ran. ITA with your comment that John Shirreffs has done an amazing job with Zenyatta. I am absolutely convinced she would have had a much shorter career if she had been run against the boys the way some people had wanted her to. I do not believe girls can run against the colts ad infinitum without it taking a huge toll.

Everyone say a prayer for Zenny tomorrow. This is a tough bunch she is up against.

01 Oct 2010 8:42 PM
phil m

Jason...awesome job bro...AS USUAL.  

The HOY debate last year fascinated me.    I immensely respected what both Z and RA did on the track and had trouble myself deciding who should win.    

I really wish racing fans could have seen these two SUPER MARES meet but it wasn't in the cards.  

Rich C makes some great points about RA's owner Jess 'Action Jackson'.  He QUIT plain and simple.    But his gorgeous filly NEVER DID.    

Happiest of Trails Miss Rachel.    

01 Oct 2010 9:09 PM
John T

Shuvee

 Zenyatta at any age whould have given Rachel all she could handle

''Now What A Race That Would Have

Been''.

01 Oct 2010 9:10 PM
Backtalk

Liked hearing from Mr. Wiggins and had several of my questions answered. To Secretariat and all other like-minded thinkers, in my opinion, on paper, RA will always be the better horse (R vs. Z."war" is finally over). And remember even Secretariat, War Admiral, and the great little Seabiscuit lost races! Momscammed, I am with you--I too recognize the difference between entertainment and true greatness.  Rachel Alexandria the Great, I hope you have many foals and if they should turn out to be even half as great as you, there is a future for the Sport of Kings (& Queens)!! And excitement vs. just another joke race or just another notch on the saddle.

01 Oct 2010 9:20 PM
Ranagulzion

Carlos in Cali, The Rock,

Haynesfield is fancied to capture the JCGC based upon the anticipated pace scenario.  He could wire the field but I think that Rail Trip will attempt that trick and be found needing the race at the 3/8 pole, while Haynesfield will be sitting in the 'catbird seat' ahead of Blame and will steal a march into the lane.  From there on it'll be catch me if you can.  It is possible that his pedigree (Speighstown) might let him down close home but he's coming to give all and sundry a real scare.  Blame is obviously the one to beat and Fly Down would not surprise me with a break out performance.

It promises to be a very exciting race but none of these will hinder "the return of the King" in November.  Enjoy.  

01 Oct 2010 9:53 PM
LauraS

Tim said: "When is the last time you heard a trainer say we know we can't win this race, but we're running anyway. You don't handicap most races by what trainers say unless they say they are just hoping their horse runs well."

Actually, Doug O'Neill and John Sadler, who have horses in the Lady's Secret tomorrow, have both been quoted as saying they know they're running for second...and would be delighted to get it.

LauraS

01 Oct 2010 9:57 PM
Dona

Jason, you did a great job interviewing Mr Wiggins and he seemed honest and forthright. However, I agree with some of the other folks here that the "rabbit" comment was a little backhanded but maybe that just shows his humanity. I must admit to feeling somewhat vindicated when he stated she was "gutted" in the Woodward. I have felt all along that was the case and posted that opinion several times. I for one take no pleasure in that assessement, nor should anyone else. It's a sad ending for a great champion but thankfully she's not injured and in the end that's the most important thing for her.

As good as Rachel was and she certainly had a great 2009 but stay away from the kool-ade people, she would not or could not beat Zenyatta. Let's not even discuss a mile or less because Zenyatta would not race anybody at those distances because she's too big. However, Zenyatta has clocked the best times at Hollywood Park at 6 and 7 furlongs. Besting some 40 to 60 other horses, so that shows she can boogie. In fact, Rachels' best time ever at 1 1/16 was 1:43.08 in the Golden Rod but Zenyattas' was 1:40.30 and that was when Rachel was at her best! Rachels' Mother Goose was 1 1/8 in 1:46.33 and Zenyattas' Ladies Classic was 1:46.85. Does anyone seriously believe Zenyatta couldn't close that distance if she had too? Remember Mike Smith has said along that Zenyatta hasn't reached her bottom, no where near it. Oh, and don't forget that Ladys Secret she closed the last 16th in :06 flat.

Someone said their times were pretty close and I disagree because Zenyatta has bested Rachels' 1 1/16 @ 1:43.08 on 8 different occasions. For non-believers, that means Zenyatta is very consistant but at 18 for 18, we already knew that.

Rachel never carried the weight that Zenyatta has and Zenyatta owns the world record for 8 consecutive Grade/1 victories.

I'm showing the comparsons between the two for those that downplay Zenyattas' ability and in no way am I disparaging Rachel. If someone says I think, that's one thing but when they say it as fact, that's another matter. Wishful thinking, delusions, mistaken ideas and sculduddery aside, we're all entitled to our opinions.

Now, to bed. It's off to Hollywood Park tomorrow and an opportunity of a lifetime. I've seen Zenyatta many times, and in each and every one , I have been awe struck. Long Live the Queen.  

02 Oct 2010 1:11 AM
Freetex

Yes, Paula Higgins, a prayer for Zenyetta tomorrow and for Rachel as she is retired.

02 Oct 2010 1:43 AM
draynay

Fly Down wins big at the Jockey Gold.  Blame finally has to carry some real weight and will fold under the pressure.  Fly Down is your winner.

02 Oct 2010 1:44 AM
Alison

Many thanks Jason for the interview with Mr. Wiggins. His calm and considered analysis was very soothing after all the heartache Rachel fans have endured this year. I will miss very much the pleasure of watching her race. I'm surprised how affected I was by the highs and lows of her campaigns of '09 and '10. She is a very special horse and I was especially sad that she was retired so abruptly right after some of her best works of the year. Whatever else her connections may be they have been generous in sharing their horses with us by extending their careers into their 4th years. With Rachel training well I think it would have been a splendid thing to announce her retirement before her last race so that her legions of fans could come and give the kind of send off she so richly deserves.  JJ is right when he says that RA doesn't owe us anything. But I feel somehow we owe her something for all the excitement and pleasure she's given us. I never saw her race and I feel there must be many others like me who would go to great lengths to see her race one last time and be able to raise the rafters for her, regardless of whether she wins or loses. C'mon Jess, it would be a great thing for everyone and for racing.

What do you have to lose?

02 Oct 2010 2:23 AM
Mike Relva

SKYFIRE

Maybe you are AFLEETALEXFOREVER.

02 Oct 2010 9:01 AM
Janesville Liz

Hal Wiggins is such a gentleman. He made Rachel Alexandra the horse she was--he gave her the base that Asmussen built on. It still makes me so mad that neither Asmussen nor that egotistic blowhard Jess Jackson had the class to thank Wiggins for the tremendous job he did training Rachel before they got their grubby hands on her at the Horse of the Year ceremony last January.

02 Oct 2010 11:43 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

There is a lot of insight into the racing game in this interview. Entering rabbits is very common in racing. I don't know why people find that comment offensive. However I don't remember them entering a rabbit for Zenyatta, maybe it's happened and I don't know it. At her absolute best Rachel would have been really tough for anyone to beat at 1 1/8, but Zenyatta is consistently full of surprises. Not that it matters, the argument has been rehashed over and over. It's not like they are from different eras, and couldn't race each other. It absolutely would have happened with Wiggins and Morrison. It's just one of those matchups we never got to see that we'll have to regret. The one matchup they did try to do was 100% absurd to even consider it after the layoffs. After the bullet w/o I was starting to think it could happen in The Classic this year. At her best, at CD, 1 1/4 was not out of Rachel's range.

02 Oct 2010 12:05 PM
Paula Higgins

Dona, you are talking to a true believer here where Zenny is concerned. Yes, I know she runs fast times at shorter distances but I would never say Rachel couldn't have beaten her at the shorter distances (not under a mile-who cares)over a mile. As great as Zenny is, Rachel was also great last year. She ran to the front and never gave it up. Rachel would have been Zenny's toughest competition ever if the race had happened. I am one of those that never wanted to see it happen. I didn't want to see either one diminished. I know that makes racing purists spit nails. I am sorry, but that's how I feel. They are both all time greats for different reasons. I am really sad that Rachel was retired. I will miss her terribly. When Zenny is retired I am admitting myself to Peachford Psychiatric for "Mare Withdrawal."

P.S. There is a new Zenny website:

www.zenyatta.com

02 Oct 2010 12:27 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Paula Higgins

  Careful. They have co-ed rooms there. You never know who your roommate could be, or are you still itchin for a fight?

02 Oct 2010 12:48 PM
-Keelerman

Here are my quick picks for today's races. . .

JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP --- Fly Down

JOE HIRSCH TURF CLASSIC --- Interpatation

BELDAME --- Life at Ten

FLOWER BOWL --- Red Desire

VOSBURGH --- Latigo Shore

LADY'S SECRET --- Zenyatta

GOODWOOD --- Crown of Thorns

YELLOW RIBBON --- Lilly Fa Pootz

NORFOLK --- J. P.'s Gusto

OAK LEAF --- Tell a Kelly

CLEMENT L. HIRSCH MEMORIAL TURF CHAMPIONSHIP --- Champ Pegasus

INDIANA DERBY --- Lookin at Lucky

HAWTHORNE GOLD CUP --- Redding Colliery

PILGRIM STAKES --- Air Support

MISS GRILLO --- A Brilliant Idea

KELSO --- Tizway

Racing doesn't get much better than this!

-Keelerman

02 Oct 2010 12:52 PM
Mike Relva

Like Haynesfield to win today....

02 Oct 2010 12:53 PM
sodapopkid

Paula Higgins, I checked out the new Zenny website, Thats pretty cool,  I think they have been needing to this for awhile.

02 Oct 2010 1:29 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Paula Higgins

 Thanks. Great website with race videos and charts. It's astonishing how far back she comes from. St. Trinians would have beaten anyone else that day.

02 Oct 2010 2:07 PM
Backtalk

I'm so glad there is a Z website. This blog was supposed to be about RA. Now that RA is retired, it seems to have taken some "power" and attraction away from Z for me, even though I like to watch her dance. Should the spirit move me I'll watch a video on her dance and prancing on her website but no desire to watch her "race." The most famous horse to date is still Stewball, sorry RA, but maybe I'll write a song about you. RA, you deserve some kind of tribute as you gave me so much pleasure, even when you lost, I was watching a horse race--good old memories of Alydar and Affirmed were conjured up . . . Jess, take her out of retirement and have a decent post parade for just one last race so we can say goodbye to a superior female athlete.

Dona, most of us know horse manure when we smell it--you are just another Z fan who had to horn in on a RA blog/article. The article was NOT about Z! What does it take for you zelots to get it? Good bye.

02 Oct 2010 2:51 PM
TradingPlaces

A couple of my picks for today...

Gold Cup: Rail Trip

Beldame: Malibu Prayer, UB, Persistently

Goodwood: Twirling Candy, Crown of Thorns, and Awesome Gem

Lady's Secret: Zenyatta. The best two with a chance for an upset are Switch and Rintreval.

02 Oct 2010 3:32 PM
Mike Relva

IT AINT EASY BEING GOOD

So what's your spin regarding Blame? I had the winner, what about you? lol

02 Oct 2010 5:59 PM
skyfire

Mike Relva, nice pick Haynesfield.  Who do you like in BC?

Life at Ten race today shows, I think, what a good race RA ran when finishing her off at Saratoga.  She would have won if LAT had run the same type of race then as she did today.

02 Oct 2010 6:04 PM
-Keelerman

Ranagulzion & Mike Relva;

Good job picking Haynesfield in the JCGC! He ran like a superstar in the making. One minute he was a length in front, then two, then four, then seven, and I don't know how far he was when he hit the wire. Ramon Dominguez never touched him!

-Keelerman

02 Oct 2010 6:05 PM
Paula Higgins

LOL, Dr Dunkinbum, I will be too depressed to pick a fight unless my "co-ed roommate" starts picking on my two girls. Sigh, I knew this day was coming so I have to get over it. Zenny's website will help a little. Wish they would put one up for Rachel. I have to find a new horse to live vicariously through LOL.

Mike Relva, boy did you call the God Cup right. I am impressed. I didn't think anyone was beating Blame today. Haynesfield ran a great race.

Lookin At Lucky was also impressive. The weather was hideous and he ran well inspite of it. I have a feeling we have not given this horse the credit he is due and he may be Zenyatta's biggest problem on BCC day.

02 Oct 2010 6:21 PM
Mike Relva

BACKTALK

You sound bitter. Did you see the race where Zenyatta just won her 19th? lol

02 Oct 2010 7:36 PM
Linda

So happy Zenyatta won.  I think she would have won even if the horse that was scratched had run but somebody tell me why the jockey on Switch didnt use his stick after Zenyatta was next to him?  Did he give up or really didnt want to be the spoiler?  Please enlighten me.

02 Oct 2010 7:40 PM
Paula Higgins

WOOHOO!!!!!! 19 for 19!!!!!!!!!!! Take that Andrew Beyer!!!!! Another one that almost gave me a heart attack, but when she kicks in that last furlong it is beyond awesome. Her stride is simply HUGE!!! I can't believe the ground she covers with that stride of hers and with the ears still standing straight up!!!She did it in a shorter race, which scared me to death, but she did it!!! Mike Smith you're the bomb! She is going to love the distance in the Breeders Cup once again. GO ZENNY!!!

02 Oct 2010 7:41 PM
Jason Shandler

Relax Paula. She beat a G2 winning 3YO filly by a half length. Still hasnt beat a G1 winner this year. Facts are facts.

02 Oct 2010 9:20 PM
Kit J

I think I'll go with Randy Moss's take on things.

As well as the owner of Secretariat, trainers throughout racing as well as jockey and owners. Like someone said if you love the game you love what Zenyatta is doing for it.  I think anyone who has any affiliation with racing in whatever capacity should be praying that it keeps getting the positive attention.

02 Oct 2010 9:26 PM
Kit J

Linda he said he didn't think she would catch him and then he looked over and there she was.

02 Oct 2010 9:28 PM
Draynay

Zenyatta has to struggle to beat Switch ??? You have to be kidding me.  Mr. Moss she doesn't have a chance.  Haynesfield ran a 202 in a hand ride.  Zenyatta couldn't run a 202 on dirt unless she grew wings.

02 Oct 2010 9:38 PM
afleetalexforever

Nice Moss finally got her a website, amazing it took so long as Nyra had Rachel's Website up over a year ago, lol, nice to see the Moss's are catching up finally.

Great to see her run down that 3 year old grade 2 filly, been over a year since she faced a grade 1 mare, i wonder if thats coincidence. Too bad that they didnt enter her in a competitive race like the Goodwood.

02 Oct 2010 9:38 PM
Mike Relva

JASON

Since we're on this, John Sadler told a TVG reporter after the race Zenyatta is the "best horse in the world".

02 Oct 2010 9:45 PM
Paula Higgins

Here's another fact Jason, Zenyatta is 19 for 19 in mostly G1 races. The reason she hasn't beaten any other G1 winners this year is because she keeps winning all the G1 races she is entered in. She is beating everyone that shows up. If you can't be happy for her, at least don't rain on our parade.  No less than Penny Chenery gets it. The list of those that get it keeps on getting longer. You and Andy Beyer are going to have to form a club consisting of 2 members, because you will be the last two people on the planet who don't get it. Let's face it, she could beat the second coming of Secretariat, Man O' War, Citation and Seatle Slew combined, and it would never be enough for you or Andy Beyer.

02 Oct 2010 10:07 PM
Jason Shandler

Who cares what he says Mike? I know other trainers that say she isnt. Happy?

Paula: maybe if she ran in the Goodwood today she would have faced G1 winners. Why wasnt she in there? I'll tell you why. So the connections can bask in her undefeated record and soak up all the "atta boys." It's very simple. Its nice that she is 19-for-19, just like Pepper's Pride was. Both horses deserve credit for that accomplishment. It's a rare acomplishment and impressive. But dont put her in the same category as the all-time greats. Not with the races she has run in. Keep it real. And the fact that people mention her in the same breath as Citation and Cigar is laughable. Laughable. Just look at the races they ran in!! I'm not being mean here, but just look. It's like if the '72 Dolphins played against college teams all year and won the Super Bowl in the final game. it doesnt mean all that much. I'll say it again: One race doesnt make a season people. I dont care if she wins the BC or not. You have to do it all year against the best, or at least part of the year, to be considered great. Im not making up the rules here. Its very simple.

02 Oct 2010 10:27 PM
Tiznowbaby

Jason, frankly I find your arguments laughable.

02 Oct 2010 10:40 PM
Paula Higgins

I am keeping it real Jason. But my reality is apparently different from yours. It isn't that I don't understand you point, I most certainly do. I am not saying everything you are saying about Zenyatta lacks merit. Unfortunately, you do not understand my points and for that, I point to your comparison of Zenyatta and her races, to Pepper's Pride and the races she ran in. There is absolutely no comparison and I cannot believe you would try to make that connection. Their ONLY similarity is in the numebr of races won, not the type or level of competition. Is Zenyatta the second coming of Secretariat? Of course not. I never said that. But where you and I differ is how we value what she has accomplished. Neither one of us is alone in our opinions. However, I strongly suspect that the majority of people in the horse racing world would agree with me and I think history will hold her in higher regard than you do.

02 Oct 2010 10:52 PM
sodapopkid

At least Zenyatta is still running in grade 1 races and winning them to. Thank goodness her owners didnt up and retire her, they let her run....

I read that Steve Asmussen wont even give or answer a question that is directed about RA retirement.   Why are they so "tight lipped" in that group.   Makes no sense...

02 Oct 2010 11:00 PM
Jason Shandler

I acknowledge her accomplishments Paula and there is no doubt that she is great for the sport. Take nothing away from her. Just realize this: When you beat inferior competition over and over and over when there every opportunity to compete against better competition, it absolutely does take something away from what she has done. There is no disputing that. I dont care what John Sadler or Todd Schrupp or anyone else says. Sorry that I have to be the voice of reason here. Call me the Grinch or whatever you want. But just tell me why she didnt face better company this year. They dont want to leave California, fine. At least try to Hollywood Gold Cup, or Pacific Classic, or the Goodwood. Just one of them. She cant even be called the best horse in California. Not when you stay within your own division all year. tell me how Im wrong there. They will try to the BC Classic because they have nothing to lose. Last year it was supposed to be the final race of her career. Same thing this year. There is no risk if she loses. The rest of the year, there was risk.

02 Oct 2010 11:20 PM
Paula Higgins

Jason, please point out to me where I, or anyone else, said she was equal to Citation or Cigar? Is she one of the greats? Of course she is. Where she is on that list is certainly where the debate of quality of competition comes in. The list of Top 100 Thoroughbreds is out there. She will be on the next list that is published, I guarantee it. Again, where on the list is what will be decided. You seem to be fixated on the top 5. I am not. I understand the distinction. But she sure as heck is more distinguished than 2/3rds of the horses on that current list of Top 100 and that isn't debatable. By the way, Mr. Beyer disagrees with you, in his current Washington Post article he says if she wins the BCC she WILL be on the list of top greats. Of course, he doesn't think that will happen in a blue moon which is why he made the statement. I have no idea whether she will win the BCC or not, but to say she has no chance, Draynay, is not credible.

02 Oct 2010 11:20 PM
Paula Higgins

Jason, do you know what is considered the greatest sporting event of the 20th century? The hockey game played and won by a bunch of high school kids against the Russian hockey machine during the 1980 Olympics. Those kids never went on have significant careers as professional players. That was the highlight of their hockey lives. But that one game set them all pretty much for life, was made into several movies, a documentary and sent them into the history books. So don't say one major win can't mean anything. It does. It can mean everything. Just like a mare that runs for 3 years straight and racks up 19 straight wins, mostly Grade 1's, and also wins the big one, the Breeders Cup Classic against the colts in 2009.

02 Oct 2010 11:33 PM
Kit J

Or Bob Baffert or Penny Chenery or Jerry Bailey?

Or any of the other several hundred trainers and owners in racing?

It couldn't be Steve Asmussen, you said he wouldn't give anyone the time of day.  :)

I don't know why but I have a feeling she could've beat any number of horses on any surface and the people who don't like her or her connections would still find their reasons. I'm sure it goes deeper than where and who she's running against.

Paula you're right about Draynay, he's not a trainer is he? :)Rhetorical question.

I was just reading that Switch beat Blind Luck. I think I read on here that several writers think BL was at the top of her group?

02 Oct 2010 11:52 PM
Paula Higgins

Risk is relative. Every time a 6 year old mare steps out to race it's a risk. Yes, you are right it would have been a greater risk to take on tougher competition. But then you would have had a Rachel Alexandra situation x 2. Zenyatta would have beaten males without any problem. She could do it again and again.... and then she would have paid a price. They aren't machines. They decided to go for longevity over a short burst of brilliance. Zenyatta is the sun and Rachel was a comet. They both have value in the sport. People complain all the time about how there is no longevity in the sport and that they are here today and gone tomorrow. It's a trade-off. As I said, they aren't machines. They can't be both, especially mares and especially not the way they are bred now. Both types of careers have value. Look at what Rachel and Zenyatta have done for this sport. Why can't we embrace everything that is good for this sport instead of declaring there are absolute rules, and that if you vary, what you have accomplished lacks legitimacy. We don't have to be fixated on one set of criteria/standards to the exclusion of all other accomplishments.

02 Oct 2010 11:59 PM
Jason Shandler

So she is the best horse in the country huh? Ok, fine. She's the best. Then why wasnt she in the Goodwood today? It was in California.  At her home track. And she is better at 1 1/8 miles than 1 1/16 miles too. Talk is cheap. Prove it on the racetrack instead of hiding in filly races. Oh, I forgot, she is going to prove it in the Breeders' Cup. Why risk losing in any of the other races throughout the year if you can stay perfect and prove it in ONE race at the end. I see the logic now. How could I have missed that before?

03 Oct 2010 12:11 AM
Secretariat

"To run second to the best horse in the world and one of the greats of all time is huge"

-John Sadler

03 Oct 2010 12:14 AM
Secretariat

Jason,

If she would of ran in the Goodwood, She would of crushed Baffert's horse. Look at the interior fraction of both races and the final 1/16 fraction.

Zenyatta has already dismantled Richard's Kid. He's no challenge to her. Meanwhile Richard Kid has won two million dollar Pacific Classics and the many other Grade I races.

Your not thinking clearly, Jason. Your running on emotion right now.

03 Oct 2010 12:25 AM
Jason Shandler

The only way we know if she would have won the Goodwood is if she actually ran in the race. They had every opportunity to prove that but failed to. While we're speculating, how would she have done in JCGC? Im sure she would have run down Haynesfield too. lol

Good night folks. Take the Skins +6 tomorrow and Ravens +1.5.

03 Oct 2010 12:30 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Secretariat

  I second that emotion. And yes, she would have run down Haynesfield too. Jason, start getting those excuses ready. Maybe you and Andy Beyer can team up and come up with some good ones for Post-Classic. Two one track minds are better than one. Blame was very disappointing. So was Twirling Candy but he's young and that was a new surface for him. He should have run in a big turf race or dirt. He still has a future, still a little immature. Still with Haynesfield added we are looking at a strong Classic field, right Jason? Or will you determine that after the race?

03 Oct 2010 1:21 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Paula Higgins

   You're right on every point as usual. I am glad that we don't have to bust you out of there. Woohoo, yeeha !!! How does she do it??!!!!! Had to use my defib this time. Got it at a garage sale so was glad to see that it worked. I was quite leary of 1 1/16. She'll be rolling big time at 1 1/4, no matter what the pace, no matter who makes haste, a steam engine, hauling ash, blowing by the field of grazing horses. But we must not forget about our little friend Lucky. He'll be tough. Wouldn't be surprised to see those two battling. And there will be a nice little surprise in the trifecta.

03 Oct 2010 1:29 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Tiznowbaby, Paula Higgins, Kit J

   Not one of the great horses mentioned could have done what Zenyatta has done, closing from the clouds to win 19 in a row. Closing from last everytime??? How is that possible? She proved in last year's Classic that she can do it against anyone, and how many Grade One's is that now that she is undefeated in? It is now time to do it one more time, to quiet some more of the naysayers. Not all will bow to The Queen even then, though, for there is a still a group of peasants still out there that she is unable to help for they are hidden deep in the caverns unable to find their way out. Poor souls.

03 Oct 2010 1:39 AM
Monarchos Matt

Secretariat-

Your "would ofs" and verb-inclusive "yours" are making me nauseous at this late hour. You have a decent point but it lacks credibility when you can't demonstrate even a medial grasp of the English language.

That said, it was thrilling to see Zenyatta win another race in such fashion, but just like last year, part of me has to wonder whether she has lost a few steps...she needed every inch of that race to beat a group of horses that were sub-par at best. I realize that she will have added distance in the Classic that she will relish, but to me, even in victory, that was far from a stellar performance and more of a cause for concern if you are in her camp. I'll be avoiding her on Breeders' Cup Day from a value perspective just like I did last year, but we all know how that turned out...

I have no idea what to make of the JCGC result, I thought Haynesfield had a good shot to get up for 2nd or 3rd and had him underneath but didn't see him staying the distance...the fractions were pretty soft and we won't have that luxury in the Classic, and are we sure that Fly Down and Blame were in it to win it to begin with? Looked like a nice tune up to me for those two who were clearly at a disadvantage with that pace. I'll still play them heavily on BC Day, and it will be interesting to see Haynesfield try to keep pace with Quality Road and still have gas in the tank coming home...assuming QR goes into the gate this time of course.

I think the Turf Classic proved that the Americans are up against it on BC Day, as usual. Paddy looked poised for a big run but couldn't hold off a late run from an average horse in Winchester (who ruined my Pick 4!). 12f is probably beyond his range.

At least the College Football board was full of automatic money today to make up for some pretty awful turf handicapping by yours truly- (Oklahoma -3.5, Iowa -7, Alabama -8!!!! are you kidding me?)

Bearpath? Yikes.

Good night all!

03 Oct 2010 2:10 AM
jayjay

Jason : Obviously you're stuck in Rachel land, you question Zen everytime she runs because to you, it has to be against the boys, you're in the minority that female horses should be running against the boys..  You like Hollendorfer right?  You think he's one of the great trainers out there yet you don't question why Blind Luck has not run against the boys.  Why is that?  Is your "rule" only for Zenyatta ?  As Secretariat said, it all comes from emotion, not from an objective point of view.   Again, QR gets a pass for ducking Blame in the JCGC (you know, finding the best competition), but it was probably a good idea, I don't think QR could've lasted with the way Haynesfield ran today.

She IS the best in the country right now and has been the whole year.  But let me ask you, who do you think is the best horse in the country ??  I can't wait for your reply...

03 Oct 2010 2:15 AM
jayjay

By the way, I watched the Beyer interview at HP and lasted all of 5 minutes.  There's nothing in the guy that impresses me.  Jason said that he's forgotten more about horse racing than I'll ever know...lol, maybe he does but when it comes to Zenyatta, I'm 2 for 2 in my prediction (2009 Classic and 2010 Lady's Secret), and he's 0 for 2 :)  My impression of him ??  He likes to go out there bashing Zenyatta, because his formula breaks when it comes to Zenyatta.   It's funny how Draynay holds the same record as Beyer LOL.

03 Oct 2010 2:43 AM
Stacey

Erm, actually Paula, the members of the Impossible Dream Team of the 1980 Winter Olympics were a bunch of COLLEGE kids.

And with that analogy, you've pretty much made the Zenyatta doubters' point for them. They won the 'little' game (the Olympics)  but were also rans in the 'big' game (the NHL).

03 Oct 2010 3:03 AM
Assault

Quote from JShandler:

"How would she have done in JCGC? "

Answer:

That's the difference between Blame and Zenyatta. Blame can't close into slow fractions.

Do you need anymore questions answered?

03 Oct 2010 3:10 AM
Stacey

Jason,

I couldn't agree with you more regarding your comments about Zenyatta.

I've been saying the exact same thing for over a year now, including the Pepper's Pride comparison. And try this on for size (this is part of a reply I posted to comments on ITapp's blog entry on the Personal Ensign)...

-- In a national conference call last August Jerry Moss was quoted as saying, "… We happen to live in California, so that’s what we build around. And we do plan a lot around where the Breeders’ Cup is. If the Breeders’ Cup were in New York or Churchill Downs, we’d be all over the country.”

So has anyone told Mr. Moss where the Breeders' Cup is being held this year? Because based on his own words and Zenyatta's current schedule, he seems to think that it's in California again. Either that or he doesn't plan on running her back in the BC this year. --

I'm just sayin'...

03 Oct 2010 3:27 AM
brokentree

Jason

I get it that you think this mare is overrated your opinion and I respect your right to it .. what I will say is that  as corney as it may sound I get personal insperation from this horse to fight a battle of a lifetime .. and that is something that her conterparts just dont deliver .. I sit in my "pod" once every 3 weeks and replay all her race's  to which she has gained new fans withen the  hospital wing  each time .from the nursing staff to the patients to even the Dr.s these may not be the fans that you handicappers 'need' or want but I think they are good for racing none the less  She has no equal in my eyes becouse of her spirit to not quit and win every time  I really dont care of all she beats is a bunch of mules... Keep your HIY title and give it to a lesser animal ... or that that expert Draynay proclaims she will "never win " again I hope some how I find myslef in the stands at CD in a month and win loose or draw get a dose of the best medicine out there ... but I assure you one way or another I will be watching and drawing from her    Go big mama !

03 Oct 2010 5:26 AM
sodapopkid

Jason, You need to get you a second job as a cook or a chef,  "You sure do love to stir the pot" lol.

03 Oct 2010 7:38 AM
berttheclock

Thanks for three things.

Thanks for being able to see the Great Great Queen Z on the track once more.  What a marvel.

Thanks to Paul Higgins for her excellent points against very little meaningful rebuttal.

Thank you, Jess Jackson, for Never owning one second of the Queen's marvelous career.

03 Oct 2010 8:03 AM
The Rock

All in all, I had a decent day yesterday with my picks. The back breaker was Red Desire. When she got that slip turning for home I'd thought she'd run away with it. The ground was my concern going in and sure enough it affected her late kick. I had a $100 pick 3 starting with Girolamo and ending to Life At Ten with Red Desire in the middle. Of course, I was crushed. But I hit the Beldame Tri for $100 at a 7-1 price so that brought me back. Went with my instincts in the JCGC and had Blame on top heavily to Haynesfield & Fly Down and reversed it a bit. Haynsefield stole this one. It just goes to show that when you leave a quality horse alone on the lead in a G1 race they can be tough to catch. By the way, how about that maiden winner in the 5th with Velasquez for Live Oak Plantation? That was scary good. Even if it was an off the turfer event.

At Oak Tree, in the Norfolk the pace set up was just wierd. I really wish P-Val would've sent JP Gusto to a clear lead instead of riding the race like a turf race. But at the end of the day, I don't think it would've mattered. How about Jaycito? He was 4 wide all the way around the track and was still finishing. I gave this horse to Jason for the future book bet and after today, he'd be my top pick for the Derby. Should've just stuck with him in the Norfolk but I didn't think the race set up for him.

What else can you say about Zenyatta that hasn't been said already. At least I got even money on the ice cold exacta. I was talking with another handicapper at Calder today about Hibaayeb and he made a good point that the horse might've been a bleeder which would explain those dull performances. At 4-1, that was a good enough excuse for me. Went off at 3-1 but I put a nice win bet on her and had a $100 pick 3 ending to Crown of Thorns. I couldn't believe Twirling Candy opened at 1/5 against this field. This was really the worst odds on favorite I'd ever seen. I completely played against after I saw that. Since I had the pick 3 going I put win bet savers on Awesome Gem & Richard's Kid. What a run by Crown of Thorns though. He made 2 or 3 different moves and was still coming on richards kid on the end. Wasn't upset very much about the winners since i got 8-1 saver odds on him.

All in all, it was a productive BC prep day, with very close chances of making a windfall. I'm really looking forward to seeing Tell a Kelly today. I think she's the one to beat in the BC Juvy fillies. Too bad she'll be 2-5 today, but I'll have action on that race. But today is football day. 5 teamer today.

NO -13, CIN -3 (Best Bet), IND -7, PHI - 5, ATL -6.

Good Luck to all.

03 Oct 2010 8:24 AM
Diane J

Jason, I think you just like to stir things up!  "The only way we know if she would have won the Goodwood is if she actually ran in the race. They had every opportunity to prove that but failed to." How does that differ from stating Rachel would have definitely won the Stephen Foster IF she would have run in it?  Please clarify this discrepancy for me!  :)

03 Oct 2010 8:42 AM
Greg J.

19-0, 13 Grade One's wins, 9 Grade One wins in a row, Over 6.4 million in earning's, nothing more to say.  Zenyatta is the best of my generation and when she wins the Classic, she will go down as one of the best ever.

Anyone that says otherwise?  Take your blinkers off and open your eyes!  When she wins the Classic, then what?  Maybe then people will start to be honest about her?  I doubt it...

20-0 is next...

03 Oct 2010 9:13 AM
Sam Not Spam

Sorry Jason?  Wasn't it you who said Rachel would have won the Stephen Foster based on her run in the FDL?  Then you take the opposite line when comparing Zenyatta's race to the Goodwood?  At least be consistent, you can't have it all ways!!

03 Oct 2010 9:16 AM
Linda

Paula & Jason, I see both of your sides.  Zenyatta is great but why didnt they go in a longer, harder race?  They work her instead of racing her and I really dont think she is that fragile.  I think Switch's jock blew it.  As for the BCC, why bill it as the Thoroughbred championship race if it isnt? I am confident Zenyatta's connections know what they are doing to get her ready but LAL & Haynesfield did look tough still they could bounce.  I havent seen Zenyatta bounce yet, have you?

03 Oct 2010 9:39 AM
-Keelerman

Goldikova won the Prix de la Foret!

She went right to the lead early on, was passed by Dick Turpin, but came right back at him to take the lead in the homestretch and held off the late bid of Paco Boy to win by about three quarters of a length. Dick Turpin held third, with Regal Parade finishing fourth.

-Keelerman

03 Oct 2010 9:42 AM
Mike Relva

JASON

Wanna throw this out in advance,since Beyer and yourself have stated Zenyatta won't win the Classic it's obvious if she prevails we will hear some spin control. Beyer hasn't admitted being wrong even for last year. Interesting just how many in the industry have a contrasting opinion regarding Zenyatta's greatness.

03 Oct 2010 10:41 AM
Mike Relva

JASON

One thing I refrain from doing is misquoting. Correct me if I'm mistaken but several occasions you've stated to make a point that"so and so says this or that". Nothing wrong with it,that's what I'm doing,but it seems when I've quoted what many have stated that should know something about the game,then it's invalad. The door swings both ways.

03 Oct 2010 10:46 AM
Mike Relva

DRAYNAY

You Picked Fly Down,right? I had Haynesfield. You also stated four months ago Zenyatta wouldn't win another race all yr. Guess you forgot,huh?

03 Oct 2010 10:50 AM
Mike Relva

JASON

Why do polls obviously disagree w/ you? RA as great as she was NEVER has run in a Breeders. She was cooked in The Woodward like I've stated for a yr although you stated couple months ago she was fully back, I didn't. When last yr connections ran her into the ground,you didn't have any complaints. This year they took it easier as a result of the pounding from '09. You thought they were wrong. I've stated many times I don't respect connections,but don't think they didn't exactly know what they had this year relating to her health. I bring these points up because the Mosses' place their horse first,beyong what any so called fan or writer thinks. It's of no consequence in their opinion what Beyer thinks,etc. This why you have a six year old at the height of her powers,instead of a champion raced to death and a career prematurely at an end!

03 Oct 2010 11:12 AM
Mike Relva

STACEY

So are you saying Zenyatta won't run next month?

03 Oct 2010 11:15 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

jayjay

  The key word is "forgotten" with an inability to adapt to synthetics even with speed figures. Great horses aren't all of a sudden mediocre just because they are winning on synthetics. Keep in mind that Zenyatta has won on four different surfaces. Beyer Figures-He borrowed the formula originally from a mentor, and stamped his name on it, and has tweaked it a little but has done little lately in keeping up with necessary changes, primarily on synthetics. At one time he was a good handicapper with some big scores, and he's a pretty good writer, but his inability to handle the fact of synthetics has taken a toll on his judgement. Just because you don't like a surface doesn't mean you need to undervalue great horses. As we get older, many of us have more memory problems, but I don't remember any horse gobbling up ground in the stretch like Zenyatta. There's a very good chance she'd do the same thing on turf also. I do appreciate Andy Beyer for what he has done for the game, and I have read many entertaining and insightful articles from him but he has lost his way with synthetics.

03 Oct 2010 11:25 AM
Jason Shandler

I never said RA DEFINATELY would have won the Stephen Foster. I said I believe she would have. That's why it was so disappointing that she didnt run. We will never know. Same with the mare. She's very good but we willl never know how good because of the races her connections chose to run in her. And that is ashame.

03 Oct 2010 11:26 AM
Zookeeper

I was there. I sweated, I screamed, I despaired, I urged, I pleaded, I stopped breathing... she won AGAIN!!! I cried in complete happiness! The Zen experience is out of this world! I'm sad for those who are missing out on the pure joy of seeing her mow them down. Say what you want, I don't care. What she does for those who love her is absolutely priceless. The way she makes us feel is what Zenyatta is all about. I hope all the nay-sayers find a horse that does that for them. Good luck finding him/her. We found ours... she is ZENYATTA!!

03 Oct 2010 11:44 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

  I've been anxiously awaiting your report. I'm glad you had a great time !!! It was amazing, and I knew that it had to be breathtaking for you guys and everyone there. Great ride by Mike Smith again. Yes, it doesn't matter what anyone says. Priceless is a perfect description. Tell Mike Smith to stay on Jaycito. He's got his Derby horse, and they're a good fit. I'm happy that you got to experience a fantastic couple of days.

03 Oct 2010 11:57 AM
sherpa

Zookeeper, your rave at 11:44 AM made my monitor get blurry.  I'm looking forward to the full report of your day with Zen & the Bloggers!

03 Oct 2010 12:45 PM
Kat

Mike - You are missing the point.  I didn't say the Woodward didn't gut her.  But that race was not run in isolation, she had already had a tough season.  For instance, if she had started her season later, she would have been fresher and that possibly could have been the race she ran her peak performance in and therefore it wouldn't have gutted her (been so difficult).  Races are part of an entire season (one race does not a season make, LOL) and athletes cycle both physically and mentally each in his individual way.  

03 Oct 2010 1:11 PM
Greg J.

I thought everyone would get a kick out of this Secretariat movie trailer(Or is it?):

www.youtube.com/watch

03 Oct 2010 1:12 PM
Paula Higgins

ERM STACEY, so they were, but your point is completely irrelevant and you certainly missed mine. Read it again. Comprehension is not your strong point.

03 Oct 2010 1:14 PM
-Keelerman

Correction: Goldikova was passed by Regal Parade, not Dick Turpin. Sorry about that!

-Keelerman

03 Oct 2010 1:15 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

Wish you'd been there! It's been an incredible couple of days!

I thought of you when I watched Jaycito win the Norfolk. Boy! Does he look like he can run all day. I saw his sire at WinStar Farm in '05. Beautiful stallion! Very playful, according to the care-taker. That's before they sent him to Turkey (#@%$!?&). His stretch run in the Belmont was a thing of beauty. Talk about an express train! Let's hope that Jaycito continues to develop and mature nicely. Very promissing prospect! He will be fun to watch. You sure spotted him, didn't you? Well done!

03 Oct 2010 1:16 PM
Pam S.

I was there too and everything Zookeeper said is right on.  Everyone says Zenyatta knows where the wire is, but I think that's not all she knows.  She knows the fans paid their money for thrills, chills, excitement and heart attacks, and that's what she's going to give them.  What a horse.  Like this guy said to his wife as they were getting into the car next to us to leave, "Nineteen bleeping wins."  

It was a great privilege to be there for No. 19, wasn't it, Zookeeper?  Best of luck to the mighty Zenyatta next month.  

03 Oct 2010 1:23 PM
Paula Higgins

Dr Drunkinbum and bertheclock, I love you both! Thank you and thanks for defending our girl. Ditto Kit J.

Dr Drunkibum, excellent posts. I especially loved the one about how not one of the greats could close like that from the very back of the pack every single time. An excellent point and one I missed.

Ed Zieralski in his column noted that John Shirreffs was asked about Andrew Beyer's "syntehtic specialist only" comment. He is aware of it and not happy about it. Ditto Jerry Moss. But they aren't TOO bent out of shape about it because they think it's ridiculous. John said something along the lines of "They should walk in our shoes" and "The horses running BEHIND Zenyatta have walked in her shoes (footsteps)." Loved it.

03 Oct 2010 1:26 PM
Carlos in Cali

Of course Zenyatta would've caught Haynesfield,slow fractions don't matter,she's proven that time & again.With those types of splits she would've been closer to the pace that's all.

Why have they choked the run out of Rail Trip in his last 2 races?..  He cruises those kind of splits running backwards,I don't get it.Oh,well.

Haynesfield will NOT be a factor in the BCC.

Blame will do better w/more pace,but that's what makes Zenyatta unusual... it doesn't matter what kind of pace there is.She still closes furiously!

The reason Zenyatta hasn't faced Gr.I winning females is because SHE wins them all.Simple.  

03 Oct 2010 1:26 PM
Paula Higgins

Can't wait for your report. I am so glad you had a great time. It must have been magical.

03 Oct 2010 1:27 PM
Linda

Zookeeper, Mike Relva keep up the knowledgeable and honest comments about Zenyatta.  I simply cannot say it like you do and others on here.  Everybody, enjoy her.  She is one in a million.

03 Oct 2010 1:28 PM
Chicago Jo

Since Rachel's retirement, I've become a Life at Ten fan because it vividly reinforces what a healthy Rachel could still have accomplished this year - victories in the beldame and distaff. (and i do believe she was retired because something new went wrong or something old problems flared up in the monday work and a more severe injury risk just wasn't worth it.)

I have also become a bigger Zenyatta fan (it would be great for racing if she retired perfect).  But i wonder if she is as prepared as she needs to be for the classic?  And, here's a thought - if she loses the Classic (say 4th or worse) and Life at Ten wins the Ladies Classic in another romp, if Zenyatta weren't Zenyatta would we say for sure that she should be champion older female?  Of course Zenyatta - because of her career efforts - would receive the reward, but it does point out how risky Zenyatta's campaign has been this year. All the marbles rest on the Classic - and let's hope she is as prepared as she needs to be for it. Like Quality Road and Blame, she could have afforded to lose a tough dirt prep race and still be in horse of the year contention through a classoc win.  Her connections are trying to "straddle" - ensure perfection and get the victory in the Classic. I really hope it doesn't backfire!  Since i am never going to have the thrill of seeing Rachel race again, it would be nice to see Zen go out in glory.

03 Oct 2010 1:47 PM
sodapopkid

Zookeeper,   I feel your joy, I know how you fans enjoyed being in her presence. I know you will keep that feeling with you from now on.   She is a beauty to behold on TV, I can only imagine what a grace she is to see in person.  I, too,  cant wait to read your post about your beautiful day yesterday.  

03 Oct 2010 1:49 PM
Zookeeper

sherpa,

Sorry about your monitor. lol! I hope it recovered. I haven't yet. It will take me a couple of days to float back to Earth. Words are so inadequate to describe emotions. FEELING them: the GREATEST HIGH on the planet!!!

03 Oct 2010 1:56 PM
jayjay

Stacey : You can find all the quotes you want, and you can imply The Mosses are dumb or stupid but come November, I would like you to come back on this blog and comment after the Classic.  It's funny how you Zen haters can come up with anything and everything but everytime she wins, you all look like ...  trying to find new things to bash her with.  I'm just sayin...

It's easy to bash a great one when you got no one else to root for...

03 Oct 2010 2:52 PM
Paula Higgins

ERM STACEY, one more thing. If you think for one minute that a career in the NHL trumps an Olympic Gold Medal and a win in the greatest game ever played in sports history (voted by sports writers as #1), well I have land at Three Mile Island I want to sell you. Those kids went on to have very good lives. Their names are in the history books. The average NHL player, not so much.

03 Oct 2010 2:53 PM
Carolyn in ND

Jason,

Thanks so much for the Q & A w/Wiggins!  He confirmed much of what I had been thinking too.  I'm not the fan of JJ that I once was.

As far as Zenyatta goes, She is awesome.  I had hoped that once she raced in the Apple Blossom that she would be racing other tracks.  Sadly, not.  I just wanted to see what she would do else where.  

Thanks again for the article!!

03 Oct 2010 3:00 PM
LauraS

I have this feeling that even if Zenyatta wins the Classic by six in 1:58 and change the nay-sayers will be re-conning and spinning fast to dismiss even that accomplishment.  They Just Don't Like Her.  And that's just sad.

03 Oct 2010 3:04 PM
RP

What are ya'll going to do in a month, when the Classic is over and Zenyatta is also retired? Somehow I think this battle will go on even when both ladies have sons and daughters on the track, people will come out of hiding to denigrate the babies.

I'm truly gutted over Rachel's retirement, and I do think a part of it is because it's become twisted up with my sadness over Real Quiet's death. But I think it's also because her retirement signals the beginning of the end. No one talks about Zenyatta past the Classic. God knows why I skim these comments, especially in Jason's blog, but I have not seen a single comment regarding Zenyatta's future AFTER November 6. Certainly nothing about the next race. I think we all figure she's done after this. Perhaps it's rightly so. It's greedy to want her to continue racing after giving us so much. But here we are, finally nearing the end of our journey with Zenyatta, and I can at least say the Mosses will give her the fanfare she deserves. She will get the hero's goodbye. Wandering over to Bloodhorse one day to find a random, shady announcement about my other super filly's retirement, knowing that just like that, she's done, a day after that same website reported about a bullet work... well, it stinks. It's less than what she deserves.

So, keep bashing Rachel, keep bashing Zenyatta. One has left the track, the other isn't too far behind.

03 Oct 2010 3:05 PM
Dona

11.00 a.m. and just now having coffee. Got to bed around 3:30 this morning, celebrated all night with friends and family reliving the "Zen" moment. What a day. You are really missing something special if you haven't seen Zenyatta up close and in person. She absolutely takes your breath away. I was concerned about Switch because contrary to what some have said here, she is a nice horse and yes, she did beat Blind Luck. I'm always concerned when Zenyatta races, confess am superstitious enough to think that being overly confident angers the racing gods and they will bite your butt!  I for one don't like it when the pundants all agree about something, talk about someone deserving the wrath of god, whew! Don't think Zenyatta is that great? Well, now it's time to consider the source and yep, shoot the messanger! Or put another way, who cares. She is what she is and her record reflects that fact. I say look out naysayers, a monster is coming to the Breeders Cup party and that Monster is ZENYATTA.

Also confess to being blown away when Penny Chenery appeared.

Now there's a woman that knows a great horse when she sees one!

BACKTALK_ Websters

impudent,

insolent,

or argumentative replies.

Backtalk, your name is so apropos.  

03 Oct 2010 3:19 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Zookeeper, I thought I had a great day of racing yesterday but when I saw that you had a visit with Zenyatta I became both thrilled and jealous, but in a good way! The only way the day could have become better would be to meet Penny Chenery. It was so great to see Mrs. Chenery in the winners circle with Team Zenyatta. It was a day of greatness!

Those that don't admire and respect Zenyatta are going to be very disappointed at Churchill Downs in November.

03 Oct 2010 3:23 PM
Linda

Watch some of the FEI games.  What endurance, strength and wills to win those horses have.  Many of the TB's competing kinda look like Zenyatta and that is why Zenyatta is where she is.  Breed more horses like her.

03 Oct 2010 3:23 PM
jayjay

Dr. D : Yep, he thought showing up at HP would make him good publicity after what he published..."I'm not afraid of the Zen fans" lol.  He just made a fool of himself, he was avoiding questions left and right.  I left and went to the bathroom, I had a better time.

ZooKeeper : I hope you guys took pics and post it somewhere.  I'm excited to hear about your experience as well!  I was near the fence and was watching it on the big monitor, all I kept thinking was "crap, this is the day it happens" over and over and over, until she got to the final furlong and I was screaming like I've never screamed before, I barely have any voice left today.

To add to Carlos in Cali's post : The reason Zen hasn't face G1 winning females is because the so-called G1 winning females are not too keen to face her.  It's much better to win a G1 than to run 2nd.  BL's team knew that, that's why they didn't go to the LS.

Chicago Jo : I'm glad you are becoming a bigger Zenyatta fan but I've said all along, I don't think the Eclipse awards are the main goal.  There's a bigger goal and that's the Back2Back classic, something that will never be repeated in our lifetime I don't think.  Yes, it would be nice to win the Eclipse but the Mosses are after something bigger.  I don't know why people are so stuck with the idea that Team Z is after the eclipse award, like it's the end all be all of the year of racing :)

 

03 Oct 2010 3:28 PM
Paula Higgins

Greg J, thanks for that Secretariat/Zenyatta link. What a hoot.

So Andrew Beyer said he wasn't afraid of the Zen fans? That's hilarious. Zenny spoke for herself with an exclamation point. I noticed he has toned his column down just a little post race.

RP, I am with you. They are both going to be gone from view shortly. We will miss them both because we won't see their like again for some time. I can't imagine what Ann and Jerry Moss will be going through. They have a tremendous emotional relationship connection to her, as do all the people who take care of her. She is like their kid and Kentucky is a ways away. If it were me, I would add on an addition to the house LOL. It's going to be wrenching.

03 Oct 2010 4:17 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

  Sounds like the time of your life. Sorry I had to miss it but thanks for thinking of me. Zenyatta !!! Jaycito !!! Mike Smith !!! What a day. Did you get to meet Mike Smith? Penny Chenery? Jerry or Ann Moss? John Shirreffs? How many bloggers were in your group? I'm really happy you had such a great time.

03 Oct 2010 4:37 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

RP

  After Nov. 6th, Zen and Mike Smith will be in Dancing With The Stars, then are considering dressage in Equestrian Games.

03 Oct 2010 5:18 PM
Stacey

Paula, my sweet,

I am a life long Bostonian. My family are die-hard hockey fans. My cousins played hockey. My mother's family grew up in the same housing project as Brian Noonan who scored the winning goal for the NY Rangers in game seven of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. My mother was a Bruins season ticket holder when she was single. I grew up one street over from John Cunniff and went to school with his daughter. Even my Irish immigrant grandmother was a huge hockey fan. One of the thrills of her life was having her picture taken with Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. I attended Boston University. Believe me, the significance of the Miracle on Ice has not escaped me.

However, I don't think I missed your point at all. Yup, those guys lived off of that moment for the rest of their lives. The were heroes. They were David and the Russians were Goliath. It was GREAT!! It was wonderous! It was inspirational!

But truth be told, to a lot of "real" hockey fans in Boston they became somewhat of a joke because they DID live off of that moment for the rest of their lives. They never excelled against what was consider "real" competition. The BIG Dance. The NHL. Ask any one of the Impossible Dream Team if he wouldn't give his right arm to see his name engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup. Ask Ray Bourque if he would trade his Stanley Cup ring for an Olympic Medal. Ask Brian Noonan the same question. Thus, I think your point supports the argument of those who question Z's place in TB horse racing history.

As for Zenyatta herself - I am NOT a Zen hater. She's a horse - literally. She's a giant, gorgeous, beast of a mare. She's beaten everything she's ever lined up against and she's done it in dramatic fashion with her ears pricked. I think she's terrific! I love seeing her dapples shine and her pre-race Spanish Walk. She's a rock star! She's da bomb! She's all that and a bag of chips! It's her CONNECTIONS that I question, and who quite frankly annoy me. Well Jerry Moss more so than John Shirreffs. I think Shirreffs is a brilliant horseman and don't know how much Moss is calling the shots and if he would rather test Her Z-ness against legit competition.

Moss is obviously so desperate to see her finish her career undefeated that he won't do anything to risk her getting beaten. Team Z has side-stepped many bigger, better, tougher races in order to run her against softer, restricted fields thereby giving her the best opportunity to remain undefeated. I don't care how many G1's in a row she's won. For the love of Mike, one of the horses in yesterday's Lady's Secret was CLAIMED out of her previous race!! Come on already!!

And don't even get me started on Jerry's Moss' sour grapes interview after last year's Eclipse Awards. Talk about bitter...

And Mike Revla,

Considering that Team Z have said numerous times that Herself isn't necessarily the best shipper in the barn, it wouldn't surprise me at all if she suddenly spikes a fever or they find some heat and filling in once of her legs the day before the BC.

But, we shall see. As they say, that's why we have to actually run the race!

03 Oct 2010 5:35 PM
Mike Relva

PAULA HIGGINS

Great posts as usual. Beyer makes me laugh,it illustrates the arrogance that he can't say he was dead wrong last year. He acts as if it didn't happen,the same I bet if Zenyatta wins again.Don't have have the knowlege of him but I know a great horse when I see one.

03 Oct 2010 5:48 PM
celtic woman

The last leg was run in 5.7

what a mare.

03 Oct 2010 5:53 PM
Backtalk

MIKE RELVA -- I surely didn't mean to come off as sounding bitter because I am not bitter. Bitter about what?? I am irritated that the blog was about RA and when there was a blog written by Steve about Z, RA fans had more class and didn't get "in there" and dig on Z like some have in this blog about RACHEL.

This is kind of funny because I pulled up the blog to see if I was censored (lol) and I scrolled down & it stopped on your reply to me--LOL, no I didn't watch Z race--did she win?

03 Oct 2010 5:54 PM
Truth be Told

Dedicated to--Jason,draynay,Beyer and all the well known haters out there who lack objectivity.

She is unbeaten,undeniable & unbelievable.

Fred Stone, widely regarded as the country's foremost equine artist:  "She represents something that might have been bred year's ago in a thoroughbred that you don't see anymore,that large body and frame and the ability to run fast.When she gets rolling that's it,it's like a giant freight train that needs to get going".

"I've seen them all in my life,including Secretariat,and the only horse that comes close to John Henry is Zenyatta.First, she's gigantic.When she dies and they weigh her heart,it's going to be bigger than Phar Lap's and Secretariat's.She towers over all the males".

Imagine all of the hoopla if she were based in NY? We're witnessing a once in a lifetime type of horse,so let's try and "keep it real". See you in Kentucky @ the BC,where Champions meet.

03 Oct 2010 6:00 PM
2:24

Odds for Blame in the Classic just got much more appetizing.

03 Oct 2010 6:41 PM
Backtalk

Dear DONA,

I use the name Backtalk because Backtalk is a race horse, I guess you are just a one- pony person and perhaps have never heard of Backtalk. I like his bloodlines and hope he hasn't been gelded, I don't believe he has. Backtalk has not done well for his owners--but I am waiting for him to run in claimer and one day I dream he will be mine! Maybe I will change my name to Dreamer, ok? Now, I have to get back to reality & try to figure out what to do with a horse that someone left in my empty horse trailer this afternoon--I left the trailer empty to go out riding on a trail ride with some friends. I love horsea & truly feel for their plight being run by humans. Anyone looking for a quiet chestnut saddle-bred QH? I've looked him over, he is gelded but he's an affectionate horse and looks well fed.

03 Oct 2010 6:47 PM
2:24

Anyone else read Steven Crist's blog mentioning the death threats that Hollywood Park received regarding Rinterval and how a bunch of Zenyatta fans spooked Rinterval in the paddock?  Amazing and sad.

03 Oct 2010 7:08 PM
The Rock

Wow. Turbulent Descent, a first time starter just won race 6 @ Hollywood today with great ease. Had a little traffic turning for home and went head n head with Canadian Pride to the finish. What made this most impressive was that David Flores was looking to the right for the whole way in the stretch, measuring CP while just nudging the winner in 109 4/5. $160,000 purchase by Congrats. Looks to have a bright future in the 2 year old filly division. Definitely a Hollywood Starlet candidate. Too late for the BC

03 Oct 2010 7:27 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

2:24

  That is terrible. How low can you get? Human beings are ridiculous. I sure hope Rinterval is OK. Some arrests should be made. Throw away the key. If they were purposely spooking her, then why wasn't something done? I have never seen anyone try to spook a horse in the paddock, that's insane. Security should have been there to swoop down on them if that's true. Death threats-I hope they can track those people down and prosecute, or is that too low a priority? It would be one of my top priorities. $%&*!$

03 Oct 2010 7:40 PM
Paula Higgins

Stacey, guess what? I am from Massachusetts too dear heart and I think you're full of beans (Boston Baked Beans that is). Grew up in Scituate (Dave Silk's home town and Bobby Orr's town as well), went to school in Boston, and my husband's mother still lives on Beacon Hill. If that isn't enough, my many times great-grandfather landed in Gloucester in the 1630's. I could go on, but I won't.

I am not as dismissive as you are about those kids. What they did was beyond amazing. As for living off their laurels, I think they are entitled. What they did for the morale of their country, at a very tough time, was miraculous. They played for their country and not for money. I would bet money however, that they would never trade that particular Olympic Gold Medal for their name on any Stanley Cup. End of story for me.

O.k. everyone, go to Bill Finley's article on Zenyatta's greatness. It's wonderful and he doesn't waste words demolishing Andrew Beyer's inanity. It's clearly a rebuttal to Mr. Beyer.

Mike Relva, thank you.

I sincerely hope that no one deliberately spooked Rinterval. That would be beyond disgusting.

brokentree, I hope you are doing well. I am very glad Zenny has boosted your spirits while you are dealing with your illness. She is like a mood elevating drug LOL.

03 Oct 2010 7:49 PM
Greg J.

Jason,

Sorry off topic(even though that happened long before this comment!).  I needed to address this!

Stacey,

You say, "They never excelled against what was consider "real" competition. The BIG Dance. The NHL. Ask any one of the Impossible Dream Team if he wouldn't give his right arm to see his name engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup.

OK, ask Ken Morrow, who went to the Islanders after winning the Gold Medal.  He has four of Lord Stanley's rings, his name is on the Stanley Cup four times, he is in the USA hockey Hall of Fame.

Neal Broten, played 17 seasons and is one of the best American players to EVER play the game.  He retired and manages a Horse farm.

Mike Ramsey, he was four-time All-Star with the Buffalo Sabres. He spent 14 seasons with Buffalo before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992-93 and then the Detroit Red Wings in 1994. He retired in 1996. He then worked in coaching, serving as an assistant coach to the Buffalo Sabres and the Minnesota Wild.

Dave Christian played 13 seasons, a decent career, I would say.

Mark Johnson, played 12 seasons, then went on to coaching.

The rest of the team had minor success in the NHL, or none at all, but went onto fulfilling Careers in other areas.

Not too bad, for what you said:

"they became somewhat of a joke because they DID live off of that moment for the rest of their lives. They never excelled against what was consider "real" competition. The BIG Dance. The NHL"

Please Stacey, try again...

03 Oct 2010 8:03 PM
Bet Twice

Jason,

You are the greatest pot stirrer/parade rain-er ever!  Keep up the good work.  Also, could you start a BCC blog?  I kinda hate that we are posting Zen accolades or slights on Rachel's blog.  Maybe it could be about why you hate Zenyatta or why Quality Road is the best horse to ever grace the racetrack.

Zookeeper,

So jealous.  What a day to remember!  Loved reading your post about the big Z.

Dr. D,

Nice call on Jaycito.  Looking forward to the Breeders Cup Juvenile.

Stacey,

If Zen's connections were so worried about her retiring undefeated, why would they run her in the BCC?

03 Oct 2010 8:06 PM
LAZMANNICK

LauraS

Your comments to KLC 1975 were well stated.  In a race between Rachel and Zenyatta, Rachel would have run well, but I think that Zenyatta would have beaten her at any distance from 1 1/16M and up.  I am not a big fan of race times, however with the three common distances they both ran, the only distance where Rachel ran faster than Zen was that 9F Mother Goose.  More importantly, I don’t recall where Rachel ever finished a race, the last 16th especially, anywhere near as fast a Zenyatta has.  That is fact, not fiction.

That being said, I don’t know why we should have to defend Zenyatta on a blog that’s a tribute to Rachel, especially since the two have never met.  Everyone can dream and try to visualize of what might have been if they had indeed met.  Maybe that’s more important right now than an actual meeting......the thinking of what might have been.

Regarding Rachel, my personal congratulations for the excitement and interest she brought into our sport.  Now it’s time for her new career and I hope she adapts well and has lots of healthy, happy babies.

03 Oct 2010 8:10 PM
Mike Relva

TRUTH BE TOLD

Great points and the amusing thing  is his boy BLAME lost while Zenyatta WON and you didn't hear a word about the loss. Go figure.

03 Oct 2010 8:18 PM
Mike Relva

STACEY

You're nuts,that's the objective FROM THE BEGINNING Zenyatta going to the Breeders' next month.

03 Oct 2010 8:21 PM
skyfire

In my opinion the yardstick for a great campaign is that undertaken by Goldikova.

Goldikova has been campaigned in a way that allows her to prove her greatness on the track all year -- she has been campaigned in many open stakes since 3; her owners realize that she is unique, and have not restricted  her to filly/mare races; they go for the most prestigious races and travel with her.

The disagreement here is that Zenyatta is equally unique and capable, and sadly her connections devised a campaign that denies her  the chance to show that. Her campaign is more similar to Pepper's Pride  than to Goldikova  Her literal campaign results rank her (IMO) behind Pacific Classic and Goodwood winner Richard's Kid, yet IMO, I believe she could have beaten him easily if they had faced each other.

Goldikova has faced the best racehorses in her division all year.  That is a great YEAR, and is the model to strive for when evaluating a "horse of the year".  Zenyatta has been denied this opportunity by her owners' choices, and for me it has tarnished the unbeaten record.

03 Oct 2010 8:28 PM
Jason Shandler

You said it perfectly Skyfire.

03 Oct 2010 8:34 PM
Stacey

If that's true about the death threats - especially if they were legitimate death threats - against A HORSE, and if the fans intentionally spooked Rinterval then they are classless and gutless, and it shows that there are professed Zenyatta true-believes that know that there are potential cracks in her armor and will actually stoop so low as to try to essentially RIG a race for A HORSE that they have no ownership interest in.

If it's true, and I hope it's not, that's just pathetic, disgusting, immoral, mean-spirited, unsportsmanlike, pathological and disturbing, and it reeks of religious fanaticism.

And if it's true then those people either need professional help or they need to be in jail.

Just reading something like that makes me MAD AS HELL!

03 Oct 2010 8:40 PM
Bet Twice

Goldikova is a turf mile specialist who's never run outside her division.  Call me when she wins the Classic on dirt at Saratoga against Secretariat.

Kidding.

She's remarkable.  So is Zen.

03 Oct 2010 8:48 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

Rinterval was being saddled in a stall in the paddock area. The fans were holding signs as they always do. No spooking the horse "on purpose" by Zen fans took place and Crist did not say that in his blog. As to the death threats, it should be a matter for the police and should be taken seriously. It only takes one loon, but one loon can be very dangerous.

Greg J.,

You sure blew the heck out of that argument against an American Olympic Hockey Team for the ages. Bravo!!!

03 Oct 2010 8:48 PM
Stacey

Oops, sorry hockey fans.

Yup, I did say, "Ask any one of the Impossible Dream Team if he wouldn't give his right arm to see his name engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup," but I was actually referring specifically to local boys Jim Craig and Mike Eruzione.

Mea culpa.

03 Oct 2010 8:54 PM
LAZMANNICK

Backtalk

I agree that this blog should be about Rachel and not necessarily about Zenyatta.  However, you're not being fair to Zenyatta fans, and Donna in aparticular.  The interveiw brought Zenyatta clearly into the blog and it seems it's okay for Rachel fans to spin what they think she would have done to Zenyatta if the two had ever met.  Kudos for Donna and others who have stood up for Zenyatta as well as kudos for Rachel fans for sticking up for her.

03 Oct 2010 8:54 PM
LAZMANNICK

Paula Higgins

Don't fret Paula.  She's planning on beating a lot of G1 winners in a few weeks.  In the meantime she ran away from a very good three year old filly that happened to soundly defeat the number one three year old filly racing this year.  Soon this might register on a few people.

03 Oct 2010 9:00 PM
Paula Higgins

Jason and Skyfire, Goldikova is a great horse and so is Zenyatta. Their careers are not mutually exclusive. Skyfire, if the only comment you can make about Zenyatta is that her career was like Pepper's Pride, well there is no use in debating the point with you. Being grounded in reality is an important criteria for any conversation. Something I am seeing here is that those who refuse to acknowledge Zenyatta's accomplishments are entrenched in their beliefs and no rational argument to the contrary will make a difference. They are unwilling to consider other points of view, unlike many of us who support her. We acknowledge legitimate criticisms and there are some. The Zenyatta deniers on the other hand are simply unable to look at what she has accomplished, and instead, rack up a list of what she hasn't done and what she has raced on. It is utterly ridiculous and I am sorry for that because they are missing out on an amazing mare. It's really their loss. The fact is, there has never been a horse like her, with her running style, 19 wins and number of straight wins in Grade 1's. Plus, she has the money record as well. Please be sure to alert us when we see her like again, if ever. More likely, it will be never. We could dissect every great horse's record, that has ever run, and compare them to other great horses. Every great horse out there has been called "great" for different reasons, different accomplishments/records. You can't say Zenyatta isn't great because she doesn't have Goldikova's record. Goldikova doesn't have Zenyatta's record either and she most certainly wouldn't if she raced against Zenyatta at a mile and a quarter. But it wouldn't make Goldikova any less great. Goldikova wouldn't have beaten Secretariat at the Belmont either. So what, who cares? She is great enough based on her own individual record and so is Zenyatta.

03 Oct 2010 9:26 PM
PJJ

Laz,  Glad to see you back.  Hope you had a great trip.   Damn, things sure did stir up while you were gone.  

It's been one heck of week.

As far as RA retirement, As usual ,  I think they are still under that gag order that was imposed back in the year.  

03 Oct 2010 9:29 PM
2:24

I don't know if the death threats were true, just read it on Crist's blog.  Skyfire, agree with your Goldikova post completely.  Also, hang tough Stacey, many of us agree with you.  It's just tiring to be constantly called a Zenyatta hater when questioning her connections.  I would love to see Zenyatta win the BC Classic.  I love the horse too.  She gives me goose bumps.  But win or lose, I will always respect Goldikova more because she always goes to the best dances.

03 Oct 2010 9:35 PM
Mike Relva

SKYFIRE

I like and admire Goldikova also. But,the fact is Zenyatta can't be compared to PP,whom I respect. PP NEVER ran and won in a Breeders' Cup,NEVER became the FIRST female to beat the boys in the CLassic,NEVER Won the Apple Blossom twice. The ones' that make it their lives mission to slam Zenyatta by refusing to give her the respect she deserves don't really have a grasp on racing by any means. Anyone with a clue would realize how difficult it is to stay healthy long enough to win three,four,five in a row,much less nineteen.

03 Oct 2010 9:37 PM
LAZMANNICK

Carlos in Cali

Haynesfield WILL BE a factor in the BCC......a Quality Road factor.

03 Oct 2010 9:47 PM
Zookeeper

skyfire,

I'm glad you found THE horse that does it for you. Goldikova is an extraordinary mare. Go ahead and praise her and her connections all you want. They deserve it and then some. But they certainly don't need for you to speak badly of another mare's connections in order to elevate them.

Everything you said has already been said many, many times. Give it a rest and enjoy Goldikova, as I will, when she comes to CD for the BC. I hope you won't mind my rooting for YOUR horse.  :)

03 Oct 2010 10:05 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

   Thanks for the facts.

Bet Twice

  Thank you. Let's hope Jaycito stays healthy, then I think he's in The Derby, and he will be one of the ones that are legitimate for 1 1/4. As far as the Breeder's Juvenile, it's shaping up to be a tough one, and I'll have to see the pp's first. What's great is that is The Derby surface so we might learn something, but I doubt if we'll see a Street Sense type performance. I believe there will be some 1 1/16 front runner speed that will be tough to beat. I do love it when Breeder's Cup is at CD. Now that SA has dirt, I'd like to see CD and SA get most of the Breeder's Cups with an occasional Keeneland since they say they want some Poly Breeder's Cups still from what I read.

03 Oct 2010 10:14 PM
LAZMANNICK

Stacey

If you want to talk hockey I'll gladly talk to you any time you want.  Ask any member of Team Canada if they would trade the Olympic Gold Medal they won this year for a Stanley Cup and I think you’ll be surprised at the answer.  MOST WOULDN’T TRADE IT FOR ANYTHING.   Ask the Russians how they felt when they were eliminated.  The next Winter Olympics are in Russia.  There is talk that the NHL might not participate.  Alex Ovechkin has already gone on record as saying he doesn’t care whether he gets suspended or not, he’s going to participate.  So much for the Stanley Cup.

There is one thing of significance that you are missing when comparing the 1980 Gold Medal Team with Zenyatta’a victory in the 2009 BCC.  The USA team was a long shot.  Zenyatta was favored in the BCC.  So it wasn’t a fluky win.  It was expected, and by knowledgeable horse people and the thousands of fans that wagered their money on her.

As far as saying that they are more interested in preserving her undefeated record, I guess that’s why they entered the BCC last year.  I guess that’s why they agreed to face Rachel this year.  I guess that’s why they are planning on going to the BCC this year.  Your analogy doesn’t make sense.

03 Oct 2010 10:16 PM
LAZMANNICK

Greg J.

Don't forget the coach, the late Herb Brooks.  It seems to me the goalie played a little in the NHL too.

03 Oct 2010 10:26 PM
-Keelerman

Jason;

I understand your argument that Zenyatta has not faced a grade I winner this year, and I understand the she has passed up several opportunities to run in more prestigous races than the Lady's Secret, Vanity, etc. (Even though those races are grade I races.)

However, there is not a horse in history that ran against the best competition every time, and quite often the best horses would not run in the very best races. I look at it this way . . .

Many many years ago, there was a great racehorse. This great horse made eighteen of his twenty-one starts in New York, running in the most prestigous races of his division.

However, this great horse was so great that it got to the point where no top class horse would run against him, preferring instead to find some other race where they stood half a chance at winning. Because of this, the great horse in question would often run against only one, two, or three other runners, and they were rarely top class. Although he was running in the best races of his division, and he was without a doubt a great horse, his competition made him look good and bad at the same time --- he beat them easily, but they were not top class horses.

In his entire career, he stepped out of his division only twice, once to run in the then-unprestigous Jockey Club Gold Cup (a race which drew only one other runner) and the other time to run in a match race against one of the best older horses of that year. The horse I am discussing beat the older horse by seven easy lengths.

However, the match race was held on a surface which the older horse didn't care for (it was too hard) and the older horse completely failed to run his race. Add this to the fact that the older horse was past his prime and unsound, and it turned out to be a completely inconclusive match race.

Unfortunately, this was the great horse's last race, for he retired at the end of his three-year-old season. He won twenty of twenty-one races, but never against the very best horses. He never faced Exterminator, despite numerous opportunities to do so. He never ran against Billy Kelly, or Boniface, or The Porter, or Mad Hatter. But did running against weak fields in his own division diminish his greatness? No.

The horse I am talking about is Man o' War, and I'm sure no one will argue that he is one of the best of all time. Who you run against isn't everything. Nor are the races you run in. Determination, heart, and the ability to win races where everything goes against you are great values that both Man o'War and Zenyatta possess.

Do not get me wrong, I am not comparing Zenyatta to Man o'War. I am merely saying that competition and quality of races isn't everything.

-Keelerman

03 Oct 2010 10:39 PM
berttheclock

I have attempted to stay away from the Z and RA bashing.  For myself, I believe they are two of the finest examples of horseflesh, I have ever had the pleasure of seeing race.

But, to knock our beloved Queen Z for not competing against so and so or in a particular state, reminds me that horse racing is not akin to college football.  There is no RPI for deciding who goes to the Breeder's Cup, ala the BCS in college. This is akin to postings at pro sports sites in the KC Star and Seattle P-I after the third week of the NFL season.  The KC Chiefs were 3-0, while the Seahawks were 2-1.  They had both beaten the Bolts and the Niners, but, nay sayers wrote, "But, you played losers".  They played who was on the schedule and beat them. In the NFL, there is a fine line between winning and losing.  But, the ones who wanted burst the bubble of happiness for the fans of the respective winners could only find fault.  The same with the knocking of Queen Z's marvelous extra gear in the stretch, yesterday.  "But, she only beat a Grade 2 filly".  She beat all who were entered in the race.  She did not make the selections.  Again, this is not the college RPI system.  Instead of those knocking the races the Moss's select for  her, talk to the owner's and trainers of the Grade I fillies and mares and demand they compete against her.

However, once again, a toast to the Queen.  Long may she reign.

03 Oct 2010 10:50 PM
Dona

BACKTALK, I guess you don't remember your comment on Oct 1, 9.20 p.m. "Momscammed, I am with you - I too recognize the difference between entertainment and true greatness". You were responding to the 10th person to make an entry here

.

Momscammed 30th Sept 1.38 p.m.

"Z gets away with running against inferior mares/fillies. If Z is so great why don't we ask why Z didn't go to Ascot or Dubai". Huh?

You agree Zenyatta has run against inferior mares/fillies? You mean like Ginger Punch, Hystericalady, Life is Sweet, Coca Beach, Music Note?

The heading on this Blog says "Wiggins talks Rachel". It's about Wiggins opinions and trying to get some answers but Jason did open the door when he asked who would win. Sorry, I don't see that as a tribute to Rachel and I can't find any reference to a "tribute" anywhere in the interview. However, not only was the 10th entry a slam on Zenyatta but AfleetalexForever's comments on Oct 1, 12:33 P.M. seems borderline bizzare.

"Rachels' form in 2009 shook Jerry Moss to the core". STATES THIS AS A FACT.    

"Moss knew that what he saw in the Mother Goose on June 25th. At any distance 9f, 10f, 12f, the way Rachel seperated herself from the competition without urging was scary for Moss to watch". AGAIN STATED AS FACT.

Claims - "Rachel would have beaten Z in the Oaks by 8 lengths".

"Zenyatta would have finished off the board in the Preakness".

"Rachels' legacy is in stone and won't be questioned, compare that to Moss who hasn't let his horse prove itself, her legacy will always be uestioned due to 16 wins on synthetics and all of the excuses, (can't travel, Rockies too high, gotta play at home sometime, retire, unretire, not enough significant races on dirt) Again not disrespect just factual".

Just factual?

Do those quotes make sense to you?

I responded to these entries  but not in the manner that you called me out. I suggest you read or reread my entry of Oct 2nd, 1.11a.m.

03 Oct 2010 10:52 PM
Kay

I really wish Jess would let Steve Asmussen comment on Rachel’s retirement. That seems pretty unfair.

Linda:

“So happy Zenyatta won.  I think she would have won even if the horse that was scratched had run but somebody tell me why the jockey on Switch didnt use his stick after Zenyatta was next to him?  Did he give up or really didnt want to be the spoiler?  Please enlighten me.”

She was already giving Quinonez everything she had. She jumped back to her left lead because she was spent and it would have been cruel to keep whaling on her. He did everything he could have possibly done. It was virtually the same trip Switch had when she beat Blind Luck at the same distance and on the same surface. But Zenyatta has a few more gears and is more tractable in the middle part of the race than Blind Luck. Switch ran a magnificent race and I look forward to seeing her run next year. She was adorable in the paddock, too, taking everything in like it was for her. At one point she turned and looked at Zenyatta as if to say, “Hey, are YOU responsible for this madness?” Not only does Zenyatta have a ton of heart, but the horses she beats show an unimaginable amount of heart too, and all have made new fans.

Kit J:

“Like someone said if you love the game you love what Zenyatta is doing for it.”

Exactly. And I think it’s pretty clear who doesn’t give a damn about the horses. It’s interesting that the neigh-sayers get so bloody furious when Zenyatta wins. She’s not supposed to win these races, against these pace scenarios. The 6F split was 1:13 and change. Same as it was for the Gold Cup. Somehow, Zenyatta managed to get up at a substantially shorter distance. The numbers people, including Beyer, just don’t pay attention to the actual running of the races. All they care about is final time and who’s in the race, which is why Jason keeps going on about Switch only being a G2SW… while conveniently leaving out the fact that Switch beat Blind Luck to win that G2. But if you look at the internal fractions and you actually WATCH THE HORSES, you can learn more about how a race unfolds than you can if you just wait for Andy Beyer to assign speed figures.

No wonder all you guys are freaking out. Zenyatta is defying your numbers. And ironically, that’s what a great horse should do. But YOU think a great horse is one that still fits inside that number box. It’s the opposite.

Mike Relva:

“Since we're on this, John Sadler told a TVG reporter after the race Zenyatta is the "best horse in the world".”

Sadler sees her every day, and he’s a great horseman. The trainers who see this mare every day are in awe of her. The guys who sit in front of their computers and calculate speed figures are flummoxed.

Paula:

“They decided to go for longevity over a short burst of brilliance. Zenyatta is the sun and Rachel was a comet.”

Oooh! Lovely! We all groan when our stars are retired before they can become known outside of racing. Now we have one that IS, and it’s because the people in her life think of her before they think of anything else. That should count for something but I guess the rest of these people are just used to these horses burning out and don’t care about longevity. They only care about the Triple Crown and the older horses and they can’t understand how a freaking six-year-old MARE has gotten this legion of followers.

You sure are fighting the good fight there, although I hope you don’t get hurt by beating your head against that wall over and over again (g). Look, these guys deal in hyperbole and they assign it to us as well. All I know is, I went to Hollywood Park yesterday with nearly 26,000 people, many of whom had never even been to a racetrack before, and witnessed something unbelievable. And I’ve been at most of Zenyatta’s races. Somehow, she keeps raising the bar. The world lost some great and wonderful people this week and there were myriad upsets in the BC prep races. But Zenyatta just. Keeps. WINNING. And there’s something so pure and remarkable and simple about that… but there are always going to be people who are inured to it and refuse to see it. It’s worse for them because they’re missing something magnificent.

Stacey:

“So has anyone told Mr. Moss where the Breeders' Cup is being held this year? Because based on his own words and Zenyatta's current schedule, he seems to think that it's in California again. Either that or he doesn't plan on running her back in the BC this year. –“

She didn’t ship well back from Oaklawn, so plans were changed. I guess you studiously ignored that. And you’ll studiously ignore it again. Zenyatta is held to a different standard, which is weird because you have no respect for her. Why would you hold a horse you have no respect for to a higher standard? That’s just crazy. Other horses are allowed excuses when they lose, but Zenyatta had a real big problem on the return from Oaklawn and you bash her. Idiotic.

Greg J:

“Anyone that says otherwise?  Take your blinkers off and open your eyes!  When she wins the Classic, then what?  Maybe then people will start to be honest about her?  I doubt it...”

If last year’s Classic didn’t convince them, then I don’t see that this year’s would, either. It’s like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.

Once again, Zenyatta looked beaten in midstretch. And once again, she leaped forward, extended, and ran a sub-six second final half-furlong. She never flattened her ears and she just knows where the wire is. The gallop-out was superb and two hours later, she looked like she hadn’t run. Mike Smith said he could have moved on the turn because she was ready to go. She was much more aggressive in the early part of this race, which bodes well for any pace scenario in Kentucky. She got a 100 BSF for closing into a 1:13 split. Haynesfield got a 107 Beyer for setting a 1:13 split. Okay.

2:24:

“Anyone else read Steven Crist's blog mentioning the death threats that Hollywood Park received regarding Rinterval and how a bunch of Zenyatta fans spooked Rinterval in the paddock?  Amazing and sad.”

And untrue. Steven Crist needs to be a journalist and Eric Reed needs to keep his mouth shut if he doesn’t know how to speak in public. Rinterval almost flipped out at Del Mar, too. It’s the CROWD that gets her. If you honestly think that more than six people even knew which horse Rinterval WAS, or that Rinterval had run second last time, then you need to work a little bit harder. The people around the paddock ONLY had eyes for Zenyatta. They didn’t even notice any other horses. This is quite possibly the stupidest conspiracy theory in the history of the freaking world.

03 Oct 2010 11:09 PM
Assault

Roger Stein calls Andy Beyer "a d*** on national radio:

www.rogerstein.com/.../archive2.asp

At the 57:40 mark of his Saturday (10/2/10) radio show, Stein levels Beyer and calls him a degenerate gambler.

03 Oct 2010 11:21 PM
jayjay

Paula, hang tough, there are millions of us agreeing with you.  :)  I just find it funny that now that Rachel is retired, the comparison switches to Goldikova because they can't find anyone else to compare her with and the naysayers are sure quick to jump on it. LOL

There are pretentious Zen fans that will always keep one foot in the wagon so that they can say they were fans.  I bet you, if she doesn't win the Classic, the true colors will show and they will be all over her like she's the worst horse ever.  I'll have to work double time to defend her lol.

Also, can someone please post what Goldikova's record is and how many G1s males she's beaten on dirt or synthetics?  I can't find the info anywhere... wait, maybe she hasn't run on dirt or synthetics.  I guess you can call a mare "great" even if she's a specialist on one surface...funny that.  It must be okay to be a hypocrite when bashing Zenyatta.

Welcome back Laz, where were you ?

04 Oct 2010 12:07 AM
Jason Shandler

I just listened to that Assault. Pretty funny and unprofessional at the same time. People are so obsessed with this mare it has gotten to the point where anyone writing a column with an opinion they dont want to see is made to be a bad person. It's pretty sick if you think about it.

Jayjay: Dude, do us a favor and learn something about horse racing. Thanks in advance

04 Oct 2010 12:16 AM
LAZMANNICK

-Keelerman

You rock!!

04 Oct 2010 12:31 AM
LAZMANNICK

jayjay

Hey bud.  I was down in the Carribean trying to have a holiday.  Even with the threat of a hurricane it was calmer than reading through some of the posts on this blog.  The next month is going to be a hoot.  Jason thinks you need to learn about horse racing.  I guess you can take 20 bucks or so from that 18K POT YOU WON and buy a copy of Beyer's book....Picking Winners.  That should make you an expert.

04 Oct 2010 12:52 AM
Meydan Rocks

I was having this conversation with a friend and so I decided to ask the esteemed posters on this blog... including Jason.

The question is...

I'm curious to know what those who watched and studied Rachel think.

If she had passed up the Woodward last year for a BCC that was run at Churchill on dirt, would she have been a lock to win the classic?  And might she have delivered a win over the likes of Quality Road etc.

Just wondering what people think.

04 Oct 2010 1:24 AM
jayjay

Keelerman : As much as Jason likes you, I doubt he will even pay attention to the rest of your comment after the 2nd paragraph lol.  Like I said before, all he cares about is that Zen run against the boys.  Anything else to him is pure crap, he's objective that way.  

THANK YOU KAY!  Love everything about your post specially about that death threat.  It's stupid and of course the haters jump on it because there's really no other horse they can jump on, they have now gone overseas.  It's ridiculous lol.

Also, do you know what that loud bang was around the paddock ? It sounded like a board fell over but was it Rinterval getting spooked?

04 Oct 2010 2:02 AM
jayjay

Jason : When you learn how to be real objective then come back to me about learning something.  Stop using that word when you don't really know what it means.

04 Oct 2010 2:04 AM
jayjay

Also, I already did you a favor by giving you the field, I should've stuck with our initial bet with you and your QR beast.  I'm really worried about LAL now after that Indiana Derby.  I figured she can handle Blame and that's why I gave you the field but now LAL is looking mighty tough coming from way off the pace.  So that's the only favor you'll get (in addition to the 100) if LAL beats her.

04 Oct 2010 2:06 AM
Meydan Rocks

Mz Paula Higgens,

Intriguing point.

Would Rachel have won the derby against "that bunch" starting from Looking at Lucky's hole? The dreaded 1 hole?

When TIZNOW won the BCC the second time.

What was his record prior to the BCC?

TO be fair to him, he had some "back issues' that were reported.

Question is, if he had lost the BCC how would he be remembered now? Is that the fate that awaits Z?

-----------------------------

Stacey,

No worries. Here's a quote from Mr Beyer's latest salvo against Z.

Zenyatta's not queen of the universe just yet

By Andrew Beyer

"This Breeders' Cup Classic will be the defining race of her life, and if she wins (or even loses a close one), she can silence all of the skeptics. I doubt that she will. If Zenyatta retires without beating top-class competition on dirt, how will history view her?"

04 Oct 2010 2:24 AM
Helen

If there is a conspiracy involved here, it is that they chose to saddle Rinterval next to Zenyatta.  The only horse I remember seeing being saddled in the ZENYATTA zone at Hollywood Park is her stablemate Life Is Sweet.  

04 Oct 2010 2:28 AM
Livesoutwest

Haynesfield looked great in his comeback.  Wish I had taken the juicy 7-1 odds.  However, if he and Quality Road both go in the Classic, it should set up perfectly for Zenyatta.  Blame proved what I said before, he's a gutsy closer, but a bit overrated and a notch below the best. He'll finish off the board in the Classic.

I thought that Jackson should have taken a shot in the Lady's Secret before retiring Rachel Alexandra considering the shorter distance.  But after watching Zenyatta win for fun live at the track, I don't think this year's version of RA could have competed with Z, even at 1 1/16.  Except maybe at Del Mar which she hates.  The Clement Hirsch may have been the opportunity Jackson let slip away.

04 Oct 2010 2:47 AM
Rachel

Of course Zenyatta doesn't need a rabbit. She only races turtles! No fault of hers, just her selfish connections. An undefeated record racing against allowances horses is sooo much better than possibly losing to some stellar grade 1 winners!

Zenyatta vs. Rachel, Zen would definitely need a rabbit of 4 if she wanted to beat Rachel. No way would Zen beat Rachel in a match race.

04 Oct 2010 2:53 AM
Kay

Jason:

"I just listened to that Assault. Pretty funny and unprofessional at the same time. People are so obsessed with this mare it has gotten to the point where anyone writing a column with an opinion they dont want to see is made to be a bad person. It's pretty sick if you think about it."

Andy Beyer has every right to say whatever he wants, and anyone who wants to disagree with him has every right to do that as well. Zenyatta doesn't make any sense according to his system, and it figures that he'd vociferously defend that. He showed a lot of nerve -- and guts -- to appear at HP. There was a lot of booing, but it wasn't violent and he took it well. Kurt Hoover wasn't a jerk to him but he stood his ground and made several good points against Beyer's stance.

I wish he cared more about how races are run, but he's sticking to his system so that's a disappointment. Anyway, if Zenyatta wins the Classic or just runs awesome, it would be nice if he said something kind about her.

And not all Zenyatta fans think Roger Stein is all that, either. Just FYI.

And think of it this way: When you know you've seen something quite extraordinary and then some jackwad comes along and says that you haven't, how would YOU react?

04 Oct 2010 3:02 AM
GunBow

Andy Beyer has every right to express his opinion of Zenyatta.  Of course, Roger Stein also has the right to express his opinion of Andy Beyer, even though it appears Stein may have swung below the belt.

Speaking as a fan of Zenyatta, I accept that not everyone is going to be entralled with Zenyatta.  What I simply cannot understand is how some people seem to harbor so much negativity for Zenyatta.  I don't understand how, in the immeadiate aftermath of Zenyatta's win on Saturday, someone's first response is to criticize, complain, and chastise others for being enthusiastic.  I don't get it.  If your initial response to the Lady's Secret was negativity and bitterness and you were not able to take away any joy from what Zenyatta did, then why are you following racing?  

People who hold such negativity have a right to do so, and it doesn't necessarilly make them bad people, but I just can't understand it.  

04 Oct 2010 3:18 AM
GunBow

Given 1989 was my first year following the sport, I was wanting to know what the response to Personal Ensign winning the 88' BC Distaff was like.  Were there people out there that focused on the fact that she didn't challenge the boys in the Classic, placing that above the Distaff win?  I would assume that there were people who discussed this given Personal Ensign's main rival for Horse of the Year was the Classic winner, Alysheba.

In short, did Personal Ensign and her connections receive criticism for not being more ambitious in their campaign?  Did some people respond to the 88' Distaff with words like "It's fine that she won the Distaff, but if you really want to make a statement, why not try to retire undefeated while challenging the absolute best horses in the world, the boys in the Classic?  What does going undefeated really mean when she has only faced a grand total of 2 males and wasn't in the Classic field to challenge Alysheba, Seeking the Gold, Forty Niner and others? The undefeated record rings somewhat hollow."

From what I have read and heard post facto, Personal Ensign was just about universally applauded for winning the Distaff to go 13 for 13.  In fact, the 88' Distaff is still held up as the defining race in Breeder's Cup history, until possibly being supplanted by Zenyatta's Classic.  But were there critics?  How many?  How loud was their voice?

04 Oct 2010 3:45 AM
slyder

Greg J,

In your comments on the 1980 Olympic Hockey team you forgot to mention Steve Christoff who played a number of years for the MN North Stars, Rob McClanahan who played 6 yrs in the NHL, Bill Baker who had a very nice career in the NHL, Jack O'Callahan played 8-10 yrs for the Blackhawks, Mark Pavelich played a number of years in the NHL, and Dave Silk who also had a number of good years in the NHL.

That's a whole lot of big success at the top. John Harrington is still coaching hockey at a high level after years of coaching college hockey. What a collection of players and coaches they were.

04 Oct 2010 8:43 AM
Slew

Kay: Rinterval's trainer stated on ESPN that when he got her to the barn, he suddenly had tons of security.  HP security said they had received death threats against Rinterval.  The trainer was surprised.  Afterwards, during saddling, Rinterval reared up and went over backward striking her head severely.  The trainer felt it was better to scratch her.  The trainer thought she possibly spooked as a result of a passing fan waving a Zen placard.

04 Oct 2010 9:06 AM
Mike Relva

JASON

I find it amusing that you havent said anything regarding Blame losing,yet Zenyatta wins and you do your usual bashing. BTW I had Haynesfield. lol

04 Oct 2010 9:51 AM
Jason Shandler

I know Mike, you had Haynesfield. In fact, we all know it by now because you've told us five times already. I guess you're looking for a pat on the back because you didnt have any real money on it. Step up to the window next time and you will be rewarded. it's called gambling.

As far as the race, it's a throwout for Blame. There was no pace for him to close into. Haynesfield will not be a major factor in the BC, other than to press QR for a mile. He wont get that easy, alone of the lead trip at CD. Not even close.

04 Oct 2010 10:12 AM
LAZMANNICK

Meydan Rocks

If Rachel would have passed up the woodward and run in the BCC and the BCC was at Churchill?.........I'm sure she would have been odds-on and probably would have won by at least 15 lengths.

04 Oct 2010 10:17 AM
Belmont

What about it Jason? What about what Relva just mentioned?

Let's talk about the eastern three (the ones that were suppose to be a challenge for Zenyatta at a mile and a quarter).

You can start with Rachel Alexandra, then talk about Quality Road, then finish it off with Blame.

Let's hear your "rationalize". We want to hear the excuses.

04 Oct 2010 10:23 AM
LAZMANNICK

Mike Relva

Hey Mike.  I haven't seen the results of the JCGC yet.  Who did you pick to win?

04 Oct 2010 10:25 AM
Secretariat

Quote from Jason Shandler:

"As far as the race, it's a throwout for Blame. There was no pace for him to close into"

Jason:

Blame can't do what Zenyatta does? Is that what your telling us?

04 Oct 2010 10:25 AM
LAZMANNICK

Hey Mike

Gee.  Throw out Blame's JCGC because there was no way he could win with such a slow pace?  Wow.  Sounds like a Zenyatta race scenario to me, except for the losing part.  From that I get the following two equations........

Blame plus slow pace equals loss.

Zenyatta plus slow pace equals win.

04 Oct 2010 10:28 AM
berttheclock

Isn't there any way to work in "Place the blame on Mame, boys, place the blame on Mame", for the loss by Blame?

Ah, Rita, you could really knock 'em out.

04 Oct 2010 10:39 AM
sodapopkid

Jason,  I guess that proves Zenyatta is one in a million because she wins without a pace and with a pace.  She just wins!!!!

04 Oct 2010 10:46 AM
Mike Relva

Ok,Jason. But,I do have $ on Zenyatta. lol

04 Oct 2010 10:47 AM
Meydan Rocks

Can the knowledgeable people on this blog translate this bit of "trainer speak" for me. I'm especially interested in the part about the "tactical decision" they made.

Todd Pletcher on Life At Ten.

======

Life At Ten flashes top form in dominant Beldame score

Posted: Saturday, October 02, 2010 4:50 PM

“Our filly was training better leading into this race, and she really likes Belmont,” Pletcher said. “She ran okay at Saratoga a couple of times, but I don’t think that is her favorite surface. We made a tactical decision in her last race and it kind of backfired, so this time we had a better plan in letting her fall into a rhythm and hoped that the other two fillies would show some initiative, and it worked out well.”

04 Oct 2010 10:54 AM
Jason Shandler

You think the competition may have made a difference? Running down G1 and G2 males is a little different than doing it against a California-based 3YO fillies by a half-length on synthetics. Wake up people.

Yeah, she did it once in last year's BC and that was great. And she probably could have done it a few other times against the best horses in the country. But that's the sad thing, we'll never know. She refused to leave her little, comfortable nest out there and now her legacy suffers the consequences. That's the price you pay for being conservative. You have your 19-0, but there will always be major 'what-ifs' with this horse. Sorry to upset you guys, but it's the truth. Listen to Andy Beyer, he will educate you.

04 Oct 2010 10:54 AM
Carlos in Cali

Jason,... lol. They're on you like white on rice.

Kay,... "Jackwad"? ha,ha.I love it!... marry me?..

04 Oct 2010 10:59 AM
Karen in Texas

GunBow---Regarding your questions on Personal Ensign's campaign--I don't remember any criticisms of her connections for being less than ambitious. However, wasn't her career considered remarkable in that she returned after a year's lay-off due to a fractured (and subsequently repaired) pastern and still remained undefeated during her three and four year old seasons? Her situation was not really analogous to Zenyatta's present day campaign.

04 Oct 2010 11:00 AM
Dona

Not sure why Blames' race was a throwout just because there was no pace for him to close into. Isn't that what makes Zenyatta so unusual, she closes the same regardless of the pace? Don't understand why people disparage her so much in light of that fact.

Someone once said "it's not the destiny we should savor, it's the journey". Zenyattas' career has been an amazing journey. I  wish Rachels' journey had ended better.

04 Oct 2010 11:14 AM
The Rock

Played the latter part of the Oak Tree card yesterday after getting crushed with my 3 morning games. Besides a couple of games, it was definitely a wierd week in my opinion in the NFL. Saints were fumbling near the goal line. The Browns are actually starting to look like a decent football team all around. SF finally put a decent road performance together, Detroit came so close to upsetting GB on the road....just wierd. But anyway, Sir Jason's two teamer came through. Well done good man. Kudos for that.

These last two weeks for me have been tough. It got even worse playing Oak Tree. Talk about some tough beats. I got that firster Turbulent Descent that I'd mentioned yesterday. This one was getting early tote action against a pretty salty field and stayed at that 2-1 price. So I went with the board action. Turns out this horse could be something.

After that, I had a hammer exacta with Tell A Kelly to Rigoletta and Izshelegal. I was counting my money when Tell A Kelly got the split at the 3/16th's, but that longshot came back on and got her. I wish they could've work TAK a good 7f's or a mile when you're trying two turns for the first time. She seemed leg weary at the 1/8th pole. We hardly see those types of works anymore. Sadler should think about that. But more importantly, I should've reversed my tickets.

In the Clement Hirsch, I played a $20 tri Champ Pegusas & Bourbon in the top two with Worth Repeating & Where's the Remote. Looked good at the 1/16th pole until Where's the Remote just kept on coming. Still can't believe he gobbled up all that ground with that slow pace. Once again, didn't reverse it. I guess I'll never learn.

Anyway, Champ Pegasus has really come around lately. Him & Bourbon Bay should give the West Coast turf division a decent show in the next 6 months.

More stakes races this weekend, but more importantly for me, the SF Giants made the playoffs and take on ATL in the NLDS. Just need those bats to come alive and the pitching staff will take care of the rest. Go G-Men!!

04 Oct 2010 11:14 AM
Celtic Woman

"She refused to leave her little comfortable nest out there and now her legacy suffers the consequences". You sure Zenyatta did that? What a horse! No wonder she's 19-0.

04 Oct 2010 11:21 AM
Voyager

Jason, your fangs are dripping. Too much venom!

04 Oct 2010 11:24 AM
MonicaV

I don't think that there is any doubt this year as to which horse will be HOY.  Even if she does not repeat in the BCC, there is no way Zenyatta will lose HOY.  She deserves it for remaining undefeated for so long and for bringing horse racing to the forefront.  She is a gorgeous animal and a wonderful example of what makes this sport so great.

04 Oct 2010 11:34 AM
Adam

Jason,

Your the minority (you, Andy Beyer and the other few nuts out there).

I can see why Andy has a "severe" distain for synthetic surfaces, but what's your excuse?

Here is Andy Beyer in a nutshell:

Andy Beyer makes his money off his Beyer speed figures and he is leading sheep off a cliff when it comes to his Beyer formula on synthetics.

The Beyer formula does not work on synthetic surfaces and he’s “raging” over it. Zenyatta does not make it any better for him and she actually becomes “the target” of his rage.

Synthetic surfaces and horses (like Zenyatta) threaten his Beyer formula at its core.

The Bottom Line: “Synthetic surfaces threaten his pocketbook.”

Hint:

If his Beyer formula was “so good”, he wouldn’t sell it or tout it. He would want the odds and the payouts (all to himself).

04 Oct 2010 11:43 AM
MonicaV

The one thing that has really bothered me for almost an entire year is that a few people blogging cannot give Rachel credit for anything.  Why can't you enjoy both horses?  One on here mentioned that Mr. Wiggins admitted that Rachel's compeition in the Woodward wasn't all that.  Does that make you feel good?  Is that why you mentioned it?  Do you know so little that when a 3 year old filling beats grade 1 older males that it is pretty sensational?  Why can't  you admit that this filly was special and there has been no other 3 year old filly to compare to her?  Rachel was a great horse too and that doesn't take anything away from Zenyatta.  Why must all this arguing continue?  Haven't we heard it all by now?

04 Oct 2010 11:44 AM
LAZMANNICK

Meydan Rocks

Check out the charts of the Beldame and the Personal Ensign.  See the difference in LAT's running style.....forcing the pace as opposed to stalking……the much stronger move from the 6F point home in the Beldame as opposed to the PE.  There is a big difference in the times also.  LAT was much more reserved early on in the Beldame and made her move later in the race saving something until they got to that point.  That was the difference.

04 Oct 2010 11:49 AM
MikeM

When was the last time Beyer picked the winner of a big race?

04 Oct 2010 11:50 AM
Gary at Rough Creek

Jason,

Wow, first you did a real service to the sport with this interview, and now you have to go and ruin it.

Gunbow...love your last post...thank you for the historical perspective regarding PE.  The lack of it regarding Zenyatta's achievements is maddening.

Hey, how many horses have won HOY and never left the state of California during that year?  Two I think...check it out Jason.  Not that this would describe Zenyatta this year or last...she raced outside of CA last year, and did again already this year.  

I am fully awake Jason, and I think your latest post (of October4, 2010...10:54 AM) is both childish and factually inaccurate.   Zenyatta has left her "...comfortable, little nest out there" three times, with two wins on dirt the result - by her largest margins of victory too.  Didn't she beat Ginger Punch?  A real slouch I guess.

The other intended race was at Churchill but she was scratched due to the condition of the track surface.  Isn't taking care of the horse JOB 1?  Or should her connections do anything and everything to overcome the childish cynicism of every doubter out there?  I'll go with her connections on that one.

And the goal is to come to Churchill to take on the best two turn horses once again and defend her BCC victory from last year.  It's not her fault that The BC was held at Santa Anita last year.  She showed up, she ran and she won (in 2:00 and change)...accept it for the amazing, historical feat that it was.  

Zen DID leave California.  She DIDN'T duck any competition, including Rachel.  Rachel wasn't "ready" to go to the Apple Blossom.  Zen was there AGAIN and won it...AGAIN.

Time for you to make a case against Ack Ack now, and how he is an undeserving HOY.  He ran brilliantly, but only for half the year.  He never left California that year!  Be careful though, some folks where you work voted Ack Ack the 44th best runner of the 20th Century!

Ready....go!

04 Oct 2010 12:05 PM
RachelRules

Rachel was the most exciting filly I've seen since Ruffian.

Zenyatta is great too, but I dislike Shireffs very much. He was interviewed before the 2008 Classic and he made fun of the horses Curlin was beating (particularly Wanderin Boy.)

Since that time, I started looking at who Zenyatta was facing, and save the Classic, she wasn't exactly facing super strong fields.

How pompous to make fun of a horse who won the Classic, Dubai World Cup, JCGC, Woodward, Stephen Foster, some of those multiple times....meanwhile his "champion" regularly beat up on unheralded horses such as Briecat, Dance to My Tune, St Trinians (who ran fifth against males...big deal.)

I think Zenyatta is awesome, but her connections had no business making fun of the competition Curlin faced, just as they had no business thinking they accomplsihed more than Rachel in 2009, when clearly they were content to avoid the big races during the year.

No one ducked her as her fans claim, she simply didn't enter the big ones, not even the HGC, Pacific Classic, or Goodwood. Not once in her career did she enter a marquis race in California. What's up with that? I'd like to ask Shirreffs to his face why he makes fun of others, yet not once...not even one lousy time, did he run her against males in California.

That is why I will always think of her as great, but not the greatest, and certainly not greater or more exciting than Rachel.

04 Oct 2010 12:28 PM
Jason Shandler

lol...You guys are the best. No venom here Voyager, just laughter at the blinded passion of her fans. I just thought of a great parellel for Zenyatta: She is the Boise St. of horse racing. She run in one important race all year and then gets upset when the voters dont let her play in title game (in this case, HOY).

Gary, I'll say it once again: She could have stayed in Cali if that's what her connections wanted. That's fine. All we objective people were asking is that she take on the best in her OWN state--just once. Once. She cant even be called the best horse in California. How can she be? She didnt even go to the Hollywood Gold Cup, Pacific Classic or Goodwood. None of them. I dont make up the rules her, I just point out the facts for everyone that doesnt want to see them. Call me a party pooper or whatever you want, but I'm just trying to put things in perspective. The 19-for-19 is great. It was great for Pepper's Pride too. Nobody is taking anything away from either of them. But numbers dont tell the whole story sometimes. You have to look a little deeper.  

04 Oct 2010 12:32 PM
Jack

Adam,

You couldn't have been more precise.

It would be like a restaurant selling their valued recipe.

A restaurant that belongs in the pantheon of the greatest restaurants in the world does not sell their recipe.

The same goes for handicappers. A handicapper that belongs in the pantheon of the greatest handicappers in the world does not sell his handicapping formula.

Andy Beyer has an agenda and that agenda is a "financial" one.

04 Oct 2010 12:34 PM
draynot

Relax folks, it's clear Jason can't or won't be objective about Zenyatta. He's in the draynay camp hoping and praying she gets beat in her career finale then he'll crow that he was always right. It doesn't matter to me one bit if she loses the Classic this year she's ALREADY proven to be one of the best ever. She's not a six time loser like RA against lesser competition. No matter who she's faced she's won unlike so many others. It's down to one race and if she's ever beaten it will be in the biggest race of the year and it will take the best in the world to take her down. You can't do any better than that.  

04 Oct 2010 12:37 PM
Jason Shandler

Beyer knows more about racing than 100 Adam's and Jack's put together.

04 Oct 2010 12:42 PM
Troy T.

Andy Beyer is starting to become the "dosage" system. He has no clue with synthetics surfaces.

04 Oct 2010 12:43 PM
Jason Shandler

That's just it Troy, nobody knows synthetics. They are all different at each track. There is no consistency. Not to worry though, 90% will be gone within 10 years. We'll remember this time period like the steroid era in baseball.

04 Oct 2010 12:48 PM
Kelly Gregson

Did Adam and Jack strike a nerve with you, Mr. Shandler?

Does the truth hurt?

04 Oct 2010 12:52 PM
berttheclock

So, is Andy Beyers really any different than Sprint Rogers?  Rogers would neither bet turf nor Maidens.  You can still use both speed ratings and Beyers to determine trends, but, I really love to bet horses in two turn races, who, have dropped out of running at some point in the race.  Their B figures drop off and the Beyers Boys dismiss them.  As Bobby Frankel once said, who really knows why a horse stops running in a race. I have even seen sharp put over claiming trainers, intentionally, have their jocks pull horses back.  Then, in the next race, as they are overlooked, their odds climb and they put everything together.

BTW, I have friends who have followed Andy to the windows, bet as he did, and lost their collective shirts.  I have, also, seen Sprint Rogers bet with both fists and cash few tickets.  Although his wife did far better.

04 Oct 2010 12:53 PM
Billy's Empire

Stupid Blue Field, or should I say Stupid Synthetic Blue Field.

04 Oct 2010 12:53 PM
Jet Pilot

Jason, This is what makes Zenyatta so special. All the tracks are different but the result always ends up the same (whether its against males or females).

04 Oct 2010 12:55 PM
Jason Shandler

Not at all Kelly. It's just funny that a man with 30 years in the industry and someone that revolutionized the sport can be taken to task by bloggers because he doesnt bow down to a horse that people have become obsessed with.

04 Oct 2010 12:57 PM
Billy's Empire

man, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire hit a lot of homeruns, ON STEROIDS!

man, Zenyatta won a lot of grade 1 races in her career, on SYNTHETIC.

like that Jason?

***Barry Bonds famous home run baseball has an asterick on it. So will Zenyatta's race record.***

04 Oct 2010 12:58 PM
Jason Shandler

lol Billy. Maybe they should color the Hollywood Cushion Track blue in honor of Zenyatta!

Jet Pilot lol. Males or females? She faced males once. Dont try to make it like she conquers them at every turn. Once out of 19.

04 Oct 2010 12:59 PM
Exterminator

"someone that revolutionized the sport"

Jason, I have ocean front property to sell you in Arizona.

BTW: I have a gig for you down at the Comedy Club. I'll be laughing at you, not with you.

04 Oct 2010 1:09 PM
Dona

I knew I was half blind because of the typos but who knew it was due to passion for Zenyatta? She controls her destiny, makes us half blind and all because she's upset at the voters. Whew, for someone whacking at her backside, you sure do give her credit.

04 Oct 2010 1:10 PM
Jet Pilot

Jason,

I didn't know there was only one male in the 2009 Breeders Cup Classic last year.

Was it a match race?

04 Oct 2010 1:10 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Jason,

"Objective" my rear.  I'm glad you don't train horses.  You're being misleading and unrealistic.

The ultimate goal for Z in 2010 is to defend her BCC title.  Not to design a campaign that YOU and a couple others can't argue with.  Isn't that the type of "thinking" that gutted Rachel...according to Wiggins?

If Rachel was the best of the younger female competition this year, Z's connections made it clear and unambiguous to Rachel's connections (and everyone else BTW) that they would be running in The Apple Blossom...on dirt...at 9 furlongs.  Come get her!!!  But it was Rachel's connections who didn't have their horse ready and pulled out of the race.   Isn't your criticism  foisting blame unfairly on Zenyatta for what is actually Rachel's connections fault here?

I'll say it again...you are not being "objective", you are being cynically misleading...and unrealistic.  Zenyatta is the champ man...she doesn't have to chase anyone.   You think those California males are better than her at 10 furlongs on dirt?  Then I hope you convince their connections to send them to the BCC at Churchill and try to prove it.  That's where the champ will be.    

04 Oct 2010 1:10 PM
sodapopkid

***Barry Bonds famous home run baseball has an asterick on it. So will Zenyatta's race record.***

Like the reigning 2009's 2010 season? that definitly has an aterisk beside it.

04 Oct 2010 1:14 PM
Jason Shandler

Gary: I just hope it doesnt rain BC weekend. Whatever would Mr. Shirreffs do then? Can you imagine, horses actually running on WET racetrack. That would be something.

Exterminator: Tell me more about this property that you have. Im interested. Maybe I can borrow  few million of Andy and we can make an offer.

04 Oct 2010 1:16 PM
Billy's Empire

So, Goldikova won again this weekend, and would you beleive that she raced against males? Doesn't Freddy Head know that running her against males will get her tired and she will not be able to fly here (from Europe) and be ready for the BC? Shame on him.

Oh wait, she is a true champion!

04 Oct 2010 1:21 PM
jayjay

Jason : You keep thinking it's laughable what our passion is or "obsession" is for this mare, yet, you, the owner of these blogs are always trying to inject Zenyatta when you can to start the flodding of posts.  You have not said anything with substance and that makes sense about your negativity towards Zenyatta.  It's just you wanting to see her against the boys.  You'll see it in the Classic.

LOL, you're really funny Jason.  Beyer doesn't bow down to Zenyatta?  Is that what you're calling it now ??  How about speaking the truth and say that Beyer doesn't know how to fix his formula when it comes to Zenyatta ?  Stop spinning for him, he's a grown man...if he can't defend his beyer system, he should stop selling it or at least publish the fact that it doesn't work on synthetics.  

04 Oct 2010 1:22 PM
Householder

Splits of 12.  Thanks for giving us Jaycito.  I hammered it.  Thought JP looked like a sprinter.  The whole Victory Gallop/Real Quiet thing sold me.  

Blind Luck...let's not spot a very good horse 10 pounds anymore.  I was worried before the race.  Dug in at Churchill for an Oaks win over a very game Evening Jewell.

Lookin at Lucky.  Probably one of his BEST races came at Churchill.  He was 19th of 20 after a mile...in the back with ICE BOX.  He can ship and brings his "A" game each time.  He was the best 2 year old...now the best 3 year old.

Zenyatta.  36 months holding her form.  Has not missed a beat.  Like a swiss watch another 1 1/16th in 1:42.  

Blame.  Not impressed with his first try at 1 1/4.

Quality Road.  A big question mark.

04 Oct 2010 1:26 PM
berttheclock

So, Jason, I see you are reading Jason Whitlock at Fox Sports.  He called the Kansas City Chiefs the Boise State of the NFL.  Of course, he is a touch bitter as he was run out of Kansas City and abhored by most fans.

04 Oct 2010 1:26 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

RachelRules,

You remind me of a recent political movement...you don't let facts get in the way of your opinions!

The day before Zenyatta won The BCC last year, her stablemate (who Z had beaten more than once) cruised in The Grade 1 Lady's Classic.  Z easily beat Reigning Champion Ginger Punch on dirt in The 2008 Apple Blossom.  That was the same year that Ginger Punch won 3 Grade 1 races (from 8.5 to 10 furlongs), came 2nd in another Grade 1, and won a Grade 2 as well.  Not what I would call "off form" would you?

How many REIGNING CHAMPIONS did Rachel beat...and at their favorite distances too?  C'mon, Zenyatta has faced no real competition?  Are you even close to trying to be serious?  You guys are better than that...or maybe not.

04 Oct 2010 1:27 PM
Billy's Empire

Oh, you didn't hear Jason. They are doing construction at Churchill Downs now and making it a dome with a retractable roof just so Z can have perfect track conditions. Then, after the BC, a smaller looking version will be sent to the farm so she can continue living in her bubble...

I got 5 on that ocean front property. I hear the view is great

04 Oct 2010 1:28 PM
Householder

Whatever your take may be on Zenyatta, it could not be better timing for racing as we have Secretariat the moving opening this Friday.  An undefeated mare who is 19-0 defending her BC Classic win over the same track where Big Red set a record. She may just get her own Oprah segment...I think I spotted Secretariat's owner in the winner circle with Zenyatta.  Hmmm...perhaps its time to hire a big public relations firm to handle Zenyatta.  3 walks around the Cesar Palace fountain a day?

04 Oct 2010 1:37 PM
Zookeeper

The presence of Penny Chenery in the winners circle after the LS was a wonderful surprise. She, along with nearly 26,000 fans, seemed to really enjoy Zenyatta. Somebody tell me again how many people were at Belmont on Saturday to watch one of the best card ever put together. Was it really over 6,000??? Impressive! Oh that's right, there was College Football on that day... Why invest time and money to support premium racing at at a historic track, on sacred dirt, featuring superior horses and their brilliant connections??? Even the esteemed Mr. Beyer had enough sense to be at HP instead of Belmont. Imagine THAT!!!  :)

04 Oct 2010 1:40 PM
JerseyBoy

Adam:

You said the Beyer formula does not work on synthetic surfaces. It is just as nonsensical on dirt. Here is a recent example.

Morning Line wins the PA Derby beating First Dude by a neck with A Little Warm third by a nose. This means the distance between the first and the third was a neck and a nose.

The first and second get the same Beyer rating, 103.

The third gets a rating less than 102 although the third gave 8 pounds to the winner and 6 pounds to the runner-up. This is total nonsense. Why does anyone pay attention to this?

Also, I do agree that anyone who comes up a a winning formula would never publish it. He would simply sit at home and reap his millions.

04 Oct 2010 1:40 PM
Jason Shandler

I know Billy. That Mr. Head must not care about his mare. The nerve of him shipping her all over Europe and the world to run against the best horses. Someone really needs to reprimand him. Rumor has it, Goldy actually flew over mountains on her way to many of these races. And she ran on soft grass on Sunday? Is that true?

As for Churchill, that was mighty nice of them to do that for Zenyatta. I cant wait to see the new roof. What about the cold though? What if it's below 50 degrees? Will they install heaters all around the track for her? I say, spare no expense. She's the queen, she deserves the royal treatment!

04 Oct 2010 1:41 PM
jayjay

Jason (and your fans) : Here's the bottom line : She has 19 wins, 3 more than Citation and Cigar and one more than Eclipse.  Anyone who doesn't recognize that needs to learn something about horseracing history.  It's in the record books, you people can keep crying about it lol, we'll enjoy seeing you cry while we celebrate her.

04 Oct 2010 1:50 PM
Kay

Jayjay:

“Also, do you know what that loud bang was around the paddock ? It sounded like a board fell over but was it Rinterval getting spooked?”

It was either her hitting her head or landing after flipping over. It sounded like she kicked the wall but obviously it was much worse than that. Just SO glad to her leave in one piece. Although if I’d known then what Eric Reed was saying on camera, I would have confronted him. Just not cool, dude.

Livesoutwest:

“Haynesfield looked great in his comeback.  Wish I had taken the juicy 7-1 odds.  However, if he and Quality Road both go in the Classic, it should set up perfectly for Zenyatta.  Blame proved what I said before, he's a gutsy closer, but a bit overrated and a notch below the best. He'll finish off the board in the Classic.”

I heard somewhere that Haynesfield is heading for the Dirt Mile. Not sure if that’s true, but it’s what I heard. Naturally, I’d love to see his speed in the Classic. Perfect set-up! I was a bit worried about Blame, that he is actually a better horse at 9F than at 10F. His turn of foot was quite diluted at 10F. It could have been that he didn’t care for Belmont, or that the one turn hurt him and really helped the speed. But I don’t think a hard race and a loss is what they wanted going into the Classic. He’s obviously a better horse at CD but I’ll still wonder if he really wants 10F.

GunBow:

“Andy Beyer has every right to express his opinion of Zenyatta.  Of course, Roger Stein also has the right to express his opinion of Andy Beyer, even though it appears Stein may have swung below the belt.”

Which is unfortunate, because Beyer didn’t. Keeping this above-board would make the counter-argument that much stronger.

“Speaking as a fan of Zenyatta, I accept that not everyone is going to be entralled with Zenyatta.  What I simply cannot understand is how some people seem to harbor so much negativity for Zenyatta.  I don't understand how, in the immeadiate aftermath of Zenyatta's win on Saturday, someone's first response is to criticize, complain, and chastise others for being enthusiastic.  I don't get it.  If your initial response to the Lady's Secret was negativity and bitterness and you were not able to take away any joy from what Zenyatta did, then why are you following racing?”

ITA. It’s mystifying, as if Zenyatta is doing something horrible directly TO people. To me, it’s like the Nerd Paradox, where nerds complain when nobody watches Star Trek but then when billions of people go see the reboot, the nerds do nothing but complain about how lousy it was. And you would think that somebody who loves something SO MUCH would… love it. But they don’t. The thing with Zenyatta feels exactly the same, as if the “serious” people in racing resent the pop-cultureness of it all. But then on the other hand, they complain that racing is dying. Welcome to the Nerd Paradox!

Slew:

“Kay: Rinterval's trainer stated on ESPN that when he got her to the barn, he suddenly had tons of security.  HP security said they had received death threats against Rinterval.  The trainer was surprised.  Afterwards, during saddling, Rinterval reared up and went over backward striking her head severely.  The trainer felt it was better to scratch her.  The trainer thought she possibly spooked as a result of a passing fan waving a Zen placard.”

I know about the death threats, but that’s entirely different than what he intimated on TV about the signs. I mean, come ON. His horse is exceptionally high-strung. And while people had signs, they were not waving them like they were at a football game. And according to the announcer, it was a vet scratch. Look, I just think that this guy has no idea what he’s saying on TV. He’s probably never been interviewed before. He needs to think before he speaks because then we get this hysterical nonsense about how people should be arrested and how DARE people try to kill Rinterval by waving signs at her. That indicates that all of it was directed at Rinterval, because OF COURSE everybody there knew that Rinterval was Zenyatta’s biggest threat. First of all, anyone who actually follows racing knew Switch was. And secondly, most people there only knew about Zenyatta. Hell, the people next to me thought she was in the sixth and were looking for her when the Norfolk horses came in. Why doesn’t he try schooling his horses so they don’t flip out? How about that?

Jason:

“As far as the race, it's a throwout for Blame. There was no pace for him to close into. Haynesfield will not be a major factor in the BC, other than to press QR for a mile. He wont get that easy, alone of the lead trip at CD. Not even close.”

He went 6F in 1:13. Zenyatta closed into a 1:13 split and won. But seriously, I thought GoGo rode a poor race. He knew that not only was the pace moderate, but that Haynesfield was all alone up there. He was WAY too far back.

“Gary: I just hope it doesnt rain BC weekend. Whatever would Mr. Shirreffs do then? Can you imagine, horses actually running on WET racetrack. That would be something.”

I think it’s awesome how you guys just completely, utterly REFUSE to acknowledge facts. You keep repeating the same fallacies over and over again and when people correct you, you simply ignore it and go on with your fallacies. I’ll say it again, even though it won’t make an impact. Zenyatta was scratched out of the CD race because the track was SEALED, and because it was her first start of the year. Go ask Nick Zito what HE thinks of a sealed racetrack.

Meydan Rocks:

“Our filly was training better leading into this race, and she really likes Belmont,” Pletcher said. “She ran okay at Saratoga a couple of times, but I don’t think that is her favorite surface. We made a tactical decision in her last race and it kind of backfired, so this time we had a better plan in letting her fall into a rhythm and hoped that the other two fillies would show some initiative, and it worked out well.”

The tactical decision was to go with Rachel. But Life At Ten seems at her best when she can get into her own rhythm. Mike Smith talks about this a lot with the horses he rides. He talks about their breathing, that he can tell when they’re comfortable because they’re taking deep, even breaths. But even though they didn’t go that fast in the PE, Life At Ten was still taken out of her game. She was never allowed to settle into her rhythm because she was right alongside Rachel. Does that make sense?

04 Oct 2010 1:59 PM
Kevin

"I haven't seen anything like her since Ruffian."

-Chris McCarron

"To run second to the best horse in the world and one of the greats of all time is huge."

-John Sadler

"Zenyatta is like a guided missile,She's got radar and locks down on the leader."

-Bob Baffert

04 Oct 2010 2:01 PM
The Rock

Jason,

Shirreffs wasn't afraid of running on a wet track. He didn't like the type of maintenance that was performed on it prior to his horse's race. I think it was sealed at first and then they harrowed it. If they would've kept it sealed he said he would've run her. And be real, there's no way in hell they're going to scratch in the BC.

I actually listened to the rest of the podcast for on Sunday for Roger Stein's show. I don't know who these expert handicappers are that he's got with him, but they're a bunch of wussies. They think the Mosses should run Zenyatta in the Distaff to preserve her undefeated streak and for her to be known as the best female racehorse ever. Are these guys serious? Damn the record. Go for the gold. They think the competition is tougher this year. What a bunch of cowards. I'm glad they at least don't own this horse.

04 Oct 2010 2:30 PM
kathleen o

Mr Shandler, your sarcasm is duly noted.  Zen's connections have, and always will keep her well being as their only concern.  Maybe if Mr Wiggens had been able to keep RA in his stable, we would have seen a different RA this year.  IMHO, Zen's races were announced well in advance, so any owner or trainer had ample opportunity to challenge her.  The Moss's did not demand changes in dates, distances, or purses.  This mare has been a boon to the sport of racing, and to constantly criticize says more about you than it does about Zenyatta.  

04 Oct 2010 2:33 PM
Dave B.

I enjoyed reading all of the posts over lunch today.  I'd say the Zenyatta publicity is a bit over the top, especially on ESPN and TVG. However, I suspect it's being done to get more interest/better ratings for the BC (ESPN) and to have more people place bets (TVG).  

I agree with Jason and a few others when they say Zenyatta should have at least taken on some of the top males in California.  The Goodwood was an excellent race and it would've been so much better if we could have watched Zenyatta take on Richard's Kid in the final drive.  But we were left to watch her take on another short field of decent fillies.  

I actually am a big fan on Zenyatta and do think she's the one to beat in Kentucky.  But I think her connections/ESPN also preferred to see her going into the BC 19-0.  More storylines = better ratings and more bets placed.  

04 Oct 2010 2:40 PM
Zookeeper

Jason- The obsession runs both ways, pro and con. The number of comments she brings forth are making your blog one of the most successful in the industry. No wonder you bring her up every chance you get or fuel the fire someone else has started. She's THE BOMB for your ratings. Don't pretend that the passion she inspires is annoying to you. You're LOVING it!!!

04 Oct 2010 2:41 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Jason,

We're in a drought here, I'd love to see it rain on BC weekend...even if that meant they'd scratch the Big Z (assuming of course, that they would?)  What would Shirreffs do if it rained you ask?  I don't know, but he won the BCC last year AND the Lady's Classic.  He's kept Zenyatta healthy and happy - and winning- for what...3 years now?   Rachel's new connections couldn't do that for even one year with her.

I'd gladly defer to Mr. Shirreffs and accept his decision!  He knows what's best for his horses.  

What do you want Jason?  To see her get beat by a mudder maybe, so you can forever say that she got beat?  What would that prove?  Onion beat Secretariat.  So what?

Face the fact Jason...Rachel's people knew Z was going to The 2010 Apple Blossom, and they ran away scared, even though Rachel came back and ran a triple digit Beyer in her first race back.  Forget the synthetics, forget the 10 furlong distance.  Rachel wasn't good enough to face Z on dirt at 9 furlongs then, and she never would be good enough to beat Zenyatta.  Period.

Still a great filly, but she's no Zenyatta.  

All this other talk is just a distraction, trying to gloss over that fact.  Rachel - or more precisely - Rachel's CONNECTIONS - balked at going to last year's Breeder's Cup, and they balked at going to the 2010 Apple Blossom.  Z on the other hand, took on the best at 10 furlongs, and whipped them.  The plan is to do it again...pretty special stuff.

04 Oct 2010 2:59 PM
The Phantom

jayjay,you must be referring to 19 in a row as for Citation in 1948 he ran 20 times won 19 finished second included was the triple crown and wins against the best older males! That's what is called real greatnest.I think Zen is a great horse maybe best filly ever certainly better then 1 year wonder RA, who was setup to win HOTY against non stellar fields and short distances.The owner knew she couldn't win at a mile and a quarter avoided the Belmont,Travers,Jockey Gold Cup and didn't show for the Breeders Cup yet she wins a popularity contest!The owners of Zen carefully pick the races and have avoided the big Cal caps to save her from possibly losing and tiring out-that's their strategy and sure she will show her talent in the BC,no horse today has her closing kick!Zen has proved herself and will again in the BC Classic.As for RA she was a great horse up to 8 furlongs but at a mile and a quarter she was a tired horse.I believe a truly great horse has to win at all distances especially the Classic mile and a quarter and take on the best competition.Who will they mate Zen with????

04 Oct 2010 3:23 PM
Meydan Rocks

Jason,

Does Jerry Moss and/or John Sherreff's barn hear or read about the discussions on this blog?

I ask because I wonder of these sentiments get back to the "decision makers".

Just wondering...

04 Oct 2010 3:29 PM
Billy's Empire

I am pretty sure Chuck Norris would whip Zenyatta, and then eat Oprah for desert. Now, that is real competition.

04 Oct 2010 3:33 PM
Tiznowbaby

You think the steroid era is over in baseball?

Oh, Jason. That's so cute.

04 Oct 2010 3:40 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Jason

   Finally, you've got it. Took awhile but you've seen the error of your ways. Nice to have you on board. We've almost reached our destination but we happen to have room for a straggler or two so hop on. jshandler 04 Oct 2010 1:41pm- "She's the queen, she deserves the royal treatment."  

04 Oct 2010 4:04 PM
HollywoodHit

Keep drinking the Beyer Koolaid, and regurgitating Andys press releases Jason. Kudos to Andy for continuing to fill his pockets on the Beyer Sheeple, as his followers lose theur bankrolls in a cloud of chalk.

04 Oct 2010 4:05 PM
LAZMANNICK

RachelRules

You don't call Zenyatta's whirl wind finishes exciting?  You didn't think that her win in the BCC was amazing?  What about her determination when catching Anabaas Creation?  Was that kind of dull.  It was a jockey's miscalculation that got her into that predicament to begin with......she bailed him out.

The Preakness and the Woodward were exciting races, the kind that kept you on the edge of your seat, but what was so great about running an inferior group of fillies into the ground like she did in the Oaks, or having two fillies run suicidal fractions to set the stage for her in the Mother Goose.  In Zenyatta's entire 19 race career, the only races that could be termed dull were the recent Apple Blossom and her initial maiden win.  Every other race was run in a manner that there was doubt, and she had the ability to overcome that doubt every single time.  That's exciting, especially when everything is on the line.

04 Oct 2010 4:06 PM
Ranagulzion

Zenyatta is a champ 19-0 and no worse for wear.  I think that she should have another easy race (perhaps in an allowance race) to make her record 20-0 before the Breeder's Cup Classic because it will be heart-rending to have her stuck on 19-0 with Pepper's Pride after the big race (I can forsee all her detractors making a meal of that association ...not good).

Folks can't you see how the ultra-conservative strategy of her connections are likely to backfire if she fails to land their gamble in the BCC.  It would be so great if we wouldn't have to be defending BIG Z in a perpetual war of words on the blog ...if only she was allowed to answer all questions on the track.  What an injustice to the great mare.  Zenyatta doesn't deserve all this.

04 Oct 2010 4:06 PM
2:24

Wow, some of you folks must think that others are personally attacking Zenyatta and/or some relative of yours.  Did Jason say something bad about your mothers?  The vitriol on this blog is amazing.  Can people not differ in opinion without attacking each other?  Wow.  An attacking Andy Beyer for giving an opinion.  Isn't that what sports writers and columnists are supposed to do?  Just because he has a different opinion and suddenly he is a moron.  Amazing, a man who has done incredible things for horse racing and horse handicapping.

Some of the Zenyatta fans on this blog remind be of your stereotypical drunk Philadelphia Eagles football fans.

04 Oct 2010 4:07 PM
LAZMANNICK

That’s right Billy and Jason.

They are going to install a special dome for Zen.  That’s what they do for Queens.  As far as flying over them thar mountains, all those in the race are going to learn the true meaning of a mountain that’s too tough to climb.

In the meantime they’re going to install a special closed circuit TV for Rachel so she can watch the BCC, they’re going to ground all air traffic in the State so Quality Road won’t get too upset (he’ll be upset enough when he watches the Queen enter the starting gate); and they’re going to order the pace setters to run a little faster so Blame can try and catch them.

04 Oct 2010 4:17 PM
Greg J.

Jason,

OK, I have one question for you that I cannot figure out for the life of me!  How the hell do I get the green letters for my name?  Also, I cannot figure out how to post photos!  Very confusing!  I think Chris wishes I would figure it out :)

04 Oct 2010 4:19 PM
Alexaso

Beyer and the Zenyatta detractors are just bitter that she made them look bad when they completely dismissed her in last year's Classic. It was the same story last year leading into the race...she hasn't beaten anyone and she is too slow...they were wrong and it hurt. This is the only reason that these people have come to hate a horse...all other reasons are just a cover up.

I am skeptical that she will win this year, but I hope she does. It is too easy to pick a horse and claim that it is not going to win. Just as Zenyatta has to prove herself one more time, the detractors must prove themselves and give us the one that is going to beat her. Otherwise, they are just jerks.

04 Oct 2010 4:19 PM
Mike Relva

JASON

It's understating the fact you are always critical of the horse and her connections. Here's a fair question. If connections had followed your ideas for the past two years of where and when Zenyatta should race,do you she would still be sound today?

04 Oct 2010 4:39 PM
Pam S.

I'm as mild-mannered as they come but I must say I am SO tired, after a year and a half, of hearing about "The Scratch Heard 'Round the World."  Trainers scratch horses every day, star horses included.  It was not that important of a race.  However, it was Zenyatta's first out after a 6-month layoff.  Shirreffs did not know how much the track would change by post time and he opted to be safe rather than sorry.  Zenyatta's detractors, it seems, will never let this go.  I have even seen nonsense posted about "ducking" some filly in the race that has long since been forgotten.  

True, Zenyatta never has raced on a muddy or a sealed track.  But she has been prepared all year for the BC Classic, her final start, her title defense, and if anyone thinks she will be scratched again, just because she was scratched out of a fairly nondescript stakes race 18 months ago, they're grasping at straws.

Even if the track condition is less than perfect, I think she runs and I think she is a MAJOR contender.  She'll be ready for whoever shows up AND for God's anointed racing surface.  I think an enormous heart and legendary will to win supercedes moisture in the ground any day.

04 Oct 2010 4:46 PM
Mike Relva

Last week JAYJAY was correct. When is Blind Luck going to face males? Oh,that's right she gets one of Jasons' famous"passes" unless their name is Zenyatta.

04 Oct 2010 4:49 PM
President of the Player Haters Club

Great job Jason,keep spewing your venom which lacks objectivity.That's the spirit we're looking for in a true HaterNation member. My offer still stands young fella,oh!, can you please pass the info to Billy's Empire and Rachel too? Thanks in advance.See y'all at our annual Player Haters Ball my friend.

04 Oct 2010 4:52 PM
GunBow

As with so many other discussions concerning Zenyatta, a big problem is that different people use different standards when throwing around the word "great".  For some, great refers to the top 100 horses of the modern era(the Bloodhorse list).  For others, great is a term used for the absolute greatest horses ever, top 15 horses like Secretariat, Citation, Forego, Affirmed, The Bid.  In the discussion of Zenyatta, there are still others who use only other females to set their standard of greatness, comparing Zenyatta to the likes of Ruffian and Personal Ensign.

It is not surprising that without any agreed upon standards or scale there is alot if dissension.  For those whose standard of greatness is the top 15 of all time, declarations that Zenyatta is one the greatest horses ever may be looked upon with a degree exasperation.  On the other hand, those whose standards are other females may want to bang their head up against a wall when they read comments suggesting Zenyatta has no business among the "greats".

We had a similar problem last year as it concerned Rachel Alexandra's season.  Some believed Rachel had one of the greatest seasons ever by a 3 year old, giving her extra credit as a filly for beating the boys in 3 races.  Others retorted that it was ridiculous to compare Rachel's season to the season of great male 3 year olds like Secretariat, arguing that 3 victories in open(male + female) races is far from special(War Emblem also won 3 gr.1 open races).

My implicit standard for both Zenyatta and Rachel has always been other females.  And if the standard for a 3 year old filly is the likes of Ruffian, Busher, Beldame, Gallant Bloom, Cicada, and Go For Wand, then Rachel Alexandra most certainly belongs right up near or at the top.  I personally would have no issue with someone who declared Rachel to have been the greatest 3 year old filly in modern North American history.

Similarly, if Ruffian, Personal Ensign, Busher, Gallorette, and Lady's Secret are the standard for the best females(career) in modern North American history, then I believe Zenyatta belongs right at the top.  In my opinion, Zenyatta is the greatest female in modern North American history, although I don't think she towers over the others.

Where being the greatest 3 year old filly and the greatest older mare place Rachel and Z among the greatest males of all time is more difficult in my opinion.  Like I wrote earlier, Rachel beating gr.1 males 3 times makes her unique among 3 year old fillies, but such an accomplishment is nothing special for even moderate male champions.  Zenyatta's Breeder's Cup Classic might be the most significant win ever by a female over males, but winning a Classic in and of itself does not necessarily make a horse great, as Volponi and Cat Thief prove.

Comparing the top females to the top males is tricky.  There are many fans and horsemen who rate Ruffian among the top 10 or even 5 horses ever.  Others, noting that Ruffian never beat males, place her much lower, which is why she was only #35 in the Bloodhorse list.  The fact that Ruffian is considered by some to be a top 5 horse yet was only ranked 35th on the list reflects how much disagreement there is among her historical standing and how difficult it is, with the prevailing paradigm of running females against other females, to compare the best females to the best males.

04 Oct 2010 4:52 PM
GunBow

Kay:

Some great points.

04 Oct 2010 4:52 PM
Mike Relva

GARY AT ROUGH CREEK

Totally agree with everything on your last post. Some can't put their fragile egos' to the side. Connections get slammed for putting the horse first,not right!

04 Oct 2010 5:11 PM
GunBow

I am a child of the Beyer speed figure generation.  My second full season following the sport was 1991, the first year Beyer speed figures were made public(Racing Times then the Form in 92').

There was a period I was quite into Beyer figs, and loved using them to compare horses of different years and decades.  And they did, and still do, have some value.  For instance, Beyer figures correctly indicated that Sky Beauty, despite having won the Triple Tiara and 9 gr.1 races, was simply not fast enough to compete with Paseana and Hollywood Wildcat.

However, as others have pointed out, Beyer has a finanacial stake in explaining away horses that do not fit his theory.  A win by Zenyatta in the Classic would challenge the foundations of Beyer's model, although he could always claim post facto that Zenyatta turned out to be far superior on dirt than synthetic.

As an aside, I find it interesting how the numbers guys expalin away the success of low figure horses like Blind Luck and Lookin at Lucky outside Cali by claiming that they clearly "moved up" when put on dirt.  However, did these horses really move up, or is the scale for synthetic Beyers simply different(and lower) than the dirt scale?

While Beyer does have a place in the sport, it shouldn't be sacreligious to suggest that this place has possibly been exaggerated.  After all, Beyer speed figures are not used in Europe and yet people still find a way to wager and even make money!  What, people can make money without Beyers?  Well, in fact the majority of people throughout the world, in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and elsewhere are somehow able to bet on horses without Beyer speed figures.  Imagine that?  How do they do it?  Perhaps Beyer speed figures, with an emphasis on speed, were designed initially for dirt racing and they simply do not translate as well to turf and synthetic surfaces over which early speed is less decisive?  

One final food for thought.  Even in North America, a hundred years of organized racing passed before Beyer speed figures were introduced.  Like the rest of the world today, North Americans still found a way to bet and even win on the races.  Clearly then, Beyer figures are not essential to making money.  Just remember though, Beyer has a financial incentive to make you believe they are essential.  

04 Oct 2010 5:24 PM
berttheclock

Yes, Cigar put together an incredible string of wins and is one of the greats.  However, for the '95 Donn H, should there be an asterik that Holy Bull broke down in the back stretch and the fading Wallenda finished 8th and was retired before his next race?  So, Boulanger, who finished 2nd and beaten by 5 1/2 lengths was aboard some Super Horse?  BTW, Cigar was mediocre on turf.

04 Oct 2010 5:26 PM
LAZMANNICK

Ranagulzion

Your sarcasm should be below you......If you want to be like that then why don't you lead the clammering charge for a walk over.  That would be nice don't you think.  Zen wins her 20th straight in a walkover.  Kind of has a Citation ring to it don't you think.  Of course, if it rains even a drop they would scratch her.

04 Oct 2010 6:02 PM
GunBow

Kay:

Great point about the Paradox.  We claim we want raing stars to get more people into the sport and garner more media attention, but when we have a transcendent horse, some decide to spend most of their time arguing why this horse doesn't deserve this role and why the people fawning over this horse are somehow foolish or misguided at best.

I know that there are people who particpate on this blog that are rooting against Zenyatta.  We only have to read their initial reactions to understand this.  Maybe these people have nothing against Zenyatta herself.  Maybe they are upset with the Moss' and Sherriffs and don't want to see them hog the spotlight for what they see as cowardly behavior.  Maybe they are upset with some of the less appealing Zenyatta fans who are either disrespecful to other fans and bloggers or to other horses(particularly Rachel).

Some Zenyatta fans may not want to admit it, but there were probably folks rooting against Rachel as well.  Again, these people may not have had any problem with Rachel herself but were upset with Jess Jackson or the more fanatical Rachel fans(particularly those that insulted Zenyatta to build up Rachel).

A negative I see with a blog like this is that debates can really get out of hand.  And when debates get intense and lines are drawn, it can very easily get personal.  The next you thing you know, you find yourself rooting against partuclar horses not because you dislike the horses but because you dislike those other people who have been touting those horses up(usually at the expense of your favorites).  I know it's hard for many on this blog not to root against any horse Draynay gets behind.  And it's clear given the immediate comments following the defeat of one of Draynay's horses, that people do find themselves rooting against particular horses simply because Draynay has been touting them(again, usually at the expense of other horses).

I will be honest, there was a part of me that took pleasure when Blame was able to nip Quality Road at the wire.  Why?  Well, I didn't have any money on the race, I have never seen Blame run in person but had seen Quality Road in person on BC day, and Quality Road had most certainly never done anything harmful to me personally.  So why did part of me want to see him lose?  Honestly, it is because I find some of the Quality Road fans, folks who generally are also the biggest critics of Zenyatta, to be somewhat obnoxious.

Another reason we end up rooting against certain horses is that we stake our reputation as handicappers against certain horses.  If you are a person who has argued that Zenyatta has an inflated position in history and that it is only a matter of time before she gets her come-uppance, then vanity alone may be reason enough to want to see her lose and be dismissive when she wins.  Just as Zenyatta fans were absolutely floored when some responded to Zenyatta's Lady Secret win with a big "who cares?", there were Quality Road fans who couldn't understand why others would react to his Woodward win with a yawn.  

There's nothing neceassarily wrong with rooting against a horse.  We all have our favorites, so naturally we are going to root for these horses and against the horses they are facing.  And obviously when wagering enters the picture, we are going to have extra incentive to root for and against particular horses.  

Where negativity rears its head is when we find outselves rooting against a horse even though we have no financial stake in the race and none of our favorite horses are running; we are purely rooting against a horse.  Do we root against the horse for reasons of vanity, because we dislike the horse's connections or the horse's fans?

Not everyone is going to root for Zenyatta.  As a Zenyatta fan I accept that.  I don't agree with it, and I have trouble understanding it, but I recognize that there will always be differences of opinion.  What I am more surprised with is the number of people, particularly among professionals within the industry, who are so critical fo her, and the level of their negativity.  Because the social media we are using is so new and so many views can be heard, it's hard to compare this level of negativity (or at least skepticism) with the reaction to horses of the past.  Maybe there was a similar level of skepticism concerning ahorse like Seattle Slew?  After all, Beyer reamined a huge Seattle Slew critic throughout the 77' Triple Crown and only came around to Slew after the 78' Marlboro Cup.  The question is, will even a repeat in the BC Classic be enough to silence all of Zenyatta's critics?  The answer is almost certainly no.

04 Oct 2010 6:23 PM
Jason Shandler

So what if we root for or against a horse? We're not 12 years old GunBow. This is professional sports. People are going to have favorites and others they do not like, for whatever reason. That's the case in every walk of life. What you call negativety is people being fans. Stop taking it so personal, like 2:24 said. Not everyone has to love Zenyatta. People are entitled to their opinions on her conservative campaign. Get over it.

Newsflash: Every time I bet on one horse, Im rooting against the other 10. That's horse racing.

04 Oct 2010 6:33 PM
Meydan Rocks

EVAN HAMMONDS make a great point on TRAIL TALK.

www.bloodhorse.com/.../861A3183-ED3A-4210-8D82-A9305F233EDA

Both times when TIZNOW won the BCC, he left California to race... ONCE the first time and ONCE the 2nd time (one of which was the Super Derby in AK).

04 Oct 2010 6:33 PM
rob

Back to Rachel Alexandra: in her 2009 (Mother Goose) form, on dirt at 9 furlongs, her cruising speed down the home stretch would keep her out of reach and Zenyatta wouldn't have caught her. At 10 furlongs, Zenyatta would have more crucial time to make up the distance, but Rachel would never give up fighting her to the wire. Too bad we never got to see the two of them in the same race last year. Would have been something to see, that's for sure.  

04 Oct 2010 6:43 PM
jayjay

Jason : You're a true media guy in the sense that you spin things your way based on what your opinion is.  No one is harboring hatred or dislike to the Zenyatta detractors, we are merely defending her.  You and your followers are the ones who keep calling us names like Zealots or obsessed or judgemental.  Our opinion counts too, just because it doesn't agree with yours doesn't mean we're wrong.  This is your blog, you can say what you want in it but you need to accept the fact that the fans that keeps this thing going will have their opinion.  You just don't like hearing people like Zenyatta and everytime she wins, you're on this blog like white on rice and trying instigate.  

The facts are on this blog when Paula commented how happy she was about Zenyatta winning, what was your reply ... "relax Paula, she beat a G2 winning filly" ... while it's true, your intent was to demean Zenyatta's 19th straight win.

"People are going to have favorites and others they do not like, for whatever reason. That's the case in every walk of life."

So how come you can't get over the fact that people like Zenyatta ?  Who cares if we call them the best of all time ??  Stop taking it personal Jason.  Our post here stating our love for Zenyatta is not directly to you, it's to other bloggers who also loves Zenyatta.  Just because it's your blog doesn't mean every post has anything to do with you personally.  We read your opinion and we reply with our opinion.  It's as simple as that.

04 Oct 2010 6:54 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Kevin  

   Thanks for those great quotes. I think it was the Oaklawn race caller that said something like- "It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's Zenyatta." Baffert knows talent as well as anyone, so that is really nice hearing that from him. Same with McCarron, how many great horses did he ride? Same with Smith, and Sadler.

Jason

   No wonder you're mad at her. You bet against Zenyatta every time !!!! (Newsflash) I suppose you'll be betting against her in The Classic too. Are you going to leave her out of your exotics? Or go through the painful experience of including her? Nice pick with the Skins against Philly. That was a tough one for me. Get some Breeder's Cup blogs rolling with proposed fields- at least The Classic, Ladies Classic, Mile turf, mile dirt and Juvenile, please. Despite your cantankerous view of Zenyatta, you're doing a great job and service for the fans. Keep up the good work!!!!

Zookeeper

    Your descriptions of Zenyatta were classics. Print them and frame them. Hey, I thought we were supposed to get a full review of Friday, and Saturday????

04 Oct 2010 6:59 PM
Dieter

Raising the Roof:

www.youtube.com/watch

04 Oct 2010 7:02 PM
Zookeeper

GunBow- Keep on truckin' man. Very few on here make as much sense as you do.

04 Oct 2010 7:04 PM
Kay

GunBow:

Excellent points by you as well! To wit:

“However, as others have pointed out, Beyer has a finanacial stake in explaining away horses that do not fit his theory.  A win by Zenyatta in the Classic would challenge the foundations of Beyer's model, although he could always claim post facto that Zenyatta turned out to be far superior on dirt than synthetic.

As an aside, I find it interesting how the numbers guys expalin away the success of low figure horses like Blind Luck and Lookin at Lucky outside Cali by claiming that they clearly "moved up" when put on dirt.  However, did these horses really move up, or is the scale for synthetic Beyers simply different(and lower) than the dirt scale?”

It would appear to be the latter, given the evidence. What confuses me is that Beyer knows his synthetic numbers are lower than his dirt numbers. Now, he obviously doesn’t know by how much, but it had to stand to reason last year that the dirt horses going into the Classic were going to get lower numbers simply because they were moving to the synthetic. But he doesn’t seem able to acknowledge this and he takes the numbers at face value, even though he has admitted a bias. So… why would you not compensate for this when you’re just TALKING about it? Why not say “So the numbers for these dirt horses are going to go down on the synthetic, which puts them more in line with the horses that haven’t run on dirt this year, therefore Zenyatta MAY be too slow for the field but it’s much more believable, given an adjustment, that she isn’t.”

I just don’t understand why he didn’t do that. And now it’s going to happen AGAIN, when the synthetic horses move up AGAIN in the dirt races at the BC? Is it just stubbornness and he’s hoping against hope that THIS time, he’ll be right? It’s a bit mystifying when he has an out and doesn’t use it.

It seems to me that the old-school vibe of Zenyatta just doesn’t fit into this newfangled system that only deals with numbers. You have to LOOK at the horses, too. Yes, some horses will always be too slow against certain competition but when you’re talking about the top level of competition, there isn’t as much room there. These horses are not vastly superior or inferior to each other. They’re pretty close in ability. Given that, doesn’t it stand to reason that looking at the internal fractions and all that can actually HELP?

“Not everyone is going to root for Zenyatta.  As a Zenyatta fan I accept that.  I don't agree with it, and I have trouble understanding it, but I recognize that there will always be differences of opinion.  What I am more surprised with is the number of people, particularly among professionals within the industry, who are so critical fo her, and the level of their negativity.  Because the social media we are using is so new and so many views can be heard, it's hard to compare this level of negativity (or at least skepticism) with the reaction to horses of the past.  Maybe there was a similar level of skepticism concerning ahorse like Seattle Slew?  After all, Beyer reamined a huge Seattle Slew critic throughout the 77' Triple Crown and only came around to Slew after the 78' Marlboro Cup.  The question is, will even a repeat in the BC Classic be enough to silence all of Zenyatta's critics?  The answer is almost certainly no.”

Great post. As someone who got into racing way before the Internet was something that could be understood by anyone but nerds, I’ve often wondered that. I was alone in my fanaticism. I didn’t have friends who liked racing. I lived in a small town. The only racing I got to see was on TV. And there wasn’t much California racing, so my earliest heroes were the 3YOs because that’s who was on TV. I actually feel sorry for anyone who is in awe of a horse like Zenyatta and has to contend with the Internet. There’s something pure and magical and private about watching Affirmed or Seattle Slew win. But this… this is a whole new thing. Now, I’ve been fighting on the Internet for quite sometime and it doesn’t bother me, but the new fans? I’d rather they experienced this with other true fans or by themselves.

I was thinking about what will be said if Zenyatta wins the BC Classic. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it here. They will acknowledge the amazing performance, but then they will say, “It’s a real shame that they only tested her twice. If they’d run her against colts all over the world, then she would be considered one of the greats. But alas, her connections really screwed up and all we saw was one truly great performance.”

They may not say “alas,” but I’m pretty sure the rest of it will be almost verbatim.

04 Oct 2010 7:05 PM
2:24

Gunbow:  given the horses that Slew faced in '77, which did not include any other standouts, I would argue that it was Slew's '78 campaign that validated his all time greatness.  After all, Run Dusty Run was a nice horse but was no Alydar, Sham or Forego.  Slew's winning the Triple Crown while undefeated was awesome, but his subsequent  races with Affirmed and Excellor put him in the top 10 of all time, in my opinion.

04 Oct 2010 7:10 PM
Mike Relva

2:24

Funny you would mention Philly,that's where I believe Jason's from. Oooops. As for Beyer,his precious ego wouldn't allow for him to admit last Nov. he fell on his face and was wrong about Zenyatta winning the Classic.

04 Oct 2010 7:17 PM
2:24

To continue my Seattle Slew point, I think a pretty fair ranking of TC Winners would look like this:  secretariat, citation, count fleet, slew, affirmed, war admiral, whirlaway, gallant fox, sir Barton, assault, Omaha.  Without his achievements at four, I think you'd find slew placed after whirlaway.

Note:  I am not trying to stir up hard feelings.  I realize there is a valid argument for Big Cy to be 1st.

04 Oct 2010 7:19 PM
Jason Shandler

Dr. D: New blog forthcoming tomorrow. Im off on Mondays. And just so you know, I have only bet about five of her races in my life and none this year. She runs in five-horse fields every time so there is they are not worth betting. And yes, I will be betting against her in the BC Classic. I hope you guys bet her down to even-money. I cant wait to take all your $.

Jayjay: zzzzzzzzz...Im sorry I dozed off there. Let me know when youre done so I can wake up.

04 Oct 2010 7:37 PM
2:24

Mike:  my post referred to the stereotypical drunken Philadelphia Eagles fan.  I've met plenty of great Philly fans too.  It's the ones that cuss around kids and start fights that I take issue with.

04 Oct 2010 7:47 PM
rhoward

Hal confirmed that Rachel ducked Zenyatta, as he states he would have ran her in the BC at Santa Anita due to RA liking the synthetics.  In my opinion, RA will go down as the most overrated animal in recent memory.  She beat absolutely nobody. She beat horses that could not win allowance races in mid week. How she won the HOY award was pure fiction. As for Andy Beyer, his numbers should only be used to eliminate horses in a race, and not to pick winners.  I have stated for years, that his numbers are way off for synthetic horses. He has not changed his formula, so he is publishing continuously inaccurate information daily.  He definately has a personal vendetta against Zen master because gamblers have finally recognized this fact.  As for Jason, he has no axe to grind.  He is just way off in his opinion. No champion should be determined by a sloppy track, that is why the BC should be held in FL or CA at all times. What a joke that we have to be concerned about that again. Wake up BC!

04 Oct 2010 7:47 PM
stevebiscuit

Jason, in those 5 races did you ever bet on Zenyatta or were you always looking for an upset?

04 Oct 2010 7:55 PM
Jason Shandler

rhoward: First filly to win Preakness in 85 years and only 3YO filly to win the Woodward--ever. Overrated? Open a history book dude.

Steve: the only race I bet heavy was in the BC Classic. I had Gio to win and keyed everywhere. The other four I think I boxed a few tris, nothing big.

You're right, I have no axe to grind with her. I voted for her for HOY in 2008 over Curlin. That is a fact. Let me say this one more time so Im clear: She is very good horse that has been managed very carefully, in my opinion, too conservatively to be called one of the all-time greats--win or no win in the BC Classic. That's it.

04 Oct 2010 8:02 PM
In aint easy being good!

Bottom Line is Haynesfield was a beast this weekend. Ramon D is the fricken man!

Zenyatta the bottom line is she will go down as the greatest horse all time if she wins next month......she has no chance! Quality Road is going to be fresh and LAL is a quiet storm that is brewing and Baffert knows how to crank up his horses for the big races! Zenyatta might show if she is LUCKY.....HEY MIKE R YOU CAN SAVE THIS POST, Copy and paste it it wont matter Zenyatta is going to lose face the facts!

04 Oct 2010 8:07 PM
jayjay

rhoward : He gets a pass, after all, he revolutionized the industry lol.  Let Jason and his beyer fans use it.  I hope they make a killing using that tool.  If they just remember to actually make the bet. :)

04 Oct 2010 8:20 PM
Kay

Jason:

"You're right, I have no axe to grind with her. I voted for her for HOY in 2008 over Curlin. That is a fact. Let me say this one more time so Im clear: She is very good horse that has been managed very carefully, in my opinion, too conservatively to be called one of the all-time greats--win or no win in the BC Classic. That's it."

With all the back-and-forth smack talk and summat, I for one want to make sure you know that I totally get where you're coming from. It's not my viewpoint, but I don't think you're an insane moron, either!

And as a horseplayer, if you really don't think Zenyatta is going to run well at CD then of course you're not going to use her. Just common sense, that.

I watched Quality Road's JCGC again. His internal fractions were pretty solid in that race and he really hung in there all the way down the lane. Although one turn at Belmont is likely an easier spot than two turns at CD, I was wondering if you'll play him at this point.

04 Oct 2010 8:23 PM
Mike Relva

IT AINT EASY

So,you're jumping off Blame? You have a short memory,but to have a memory have to have a mind first. lol Get your spin ready next month,you will need it! lol

04 Oct 2010 9:15 PM
Mike Relva

2:24

"Great filly fans". What world are you living in? lol

04 Oct 2010 9:19 PM
Ranagulzion

LAZMANNICK,

Please forgive the sarcasm about the allowance race before the BCC because I've been very consistent in my comments about the Zen-connections mismanagement of her greatness.  You may doubt my sincerity but I would really support a walkover "Citation/ Spectacular Bid style" if one could be arranged before the Classic.  Honestly, I don't like the Pepper's Pride association for Zenyatta (even though I've been very critical of her resume) and if I were the Mosses, I'd try a "Jess Jackson manoeuvre" to set up a 20-0 walkover-win before the Breeder's Cup ...seriously.

Quality Road, Haynesfield, Blame and Looking At Lucky are a fearsome quartet right now for the big mare to topple.  As I've said before I'll be putting my moniker on the line if she can pull it off at the expense of Quality Road.  If Zenyatta wins the 2010 BCC to my utter amazement (again) you can regard everything I've said about her connections in the past as "hocus pocus" 'cause my new name will become Rumpelstiltskin thereafter ...don't bet on it.

04 Oct 2010 9:22 PM
jayjay

Ranagulzion : I think the undefeated record goal has been accomplished, it was to eclipse THE Eclipse.  They are after a different record now, win or lose they will go after it like true champions do.  They will put it on the line, they're not afraid to face the boys and if luck is with them, she'd be the only female to ever win the BCC.....BACK TO BACK.

That is no ordinary feat, it will most likely never be repeated again, not because no one would dare to do it, but that it is almost impossible for a female horse to face the strongest field at the end of the year and win it...then do it again next year.

04 Oct 2010 10:15 PM
YYZGUY

Quality Road, Haynesfield (todays' flavor of the week), and Blame are hardly fearsome. At a mile and a quarter they are very suspect. Wasn't that one of the weakest JCGC's ever, by the way?

Lookin at Lucky is the wild card. He runs well everytime and wins when he can stay out of trouble. Baffert has done a magnificent job in training him to be more tractable. Post position killed him in the Derby, but it shouldn't matter in the Classic with the smaller field.

Stepping up to meet older for the first time shouldn't be a problem against this group of males.

Looks like he gets up for 2nd and  complete the exacta. Bet on it.

04 Oct 2010 10:20 PM
Tiznowbaby

2:24, interesting rankings of TC winners. Mine would look like this:

Secretariat, Citation, Count Fleet, Affirmed, Whirlaway, Slew, Assault, War Admiral, Gallant Fox, Sir Barton, Omaha.

I've always thought Affirmed is horribly underated, and as you can see, Assault too.

04 Oct 2010 10:32 PM
zenyatta mondatta

Zenyatta is going to win in the BCC.   How many of these males have ran and won at 1 1/4 without tiring in the final stride?  She kicks in when the others are kicking out/wearing out.  I tell you folks, she is going to quiet the naysayers once and for all.

According to a few well known writers,  she may already have HOTY wrapped up.

04 Oct 2010 10:39 PM
PJJ

How many of you naysayers are going to be around to pick up the glass pieces when Zenyatta breaks the glass ceiling?

04 Oct 2010 11:16 PM
GunBow

Jason:

I'm not sure you read my entire post about rooting for horses.  

Here's what I wrote:

"There's nothing neceassarily wrong with rooting against a horse.  We all have our favorites, so naturally we are going to root for these horses and against the horses they are facing.  And obviously when wagering enters the picture, we are going to have extra incentive to root for and against particular horses."

"Not everyone is going to root for Zenyatta.  As a Zenyatta fan I accept that.  I don't agree with it, and I have trouble understanding it, but I recognize that there will always be differences of opinion.  What I am more surprised with is the number of people, particularly among professionals within the industry, who are so critical fo her, and the level of their negativity."

Everything you responded to I had already anticipated and preempted. Your comment brought nothing to the debate.  

04 Oct 2010 11:38 PM
Jimmy

Keep fighting the good fight Jason; I don't know how you do it. Out of curiosity, and maybe someone on this blog can explain this to me, but how exactly does beating the 8th best 3 year old filly by half a length prove that Zenyatta is the greatest horse in the world? And while we're at it, how exactly do you extrapolate that out to a victory against the best horses in the world on a surface where those horses won't be compromised (unlike the last two BC's)? Maybe I am missing something, but it was a fun race with Zenyatta, and it was a nice victory, but people really need to stop getting so carried away with it. Besides, that wasn't even the best race on the card. The best horses were in the Goodwood Stakes, which is a little interesting since Zenyatta wasn't in that race. Lets see, she is the best horse in the world, yet not even entered into the best race on the card. Something isn't adding up... But I guess I will have to wait until she clobbers the males in the BCC, right? Why is that the response I always read after every one of her races this year?

04 Oct 2010 11:42 PM
GunBow

Zenyatta now holds the North American record for most gr.1 wins by a female with 13.  Goldikova now owns the European record for most gr.1 wins by a horse of either sex with 11.  Both are amazing, historic female horses, maybe the best of their sex in the history of their respective continents.

Zenyatta has more than lived up to the traditional standards of greatness for females in North America.  The standards were set by Ruffian, Personal Ensign, Busher, Lady's Secret, wonderful females we all consider great.  Great, even though they only occassionally faced males.  Gallorette, racing in the 40s, faced males in the majority of her races, but her low win percentage makes it difficult to hold her up as any sort of standard; her connections set the high mark standard for challenging males, but merely challenging males is not enough.  Perhaps if we go back to Beldame over a century ago we could find a female that challenged males consistently and more than held her own.

Goldikova is litterally following in the hoofprints of Miesque, and is rivaled by only that one as Europe's greatest female miler ever.  

The standards Goldikova is measured against in Europe are quite different from those in North America.  Because there are much fewer rich, gr.1 opportunities for females in Europe as compared to North America, it's only logical that the connections of good females in Europe are going to challenge the boys more often.  

If people really want to change the standards in North America, perhaps we need to take an axe to many of the female-only races we have.  Just look at all the rich and prestigious preps for the BC Distaff we have throughout the country; compared to Europe, it's too easy for the connections of a top level North American female to remain within the distaff division.

Of course, owners do have the power to redefine the North American standard by simply running their female horses against the boys and bypassing the female-only races.  As it stands now, running females against males and bypassing all of the lucrative females-only races doesn't make much economic sense for owners in North America.  What we would have to ask them to do is put history and glory ahead of their own pocketbook.

What made Rachel Alexandra so great last year is that her campaign directly challenged the traditional North American standards.  And not only did she face males in 3 gr.1 races, she won them all.  If not for Rachel, I'm not sure there would have been nearly the demand on Zenyatta's connections to run outside her division. For despite all the criticisms leveled against Z's connections, they are only doing what the connections of almost every great North American female have done.  

04 Oct 2010 11:52 PM
GunBow

zenyatta mondatta:

Zenyatta most certainly does not have HoY wrapped up.  And those who think she does could be disappointed again if she either loses the Classic or doesn't run.

04 Oct 2010 11:55 PM
Jason Shandler

Yeah GunBow, only problem is Jerry Moss is a millionaire 100 times over. Im pretty sure the "lucrative female purses" arent what's driving his decisions. There goes that argument. Try again.

Jimmy: I like the way you put that. She the best horse in the world, country, and state, but cant even show up on the best race on the CARD! If she does go on to win the BC (and let me be clear, I dont think she will), it will only add to the severely disappointing campaign she was directed on this year. Perfection has its price, they say. In this case, the connections' obsession with keeping her perfect record in tact at the expense of challenging the mare has left her place in history in question. Very disappointing.

05 Oct 2010 12:05 AM
LAZMANNICK

Ranagulzion

Hey, I was being a little on the sarcastic side myself.  My apologies.  I know what you really mean.  As far as I'm concerned, to run in anything but the BCC from here on in would confirm what a lot a people on here are saying.  I say go for the gusto.  Prove that in fact they are not hiding from anyone, they are just biding their time to make their move and then lay it all on the table.  If she wins it would be sensational.  Bring on the accolades and the nay sayers be dammed.  If she loses, that would be acceptable, because she at least would have tried.  There will be no Peppers Pride comparisons by those that really know horse racing.  PP never won or ran in a G1 race.  Those that make those comments are truly desperate.  The four big guys you mentioned, Haynesfield, Quality Road, Blame and Lucking at Lucky are certainly all formidable, but they all have their flaws.  Their combined presence could also nullify certain advantages such as QR and Haynesfield.  There are others that must be respected, but these four are tops.  As for HOY, I’m reading more and more that it’s already been decided.  I don’t think so.  I think that out of the big five, which ever one wins this race is HOY.  If none of them win it then it is between Zenyatta and Looking at Lucky.  All I know at this point is that there is one hell of a lot of excitement just over the far horizon.

05 Oct 2010 12:10 AM
Zen's Auntie

Since this has become the place to talk about such things I just felt like sharing this.

It appears to me that Zenyatta is just slightly faster gate to wire than everyone she has faced so far.  Thats a true statement right?

Now maybe this has been said before but I wonder why we dont mention that the big mare regularly spots the field 7 or 8 right out of the gate? ANY other horse breaks like that we want to give them a pass.

Still we just take for granted that Zenyatta will overcome an awful start every time.  I know its her style but this kind of break in itself is a style that handicaps her in each race.  Any other favorite breaking the way she does would surely garner much concern but we never even mention it.  Trevor just causually remarks shes out slow as usual.

And what about pace? We hear some closer just couldnt catch the leaders in some race as there was no pace to run at and so forth.. and give the closer a pass - Not Zenyattta they crawl they dawdle they just about stroll - tough, tough, tough on a real closer still, she wins.

What strikes me about Zenyatta is how much She seems to like to "train" her competition in these filly races.  she runs these Grade 1 races exactly like when she is running with El Vino in training.  If you watch her she actually seems to be measuring these gals and taking them at the last moment has become fun for her.  Even with the cotton in her ears she loves to hear the crowd roar peak as she gets by.  

Now, the way that she ran the BCC last year - awful start and all - all that traffic too was a little different in the close. You could see it in her turn of foot her determination how she INHALED them. She was clearly more serious - she knew she had to be.

This Mare gets it, She understands it you can see it in the way she handles herself.  Sometimes you meet a horse that just gets what they are doing better than the rest. When they have the physical ability to back it up its always amazing, whether they are top eventers or the best race horses or Dressage horses or whatever. When they just "Get it" and still "LOVE it" thats the best a horse can be.  Zenyatta is there now and has been for 3 years - QUITE an accomplishment if you think about it.  I look for her to take the classic VERY seriously. She will not treat them boys like these fillies, like training, it will be for all the marbles and no horse in that race will get it better then her.  

God bless and keep them all till then.  

05 Oct 2010 12:29 AM
GunBow

Jason:

I was talking in generalities about owners.  As it concerns Jerry Moss' handling of Zenyatta, I agree, to an extent, that he has been too conservative.  I think what makes it worse is that when he un-retired her, he specifically mentioned showing her off to new audiences.  In this way, Moss really set himself up for criticism when he did not follow through with this.

And because Zenyatta had already beaten top level males last year, there were going to be higher expectations for her this year even if Moss hadn't suggested anything.  When the two were combined, well criticism was bound to happen.

So, my intention in that post was never to exonerate Jerry Moss, only to point out that the incentives to run females against males is very different in Europe than it is here.  

I also think that even if one does acknowledge that Moss was too conservative in the campaign he mapped out for this year, Zenyatta's resume still fits with the best females in modern North American history.  Whether the reason is financial or not, the paradigm in North America has been for owners to by-and-large eschew running females against males.  Given how few North American females have been able to repeatedly defeat top-level males(whether because they were not asked to do so or failed when they were), the fact Zenyatta only has one win against gr.1 males does not exclude her from consideration as best North American female.

However, this is, of course, with the standard of greatness other North American females.  If the standard is all horses(males and females), then I would have to agree that Jerry Moss' conservatism has made it very difficult to rank Zenyatta alongside the likes of Secretariat, Forego, and Affirmed.

And yes, I too wonder the role the "streak" has played in Moss' decision-making.  Let's say Zenyatta wasn't able to catch Annaba's Creation last year or St. Trinians this past June, would Moss have decided to throw caution to the wind?  Laura de Seroux basically admitted that she did get a little cautious during Azeri's 11 race winning streak.  Perhaps that is one reason why owner Michael Paulson sent Azeri to D. Wayne Lukas in 2004, with Paulson knowing that Lukas would have no problem mapping out an amibitious campaign.  As an aside, while Azeri was only 3 for 9 in 2004, her three-peat in the Apple Blossom along with gr.1 wins at Keeneland and Saratoga did much to enhance Azeri's standing as a "national" star(she retired with gr.1 wins in California, Arkansas, Illinois, New York, and Kentucky).  

05 Oct 2010 12:55 AM
Livesoutwest

Haynesfield erased any question about his ability to get a mile and a quarter.  Sure it might be a different story if someone pressures him, but at least we know he won't stop because the distance was too long.  I also think those that believe Quality Road is just a miler are way off base.  Look at his JCGC last year.  It was a fine try to a true Classic distance horse - much closer to the win than Blame's effort this year.  Don't throw out Rip Van Winkle either.  He clearly had problems last year and might be the rare exception who's better on dirt than synthetics.

So all the best males are early pace specialists. It really could lead to a dream setup for Zenyatta if she doesn't get blocked somewhere in a big field.

05 Oct 2010 1:08 AM
Kat

rhoward- Didn't AB change his synthetic calculations just a year or so ago?  He admitted that the synthetic figures did not compare favorably with the dirt (too low)computations.  It was felt that the synthetics (in general) tend to bring horses "together" (make fast horses look slower and slow horses look faster) and he "corrected" his figures and added 4 "points" to the slower horses and 7 "points" to the faster horses (I don't know where the "cut off" was for each group in a race).  A list was published at the time showing corrected figures for the major races in CA with the new BSFs.

05 Oct 2010 1:41 AM
Surf Cat

Quote from Jason Shandler:

"keeping her perfect record in tact at the expense of challenging the mare has left her place in history in question."

Jason,

I don't think you care where Zenyatta's place in history is.

What I do think you care about is "trying to ruin Zenyatta's record", so you can hype the undefeated record of an eastern-based horse (like Personal Ensign).

Keepin it real.

Just sayin...

05 Oct 2010 2:43 AM
Secretariat

GunBow,

Zenyatta has HOY wrapped up. She does not need to win the Classic for 2010 HOY honors.

Jason,

Would you like to wager a $1,000 on this?

05 Oct 2010 2:52 AM
GunBow

Jimmy:

I was at Hollywood Park for the Lady's Secret.  It was a special atmosphere, and the race was beyond thrilling.  I was left literally breathless.  I knew I had seen a special performance by a special horse.

Of course, part of what made it special was the back-history, the fact Zenyatta was riding an 18 race winning streak.  Without this history, the Lady's Secret would have still been exciting, but no, there is nothing other-worldly in and of itself about Zenyatta beating a modest field of gr.1 females.  The reality, however, is that there was this historical backdrop; people were there to see the undefeated amazon, and she delivered once again and in the most dramatic of fashions.  As I said, it was magical.

BUT....

Zenyatta will need to be better if she is to win the Breeder's Cup Classic.  

The good news(for Zenyatta fans) is that all of the top Classic contenders will need to run better than they did in their final prep.  Neither Quality Road, Blame, nor Lookin at Lucky were particularly impressive in their last start.

My opinion is that at least one of the above contenders will improve off their prep and run much better in the Classic. The question is if Zenyatta can also get better?

I will admit that I am concerned that Coldfacts' dreaded "6 year old mare curse" might have some validity.  By the time of the BC, Zenyatta will have been in training for 36 months.  And since she has never run a clunker, that's 36 months of top-quality efforts.  Just recall how quickly both Cigar and Skip Away tailed off at the end of their careers.  

The fact is, the Lady's Secret was the 3rd straight race Zenyatta has won by less than a length.  That's cause for some concern.  Maybe her foes are running better(St.Trinians, Rinterval, and Switch all ran 6 second final sixteenths), but we're just not seeing those effortless victories we saw throughout much of her previous 16 races.  Especially in the Vanity and Lady's Secret, Zenyatta really had to dig down deep in the stretch.  I know Mike Smith claims she had more to give on both occasions, but to me it appeared she was trying about as hard as she could.  

It's possible that Zenyatta's talents have eroded a little, and that she won these last 3 races on class, intelligence, and heart(qualities that she most certainly deserves respect for!).  Before this year, it was hard to say for sure exactly how courageous and how much heart Zenyatta has because she was simply so much more talented than the horses she faced.  This year, we have found out that there is ample heart and mind to go along with her looks and talent.

That's one possibility.  The other possibility is that Zenyatta will be able to run a better race in the Classic.  There are a few reasons to think she can.

1) The pace scenario in the Classic is going to be much more advantageous than what she has been facing.  Imagine the pace if the Classic field includes Quality Road, Haynesfield, Redding Colliery, and even one other horse like First Dude?  Zenyatta won't have to worry about trying to close into a 1:13 pace.

People can downplay the competition Zenyatta has faced all they want, but the truth is that only special horses came make up 10 lengths into the type of slow paces Zenyatta faces.  Switch might not be Quality Road, but she was good enough to give Blind Luck the worst beating of her career when she won the Hollywood Oaks on the same track and at the same distance as the Lady's Secret.  Switch had the tactical advantage in the Lady's Secret, got a great jump entering the stretch, and spurted the final sixteenth in 6 seconds.  And still she lost.  In the Classic, the pace scenario, so often conspiring against Zenyatta, should actually work in her favor.

2) The 10 furlong distance of the Classic is in her wheelhouse.  Sure, Zenyatta has won plenty of races at 8.5 furlongs, but I really think she has won despite the distance.  She has already proven that she can get 10 furlongs.  That's more than we can say about Quality Road, Lookin at Lucky, and even Blame.  Haynesfield proved he can get 10 furlongs under optimal conditions(like I'm sure Quality Road can), but can he run that far facing considerably more pace pressure?  

The fact is that in last year's Classic, Zenyatta was hitting her best stride at the end of the race. She's a true a classic horse.

3) Churchill's configuration, with it's long stretch, plays into Zenyatta's late running style.  Not only is Zenyatta going to get 10 furlongs and what should be a legit pace for once, she's going to get one of the longest stretch runs in North America to play around with.  As one of the longest/tallest horses in the world, Zenyatta really starts to hit her best stride during the straight run of the stretch.  Yes, for a horse her size she does quite well around the turns, but where she really levels off is in the stretch, when she is able to run over stright ground.  In last year's Classic, remember how far she was behind even coming into the stretch, but how quickly she made up this disadvantage when finally allowed to straighten out?  This year, Mike Smith should be able to let her coast into the far turn and only turn her loose once she has fully straightened.  She's going to have alot of room to extend those legs and gather up speed.

4) Zenyatta might be better on dirt.  Zenyatta can dirt.  She's won 2 gr.1 races on dirt.  In fact, her two largest margins of victory have come in her only two dirt starts.  And in one of those races she had to beat an Eclipse champion.  There's always a chance she won't like the Churchill dirt, but she does have experience at least exercising on the surface from last year.

My only real surface concern is if the track comes up sloppy.  The stereotype is that a big, tall horse like Zenyatta might be at a disadvantage on an off-track.  Who knows?  In my opinion, the only way Zenyatta does not give a good account of herself is if it rains.

I think Zenyatta can win the Classic.  If she's as good as she was last year, I really do think she will indeed win.  Yet, I do have a few doubts that she might have slowed just a little.

There's also the skeptical side of me that believes that the story of a female horse winning the Classic twice while remaining an undefeated 20-0 is simply too fanciful, too unbelievable to actually happen.  The story would almost be too good, and we all know how cynical the racing gods can be.

05 Oct 2010 2:58 AM
GunBow

This is Jerry Hollendorfer's response to Havre de Grace nosing out his Blind Luck in the Cotillion,

"We got beat fair and square."

Now that's a horsemen.  He didn't even mention that Blind Luck spotted Havre de Grace 10 lbs.  

05 Oct 2010 3:03 AM
stevebiscuit

Jason, let's just say, hypothetically,

what if Zenyatta wins the Classic by 6 lengths and breaks Secretariat's track record. Would that be enough to change your opinion of her? Not saying that's going to happen, I'm just trying to gauge what it would take for her to gain your approval. Not that she needs it, but I'd be interested to see if you'd still hold your ground.

05 Oct 2010 6:22 AM
YYZGUY

Goldikova, a mare I deeply respect as the best miler, on turf in the world seems to be the standard that the anti Zenyatta fans hold up to denigrate Zenyatta.

However looking back on her record, she rarely runs in the Best Race on the Card. Based on Jimmy and Jasons reasoning, and I use the term lightly, Goldikova should have been in the Arc. Maybe she'll be in the Classic so she can validate her career.

Geez, I gave myself a headache extrapolating their reasoning. Double standards anyone? Pass the Tylenol.

05 Oct 2010 7:02 AM
Billy's Empire

2:24, Jimmy

Great posts!

I am going out on a limb and picking the best horse in California to win the Classic, Loookin at Lucky. I am sure with Blame, Quality Road, and Zenyatta, he will be 4th choice, maybe 3rd depending on how frisky the betting public is feeling at CD on that chilly, wet, damp Novemeber night. If I get anything remotely close to 6-1, it will be a gift.

This race is shaping up, at least to me, like the 2006 classic, Invasor v Bernardini.

05 Oct 2010 8:25 AM
old man river

Spot on Jayjay. Even if Jason won't admit it. He loves to instigate. It's his way of getting the hundreds of responses to the same old tired story.

05 Oct 2010 8:26 AM
Mike Relva

Jason

A mystery how you label yourself,"the voice of reason" and objective in relation to Zenyatta. Obvious you're laying the foundation in the event she wins,so you can still use your usual slam instead of giving credit where it's due. It's not about Saratoga,how many races outside of CA this yr,etc. It's about a once in a lifetime 19-0 horse trying to repeat @the Classic! BTW heard the Roger Stein clip,he couldn't be more right. Will agree that you don't have to like Zenyatta, that's your opinion. It's about respect,I think she's earned some. Interesting when you did your usual lighting the fuse last week beginning with the Beyer article,you haven't written one comment regarding champion Real Quiet. That's how you roll,right?

05 Oct 2010 8:58 AM
Mike Relva

JIMMY

You're right about missing something.

05 Oct 2010 9:00 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

I would have liked to have seen Zenyatta go back East for a race in Sep or early Oct but after both Oaklawn trips she was not the same horse by all reports I've heard so I understand their reluctance. I just don't think there was any race out there that was worth it to them and The Classic became more and more the focus and purpose as time went on. I was initially, and still am confused about the choice of The Lady's Secret over The Goodwood but this barn knows what they are doing. I can only guess that they thought the Secret prepped Zenyatta better for the Classic than The Goodwood, that the Goodwood might take a little too much out of her. The Goodwood was a much preferred distance so there wasn't a fear of a loss. The 1 1/16 was more risky. The quality of competition wasn't the issue except that The Goodwood would be more taxing. This is a six year old mare. That is one thing some people forget in their bias. On to Keeneland, then The Breeder's Cup, then SA on dirt, GP, Triple Crown preps and the Triple Crown. The next year is going to be good, and you're going to see a real Derby star on a fast track.

05 Oct 2010 9:58 AM
kathleen o

I've used the word obtuse before with some of you, but there is a picture of you next the that word in the dictionary.  You use sarcasm when facts are presented to you, you show arrogance when talking about her running in California.  You've used the excuse that the horses that beat RA this year ran the race of their lives, but fail to acknowledge the fact that so did Rinterval, so did St Trinians, and most recently, so did Switch.  You criticize her distaff races, but fail to do so with other great race mares.  The fact is, the turf writers who laughed at Seabiscuit have long been forgotten.  The legend of that horse lives on.  

05 Oct 2010 10:35 AM
LAZMANNICK

Kat said:

“Didn't AB change his synthetic calculations just a year or so ago?”

I heard something to that affect, but a little differently......add 6 to 8 points for a route and 4 points for a sprint when converting synthetic to dirt and in reverse when converting dirt to synthetics.  It’s a good rule of thumb.  That's what I do when trying to make sense of synthetic Beyers compared to dirt Beyers.

If you look at Ravens Pass’ 2008 BCC at SA run in 1.59.1 on a track that was playing fast all day, he got a 110 Beyer.  Ghostzapper in the 2004 BCC at LS ran the distance in 1.59 and got a 124 Beyer.  There might be differences, but not that much.  If you add the 6 or 8 points to Ravens Pass you would get a 116 to 118 Beyer which sounds more realistic.

Last year Zenyatta ran the distance at SA in 2.00.3 and got a 112 Beyer (greater than Ravens Pass) who ran 1.2 seconds faster (the track was much faster on BCC day in 2008 than 2009).  If you add 6 to 8 to Zen’s Beyer then you would get 118 to 120 which seems about right.

Also Beyer must have sufficient data on synthetics by now and you cannot calculate Beyer speed numbers without collected data to compare to.  The Beyers should only be considered when calculating the running time on a particular track and comparing it to data for that particular track only.  This is why I cannot see why he has a problem now with calculating synthetic Beyers.  He should have about three years worth of info.  The calculations should be based on the same principles he uses to calculate dirt Beyers.

05 Oct 2010 11:06 AM
Billy's Empire

YYZGUY. The difference is Goldikova routinely challenges the boys and beats them, at her best distance, 7 furlongs to a mile. Zenyatta's best distance would be 1 1/16 or greater. While Goldi has distance limitations, her connections are not scared of competition. Zenyatta's connections on the other hand want nothing to do with males in California, and I have no clue why? She supposedly beat the best field ever assembled last year in the BC. What changed? Comparing the two mares, Goldikova IMO has had a much better career. Most of her Grade 1 wins have been in open company and on a surface that is not synthetic. Like Jimmy said, Zenyatta beat the 8th best 3yo filly by a half legnth. WEEEEEEEEEEEEE. YEAHHHHHHHHH. If she would of beat up on Richards Kid and Crown of Thorns, I would be silent. You would have crickets on this blog b/c Zenyatta actually raced a worthy opponent, but since she did not, the rest of us keepin it real will keep on keepin on.

05 Oct 2010 11:10 AM
LAZMANNICK

GunBow

Great posts.

Hollendorfer also didn't mention that Harve defeated Blind Luck in 1.40.4, the same time as the listed track record for the distance.

05 Oct 2010 11:18 AM
LAZMANNICK

stevebiscuit

Only if it's raining.

05 Oct 2010 11:21 AM
LAZMANNICK

Billy's Empire

Zenyatta beat the 8th best 3 year old filly by half a length, a G2 winning filly at that.  What you guys don't seem to get is that that 8th best 3 year old filly recently trounced the best multiple G1 winning 3 year old filly in that G2 race.  In my opinion, that makes her G1 quality, and much better than the 8th best three year old filly.  It seems to me that Quality Road beats the 50th best handicap horse and you guys are all over him with your praise, but every time he races against a horse that has a CHANCE to beat him he gets beat.  Why don’t you harp on that?  Why don’t you harp on the fact that Haynesfield wasn’t given much of a chance to defeat Blame and yet he humbled him?

05 Oct 2010 11:28 AM
Mike Relva

SURF CAT

Exactly.

05 Oct 2010 11:39 AM
Jimmy

YYZGUY, no one is calling Goldikova the best horse in the world. We are calling Goldikova one of the best turf milers in a long time, and if you look at actual facts, the data supports this. Beating the best males in training in 7 Group/Grade I races speaks for itself, and unlike America, the best routinely run against the best in Europe. With Zenyatta, she is a terrific horse, but based on the body of work, you cannot refer to her as the best horse in the world. As a matter of fact, you can't even refer to her as the best horse on the West Coast. Richards Kid has won 2 of the big 4 races (Pacific Classic, Goodwood), so maybe he should be referred to as the top horse. This isn't saying Zenyatta is not better than Richard's Kid, but call me old fashioned, but I believe horse racing should be decided on the track, and with Zenyatta sitting out at every chance she gets against the big boys, that speaks volumes. But I guess I will have to wait until the BCC when the boys will be dreading facing the Queen.

Hey Mike, excellent comment. Way to provide a well-developed argument to prove why I am wrong....

05 Oct 2010 11:41 AM
LAZMANNICK

Dr Drunkinbum

It's always the same old same old.  They say she should have contested the Goodwood.  Okay, let's say she did and let's go out on a limb and say she won.  You know what would come next right?

What's the saying.....you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  The next saying should be you can't reason with those that are set in their OLD WAYS.

05 Oct 2010 11:52 AM
thw_wiz

LAZMANNIK,

Keep on keepin on by settin the Billy's Empires of the world straight.

05 Oct 2010 12:00 PM
LAZMANNICK

Jimmy

I’m not taking anything away from Goldikova, she’s a great horse and the one to beat in the Turf Mile.  However, when looking at her stats she defeats many of the same horses over and over again.  Does Proviso come to mind?  Hell, Proviso recently got her butt kicked by Gabby’s Golden Girl.  Goldikova has only won one race greater than a mile, and her top time form rating is 131 (Aug 2009), 16 months before this year’s BC Turf Mile.  Also, excluding that one race, her average lifetime Time Form Rating is 98.43 in 16 races (I don’t have her final race stats).  Also, if you exclude that 131 rating and calculate her races since the beginning of 2009 (again excluding her last race) her average Time Form Rating is 117, pretty darn good but certainly not great.  This is a European rating system, not and Andy Beyer, Beyer rating system.

There is also something to say about females defeating males on turf and at a mile, not females defeating males on dirt or synthetics and at a mile and an eighth and up.  Go back through forty years or so of American Racing history and tell me any filly that routinely does what Goldikova does against males on dirt.   And there have been a LOT OF US FILLIES AND MARES that in their element would run away from Goldikova.  As someone said previously, why did she never contest the ARC?

05 Oct 2010 12:03 PM
Jason Shandler

Nobody would have said anything negative if she won the Goodwood Laz. All that us objective people wanted was for her to race in ONE  top-level race before the BC. Just one. It could have been in California, NY, Kentucky, Dubai, Japan, Mars or Pluto. We werent asking for some unrealistic feat. Just challenge the mare ONCE. If she ran in ONE of those top-level male races, are you telling me it would have taken that much out of her that she couldnt be ready for her BC defense? It's a silly argument. Stop trying to constantly defend the horse like she is your little sister and keep it real for once. The campaign they set for her this year was ultra conservative, especially after Moss told everyone he would run her all over the place this year. If you cant at least admit that, you have blinders on.

05 Oct 2010 12:09 PM
Mike Relva

JIMMY

Just keeping it simple to reflect a simple minded person like yourself.

05 Oct 2010 12:15 PM
JerseyBoy

Based on her record to date, Goldikova will not qualify for the Timeform All-Time Highweights List. The cut of is 135. She is rated 133.

Here is the update after races run on Oct 3, 2010.

OLDER HORSES

140 HARBINGER

133 GOLDIKOVA

130 FAME AND GLORY

129 PACO BOY

128 RIP VAN WINKLE

128 STARSPANGLEDBANNER

127 CITYSCAPE

127 EQUIANO

127 MANIFEST

127 TWICE OVER

127 VISION D'ETAT

05 Oct 2010 12:20 PM
LAZMANNICK

Jason

I’ve stated before that I don’t necessarily agree with them not running in a race like the Goodwood, especially since it was at 9F and not 1 1/16M.  The reality is, it’s their horse, their decision.  One thing I know, they didn’t pass on it because they were afraid of the competition.  Regarding her schedule this year?  Until they came back from the AB it seemed to be on track.  Then it changed.  Why?  Only they know for sure.  Regarding your statement that if she would have run in the Goodwood nobody would have said anything negative?  Right!  Just like the 100% positive comments that were made after the BCC last year.  If anything the “why didn’t she come east and run in the JCGC” BS would have started.  As far as coddling her, she can take care of herself, always has, always will, and as always she will do her talking on the track.

05 Oct 2010 12:41 PM
i tell it like i see it

Jason,

Since when are G1 level races not considered "top level" races? I wasn't aware there was a higher grading than that.

Last year it was ok to race in the G1 Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskel, Woodward, or the G2 Fantasy and FG Oaks where no top level competition showed up and still get your vote for HOY but now suddenly it all matters who and where? I also seriously doubt that if Zen had stayed in California and faced the boys that your bashing would have stopped  anyway. You've beaten the synthetic surface to death and I don't think you would have praised her for beating those horses on that stuff either.  

05 Oct 2010 12:58 PM
LAZMANNICK

Excerpts for an Andy Beyer Column……..I don’t see why people think he is so set against Zenyatta.  The truth is, he, like so many others would like to see her step up.  He seemed pretty supportive yet realistic to me.

“Yet after all of her achievements, the 6-year-old mare still has her greatest challenge ahead of her. Her performance Saturday was her final prep for the objective that trainer John Shirreffs has had in his sights all season: the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Having made her reputation by running mostly on California's synthetic surfaces, Zenyatta will be running against males on dirt for the first time. A victory would not only complete her career with a 20-for-20 record, it would cement her place in history as an all-time great-not just a synthetic-track specialist.”

“On the turn, Smith launched his typical wide move, and as the field turned into the stretch, Switch shot by Moon de French and took command, getting a significant jump on Zenyatta. Thousands of the favorite's partisans were surely thinking, "She's not going to get there." Even Shirreffs was worried. "Speed is dangerous at Hollywood," the trainer said, "and if they get two lengths ahead of you they can be tough to catch."

Then, suddenly, Zenyatta accelerated and shot ahead of Switch so quickly that Smith was easing up on his mount at the wire.”

Maybe people like myself are upset with low synthetic Beyers, especially for Zenyatta, but in spite of this I believe Andy is a fan first and foremost.

05 Oct 2010 1:19 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Lazmannick

  You can't fight City Hall. Zenyatta is Zenyatta, one of the greatest mares that has ever lived, one of the greatest females that has ever lived of any species, and in my mind one of the greatest thoroughbreds that has ever lived, not because of 19-0, but because of the way she does it, and the way she plays to the crowd, making her one of the greatest personalities of all time of any species. I'm not going to argue with people that don't agree. There opinion is their opinion. She has been there for the world to see in all of her glory. Those that don't get it, it's their loss. It doesn't bother me. I just feel fortunate to be one of the lucky millions that does get it, and has been able to thoroughly enjoy Zenyatta the last few years. Zenyatta is the greatest closer of all time of either sex. To me it's even more impressive that she wins by so little than if she won by more. Just enough to win. She knows how to win like few others ever have. The arguments against her or her fabulous connections mean nothing to me, zero.

05 Oct 2010 1:25 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Jason, Jason...Jason,

It's not like they are running Zenyatta in ungraded stakes for goodness sakes...she's no Rachel!

What is it now?  13 Grade 1's?  5 this year?  I'll give you  that the fields have been short, but that's because, as trainers in CA know and have stated publicly, Zenyatta is hard on other horses.  Few want to take on the best.

And again, the goal for Zenyatta this year is to win the BCC for two years in a row.  Not beat up on some suspect CA males.  Ohhhh, you don't think that's what you and a couple other people would write as soon as she crushed them.  Hell, that's what a couple said about last year's BCC field...and that field had champions in it!

Z's connections announced to the world that she would be in Arkansas on dirt, at 9 furlongs, to run in The Apple Blossom.  Wasn't it 5 million on the line if Rachel dared show up?  Well, Z showed up and cruised.  Rachel's connections were scared away by - who was it - Zardana?  I'm not even sure now.

I think you are confusing Rachel's 2010 and Zenyatta's steady diet of Grade 1's!

05 Oct 2010 1:38 PM
Footlick

When I compared Rachel's 3 yr old season to many 3 yr old European fillies, I was roundly told that I couldn't do that because of the differences in European racing and American racing.  Now it seems to be fine to compare them as long as it's Zenyatta being compared.  Goldikova, for the record, has taken the traditional path that all very good to great filly/mare milers do in Europe.  She has not taken chances nor has she gone outside the box.  She has run in the same races that she has previously.  That does not detract from what she has done.  She has run for a longer period of time than many of them and kept her form.  But if I could not compare Zarkava, Goldikova, Miesque, Allez France or Salsabil's (as well as many others) 3 yr old campaigns with Rachel's, then nobody should be able to do that with Zenyatta either.  It's called being fair.

Jason- I too have been disappointed that she didn't run at least once.  But there is nothing I can do about it.  I do not hold it against the horse, so I won't downgrade her legacy because her connections were ultra conservative.  Her talent is unquestionable, IMO.

05 Oct 2010 1:50 PM
sherpa

"The campaign they set for her this year was ultra conservative, especially after Moss told everyone he would run her all over the place this year."

Mr. Moss also said, at the same time, that Zenyatta is "a good shipper."  That was BEFORE she shipped to Oaklawn and back and did NOT ship well at all.  JS said she was extremely dehydrated and unsettled by the trip.  It was several weeks before she was able to return to training.  They must all have been alarmed that the trip had such a deleterious effect on her.

I believe this was a case of the Owners placing complete trust and confidence in the Trainer, as well they should, instead of trying to dictate her campaign in order to "save face."  The Connections surely knew they would be criticized for returning to conservative mode; but clearly they (and her fans) place Zenyatta's well-being above all other considerations.  Would that certain bloggers felt the same.

05 Oct 2010 1:51 PM
Billy's Empire

We were not talking about Haynesfield, or Blame, or Quality Road. We were talking about the opportunity Zenyatta had to show that she is the best in the state of California, and how her connections avoided it, AGAIN! The last filly of any relevance you can compare Goldikova to is Miesque. Other than her, no one is close in the last 35 years, maybe Ouija Board

05 Oct 2010 1:58 PM
Householder

KEVIN.  How dare you quote McCarron, Sadler, and Baffert!  Who are these people and what do they know about horses.  What is true is what the media writes.  Of course one would have to question the place in history of a horse that has won the Lady's Secret Stakes 3 times in a row.  How is this possible?  Must be "magical dirt" empowering her to win and others to run behind her.  Yes and Sham beats Secretariat (in the final Derby Prep) in the upcoming Disney movie as well. Media IS part make believe.  Beyer is looking for a story.  What better story to do than who will be the next to dethrone the Queen?  Many have predicted (Ginger Punch) and many have failed.  It's paramutual so thanks for your money.

GunBow.  Love Hollendorfer's campain of Blind Luck and his no nonsense horsemanship.  

Lookin at Lucky is another who has remained in form for roughly 15 months.  Baffert has to be commended for bringing a horse into the Breeder's Cup that 3 weeks ago few, including myself, thought had any chance.  What kind of weight break does a 3 year old get again?  He certainly likes the distance and I think Churchill was one of his best runs despite all kinds of bad luck.    

05 Oct 2010 1:59 PM
Householder

The Goodwood!!! You had some funky sprinter that Beyer gave a 106, Dakota Phone, and the Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem (who wins like 1x year).  These horse will be

75-1 IF they make it to the classic.  I doubt Zenyatta's run in this would have told us a thing.

05 Oct 2010 2:06 PM
LAZMANNICK

Mr. Empire:

Basically we’re talking about trashing a horse or that horse’s connections.  If you don’t think that Zenyatta is the best horse in California, you are definitely in a minority.  The group that thinks she is, is probably led by Bob Baffert himself.

The last filly that was a great Euro miler that you can compare Goldikva to is Miesque.  The last great Euro filly before Goldie was Zarkava, a filly who could win short and long (the Arc) and dominated Goldie both times they met, once at Goldie’s favorite mile distance, the other in a race that was clearly too far for her.

05 Oct 2010 2:45 PM
the_wiz

LAZMANNIK,

I said it once and now I'll say it again after you exposed Billie's falsehoods again. Keep on keepin on by settin the Billy's Empires of the world straight.

05 Oct 2010 3:04 PM
Footlick

Laz- when Zarkava won the Pouliches over Goldikova, they were already training her to stretch out for the Diane- before they ran in the Pouliches.  So they weren't even worried about the Pouliches.  That is how good Zarkava was.  

05 Oct 2010 3:10 PM
Billy's Empire

Zarkava was and is remarkable. Forgot about her until after my post.

I was at a huge football party on Saturday, made it a point to turn off football, and turn on the Lady's Secret. My buddies and I watched and cheered and yelled for Zenyatta to win that race. I thought she was beat at the 1/8 pole b/c Switch was full of run, and she gutted it out and found a way to win. Her races are amazing, Zenyatta is great, but I guess me being a sports junkie wanted her to show us more. Step outside the box just once. She will at CD, and it should be a great show. I am sure I am not in minority when it comes to that. I do think she is the best horse in California, it is just hard to see it when she is not racing in the best races. Are we good? Can we agree to disagree?

c ya

05 Oct 2010 3:12 PM
Ranagulzion

YYZGUY,

Haynesfield is not only the new flavour of the week, he's also looking like the biggest threat to Quality Road in the BCC.  More anon.

05 Oct 2010 3:13 PM
mr pibb

One fact nobody can ignore is that outside of Zenyatta there are alot of top level animals getting beaten almost regularly by those perceived as less talented at the time. That goes for the likes of RA, Quality Road, Gio Ponti, and Blame to name a few as well. Zenyatta is the only one who has consistently beaten everyone. You can't spin that into a wad of crap. Staying unbeaten while racing exclusively in G1 races while all the others fall by the wayside is not chopped liver. If she was ordinary like the rest she'd get beaten like the rest no matter where they went. As it stands the only chance they have to beat her is in the biggest race of the year facing the toughest field assembled all year. Even if she loses she goes out losing the only time of her life and it would have taken the best field they could get together to do that. None of the others can come close to saying that.  

05 Oct 2010 3:27 PM
Convene

Funny how this was a column about Hal Wiggins and Rachel and has become a bickering match between Zen fans and detractors? Just once I'd like to see Rachel get her discussion to herself! I'd also like to see intelligent people agree that they have different opinions without trashing all who oppose! Rachel never trashed Zen - and Zen never trashed Rachel. Put 'em out to pasture together and they'd end up standing heads and tails under the trees, swishing flies off each other's faces and wondering what all the fighting was about! Maybe we all need to take a deep breath and talk to the horses ...

05 Oct 2010 4:02 PM
LAZMANNICK

Footlick

The shame about Zarkava is the same shame about Sea the Stars and Harbinger.  Not enough races and gone when they seem to be hitting their prime.  What might have been.

05 Oct 2010 4:09 PM
LAZMANNICK

Billy's Empire

I'm not disagreeing with you and I'm sure a lot of other people aren't either.  I would love to have seen her step outside the box more than she has and I find it puzzling that she really hasn't.

05 Oct 2010 4:12 PM
Kay

Billy:

"I was at a huge football party on Saturday, made it a point to turn off football, and turn on the Lady's Secret. My buddies and I watched and cheered and yelled for Zenyatta to win that race. I thought she was beat at the 1/8 pole b/c Switch was full of run, and she gutted it out and found a way to win."

I love that you made a bunch of football guys watch it!

"Her races are amazing, Zenyatta is great, but I guess me being a sports junkie wanted her to show us more. Step outside the box just once. She will at CD, and it should be a great show. I am sure I am not in minority when it comes to that. I do think she is the best horse in California, it is just hard to see it when she is not racing in the best races. Are we good? Can we agree to disagree?"

Let's see if I've got this straight. You want Zenyatta to step out of the box once. So you don't think she's stepped out of the box at all. Since she won the BC Classic, a GI at 10F, over males last year, I have to assume that you don't consider that stepping out of the box. Ergo, any race she runs in California is not stepping out of the box. Yet you wanted her to run in the Goodwood. But by your very definition, that would not be stepping out of the box.

VERY confusing.

However, I think I've figured it out. Since virtually all horses get beaten at one point or another, even the supremely great ones, only a loss can measure greatness. Greatness can't be measured if a horse was never beaten. There's no top to that. So the "box" you're talking about has nothing to do with her beating whomever shows up, running in the Goodwood, shipping to run in the Beldame, or running in the Foster. It has to do getting her beaten. Because only then will she come back to Earth. Only then will you be able to say, "Zenyatta was great to a point."

I'm telling you, if she wins the Classic this year, you guys STILL won't be satisfied. You'll keep moving that bar for her and only for her. You seem to get a great deal of enjoyment out of her races, so I'm just flummoxed by the reasoning.

Like any other horse, Zenyatta faces the possibility of being beaten every time she sets foot on the track. She just hasn't yet, and that's held against her. Bizarre.

05 Oct 2010 4:33 PM
Jason Shandler

Secretariat: You're nuts. If Zenyatta a) runs in and loses the BC Classic and b) Lookin At Lucky, Quality Road, or Blame win the race, she has no chance to win HOY. None. If she does, that will be the end of the award as we know it in my opinion.

If she doesnt run in the race because of rain, I would say there is an outside chance she could still win the award because of misguided and clueless voters, but it is still unlikely if any of the aforementioned horses win the race.

Yes, in the first scenario, I will bet you $1000.

05 Oct 2010 4:47 PM
sodapopkid

Jason, You're making all these big bets against Zenyatta. Now if she wins the BCC (I think she will) then you are out of alot of money.  I know these bettors are playing for real money and not "Monopoly" money .lol....

05 Oct 2010 5:09 PM
Kay

Jason:

What if Zenyatta runs second to some huge longshot in the Classic, but beats the other three? Do you think she'd get HOTY? It would certainly make things messy. I do think she has to win to get HOTY unless there's some other crazy scenario. If there's a Horse of the Decade award she wins it hands down, but this is Horse of the YEAR and she needs to win. I think she should have gotten it in 2008 because Curlin got beat. But this year? It's more than likely going to be the winner of the Classic who gets HOTY. So really, they ALL need to win to get HOTY. Not just Zenyatta.

Although I hate that if Blame wins, he'll get HOTY with only three GI wins. That isn't a HOTY campaign. And ditto with Lucky. At least Quality Road would have won four GI races. I think he's going to run big in the Classic.

05 Oct 2010 5:18 PM
stevebiscuit

talk is cheap Jason

05 Oct 2010 5:30 PM
Footlick

Laz- in Zarkava's case that is very typical of the Aga Khan's program.  He breeds to race and likes to get young bloodstock started if they have had a stellar season.  He saw no need to run Zarkava anymore because she won all her races and the Arc as a 3 yr old.  I can't speak for Sea ther Stars except for the fact that he is standing at the Aga Khan's stud.

05 Oct 2010 5:44 PM
kathleen o

Dr Drunkinbum, AMEN.  Who cares what anyone else thinks, she has revived a sinking sport and done it with style.

05 Oct 2010 5:44 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Convene

  Maybe funny, but not by accident. Jason posted the link to Beyer's Zenyatta article that started it all. He posted the link as he was rubbing his hands together and laughing like Peter Lorre, or was it Snidely Whiplash?

05 Oct 2010 6:32 PM
PMAC14

Will you be at the BC Jason

05 Oct 2010 7:21 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

kathleen O

  I meant to comment on your "obtuse" and Seabiscuit analogy post but I never got around to it. I loved it.

sherpa

  That is exactly what happened. After they saw what the Oaklawn trip did to Zenyatta, they started having second thoughts about shipping. They didn't run against the boys at DM because they don't like the surface. I was surprised they ran there at all. I don't know why they didn't run in The Goodwood except that it was probably too close to Breeder's Cup, and with the traveling coming up they probably wanted her as fresh as possible. We know that the barn knows what they are doing. Zenyatta's health is number one, and peaking for the Classic is number two. People can't really expect a six year old mare that doesn't travel well to be running all over the country. There weren't really that many choices in S. Cal and the timing has to be right, on the right track for a taxing race. The Goodwood would have been really interesting though between Zenyatta and Richard's Kid, but I'll take The Classic over that race.

05 Oct 2010 8:26 PM
sherpa

Thanks, Dr. D.  I agree with you, too, as to the spacing and taxing nature of the races/tracks.  It's all about *conserving* Zen's energy.

You know, I wish they'd consider taking a train to CD instead of flying.  By way of a southerly route, of course, with a couple of stops for exercise.  It would be doable.

05 Oct 2010 9:33 PM
Jason Shandler

Is that warm enough for her Mike?

05 Oct 2010 10:40 PM
Mike Relva

JASON

Nice explanation of the dynamics that go into winning HOY. You left out one detail,Zenyatta WINNING the Classic and it's over. Unless you want to go double or nothing that a Zenyatta win doesn't translate into HOY?

05 Oct 2010 10:44 PM
Mike Relva

Jason

I think so. lol

05 Oct 2010 10:46 PM
AngelaFromAbilene

Zen's Auntie- "She gets it!"  Very well stated.  

It's called acquisition and Zenyatta has an extraordinary amount of acquisition coupled with an awesome physical ability.  I have never seen a horse with both traits in such abundance...  Amazing and awe inspiring to say the least!

06 Oct 2010 8:00 AM
slyder

Secretariat: You're nuts. If Zenyatta a) runs in and loses the BC Classic and b) Lookin At Lucky, Quality Road, or Blame win the race, she has no chance to win HOY. None. If she does, that will be the end of the award as we know it in my opinion.

jshandler 05 Oct 2010 4:47 PM

Last years result was in my opinion the end of the award as we know it. Regardless of how anyone see's it if Jason's scenario above happens two years in a row with the wrong choice will be a complete disaster.

06 Oct 2010 8:01 AM
Billy's Empire

Kay, I just wanted to see her in 2010, race against males before the BC. I could care less where she raced. Everyone annointed her the Queen, the best in the world, she beat the best breeders cup classic field ever assembled etc etc etc. That is all I meant by that. Plus, and I know I will take hell for this statement, her owner and trainer said they wanted to travel and show her off, but they realized that all of the sudden at 6 she is not a good shipper. So be it, but at least run her against the boys on her home track. It is a moot point now, we wait for the BC, and I wish her and all of her die hard fans the best of luck.

06 Oct 2010 11:10 AM
Livesoutwest

I've complained a lot about Zenyatta's campaign, but if you compare her handling to Rachel Alexandra's now that her career is over, yeah, I'll have to say Zenyatta was handled better.  That doesn't mean I'm happy with the tame choices they made.  See Goldikova and Blind Luck for examples of how a great horse should be handled.  

I just hope she's adequately prepared for the Classic.  Switch & St. Trinians weren't slouches for girls, but they absolutely pale in comparison to what she'll face in the Classic - what she's never faced.  I'm not worried about Blame, she'll easily outrun him in the stretch with a clear trip.  But for the first time, she'll take on great early pace horses, Quality Road and Haynesfield on their preferred surface - dirt, not synthetics.  The upside is Zenyatta seems to prefer dirt too.  I don't question her ability to catch those horses, but whether she's ready to do it after facing lesser all year.  That would have been the advantage to at least occasionally facing the very best competition - she would be used to having to work harder.  

06 Oct 2010 12:05 PM
Billy's Empire

everyone is forgetting about Espoir City, he is all speed as well.

06 Oct 2010 1:00 PM
Householder

Haynesfield was clear by 7-8 at 1:38 for the mile!  Speaks volumns as to the caliber behind him.  Rail Trip...7-2 for his first start on dirt?  It was the first time Blame went 1 1/4.  This race told us about as much as the Goodwood...nothing.  

You Tube the first Lady's Secret stakes at Santa Anita and tell me what Zenyatta does when Gomez tries to slow the pace on the even money entry and BC Lady's Classic runner up, Hysterical Lady.  49 and change for 1/2 and big Z is 2 lengths off her.  If Haynesfield tries another 1:38 mile, he is not only going to see her he is going to feel her breath at the back of his neck and who out kicks who that last 1/4 mile.  

06 Oct 2010 2:26 PM
Kay

Billy:

"Kay, I just wanted to see her in 2010, race against males before the BC. I could care less where she raced. Everyone annointed her the Queen, the best in the world, she beat the best breeders cup classic field ever assembled etc etc etc. That is all I meant by that. Plus, and I know I will take hell for this statement, her owner and trainer said they wanted to travel and show her off, but they realized that all of the sudden at 6 she is not a good shipper. So be it, but at least run her against the boys on her home track. It is a moot point now, we wait for the BC, and I wish her and all of her die hard fans the best of luck."

OK. Gotcha. But about her shipping... she hadn't shipped since 2008. She's six. She shipped fine to Oaklawn but the return trip wasn't good and it took her months to come out of it and round back into form. By that point it's post-Vanity, and they know they have two starts left before the BC. I know they thought about the Beldame and maybe she would have shipped in and out and been fine. But that's quite a gamble to make, given how long it took her to recover from Oaklawn. So even though they said they wanted to travel, I don't understand why everyone is saying that they were lying and that they chickened out. They're really thinking of the horse first. I understand that people are disappointed she didn't travel but I wish they'd understand why instead of ignoring it all the time.

I personally would have loved to see her in the Gold Cup because I think she would have killed that field. However, I do trust her connections. They've won two BC races with her and if they thought running her against males wasn't in her best interest, then I accept that because of their track record with her so far. I wonder if people know how close she came to scratching at Del Mar this year, BTW...

Livesoutwest:

"I've complained a lot about Zenyatta's campaign, but if you compare her handling to Rachel Alexandra's now that her career is over, yeah, I'll have to say Zenyatta was handled better.  That doesn't mean I'm happy with the tame choices they made.  See Goldikova and Blind Luck for examples of how a great horse should be handled."

But they're also very different horses. Blind Luck's only a 3YO and Europe is completely different. Goldikova going to France, England, wherever isn't the same as shipping a 6YO mare across this country. And there aren't the level of class female mile races in Europe. It's just different and I don't think it's fair to compare them. Be disappointed, sure, but not because Blind Luck ships and Zenyatta doesn't.

As for Rachel, well... it's a choice, isn't it? Two completely different philosophies, both with their separate benefits and drawbacks. Personally, I prefer the Zenyatta way. Rachel had an amazing year but given what Hal Wiggins says in this interview, she could have had an amazing career. I think it's better for the horse, and I think it's better for racing. I hope Lucky runs as a 4YO because that'll be good as well. As racing fans we can obviously shift gears quicker than the casual fan but I like having horses to follow. Even this year what Zenyatta has done is amazing. She drew 12,000 at HP in June, then 34,000 at Del Mar and then nearly 26,000 Saturday. I guess her fans improve in the fall like she does...

"I just hope she's adequately prepared for the Classic.  Switch & St. Trinians weren't slouches for girls, but they absolutely pale in comparison to what she'll face in the Classic - what she's never faced.  I'm not worried about Blame, she'll easily outrun him in the stretch with a clear trip.  But for the first time, she'll take on great early pace horses, Quality Road and Haynesfield on their preferred surface - dirt, not synthetics.  The upside is Zenyatta seems to prefer dirt too.  I don't question her ability to catch those horses, but whether she's ready to do it after facing lesser all year.  That would have been the advantage to at least occasionally facing the very best competition - she would be used to having to work harder."

I totally see your point and it's something I've been thinking about, too. But I guess they can't be prepared for every eventuality. So they chose to go into the race with as fresh a horse as they can have and hope that the rest sorts itself out. If it doesn't work, then they didn't choose correctly. But if it DOES work... wow. I think she runs down everything that's in front of her. And if someone's really cruising out there, she DOES show enough tactical speed to move up on the backside. She'll be far back for the first quarter and maybe for the first half, but she will be picking it up towards the half-mile pole. I think it's going to take a perfect trip and a supreme effort from a horse like Quality Road to hold her off. Maybe he can do it. We'll see. But she'll get into her nice rhythm for most of the race and her closing move to actually just get into position is stronger than most horses' finishing kicks. Then she's got that sixteenth spurt that no other horse has. I think she's got several moves in her and it's different when she has a horse measured, like she has with these fillies. But these boys had better finish!

06 Oct 2010 3:20 PM
My Juliet

   Thank You, Jason, for this interview. So nice to hear Hal Wiggins talk about Rachel A+, to get his imput. So nice for the fans to have this.  

    I esp enjoyed Hal's thoughts on the P.E., "I thought she ran tremendous." Sometimes a 2nd place finish shows how good a horse is, and I saw this to be true here. Rachel's first time going mile 1/4, and against Life at Ten, 6-race win streak and proven winner at that distance. Persistently benefitted from the large 9-lb wt allowance from Rachel. Her BSF & Times this yr I think still showed her greatness. I wanted nothing more than for this Champion to silence the critics with a huge win at the BC. So that wont happen, and now she beats them all to retirement. ha,ha :)  

   Afleetalexforever, (what a nice horse you're named after.) I think you're right on re the Mosses wanting no part of Rachel last yr, mentn'g the M.G. Her win in that race was beyond impressive. A 19-length victory, setting a new Track Record, all while being Eased to the wire.  

06 Oct 2010 5:47 PM
skyfire

I am going to be watching LOL these next 3 weeks -- I think that Baffert is as good as anyone at getting a horse ready to peak, and I think LOL is a very good horse.  Billy's Empire, I agree with what you wrote about  him.  

Jimmy, you make very valid points.

06 Oct 2010 9:04 PM
skyfire

Lookin At Lucky of course (LAL).

Patriots look good.

06 Oct 2010 11:03 PM
Draynay

Enough is enough.  Zenyatta the male dodging poly horse is nothing but a one trick pony. Zenyatta will not be racing in the Classic and Mr. Moss knows it.  He will take the easy path and run in the Distaff.  He will have some excuse that Zenyatta followers will believe.  19 for 19 and doesn't even run in the biggest races in her own state?  Never won a race east of the Mississippi? Never beat a male on dirt?  Enough Jason.  I can't take it anymore.  Zenyatta will be exposed in 30 days and Mr. Moss will AGAIN take the easy route.  Quality Road is your HOY and Zenyatta is another dodger who is all smoke and mirrors.

06 Oct 2010 11:17 PM
LAZMANNICK

Draynay

Seeing that you can see into the future.....do you have any hot stock picks?

07 Oct 2010 2:24 AM
Mike Relva

DRAYNAY

How many winners have you hit lately? Please.

07 Oct 2010 10:30 AM
kathleen o

Wow, Dray, thought you were too embarrassed to show up.  So far, you have been wrong about everything.  LOL

07 Oct 2010 10:54 AM
Gary at Rough Creek

I know you jumped on late because you were too chicken or too overmatched to appear earlier, but this attempt at the last word cannot stand.

Zenyatta took on the best males and whipped them...she didn't dodge them.   And she won it in what - 2:00 and change?

Rachel "ran" 10 furlongs and lost to a filly that crossed the wire in what - 2:04 and change?

Z's connections let everyone know that she would be running in the 2010 Apple Blossom, at 9 furlongs, on the dirt.  If Rachel even dared show up, the pot was a cool $5,000,000.  

Whose connections blinked?

Yeah, you know who.  

Who won it...again?

 

07 Oct 2010 1:19 PM
Cleanracing

I sure would like to have seen RA stay with Hal.  She's a class act & deserved class act connections.  Steve took the heart out of her but probably tried to put it back in the only way he knows how - with a vet. It's a disgrace you can win an Eclipse award the same year you're on appeal for your 2ND lidocain offense.  He's a dirty trainer & never deserved a horse like RA. HAL is the one who developed her into the horse she WAS. Steve made her into the horse she IS.

07 Oct 2010 1:40 PM
Slew

Wasn't QR supposed to run in last year's BCC.  Didn't he have a temper tantrum and scratch at the gate?  Guess he caught sight of the queen.  

07 Oct 2010 3:46 PM
Mike Relva

CLEANRACING

Well said,and it's the same as my feelings for a very long time. I have zero respect for him. Mr. Wiggins is a credit to the game.

07 Oct 2010 4:41 PM
Stacey

OMG!!! It was only a matter of time before some doofus suggested that QR freaked at the gate because he was afraid to run again Z. And yet it still amazes me whenever someone comes out with that STUPID remark!

07 Oct 2010 6:57 PM
My Juliet

 Gary at Rough Creek,

    Who were you addressing in your comment?  People are allowed to come on here or any blog at any time, while they're still opened, or as per the Blog Host.

07 Oct 2010 8:08 PM
Convene

Dr. Drunkinbum - yeah, I think you might be be right about laughing & rubbing his hands together! At least this time there's something legitimate to veer the discussion. I guess I'm just tired of the same thing happening in EVERY discussion even when there isn't a good reason. It's not that I don't want to talk about Zen. I'd just like to talk about Rachel when it's her turn! BTW - I enjoy a lot of your posts too - on all topics!

07 Oct 2010 9:03 PM
aldavis

This is a more accurate statement. Zenyatta may have gotten to Rachel last year at a mile and an eigth, may have. Zenyatta and a whole lot of other horses would have beaten her soundly at a mile and a quarter. Just keepin it real here. I hope RA has a bunch of grade 1 babies in her future, just adding to her already remarkable race campaign.

07 Oct 2010 9:53 PM
draynay

The countdown begins.  Few than 30 days before Zenyatta is exposed. A poly horse mare from California cannot beat males on dirt.

07 Oct 2010 11:59 PM
stevebiscuit

Draynay- I'll give you smoke and mirrors. How about a horse who's given soft fractions but still gets run down by a closer? What quality fields has Quality Road been beating lately? What makes you think they'll run in the Distaff? When asked immediately after the Lady's Secret if they were going to run in the Classic he confirmed, without hesitation, that they would. Even if she does run in the Distaff, she'll be facing a very strong group of fillies, some of whom could have given Rachel Alexandra a run for her money. The Mosses, unlike Jackson, don't won't run from a fight. They'll meet whoever the world has to offer.

Zenyatta's true greatness won't be "exposed" on November 6, it will be unveiled!

08 Oct 2010 4:38 AM
Slew

Stacey: Fact..QR was scheduled for the BCC.

Fact...QR became uncontrollable when loading into the gate.

Fact...Zen was the largest horse to enter the gate at the BCC.  In a herd, size is an intimidation factor, and used by alphas.  

The keyword was "maybe"...and it was a response to Dray's laughable assumption about QR being the best, when he was unable to best Blame...a closer, who was unable to catch Haynesfield.

So before you label any remark "stupid", you might first want to consider that some remarks carry a lot of weight even when they're stated in jest. (Oops...so sorry you lost your funny bone.)

08 Oct 2010 5:02 AM
PJJ

At the end of the day, and all things are said and done, Reality is, we can never say that Rachel beat the best in the world, because she didnt.   Jess J. ducked the BC races last year and again this year, therefore,  robbing Rachel of her chance in her career to go against the world's best.   This is sad folks.

This is all about the mismanagement of a horse that should have competed in one of the BC races,  this is not right.

Its a shame that Jess Jackson never allowed Rachel to end her career on a high note.  

It seems JJ would have at least ran her in the Beldame and the BC races since they were on dirt this year.

Rachel, I hope you can find your true happiness in 2011!, God only knows you sure wont happy in 2010 or in the latter part of 2009.

08 Oct 2010 7:12 AM
TerriV

There have been some really amazing posts on this blog.  GunBow, Zen's Auntie, Dr D and so many more.  Jason did a great job of egging everyone into this frenzy, which is exactly what he intended, I'm sure.  But it has taken me forever to read it all.  Back to the initial topic - very intriguing interview with Mr. Wiggins.  Lots of room to read between the lines.  I loved Rachel and was able to see 3 of her races last year in person.  I'll never forget how moving and extraordinary the experience was.  I'll treasure it until I die.  And, even though I would've loved to have seen Zenyatta run on the East Coast, so I could've experienced her sooner - I will see her at the Breeder's Cup and just can't wait. No matter who says what, Zenyatta is one of the few and rare.  She has been a boon to racing and touched many with her magic.  She will go down in history.  I don't care whether she wins the Classic again.  Rachel's losses have not tarnished what she accomplished and nothing can tarnish Zenyatta either.

08 Oct 2010 5:19 PM
Mike Relva

PJJ

Great comments,on point!!!

08 Oct 2010 9:30 PM
fenpom

Is Rachel still at the track or have they shipped her out already. Just curious. Andrea

09 Oct 2010 2:45 PM
Slew

fenpom: Check the DRF for photos of Rachel leaving Saratoga in her van.  She's headed South.

10 Oct 2010 9:02 AM

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