Female Handicap Division Heating Up

The rivalry between Blind Luck and Havre de Grace might have to wait until November or beyond for its next chapter, but that doesn't mean the female handicap division isn't getting exciting.

On Friday, Bill Mott said that he is considering the Oct. 1 Beldame (gr. I) for star 3-year-old filly Royal Delta, though he won't make any decision for at least a few more days. Mott is also considering the Cotillion (gr. II) at Parx Racing on the same day and the Juddmonte Spinster (gr. I) Oct. 9 on the Keeneland Polytrack.

Larry Jones confirmed on Friday that 4-year-old Havre de Grace, who just defeated males in the Woodward (gr. I), will make her next start in the Beldame, which could set up an exciting showdown between two of the top female horses in the country.

Blind Luck, unraced since narrowly defeating Havre de Grace in the July 16 Delaware Handicap (gr. II), is also under consideration for the Beldame but it is more likely that she will stay in California for the Lady's Secret (gr. I) Oct. 1 at Santa Anita.

Meanwhile, two-time grade I winner It's Tricky is on her way to the Cotillion for Godolphin and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Got all that?

Mott said he would prefer to keep Alabama (gr. I) winner Royal Delta at Belmont for her next race, but isn't crazy about the idea of hooking up with Havre de Grace just yet. However the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion might be too short and the Spinster is on Polytrack. Royal Delta has a win over the Keeneland Polytrack already, but it might not be an ideal place for her to prep for the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, which is on the Churchill Downs dirt. Mott confirmed that the Ladies Classic is the ultimate goal.

"I'll probably do what I usually do and make my decision on gut feeling," Mott said. "The Beldame is a possibility. She would be facing elders for the first time and I don't know if it's the right time to meet Havre de Grace. If we're trying to get to the Breeders' Cup, I want to do it the best way we can. I'm not searching out the toughest spot possible. You know the Breeders' Cup is going to be a war. But I'd still rather have her run at Belmont at nine furlongs than anywhere else.

"All three races are options. I'm going to be open-minded about all of them."

Mott said Royal Delta, who has had two works since the Alabama at Saratoga, was recently sent to Belmont.

Jones said Havre de Grace came out of the Woodward in good shape and will have her first work back soon. He said he and owner Rick Porter will talk about what Breeders' Cup race they will point her toward after the Beldame. But later in the day Porter said at this point he is still leaning toward the BC Classic with Havre de Grace.

"If Tizway wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I think we have to go after him in the Classic," Porter said. "On paper there is not a horse that can stay with her. But she has to win the Beldame first and we'll see from there."

McLaughlin said Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks (both gr. I) winner It's Tricky will have her first work since the Alabama on Saturday and will have another breeze the following weekend before the Cotillion. He also said the main goal is the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.

"I think a mile and sixteenth or a mile is a good distance for her right now," he said. "It's good timing and a good purse ($750,000). The Breeders' Cup is the next step."

Jerry Hollendorfer has not made a decision on Blind Luck's next race yet.


Leave a Comment:


Jones will most likely enter HDG in the Ladies Classic.  He's foaming at the mouth for another shot at BL. I wouldn't get too excited about BL making the trip to Louisville in November though.  The CD secretary has stated Hollendorfer has been in contact with the Breeders Cup racing director and said he won't come unless BL gets at least a 3lb weight advantage from HDG.  When told that was not going to happen, he reportedly pouted.  

16 Sep 2011 1:44 PM

I’ll give my summation of the top horses running in the F/M division:

1. Havre De Grace - going to the Beldame is a smart move on the part of the FHF team, she seems to have bounced out of the Woodward and Porter stated that she was full of herself and that she is raring to get back to the track.  Nice to see a filly go into the race, and the jockey be mature and patient enough to let the horse run its race instead of the other way around.

2. Royal Delta – This filly has incredible potential, stamina and speed is dangerous, she seems to be peaking and she seems to want to go long, 9furlongs is ok but not her best distance this filly can be a serious contender and is #2 in my view considering she is actually running in races and in training.

3. Ask the Moon – grade 1 Ruffian and Personal Ensign Winner, she seems to want to go to the front and do her thing, I believe she’s going west to run in the Lady’s Secret, I see her winning the Lady’s Secret and being a threat in the BCLC.

4. Blind Luck- hasn’t raced since July, not sure what the issue is but she won’t get the normal allowance race/optional claimer type crowd in the Lady’s Secret as more than 1 actual grade 1 winner will enter the starting gate with her.  2 bullet type works show that the rest has helped but no one knows what exactly led to the dodge job by Hollendorfer.

16 Sep 2011 2:08 PM
Rachel NH

Maybe, just maybe JH figured his tough tomboy deserved a break before heading into the fall campaign after 21 starts in about 22 months, routinely crisscrossing the country to any and all tracks and running against whoever showed up...vs 13 starts for her favorite rival. ♥ ♥

16 Sep 2011 3:26 PM

One thing I do know. The last two years with all these wonderful fillies has been so exciting for us all. It has provided much more depth to the sport. I was depressed I would not have any favorite to root for this year and read about after Zenyatta and RA.

So thrilled I was wrong! May have to celibrate with a BC PARTY!


16 Sep 2011 7:35 PM
Splits of 12

Right now, Blind Luck and Have De Grace are in a league of their own. As for Royal Delta, she could be a threat against either of these two. She's a rapidly improving filly with an impeccable pedigree. Let's not count out It's Tricky. She labored a bit in the Alabama, but still held on for the place. The horse who ran third and was charging hard at the end in that race, Pinch Pie, is also improving and could be a force to be reckon with, against these.  

16 Sep 2011 9:08 PM
Paula Higgins

Well said Rachel NH. My thoughts too. Blind Luck deserved the rest. I don't think it was a "dodge job." If they want to race her in the BCC or against HDG in the Ladies Classic they need to make sure she has something left in the tank at the end of the year. I think they are eyeing HOTY and are planning accordingly. It will be intersting to see which game plan pays off, Hollendorfer's or Jones/Porter's.

16 Sep 2011 10:29 PM

Thanks for the comic relief Sylvester and Afleet Alex, don't quit your day jobs, if you have jobs that is.

17 Sep 2011 11:59 AM
Paula Higgins

If HDG goes to the BCC, Blind Luck better show up at the Classic also, if they want HOTY for her. This year, I think that is what it is coming down to-the Classic. Unless of course they think that HDG can't win the Classic and then they should go to the Ladies. It's like playing chess.

17 Sep 2011 3:43 PM

It will be interesting to see what Eclipse voters do if HDG wins the Beldame and the BCC (though the latter is definitely not a given, especially at 1-1/4 miles, which is probably not her ideal distance), and BL wins the Lady's Secret and BCLC. I'd think if Hollendorfer really had Champion Older Filly/Mare and/or HOY on his mind, he'd then have to do something like win the G1 Clark against males to have any chance of wresting those two championships from HDG. I'm guessing that even if BL does win these 3 races, that won't overcome HDG winning the BCC, which is supposed to be the definitive championship race. I agree with the previous posters who said we've been fortunate to have another year of top class females racing against males after the last two years with RA and Zenyatta! I hope more trainers see these successes and take more chances. Top European mares are routinely thrown in against their male counterparts and are more than competitive!

17 Sep 2011 5:35 PM

How about Winter Memories for HOY.  That performance at Belmont was really something special. You guys can thank me for that winner by sending half of your winnings directly to my PO Box.

17 Sep 2011 6:12 PM
Linda in Texas

I know this is not about HDG but Winter Memories is a female so i will say:

Just watched Winter Memories, have no idea how she got out of the same predicament she was in in her last race where she was boxed in on the rail. She will not run on the rail. I think i said that last time. She hauls outside and she is smart that way.

That was truly amazing. I thought no way can that baby get around her traffic from dead darn last to winning.

She is certainly no slacker and i loved watching her digging in and stretching out. Bea u ti ful!!

Yet powerful, if you watched her shoulders. That was stunning and i don't care if someone pours water on her parade and comes along and says the times were slow and all that other stuff to lessen her win.

Draynay i hope you got to see her race.You were one of the first besides Jason and then me to really sing her praises. Muy bueno Senor Castellano, muy bueno!

And thanks Jason. Have a nice week end.

17 Sep 2011 6:37 PM

And today I watched a super freak.  Theysken's Theory has certainly improved, but Winter Memories is a total freak; her run was unbelievable!  I don't know how she pulls off her wins, but they're nothing short of Spectacular, and now include a G1.

Awesome Feather is back in training.

The fillies and mares are looking much livelier than the colts this year.

17 Sep 2011 8:06 PM

Okay Draynay

I bet Two Bucks to Show on Winter Memories.  Where would you like me to send your nickel?

17 Sep 2011 9:50 PM
Linda in Texas

Jason,just read your article on Winter Memories and i do not know how you write such great articles in such a short amount of time to get them loaded on bloodhorse.com.

That was nice and informative and i

had not realized that Castellano was a different jockey than rode her before. Both have done a very nice job with an extra very nice filly. I am still wondering where she got that burst of energy, i guess it was just being saved running behind all the horses.

And Slew is so right, she is a freak in an exciting way.

17 Sep 2011 9:51 PM
Bob from Boston

Hey Cubs fans!

Ted from LA asked me to tell you that he misses each and every one of you.  He is busy chasing J-Lo in Fiat commercials and MTV videos.  I am ready for Breeders' Cup.  Bob from Boston is going to Churchill Downs for both days.  I hope it is warmer than last year.  Off Topic:  Does anyone besides Ted/Bob notice that almost every play in the NFL results in an injury?

18 Sep 2011 6:29 PM

Jason: Off the subject.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Though they will take different paths to get there, the ultimate goal is have to Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty end up in the same starting gate for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

Those sentiments were expressed Sunday by owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher after they watched both 3-year-olds put in workouts over Belmont Park’s main track on a gorgeous fall-like morning. Both horses worked by themselves.

“I think there’s a very strong possibility that they both show up in the Classic,’’ Pletcher said Sunday in his Belmont office. “It’s going to come down to if Mike wants to take two shots at the Classic or run one in the Mile.’’

Repole made it quite clear Sunday morning what he prefers.

“I grew up watching 25 years of the Classic, not 25 years of the Dirt Mile,’’ he said. “I want to run both of those horses in the Classic then watch it come to down to a Blame-Zenyatta duel down the stretch only it’s Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty coming down the stretch. I’ll be rooting for a dead heat.’’

18 Sep 2011 9:20 PM

Looks like some people are trying to drag us into another Rachel-Zenyatta feud.

The great thing about Blind Luck and Havre de Grace is that they have already met, 6 times.

If we are looking at the CAREERS of Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, I don't see how anyone can rank Havre on top. Not only does Blind Luck hold a 4-2 advantage in those 6 career matchups(don't give me the excuse that because neither won we cannot include the BC Ladies Classic. Both ran in the race, Blind Luck finished ahead of Havre, end of story), but she has won 6 grade 1 races to Havre's 2, and has won an additional 4 graded stakes all over the country.  The Delaware Cap was their definitive matchup thus far this year, and Blind Luck also won that.  Blind Luck has accomplished more in her career, and she owns the head-to-head advantage, so in my opinion Blind Luck has clearly had the superior career and is the better overall horse.

However, this is not to say Blind Luck has had the better 2011 or that she is necessarily better at this very moment.  If we had to decide the Eclipse awards right now, for both Older Female and HoY, it would certainly be a difficult exercise.  

The Delaware Handicap was, or at least appeared, at the time, to be a definitive race.  Blind Luck's win made her the clear #1 female in just about everyone's poll.  Although technically the 2011 Eclipse awards should be based strictly on what horses have done during this year, it was hard for people after Blind Luck's win in the Del Cap to ignore that the race gave Blind Luck a decisive 4-2 advantage in the rivalry; not only did Blind Luck just beat Havre in their most recent matchup, but she had proven herself the superior filly last year as well.  Take it all together, and Blind Luck had to be ranked #1.

Porter and Jones most definitely recognized this.  To change this impression, they knew they had to go for broke by either chasing Blind Luck to California or staying East and running against males.  They chose the latter, and their bold move was rewarded with an historic Woodward victory.

The Woodward was a game changer.  Although Blind Luck just beat Havre and owns the career matchup advantage, she doesn't have anything on her resume the equal of the Woodward.  Again, if we are talking career accomplishments, Havre's Woodward win doesn't erase the fact that Blind Luck has a much deeper resume and has won 4 of the 6 matchups.  However, when we're looking at just 2011, the Woodward represented a drastic shift.

The result is that we have a weird situation in which Blind Luck has a clear lead in the rivalry but Havre is having the slightly better year.  If one covers up the names and just looks at their resumes for this year, Havre's is stronger.  Havre has won 2 grade 1 races to Blind Luck's 1, and has a gr.1 win over unrestricted males.  And though the Del Cap was their definitive meeting thus far this year, one cannot ignore the fact that Havre beat Blind Luck rather easily earlier in the year in the Azeri.  With the Woodward win, Havre should be ranked #1, for 2011.

Fortunately, the year has not ended and we have some huge races to look forward to.  Obviously, what happens in these next few months will determine which of these two wonderful females wins the Eclipse and maybe HoY.  

Havre certainly appears to be peaking while Blind Luck's health has been thrown into question.  On recent form, therefore, one would have to give the edge to Havre.  However, I am of the opinion that Havre is just not as good at 10 furlongs as she is at 9.  With Havre apparently Classic bound, I would think Hollendorfer would have to follow suit.  While Hollendorfer has been hesitant to run Blind Luck against males, it's possible Havre could be made the Classic favorite; could Hollendorfer pass on the Classic if the favorite is a horse Blind Luck has beaten both of the times they have met at 10 furlongs?

18 Sep 2011 10:59 PM

Bob from Boston,

I noticed long ago that when it comes to Tony Romo, it wasn't Jessica.

19 Sep 2011 12:25 AM
Linda in Texas

Gunbow - i do agree with you. I really enjoy both Blind Luck and Havre de Grace but Blind Luck has won more races. I hope Blind Luck is training well and her hooves are semi rested.

Bob from Boston - i almost asked Jason where in the hota hey you were but didn't. So i am glad to see your post and that you are up and able to take a little nourishment!:) Now i won't worry about you, but will turn that concern to Dr. Drunkinbum who has been quiet as well as many others.

Best 2 races of the week end were won by Winter Memories and Turallure. And guess what, Alex'sBigFan, they are both Gray!

I keep going back to watch the video of WM and how she got out of her mess. The massive energy that she clearly displayed was breathtaking to me. If you did not watch the race please do.

Thanks Jason.

19 Sep 2011 11:32 AM


Even Mike Repole is getting into the Zenyatta/Blame game and we're still more than 6 weeks out from the BC.

Winter Memories' move was nothing short of devastating.  WOW!!  I hope she has another one of those left in the BC F&M Turf.  Good call Draynay.  And, it looks like the Fillies & Mares may steal the show this year at the BC.

Bob from Boston,

Good to hear from Ted/Bob.  I don't think I'm going to the BC this year.  Enjoy!  

Yes, there are a lot of NFL injuries this year EXCEPT on kickoff returns.  It's hard to get injured if you're on your knee at the back of the end-zone, except, of course if you are Josh Cribbs.

Will take a weekend off from the horses.  Have friends and relatives coming to town.  Saturday will watch the Buckeyes boff the Buffs from Flannery's Pub in Cleveland then have tickets to see the Tribe beat the Twins.  Sunday we'll tailgate and go watch the Browns sink the Dolphins.  

This weekend will be almost as good as Derby weekend or BC weekend...Almost, but not quite.

Bob from Boston,

Good to hear from Ted/Bob

19 Sep 2011 7:48 PM

Check that, I didn't read all the way through.  Winter Memories is going to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Keeneland, not the BC.

19 Sep 2011 7:59 PM
Paula Higgins

Ted from LA,I hate to be the one to tell you this but J-Lo has apparently gone back to her husband. Go figure.

It sounds like some of us think that HOTY is going to come down to the two girls. Does anyone have any actual information to confirm that Blind Luck is having or had health problems or are we just speculating? I think both girls need to end up in the BCC if they are healthy.

19 Sep 2011 11:55 PM

I don't think this horse can beat Blind Luck or Havre De Grace...but I love Zazu. She is best on dirt and she could surprise some people in the Breeders Cup this year.

20 Sep 2011 1:41 AM

GunBow quit talking about last year.  This year HDG and BL are 1-1 with the only win by BL was with her getting a weight allowance.  Let me know when BL beats HDG at equal weights THIS YEAR.  I'll wait.

20 Sep 2011 9:29 AM

Please .... pleeeze .... pleeze: I wanna see them both in the REAL Classic.

And Winter Memories: in the Turf Mile?  May she go up against Golidkova.

Off topic (except still about Fillies and Mares): anyone heard anything about maybe Goldi's little sister coming over for the Turf?  Galikova is doing her sister proud in France.

Bob/Ted.  I still love you both/each.  Even though I have been spurned for JLo (although, is she still the flavour of the month? isn't there some new, up and coming 20-something that is now the big thing(s)?)


20 Sep 2011 11:26 AM

Zazu is 1-4 on dirt, with a 1 mile win and 3 losses, losing to a horse named California Nectar, not sure how anyone could state that dirt moves Zazu up, a 25% win percentage on the surface doesn’t really give clear indication of that!

If there is something like proof of that statement please provide it.

20 Sep 2011 1:07 PM


At least GunBow remembers last year.  He has a strong sense of history and the importance that our great stars bring to the sport.  You on the other hand seem to have to be lead by newbies such as Afleetalexforever who are impressed only by what happens lately because they are clueless when it comes to the past.  It is difficult for someone that really doesn't know much about the sport to understand what horses like Blind Luck have to endure during their careers, like travel for instance, something that many eastern stabled horses can't adapt to and still win races, especially when they have to go out west.  Listen to the Gunbows of the world and learn.  

20 Sep 2011 1:45 PM

The truth is like a five inch cube: turn it over and its 5"x5"x5", turn over again and its still 5x5x5.  Anyway you look at it Blind Luck has Havre de Grace measured at 9 or 10 Furlongs.  HDG needs to go after BL in order to be champion mare.  Hollendorfer should follow his gut and presumably go for the Distaff (Ladie Classic); let the overly ambitious HDG connections throw it all away trying to topple "Big horse" Tizway and Uncle Mo in the Breeder's Cup classic.  Personally I'd rather see the two fillies hook up in the Distaff.  In my view neither of these fillies can outrun the top colts at 10 Furlongs, with everybody bringing their "A" game to the Breeder's Cup.  Anyway lets see.  Fortune usually favours the brave so we have to give maximum respect to Larry Jones et al for aiming high. This is a much better scenario than the Zenyatta/Rachel Alexandra fiasco of a couple years ago.

20 Sep 2011 2:07 PM

Tcc If Repole is aware of the 25 years of history surrounding the Breeder's Cup Classic then he would remember Easy Goer.  The horse had real trouble outside the state of New York.  

Stay Thirsty seems to have similar issues.  

20 Sep 2011 3:21 PM

Nice article Jason on deciphering the femme fatales for us.  They sure are beauties and at the top of their games it seems.  It is always intriguing when a filly is thrown into the mix especially in the BCC.  I've been true to Mo since pre-Derby and my heart belongs to him.  I'm behind Mo all the way, there is something special about him.  If I'm not mistaken Indian Charlie made his own share of femme fatale offspring in Fleet Indian and Indian Blessing a few years ago.  It's hard not to love all of them, and a win by ROI would be special for me as would be a win by Havre de Grace, but this gal belongs to Mo.

20 Sep 2011 10:59 PM

mz- I think it all depends on how much the Arc takes out of her.  

20 Sep 2011 11:01 PM
Paula Higgins

mz, Ted/Bob is not in love with J-Lo, not to worry. Like most men, he is in love with her derriere. It's a love affair that will not last. You can only look at that for so long and then your eyes start to glaze over (my husband assures me this is true). He will come back to us.

Lazmannick, well said! Sylvester,  you are wrong about Blind Luck. If all things are equal, including weights, I still think she wins against HDG the majority of the time.

20 Sep 2011 11:09 PM

I for one appreciate the comments of Gunbow, first off he gives assessment of the horses off what they actually do on the track, secondly he is able to stay objective when he is questioned about his opinion and tries in some manner to back this with factual numbers representative of again things that actually happen on the track. Unfortunately Laz many of you are unable to differentiate fact from fiction. You live in a bubble where everything that a horse does is measured by Zenyatta a synthetic specialist who as  0/1 on dirt against Grade 1 fields. I on the other hand and many others that are objective can recognize that a horse should be measured on merit and pps, Looking through Zenyatta’s pps there are more So Cal optional claimers then Graded stakes winners.  Therefore that would not be a measuring stick, unless of course you are making an instructional video on how to campaign your horse in the weakest, most pillow soft manner in order to preserve a undefeated record, and chase the big fish like Pepper’s Pride.  The Platinum standard for race horses is to strive to emulate the Goldikova’s, Zarkava’s, Ouija Boards, and Rachel Alexandra’s of the world.  Lowering the bar and taking the route the Moss’s did over and over gets you 2 embarrassing losses for HOY and then on the third try, showing the same lack of class you showed the previous two years with the sour-puss face look after your horse is trounced in HOY and Eclipse award voting.  Then to come back and place an article in DRF begging for HOY votes, the most revolting and classless act ever in the history of horse racing.  Look back at every previous HOY candidate, None, I repeat None felt the need to retired their horse 3 or 4 times and have a half dozen retirement ceremonies, they are horses not figurines. Lastly Laz for someone that stated: LAZMANICK (09/20/2011 04:09 PM)

I can make a prediction on the BCC. With the group that's pointing towards it I would bet that the winning time won't be close to 2.03. Probably more like around 2.04. For sure, if HDG, won it it would be 2.04 and change. If it did go in less than 2.03 it will be a Cali horse that will win it.

My question off that bold statement Laz is are you referring to Coil (with that impressive last place performance in the Travers) or Game on Dude (The Plodder) or Blind Luck (Currently on a 70 day layoff)?

21 Sep 2011 8:21 AM

Afleetalexforever………. you really have no clue as to the quality of Zenyatta.  When John Nerud said that of course Man o’ War was great, but he only had to be the best of 1,700 foals, not 37,000 like Zenyatta and Dr. Fager, he wasn’t making that statement just to be heard.  He meant every word of it that’s why he said it.

Try to come to terms and understand what people are trying to tell you.  The BCC will be run at a time during the evening when the track consistency changes.  It becomes cuppy and much slower than even a few races earlier in the afternoon.

Last year Blame and Zenyatta hit the wire together in 2.02.28 with Blame running his final quarter in 24.91 and Zenyatta in 23.96. I’m sorry, but there are no male or female horses running this year that are as good as those two and none of them will run a BCC under similar track conditions faster or even close to that fast.  The biggest threat is Tizway who, when running 10F in the 2009 JCGC , closed his final quarter in 25.89 seconds at Belmont, and who in 6 career races at 9F has won only two (the slow Whitney and a race on synthetics).

That leaves HDG, the same HDG who was at the top of her game last fall in the BC Distaff having come off a rousing win in the Cotillion.  The BC Distaff was run in a slow 1.50.04 at approximately the same time during the evening as the BCC with HDG, in excellent position to actually win the race from the top of the turn home, struggling and actually losing ground to both Unrivalled Belle and Blind Luck and whose actual time was 1.50.79, this same HDG that in winning the Cotillion the race before was within 1/5th of a second of a 36 year old track record.  Also, HDG has had the lead in two 10F races well into the stretch and couldn’t hold it.  You would have to think that with a large field, pressure throughout, that she will not be so dominant like she was in the Woodward.  Sorry, but we saw a dominate Woodward winner crumble last year and that race has completely lost its luster for me.

Now it’s time to try and gauge how much the track’s condition is actually going to play a roll in this race.  It will be tiring and with the way HDG didn’t go on in the Distaff last year, if she does manage to win the BCC will do so in a slow time.  That’s not a put down.  That’s a well though out assumption.

To further upset you, I firmly predict that the winner of the BCC, if it’s an American horse, will come from California, definitely not from the east.

21 Sep 2011 1:28 PM
Linda in Texas

I don't agree with AfleetAlexForever. Just because i do agree with some of Gunbow's posts does not mean that i will automatically agree with AAF when he defends Gunbow on subjects i may have a different opinion on.

And i will defend Zenyatta, AAF, them is fightn' words. And yes Jason, i can hear you saying, 'she lost, get over it.'  I never was

a poor sport about it that i can remember. But her name will be brought up for a long time. And you simply cannot file her wins away to be forgotten. And so will Blame's The BC Winner of 2010!

But she did bring the crowds out and she certainly helped the t.v. ratings and brought some needed attention to horse racing.

Thanks Jason. You are a good sport and i appreciate your expertise and your great articles. For a youngster you are very savvy and quick thinking. And those are all compliments.

21 Sep 2011 3:23 PM
It aint easy being good!

Royal Delta at classic distances would destroy both HDG and blind luck! Does anyone know what the connections are going to do with brillant speed yet? He is a monster on turf and I dont see him losing ever again. Brilliant speed will be this years paddy o prado you can bank on that! BS is a beast on TURF!!! Someone tell me something so I can go house him on breeders cup day...thank you!

21 Sep 2011 4:25 PM


Seems like Mike Repole's point is that he want's both his horses running in the Breeder's Cup Classic, not one of them in the BCC, and the other one in the Bredder's Cup Dirt Mile. The BCC seems to be Mike Repole's race preference.

AfleetAlexForever;, Sylvester;

Which of the horses listed below had or have won a race at the 10f distance?

Rachel Alexandra


Havre De Grace

Blind Luck

21 Sep 2011 4:31 PM
Paula Higgins

Jason, thanks for the update on Blind Luck's next race and their plans to run her in the BCLC. I am disappointed she isn't going into the Classic but Hollendorfer knows his horse better than anyone, so I won't second guess him. I think even if she wins the Lady's Secret and the BCLC, it will be tough to  win HOTY. I admire very much the way they have campaigned her but I think HOTY will probably go to the BCC winner this year.

Linda in Texas and Lazmannick, great posts about Zenyatta. Talking about her, to the naysayers, is an exercise in futility. They will never get it because they don't want to. I just don't care anymore because her greatness is apparent to most of western (and eastern civilization) and the few holdouts simply don't make a difference to her legacy.

21 Sep 2011 8:23 PM

To answer my own question from above, yes it appears Hollendorfer would run Blind Luck in the Ladies Classic even if Havre went to the Classic.  I am a little surprised Hollendorfer has totally ruled out the Classic.  Hollendorfer is old school; that's great when it comes to running frequently and shipping, but it also means he's more conservative when it comes to running females against males.

Jess Jackson and Steve Asmuseen were in a similar position last year with Rachel.  They knew that Rachel wasn't going to win the Classic off her current form, but they might have felt that running in the Ladies Classic was beneath Rachel given her "rival" was meeting the boys.  

Blind Luck is different because while outstanding, she didn't do what the 09' Rachel did, so running in the Ladies Classic will not be seen as "beneath" her.  However, it might be hard for some Eclipse voters to choose Blind Luck over Havre if it is the latter in the more ambitious and challenging BC race.  In that scenario, Blind Luck would absolutely have to win the Ladies Classic and Havre run worse than 3rd in the Classic.  If Havre runs as well as Zenyatta did last year in the Classic, and loses by a nose, she'll win the Older Female Eclipse and probably HoY(unless it is Tizway's or Stay Thirsty's nose).

On the subject of the Z-Team, I understand some people's frustrations.  I was a huge Zenyatta fan, and was cheering wildly in person when she won the 09' Classic, Santa Margarita, 10' Vanity, 10' Hirsch, and 10' Lady's Secret.  

In partial defense of Moss and Sherriffs, I think their #1 objective in bringing back Zenyatta for 2010 was to beat Rachel in the Apple Blossom.  When Rachel was deemed unfit for the race, I think it threw Moss and Sherriffs for a loop.  They were anticipating that with a win over Rachel in the Apple Blossom, they could give Zenyatta a mid-season break and then start her back up again in ate summer.  And they figured that with a win over Rachel, their critics would finally be silenced.  Instead, when Rachel withdrew, the Apple Blossom victory over a moderate field did little to quiet the critics.

This is where my defense of Moss and Sherriffs ends.  They just didn't handle the change(lack of a showdown with Rachel in the Apple Blossom) well.  Although the Santa Margarita and Apple Blossom had been easy races for Z, Moss and Sherriffs acted like they actually had beaten Rachel in the latter race and basically went into the training/owning equivalent of 4-corners.  Whether it was because they were afraid of Zenyatta being injured(certainly understandable) or were trying to protect the streak, they went into a conservative shell, repeating the 09' and 10' campaigns.  In many ways, Zenyatta had outgrown races like the Vanity, Hirsch, and Lady's Secret; she was above those races and needed a campaign the equal of arguably the greatest female in history.  By running her in the same races, Zenyatta's connections denied her the opportunity of really separating herself from other great females like Personal Ensign.  In my opinion, Zenyatta had already proven herself the equal of Personal Ensign, and 2011 was the time to see where she fit with the likes of Cigar, Skip Away, Alysheba, Sunday Silence, Easy Goer and the other great males of recent times and maybe even the likes of The Bid, Affirmed, Slew, Forego, and Secretariat.

Again, I don't blame the connections for starting out with the Santa Margarita and Apple Blossom because the Apple Blossom was scheduled to be a defining race.  However, when the showdown fell threw, the campaign should have looked something like this: Foster or Hollywood Gold Cup, Personal Ensign, Goodwood, BC Classic.  Half her races against males, at least half her races outside Cali, at least half her races on dirt.

21 Sep 2011 9:24 PM

@tcc.  I'll answer your question. Zenyatta and Blind Luck both won races at 10F.  However, with everyone's logic it therefore must be concluded that Zenyatta couldn't beat Blind Luck, Life At Ten or Ask The Moon at 10F on dirt since she was unable to win a 10F race on dirt. Paula for someone who doesn't care you sure do repeatedly come back to Jason's blog and post incessantly.  

21 Sep 2011 10:22 PM

Linda in Texas, Jason, Paula,

Yes, agree Jason has a keen eye for horseflesh and horse runners and is a great writer.  He has a great approach of realism to things, "it is what it is" so to speak which I can appreciate and admire.  I tend to be more of the romanticist.  He is right in the sense that she did lose, it is what it is.  He is being realistic not sarcastic.  As for me I think Zenyatta is the greatest female racehorse of all time.  Comparisons to Ruffian are tough, they were different ages and products of different generations, ran in different time periods, and had completely different running styles, one come from behind, one I'm in front and catch me if you dare.  The Zenyatta naysayers?  Well it's kind of like a few years ago some guy could not understand whatsoever the whole Keith Urban phenomena. I said, "Bud, you gotta take off the horse blinkers, this guy is gorgeous and will become a mega star."  Voila, it happened, one of country's best.  And so it is with Zenyatta, one of racing's female best.  Certain horses and canines and other animals possess inexplicable healing powers, I believe Zenyatta is one of these special animals.  What I would give to just spend a few hours at her side while she mows the Lane's End grass over there and just drink in her serenity and greatness.  Ironically, my hat designer Polly said the very same thing to me last week and she lives right there by Zenyatta about 20 minutes away.  So I think we have been through some kind of a phenomena with her, those that got it experienced something great, those that could not see it remain underprivileged.


Great posts.  Agree completely about the tiring Churchill cuppy track.  By the time they run the BCC it will be against a backdrop of a Churchill sunset and I can't see Thirsty getting over it well.  Don't rule Mo out if he makes it, he could reclaim his turf. Great things are coming out of California racing these days and yes a California horse could do it.  Don't think Havre is going to hot foot over it either, not as fast as Zenyatta did anyway.  If we're gonna see these slow times this could bode very well for Mo, he loves this track and just maybe that high knee action can raise him above the cuppiness.  It all remains to be seen................

22 Sep 2011 12:02 AM
Bob from Boston

Is it wrong that Bob from Boston got excited reading this blog?  Think baseball, think baseball...

22 Sep 2011 12:30 AM

So how good are some of the top East Coast horses in training?   This is what the numbers show based on their last race, run at Saratoga, at 9 furlongs.

The figs shown are:

Equibase Rating, weight carried, time of race.

Flat Out       114-126lbs-1:49.18

Havre De Grace 115-123lbs-1:49.18

Tizway         117-118lbs-1:52.43

Stay Thirsty   114-119lbs-1:48.78

THAS*          121-117lbs-1:48.31

*To Honor And Serve

Note, Stay Thirsty and To Honor And Serve will receive an age allowance in a match-up with the others. Havre The Grace will receive a sex allowance.

I have seen comments that Stay Thirsty is a NY horse. I never knew that State borders affected the way a horse performs. I thought only the racing surface mattered.

22 Sep 2011 7:47 AM

TCC which of the listed horses on the list have won a 10 furlong race against open company on dirt?

22 Sep 2011 1:27 PM

TCC which of the listed horses on the list have tip toed through an entire year without facing a Grade 1 horse?

22 Sep 2011 1:28 PM

TCC which of the listed horses were unable to travel to race at America’s most historic venue, Saratoga?

22 Sep 2011 1:30 PM

TCC which of the listed horses never won a race against males on dirt?

22 Sep 2011 1:30 PM

Slew let's try again, 3rd time maybe a charm. Again I will repeat and i dont know how much simpler I can make things but I will try to say it as slow as I can and i'll quote myself, C-A-N  Y-O-U  P-L-E-A-S-E  

E-X-P-L-A-I-N  T-H-E  C-U-R-R-E-N-T

D--I--R--T, DIRT, D-I-R-T, DIRT,

D-I-R-T,D--I--R--T, DIRT, D-I-R-T, DIRT, D-I-R-T,D--I--R--T, DIRT, D-I-R-T, DIRT, D-I-R-T,D--I--R--T, DIRT, D-I-R-T, DIRT,

D-I-R-T FORM at 10 Furlongs.

Let me try to rephrase, Slew Does So You Think have Dirt Form @ 10f?

Does So You Think Have Dirt Form @ 10f?

Again Over and over Slew, let me ask you what dirt form does SYT have at 10 furlongs.

AfleetAlexForever 11 Sep 2011 11:50 PM


Which of the horses listed below had or have won a race at the 10f distance?

Rachel Alexandra


Havre De Grace

Blind Luck

AAF answers:

TCC which of the listed horses on the list have won a 10 furlong race against open company on dirt?

AfleetAlexForever 22 Sep 2011 1:27 PM

TCC which of the listed horses on the list have tip toed through an entire year without facing a Grade 1 horse?

AfleetAlexForever 22 Sep 2011 1:28 PM

TCC which of the listed horses were unable to travel to race at America’s most historic venue, Saratoga?

AfleetAlexForever 22 Sep 2011 1:30 PM

TCC which of the listed horses never won a race against males on dirt?

AfleetAlexForever 22 Sep 2011 1:30 PM

22 Sep 2011 3:01 PM


I'll answer your question: "which of the listed horses were unable to travel to race at America’s most historic venue, Saratoga?"

Asnwer.....Spectacular Bid.  OOOPs.  Sorry.  He wasn't on the list.  He was still a champion and HOY though.  I guess now we'll have to put an asterisk beside his name.

22 Sep 2011 3:39 PM


At this point I think that at this point if THAS goes to the BC, it will be in the mile and not the BCC and the Pennsylvania Derby will determine what one he will go in, if he goes at all.  I base this on his inability (until his last race) to go on after running fast in the early part of a race.

THAS has a big upside based on his last race.  In that race, the slow final 8th of 13.18 might be due to the fact that he had a sizeable lead at the 8th pole of 4 ½ lengths and he increased it to 8 ½ lengths.  In watching the replay he was whipped a few times to keep his mind on his business, but from the 16th pole home he just glided and wasn’t under much of a drive.  And don’t forget, the final quarter in the Travers was in a slow 26.29 and if you double THAS’s 13.18 to 26.36, it is just slightly slower.

I checked the charts for three other prominent 9F races at Saratoga:  The Jim Dandy run in 1.48.78 with the first two quarters in 24.00 and 47.66 with the winner Stay Thirsty not close to the pace; the dead track Whitney run in 1.52.43 with the first two quarters in 24.31, 49.11 and the winner Tizway stalking back in third; and in the Woodward run in 1.49.18, with the first two quarters in 23.93 and 48.09 and the winner HDG back in 4th.

In THAS’s race they ran the race in 1.48.31 (the fastest of the four races) and the opening quarters were in 23.20 and 46.27 (fastest splits of the four races).  And THAS was on the outside pressing the pace all the way, never more than half a length away so he had to work hard the first 3/4s of the race.  

If he does win the Pen Derby then I think he’ll be a serious player and might just point to the BCC.

22 Sep 2011 3:44 PM


When To Honor And Serve has had the lead after 6 furlongs, no horse has ever run him down.

The only occasion on which  he was ridden hard when in the lead after 6 furlongs in a distance race, he won by daylight.

The only time I look at in a race is the final time because if they go slow early they go fast late and vice versa.

What matters is how fast the horse covered the entire distance and what the DRF Speed Fig and Track Variant were.

The Equibase figures were provided so no one will think I am dreaming.

On his best day, no horse in America can beat To Honor And Serve at 10 furlongs.

22 Sep 2011 4:58 PM

From Jay Hovdey's article 9/21/11:  "I might get trumped by all three of my partners," Hollendorfer said "but I think we'll be content in the Ladies' Classic.  If we could win that, we'd be thrilled.  We would have accomplished our mission for this year."  Hovdey asked:  Even if passing the Classic costs Blind Luck a shot at Horse of the Year?  "If I did the right thing for my horse, I'd say that nothing would make a difference," Hollendorfer replied.

22 Sep 2011 6:21 PM

Jersey Boy

I hear what you’re saying about To Honor and Serve and I agree that in every race that he lead at the 6F marker, he won.  However, take a look at those races.  Two were last year and in each there were only 4 competitors running against him.  In every race since then (until his last), he tried to make the lead and couldn’t and faded (possibly because he wanted the lead and didn’t like being rated).  In his last he pushed a really fast pace and controlled the race winning easily, but they were optional claimers and the second place horse was actually claimed out of the race.  Still, by far it was his best race and IMO makes him the horse to beat in the Pennsylvania Derby.

As far as the BCC, he has history to try and buck.  Since 1990, 21 editions of the BCC, only five horses have had the lead at the 6F marker and continued on to win the race.  Further to that, only three of the five actually wired the field and lead all the way, while two (Cigar and Skip Away) came from behind to grab the lead by the 6F marker.  Four of the five horses would also be voted HOY with one, Skip Away not winning HOY that year, but winning it the next.

• In 1991 Black Tie Affair (CD) wired the field and drew off to win by 1-1/4L in 2.02.4.  That win was his seventh in a row to finish the year and he was voted HOY.

• In 1995 Cigar (Belmont) stalked the pace setters and was never more than a length or so off the pace, took the lead before the 6F marker and lead the rest of the way winning by 2-1/2L in 1.59.2.  That year he was voted HOY.

• In 1997 Skip Away (Hollywood) stalked the early pace, grabbed the lead just before the half and lead the rest of the way winning by 6 L in 1.59.  He also won the JCGC by wiring the field in 1.58.4 his race before.  That year Skip Away didn’t win HOY but he did in 1998.

• In 2000 Tiznow (CD) lead all the way racing head-to-head throughout and won by a head in 2.00.3.  He was voted HOY.

• In 2004 Ghostzapper (Lone Star) wired the field and won by 3L in 1.59.  That year he was HOY.

I don’t consider THAS in the same category as this group and though the BCC field might not be the strongest this year, he will still be asked to race tough for 10F.  Pace during the race for a horse trying to lead or closely stalk/push the pace will be important, not necessarily the final time.  IMO, if he runs in the BCC THAS would do far better if they rated him than try to wire the field.  JMO, but I also think that with his style he would have a much better chance in the BC Dirt Mile than the BCC.

23 Sep 2011 1:07 AM


In every race, history is a non-starter. What matters is who the horse you like is running against in the current race, not what happened yesteryear. I never follow history.

Remember, THAS was found to have an injury earlier this year.

23 Sep 2011 1:05 PM


I hope you are right.  THAS was my top Derby pick early this year until he was injured and he was always one of my favorites.

As far as history, it is similar to past performances, something to review and maybe give us past info, but in no way something that will have an actual affect on the race.

23 Sep 2011 3:28 PM

GunBow:  While I value and anticipate your posts, I do disagree on certain things.  I don't believe the #1 objective of Team Zenyatta in bringing her back to race in 2010 was to beat Rachel Alexandra.  I believe it was to win HOtY, after coming so close the two previous years.  Yes, initially the path to that goal went through Rachel, but after her loss to the B-Team -- sorry Zardana, I love you -- the bar was lowered and they continued on the path that won her two consecutive BC races and two consecutive Eclipse Awards.  Btw, I would have loved to have seen her win the Hollywood Gold Cup.  

23 Sep 2011 5:12 PM


To Honor And Serve set a Stakes record. He was 0.34 secs off the track record.

However, it was not his best effort. He is better than this.

I do not know the real reason Velazquez chose to ride Rattlesnake Bridge.

Whatever his reason was, I still unloaded. I cannot believe he was not odds-on.

24 Sep 2011 7:19 PM

JerseyBoy- I believe you are right.  I feel that he is still improving also.

24 Sep 2011 10:22 PM


He was sensational.  Like I said, early in the year he was my Derby horse until he dropped out.  I think that he has it all together now.  What impressed me was the way he let Lezcano rate him, running nicely in second and then exploding to the top.  Here is another point.  There were four races run at a mile on the card.  The average time of the four of them was 1.38.14 seconds.  THAS had the lead when they hit the mile mark today and his time at that point was 1.34.65 which was faster than the mile track record set in 1985.  His time for the 9F on a track that runs year round and runs a lot of 9F races was not only a stakes record, but the best 9F time in at least three years.  If he will let them rate him in the BCC, I don’t see a horse beating him.  

24 Sep 2011 10:36 PM

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