Goodbye, Triple Crown; Hello, Breeders' Cup

As one final thought regarding Calvin Borel, in my Triple Crown wrapup I said it was learned that Borel attempted to get mounts during Belmont week, but was unable to secure any. I qualified that by adding, “If that is true…” Just for the record, this is what I was told by someone close to Borel. Although, as I also wrote, “It’s hard to believe,” I felt, because of all the criticism directed at Borel, I owed it to him to mention it in case it was true. Conflicting comments made earlier from the Borel camp recently came to light, so, it is up to the reader (if anyone still cares) to decide what they want to believe.

OK, enough of Borel; it’s time to move on to more important things and leave this wacky Triple Crown in the rear-view mirror. There’s a long road ahead of us, and we can already faintly see the tops of the San Gabriel Mountains way off in the distance.

To show how much the sport is changing, look at the results of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, with European invaders Raven’s Pass and Henry the Navigator running one-two on the synthetic surface. Look at the switch from dirt to synthetic for the new Meydan track set to open next year in Dubai. Despite having no breakdowns over the dirt at Nad al Sheba and the races being run a fast track each year, even on the rare occasions when the monsoons roll in, it seems odd that they would switch surfaces. They do so knowing there is a good chance the majority of big-name American horses who have excelled only on the dirt likely will pass on the World Cup, despite its big bucks.

Could it be they have had enough of Americans dominating the World Cup and are looking to lure more big-name Europeans like Raven’s Pass and Henry the Navigator? That wouldn’t make much sense, considering it is the Americans and the Dubai-based horses who have been in training and are able to prep for the World Cup, while European racing is just getting started in mid-March, and their horses would have to travel to Dubai in February (not likely) in order to find a suitable prep race.

This is not to insinuate the switch of surfaces is a good one or a bad one, just an odd one under the circumstances. Obviously the powers that be felt this was the way to go. Would Curlin have gone all the way there to run on a synthetic surface? Who knows, maybe a $10-million purse would lure anyone, especially with the luxuries that await all the participants, both human and equine.

Speaking of the new wave of Europeans that have been and will be washing up on our synthetic tracks, John Oxx, trainer of Two Thousand Guineas and English Derby winner Sea the Stars has already said the Breeders’ Cup Classic is a possibility for the son of Cape Cross.

“The Breeders' Cup this year and last year is slightly different to previous years because it's run on a Polytrack-type surface,” Oxx said. “I would never ask a 3-year-old to run on the traditional American dirt, but obviously the new surface is a bit more tempting.”

After last year’s European coup, we’d better start producing more quality older horses and keep our 3-year-olds in training longer if we want to avoid the ignominious turn of events that befell us in the 2008 Classic.

European bookmakers Stan James and Coral have already shown their lack of respect for the American horses by installing Sea the Stars as the favorite, at 5-1 and 6-1, respectively, for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are the second and third choices, ranging from 7-1 to 9-1. Well Armed, who destroyed his field in this year’s Dubai World Cup is listed at 12-1 and 10-1, respectively, while Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is 14-1 with Corals and Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird is 20-1 with Stan James, as is Einstein, who many consider to be America’s main hope for the Classic, having already won the Santa Anita Handicap over the Pro-Ride surface. Imagine, a European 3-year-old in June at 5-1 and Einstein at 20-1. And it also shows how wide a chasm the Europeans feel exists between their Derby winner and our Derby winner.

Having been overwhelmed by the Europeans on the grass (Conduit, Goldikova, Donativum, Eagle Mountain, and Westphalia) last year, as well as in the Classic, it is imperative that we stop the onslaught this year by finding enough quality synthetic horses or accept this rude wake-up call and just wait until next year when the Classic returns to the friendly confines of dirt, and we can once again showcase our best horses or the best of whatever is still around.

It is a shame that Fabulous Strike, arguably the fastest sprinter in the country, has to either run once again on a surface over which he is not as effective or wait until next year, at age 7, to have a legitimate shot at a Breeders' Cup victory. And he's not alone. Until then we'll have to make the best of another turf/synthetic Breeders' Cup. I actually enjoyed seeing two classy Europeans run so well in the Classic to give the race more international meaning, but I would rather see them run well on dirt against our best horses on their best surface. The Euros are entitled to have the playing field leveled on occasion, just not two years in a row. It's not fair to our best horses.

On the Friday front, good luck to the Europeans trying to find a filly to stop the Zenyatta Express. And if for some reason Rachel Alexandra finds her way to Santa Anita…forget it, I’m not even going there. Whether she runs in the Ladies or the good old fashioned Classic, it is too mouth-watering a proposition to even mention this early.

And how about a supporting cast of Music Note, Cocoa Beach (synthetic or turf), Seattle Smooth, Seventh Street, Life is Sweet, Acoma, and 3-year-olds
Justwhistledixie, Four Gifts, and Stardom Bound (who is doing well on the farm and expected back to the track in several weeks).

Next week’s Royal Ascot meet, always one of the great weeks of racing anywhere, should produce several additional Breeders’ Cup prospects, including Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Two Thousand Guineas winner Mastercraftsman, who runs in the St. James’s Palace Stakes. It was quite a sight seeing four O’Brien horses finish in a photo for second in the Epsom Derby. You can bet O’Brien will be back at Santa Anita in full force with 3-year-old colts Mastercraftsman, Fame and Glory (second in the Derby), Masterofthehorse (third), Rip Van Winkle (fourth), and Golden Sword (fifth) to choose from.

100 Comments

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Zookeeper

Steve,

Great article...I'm shaking in my flipflops.lol

I'm a California resident, so I'm looking forward to being at Santa Anita again this year. Too bad for the dirt specialists. But I'm sure they will have lots of chances in the future, because the BC will probably never be on a synthetic track again.

It's great though that we (who are lucky enough to be there this year) will get a chance to see great European horses again. I'm very much looking forward to it. I'm also hoping that some of our American horses will be able to hold their own against the European competition. Zenyatta is definitely the ace up our sleeve but, you never know when a new Tiz Now will pop up and save the day for American racing. :)

12 Jun 2009 1:20 PM
Karen in Indiana

We've had a TC season that has generated a LOT of interest. I've had quite a few people who don't follow horse racing at all ask me questions and talk about it. I think this BC season may do the same thing. After last year's success of the Europeans, couldn't the rivalry (friendly) be played up? Not only that, this year saw few of the stars from Ca. do well here on dirt, so racing on their home ground could be pay back to the eastern horses. I think it's going to be a great year with everyone putting in that extra little oomph!

12 Jun 2009 1:26 PM
Greg J.

    Good Piece Mr. Haskin, I do think it is comical to have "Einstein" at 20-1, but I do agree that "Sea of Stars" should be at 5-1 at this point in the year for early odds on the classic.  Like you said, Good luck finding ANYONE to stop Zenyatta, No one out there, Anywhere!  Also, Don't think there is any chance whatsoever of Rachel going to Santa Anita...

12 Jun 2009 1:40 PM
RGGC

I dont wantto rush summer but, fall should be fun!

12 Jun 2009 1:46 PM
Bengal Bob

Meydan's move to synthetic means the Dubai World Cup is a very, very rich Grade 2 race. And the UAE Derby, already a dubious way to prep for the American Triple Crown, becomes a complete non-factor.

12 Jun 2009 1:51 PM
mz

Steve: speaking of Royal Ascot, what do you think about Wesley Ward's babies (the reverse of them coming here)?

(International Racing....I've always loved it.  Even tho I lose by a nose when Zadracarta finished second in the Abbeye at massive odds)

12 Jun 2009 1:53 PM
Diane J.

I would love to see Zenyatta run in the Classic this year.  I think we would see another amazing performance from her, especially if Mike Smith asked her to "run" in her final start.  I can't wait for the summer races!

12 Jun 2009 1:55 PM
Somethingroyal

I am looking forward to my drive up to Santia Anita. I wouldn't want to miss seeing Zenyatta run. My camera and I are ready to rock and roll.

12 Jun 2009 2:17 PM
easygoer

Well, let's hope Zenyatta runs in the classic against the males. As long as she runs against filly's, it will just be another horse race not worth the hoop-la.

12 Jun 2009 2:23 PM
sheila

Last years BC & this years BC was good if you like grass racing, I like good ole american dirt racing 2 tell us who our great horses are.We also have great grass horses.

12 Jun 2009 2:31 PM
lobieb

If Rachael is going to the BC then they had bettr get her to CA. real early to start training on that stuff or else start putting her on turf now to see how she would do. Zen is a no brainer and will be our main hope of getting a win.  I am still holding out hope for POTN because he will get a chance to mature a bit before hand, but the Beyers has to come up.  It's still a long way off so plenty of time to see what the Americans can come up with but they had better start planning real soon otherwise all the purses will be leaving this country.

12 Jun 2009 2:36 PM
personalensign79

I will be there at SA and am looking forward to seeing some of the Euros! I think it is great these horses from around the world to compete. I am not, however, looking forward to another couple months of proride "plastic" whining.  

12 Jun 2009 3:12 PM
da3hoss

Zookeeper, Ah, but here's the rub: Tiznow won his BC's on dirt,;-)

12 Jun 2009 3:14 PM
Zookeeper

lobieb,

If I'm not mistaken, Rachel has run and won on a synthetic track earlier this year. If I'm wrong, somebody will surely correct the error. If I'm right, her owner should not hesitate to bring her to the BC. Curlin did not win but Rachel is not Curlin. If my recollection is correct, she would be another ace up our sleeve and would add a lot of excitement to any race they chose to run her in.

12 Jun 2009 3:15 PM
Kat

Is Summer Bird heading to the classic?  I thought he "flunked" on synthetics where he started his career. . .

12 Jun 2009 3:46 PM
Zookeeper

da3hoss,

Fair enough! But seeing how good his offsprings are doing on the synthetics I dare to think Tiznow would have succeeded anyhow.

My point though was that we don't know what late bloomer is getting ready to explode on the racing scene. Tiznow did not race until June and made it all the way to Horse of the Year, as a three yr old, after his gritty defeat of Giants Causeway in the BC.

12 Jun 2009 3:51 PM
Mike S

ZENYATTA will win the Breeders Cup Distaff. Yes, "The Distaff," there are no "ladies" in racing, any more than there are "gentleman" so it's time for the peeps at the Breeders Cup to restore the name "Distaff."

I think WELL ARMED and COLONEL JOHN will sweep the Breeders Cup Classic, of course. And both should be in the Classic.

Let's see how BULLSBAY does tomorrow at Churchill. If he keeps progressing I'll take him in the BC Mile (dirt).

I'm going to guess the Europeans will take the turf races because that's what they do every year. I just don't know which horses are the best ones yet.

12 Jun 2009 4:31 PM
LDP

Zookeeper,

    You are correct, RA ran in an allowence at Keenland. Even so, i would hesitate, mainly because synthetics aren't consitant from east to west. They aren't even real consistant in the west. Hollywood plays like dirt, Del Mar is wierd, Keenland is wierd, and SA plays like turf. Either way it be a gamble by racing her their. Say JJ runs her in the mother goose next. My next move would to wait a month the go to the Haskel. she'll probably meet some good colts there. If she wins i'd then run fly her out to Del Mar and run her in the Pacific Classic. The reason i say the Pacific Classic is because, though it's not SA, sometimes horse that perform well there will perform well on the other synthetic in CA. Also it gives her a month to be flown out there. If she puts up a good effort, or wins i'd go to the BCC. This way she tests some of CA's synthetics, gets used to the weather, and gets a test against older colts. If she doesn't seem to like the surface don't run her in the BC. I'd would go back and rest up for the Clark if she didn't show an affinity for the surface.

12 Jun 2009 4:44 PM
Lady Ruffian

Unbelieveable that they would have Einstien as a 20-1... He's amazing & will make the oddsmakers eat that number when he shows up at Santa Anita.

And good luck to anyone attempting to dethrone Zenyatta... they'll need it. I really do hope that her owners try her against the boys sometime this year. In the B.C. or not... that would be amazing for fans.

12 Jun 2009 4:56 PM
Bryan

Hi Steve,

Great article.  I was wondering if you think Mine that Bird has improved greatly from two, or is just being ridden better to his style.  The reason I ask is that while he dominated on the poly at Woodbine..he finished dead last over the pro ride last year in the Juvenille.  Think it was just him not liking that surface, because if it is, I wonder if it is not wise for the Mine that Bird camp to skip the BC this year and wait for Churchill next year.  

12 Jun 2009 5:09 PM
Zookeeper

Kat,

I don't think Summer Bird ever raced on synthetics. You may be thinking of I Want Revenge who did a lot better on dirt and away from Pioneerof the Nile.

12 Jun 2009 5:09 PM
For Big Red

STEVE: Thanks for this timely article, although I'm in no hurry to skip over the next few months to get to the Breeders' Cup. Even so, I'm hoping Sea The Stars does come to Santa Anita for the BC. Would love to see that colt.

Have you come across any recent news about whether or not his connections will try for the St. Ledger? Oxx's immediate thoughts after the Derby were discouraging in that regard.

12 Jun 2009 5:17 PM
Ida Lee

OK I take back every nasty thought I had about Calvin not racing on the Belmont track before the big race. I should have know better really but I was upset when I heard the false reports. Again,

Sorry Calvin - you're the best. Keep riding the the Bird and Rachel like the wind and keep them safe.

12 Jun 2009 5:17 PM
Karen in Indiana

I think a lot of Tiznow's do better as they age. The only one of his that I can think of that's done well as a 3 yr. old is Colonel John. Have there been any other 3 yr. olds? Most of the others have been 4 and up, like Well Armed. So who knows - Mr. Hot Stuff could have his break out race during the BC. He hung in there during that very fast first half of the Belmont. I'm not giving up on him yet.

12 Jun 2009 5:25 PM
Karen2

Oh the old synthetic debate again. Unfortunately I don't like it. I don't think the Breeders cup classic should be raced on it. We have had this debate many times and there are good points made about synthetics but I must be a bit old fashioned. I like dirt and grass. Here comes the whining I guess.

12 Jun 2009 5:45 PM
2009 Euro Breeders' Cup

After the last Breeders' Cup I am already looking past this year and instead awaiting anxiously for 2010.  I have zero interest watching horses that never ran on dirt overseas come here and win "Dirt" championships.

Zenyatta can't even get me excited, though she'll probably stick to the Filly and Mare championship.  Hard to say she'll go else where, just look at her campaign the last two years, sorry but a 150k GrII race is only exposing this specialist further.

Who really wants to see Poineerof The Nile again?  The Classic will only shape up to a big race if Einstein keeps improving this year.  I am getting real tired of these California 3 year olds, and quick.

I just hope Jess Jackson sticks to his guns this year, like the Zito's and Larry Jone's, and keeps Rachel at home (sure it was great for the sport to run Curlin at Santa Anita).  Would hate to see her front running style get beaten by the plastic dirt and not by her rivals.

My only positive note, watch out for Georgie Boy.  Don't forget this horse, he'll cross the wire first in whatever race he is placed in come October.

Too bad I can't put into words the disappointment of having THE Breeders' World Cup at a track with no dirt, and a European sprint chute.  This does NOTHING for the sport here, at all.  And last year proved that come Saturday...

One more year of fakeness, ho hum.  

12 Jun 2009 6:44 PM
Zookeeper

Karen in Indiana,

Mr. Hot Stuff was my long shot Derby horse. Well, we know how that turned out. Undetered, I kept my hopes up for a good showing in the Belmont. Worse result... I haven't given up on him either but he sure has a lot of maturing to do. Too bad races aren't beauty contests. He sure is gorgeous! It is true that Tiznow's offsprings are late bloomers as he was and also his full brother Budroyale who got better and better as he got older.

Karen2,

I wonder what the BC people were thinking when they decided to go to Santa Anita 2 years in a row.(To my great delight) :) I know that this is infuriating to the dirt fans, but it is what it is and there are some very good horses who like both: Einstein comes to mind...

12 Jun 2009 7:14 PM
LDP

Karen2,

   I'm not even in my twenties, and i believe in the dirt and turf only, so i guess i'm old fashioned to. I'm a new old fashioned fan, lol. If we are going to keep synthtics, there should be a sperate catagory for them, since it's not technically dirt, i don't see how you can call it that. Synthetics get a thumbs down for me. Lets go back to dirt.

12 Jun 2009 7:15 PM
Zookeeper

LDP,

This is quite a campaign you devised for Rachel. Hope she's up to it. If she runs and wins the Haskell and/or the Pacific Classic the only thing she would have left to do is beat Zenyatta in the Distaff on BC's day. Now, THAT would be some race !!!

2009 Euro Breeders' Cup,

I'm sorry you feel this way. But don't you worry, you'll have your BC dirt back in no time at all. In the mean time, I'll enjoy this one tremendously with or without you.

I agree with you though, Georgie Boy is a heck of race horse and on synthetics no less. What's the world coming to?

12 Jun 2009 8:01 PM
Matthew W

Steve I wonder if they'd like to send Vodka over from Japan for a try at the mile...I would put a couple of dockets on her....also the BC Classic would be CLASS RELIEF for a filly or three if they keep to their plan and go in the LADIES Classic with Zenyatta.....I think if they're ever gonna beat her it will be at Santa Anita, and Cocoa Beach or Music Note, not Rachel, will be her biggest challenger....

12 Jun 2009 9:25 PM
Matthew W

Count me in as a Georgie Boy backer in the sprint....More top Euros...I'm not sure the Classic winner is on this continent....I would take Georgie Boy over Fabulous Strike on ANY track---that's just high praise for Georgie Boy, his kick is huge....

12 Jun 2009 9:28 PM
Matthew W

Steve some nice horses are running at Belmont/Churchill/Hollywood tom....think Asiatic Boy will be tough in the SF Foster....I like Music Note at Belmont...and I'm gonna take a chance on Aitcho at Hollywood...Shirreffs/Smith/Moss that's money right now....

12 Jun 2009 10:06 PM
early

Ok, let me get this straight.  In June I can get 5-1 on a horse that may make it to a race in November, travelling halfway around the world on a type of track he's never run on.  If I wager a minute to post, I probably get minimum 3-1 but if I wager 5 months in advance I get the premium price of 5-1?  Are people who gamble on horse racing really that unbelievably stupid?

12 Jun 2009 10:16 PM
LDP

Zookeeper,

    That's me. If i knew i had a horse that good then that is the way i'd go with her. The reason i chose the Haskel is because it gives her a few weeks after her MG, which should be a public work for her. Also it would prove her win in the Preakness was no fluke. It is also about a month or so from the Pacific Classic. That way she could fly out there, get acostumed to the track. Then as i said if she was in the mix or won i'd go for the Classic, which is like a month away, giving her some time to recover. If she did not take to the surface she could fly back east have some time to rest before a last run in the Clark. If she ran in the Classic i wouldn't run her in the Clark, i think that would be asking a bit much. It would be one or the other. Also if Zen just keeps with the fillies, with this campaign RA won't have to beat her if she performs well against the boys. That is if Zen stays with the fillies and mares.

12 Jun 2009 10:51 PM
Mary

I disagree with the BC being contested on a synthetic surface, or at any venue two years running.

God made the horse to run on two things; dirt and turf. If they now need various forms of synthetic surfaces to run safely, we have lost the horse that God gave us. Our efforts should take direct aim at getting that strong and durable horse back, and showcasing him (her?) on the same natural surface their illustrious ancestors distinguished themselves on, rather than accommodating weakened changelings with artificial surfaces.

Scheduling the BC at the same track, ANY track, two years in a row lets the bias of that particular track unfairly influence what will take place in the breeding shed. Why give that much influence to a piece of real estate?

12 Jun 2009 10:54 PM
Soldier Course

Has everyone seen the virtual tour of Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on its website? It's amazing! I had 2 thoughts when I saw it: Breeders Cup here one day, and why are so many of our tracks in peril?

12 Jun 2009 11:49 PM
Kat

Hi Zookeeper - No, not IWR.  There was a "lifestory" of SummerBird and it was mentioned that he flopped on plastic (although I don't remember the track, perhaps ProRide will be different. . .) so trainer said put the horse on dirt.  At least I think it was SummerBird. . .

12 Jun 2009 11:50 PM
Port Stanley

Kat - Summer Bird has run 5 times. Three times at Oaklawn Park, once at Churchill, once at Belmont. All dirt. No poly, no pro-ride, no cushion.

He did work at Santa Anita last year. Times were decent, but it's possible that he didn't handle the track and that's why they sent him to the mid-West.

12 Jun 2009 11:59 PM
Zookeeper

Port Stanley,

Thank you for clearing that up. Are you a walking encyclopedia or what? :) I'm impressed!

13 Jun 2009 12:26 AM
Ranagulzion

Steve, if Sea the Stars, having won the Two Thousand Guineas and epsom Derby, is good enough to win the St. Leger and become the first English Triple Crown winner in 39 years (since Nijinsky), he would be a major super star at the Breeder's Cup. Therefore if Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird, a resurgent Quality Road and Einstein show up to meet him, the "here to stay" synthetic peeve would be submerged in euphoria.  

Anyway as you rightly suggested it's too early to be yielding to wild fantasies.  Instead lets gear up for the Haskel, Jim Dandy and Travers which hold possibilities of further break-out or breakthrough performances.  

13 Jun 2009 12:31 AM
Maggie

Karen2 and LDP,

I'm not a synthetics person, either.  I'm only twenty, and I believe in the very old fashioned way, meaning horses should run on dirt, turf, hay, oats, and water.  No drugs; no in-between, artifical surfaces.  Nothing that is not natural to the animal.

To be quite honest, if anyone cares to listen, if we Americans should level the playing field just for Europeans over here, why can't the Europeans level the playing field for us over there?  I mean, we give them synthetics in the Breederscup, so why can't they run their top races on dirt?  Of course, they don't have a World Championship over there like we do, but still...  It just doesn't make sense, and neither is it fair, that we have to make it fair for them.  I'm not whining about it, and neither am I bashing synthetic surfaces; just merely pointing that out there.

Now, I love European racing.  I find it fascinating (can't wait to watch Sea the Stars this summer)!  However, whenever we want to run our best horses over there, we have to run on their turf (literally).  Turf is their speciality.  Dirt is our specialty.  So if they want to run their best horses over here, they should try our dirt (like they have respectably in the past).  Plain and simple.

The Breederscup people see the synthetics route as a means to bridge the gap between the two, hence there choosing a track that appears to favor grass horses.  Now, that hardly seems fair, because our best horses (mostly dirt horses) can't compete as competitively as they can on dirt.  I'm not saying that dirt horses are the only things out there.  We have Zenyatta, Pioneer of the Nile, Einstein, and other synthetic specialists or those runners that can run well over synthetic surfaces.  The only problem is if the Europeans come over here with more competition (and a lot better one at that), we are looking at a tough Breederscup to win, folks.  Zenyatta appears to be the only main competitor that figures to do better than the Europeans (much better than Einstein).  I don't know, but Einstein's win in the Santa Anita Handicap wasn't all that impressive to me.  Much of that field continues to be suspect as they haven't continued to do much at the track recently (as far as I know).  So I don't know about that one...  Zenyatta's latest win in the Milady seemed to a bit off, as if she wasn't producing the same kind of spark like she always did last year.  I just hope these two older horses can sure give the Europeans a run for their money.

I think it will be a tough year for us to really be triumphant come fall.

All that said and done...

Karen in India and Zookeeper,

I also had high hopes for Mr. Hot Stuff.  Personally, I think he just needs a bit of a break right now to really grow into himself and mature a little bit.  I saw pictures of him on the Belmontstakes.com website, and I was blown away!  He's by far the best looking horse I've seen!  Like the always say, though, the best looking ones never really show promise on the track...  I think his connections should try the dirt again.  After all, by being a full brother to Colonel John, he certainly has more of a dirt pedigree than a synthetic one.  It seems like patience is the key word in his training and racing because he definitely shows the signs of a late bloomer.

However, for all you Tiznow fans out there (me included!), Bullsbay is running tomorrow in tomorrow's Stephen Foster.  I think that he is the best, if you are going by value, to win the race, with Einstein running in second and Asiatic Boy as third.  But I like Einstein, too, because he's an older horse (not gelded) and gasp!  What a remarkable feat for a horse to even get to his seventh year without being retired prematurely!!!  I can't wait for him to pass on his talent to his offspring.  And wouldn't it be amazing if he accomplished the three grade ones, three surface sweep?!  I sure hope so...but that's sentimental thinking.  (And so is rooting for Bullsbay to win...but that's besides the point).  I think that Einstein will be over bet, so I'm going with a value that might win.  Bullsbay is 3-3 at Churchill Downs and has won at the 1 1/8 mile distance of the Stephen Foster.  So I'm going with him.  Even though he won't be that much of a long shot, he'll be my long shot pick.

It seems that Nicanor's connections are running him this weekend at Delaware Park in an allowance race.  I'm glad that Mr. Matz is taking it easy with the colt, even after Nicanor smashing his competitors in his most recent effort.  I'm just hoping they are shooting for the Virginia Derby here at Colonial Downs *crosses fingers*.  That would be most lovely to see him in person!

Next weekend is the Queen's Plate up at Woodbine, and I can't wait to watch Eye of the Leopard run in it!

Okay this one goes out there for those Tiznow fans that know what's going on:

What's going on with Colonel John?  Any news on his first start of the year?

Is Well Armed being pointed to the San Diego like they did last year?

And...  How are the rest of the Tiznows out there?  Did Liquidity hurt himself in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, or did he come up fine?

Lots of questions to be answered for sure ^_^!

Anyone can fire at me about what I've said above.  I don't mind.  If I said something inaccurate, keep in mind, I'm learning.  I don't respond well to words that lack encouragement...  I just haven't had the time to keep up what's been going on because of college, and I'm starting on working on a paper early (16 pages worth) on Prohibition.  My first idea was talk about three or four major points during the 1920s, including horse racing, but Prohibition had the most information.  I'm thinking about turning it into a possible thesis (in which I have to write about 60 pages or so), so I'll definitely be incorporating horse racing into it.

Speaking of which, maybe anyone of you, and Mr. Haskin, might be able to help me.  Does anyone know anything about what happened during the 1920s?  No, I'm not looking at Derby winners, etc.  I'm trying to find if the effects of Prohibition (banning alcohol) affected the sport.  I know that gambling was banned at some point, but I'm not sure when.  I would like to know whether the industry was hurt, and how it managed to survive through the 1920s.  That would be most helpful!  My local library doesn't seem to carry much on what happened in the Sport of Kings...  I’m looking for book materials.

And once again, I write a novel...

13 Jun 2009 12:35 AM
Rick S

Kat,

Summer Bird started his career in California, sort of... He was sent there, but did not train well over the plastic track, so he was then sent to Tim Ice.

13 Jun 2009 12:41 AM
Maggie

Amen, Mary!

I hear yout on that one!  It seems to me that synthetics are more of a temporary coverup over the major problem of the increasing fragility of the breed.  No one is clearly looking at the source of the problem.  Too much speed, and too many drugs pumped into their systems, creating more generations of a weaker Thoroughbred.  Synthetics help, but they should be the main solution to the equation.  We need herdier horses, Thoroughbreds that thrived with both speed and stamina, and could carry weights much more than horses today.  Yet what happened to that gifted animal?  One can only look at the breeding shed.  I'm not blaming breeders, but I do notice more sprinter/ miler stallions being bred to and in favor over those stallions that have true classic distance pedigrees.  Plus, there's too much breeding to those stallions that retired due to unsoundness (injuries, etc.), so they pass on their fragile legacy to their offspring, creating more weaker Thoroughreds.  Just because the unsound horse possessed brilliant speed, doesn't mean that the horse is necessarily the best to breed to.  Then there's the factor of those horses that ran on drugs passing that on through the next generation of drug-using Thoroughbreds.  And the major inbreeding that goes on!  I see too much Mr. Prospector, Storm Cat, Northern Dancer, etc. in pedigrees these days.  I say we need a fresher pedigree that doesn't contain most of these aforementioned stallions into the North American Thoroughbred breeding poool.

Honestly, the more natural the thing is for a horse to run on, albeit on a natural surface and on natural consumption (hay, oats, and water), the better the horse, and the healthier the horse.  

13 Jun 2009 12:48 AM
Maggie

Correction in my last post:

*Synthetics help, but they *shouldn't* be the main solution to the equation.

*We need *hardier* horses, Thoroughbreds that thrived with both speed and stamina, and could carry weights much more than horses today.

Sorry for the misunderstanding, everyone!

13 Jun 2009 1:08 AM
wilayif

Those of you who remember Arazi winning the BC Juvenile, can you believe he turned 20 this year?  Does anyone know what has become of him?

13 Jun 2009 1:15 AM
helsbelles

I am hopelessly onboard the Zenyatta Express.  That is one gal that really knows how to command a room.  When I saw her win her second Milady H she was breathtaking on and off the track.  Looking through the pictures I took of her, I now fully grasp the meaning of the word dappled.  She walked right by me in the sunshine and my camera captured the fact that seemingly every square inch of her coat is dappled with spots.  Another horse in that race that struck me as being beautiful, and is also quite dappled, is Allicansayiswow.  I think I also captured a picture of LarryZ filming his youtube video (lol)... is there an Eclipse award for best amateur videographer?

13 Jun 2009 1:17 AM
Maggie

Wilayif,

The last I know of Arazi is that he is at Independent Stallion Station in Victoria, Australia.  Here's the most recent article I could find:  www.thoroughbredtimes.com/.../Independent-Stallion-Station-moves-operations-to-Vinery-Australia.aspx .  I read somewhere that he's a good broodmare sire, but he has produced Congaree, who won the Swaps, Wood Memorial, Cigar Mile (twice), Del Mar Breeders Cup, Lone Star Park Handicap, Carter, Hollywood Gold Cup, San Antonio Handicap, and the San Pasqual.  Thanks for bringing up a memory in Arazi.  It's always fun researching these race horses :D.

13 Jun 2009 2:28 AM
EmilioP

Steve, lets quit this lame excuse about synthetics.  All it is, is sand mixed with fibers and plastics and tire rubble.  To me Curlin didnt get beat by the Pro-Ride, he got beat by a taxing year.  People under-estimate the trip to Dubai.  Cigar, Silver Charm, Soul of the Matter, Siphon, Street Cry, Almutawakel, Malek, Victory Gallop, Captain Steve, Behrens,Moon Ballad, Roses in May, Pleasantly Perfect, the list can go on and on.  All those horses were asked to much after they came back from Dubai, and none of them won or even got to the breeders cup in the form they had before.  Curlin did a Cigar-lesque year, although he didnt carry the weights Cigar had to, he still gave alot of weight to his competitors and still traveled alot of miles.  Curlin with a better planned scheduled and with a better ride than Albarado gave him wouldve given a better showing, and i was very proud of the showing he gave, he still ran a super time in defeat.  Now we got, Zenyatta, Cocoa Beach, Rachel Alexandra, Music Note, Life is Sweet, Seattle Smooth, Midships, Champs Elysses, Bribon, Smooth Air, Parading, Well Armed, Ventura, Indian Blessing, Hold Me Back, Friesan Fire, Quality Road, Dunkirk, Munnings, Papa Clem, Pioneerof the Nile, Mine That Bird, Musket Man, Two Step Salsa, Benny the Bull, Chocolate Candy, Stardom Bound, Laragh, Madeo,Wesley, Summer Bird, Gio Ponti, Court Vision, Kip Deville, Its a Bird, Honest Man, Commentator, Einstein, Macho Again, Advice, Cowboy Cal,Dixie Chatter, Nownownow, Magnum,Tiago, Monterrey Jazz, Monba,Albertus Maximus, Seventh Street, Capt. Candyman Can, Georgie Boy, Nicanor.  Bring on the euros, we got plenty of good american talent to beat them on any surface.  The key is not much the track, its how you get the horse to the race.  Horse has to be primed to run his best race on that day, a good example last year were Zenyatta and Ventura.  Well Armed was done after a tough campaign that also included a trip to Dubai and he was the best bet of the day to win on Classics day in the dirt mile.  And Steve, remember P.G. Johnson and his phenomenal training job and scheduling of Volponi.  Lets not blame the track, theyre all horses, they all got 4 legs, they all will run on the same surface.  Lets bring it on. Racing is Racing period.

13 Jun 2009 3:04 AM
mg

Steve, you are certainly one of my favorite turf writers but I've got to say that the tenor of your article would lead one to believe that American hopes in November are slim to none against the Euros. Obviously last years BC results were a landslide, that however does not guarantee those results will be replicated in '09. All that I've heard on these posts are how dominant Sea The Stars is compared to the U.S. contingent and you are quite correct in giving accolades to the Aiden O'Brien charges. But to assume that all Euros will thrive on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita and once again dominate the winner's circle is taking a big bit off the apple. Their horses are subject to the same problem of adjusting to the plastic surface and way too many people think that it is an automatic for them to make that transition. I made quite a score last year on the Euros only because of the belief that their horses were an exceptionally good group and simply the best in the majority of the heats. That was last year. If we gear our top horses to the BC this year we can give the Euros all they can handle. Since everyone seems to believe, off last years results, that they are a lock to repeat that effort there will be some inflated prices on the home boys and a great opportunity at the windows.

Since I follow European racing a good deal I would venture to say, that if you exclude the horses mentioned above, this years group that are likely to come over for the BC are nowhere near as daunting as last years crop.

p.s. Nice post EmilioP. Go get em Yanks

13 Jun 2009 10:37 AM
Steve Haskin

mg, where did I say our hopes are slim to none? I said we better come with more quality synthetic horses if we hope to avoid what happened in last year's Classic. Is that not true? How do you know last year's crop of Euros were better than this year's? It's June.

Emilio, regarding your quote "All it is is sand mixed with fibers and plastics and tire rubble." Is that all?" And your point is what? And as for, "To me Curlin didnt get beat by the Pro-Ride, he got beat by a taxing year." Who said he got beat by Pro-Ride? I've said a numerous occasions he was over the top by then.

13 Jun 2009 10:55 AM
Somethingroyal

helsbelles:

I also got a great picture of Zenyatta going to the post for the Milady. Her dappled coat and the proud way she carries herself is breathtaking. I plan on travling up from San Diego to watch her run in the Vanity June 27th. Perhaps we'll meet up in the paddock. Just look for a short gal with a Canon camera wrapped around my neck.  

13 Jun 2009 11:58 AM
Kat

You've got it Port Stanley.  The point wasn't that he flopped racing on plastic, but that the trainer didn't feel like he took to it.  Thanks for confirming.

That however goes back to the initial question, Santa Anita. . .

13 Jun 2009 2:25 PM
snow

Steve,

Will you please call the decision makers and find out their mind-set behind their decision to make the new Meydan track a synthetic surface versus a traditional dirt surface.  I can't comprehend rhyme or reason for this track to be synthetic.  If one of the goals of Dubai is to attract top 3-yr. olds to prep for the Kentucky Derby why would they further put themselves behind the eight-ball by making this track synthetic?  Are they raising the purse of the UAE Derby from 2 million in order to attract more U.S. participation?  Synthetic surface and "only" a 2 million dollar purse is not going to attract any new participants that are willing to consider prepping for the Kentucky Derby by wintering in Dubai.  Under the aforementioned, the only horses that will travel to Dubai from the U.S. will be that of the home team of Godolphin.  Please advise.

13 Jun 2009 2:26 PM
Freetex

Steve, I find it rather disconcerting that Oxx would never consider running a three year old on dirt.  What in you view, did he mean by that comment?

To further explain my question is it strictly because there are no dirt tracks in Europe?  Or is it because the Europeans and now Dubai believe dirt tracks are dangerous for young horses?  Or what?

13 Jun 2009 3:57 PM
mz

Maggie: try looking up "The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America" by William H.P. Robertson.  He does a year by year type of commentary on American (and North American) racing and includes some backround information (and not only info on the horses and races each year).  I just looked up my copy for the 1920's and there is some info which might get you started (and then you have to move into original sources).

And am I the only one who is now finding it funny that the Europeans are favourites for the Breeders' Cup?  I remember when the American press had no idea whatsoever who any of the Europeans were and always discounted them in every race.

And before you start complaining about "dirt" vs. "turf", just remember that Europeans may run on "turf" but every track is different: courses go up hills and down and around dips, you run counterclockwise or straight, a classic distance is 1 1/2 miles and 1 1/4 miles is NOT considered a long race....in other words, the Europeans have to be versatile.  American horses are sort of wusses in comparison.

I like the idea of a REAL  international championship and may the best horse win.

(Of course, that pre-supposes that owners don't wimp out and keep good horses in safe races in order to win end of the year honours ....Zenyatta; or that owners don't immediately retire good young horses instead of trying them outside of their comfort zone...Zarkava, last year.)

13 Jun 2009 4:08 PM
Ellen

Steve,

Are you going to Ascot for the races this year? It would be nice to read your on-the-scene reports!

13 Jun 2009 5:03 PM
LDP

I just saw the Stephen Foster and how ignorant was that! Asiatic Boy had no shot, and slamed Einstein out of the way of that gap, after he had already been bottled up for the whole race! That was just as bad and nightmarish of a trip as i've seen. Had Einstien gotten to go through that gap he would've won! Macho Again gets a smooth trip thanks to everyone else gunning for Einstein, and wins. I can't believe this.

13 Jun 2009 5:58 PM
Zookeeper

LDP,

Terrible luck, I agree. They sure made it hard for him. I was really impressed though with the way he kept running. What heart!

13 Jun 2009 6:38 PM
Ida Lee

The BC last year was a nightmare for our horses. I could not stand to see my beautiful and mighty Curlin lose like he did. By the way does anyone know if this Pro-Ride stuff is safer for the horses than the other surfaces. I haven't heard anything about it's safety record. And LDP I agree with you. What a disaster that Stephen Foster was. I hated what happened to Einstein - my great all time equine crush. He should have won this race. Although I was hoping Asiatic Boy would do well, I could not believe that bump. I don't think his jockey helped him either. Oh well if anybody had to beat my boy, I'm glad it was Macho Again. I love that beautiful gray.

13 Jun 2009 6:55 PM
LDP

Zookeeper,

    I agree what heart. That horse never stopped trying. I didn't see who was second, i was just so upset right then. That had to be the worst trip a horse has received this season.

13 Jun 2009 7:31 PM
LDP

Never mind i saw asiatic boy finished second. If i were Einsteins jock i would've protested, and at least gotten moved to second. That bump Asiatci boy gave Einstien costed him the race IMO. I can't believe the stewards didn't even look at that, he should've been taken down.

13 Jun 2009 7:34 PM
josue555

friends i really don't like synthetic surface and blame the surface for curlin defeat last year. i feel insulted by the european for putting are horses down like that, i guest recing in europe means your the top dog, oh! by the way what happen to their superstar Dylan Thomas in the 2007 breeders cup turf he did hit the board. I hope the bring their best horses this year and get beat by a long shot in the races. i'm sticking with Pioneerof the nile and Mine that bird for the classic.

13 Jun 2009 8:23 PM
Karen in Indiana

I just got back from Churchill Downs. Watching the horses coming from the barns to the paddock, I knew when I saw Einstein it just wasn't going to be his day. Seeing him is why I was there. His ears were back, he was sweating between his legs and there was no bounce in his walk. He looked like he just wanted to be left alone. When they came out for the post parade, he looked a little better, but still not happy. One of my sons liked Researcher, the ornery son picked Alphabet Soup. It was sad that Einstein didn't win, but he has the rest of the year to go.

13 Jun 2009 8:47 PM
Karen in Indiana

Alphabet Magic, we were teasing him about picking Alphabet Soup.

13 Jun 2009 8:50 PM
Mike S

EINSTEIN had lots of trouble today, but he sure is a fantastic horse. I like him a lot.

BULLSBAY only slightly disappointed me, but he was only a nose and a neck from second! And he lost the whole thing by maybe 1-1/4 lengths. I think he's a good horse, but if he were mine I would not knock heads with the "Big Boys" I would go to some of the "lesser" races and make a lot of money! Lots of Grade 2 and Grade 3 races out there that he can win.

INFORMED finally put it all together at the stakes level today in the Californian Stakes (Gr-2) and I think he just might keep going. I liked this horse all along and I wanted to claim him last year for $25,000 from Bob Baffert, but I didn't! Doug O'Neill got him, and I'm happy for Mr. O'Neill. I hope INFORMED comes right back and takes the Hollywood Gold Cup.

13 Jun 2009 10:35 PM
Freetex

Einstein had a very brutal trip.  If another horse had to win, I am glad it was Macho Uno, who deserves more respect.

The also-rans were gunning for Einstein, that's a fact.

13 Jun 2009 11:21 PM
EmilioP

Steve, Irespect your opinions very much.  I read my earlier post and realized I did not explain myself as thoroughly as would´ve liked.  Regarding my quote about synthetic tracks, all I was trying that its a dirt track mixed with certain elements that are supposed to give the majority of the racehorse population better traction, more bounce and a kinder cushion pushback during their running and that its supposed to be safer.  They are definitely not turf tracks, and yes there not the exactly like the old dirt tracks.  But not all dirt tracks in this country are the same.  Dirt horses use to run good at Del Mar before then go to Belmont and bomb over there and viceversa.  Good Example Skimming.  Now I wasnt in favor of a switch.  To me its aload of bull, the breakdowns are more to lack of good track maintenance the dirt.  Its a waste of money, and Santa Anita has definitely wasted alot of it already.  They say fatalities are down, ok, but alot also has to do with the raceday medication reforms that have passed in California.  It was a terrible mistake to change, all they had to do is upgrade the surfaces with new sand and dirt, they went by the results from training tracks.  Let me state that the i´ll put the San Luis Rey Downs training center against any in the country.  And if you want to know which was probably the best dirt track of all time, ask around about the surface at Caliente, who served as a hospital for broken down horses from all the major California tracks.  Trainers and owners would send their horses down there for rehab, because of the quality of the surface.  My Grandfather worked on that track and he said the only one to compare it to was Saratoga in New York.  Now the question that it plays better for turf horses, its still up in the air, sure there are horses who ran on turf that have made the jump successfully, but there are more that have been unsuccessful as the horses who dominated their classes before the change continued to dominate after the change.  High profile examples are Lava Man, Tiago, Balance, Albertus Maximus, Surf Cat, Midnight Lute, Spring at Last.  I didnt see many turf horses make that jump to take any of the horses I mentioned or there previously dirt peers on in the big races.  If any case, it has been beneficial somewhat as trainers are more open to try their turf horses that come from Europe on the new surfaces.  But they still wont try them on any other dirt surfaces.  Which is something I have never understood.  I love the way Whittingham was, Frankle, Drysdale and Bill Mott are.  If they have a good horse theyll try him or her on anything.I will always wonder how the best sons of Northern Dancer like Nureyev, Nijinsky, The Minstrel, Be My Guest, Storm Bird, Sadlers Wells or their descendants like Shareef Dancer, Peintre Celebre, Lammtarra. Or the sons and daughters of Mill Reef and Riverman.  Has anyone wondered how Nijinsky would have run in America, or Roberto,or Mill Reef, Or The Minstrel and Alleged against Seattle Slew, I mean the Slew did get beat by J.O. Tobin and Exceller, Two former european horses not even in the same league as The Minstrel and Alleged.  Or El Gran Señor against Swale, Nureyev against Genuine Risk and Temperence Hill.  But all we are left with is to wonder. The European lines of Sir Gallahad, Bull Dog, Nearco, Ribot, Blenheim, infested the American breed, for which through  In Reality and Broad Brush, the lines of the Great Man O War and Domino still are alive in this age, as well as The Polynesian line through Raise a Native.  Most of the racehorse population in America now descends from so called Turf Pedigrees.  Most europeans still have that aristocratic belief that horse racing should be contested only turf.  Although I do not share the same opinion, I will agree that to them it is more about the prestige and glory, while in America it has become more about the money.  The Racing in America, was revolutionized when it got flooded by the european blood.  So when a trainer states a horse that comes from Europe as a turf horse based on his pedigree,without even trying him ever on dirt, to me thats me thats just being ignorant. And to bring a horse to the breeders cup because the track could benefit the foreign competition is gutless.  Steve, theEuropeans have failed in this country in turf races just as much as they have on dirt to.  Lets also not forget that most of our best racing prospects are purchased to race overseas.  And we got to give the Euros credit for coming here every year to compete.  They have come here and won American classic races as well`, does anybody remember Go and Go.  I wish there were more of us that would go not just say we`ll go to challenge for Arc or the Epsom Derby, but really do it.  John Galbreath, we really need a man like you right now.  Let me recap a little Breeders Cup history.  In the classic, only Arcangues came from Europe to win, and Invasor came from South America, though based here.  But nobody mentions that the Euros have been tough in the classic on the dirt many times.  Nobody mentions former European miler Blushing John becoming the top older horse in 1989, or Ibn Bey finishing second to Unbridled in 1990.  Or Former european Twilight Agenda second in 1991, or the filly Jolypha third in 1992, Swain and his terrible trip in 1998, Chester House who was flying at the end of the 1999 classic, Giants Causeway, Sakhee, or Arazi and Johannesburg in the juvenile.  Some were stars in Europe, others were not, but my point is they come to run and run good.  Now their best usually never make the trip.  Good example, last year Zarkava and New Approach, others like Helissio, Montjeu, Peintre Celebre and Dalakhani also did not make the trip.  But even some of their best have been defeated at Breeders Cup and on htheir favorite surface, like Dancing Brave, Zilzal, Shadeed, Hurricane Run, Ouija Board,Rock of Gibraltar,  Rodrigo de Triano.  Sure they have done better on the turf races than on the dirt because their better horses run on those races.  But I wouldve loved to have seen Miesque against Personal Ensign, Rock of Gibraltar in the classic in 2002, Ouija Board run in the classic or distaff, Fantastic Light in the classic in 2001, High Chaparral and Falbrav in the classic in 2003, last year Goldykova v.s. Zenyatta would have been fantastic.  Steve whats the difference from American horses who go to Dubai.  Our best have been trading punches with the locals and other euros, asian and southern hemisphere contingents for over ten years now.  Its been pretty competitive.  Just look, Cigar(with his so called turf pedigree), Singspiel (with his so called turf pedigree), Silver Charm, Almutawakel (with his so called turf pedigree), Dubai Millenium, Captain Steve, Street Cry, Moon Ballad, Pleasantly Perfect, Roses in May, Electrocutionist(Turf Horse?),Invasor, Curlin, Well Armed.  Why theyre going to synthetics now I dont know, what I do know is that it wont give them anymore of an advantage.  Their advantage can only be there money which continues to buy the best racing prospects and even champions in racing.  And just like they can beat us in our best game which is dirt, we have proven we can beat them at there preferred surface which is turf, just like English Channel and Kip Deville did back in 2007, and Forever Together did last year.  Reviewing last years cup, Ravens Pass had as good all around pedigree as any horse Ive ever seen, with names like E Dubai and Danzig Connection under his Family Tree, and with Elusive Quality as his sire, he had all the class in the world.  The turf lost our best american hope in Red Giant, who I believe would have given a good showing against Conduit.  Goldykova beat Kip Deville, but she was a monster that chased Zarkava in Europe.  Midnight Lute dominated, just like Midshipman, Albertus Maximus, Maram, Stardom Bound, Desert Code.  The juvenile turf did not have the best in europe or America.  The marathon was won by a horse who had great form for the race, but I can bet that half the horses in the turf or the classic would have won that race by 10 lengths or more, and the winners sire is Chester House whose offspring have proven just like him that they can run on any surface.  Zenyatta was a monster,and let me say that she does not deserve any disrespect or unfair comparisons.She is one of our jewels, she is undefeated, yes she has not run against the colts, but lets look at Personal Ensign who mainly raced all her career in New York, with one race in New Jersey and the cup at Churchill.  Yes she beat the boys, but those boys were two Sprint specialists running at distance not their best and giving her a very good handicap.  She did not run against Alysheba, Ladys Secret on the other hand raced against the likes of Precisionist and Turkoman, and ran well, even beat one of them or  both I am not sure, I know Precisionist beat her in the Woodward, and Azeri she ran against Ghostzapper.  Personal Ensign is a legend, and I know that, the book on Zenyatta is not done yet, but lets not disrespect, whether she runs against the boys or not, although I rather face the best of the boys then give us a cheap thrill against a mediocre field.  Forever Together was otstanding, and Ventura beat Indian Blessing and I still believe Ventura will beat her on any surface.  So why do most say the euros dominated last year.  Because Ravens Pass won the classic.  Personally Ravens Pass is an american bred horse that beat some of the best horses in Europe, was owned by Stonerside up to 2 months before his win in the classic.  He was just the best that day, and I really believe he wouldve been just as good if the race were run at churchill.  And Steve my Curlin comment is a response to the posts about waiting until next year and about Rachel Alexandra skipping the cup.  I personally believe Rachel Alexandra will run an incredible race in whatever breeders cup race she shows up in, including the classic.  Win or lose, she is a true racehorse who will leave it all out on that track just like Curlin did last year.  It would be if shes not injured, for her to skip racings championship day.  Steve, Sonny Hine knew Skip Away did not like Churchill, but he still gave it a go, because his horse was a champion, and had 4 good legs and a big heart just like the rest of the field on that race.  And as for the Mccnairs, the money sure is good, but I wouldve loved to see them hold the trophies on Cup day for the Midshipman and Ravens Pass, as that day serves as a testament of their breeding operation reaching its pinnacle, 2 months after they sold it all, wow.  Back to this years cup, its mindboggling to read all these posts bashing this years cup and basically handing it to the euros.  That is gutless.  That is unexcuseable.  That is unamerican.  Excuses, to me equals mediocrity.  To blame a loss on a surface, yes it can happen, but most of the time a horse loses because the other one was just better.  Bob Baffert who has been great for the game, was a huge critic of the new surfaces, but in all honesty, i just think he was going through a slump as we all do in life.  He was on a slump before the surface changes.  But last year he won 2, and finished second on another and still blamed the loss on the track.  Ventura is just better plain and simple.  Now lets not forget that horses who competed in the ProRide finished first, second, fourth anf fifth in the Kentucky Derby.  As for Summer Bird, ok he might not like the track, but then again he never ran a race on it.  I just think his biggest plus was that he was sent from a huge stable in California to a small stable where the trainer has more personal contact with the horse, and that only benefits a horse more.  I am not a big fan of these big trainers who seem more like managers now then trainers.  To close, I truly believe this years cup, if all the pieces fall into place will be one for the ages.  I like Ventura to repeat.  The distaff could have Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Seattle Smooth, Cocoa Beach, Music Note, Seventh Street, Stardom Bound, Life is Sweet, wow what a race it would be.Forever Together can very well repeat as well.  The classic with Einstein, Well Armed, Mine That Bird, Macho Again, Pioneerof the Nile, maybe Zenyatta and Rachel, and if Sea The Stars makes it to Santa Anita, it can only help the world of racing.  If he wins any cup race, he should be respected and I will give him a hand, and if he gets beat I will applaud him also for coming, but cheering until my voice gets hoarse as when Tiznow won both the cups from euro champs, and like when Manila beat Dancing Brave.  And if he wins the classic, lets not blame the track.  I´d give that horse an eclipse award for his pedigree.  He is something special on the verge to do something that has not been done since 1970 if he is given the chance by his connections.  If you think we´re in a drought for a crown, look at the british.  The breeders cup committee, should be luring his connections to come, heck raise the purse if you have to.  The ratings will soar on a worldwide level if he comes and meets the best we got.  This cup can be one for the ages, lets not put it down, we should aim for greatness.    

14 Jun 2009 12:00 AM
Lady Ruffian

Helsbelles & SomethingRoyal-

I'll be in Hollywood also to watch Zenyatta in the Vanity. i'll also be shooting pictures in the paddock.  Do you guys know if Life Is Sweet will race against Big Z again?

14 Jun 2009 2:57 AM
da3hoss

I thought the best race was Miss Isella, I think she's just gorgeous and what an athletic and brave girl she is...she went so willingly into that crawl space along the rail and barely acknowledged getting bounced into the rail, I've always liked her...what a filly.

LDP, I love Einstein, but Asiatic Boy and Einstein were both going for the same hole, neither got through and when some room sorta opened up AB beat Einstein by a nose...doesn't sound like "no chance" to me...

14 Jun 2009 7:04 AM
Somethingroyal

Lady Ruffian and Helsbelles:

I'll watch for the two of you in the paddock. As for Life is Sweet and Zenyatta racing against each other anytime soon. I haven't heard anything. However, Del Mar starts their race meet the last week in July. Hopefully the two will meet up then. I'm 20 minutes from Del Mar and keeping my fingers crossed Zenyatta's connections will bring her down for us folks in San Diego.  

14 Jun 2009 1:07 PM
Mike S

I think it's pretty evident that WELL ARMED is the leader of the handicap division. I would rank EINSTEIN a close 2nd right now. I was just looking at Mike Watchmaker's divisional leaders listing and he has WELL ARMED 6th. How ridiculous.

14 Jun 2009 2:07 PM
Karen in Texas

Although I'm not a fan of synthetic tracks and do not believe that dirt is inherently less safe, (was it Nick Zito who said something about dirt being an appropriate surface since, after all, it was made by God?) I do hope that all American dirt horses ship to California early enough to  become accustomed to the Santa Anita surface before running in this year's BC.

14 Jun 2009 2:10 PM
helsbelles

Somethingroyal and Lady Ruffian -- I'll be looking out for you also in the paddock area.  Like LadyR, I also am a Canon girl... you too SomethingR?  Somethingroyal, I read about the wonderful pic you took of her dancing and prancing in the post parade... I must admit I missed that -- something I plan to remedy next time (I hear her pre-race antics are getting more and more pronounced).  During the post parade I was blessed to be having a conversation with one of the connections of an all-time equine hero of mine.  I got an update and a heartfelt perspective from this gracious person, and it meant so much to me.  About Life Is Sweet, last I read Shirreffs was considering running her against Zenyatta again in the Vanity, otherwise she will go the next day on the turf at HP.  I'd prefer to see a bigger field of good horses to challenge Zenyatta (but doubt that will happen) rather than hear people say that she has it easy.  But either way, I just love her.

Apparently the Calvin debate rages on -- Assmussen apparently chimed in supportive of the claim that Calvin could not get mounts at Belmont Park on the undercard or during the week.  I just don't know what to make of that;  you would think people would be begging him to ride their horses.  Either way, I love Calvin.  

14 Jun 2009 3:33 PM
Zookeeper

Somethingroyal,

I've been to Del Mar a few years back. It's a beautiful track. Great crowds. The people of the San Diego area sure take advantage of the short meet. They come in force. I've only been there on the weekend. How is it during the week? Now that I'm retired I'm thinking of making the trip from L.A. a few times.

14 Jun 2009 4:19 PM
AfleetTreet

I am hoping that The Pamplemousse will be back by the time the BC rolls around...I keep my fingers crossed. He is a monster over the ProRide! Also Zenyatta will kick butt. I wish Rachel A's connections would get over their synthetic bias and at least send her out for a race or two BEFORE they decide she doesn't like the surface. Could be that she is classy enough to run over well but they will never know unless they try.

It would be awesome to see the "Ladies" rule the BC this year...Goldikova...Vodka...Forever Together...Zenyatta...Indian Blessing...Rachel Alexandra...Carlsbad...That would be aweosme to see the worlds best fillies and mares rule on both days. LOL! Seems like a strong enough crop of girls out there to do just that. Of course we got some good colts too so I am just excited to be there again. Last year we had a blast so I am looking forward to reuniting with friends and seeing the horses that come from all over!

:-)

14 Jun 2009 4:35 PM
JCRobinson

I believe that catastrophic breakdowns are down on the synthetic surfaces, but soft tissues injuries are up. I think when Bobby Frankel had to retire Jibboom, he said it was the fifth suspensory injury to a horse he'd had recently. Another trainer (I can't recall who right off) said recently that bowed tendons had increased dramatically in his barn. The horses may be surviving (but then again remember Blue Exit from the Big Cap) but many are having to be retired due to injury all the same.

14 Jun 2009 4:47 PM
LDP

Mike S,

    Well Armed is a good horse, but hasn't done anything after coming back from Dubai. Enstein has won the SA handicap, in CA, came back to Churchill and ran 1st in the Woodford Reserve for the second consecutive year, something no horse has ever done. He also was third with a horrible trip in the Stephen Foster over dirt, and third in the Donn this year. He's been active all season so far and has almost twice as many races as Well Armed at this point. I don't think Well Armed should be rated sixth, but i also think Einstein has a better record thus far this year, and should be rated over Well Armed. This is just my opinion.

14 Jun 2009 5:08 PM
LDP

da hoss,

   I say no chance because though asiatic boy got third he had flattened out, he had no more to give. Einstein had plenty to give and was still closing at the end. A bump that harsh was not needed, even if both went for the same hole. With a better trip, or even just getting that hole Enstein would have won.

14 Jun 2009 5:10 PM
postergeist

Re the Calvin debate, for what it's worth, on the ESPN broadcast, during the post parade for the 5th race, it was noted by the ESPN person (can't remember who said it) that Calvin had passed up the mount on Tobruk. Later, when Tobruk acted up in the post parade, one of the commentators went on to say that it was probably a good decision on Calvin's part to give up the mount.

So, if the ESPN commentators were correct, Calvin could have had at least one mount.

Like you, helsbelles, I love Calvin either way.

14 Jun 2009 6:19 PM
Carolyn in ND

Tickets are bought!  Am looking forward to how the summer races go & how the racers place.   I read most of the comments except for the LONG ones, & find it interesting of the expectations.  I just hope my favorites have SAFE races this summer & make it to BC!

14 Jun 2009 6:35 PM
cat thief

Steve,

Breeders Cup talk already?  Let's think about all the summer racing first. Suburban, Hollywood G cup, Arlington Mil, Haskell, SARATOGA, DEL MAR...not to mention when will some of the hurt 3 yr olds come back or where will Rachel turn up.

You're right about one thing...the BC should never be at the same track two years in a row.

14 Jun 2009 6:50 PM
Steve Haskin

Cat Thief, OK, let's talk about the Suburban and Hollywood Gold Cup instead. You can start.

14 Jun 2009 7:14 PM
Somethingroyal

Zookeeper:

I hope to make it to Del Mar at least one or two days a week to photograph the races and early morning works. The crowds are usually light during the week but, the weekends can be a different story. A few years ago I sat in traffic for two hours waiting for Pacific Classic crowd to leave the area. Many drivers had to shut off the AC to prevent engine overheat. So, if you plan on coming down the the Pacific Classic, come early!

helbelles:

Yes, I use a Canon as well. So, have you and Lady Riffian mastered getting a good photo in a crowded paddock and then racing to the track for trackside photos yet? I'm going to try it with Zenyatta this time around. See ya on the 27th!

14 Jun 2009 7:51 PM
Zookeeper

LDP,

Watch the race again. Asiatic Boy was 2nd. He was running just as hard as Einstein at the end. I think the horse that hindered Einstein the most was Bullsbay who kept him pinned to the rail for most of the race.

14 Jun 2009 9:58 PM
Karen in Indiana

Hi Steve, do you know if Einstein's connections are considering the Whitney or the Woodward for him? Both are Grade I's on dirt. I'd love to see him get all three surfaces this year so he can be in demand for stud. He's a wonderful horse and I hated that he didn't get it (I've got pictures of him anyway, he looked livelier after the race than he did before).

14 Jun 2009 11:22 PM
Zookeeper

Somethingroyal,

I was at the Pacific Classic in 2000. The year that Tiznow came out of nowhere to run 2nd.

I don't intend to ever go there on that particular date again. We got there early enough...but didn't get home (L.A.) until much later. Oh! but what a day it was!!!

14 Jun 2009 11:50 PM
Matthew W

Hollywood Park is practically a dirt track now as they continually fill it with dirt---alas, the Santa Anita  pro ride is like a turf course, all I can say is I've been to other cups in the West, and they were on dirt, and they were lambasted by East Coasters as the wrong kind of dirt tracks...but they're all in the same starting gate...and they all are running on the same track....I'd love for the Breeders Cup to have been held this year in Kentucky, or Belmont, I'd have loved for Zenyatta to say bye bye to racing in the Classic at Belmont, but it's in Cali and that's that, I'm upbeat about seeing the greatest field of fillies/mares ever assembled, I'm upbeat about seeing the magnificient Rachel and the spectacular Zenyatta.....

15 Jun 2009 12:01 AM
LDP

Zookeeper,

    my mistake i meant to say second. My mind said second my fingers typed third. I'm not going to change my mind on the fact that bump lost him the race. Bullsbay never really interfered with him at all, just boxed him. Asiatic Boy slammed him. I'm sorry, and i'm not being rude but when i get my mind set like this your not going to change it. I will respectfuly agree to disagree.

15 Jun 2009 5:15 AM
Cheryl, Newmarket, UK

I’m afraid you can’t call it the “World Thoroughbred Championships” if the rest of the world don’t show up!  

It does make me laugh that on one hand people say “We want the Europeans to come over and race at Breeders’ Cup” and the same people will then turn round and complain that European horses are winning too much of the prize money!

In response to some earlier comments:

Horses were made to run on one surface only – turf.  God didn’t create dirt or synthetic tracks – people did.

There is nothing to stop American horses coming over to run in Europe – heck there are several due to run at Royal Ascot this week.  

The main thing that stops more European horses coming over for Breeders’ Cup is the prohibitive costs.  If you own a non-nominated horse that you want to run in, say, the Classic it will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay the entry fees, as well as fly the horse over, send travelling grooms to look after the horse, as well as pay for the owner/trainer etc to come over.  Places like Dubai, Japan, Hong Kong pay for all of the travel expenses incurred – Breeders’ Cup made an $18million profit from Santa Anita last year, surely some of that can be put towards travel costs for ALL participants (not just the Euros)?

You guys are rightly proud of your racing, but you have to accept that situations like that at Monmouth Park in 2007 and high profile breakdowns are doing no favours for American racing in international eyes.    

I hope you will all be glued to Royal Ascot this week - the best 5 day's racing in the world ;)!

15 Jun 2009 5:52 AM
GunBow

Two also-rans from the Alysheba Stakes on Oaks day, Macho Again and Informed, won the Stephen Foster and Californian Handicaps, respectively, this past weekend. I was at Churchill Downs on Oaks day, and had little doubt that Rachel Alexandra, although just a 3 year old filly, was the best horse to run on the day. The results of the Foster and Californian have again confirmed that 2009 is a unique year, in which a 3 year old filly, Rachel, and 5 year old mare, Zenyatta, may be superior to even the older males.

Given the last 2 weekends of racing, Rachel has taken a clear lead as pro-tem Horse of the Year. 5 for 5, with a record 20+ length Oaks win, Rachel was also just the 4th filly in 85 years to win a Triple Crown race, and towers over any other 3 year old filly. Einstein, while a very admirable horse, is simply not a championship-level horse on dirt, and even on synthetics and turf is hardly dominant in the handicap division. With 2 grade 1 wins, one on synthetic and the other on turf, and 2 3rd place finishes in grade 1 dirt races, including his tough-luck Foster, Einstein is probably the leader in the older male and/or male turf horse, and still a viable contender for Horse of the Year. Many may also suggest Mine That Bird, and though he has certainly been the STORY of the Year, his 1 for 5 record just does not stack up with Rachel's accomplishments. Of course, there is much racing to go, and Rachel by no means has the HOY sewn up.

15 Jun 2009 8:45 AM
lobieb

Take a look at the horsses that ran in Dubai.  It seems that when they come back to the states they can't seem to win a race.  Does that say something for leaving the horses at home though I know $$$$ is the only reason we go.  Look at Indian Blessing yesterday and Well Armed and Kip Deville need I go on.

15 Jun 2009 8:55 AM
Somethingroyal

Hi Steve:

I've found myself looking forward to your knowledgeable writings.

I don't know if this thought has been mentioned about the Breeders Cup races. Why is there not a 1 1/2 race on the dirt and turf? Wouldn't adding 1 1/2 races to the card be an incentive to breeders to focus on breeding stamina and durability back into what the Thoroughbred has been known for?

15 Jun 2009 8:59 AM
Matthew W

Gun Bow how bout if Rachel runs a credible 4th in the Classic v males--and Zenyatta wins the Ladies Classic?? There's already precident, ie last years Eclipse voting, to give it to Rachel in that instance---but so what, team Z has already made it clear to all that they care more about the horse than the award...is it possible to have a female HOY and a separate female win the filly award??

15 Jun 2009 11:41 AM
Steve Haskin

Karen, the last I heard they're looking at the Arlington Million and Pacific Classic.

Cheryl, no one is complaining about the Europeans winning. The complaint is running on synthetics two years in a row, despriving a good many of our horses who dislike synthetics a shot at winning a BC race.

Somethingroyal, there is a 1 1/2-mile race on turf, always has been, and we had a 1 1/2-mile mile race on dirt last year, which has been lengthened to 1 3/4 miles.

lobieb, each horse is different how he or she handles it. Informed has already run twice since Dubai, winning the Californian on Saturday. But it does seem the majority are affected by it.

15 Jun 2009 12:23 PM
Majella from Ireland

Steve your articles are great! I am European, obviously, and i like synthetic surfaces but i agree with your article, especially with regards to the new track in Dubai. And synthetic surfaces are not 100% safe either.

15 Jun 2009 12:33 PM
Mike S

COLONEL JOHN worked in 1:00-2/5 this morning. Looks like the Chief Raider of the Handicap division is on his way back!  

15 Jun 2009 1:00 PM
Somethingroyal

Thanks Steve. I don't know why I was under the impression that none of the BC races were beyond a 1 1/4. And I've been watching the races for many years. And not that I'm complaning, but does anyone know why the Breeders Cup is being held at Santa Anita for a second year in a row?

15 Jun 2009 1:09 PM
helsbelles

Informed, with his win in the Californian, bucked the trend of horses that don't do well after making the trip to and from Dubai, and may turn out to be a nice horse.  Arson Squad also came back from Dubai, where he had a nightmarish trip in the World Cup, yet acquitted himself nicely in the Foster;  but you won't be seeing him in the Breeders Cup, since his record on Cali synthetics is abysmal.  Yes, Georgie Boy could do very well in the BC Sprint since he is proven over the surface, but he is not currently having published works.  I think Steve's point is clear:  American based horses, with the glaring exception of the filly/mare dirt division, need to step up this year, or risk being embarrassed by the Euros.  About the 1 1/2,3/4 mile BC races, Tim Ice did say, in an article I read, that he is pointing Summer Bird towards that, but did not specify synthetic or turf.

Somethingroyal, it's funny you should say that;  I get quite a workout at the track trying to be everywhere (lol) to get all the good pictures, and I usually end up with a good sunburn too.  See you on the 27th -- let's hope for another beautifully sunny and SAFE day for all.

15 Jun 2009 1:34 PM
Lady Ruffian

Somethingroyal-

the only way I can get good photos in the paddock then decent ones of the horses on the track is if I am in the paddock early before the horses are paraded in and my husband is in our spot by the track so he can take the photos there b/c hes much taller than I am! lolol I agree with Helesbelles, its a workout running from the paddock to the track through the crowds to get good shots! Can't wait for the 27th ...12 days left & counting :)

15 Jun 2009 4:35 PM
sweet terchi

Just a suggestion for trips to the Del Mar meet, traffic is a huge bear not to mention parking and having to hike or catch the overcrowded tram, Amtrak is great. Depending on where you are the Pacific Surfliner or Coaster will drop you off at the Del Mar station. Short cab ride to the west side of the track, a lot less expensive,(time and gas wise) plus stress free.

17 Jun 2009 1:15 PM

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