Countdown to the Cup - Beyond the Sea...a Bird

If Sea the Stars does not make the trip to California, which seems more likely than not, and joins Rachel Alexandra on the absentee list, it will create a void never before seen in the Breeders' Cup.

Assuming Sea the Stars does not run, it is safe to say that no two greater horses have ever eluded the World Championship event in a single year. That is a sad comment considering the sport's desperate need to showcase its superstars. In this case, we've gone beyond superstars, as many feel Sea the Stars and Rachel Alexandra are the two greatest horses to grace the Turf in some 30 years.

Continue reading this column or feel free to post your comments below. 


Leave a Comment:


I would love to see Sea the Stars in the BC.  He just keeps getting better and better.

Loved your "bird analysis"!

06 Oct 2009 8:55 AM

I really enjoy your weekly articles but I don't think it's the end of the world if Sea the Stars and Rachel are not in the Breeders Cup. Sea the Stars is a European horse and most of us don't see those races anyway. Rachel is a great filly but she needs a rest and her owner hates polytrack and it is certainly his decision to make ... personally I don't blame him BUT there are many other good horses going to the Breeders Cup and I think we will enjoy what we get and remember BIRD IS THE WORD

06 Oct 2009 9:09 AM

Wonderful column, Steve!! You have definitely hit the high notes with your beautiful style of writing and I enjoyed reading every word - thank you!  Watching the Arc, it certainly appeared that Sea The Stars was hopelessly trapped, and I still can't quite figure out how he got out of that mess of horses, but wow!  Summer Bird's JCGC just blew me away because he has seemed to thrive on difficult going and he flew!  Your bird metaphors were such a treat by the way.  Your writing is such a pleasure to read - I'm always sad when I reach the end of the column and there is no more.  

The mom in me is hoping that Tim Ice gets to make a trip home to meet his new baby soon.  It's so wonderful to read how the owners are so thrilled with their homebred and spoil him with treats.  Thank you again for providing a look behind the scenes - racing is so much more than the statistics of how much the payout was or how high the speed numbers were.

06 Oct 2009 9:24 AM

Summer Bird has won 3 major races and has proven himself to be the Best Bird in 2009. However, there are some me included that believe Summer Bird caught a break when the rain came pouring down and turning a dry fast track to soup.  In the Classic there is NO CHANCE for an off track and dry and fast conditions will prevail.  Quality Road appears to be back from his injury and fully recovered.  Should he train well on the poly track everyone else may be running for second place.  Quality Road wins the Classic in front of a hard charging Gio P.

06 Oct 2009 9:24 AM

Loved your Zenyatta article.

06 Oct 2009 9:30 AM
Ann in Lexington

Despite the media flack to the contrary, the Arc de Triomphe is the de facto World Championship.  The BC Classic has never been a World Championship race, because most of the world races on turf.

The BC races are an afterthought for the best classic horses across the pond; the Arc is where they are pointed.

06 Oct 2009 9:33 AM

I thought I read somewhere that the reason Tim Ice got SB was because he wasn't training that well in Cali on the that true?

06 Oct 2009 9:34 AM
Matthew W

Despite the big two not coming, I do not think the Classic looks weak by any stretch of the imagination! In fact, I think Zenyatta would be favored over one of those so called "best horse of the past thirty years"! Of course, since they won't be competing against one another, and there's no possibility for HOY, maybe they stay in the filly division and just try for an unbeaten  finale with Big Z---I hope they go up against the big boys! In answer to your colomn, regarding being able to forget about Sea The Stars and Rachel Alexandra, I remain upbeat--this is horse racing, where hope springs eternal, and you just never know when you're gonna see greatness!

06 Oct 2009 9:57 AM

This years classic is going to be a quagmire to pick a winner,theres a bunch of good turf runners and dirt horses that we dont know who will take to the surface.I read that SB had filling in his ankles working on the surface and sent to Ice.Sea the Stars will not show up he has completed his buisness,what a top class racehorse.

06 Oct 2009 10:05 AM

Well, i agree SEA THE STARS is one of the best horses in Europe in the last 30 years. I´d go beyond, in the last 100 years. His permomance in the Arc was simply superb, magnificent, exceptional... What a horse man! But saying that RACHEL ALEXANDRA is the best in some 30 years, is a risky statement. Yes, she´s an extraordinary filly, the best in recent times, i can not deny it, but the best  horse in the last 30 years, hmmm. In this period we have had so incredible champions like ALYSHEBA, SUDAY SILENCE, EASY GOER, CIGAR, HOLLY BULL, CURLIN, INVASOR, TIZNOW,GHOSTZAPPER, SKIP AWAY, AP INDY, JOHN HENRY. I do believe Rachel Alexandra has not reached that level. Her victory in the Woodmard, yes it was historic, but before a middle range of the best horses in this country in 2009.    MACHO AGAIN will never pass to the books as one of the best in this decade, and he almost got her at the end in the Woodward. I´m sure that for Rachel´s people this race was always an easier option than the Travers. She needs to face ZENYATTA to assure her place as the best GIRL in the country, as well as the Street Cry´s daughter. If they don´t do it, it will be a huge chance to speculate in the coming years about who was the best in 2009. But Rachel already beat the boys, Zenyatta needs it, and the classic is her best opportunity. I love these pair of supergirls,because they brought magic to the business, but i can´t forget our super champions in the last 30 years. For me, is impossible.    

06 Oct 2009 10:21 AM
Billy's Empire

IMO, If Mastecraftman makes the trip, he wins the Classic. If Rip Van Winkle makes the trip, he gets 2nd, just like last year with Europeans. Summerbird will check in third or fourth and Einstein or Rail Trip round out the field. The only other scenario I see is Quality Road loving the pro-ride and showing his true brilliance. Otherwise, it is the Euro's, and I sure as hell can not wait to get back on the dirt at CD next year!!

06 Oct 2009 10:30 AM
Billy's Empire

Ann, what about Dubai? The Sheema, the WORLD Cup. I think there you have a better glimpse of the world championship since you have horses from Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South America, Europe, and the U.S all competing against one another. You rarely have that many countries represented in France

06 Oct 2009 10:43 AM

Sadly this points to the fact that The Breeders Cup is becoming more irrelevant in the "whole" racing picture. The Breeders Cup just isn't that important of a destination anymore. It'll be a good day of racing, just not a star studded day.

06 Oct 2009 10:58 AM
Frank J.

Steve, great article, just wondering if you thought STS was as good or better racehorse than Giant's Causeway? Could you list your top 5 Euros from maybe the last decade?

06 Oct 2009 11:08 AM

I second the comment of Ann of Lexington.  In fact, I have felt since '84 that our BC Classic should be on the turf.

Of course, much of this turf-dirt argument reminds me of the days of car racing enthusiasts argueing over which drivers and racing were better, the Gran Prix Euros or the semi-circular Indy types.

06 Oct 2009 11:10 AM
Mike Relva


I visited Invasor last month. He's quite a sight,one of my all time favs. You were correct,the people at Shadwell were very nice. Also,spent the nite at Old Friends which was a great experience. Next day visted Cigar,I never miss dropping by to see him when I'm in Kentucky. Truly a great horse!

06 Oct 2009 11:11 AM

another colorful wonderful article.Thanks so much. I only found this site a couple mos. back(Rachel mania).  One silly question---I keep reading about the horses love for peppermints in these articles as well as some biographies of famous horses I have recently read: What kind of mints?  Butter mints, mint pattys with the chocolate coating, hard candies. I'd love to send some to a couple of my favorites for Christmas.  Thanks.

06 Oct 2009 11:12 AM
Mike Relva


I agree,QR is on his way back.

06 Oct 2009 11:12 AM
Don from Delaware

Thanks again Steve...let us hope every great horse and trainer show up to the BC in CA in Nov.  I think there may be some surprises and hope Quality Road goes for the mile...but feel on a dry track the incredible bird would have a real eye to eyeball race with QR...any longer distance.....and that daughter Jewel of Tapit the great...I still recall her 14-1 blowout at Delaware Park in July, I am sold on her, next to RA...Don

06 Oct 2009 11:26 AM

Almost immediately following Sea the Stars impressive performance in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe did the inevitable question come – well, what about the Breeders’ Cup.   US racing fans have anticipated the Arc winner participating in the Breeders’ Cup for the past twenty-five years.  Yet it seems the question and anticipation has no US reciprocity.  Has any turf writher ever mused to the connections of the ManOWar winner whether the Arc might be a target?  Why is it that we yanks assume our races worthy of a trip when US runners are seldom seen on the international front?   In fact a trip to France, UK, Ireland, Australia or the Pacific Rim is simply not on the screen of US owners or trainers.  The only venue abroad seems to be Dubai and that’s on the gold card plan courtesy of the ruling family.

We’ve heard all the reasons why such challenges are not undertaken – racing surfaces, medication, breeding considerations, quarantine protocol, seasons not matching up properly, etc.  It could be US racing simply feels its major events are thought to be what the rest of the world revolves around.

Some forward thinking individuals envision a global simulcasting market.  History says it’ll have to be on our own terms though.  Are you listening Mr. Jackson?

06 Oct 2009 11:30 AM
Mike Relva


If you have time,read the last few exchanges at the bottom of Jasons' blog. Some people kill me!

06 Oct 2009 11:36 AM

Steve: well written

David: well said

This year's Breeders Cup Classic looks like its gonna be a bummer ....unless Careless Jewel blows them all away.  Then what?

06 Oct 2009 11:41 AM

David I applaud your comments.

I've been shocked by some of the comments (on other US sites I hasten to add) that have stated that Sea the Stars is no more than average and that he can't be called one of the greats unless he runs at Breeders' Cup - We don't run Secretariat down just because he never ran in Europe!

StS has had a long hard season - 6 Group 1s in 6 months and many people, myself included, just don't see the point in him running at Breeders' Cup.  He has nothing to prove, he has beaten everything that has been thrown at him with sheer contempt and a win in the Classic will not increase his stud value - most American breeders would not be interested in him as a potential mate for their mares.

Also, although the circumstances were very different, the demise of the wonderful George Washington in the BC Classic is still fresh in many European racing fans' minds and many people are anti him running at BC on that basis alone.

06 Oct 2009 12:00 PM

Hey David,

Wesley Ward took horses to Europe and won!

06 Oct 2009 12:05 PM

What a wonderful, entertaining article, Steve.  I love all the Bird metaphors and your analysis of the coming Breeders Cup feels just too accurate.  I would love to see Sea the Stars run, just for the joy of watching him.  He is really beyond words.  I also can't see how he got out of that crowd.  And it's sad that Rachel won't be running even though it is in her best interests.  She is a joy to watch also.  I can't get enough.  But the list for the Classic is no slouch, for sure.  I love the Birds!!  And, as much as I'd love to be able to say that a whole bunch of new fans will tune in or show up to watch the Breeders Cup, I'm afraid that's just dreaming.  It will be us horselovers/racing addicts who will watch.  And from what I can tell, we'll watch any horse race.  This has been a fantastic year of racing and I just don't want it to end.

06 Oct 2009 12:07 PM


another well written column.

On the topic of Sea the Stars coming to the breeder’s cup, I think it would be wonderful to see him

He would bring a lot of buzz to the event. Whether or not he comes, I believe we are looking at a very interesting classic. I think his connections have done a great job with him, and know have the task of charting his future, whether it is in racing or the breeding shed. I can’t fault them for any choice.

I was at Belmont on Saturday, and for a good part of the afternoon it was looking as if we would actually make it through before the rain decided to come. It was not to be however, but I enjoyed the racing anyway.  As far as the classic goes, I think Summer Bird deserves all the respect he is getting, but I’m not completely done on Quality Road, I think he prefers a drier surface, and If he take to the Surface at Santa Anita, he has a very good shot.  I also liked what I saw from Geo Ponte, although he did not win, he really battled. He was on a water logged track, with the rain beating on his face. He has a good shot in the Classic. He is not quite Sea the stars, but he has been a star all year.

06 Oct 2009 12:11 PM

David, I think one reason top U.S. turf horses don't point to the Arc is because they're pointing to the BC. To hit both races would require two trans-Atlantic trips. Euro horses are making one trip and ending their season with the BC if they come. I would guess the other reason is that all the best turf horses are purchased and sent to Europe already, so we now rarely have the quality of horse that would be worth sending. The last one I can think of that would have been worth a shot was Kitten's Joy. That was their intention, but he was never the same after the bone chips were removed.

06 Oct 2009 12:11 PM

Nice article Steve and very creative writing about the "Bird". As others have noted, it is not the end of the racing world just because Rachel and Sea the Stars wrap it up for the year. The Classic has potential to be a great race and certainly will be a good betting race. I keep coming back to the question does Rachel have horse of the year in her pocket? Suppose Summer Bird just runs off with the Classic? Winning Belmont Stakes; Travers; JCGC and Breeder's Cup Classic all in one year! I realize that Rachel beat him (at a mile and an eighth) but has any horse ever won all of those races and not won HOY?

Back to the Classic, Gio Ponti certainly likes the track, as you have noted. And the Europeans look formidable again this year. It is going to be a good one.

06 Oct 2009 12:15 PM
Tim G

da3hoss, I don't think the Docs ever had SB in Cali.

They practiced in Hot Springs and that's where the colt had his early starts. They bred and raised him on the farm in Ocala and he didn't leave the farm until he was 3. His first race was March 1,2009 and I believe Tim got him straight off the farm in Jan 09 and had him at Oaklawn. Not quite sure how Tim got him but the Docs support Oaklawn. Also Tim was an assistant for 10 years to a few trainers and his step-Dad was a trainer apparently so it's not like he walked in off the street. He was an assistant for Cole Norman and had been at Oaklawn in the past as an assistant. Dr J tried training some on his own, as he himself said and fired himself after just 6 months of bad training. Choosing to leave it to the experts.

I'm just going to be really happy when the BC comes back to CD. I really suspect MORE than just the Classic will be missing some stars at SA. Especially with the rash of breakdowns that are hitting BEFORE the BC this year, rather than after, like it did last year.

06 Oct 2009 12:18 PM

Great article.  Even though the two biggest stars will probably be missing, I think the BCC will still be an exciting race and interesting to handicap.

Of the horses you mentioned as probable, I'd rule out Awesome Gem, Parading & Einstein because a horse over age 5 has never won.  Also Tiago, Macho Again & Bullsbay because I think 9 furlongs is their best.  That's for the win only but I'm not ruling them out to possibly hit the board.

I'm interested to see how the dirt horses handle the surface.  I think Quality Road may take to it quite well.  Wasn't his damsire a turf star?  

06 Oct 2009 12:29 PM
Steve Haskin

DaHoss, thats what was reported, but the owners deny it that.

06 Oct 2009 12:30 PM
Steve Haskin

Alydarstar, you're correct. I meant to say two of the greatest. I softened it a bit, separating male from female and Europe and U.S.

06 Oct 2009 12:38 PM
Steve Haskin

cdfan, I wouldnt call the BC irrelevant. It still attracts an awful lot of top horses. We lost Rachel because of the synthetic, but the Classic gained two terrific horses from Europe because of it. and Sea the Stars would have run in it had he not run in the Arc.

Frank J, one is a miler and the other a middle distance horse, who is more versatile -- hard to compare. Sea the Stars is as good as anyone I've seen in Europe in 40 years. Sea the Stars would certainly rank #1. After that in no particular order, Peintre Celebre, Giant's Causeway, Galileo, Sakhee, Rock of Gibraltar, Lammtarra, Montjeu, and Zarkava

mz, I never said the Classic is going to be a bummer. I said its a very compelling race, just confusing.

06 Oct 2009 12:48 PM
Frank J.

Steve, thanks for answering my question.

06 Oct 2009 12:59 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, thank you for a wonderful article and a very good laugh with that word picture of hamsters in balls. That summed up perfectly what I was thinking about the horses that are pointing towards the Classic - so many different styles and types, how do you sort them out?

I watched Secretariat's races when I was younger, he was so impressive when blowing away the competition. Sea the Stars is impressive in a different way - he does just enough and does it so effortlessly time after time. Do you think there's more than a 10 percent chance we'll see him racing next year?

06 Oct 2009 1:05 PM

Thanks Steve and Tim, I'm still confused, but heck, I'm blonde...LOL.

I thought for sure I had read an article that said John Sadler had him at Santa Anita and they shipped him to Ice before his first race...

06 Oct 2009 1:12 PM

I agree that Sea the Stars is awesome. Judging how Raven's Pass romped last year I am sure that STS would also romp. One thing though people need to stop comparing Rachel with all-time greats. In her only race against males she ran against a really sub par group. The horse she almost got beat by was not in the picture against Quality Road and Summer Bird. A lot of horse racing is now based in marketing because of the economy. It used to be that the great horse did not duck challenges because that was the real marketing for horse racing. Whether Rachel can beat Zenyatta or not...We will not know this year because Jess Jackson avoided the confrontation, much like he did by not running in the Travers because most of those 3yr olds could have beaten the Woodward field. Obviously Jess Jackson has a sour taste in his mouth because he took on all comers with Curlin and lost in the BC Classic. So whats wrong with that. It wasnt Curlin's surface but he did try. Sorry Rachel, you might be the best Female, but nobody can say because you wont run against the Zenyatta to prove it. As far as best horse in the world there are many males that would have Rachel for lunch....And I dont mean those ones that were in the Woodward.

06 Oct 2009 1:27 PM

Tim G Summer Bird did train at Santa Anita as a 2 yr old.  He was trained by John Sadler and he said that he wasn't training well and said he should race on dirt.  Thats how Tim got him

06 Oct 2009 1:27 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, I do have a question. Has any other 3 yr. old earned as much in one year as Sea the Stars has?

06 Oct 2009 1:29 PM
carolyn rogers

I watched the Arc Sunday, I have to say, Sea The Stars ran and won that race at a mile and a half, No North American horse can hold up to that. STS is the best horse in the whole world, I love the way that John Oxx loves this horse. The Europeans treat their horses better than we do. He has said that STS would not be in training next year. NA run their horses to death.  I so applaud JJ for giving Rachael the rest of the year off.   I'm sorry North American horse owners and trainers but I say the Europeans have better trained horses than you all do.  Sea The Stars is to big for us here, he likes long tracks but he would still rip our horses apart on any surface. I love the way he is so calm in the stall, he's not nipping his trainer he is so relaxed and when he hits that race track, My God, he is a running machine. No horse including RA holds a candle to this magnificent colt.

06 Oct 2009 1:41 PM

Interesting comments and feedback from everyone. I think you are right Steve, Sea the Stars does not make the trip to Santa Anita for the big dance. I do think he is the best horse on the planet racing right now. He is argueably the best European horse of all time. You can throw in Sea Bird, Dubai Millenium, Ribot, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Sir Ivor, Zarkava, and Ouiga Board but he is the best I have ever seen race across the pond. Summer Bird is a very nice colt and I said in earlier blogs that if he wins the Classic then he deserves HOTY, and I still feel that way. I am not convinced Quality Road wants 1 1/4 mile, it may not be his best distance.  He is a very nice horse though and I enjoy watching him run. Gio Ponti is the dark horse in the classic. He is very talanted and if he takes to the racing surface look out world.

Great article Steve, very informative. Thanks as always...........

06 Oct 2009 1:48 PM

Da3hoss:  the DRF and Thoroughbred Times both reported that Summer Bird was in the barn of John Sadler "last fall".  Sadler reportedly breezed him 9 times at Santa Anita in that time frame.  Both publications report that Sadler said he didn't think the horse liked the surface.  SB was then transferred to Ice and Oaklawn before his first career start.  

Also reported by the DRF in a different article, Ice had Desormeaux jog SB on the turf (in New York) this August.  They directly quoted Ice as saying "I didn't like the way he looked over the turf".  

bettys:  it's those red and white round peppermint candies (broken in half so they don't choke).  Feed stores sell them specifically made for horses.    

06 Oct 2009 1:50 PM

Sorry, Steve.  I didn't mean the race will be bad.  I simply meant that when I remember that the whole reason for the Breeders' Cup was to try to get the best together in actual races (instead of avoiding each other because you could win big purses at different tracks and you never got to see head to head competition), it's sad that some of the best horses appear not to be coming to race against other "best" horses.  The race will still be interesting but in a year when you have such really good horses around the world, I would have loved to have seen STS and RA against each other -- not to mention other European and dirt track horses.

A head to head competition would have solved -- at least for one day -- the "who's the horse of the world" question for a little while.

(and apologies to the Australians and New Zealanders and Argentinians and Brazilians and Japanese and Hong Kong persons ("Hong Kongists"?) -- when are you guys going to send your horses over?)

06 Oct 2009 1:53 PM

Steve, I agree.  The Classic will be a highly contentious race with some heavy hitters, even without the two "big stars."  I don't believe the BC races have lost any lustre over all.  The fact that they have been on synthetic at SA for 2 years now has dulled it a bit, but when it moves to Churchill next year I expect it will generate just as much excitement as it has in the past.

Still, even on synthetic, how can one deny the thrill of possibly seeing Gio Ponti, Zenyatta, Einstein, Summer Bird, Mine That Bird, Quality Road, Mastercraftsman and several other Gr I winners all in the same race?!  It's mind boggling! And I won't even begin to think who could win that one!

And that's not even considering any of the other great races.  I love the Breeders Cup.  It IS our championship day of racing.  The defection of Rachel we knew was coming, and it only happened because of the synthetic track. And other than when we run on synthetic, the Europeans aren't a major influence because their best horses typically stay home.

I'm a good old fashioned "dirt girl."  I don't believe the Classic should be on synthetic or on the turf.  But will the synthetic track stop me from being completely enthralled with 2 full days of BC coverage?  Absolutely not! 31 days and counting....

06 Oct 2009 1:57 PM

Why all the America bashing?  If you folks don't like it here and think we're so inferior then move over to Europe.  Having lived there myself for years, I suspect you'll come running back after you've gotten a good long dose of it.      

Nice article Mr. Haskin.  

06 Oct 2009 2:04 PM
Tim G

Okay, like Steve said that's what was reported but not what the Docs said. "We kept him on the farm, trained him on the farm on the track. We thought he was a good horse," Jayaraman said. "All the rest of the work was done by (trainer) Tim Ice, and I thank him."

So who knows....

What I 'read' was that he trained at SA in the fall. But what they 'said' was he was at the farm until Tim got him.

06 Oct 2009 2:04 PM
Tim G

Also Tim said on the Talkin Horses on here that he got the colt from the farm in January.

Sounds like a lot of conflicting info. I just know he runs well on the dirt and the mud. Lets hope it works out on the synthetics as well. A very nice colt for the Docs to have. Still don't know exactly why they chose Tim Ice though.

06 Oct 2009 2:07 PM

This year has been disappointing to say the least. The only bright spot being RA. But the BC being on the plastic two years in a row is devastating. MTB was a fluke. SB is a mudder but what else? QR can't catch a break. Z scared to leave the left coast. I'm afraid to think what else can make this year more forgettable.

06 Oct 2009 2:14 PM

Sorry Steve, but to label Sea of Stars and Rachel Alexandra as the best we have seen in the last 30 years is a bit of a misnomer.  If they are that good, let them show it at Santa Anita.  I don't believe either one would win .

06 Oct 2009 2:15 PM

Yes, it was reported that John S said to get this horse off synthetics (I don't think the debate is about whether SB was in California. . . LOL), but when that information (or was it misinformation?) started obtaining a "higher profile", it was denied.  Of course, at that point (when people started to care), it was obvious the BCC was on the radar.  So, who knows?  Also interesting about the idea that SB might go on turf as when he trained earlier this summer on it, it was not a good workout. Sometimes the spin control makes no sense to me.  It's not like the horses are changed by it. . .

06 Oct 2009 2:25 PM
2 time valley player of the year

Jesse J get rid of your ego and forget your Curlin getting beat on poly he wasn't the great champ you thought he was, the sport of horse racing needs a shot in the arm , your RA would greatly enhance Breeders cup day, she's won on synthetic.I really believe that you know she can't win at a mile and a quarter against the competition she would face in the Classic. Your horse, but your doing a disservice to the race fans by avoiding the big showdown. Of course you want her to be HOY based on the great season she has had but that's like a team having a great unbeaten football season then refusing to go to the Super bowl because of the type of field or expecting to be crowned world champs based on the season and not earning it on the field.

STS coming over would be a great thing but a long shot. However if he does come what will Jesse do with his ego?As for Zen well she has had every opp to run against the boys on her fav surface yet has ducked the comp. surely the owners really don't think she deserves HOY by not running against the best? So she'll run this weekend against the same horses she has beaten but could be in for a surprise .staying unbeaten i suppose is great but apparently avoiding the best comp is a strategy to go unbeaten.Did  Dr Fager, Kelso, John Henry, SEC or any of the other greats duck the comp -hell no and remember Seattle Slew could have been retired after the Belmont be unbeaten and be declared one of the all time great but he continued because the owners had guts. Zen and RA owners show some guts no more excuses.

06 Oct 2009 2:32 PM

Deep Impact is the all-time top earning three year old on the planet.  He was the 2005 Triple Crown winner in Japan.  He won over $6.8 million as a three year old.  He didn't race as a two year old.  

Sea The Stars won $6.65 million this year.  He won $138,822 as a two year old.  His combined winnings fall just short of Deep Impact's three year old winnings.  If Sea The Stars wins another big race this year he'll surpass Deep Impact.  

06 Oct 2009 2:47 PM

Has any one expressed a concern about the horses that are breaking down during races at Oak Tree.  Two straight days I saw horses breakdown.  I will never forget Go For Wand at Belmont.  Maybe Mr Jackson is being very smart for keeping Rachel at home.  I know the synthetic surfaces were put in place to reduce injuries, but I'm starting to wonder about that wisdom.  Your comment, please.

06 Oct 2009 2:53 PM

Congrats to the owners of Sea the Stars and Rachel Alexandra for putting the welfare of their horses above the empty-minded hype.  Both of these race horses have proven their superiority and don't need to show up anywhere for anything for the rest of the year.  Don't they deserve a rest too?

There are many other horses who are worthy of BC. What about Summer Bird? and Zenyatta?  If Zenyatta beat Rachel Alexandra what would that prove, given that Zenyatta is lightly raced and Rachel has met all comers?  Remember, even Curlin failed on synthetics and turf;  why would Jackson put Rachel in that same situation? Personally, I think Mine that Bird needs a rest but he has experienced no decrease in demand after his hard-fought (and brilliant) Preakness; is this what we want to do with our superior athletes?

We should applaud achievements and not lament what could be.

06 Oct 2009 3:14 PM

I count 9 official works for Summer Bird at Santa Anita. However, that does not mean that Tim Ice did not get him off the farm in January, since his Santa Anita works were in November and December of 2008. Since he didn't run until March, it is probable that he wasn't mature enough to run in 2008, synthetics or no synthetics.

06 Oct 2009 3:16 PM

I hope Sea the Stars doesn't come over here to the BC, because of the track. I visited Santa Anita for the first time ever last April and felt the track for myself. It is very weird, very fluffy and definitely synthetic! Kinda rubbery and carpet-y at the same time! If I had some horses, I wouldn't run them on it at all. I can see why the Euro's liked it last year, it resembles grass, kind of.  I do find it kinda weird that both Grazen and Blackbriar in the Cal Cup last weekend, got hurt right in the same area of the track. I know they were trying to make it safer for the horses, and it took the opposite effect, but plz no more breakdowns!!!

06 Oct 2009 3:17 PM
Tim G

I'm not so sure that the Turf comparison holds true for SA and Pro-ride.

The story about Summer Bird? Guess it makes it more endearing or fairytale like. I think the story about him as a 2 year old is one story, picked up by a lot of publications. Maybe someone could get Dr. J to clarify beyond what he said?

As far as horses breaking down at the Oaktree meet? It's got a LOT of industry people pretty nervous. A LOT already DON'T like the synthetics and this rash of breakdowns is certainly adding to the feeling that some don't want to bring their horses there. Particularly a two year old who has never run on it. Think that feeling of not wanting to be forced into that or do that has been expressed by any number of people.

I SHUDDER at the thought of multiple breakdowns on the 'safe' synthetics. Fuel for the fire of those saying that NOTHING can make horse racing safe.

06 Oct 2009 3:18 PM

gregg....What..huh???? Rachel has run two races against males. The Preakness and the Woodward. She won both. She was the first horse to ever win at pimlico from post 13 and the first filly since 1924. Did you see the woodward? Did you see the punishing fractions?? Plus she is only three. Rachel Alexandra deserves all the accolades she is receiving. She is an incredible race horse. They are not ducking any competition. They don't like the surface and frankly I don't blame them. The BC classic should not take place on a fake track. What makes you think the colts in the travers could have beaten the Woodward field? That is pure speculation. She had to face older, experienced males. Personally I think they wanted history..and they got it!

Sea the Stars deserves to stay at home. If his trainer is noticing a turning coat..he needs a rest. He is a sight to see. I don't know if Rachel could handle him. My gut tells me no but who knows. I love them both and will miss them in the classic but understand why they are not there. Both of them.

06 Oct 2009 3:18 PM
Steve Haskin

As I mentioned earlier, the published stories said that Sadler had them take the horse because he didnt like the synthetic surface Thats what Sadler said. The owners said that's not why they took the horse from Sadler. They say it had nothing to do with the track. You can form your own conclusions.

06 Oct 2009 3:23 PM

In my haste to answer gregg's post I realized I made a huge mistake in my last post.  How could I have forgotten the Haskell?????? gregg...remember Rachel beat summer bird by 6 lengths in the Haskell????? and on a sloppy track I might add. Whew... I hope I never make that mistake again : )

06 Oct 2009 3:25 PM
Steve Haskin

So far, Jackson's reasons for not sending Rachel to SA are looking sound. Lenny Shulman and I discuss this unfortunate situation at SA in this week's "And They're Off."

06 Oct 2009 3:25 PM
Gary at Rough Creek


I read an article from some time back that supports what Alisha posted about Summer Bird, Sadler and SB's general aptitude on that synthetic surface.  I'm sorry bit I can't find the exact reference.  He may be a better runner now in general, so hopefully he will take to it as a more mature 3 YO.  I think it is sporting of the connections to give it a try in any case, although it does make me a tad nervous for SB's soundness.

Mine That Bird has a history on synthetics, being voted Champion 2 YO colt in Canada while running on the synthetics.  And his running style may be a better fit on the Santa Anita surface than SB's too. I find it interesting - sad, but interesting - that a horse of his proven quality can miss one race and fall off of most people's radars.

MTB went 1:00.2 this morning at Santa Anita.  He's healthy after his minor surgery.  If he runs in and wins the Goodwood next weekend, and then wins or does well in The Classic, how are we to discriminate between him, Summer Bird, and Rachel?  As being the best horse that is?  MTB was catching Rachel in The Preakness while giving her 5 pounds and getting a less than stellar ride.  Rachel beat Macho Again by a diminishing head while giving that rival 4 pounds.  Summer Bird just crushed him at 1.25 miles.  MTB went to The West Virginia Derby and was beaten by two rivals, by less than 2 combined lengths, while giving them 11 pounds!  That is sporting too, if you ask racing fans a unique opportunity to see a Derby winner and Champion when the conditions of the race pose something of a risk for a "win."  Summer Bird wasn't a fan of the surface in The Haskell, if Kent was being factually accurate and not just making excuses.

Versatility is one characteristic of a great horse in my opinion.  Running and winning at different distances, at different tracks, and even on vastly different surfaces.  And against the best rivals. Secretariat did it.  Curlin and Big Brown attempted it, and while they put in excellent efforts, I wouldn't put them in the same league as Secretariat on both dirt and grass.  But they attempted it, which was a sporting risk.

Unlike some on here, I don't think Rachel has HOTY sewn up at all. At least I hope she doesn't.  What if MTB comes back and wins his next two races, possibly beating Zenyatta in The Classic?  What if Summer Bird wins The Classic?  He'd be HOTY year hands down in my opinion.

I hear some talking heads questioning the quality of this year's crop of 3 YO colts.  Sour grapes if you ask me.  One of them tried to make that argument after Hold Me Back put in a less than stellar effort in his last race.  Turns out he has a major lung infection and is out for the year!  What about the times in the classics?  What about MTB darn near running down Rachel "The Great" even having to check and give her 5 pounds?  Macho Again almost got her - at nine furlongs - while carrying more weight.  Does that make him the second best horse this year?  How can Rachel be so great if she can barely beat MTB going 9.5 furlongs while giving him 5 pounds and being whipped over 15 times in the stretch?  How can people call her "great" because she beat 3 YO colts, while simultaneously saying that this year's 3 YO colt crop is sub-par?  It's completely illogical.

This is NOT to take away from those horses' efforts.  Not at all.  Rather, it's about perspective and analyzing a year's campaign for horses of different sexes and different ages. Rachel is amazingly fast and consistent on certain surfaces up to 9 furlongs.  That is amazing in and of itself.  What she has accomplished this year is historic, but HOTY?  Other horses like Summer Bird have put in historic efforts this year too.  If she had blown away the colts consistently, or even beaten them at equal weights, or set records, I would have to think differently.  I think right now there are at least two emerging three year old fillies that I would love to see take her on at equal weights.

The racing year is not over.  Maybe it is for Rachel.  And maybe that is best for her health, which should always come first.  But if anyone already has her as "a lock" for HOTY, I think that would be a shame.  That would mean that, regardless of the outcome of races yet to be run in 2009, they wouldn't change their minds.  In my opinion, if Summer Bird wins The Classic, he's HOTY hands down.  If MTB loses next weekend but wins The Classic, which I think is more likely on the Santa Anita surface than Summer Bird winning it, then it's a mess in my opinion.    

Having said all that, my main concern is for the safety and soundness of all these great horses, especially those making a quick transition from a dirt surface to a synthetic one. I hope all we have to talk about after The Breeder's Cup weekend is which horse is the best horse in whatever category. If anyone cares, here's my vote: let's run on well maintained dirt and grass surfaces.  Please get rid of "synthetics."

06 Oct 2009 3:26 PM
Steve Haskin

Deacon, he asked for the top European horses in the last 10 years.

06 Oct 2009 3:28 PM

First of all to Ghostzapper, did you forget the Belmont where  Summer Bird won on a DRY FAST track? Does he like mud, yes, but so did Curlin, was he labled a mudder because he ran well in mud? Two STS is a great horse no doubt about it, but before we go and assume he'd win the Classic just because of what RP and HTN did last year, take a step back and look what happened the Duke in that race. He was from Europe, was one of their best older males, and he finished WAY up the track. STS has never run on dirt or synthetics before, so just because he is a turf sensation does not mean he'll be another Ravens Pass, when there is the possibility he could end up another Duke of Marmalade. To all those who criticise JJ, why don't you all go out and buy a star horse, no super star filly, and run her in the Preakness Haskell and Wood, and see if you want her, as a 3yr old to take on the Classic. It's a lot easier said then done, especially when you aren't the one who gets to feel millions of ppl pressuring you to do one thing when it may not be the best thing for the horse. JJ cracked under the pressure last year, even though he hated synthetics to begin with, and knew Curlin had already run a long hard campaign. Tell me after you went against your gut instict, to go with the flow, and that ended up failing, would you do it again, if you are your insane. That is not an insult, it's a fact, the definition of insanity is to keep repeating the same proccess over and over, even when it keeps failing. So JJ in my book is totally sane. So until you get get 10mil and buy some of RA please leave get off your high horse. You all can't keep asking for more and more, cause sooner or later there's not going to be anything left. Would you really want to see a filly like RA go sour or breakdown trying to give when she can't, kinda like a repeat of Ruffian.

06 Oct 2009 3:43 PM


    I saw the Cal Cup Classic, and though i did not see blackbair breakdown, i saw Grazen pull up and it made me sick.

06 Oct 2009 3:47 PM
Tim G

I really think it would be incredible to see Sea the Stars run in person. A little nervous about him even coming to SA though.

I've see a lot of great ones run in person and think he is something we'd all love to see.

I can only imagine how it was at the Irish Champion Stakes with an Irish horse, an Irish Trainer, Irish jockey winning in Ireland THAT is what I would have loved to have been there for. Heck I bet even Christopher Tsui was made an honorary Irishman, LOL.

06 Oct 2009 3:49 PM

carolyn rogers, Summer Bird ran a mile and a half in the Belmont, winning in only his 5th start in life!

RA has run against the boys 3 times.

06 Oct 2009 4:05 PM

Gary at Rough Creek, that's what I'm thinking, he's a seasoned horse now who loves the game...I think he'll be fine.

06 Oct 2009 4:14 PM
Brian Zipse

Another wonderful column as usual Steve.  The Classic promises to be an interesting and competitive affair, however, I think the industry needs to take a long look in the mirror in regards to getting, at the very least, America's best horses to the Breeders' Cup starting gate.

06 Oct 2009 4:34 PM
s lee

I may be in a minority here, but I'm sort of glad Sea The Stars may not come and Rachel Alexandra is not coming to the Breeders' Cup.  

Have they not done enough for one year?  Why haul "Sea" across the ocean and the continent to run another race?  He didn't just win races this year, he won glory.  How many of this year's best North American horses ran in the Arc?  Last year's?  The year before?

Personally I'm glad the owners and/or trainers are listening to the horses.  If they're tired or sore or have just had enough of the pressures of racing and training for a year, let's let next year be next year and look forward to it rather than milk another race out of a champion. These are still young horses, give them the fall and winter off to finish growing.  You can always look forward to next year - you can never get them back if you push them a race too far!

06 Oct 2009 4:48 PM

STS is world horse of the year.  RA is American horse of the year.  It is that simple.  If SB had beat her in the MUD in the Haskell, he would of had an argument.  All of this other talk is pure nonsense.  Milers win horse of the year in Europe all of the time.  RA won from 8.5 to 9.5 furlongs.  That is quite good enough given she beat males 3 times!!  STS is on another level from everyone.

06 Oct 2009 5:04 PM
Theresa S.

I love your article especially the stuff about the hamster races.  My nutty brother actually used to bet on those [before he went to Gamblers Anonymous].

I have a question.  Call me crazy but I believe all the different articles that say Summer Bird did not like the pro-ride last year.  So does anybody know about a horse that didn't like it at first but came back later and adjusted to pro-ride?

All I ever remember is hearing about horses that didn't like it and then they never won a race on it.  It seems like a surface that if they don't like it right away then forget it, they never will, but I definitely could be wrong.  I need a head start capping this race so if anybody can help me out with my question, thanks in advance.  

06 Oct 2009 5:10 PM
Betty S

Deacon, thanks for peppermint info. To those who put Rachel & Co.down for not coming----she's a baby, a 3 yr old girl winning 9 races on 8 tracks this year. Even if it wasn't synthetic she deserves a rest.  BTW I am also a fan of both birds as well but for me there's just one Rachel.

06 Oct 2009 5:35 PM
Karen in Indiana

Irish, thanks. I didn't see him, but the commentators were talking about him during the Japan races earlier this year.

06 Oct 2009 5:36 PM
carolyn rogers

da3Hoss, I for one have no complaint with Summer  bird. I have admired him from the start, and am so happy for Tim Ice. I also am proud of JJ for giving RA the rest of the year off.I am saying I think STS is the top horse in the world now. Did you watch his Arc race? if not, watch it on youtube. Then tell me what you think.

06 Oct 2009 5:36 PM
Mike Relva


Steve was on point regarding his opinion that STS and RA are the best in thirty yrs. Tell me,what more can RA do to convince you? She's one for the ages.

06 Oct 2009 6:10 PM

I have been lucky to see STS run three times in the Derby, Eclipse and Arc. He is pretty awesome in every way- confirmation, size, temperament, pedigree, speed, stamina. I have seen some great horses in my time but I put him top of the list. I think in a way it is a shame you won't get to see him, but the general opinion over here is that he has nothing left to prove and should be retired. Nijinsky didn't have a Breeders Cup to run in in 1970 so I don't think STS needs to either. He is valued at around £100million now so why risk him.

06 Oct 2009 6:26 PM

hi steve, great article like alway you capture my mind with your writing and make whant to travel to california to see the classic. i have the pleasure of watching SB win the belmont, travers and JCGC live and he have become one of my all time favorites and think he may have a shot at the classic if he wins he'll do something easy goer was not able to do. I also like quality road and think he and colonel john are the horse to keep and i in the classic, i'm 100% sure we win this year classic regardless of who shows up from europe. also steve can you tell me what is the update with Pyro.

06 Oct 2009 7:12 PM

Karen, if you have TVG they are repeatedly broadcasting their 10-year anniversary show.  In it they have a segment about Deep Impact.  It's short but you can get an idea of how spectacular he was on the track.

He was sired by our very own Sunday Silence.  The mom was no slouch either, an Irish winner.    

06 Oct 2009 7:14 PM

I want sea the stars to go to santa anita. and I don't think the book is entirely closed on that one. he might come yet. and fans of rip van winkle and mastercraftsman, you have to remember just how totally superior sts is to other european horses. we have one superstar. I may be wrong but I doubt we have three or four.

can I ask a question about the odds on the bc classic. fistly, do you have any yet? we already have and here are a few: 5/2 rvw, 6-1 zenyatta, summer bird, 12-1 mastercraftsman, quality road, richards kid, 16-1 regal ransom, rail trip, 20-1 gio, mine that bird, einatein, tiago, 25+ potn, colonel john, well armed, musket man, macho again.

sts is hot favourite with a run. any odds differ vastly from the us odds? who would you stick your cash on at those prices?

06 Oct 2009 7:18 PM


Isn't it amazing how many people think Rachel is just a good filly and nothing special?  Always there are complaints about the weights, always.  Those weights were set to make fillies and colts equal, just like a handicap.  MTB would have beat her at equal weights.  I don't think so.  She ran one hell of a race in the Preakness having taken the lead early and set fast fractions.  MTB didn't start running until the last 1/3 of the race.  She ran her heart out in that race, as she does in every race.  She is something very special.  I don't know what else she has to do to prove that.  We are lucky to have her in racing and able to witness her.  People get very passionate against a horse they don't like.

06 Oct 2009 7:20 PM

Karen2 I am with you 100% when I read what gregg said I thought here we go again.  I have never seen any 3 year old male or female put together a better year than Rachel did this year.  I am still amazed that some don't see it or believe it but no matter what they say it doesn't change my mind or the joy I have had watching her all year long.  Rachel Alexandra 2009 HOY.

06 Oct 2009 7:32 PM

Betty S- not sure what a peppermint comment is but I was just given an opinion which what I thought we were able to do in these blogs. Horse racing and pari mutual windows go hand in hand, its always about opinions. That is what makes this interesting.

Steve, I understood the question but I threw in some all time greats to show how special I think Sea the Stars is. I used Dubai Millenium, Ouiga Board and Zarkava and they are within the 10 year period. The Euro's always seem to come up with some pretty good ones each and every year. You can throw in Sahkee, Montjieu, Gallileo, and a slew of others. My pick in the classic is Gio Ponti with Summer Bird finishing 2nd. Rip Van Winkle is kind of a mystery to me at this point...........

06 Oct 2009 7:36 PM

steve haskin

I certainly wouldn't argue with your list of great european horses there but if you are going back 40 years, surely mill reef, 2nd now behind sea the stars. and an honorary mention for rheingold, the easiest winner of the arc I have ever seen. a much underrated horse. shat all over allez france that day, won as easily as sea bird really. but that's soft groud for you.  

06 Oct 2009 7:56 PM
Tim G

Irish, that broadcast of Deep Impact (I have it recorded somewhere) what a horse!The crowd is wild at those races too.

Gary, didn't Rachel have an 8 pound advantage on Macho Again in the Woodward?

Most will tell you it makes a huge difference,  I heard Kiaran say that you take a great filly like her and then give her an 8 lb advantage and she'd be even tougher to beat.

06 Oct 2009 7:58 PM
Betty S

oops,sorry, it was Steve not Deacon who answered the peppermint question for me. Thank you, Steve, and Deacon too for alerting me.

06 Oct 2009 8:08 PM

Monica V,

    I fear the only way for ppl to actually admit that RA is a great filly is for her to go in a time warp and be not only all the greatest fillies, but Man o War, Bid, Citation and Sec. That would be the only way, which that is how you tell the radicals from those who know how to reason.

06 Oct 2009 8:12 PM


I would bet large on GIO W/P/S at those odds.  He will be much lower if he goes.  

06 Oct 2009 8:32 PM

For all those touting the Europeans in the BC Turf…..check this Interesting information I picked up on another site.  No Arc winner out of the 11 that have tried have ever won A BREEDERS CUP RACE:

• 1983 – All Along (2nd BC Turf 1984)

• 1986 – Dancing Brave (4th BC Turf 1986)

• 1987 – Trempolino (2nd BC Turf 1987)

• 1990 – Saumarez (5th BC Turf 1990)

• 1992 – Subotica (5th BC Turf 1992)

• 1995 – Carnegie (3RD BC Turf 1995)

• 1999 – Montjeu (7th BC Turf 2000)

• 2001 – Sakhee (2nd BC Classic 2001)

• 2004 – Bago (4th BC Turf 2005)

• 2005 – Hurricane Run (6th BC Turf 2006)

• 2007 – Dylan Thomas (5th BC Turf 2007)

However, some Arc contenders (not Arc winners) have fared much better:

• 1990 – In The Wings (4th Arc – 1st BC Turf 1990)

• 1991 - Miss Alleged – (11th Arc – 1st BC Turf 1991)

• 1992 - Arcangues – (Upl Arc – 1st BC Classic 1993)

• 1996 – Pilsudski (2nd Arc – 1st BC Turf 1996)

• 1999 – Fantastic Light (Unpl Arc – 1st BC Turf 2001)

• 1999 – Daylami (9th Arc – 1st BC Turf 1999)

• 2002 – High Chaparral (3rd Arc – 1st BC Turf 2002)

• 2002 – Islington (5th Arc – 1st F&M Turf 2003)

• 2003 – High Chaparral (3rd Arc – 1st BC Turf 2003)

• 2004 - Ouija Board (3rd Arc – 1st F&M Turf 2004)

• 2005 – Shirocco – (4th Arc – 1st BC Turf)

06 Oct 2009 8:51 PM
John T.

 Sea The Stars proved in the Arc that he is a 3 year old colt for the ages.If you notice in all his group 1 wins this year he never get,s pushed to the limit so we don,t even know how good he really is.It,s just like his trainer John Oxx said he was,nt anxious throughout the race because Mick

Kinane knows this horse has an extra gear.No decision has been made to the public yet about the Breeders Cup or if he will race as a 4 year old something I would like

to see as this horse improves an awful lot with every race.But horses as good as this one are usually hustled off to the breeding

shed after their 3 year old campaign so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed.

06 Oct 2009 9:33 PM
Paula Higgins

I don't think for one minute STS is coming here. He needs a rest, they have nothing left to prove (literally), and he is worth too much for breeding. He is magnificent and the Arc was breathtaking. I have watched it 5 times. But if he DID come to Santa Anita, it is not a given he would win. Anything can happen in horse racing and often does.

Great American horses of the 20th century stand up to horses anywhere. The list of greats in America beats the list of greats in Europe anytime. STS is one for the ages, but he cannot be compared to Secretariat, Man O'War and Citation. America is not second to Europe in racing, or anything else for that matter.

06 Oct 2009 10:02 PM
Matthew W

Noticed Shirreffs was overrulled by Wygod--Life Is Sweet will go against Zenyatta at Santa anita this weekend--Life Is Sweet loves the track--was very impressive there---if she gets the jump on Big Z it will be interesting---

06 Oct 2009 10:03 PM

Monica, Dray and LDP...How do we get people to respect this filly? I guess it confuses me as facts are very difficult to argue with. I get tired of hearing "well, he almost beat her??" Really??? give me a break... Almost doesn't count in horse racing. It's who crosses the line first.  The weight factor is so regurgitated already. It's just an excuse for people not to recognize her greatness. I mean, how can someone claim to be a fan and then just dismiss her? The girl gives you goose bumps when she runs. Rachel Alexandra is one of the greatest filly's to ever set foot on a race track.. there I said it...and I believe it wholeheartedly. She deserves HOY.

06 Oct 2009 10:06 PM
Matthew W

I love Blind Luck in the Breeders Cup Juvi-filly---not sure Hollendorfer has popped his cherry in the Cup but I think he will this year! From bargain yearling to maiden claimer to Oak Leaf to Breeders Cup! She's for real, I think she's the best filly and look for more, much more, from Blind Luck....

06 Oct 2009 10:16 PM
Mike Relva


I must be one of those that "reasons" cause I,too think RA totally deserves HOY.

06 Oct 2009 10:27 PM
marcia f

as usual, i look forward to reading your columns - i feel the Breeder's Cup races are fast becoming a "crap shoot" - anything can happen and usually does!

06 Oct 2009 11:12 PM
Matthew W

Paula Higgins Right you are! Euro greats seldom go past three and America has Man O War, Citation, Secretariat and Bid---nothing over there would beat those in the Ky Derby so c' 1 1/2 turf/or a turf mile, they are way beyond the USA...I'm sure Lure and John Henry could compete but usually their best beats our best--and it looks like we're getting some more of their A-Teamers this year....But don't give me these one year wonders--SO MANY DON'T make it as a four year old---Alydar, Easy Goer, Sunday Silence, Key To the Mint---TOP three year olds who weren't top four year olds....Europe has a lot of one season wonder horses, I'll take an Affirmed/Bid exacta box!!!

06 Oct 2009 11:19 PM
Tim G

I'm really curious to see when the decisions will start being made who is coming and who is running in which race.

Mine That Bird, apparently had a good work, lets see how the Goodwood goes. Zenyatta? After the Lady's Secret, Summer Bird if he shows an affinity for the synthetics after maturning and having a few races under his belt.

Hoping like heck they figure out what is up with the track before people have to start making the decisions.

But we KNOW Rachel isn't coming and regardless of how great she's been this year I really wish we'd move on to what MIGHT happen in the Classic and the rest of the Breeders Cup. We KNOW absolutiely and for certain that she isn't happening there and the HOY subject has been hashed and rehashed.

07 Oct 2009 12:07 AM

I forgot that you can't bring up criticisms about RA.  But, I keep hearing how MTB is just a gr 2 or 3 horse, about how little rest RA had before the Preakness.  But MTB only had two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness.   If he is a mediocre horse how did he get so close to "One for the ages"?  And if you really can't see the difference between RA's competition this year and STS competition then you don't really want facts.  And, for that matter, the competition that Zarkava and Goldikova faced last year blows RA's competition out of the water.  And Goldikova only became a "monster" when she was out of Zarkava's shadow.  But as Dray would say, they are only European turf horses.

Vince- Rheingold was a hot horse and underrated.

Dray- yes I do like the European horses, but I was raised on Graustark, Buckpasser, Damascus, Dr Fager, Gun Bow, Ancient Title, Ack Ack, Majestic Prince, Arts and Letters, Fort Marcy, etc.  I guess I was spoiled.  That's why I have such a hard time calling some of these horses ones for the ages and great because some on this list would be considered just very good..  But I've been told I can't compare different eras either.  Can't criticize Rachel's campaign nor Rachel's competition and can't compare eras.  And I must discount european horses because they only run on turf and don't come here to compete on the dirt.

I think I've got the rules down.  I won't forget them again.

07 Oct 2009 12:35 AM

pNewmarket- As I've said before, Europeans love when American horses go over to race.  The were thrilled with Wesley Ward and the fact that he won!  I've also noticed that the turf writers always say encouraging things even if the US horse finishes last.  I don't know if we have the same spirit.  I would hope so.

07 Oct 2009 12:51 AM

Paula, that is a strange comment to make and, forgive me, a little arrogant.

Can you honestly put your hand on your heart and say that no European horse - raced on nothing but hay oats and water- can compare to a US horse pumped up on steroids and raced on a cocktail of drugs?!

Of course great horses have come out if the US, but to say they are all superior to European horses is daft, as well as factually inaccurate!

Look at horses like Sea Bird, Ribot, Mill Reef, Dancing Brave, Brigadier Gerard and Dubai Millennium and tell me the US has produced better.

Sea the Stars is the best horse currently racing, in the world, and certainly the best horse I have seen in my 28 years on this planet.

We should all accept that good, and great, horses can come from anywhere and not make sweeping statements.

07 Oct 2009 3:40 AM
Dennis from Ohio

Breeders Cup? I may watch Zenyatta's race to see if she gets beat or breaks down. I am guessing they will have the plastic surface polished super smooth and slippery.

Any horse running will be exposed to the hidden dangers beneath that rubber/plastic mix. And the results are a crap shoot.

European horses will dominate the top spots just like last year. Guessing is the only tool that handicappers have. Too many surface disparities for any reliable number comparisons. Some will guess right (Grandma and her hatpin) and most will guess wrong.

I will offer odds that plastic will wait a long time before being granted the Breeders Cup again.

What am I thinking? LMAO... This is American horse racing. If it is stupid and anti-fan, then of course it will be the choice made by the many, many powers-that-be...

I withdraw my odds. I would like a couple of squares on the board for the complete demise of racing... Can't wait for the 2 yr old 1st time $1,200 maiden claimers to dominate the schedules at tracks like Saratoga, Belmont, Churchill, Hollywood (wait, they are done already) etc...

Anyone up for a game of Holdem No Limit?

Later, race fan (whoops, fans, there are 2 of you left)...

07 Oct 2009 5:50 AM
Rachel A (for real)

Matthew, that was a very offensive metaphor.


07 Oct 2009 6:58 AM

Karen: ditto

Dray: ditto

Monica: ditto

LDP: ditto

RA is as good as horse racing gets.

This year is as good as horse racing gets.

07 Oct 2009 7:03 AM

Karen2 I have seen Secretariat, Affirmed, and The Bid and all were great 3 year old horses but none of them were great undefeated horses at 3.  Rachel ran the big races beat the best females and beat the best males and did it without a blemish.  We all know how hard it is to have a 3 year old ready to run in major races each and every time.  To see a Filly do what some of the all time greats could not do makes 2009 one of the best years for racing in 30 years.

07 Oct 2009 8:15 AM

Wonderful column as usual.  However, don't you think you are being a bit ridiculous by mentioning Rachel in the same sentence as Sea The Stars?  She is a terrific filly but he is an all-time great horse period.  His accomplishments dwarf hers and the horses she has beaten are not even in the league with his competition.  I know Americans want a superstar really badly but is your superstar the type of horse that struggles to beat a very average horse like Macho Again even with the weights?

Sea The Stars is in the league with Secretariat.  Rachel Alexandra seems to be more in the Curlin type league.  Excellent but far from an immortal.

07 Oct 2009 8:32 AM

Paula, yes I noticed that! As a Z fan, LIS worries me. She is a very good horse and this is her track. Mike Smith better not fall asleep again. lol.

07 Oct 2009 9:08 AM

Paula- the statement that our great horses beats Europe's greats anytime is just not accurate.  You have no idea how good Ribot was, or Sea-Bird.  We are more familiar with our horses.  Ribot was undefeated and untested and won 2 Arcs in 14 races.  Sea-Bird is Europe's all time high weight and considered on par or better than Ribot was.  Those two alone stand above STS, and there are quite a few others who would still rank above him as well.  Why do Americans always have to make it an "I'm better than you".  There have been truly great thoroughbreds on both sides on the Atlantic.  Why can't we just praise all of them without making it a contest?

07 Oct 2009 9:16 AM

bettys -- in my experience, I've found that horses love starlight mints (only you need to unwrap them for them, haha!); also Canada mints.  I read in a book once that Seattle Slew liked Jordan almonds!!

07 Oct 2009 9:56 AM

Footlick - we love it when other nations send their horses over to compete in our big days.  As you say Wesley Ward's coverage in the Racing Post during Royal Ascot was unreal - pages and pages!

For those that are interested Jealous Again makes her debut for Godolphin on Saturday in the Cornwallis Stakes at Ascot.

In response to some other comments - it is not really fair to say that European colts don't stay in training past 3.  Have you not heard of Daylami, Fantastic Light, Dubai Millennium, Yeats, High Chaparral, Montjeu, etc?

US owners have been just as guilty of retiring their good 3yos in the recent past.

07 Oct 2009 10:02 AM

Ken ? Sea The Stars is in the league of Secretariat ? Has Sea The Stars won a single race ever on dirt ? The horse won the Arc by a length and a half good for him.  He isn't setting world records he is winning some European grass races.  He wants no part of Quality Road or Gio and will stay away from real racing in the USA.

07 Oct 2009 10:02 AM
Greg J.

Dennis from Ohio,

     "I may watch Zenyatta's race to see if she gets beat or breaks down."  Seriously?  You call yourself a fan of the sport with a remark like that?

07 Oct 2009 10:37 AM

Draynay, the best females are Zenyatta, Icon Project, Music Note, Cocoa Beach and Careless Jewel. RA didn't beat none of them!

07 Oct 2009 10:38 AM

Rachel- I had to look back and see what metaphor you were talking about.  I think he was just a little excited-lol!(sorry, I couldn't resist).  I don't think he meant to offend.  But it just shows that we all have to watch our language in what we blog, because we never know what may offend someone.

07 Oct 2009 10:39 AM

When I read comments about how MTB only ran hard for 1/3 of the Preakness I really have to scratch my head. For MTB to make up the ground he did after a not so perfect trip, and come within a length of RA... Thats running a complete race.

07 Oct 2009 10:57 AM


In defence of the US.....of the six horses you mentioned in your blog.....Dancing Brave and Mill Reef were US bred and foaled and Brigadier Gerard's only defeat was to a US bred and foaled horse (Roberto).

Maybe your statement should not be 'tell me who the US has PRODUCED that is better', but rather 'who has the US DEVELOPED that is better'.

Another exception I take.....STS might be the horse of the planet right now and I totally agree…..But if I had to make a bet between him and Secretariat at 1-1/4M or 1-1/2M on turf I would take Secretariat.  I was present at his last race, the Canadian International, and I can tell you that he was awesome.  His time for 1-5/8M on the old Woodbine turf not noted for speed was 2.41.4, 4/5ths off the track record, and he won practically eased up....His previous race, the Man o' War at Belmont at 1-1/2M was 2.24.4, breaking the track record by 3/5ths.....Even his jockey, Ron Turcotte stated that he was probably better on turf than on dirt…..When comparing his time to STS's on Sunday, he would have been 9 lengths in front.

I am in no way trying to demean STS or the other great European stars, but it seems to me that more and more the US is being ridiculed, especially since last year’s BC Classic……The Euros have a lot of momentum going for them right now, but they have had momentum in other years…..Perhaps if you read an earlier post of mine regarding Arc winners in the BC……of 11 that have tried to win a BC race, none of them has ever finished first……And you can’t say that they were tired from their Arc experience, because other Arc participants as listed in the same post have done extremely well.

You might say that STS might be the best horse racing in the world, but I would like to rephrase that and say that he is the best horse racing in the world against the top horses he has faced.  Unfortunately, he has not faced ALL THE TOP HORSES, nor has he faced them on THEIR preferred surface.  Even if he doesn’t come to the BC, I would like to see him take on the best grass horses in the Orient later in the year.

07 Oct 2009 11:19 AM


In looking back I think you can add a few more horses to your list of exceptional Euro greats. (Brigadier Gerard, etc.).....However, when stating....'Why do Americans always have to make it an "I'm better than you" statement'.....don't make it so one-sided.  There are a lot of Euro suporters on these blogs who are pretty adamant in saying they are the best.....people are just showing their passion, that's all.....Have a good day.

07 Oct 2009 11:31 AM

I think what Paula was trying to say is that American horses ( the historical) greats will stand up anywhere. America has produced what seems like more great names in history. Its not fair to assume that all American horses are running on drug cocktails either. We are just more familiar with the American greats because well...we are Americans. I don't see that Paula was disrespecting European horses. Paula, not that you need defending, I just think I understood and read your post a little different than the others. Futhermore, Sea the Stars is an incredible horse and a sight to see. From what I have read, he is receiving all the accolades he deserves. Footlick: I agree with you.....from one thoroughbred enthusiast to another... we should praise them all....

07 Oct 2009 11:42 AM

I have a question..hopefully it won't be viewed as stupid. I just wanted to get some opinions on this subject.

What actually makes a race horse European or American???? Is is strictly a horse that has been strictly trained and raced in Europe or America?  It seems to me Thoroughbred's are much like the cars we drive. Sea the Stars is called a European horse however his pedigree possesses some of the most famous American horses of all time.

07 Oct 2009 11:51 AM

Interestingly enough...I only see one American horse way back in Ribots pedigree.

07 Oct 2009 11:53 AM
Pam S.


I would hardly say RA beat the best females.  Who are they?  Did she beat Careless Jewel, Music Note, Icon Project, Zenyatta?  It is much more accurate to say she beat the best males, or at least some of them.  But best females?  That's a stretch, to say the least.  

07 Oct 2009 1:01 PM

I agree Footlick, it is ignorant of Paula to say that American horses beat the best Europeans. Of course the Americans have more of a chance to beat the Europeans if they run against each other in the US. Why don't the Americans come to the UK or France and run in our big races. It would have been fascinating to see Curlin run in the Arc a couple of years ago even though he was a dirt horse. This years Arc was worth £2.4million to the winner. Is that not enough to tempt the top US Turf horses?

07 Oct 2009 1:46 PM
carolyn rogers

Ken, you are absolutely CORRECT!!! thats all it is to it. I love our American horses, but to say any of them is better or as good as Sea The Stars, absolutely NOT. I'm not ashamed to admit that I think the Europeans are better trainers and owners/breeders too, they just are, they don't run the poor horse to exaustian just to make a name for themselves and also, they run them good enough for one or two years, not three. I can compare STS to ones as good as Secretariat because back then they treated and bred their horses as good and sound and gentle as STS. Penny Chenery said one time(Secretariats owner)that they just don't breed horses as sound now as they used too. I believe the Europeans are much better owners and trainers to their horses.  And these bloggers here, if you ain't a RA fan, they are gonna put what you say down to dirt. I know STS is a superior horse over RA, and I am not ashamed to admit it either. I am a Ra fan,but hey, the truth is the truth whether you want to admit or not.

07 Oct 2009 1:49 PM

Hey Laz- About the Arc winners, they fired their best shot and won the Arc.  Many of those others who were placed or unplaced didn't have that luxury because of the trips they had.  I do remember In the Wings people saying the Arc didn't take that much out of him because he didn't get a chance to really run his race.  Sort of like Little Current or Risen Star in the Derby.  As I've said before, the Arc is a very strenuous race to win.  Unless it's an easy win, it takes every once of strength and guts to win it.  Miss Alleged bled, probably, since there were rumors of her bleeding in Europe.  Remember she didn't run a winning race in the DC International either and that was her race after the Arc.  Then, they put her on Lasix.  And many of those others just didn't run their race for some reason or the other.  A horse who does fire their best in the Arc is usually spent.  But it really doesn't matter.  As long as Arc winners fail to reproduce their form in the race after, people will say that they just weren't as good as they were ranked, not that the race took too much out of them.  Remember that they have a rather miserable record in the Japan Cup too.  I think it's the toll of winning a grueling race, but everybody can draw their own conclusions.

07 Oct 2009 2:18 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Karen2 et. al.,

I think you are confusing "respect" for Rachel with the irrational decision to anoint her HOY after her (possibly) truncated 2009 campaign.  She is an exceptional filly, but just to make sure I wasn't losing my perspective, I went and read over my copy of The B-H's book "Greatest Racehorses of the 20th Century" once again.  

First, they hardly ever describe the campaigns of these great race horses without mentioning the weights they had to carry.  Winning giving away weight carries more respect...period.  Take a look at the race records of such truly great race mares like Ta Wee, Miesque, and All Along.  Then ask yourself...honestly...if Rachel has accomplished anything comparable yet.  Ta Wee beat males sprinting at essentially equal weights, and she beat colts giving them 19 pounds for goodness sake.  She raced all seven races as a 4 YO carrying 130 pounds or more, and she won 5 of those races.  Her last two starts were under 140 and 142 pounds respectively, and she went out a winner.  

Earlier in her career, they tried to stretch her out, and they tried her on grass.

Rachel has been fully extended two out of the three times she took on colts, and these were on relatively "fair", dry tracks.  To her great credit, she won.  But her combined margin of victory for those two races is a length and a head.  This means that, at equal weights, she would not have finished ahead of Macho Again nor would she have finished ahead of Mine That Bird.  Nor even Musket Man for that matter.  That's how horse people have to assess those victories.  She won, but not "geared down", nor "easily", nor "much the best"...she was getting caught...while fully extended...while in receipt of 5 and 8 pounds from her rivals.

I respect those gritty victories.  I've never heard anyone disrespect her or those victories.  Quite the contrary...they make too much of them in my opinion. To say that - because of those narrow victories - she is "obviously better", or even "better", than those other horses, is just not factually accurate.  Unless of course you want to throw out the entire history of handicap racing all together.  

And for those who make excuses for some horses on a wet track - like Quality Road or Macho Again - I say this..."You have a very legitimate point."  I would like to see Quality Road on a track he likes at 9 - 10 furlongs.  But in making that argument, you must then also admit that Summer Bird probably - and predictably - didn't like the Monmouth surface in The Haskell.  Again, what is legitimate for a horse you "like" is just as legitimate for a horse you may not "like".

I respect all these horses. As an owner and breeder, I know full well how hard it is to get a good one and to keep that horse happy and healthy.  But I'm also interested in the history of racing and the history of truly great horses from the past.  I don't think Rachel has done enough yet to be HOY.  She's been exceptional this year.  But her campaign has been cherry picked.  Yes she went against "older males"...who were then trounced next out by two of the better 3 YO colts. She won't go 10 furlongs against colts.  She won't go on synthetics.  She's never given away weight.  Okay, she's been "placed carefully."  That's what I call "cherry picked"!    

Horse racing is replete with examples where the best horse didn't win the race.  That's the intention of handicap racing.  The better horses are handicapped by having to carry more weight. Rachel has been the beneficiary of this system to date. She has never given away weight to her rivals.  Never.  Not so with the colts, nor with Zenyatta either.  So the fact that Rachel has won is certainly worthy of respect and admiration.  But HOY?  Please. Not yet. She didn't crush these colts.  Again, go read through the campaigns of truly great fillies and mares from the past...I'll think you'll see what I'm talking about.

Is there a truly great race horse currently?  Yep...Sea The Stars!  He has nothing else to prove. I hope he doesn't come to The Breeder's Cup though.

And I would like to see Summer Bird in the 1.5 mile Turf instead of the Classic, especially if there is any question about how he handles the synthetic.  I've seen Tim Ice express his desire to get him on the turf at some point.  I hope it's next month.

07 Oct 2009 2:20 PM

Karen2: You're right to say that "we're just more familiar with Americans" when you say "Americans have produced more great names".  You have to expand your horizons and consider thoroughbred history a bit to realize that a lot of different countries have produced great horses.  When Americans say "Man O War", for example, Australians say "Phar Lap" or "Carbine", Italians say "Ribot" or "Nearco", Brits say "Hyperion" and "St. Simon", French say "Corrida" or..... you get my drift.  Great horses are great horses no matter where they were bred, trained or raced and it's silly to yell "USA USA USA" like he-who-shall-not-be-named.

After all, without Eclipse, Herod and Matchem, we wouldn't be having these discussions ... and NONE of them were American.

p.s. I love Rachel.  I love Sea the Stars.  I would have loved to have seen them head to head.  I'm bummed that I won't.  

07 Oct 2009 2:20 PM

And Britfilly: I want a North American horse to run in the Arc.  I will say that again: I WANT A NORTH AMERICAN HORSE TO RUN IN THE ARC.

The problem is that a lot of N. Am. horses tend to be dirt (or plastics) specialists and Americans think 1 1/4 miles is a long race.

07 Oct 2009 2:22 PM

Laz- I love BG, after all one of the most dominating milers that Europe has seen.  And Roberto-who was a wonderful horse in his own right- got one of the great rides of all time by Braulio Baeza for that race. Euros still talk about that ride!   I'm not saying that Europeans don't use American bred horses.  We have the most successful breeding operations in the world.  Everywhere that there is rcing has horses that trace to US based sires.  But we used their bloodlines to establish ours.  Now there is a mix of the two.  But since Northern Dancer was Canadian, what do we owe to Canada then?  Nasrullah and Princequillo=euro?  Bold Ruler was a product of Euro bloodlines?  Northern Dancer was by a son of Nearco?  We have alot of Euro blood still in "our" horses too.  And it was the Euros who figured out that Mr Prospector"s could run on turf and go long, not us.  It's all thoroughbred and it all goes back to what I believe is that the horses action and confirmation say more about whether they are turf or dirt.  

07 Oct 2009 2:30 PM

Karen S- There are alot of variable factors in deciding whether a horse turfs, dirts or both.  Conformation and action I believe is one of the most important.  And certainly breeding plays a part, but as Laz poinyed out there have been alot of American breds going to Europe and winning.

07 Oct 2009 2:34 PM

To Paula- I thought I said inaccurate?  I apologize if I've offended you or Americans in anyway.  Europeans do have their supporters here, but they are totally outvoiced by the Americans. I do admire European horses.  And I admire American horses.  I hold them up to the standards that I have seen in my 47 yrs of following Euro and American racing.  I started when I was 8 and had the pleasure of seeing Buckpasser, Damascus and Dr Fager, Secretariat, Cigar, John Henry and others in person at Arlington Park.  I also saw films of Ribot, and Sea-Bird, Mill Reef.  I remember Sir Ivor running here in the DC International and running away from the field.  I remember Alleged winning his second Arc with just one prep race.  He only started twice that year!  I remenber Rheingold beating Allez France in her backyard in the Arc- when Allez France was a 3 yr old filly.  But I also remember falling in love with Buckpasser as he made up impossible ground in the stretch to win time after time- I remember his three year old year when he had to sit out  the TC races, and still set a world record for a mile, won 14 races in a row, won from 7 furlongs to 14 furlongs and was the first three yr old to win $1 mil dollar in at the end of his 3 yr old year.  And it was all done on bad legs that were never talked about until he was retired.  Anyone who saw Dr Fager and Damascus and Secretariat was in awe with them.  I love horse racing and I love all the horses running as we all do.  I am strict when a horse is called great because it is as much about the class of horse they are running against as it is the amount of races they win.  Gr 1 fields are not equal from year to year.  If a horse is to be considered great or one for the ages, they have to beat a calibre of horse that stands up to that.  If they don't, I'm not going to rank them such.  If I feel they can't compete with the upper echelons of past thoroughbreds, I'm going to say so.  But I love reading what everybody says and obviously I love commenting on it.  I'm sorry if anyone was offended.  I don't want to do that.

07 Oct 2009 3:06 PM

carolyn- I know how you feel, but I just don't comment anymore about her.  As to soundness, Europeans have always bred horses with stamina.  Even their sprinters have stamina in their blood.  Horses over there need more stoutness because of the way they race- uphill, downhill, undulations, soft,soft turf, etc.  The name of the game in US racing is speed.  So, for the US, they put more emphasis on speed.  The more we stand horses that ran on meds, the more we are passing bad genes on.  The breeding industry is trying to put more stamina in the US horse.  I believe thoroughbreds aren't as sound as they were.  It will take quite awhile to get it put back in but i believe they realize it and are trying to do something about it.  Germany won't stant a stallion if he has EVER taken meds on raceday- even once.  They do not think it's healthy for the breed.

07 Oct 2009 3:13 PM

Mike Relva,

    I wasn't saying anthing against you, i don't know why you'd think that. I was just stating that some ppl out there are just about as radical about certain horses as other are about religon. Those who can reason, can see that RA is a filly for the ages, and that her accomplishments, put her up with some of the greatest fillies, and some of the greatest colts. Yes she does deserve HOTY.

All those who think STS is so much better,

    For one you can't compare the two, he races in Europe on turf, and she races here on dirt. Two, she is one the most accomplished fillies in history, so i wouldn't go to say that his accomplishments dwarf hers or that he is by far her superior. Remember the radicals i talked about, thats you. Also to put STS in Sec's league, DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH! Seriously, he's great, he has earned the title best in the world now, but PLEASE, Secretariat would whip him if he dared set foot on a dirt or turf track with him.

07 Oct 2009 3:20 PM

pNewmarket- Thanks for the info on Jealous Again.  I hope she does well for them.  Both the US and Europe retire their 3 yr olds early if it is lucrative financially.  It doesn't make sense to risk them being injured.  It doesn't enhance their reputation.  Older horses in the US don't have to prove their greatness by running at 4 and carrying weight and giving away weight.  We have very few handicap races anymore.  I don't think Europe does either for their upper echelon.  So, it really doesn't make sense in a financial way.  As far as proving themselves at 4, no 4 yr old male horse runs in handicaps anymore.  So what are they really having to prove? That they can run one more year?  Azeri and Zenyatta are the last two horses I can remember who carried more that 126 in a race, but others will probably know that stat better than I.  There are too many places a US hose can race and not be penalized by weight anymore.  To me it is a loss, because that's what separated the men from the boys, and the women from the girls.  How much weight can a horse give up and still win was always the test of greatness until it became obsolete.

07 Oct 2009 3:30 PM

BritFilly- Hopefully Wesley Ward has opened up more doors.

07 Oct 2009 3:38 PM

Carolynrogers...with all due respect... I beg to differ with you. You can claim that STS is a superior horse than RA but to claim it as fact is nonsense. Basically you are stating your opinion..which is not fact. Sorry. Furthermore you can come to these blogs and not be an RA fan but I guess it depends on what you say about her. If you claim she hasn't accomplished much,or beaten much, or made history, well then are going to take some heat because then you truly are arguing with the FACTS. Europeans being better trainers, better owners, better breeders..that is all based on your opinion, not facts. Perhaps they do have admirable qualities and yes they need to be recognized. But to make the general statement they are just all better at everything they do is far to broad. Now before I get attacked, I am not putting Euorpeans down. Far from it. Like I said, I admire much of what they do and their horses. But don't mix facts with opinions.

07 Oct 2009 3:52 PM

Can anyone tell me if I researched right?  Even though he is timeform weighted at 140 this year, STS arc win was weighted at 129.  They didn't think it was one of his better races.  So maybe he is tired.  Zarkava won last year with her timeform high of 133, I believe.  She had as much trouble as STS in her Arc.  What a race that would have been if she stayed in training.  Quite a 3 yr old filly, she was.  Still, what a race for STS.  Neither he nor Zarkava ever used their highest gear.

07 Oct 2009 3:54 PM

Karen2- Ribot was an Italian bred horse.  Federico Tesio, who was a master of breeding planned the mating of his Italian Derby winner to his Italian Oaks winner I believe.  I don't think he had any American influences at all in his bloodlines.  Are you thinking Phalaris?  He is a foundation line horse, but was not American although he is in many American pedigrees.  And I believe I said earlier he won 14 races, but I correct myself- he won 16 races without defeat.  Another senility moment

07 Oct 2009 4:02 PM

RA- Lifetime 14-11-2-0

In 2009 8-8-0-0

5 grI 2 GrII 1 Ungraded Stake

STS- Lifetime 9-8-0-0

In 2009 6-6-0-0

6 grI

Proud of American Girl Power that "Runs like a girl"...

PS In the top 10 NTRA Poll, only 3 have even run 8 races...RA, SB and Swift Temper...RA 8 for 8, SB 4 for 8, ST 3 for 8.

Rachel A.

07 Oct 2009 4:03 PM

Just one more comment and I will leave it alone. Carolyn, you mention that back then they bred horses to be as "gentle" as STS. That doesn't make sense to me as Bold Ruler..Secretariat's sire, was nervous and hot tempered. Secretariat however did not possess the temperment of his sire.  I also believe I read somewhere that STS is all business on the race track but his trainer is careful not to get into "agrument's" with him at home. He probably does have a great temperament but probably not "gentle".

07 Oct 2009 4:04 PM

Wish the RA dissenters could just start their own blog and we could have a choice not to read. Are they knocking her because she has won every race this year, because she is special?  Beautiful?   Fast? If they had their own space they could just knock away and enjoy themsselves with no differing responses.

07 Oct 2009 4:39 PM

Eh, I won't miss Rachel. Rachel wouldn't be in the Classic anyways. Her wheel is about 9 furlongs and wouldn't stand a chance against top quality males. STS running on sythetic would be very interesting.

07 Oct 2009 4:44 PM

Personally, I define a horse by where he/she is trained not bred.

If you get down to basics the TB was a breed created in England using Arab stallions and English mares - bur no one makes the silly claim that all TBs are therefore English!

Everyone has a right to an opinion and that is what is wonderful about a blog like this - I am naturally biased towards European horses because I am English and I know more about horses of recent years as I only started taking an interest in racing 10 years ago. However, I take the time to educate myself about the history of this great game and I'd be stupid to say a horse like Secretariat was ordinary!

Returning to StS I haven't read any reports about him being difficult. Everyone seems to say he is the perfect horse - handsome, conformationaly correct, easy to train and easy to handle.

To watch him on Arc day you'd think he was having a stroll around the yard at home - he was so laid back and took everything in his stride: even the crowd cheering and applauding him INTO the paddock.

In answer to another question, the days of top horses running in handicaps are long gone. However mist group 1 horses will carry a penalty in any race other than a Group 1, and the Weight For Age adjustment (forgive me I don't know if you have something similar in the US) means an older horse will carry more than a 3yo in any race.

07 Oct 2009 5:00 PM

LDP-I agree with you.  I don't believe STS is in the same league as Secretariat.  There are some Euros from the past who are and would give him the race of his life, but although I feel STS is one of the best in awhile, I feel Secretariat was better.  But remember that Secretariat wasn't perfect.  He got beat by Angle Light, Onion and Prove Out.  I have felt that he had a nagging physical problem that made him run sub par sometimes, but in those days nobody talked about it or used it as an excuse.  Maybe someone can tell me if it is true.

STS has done everything right this year and is a very exciting horse.  But I would say that my feeling is that he's just a notch below Secretariat.  Now Ribot and Sea-Bird would be a different story, I feel.  I would rank them equal to him, Sea-Bird because of his brilliance and Ribot because he was untested and undefeated against the highest class competition.  I could see a blanket finish there.  But of course, I don't really see any of them beating Man O War.  Just too massive and too good.  He lost to Upset because the starter dropped the ribbon before Man O War was ready, but otherwise was just simply too much for anything he ran against.  Just my opinion though.  But now that I think it over, I would bet Ribot would find another level and be right there with him.  Then Secretariat and Sea-Bird just behind.  My fantasy race.  A healthy Buckpasser would be right there at the finish too.  

07 Oct 2009 5:12 PM

Karen2 I have been all over Europe and I can assure you they don't do ANYTHING better than we do.  The fact is I have never seen a Champion Turf horse switch and then dominate on dirt.  I have seen Champion dirt horses dominate on turf.  STS is a great turf horse but wouldn't stand a chance on dirt vs. Rachel.  The trainers wouldn't even TRY to run him on dirt.  Anyone comparing STS to Secretariat is just plain silly.

07 Oct 2009 5:28 PM


STS got a 132 rating in the ARC

07 Oct 2009 5:30 PM

MonicaV, I just skipped down here after reading your post of 10-6 7:20pm to comment on something.  You said MTB didn't even start running until the last third of the race - well, that is his style and really shouldn't be stated as something negative.  He didn't start running til the end of the Derby either - and that was as exciting a run as I've ever seen.  Really, for starting the last third of the race he did an amazing job against Rachel, who I do believe is a super filly.  It just shows how good MTB is that he was closing on her.  I think it's worthless to speculate whether or not he'd have caught her, because he didn't but I think it's important to note that it is his style to turn on late and there is nothing wrong with that.  Now I'll go back and read some more posts.

07 Oct 2009 5:46 PM

Horses are not American, European or anything else.  They are all related as they all come from the 3 foundation stallions back in the 18th Century.  The difference is training and WHERE THEY RACE!!  Shipping horses all over the world is way hard on the horse.  It really isn't practical or safe to fly them those distances often.  A great horse is a great horse no matter where he runs.  They are all deserving of respect.  However, if I were a trainer/owner I would chose to send a horse to run on grass rather than plastic.  No matter how much I'd love to see Sea the Stars, I think, he, like Rachel, deserves a rest; not the stress of a long flight and running on plastic.

07 Oct 2009 6:19 PM
Paula Higgins

To all the Euros here (pNewmarket, Footlick?) let me just say I have a ton of respect for your horses. I am not offended by anyone's opinion.  Not to worry. I agree wholeheartedly, STS IS drop dead magnificent. If he ran in the BCC he would probably win. However, in any race, anything can happen. I think we can all agree on that. That's why when Rachel runs I still hold my breath. If STS ran another season, and had a similar season to this one, I would put him up there with my immortals (Secretariat, Man O'War, and Citation). There is just no way he is in their league without at least another season under his belt to confirm it. Is the potential there? Absolutely, no argument. As for spectacular American horses in recent memory, how about Spectacular Bid? I would put him up there with any horse coming out of Europe in the past 30 years. Sometimes I think the Euros tend to forget the incredible American horses of the 20th century, which is a shame. As for the 21st century, Rachel is very special and may be the best 3 year old filly in the past 100 years, Euro or American. But I will tell you this, I think the Euros treat their horses beautifully and have a standard we have yet to meet in the U.S.

Footlick, I agree that you have to look at the context a horse runs in to determine greatness i.e is he running against a tough field of competitors. But sometimes things are self evident and it smacks you in the face. For example, STS and Rachel Alexandra are truly great horses. Would STS beat Rachel if he ran against her? Probably. But would STS have beaten Secretariat, Citation or Man O'War? Never. It doesn't mean they aren't both great horses. They are.

Karen2, thank you for defending my remarks. You were spot on and reflected my viewpoint very well. ITA with you about Rachel. She is one for the ages and for those that don't get it, well I think they have blinkers on LOL. I love Zenyatta as well and think she was and is capable of winning even tougher races against the boys.

07 Oct 2009 6:39 PM

cardiganjack, you know what?  This blog did not start out being about Rachel Alexandra at all, but some of those who love her feel like it's all or nothing as far as she's concerned, therefore many of the comments have sadly degenerated to bashing anyone who isn't automatically giving her HOY, not that we even get a vote.  One of the reasons I love coming back to Steve's blogs to read the comments is because I can usually learn from many of the commenters who have more knowledge of racing than I do.  When the comments just continue to spiral downward into arguing - again - over how Rachel Alexandra is the greatest horse on earth if you don't agree, you're wrong and an evil person, well, it's just not right.  Don't get me wrong, I have loved watching Rachel Alexandra's races this year and believe she is definitely a fantastic filly.  I'm looking forward to her racing next year and then hopefully the beautiful, talented foals she will produce.  However, liking her does not prevent me from admiring, respecting and loving other horses racing now either.  There is room in my heart for all of them!

07 Oct 2009 7:04 PM


I like your fantasy race and yes Buckpaser was one of the best and certainly one of my favorites also.....I do think that Secretariat, if raced exclusively on grass might have been an even bigger monster than he has already proven to be and would hit the wire no worse than nose to nose with any of the great grass horses throughout history.....His last two races were on grass, the Man o' War and the Can. Int.  In each his time was not only superb, he won them with ridiclous ease, the MOW by 5-L after wiring the field and the Int. by a geared down 6-1/2L after coming from off the pace and opening up a 12-L lead turning into the stretch.....It would be interesting to know what his Time Form rating would be.

07 Oct 2009 7:20 PM

Laz- thanks for the TF rating.  Too bad Zarkava didn't run as a 4 yr old.

Paula- I am trying not to comment on her, but Zarkava's Arc rating was a 133.  As Laz just said, STS's was 132.  Neither of them were all out to do it.  The class of horses Zarkava beat throughout her two years of racing is higher, as well as was Goldikova's.  Goldikova couldn't warm Zarkava up the two times they met.  The both beat top class older horses.  Goldikova came pover here and won the Breeder's Cup Mile.  She was called a monster.  What does that make Zarkava?  I'm just trying to put things in context.  These were two high class three year old fillies running at the highest class of racing and winning against the highest class older males.  That's all I'm saying.  I hope RA runs next year and proves me wrong.  I will be more than happy to acknowledge her.  But if you look at the facts as they are, the two European fillies had stronger seasons.  That's all I'm saying.  STS has also had a stronger season.

07 Oct 2009 7:51 PM

Ta Wee, All Along are not up for HOY this year. . . . and greatest filly of all time does not equal HOY (which isn't to say that they could not be the same horse).  Rachel has to be compared to 2 other horses in the voting for this award.  She only has to beat the horse in second place to be HOY.

07 Oct 2009 9:10 PM

Footlick - Curlin carried 128 in the Stephen Foster.  It had been quite a few years (90s)  since a horse had been assigned that much weight in a Grade 1.

In my opinion, the Stephen Foster was Curlin's last "happy" race.

07 Oct 2009 9:17 PM


It’s interesting to note that Secretariat might have been in the top two or three greatest grass horses of all time.....His last two career races were on the grass, but they were actually his third and fourth races in a 43 day span, all tough and long:

• Sept 15 - Marlboro Inv (1-1/8M) (NTR 1.45.2)

• Sept 29 – Woodward (1-1/2M back then) (2.25.4 Sly)

• Oct 8   - The Man o’ War (1-1/2M) (NTR 2.24.4)

• Oct 28 – Canadian Int’l (1-5/8M) (2.42.4)

The Arc is definitely a tough race, however, four of the Arc winners that competed in BC races, did so the year AFTER they won the Arc and the best they could do was a 2nd place finish in the BC Turf (All Along).

One thing that stands out  to me is the European passion for stamina, which to me is what racing should be all about…..However, when it comes to stamina I think that Secretariat wrote the book on it.

I still think it would be really interesting if there was a Time Form rating for him.  I know that Andy Beyer gave Secretariat a mythical 139 Beyer for his Belmont Stakes.  I also read somewhere that the Timeform people say to add 12 to 14 points to the Beyer rating to get a close equivalent of the Timeform rating method.  If we follow this method then Secretariat would have received approximately a 151 to 153 rating for his Belmont win.  Conversely, the best Timeform rated horse, Sea-Bird (145) would have been given a Beyer somewhere in the 133 to 131 range……This could also put STS 132 rated Arc into a 120 to 118 Beyer rating range, and Rachel Alenander's Haskell Beyer of 116 in the 128 to 130 Timeform range.

This of course is all hypothetical.  I'm also comparing dirt to turf and turf to dirt ratings.  However it's interesting.

07 Oct 2009 9:24 PM

Mark me down as an American who thinks that any list (let's say top 25) of great horses has to include not only Secretariat (who I think put in the superlative performance on a race track of all time), Citation, Man O War, Dr. Fager, Seattle Slew, Count Fleet, Kelso, Forego, Swaps, Spectacular Bid, Native Dancer and some other greats I won't list for the sake of space, but it would also have to include Sea Bird, Phar Lap, Ribot, Brigadier Gerard, Mill Reef, Nijinsky, Bayardo, Dancing Brave, Shergar and now Sea the Stars.  I wouldn't say that our list beats their list hands down.  If you took the two lists I just gave, you would have to insert some of the European horses (and Phar Lap) pretty close to the top.  Just for fun I'll put my top ten as Citation, Secretariat, Sea Bird, Phar Lap, Man O War, Ribot, Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Dr. Fager and CountFleetSeattleSlewKelsoForegoSpectacularBidNijinskyDancingBrave.  OK, so I cheated on the last one.  For those who love both American and non-American racing, what are your lists?  

07 Oct 2009 9:54 PM
Paula Higgins

Footlick, you are right, Zarkava is certainly in the running for best filly in the past 100 years. Sorry, forgot all about her. She is a monster and that is one horse I wish we had seen over here last year, along with STS this year.

Britfilly, I may be "ignorant" from your perspective, but you are darned rude from mine.

07 Oct 2009 10:07 PM


    Ta Wee was a sprinter, and fillies sprinting against colts normally have a better record than those routing against them which RA has done three times. Horses these days just don't carry weights any more, heck 129 is thought to be a heavy impost. All Along, I'm pretty sure was older as in an older female when she was most famous, I might be wrong. I also thought Miesque was a turf horse too, I think. Rachel routes, she does dirt, and is only three this year. If you can show me another three year old filly that has done what she has done in the last thirty years, fine. Otherwise your point holds no water. Also you want "cherry picked" look at Zenyatta, Music Note, or Careless Jewl. You all slam Macho for not showing up in the JCGC. Well for one he had just won the Stephen Foster, ran second in the Whitney, and then runs the race of his life in the Woodward. He was due to bounce, which is what he did, plus the horse doesn't like any distance over 9.5 furlongs. So in the Woodward she beat him at his best distance in the best form of his career, when she was starting to tail off from a heavy season. Do also notice that Summer Bird, a horse she beat won the JCGC? She beat him in mud aswell, which he seems to like. Plus he too ran the best race of his career against her, i belive a 111 beyer. If you want to say he was taken out of his demention, your going against facts, since he has run his best races while stalking the pace, two 109's and a 111. She beat MTB, who in the Preakness was just as fresh as herself and again was in fantastic form. These races aren't cherry picked, and she has beaten quite a few quality horses.

07 Oct 2009 10:18 PM

Kay- thanks for that info.  I did forget that Curlin carried weight also.  I give kudos to any horse tht dows that in this day and age.

Laz- thanks again.  I know that Secretariat ran amazing turf races.  But as I've said, the European track is a much more difficult 12 furlongs.  I think Secretariat could easily have competed with the best ever in Europe, but you can't compare his theoretical number in the Belmont with an Arc number because the courses are so dissimilar.  Timeform rates a horse against his the horses that  they are running against and against the best that they've ever seen.  It's not comparing raw time and track variations.  That's why you really can't adjust one to another.  If you believe Beyer figures are accurate then you will believe them.  That's why any horse at any goiven time can run a big Beyer.  I will not go into what I think of RA's Beyer in the Haskell.  Nor will I compare it to timeform numbers, even though Zarkava's 133 is still higher (sorry, I just had to say that).  That's why I go by what horses run against too and what they beat- not just the age but also the class.  As I said, I hope she can change my mind next year.  But, I will compare Beyers to Beyers, or Thorograph or Ragozin.  But you can't compare races run at tracks in North America to races run at tracks in Europe.  Secretariat could run with any horse that has ever lived- but I wouldn't ever count Ribot or Sea-Bird out of any race at any distance.  And of course Man O War who was probably the best of them all.

07 Oct 2009 10:57 PM

Laz- as to the Arc winners who ran in the BC the year after they won the Arc, were they in the same form or were they not as good?  Was All Along as good the year after she won the Arc?  Wasn't she our champion the year she won the Arc?  Montjeu was a wonderful horse, but what was he rated as compared to his Arc year?  The same with Hurricane Run.  I won't mention Bago as he was a surprise Arc winner and was probably in the same form that he was in the Arc which was second tier.  BTW, it's always good discussing things with you and it keeps me coming back.  Thanks

07 Oct 2009 11:15 PM
Karen in Indiana

txhorsefan, you are a true horse fan. Appreciate each horse for who and what it is - each of them special in their own way.

Anyway, I think the Goodwood is shaping up to be a much more competitive race than the Jockey Club Gold Cup was. A case can be amde for every horse in the race.

07 Oct 2009 11:22 PM

Lazmannick for the record Secretariat on dirt lost half his races at 1 1/2 and lost half at 1 1/8th.  On dirt her won more at a mile or less than he did over a mile.

07 Oct 2009 11:36 PM
carolyn rogers

Let me get you folks straight. I for one am a RA fan, but I'm not going to be bashed by some of you just because I think STS is better than RA. The fact is RA would not beat STS on turf at a mile and a half, she can only go what 10 furlongs tops. Silly of you who bash others for their opinion when she can't race further than what she has so far. I didn't say STS was better than Secretariat and Rachael doesn't compare to him either, RA couldn't have won the Belmont I don't care how good she is on dirt. She is not up there with Secretariat . Quit bashing others for their opinion, if you can't blog normally without bashing, then quit blogging . I know some of you from other blogs and you bash on everyone of them too. I am a RA fan but I will say it again, STS is a better horse than RA, because he can win at a mile and a half and she can't, had Macho had one more furlong he would have had RA. If RA would have run in the ARC, who thinks she would have beat STS, NO One does.I guess thats why JJ did not put her in any race further than what he did.   I think STS would do great at the BCC this year, even after his win in the Arc.

08 Oct 2009 4:03 AM

Yes carolyn rogers most will agree with you that STS is a better TURF horse than Rachel.  But most will also agree that if they were to meet on the dirt at Belmont Rachel would win by 5 or more.  What bothers me is when people try to compare STS to Secretariat who proved himself on Turf and Dirt.  STS will never step foot on dirt and until he does he is just a great Euro turf horse.  If he wants to prove himself to be all that come take on our best Gio.  If not than whoopee he is a great Euro good for him.

08 Oct 2009 10:10 AM

Paula- thanks for the acknowledgement of Zarkava. She was a very special horse, won her races with ease.  When they asked Soumillon if he ever gets worried that she is dropping too far out of it, he said that when you are on a filly as good as she is you never worry.

LDP-yes, All along ws a 4 yr old when she won the Arc.  Miesque, on the other hand, was a 3 yr old when she won her first Breeder's Cup mile.  I have mentioned that Zarkava and Goldikova both had more impressive 3 yr old campaigns, beat higher class horses, beat older fillies, mares and colts.  But if they don't count, because their accomplishments were achieved on the turf, I understand even though they overshadow RA's season.  Macho Again, whether anybody likes it or not, is not a world beater.  Didn't he win the Stephen Foster over Einstein on the dirt?  And wasn't Asiatic Boy a close third?  That is Einstein's worst surface.  And Macho Again couldn't beat Bullsbay in the Whitney.  If everybody says MTB isn't a true Gr 1 animal, why is Macho Again?  And pointing out his weaknesses doesn't make RA's race look better.  She ran a great race against a substandard field.  As far as great 3 yr old fillies in the last 30 years, you would be right that none of them won a Woodward, but then they may have tried if the field was the same caliber.  I just "cherry picked"-lol-just had to use the phrase- some names.  Davona Dale, Genuine Risk, Mom's Command, Winning Colors, Go for Wand, Dance Smartley and Serena's Song.  I'm not saying they are better than RA, but I can't say that she's better than all of them.  And if anyone is being honest, you can't either.  And just so everyone knows, every owner and trainer hand picks the spots.  There is nothing wrong with the path that Jess Jackson laid out for RA and there is nothing wrong with the path

that Shirreffs and Moss picked out for Zenyatta.  No matter what the field, the Woodward was not easy for RA to win obviously.  No matter what we think of the field it was a great effort for her to win.  Conversly, it wasn't easy for Zenyatta to spot a field 12-15 lbs, nor was it easy for her to win spotting the field 13 length and closing from that far back against a 1:13 and change 6 furlong split in an 8.5 furlong race.  And horses don't ever close in 22 and change on the Del Mar surface-ever.

I believe if people are going to make the claim that RA is one for the ages, then she has to be compared to Zarkava and Goldikova and Miesque and Salsabil as well as dirt 3 yr old fillies.  If you are going to say she is one of the better fillies in the last 30 years, I will agree.  But I know that I will be told that we can't compare her to turf fillies.   Oh well.

I'll be waiting for the onslaught.  ?Thanks for the always lively and passionate discussions LDP

08 Oct 2009 10:10 AM

Carolyn- I've gone through this already.  You haven't bashed any horse, just as I don't bash any horse.  But some people get really excited, for lack of a better word, if you say something that isn't as supportive of their horse as they would like.  You are correct in stating that STS is more accomplished than RA.  He has raced against a higher caliber of horse and won from 8-12 furlongs this year. And very few horses in the history of horse racing can compare to Secretariat and we ll know it.  I have never bashed RA, but the reactions I've gotten have made me not comment on her, with the exception of the post previous to this-oops.  But we all think she is a wonderful horse.  STS is more accomplished this year.  Last year Zarkava and Goldikova were more accomplished.  But RA has a fan base that is extremely protective of her and they feel they have to fight for her.  DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY!  I had to learn that.  I love racing, and I am more drawn to European racing.  But the blogs are lively and can be eventful.  Don't get discouraged.  I'm always surprised when something I blog gets a flurry of responses because I don't think I ever say something that contentious.  But it's all fun.  Please continue to blog and look at it for what it is!

08 Oct 2009 10:26 AM

People who are not satisfied with what RA did this year as a 3 year old filly e.g. 8/8 wins, 7 tracks, dirt and mud, all stakes, 5 Grade 1's, 3 GR1 stakes records (one while being eased in a 20 length win), one Triple Crown race she won from the 13th post which no one had ever done, destroying her peer group, beating the colts twice in her age group, including the fastest winning mud and fastest closing quarter since Secretariat Derby winner plus the Belmont winner by 6 lengths (second largest Haskell winning margin) and winning a Grade 1 race in testing fractions against older males while pressed the entire way...will NEVER be satisfied.

08 Oct 2009 10:28 AM

Secretation- Top 10 would be tough, because everytime someone would mention a horse that I didn't I would say-oh yeah.  Thanks for including Count Fleet- a truly fast and amazing animal.  I would include Buckpasser on that list.  And I don't know how we could put Dr Fager on without his rival Damascus.  And I'm sure others mentioning horses will spark more from me.

Dray- I know you love the Bid, and I wish they would have run the Bid on the turf.  He was a great 3 yr old, but he was the perfect racehorse at 4.  Just brilliant.  That year justified Bud Delp's statement that he thought the Bid was the best horse ever to look through a bridle.  The horse gave me chills at 4.  He was exciting at 3, but otherworldly at 4.

08 Oct 2009 10:42 AM


Give it a break with the Secretariat bashing….He lost fair and square though it was his second tough race in 14 days.  No one could figure out why he ran a clinker (for him).  It was an anomaly…..However, Prove Out was very good then as he came back and won the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 2-M in his next race.  Secretariat came back in his next race and won the Man o’ War (also at 1-1/2M) in 9 days and ran in 2.24.4.

Your analogy leaves something to be desired…..It’s the same as saying that Rachel Alexandra lost half her races to Sara Louise.

08 Oct 2009 10:53 AM

I make a prediction today:

As long as Rachel returns in good shape next year, and continues to excel as a four year old, I bet they try her on grass...should she run well, I bet they entertain the Arc..JJ did with Curlin, a very good can bet he'll be dreaming with this great filly.

08 Oct 2009 11:22 AM


Hope you’re having a good day…..I always enjoy talking to you because you really are one who makes sense of everything…..I’m in agreement with you regarding Beyers and (Timeform ratings for that matter)….I was just trying to make a comparison though I know the way it was laid out was a little far-fetched…….I’m not saying that Secretariat was better than the best turf horses, but I am saying that they weren’t better than him either (just my opinion)…..I think that one of the reasons why Secretariat seemed to excel and have such stamina at long distances was because of the abnormal size of his heart.  It weighed 22 lbs. (Pharlap’s was 14 lbs. and the average thoroughbred’s is 9 lbs.)…..With a heart that size it would be easy to pump huge amounts of oxygen into the blood stream, which would be great for endurance.

All Along was one tough horse.  She only won 9 of 23, but she raced in all the tough races winning the Arc in ’83 and running 3rd in ’84 (followed by her 2nd in the BC Turf)…..Her campaign in ’83 was one for the ages having won the Arc (1-1/2M), the Can. Int’l (1-5/8M), the Turf Classic (1-1/2M) and the Washing DC Int’l (1-1/2M) in a span of 41 days.....those courses were not firm either…..For her efforts she was voted American HOY....She also ran second to Half Iced in the Japan Cup (finishing ahead of April Run) in 1982.

With regards to past Arc winners that have failed to win a Breeders Cup race…..I’m not putting them down.  I know that they ran tough campaigns and that the Arc is one tough race.......I find it strange that’s all and frankly was surprised when I discovered it……It is similar to the fact that no BC Juvenile winner had ever won a Kentucky Derby until Street Sense (a lot of good horses tried but failed).

08 Oct 2009 11:34 AM

I'll miss not seeing Sea The Stars far more than RA if he doesn't show up. I think RA would have her hands full in a Ladies Classic loaded with talent and if she went in the Classic I'd bet her off the board. As for Sea The Stars the intrigue of seeing Europes best who just happens to be the top ranked horse in the world is really exciting. I have my ticket broker on speed-dial and if he shows up I'll be there at Santa Anita to see him in person. Otherwise I'll settle on watching and wagering from the friendly confines of my local track.

08 Oct 2009 12:08 PM
Karen in Indiana

Love the Mine That Bird webcam - I'm sitting here eating lunch & watching him eat his breakfast. Other horses are being hotwalked and there are 2 that MTB does not like. Can't tell who they are, both are brown, one has a half orange, half red blanket on. This is just neat, and smart, too. He now has potentially hundreds of security guards watching him. :-)

08 Oct 2009 12:25 PM

Carolyn rogers: Post dated October 7th "I love our American horses, but to say any of them is better or as good as STS, absolutely not" So yes... you did say he was better than Secretartiat.

I have read through most of the comments and can't really see anyone getting "bashed" for their opinions.  If I am missing them, please enlighten me. What I do see is perhaps some posters "challenging" your opinion when you state your opinion to be factual.  You continue to say that STS is a better horse than RA. That is your opinion. Do I agree with your opinion. NO. I don't beleive STS is a "better" horse than RA. I think they are like apples and oranges. He is a classic distance runner, bred for stamina and he is a colt. Trained in Europe and running on turf. RA is a filly and although has never really been tested at the distance, probably isn't going to get the mile and half. However that is something we don't know, as she hasn't attempted it yet. She runs on dirt. Yes, Macho Again almost caught her however he didn't. The race was run for the distance. Calvin knew the distance and got we he needed out of her when it counted. Had there been another furlong to go, Calvin would have ridden a different race. So would he have won??? Something we will never know. Ever heard of Got Country Grip??? He is an American Paint horse...a sprinter. He is fast. But he is not bred to run the mile and half. Does that make RA or STS a better horse than him???NO. They are brilliant at what THEY do...individually. Let me ask you this.. do you think STS could have beaten RA in the Woodward? The Preakness? The Haskell? Just curious.

I think most of the posters on the bloodhorse blog are very respectful. There may be some heated debates, and some disagreements, but most of the time posters don't get "bashed" for their opinions. This is a place we come to talk horse racing.  We all have one thing in common. Our love for these horses and this sport. Regardless of our differences in opinion.

08 Oct 2009 1:25 PM
John T.

 Neither Secretariat nor Man O,War

ran beyond their 3 year old days so

why Sea The Stars has to do it to prove he is up there with the best of them is beyond me.Indeed he is the first horse ever to win the 2000 Guineas,Epsom Derby,and the Arc.But having said that you bet I

would love to see him race as a 4 year old.

08 Oct 2009 1:33 PM

Paula, I didn't consider the word ignorant as being a rude word, surely I could have used other language if I wanted to be rude, I just think it is not right for anyone to suggest "ours are better than yours" for such a huge subject. If you have been offended please accept my apologies as the last thing I want to do is upset anyone, I'm just not like that.

This blogg is for anyone to have their own opinion which some people will agree with and others won't.

To change the subject- I think best European ever was Ribot, and best American Secretariat, although I'm not too sure about American racing history pre Northern Dancer.

Has anyone ever met any of the great horses in the flesh? Although not the greatest racehorse but one of the best sires ever- Sadlers Wells- I've met him a few times, and he is just fantastic, such a gentleman. I for one will be very upset when he goes to the big paddock in the sky. Also met Lammtarra, but he was a bit more aggressive! Maybe he didn't like being retired from the breeding shed so early!

08 Oct 2009 2:11 PM

Good points Da3hoss.

Secretation: You got me thinking this morning about my top 10 list and I have to admit, the more I thought about it the more my list looks like your last one. There are so many greats and for so many reasons. I for one have emotional favorites that may not even come close to actually hitting a list for any one else. I think the list would be different for most people but I think it is safe to say you would see the all time favorites like Secretariat, The bid, Slew on most people's lists somewhere. I loved Sunday Silence and Genuine Risk however some may not even recognize either one of them.

08 Oct 2009 2:47 PM

A walk down memory lane with so many greats in my opinion... Go For Wand, Personal Ensign,Ruffian,Skip Away, Silver Charm, Winning colors.....just to name a few... I loved every one of them.

08 Oct 2009 2:57 PM

John T

I agree with you.  It's who you beat and what races you won that define the quality of a career no matter if it was accomplished in the 3 y-o year or at two and three.....If a horse must race more than one year or beyond three to be considered COMPLETE as one of our friendly bloggers stated, then Kelso (5 consectutive HOY titles) must have been the greatest horse that ever lived.

08 Oct 2009 3:06 PM
carolyn rogers

What I state in these blogs are my "OPINION", I know for a fact that there has been some mighty good racehorses in the past and present, but none such as great as Secretariat.I am a RA fan and a Zenyatta fan, but I don't compare the two because I love both for being great at their own surfaces that each is better on. As for the best horse in the world today, in my opinion is STS.

08 Oct 2009 3:45 PM

BritFilly *waves*

I've worked in racing for 10yrs & have been lucky enough to meet some great racehorses.

Dubai Millennium would be the best of the bunch, but also Machiavellian, Al Bahathri, Oh So Sharp, Fire the Groom and November Snow to name a few. On a visit to Kentucky a few years ago I got to meet Storm Cat, Kingmambo, AP Indy, Rahy, Dynaformer and had my photo taken with Smarty Jones!

08 Oct 2009 4:24 PM
Mike Relva


Good luck in Vegas! I agree with your point regarding RA.

08 Oct 2009 4:39 PM
Paula Higgins

Britfilly, thanks for the apology.

Secretation, loved your list and I was especially happy to see Phar Lap on it. Because his career was cut short, we never saw the bottom of that truly great horse.

Footlick, agree about Ribot-the best Euro for sure and among the top 10 of all time if you combine the American and Euro list. Sea Bird also.

I think the reason some of us feel like STS needs another season to hit the "immortal" list (not just the great list) is because he hasn't run and won as many races as say Man O" War (20 out of 21), or won 16 straight and 27 races total like Citation, or won 16 races lifetime while re-writing the record books like Secretariat.  Look, I think STS is as good as they get. He is certainly capable of making that list but I think they will retire him. He could be the all-time great Euro if they gave him another year.

What I love about the Rachel Alexandra people is that they are still going to run her age 4. That should add to her legacy if all is right with the world.

08 Oct 2009 6:01 PM
carolyn rogers

I know STS owners won't run him next year, but I would love to see him run at age four. I believe one more year would not hurt him physically at all. I am looking forward to seeing Rachael running longer distances, that is the plan for her for next year isn't it? or have I heard wrong?   Fill me in someone.

08 Oct 2009 7:24 PM

Dray- when are you going to admit that it goes both ways.  Our horses have to start going over there and running too.  And looking at STS breeding I would not definitively say he could not run on dirt.  I'm surprised you used great in the same sentence as Euro-lol!  Do you think bid would have run on turf?  I do.

08 Oct 2009 9:37 PM
Tim G

IF she runs at 4.

caroly, I get you.

Now cross-blogging by some?

The races this weekend should start to REALLY firm up who's going to SoCal and who isn't, in a bunch of the divisions. Interesting times ahead. May be some disappointed people on here, but I hope not.

08 Oct 2009 10:03 PM
Matthew W

Draynay--I love Sea the Stars, but, really, I WOULD NOT say he's a better turf horse than Rachel Alexandra---COMPARED to her sex, Rachel Alexandra is far superior to Sea the Stars---I'd even love to see her try the turf mile v Goldikova--I'm serious, can you say Lure?...

08 Oct 2009 10:24 PM
Tim G

Brit, I've met a bunch of them. Some old some new. Some that made me feel like a mute I was so stunned by them. For some reason Ack Ack stuck in my mind. Maybe because of his old time movie star connections.

Some others that I STILL can't believe I got to be around.

08 Oct 2009 10:28 PM
Matthew W

As far as classic sports venues go, Santa Anita is right up there with the best of them---while Churchill has the twin spires---the view FROM the grandstand is what it's all about at Santa Anita, at the foot of the San Gabriels--and on a sunny day with that crisp wind coming down, it's all right, it's allright....

08 Oct 2009 10:29 PM

John T- you are right about the four races- he is the only one that has won all four.  That is a feat in itself and does raise his stock.  I forgot about that.  Thanks for reminding us.

Laz- I feel the same about your posts.  Secretariat's heart certainly had something to do with it and his stride.  Is there any records of rhe size of Man O War's heart?  I know his stride was supposed to be huge.  I know you weren'y putting doen the Arc winners.  It's just one of those races thst seems to knock animals out.  That's why 2 time Arc winners are so rare.  I looked up RA's ragozin numbers.  When she isn't pressured on the lead she runs around a neg 3/4, a great fast numbers that Zen also runs and Quality Road has run also.  When she is pressured on the lead, i.e. the Preakness and the Woodward, she runs a +3.  It isn't atypical of a horse who is fast and likes to set their own pace. They tend to be able to roll along.  When they get pressured they get excited and expend more energy.   I think with maturity that "pressured" number will drop and there won't be such a big difference.  I just thought the numbers were interesting.  I tried looking up her thoro-graph numbers but I never saw any published without paying for them.

08 Oct 2009 11:22 PM

Footlick I am a racing fan but what horses do in Europe means nothing to me.  STS is a great turf horse good for him I don't care.  Unless he comes here and faces our best he is simply a length or two better than mostly average horses this year.  How many World Records has he set ? How many track records in his 6 races all year ?  Turf racing is for those who can't make it on dirt.  The whole reason we found out Secretariat could run on turf was because he was losing on dirt!

Racing in the USA is on dirt and turf racing is a second class citizen.  Racing in Europe is a 3rd  class citizen and I could care less.  I thinking Breeders Cup not who won the ARC by a length and a half.

09 Oct 2009 9:13 AM


    I've been thinking that too, about the grass. I hope JJ tests her on it in her first or second race next year, and if she likes it take her to Europe. If she were to go over there and win even one of there big races then come back to run in the BCC that would be probably the most historical thing an American Filly has ever done.

09 Oct 2009 10:54 AM


    Again, my point is you can't compare her with those horses, because of the fact one was older, the other was a turf horse and the other was a sprinter. All are great at what they do. Next year I actually hope RA tries turf, and if she does, then fine compare her with All Along and Zarkava. Goldikova, you could but not really, because she is a turf miler, unless RA proves better on turf when she runs a mile, instead of routing. I never said MA was a grade one animal, he did however run the race of his like in the Woodward, running a career best beyer. In the Wood he was fresher that RA, had the advantage of a fast pace, where she took all of the heat, catching her when she was coming off several peak performances and was probably tired, while he was in the best form of his life. In the Woodward he ran a grade one effort race, which is not his norm, which is why after running relitively well all season, then running a peak race, he bounced and bounced badly in the JCGC. On your MTB point, I don't think he is Grade one matirial either, but he ran grade one type efforts in the Derby and the Preakness, which is why he did aswell as he did. RA met both MTB and MA when they were in the best form of their career, and she beat both of them the same way, taking all the heat, staying ahead of a rabbit, then held them off in the stretch. When I look and compare horses in a race I don't just look at the competition they beat, but what kind of form the competition was in, and in each of her closest victories, both horses were in superb form. That is how I make my judgement.

09 Oct 2009 11:08 AM


You make me laugh.

09 Oct 2009 1:32 PM

Paula- Thanks for accepting my apology as it had been playing on my mind.

pnewmarket- I am so envious of you! Oh So Sharp was the horse that first started my interest in racing- What a filly she was, and she had a couple of good offspring too, I think Sacho is a stallion somewhere isn't he?

Such a shame that many of those you have met are no longer with us.

I'm hoping to go to Kentucky next year for the Derby and visit some of the stud farms. I can't wait, as it will be my first visit there.

Draynay- Sorry, but I feel completely the opposite to you. Apart from a few of the top dirt races, for me racing on turf is the greatest, and I don't have much interest at all in dirt racing. I can probably only name four or five grade 1 races in the US and I only have heard of them because of some of your great horses like RA winning them and obviously the Derby winners down the years. But I certainly would not call Grade 1 dirt racing 2nd class as you call turf racing 2nd or 3rd class, as it obviously isn't. luckily for all of us there are great races and racehorses all over the world.

Its good that we all have our different ideas about racing though, otherwise the blogg would get boring!

09 Oct 2009 1:46 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Footlick -

Thanks for your insights...too bad about the display name though!

You are absolutely correct on "cherry-picking.".  All connections carefully construct a campaign for a top horse.  Or at least they should. But to be a Triple Crown contender, top class three year olds HAVE to attempt the Triple Crown races.  It was the Affirmed/Alydar match up in ALL THREE Triple Crown races that made me fall in love with the sport.  There are plenty of legitimate reasons why Summer Bird (as one of the most recent examples) demurred on The Preakness and came back to win The Belmont.  But Mine That Bird ran in all of them, even though Chip stated that The Belmont was more the target after the KY Derby.  Still, Mine That Bird beat all colts at equal weights in The KY Derby and The Preakness, and based on racing conventions - he simply was the best horse in the Preakness on that day.  Even forgetting about the trouble he overcame during the race.  The lesser quality or weaker horses are given weight allowances.  That was Rachel.  Five pounds at 9.5 furlongs is more than a length, and I contend that she was fully extended to win even getting five pounds.  It's perfectly fair to give weight allowances...but it's also fair and accurate to then say that she was not the best horse in the race.

After The Belmont, both Summer Bird and Mine That Bird then ran in 9 furlong events on surfaces that were predictably risky for them, and against rivals who were getting weight allowances.  They still ran.

As a top class three year old stayer, The Travers is the test...the mid-summer Derby.  Both SB and MTB were pointed to it.  Only an entrapped epiglotis kept MTB from participating.  

da3hoss -

I think most horse people understand that there are Grade 1's, and then there are Grade 1's.  I love Birdstone as a sire, and his filly Stone Legacy came a distant 2nd to Rachel in The (GRADE 1) KY Oaks.  But c'mon. Stone Legacy has won once this a MSW!  And The Woodward?  What good horse with cruising speed wouldn't want to take on such a field in a Grade 1?  Sure, it was "older horses."  All of whom were giving Rachel at least 8 pounds.  

To me, The Breeder's Cup is almost always about year end honors and bragging rights.  Rarely do top class horses just not show up. Some say Rachel has done enough.  I couldn't disagree more.  Rachel passed on the Belmont.  She passed on the Travers.  These are two of the races that determine the best 3 year olds every year.  Now she's not showing up for The Classic, nor the 9 furlong Lady's Classic.  MTB and SB are both going, and as far as I've heard, they are going to run if they are sound...regardless of whether it's the best surface for them or not.

To me, HOY should go to the best horse. Sometimes determining which horse is actually the best runner comes down to who won at equal weights or while giving away weight.  These are top class animals...all of them.  I do not "hate Rachel", nor do I "disrespect" her.  Quite the contrary.  But I have more respect for Alydar and his connections for trying all three Triple Crown races and coming 2nd each time, than I would have if he'd have skipped The Preakness and won The Belmont.  

I said it before on here, and I heard Gary Stevens say it today on HRTV.  "If Summer Bird wins The Classic, he's HOY."  But I think if MTB wins The Classic - which I think right now is more likely than SB winning it - then he has shown that he is better than Rachel head to head on a surface that was fair to both of them and he should be HOY (especially if he takes The Classic AND this weekend's Goodwood).

If neither MTB nor SB perform in The Classic, but Zenyatta does and wins it, then she is HOY IMO.  She's won giving rivals weight, and if she does run in The Classic and win it, she will have beaten the best males on the continent.

I love horse racing.  I love watching top class horses competing against each other.  That normally means that the best horses actually run in the race. I understand that RA's connections may have very legitimate reasons for not running her. I may even agree with them!  But that decision has consequences, one of which may be losing the HOY title.  

09 Oct 2009 2:20 PM

Mr. Nay,

Never thought of you to be the cowardly type, jumping from one ship to the next.  You told me on these blogs your horse to beat the Europeans was Colonel John.  Now you go abandon thuis horse, and throw me Quality Road and Gio Ponti.  Wheres your word man, last I checked Colonel John runs this weekend.  I wouldnt want you as an ally in a war man.  So whats wrong with Colonel John now.  If Sea The Stars does not run I have stated its bull, he is the best in the world, but I said already Mastercraftsman will in with ease.  Rip Van Winkle is good but The Master is just too fast and gutsy, unless ame and Glory who is the best of the Coolmore group shows up.  Stacelita I said on any distance and on any surface would take down your Rachel, and Dar Re Mi is much best the older filly.  They were both gallant in defeat to Sea The Stars.

09 Oct 2009 4:39 PM

Gary at Rough Creek, its nice of you to share your opinion with everyone on this blog and we all welcome it but the HOY has already been decided and it's Rachel Alexandra.  Enjoy the Classic but it won't have anything to do with HOY.

09 Oct 2009 4:41 PM

LDP: I have nothing but respect for you but just can't aqree with your statement that MTB is not grade 1 material. He won the derby (fastest closing quarter since Secretariat) and on a sloppy track at that. Came close to RA the great! in the Preakness and took third by a nose in the Belmont. In my humble opinion, that makes him grade 1 material. Grade 1 efforts in grade 1 races make him a grade 1 horse..right?  I truly hope to see him come back this weekend and run a spectacular race. Don't you think he looks incredibly physically fit? I love the little dude.

RA gets HOY. She deserves to rest. She has done her job this year. Can't wait to see what she can do next year. I disagree that the Belmont determines who the best horse of the year is anymore. Why should it??? how many other races are run at that distance?

09 Oct 2009 5:44 PM

Karen 2,

    No harm no foul, I have no trouble with ppl who state their opinions like you do, politely. When MTB is in good form, like he was during the Derby and Preakness, and even some in the Belmont, he is grade one matirial. When he's average form, like now, he's more around grade three in my opinion. Every horse is capable of running better than they are, especially if they are in fantastic form. This, to me, is what happened to MTB and Macho Again. Both are IMO around grade two grade three horses, but when they are on, and in form, they can run like legit grade one horses. So on average, MTB, to me is a grade two or three kinda horse. He may change in a couple of years, and become easier to ride, and grow in maturity enough to be constantly a grade one horse. But to me right now, that grade one form comes and goes, and as of recently it's not there.

09 Oct 2009 8:01 PM

Sea The Stars is one talented horse and if in the US would win horse of the year and everything else along with Rachel... more than likely.......quite a boy...

Thank You Steve for your wonderful article....

09 Oct 2009 8:31 PM
Paula Higgins

I am sorry but MTB is a Grade 1 horse. That is utterly ridiculous to not acknowledge that fact. How about all the other horses that were behind him in the Triple Crown races? They must not have been Grade 1 horses either. My goodness, what were their connections thinking running them in such heady company. Geesh.

Rachel Alexandra is Horse of the Year unless Zenyatta beats the males in the BCC. Only then will there be a discussion. Otherwise it is hers. I still think it is hers regardless of what happens in the BCC. I know I would vote for her.

09 Oct 2009 8:35 PM

Grup, maybe you don't understand my ship !  My ship is an American Ship bring your tired little turf ponies over here.  I pray they bring STS so he can run against real horses like Gio and Quality Road.  Since he can walk on water in Europe I am sure he will have no problem running on Poly.

Go Colonel John, Go Dublin.

09 Oct 2009 8:36 PM


You'd get no argument from me if you wanted to slot Buckpasser and Damascus into the top echelon of horses.  For that matter, let's not forget Buckpasser's dad Tom Fool or Damascus' Bel Air predecessor Nashua.  Native Dancer might not have won by large margins or had great competition, but had he been ridden better, he could have been an undefeated Triple Crown winner with 22 wins.  I hesitated to leave out War Admiral as well who was a great horse despite his loss to Seabiscuit.  We could also go pre-Man O War and mention Colin, Sysonby and Hindoo.  Across the pond they had Bayardo who won 15 in a row around that same era.  Want a US grass horse to take on the Europeans at their own game, how about Round Table? Europe and the US both have amazing horses in their racing histories and Australia has some as well.  Carbine, Tulloch, Bernborough and Kingston Town deserve honorable mentions in any list of greats.  The conditions, courses, etc make comparisons hard, so I try to appreciate the great ones for what they are and admire their accomplishments.  I have seen video of many of the greats and they're all a joy to watch.

And Karen 2, thanks for mentioning some fillies too.  There have been, and are, some amazing ones.  

Paula, no doubt Phar Lap has to be one of the all time greats.  14 wins in a row, being saddled with 150 lbs at one point.  Watching his race at Caliente is very reminiscent of Secretariat's Preakness.  Watch them one after the other some time on Youtube.  How I'd love to be able to see the three "Big Reds" race one another at a mile and a half.  

As for Sea the Stars, his accomplishment is like a modern European Triple Crown and I for one am a huge fan.  I'd like to see him race at 4 also, but that's the way European racing is sometimes.  Seabird, Nijinsky, Shergar and Dancing Brave all retired at 3, but so did Secretariat, Count Fleet and Man O War.  What each did is enough to show that they were great horses.

09 Oct 2009 10:01 PM

LDP- first, I didn't compare her to All Along or Ta Wee- somebody else did.  I just mentioned that you were right that All Along was older.  Maybe I shouldn't have said that.  Secondly, Goldikova finished second to Zarkava in the Prix de Diane, which is a route.  Freddy Head has always said that he felt she could route.  He chose the path that Zarkava didn't choose.  Thirdly, you can't say that RA has had the most impressive 3 yr old filly campaign of ANY 3 yr old filly in the past 30 years and then disqualify two of them because they are European and turf.  If a horse is one for the ages, they have to hold up to ALL comparisons, not just the ones you want to compare them to.  I don't have any trouble comparing turf and dirt campaigns.  They are on different surfaces, but they are races.  You look at the class, you look at the competition.  Why are you all afraid to compare the two?  You made another statement that fillies in sprints normally have a better record than those who route.  It's only because American trainers will run fillies short against males.  If they ran more fillies long against them, the percentage would go up.  Do you think it's easier for a filly to beat older horses sprinting?  Or is it because in this country that's where the majority of trainers run them against colts.  Fillies win routes against colts all the time in Europe.  You just have to pick the right filly.  Their training methods, by galloping them in groups, can let them know early on which fillies can run with them and which cannot.  You can bet both Zarkava's connections and Goldikova's connections already knew that they could win against colts before ever running a race with them.  If you don't want RA to be compared to the best, then don't say she's the best in the last 30 years and she's one for the ages.  Qualify it with best dirt filly.  And one for the ages on dirt.  It doesn't sound as good, but it is still impressive.  She is a very good filly and did alot this year, but I will not say she is better than say Genuine Risk who won the Derby was in the money in the Preakness and the Belmont.  And there were no Bold n' Determined's to run against RA.  And Genuine Risk is just one example.  The quality of horse is lacking in the horses she beat.  Period.  I'm glad that Macho Again and MTB "became" gr1 horses right when they ran against RA.  I wonder how high a 111 beyer would be ranked in the last 30 years in the older horse division.  Not high, I'll bet.  For me, they aren't top class, but she is.  That's why she beat them.  But I have seen better.  Sorry for my opinion, and my listing of facts and for my "ability" to compare turf and dirt runners by the class of the competition they run against. I know it's not popular.  But I know what a top class Gr1 older horse is, and it isn't MA

09 Oct 2009 10:56 PM

Dray- It's too bad your world of racing is so limited because you miss out on so much great racing that happens in the world.  But as long as you are happy with that microcosmic view, then you enjoy.

09 Oct 2009 11:03 PM

I think Gary S meant that he was voting for Summer Bird as HOY if he pulled that sweep off (which I think is unlikely).  However, he only gets one vote.  And that will be cancelled out by Mr. Haskin.  ;)

10 Oct 2009 1:39 AM
Karen in Indiana

Gary at Rough Creek, you've posted a couple of good, common sense blogs and I appreciate the cold water. i don't hate Rachel either and she's done everything asked of her. But she hasn't been asked to do some of the tough stuff that other 3 year olds have.

10 Oct 2009 9:00 AM
carolyn rogers

Footlick, I agree with every word you have posted. I say you really know your stuff on horseracing.I wish everyone did.I don't know alot,but I got eyes and I can see quality horses.

10 Oct 2009 11:34 AM
carolyn rogers

I am a fan of RA and Zen, but how can we say that they are world champion horses if neither one of the two have raced on turf. Every horse should have it's day at least once on the opposite surface even if they don't win, at least give it a shot. BB and Curlin both tried turf once and  Curlin, he tried all three surfaces. And I love STS and I would love to have saw him on dirt. Zenyatta done terrific on dirt. I would have loved to have seen her on dirt a little more and RA on synthetics,but hey, thats my opinion.  Maybe next year. I do want to say that I am glad JJ is giving her the rest of the year off. She has done enough for this season.  I have a gut feeling,that if RA has a good as year as she has had this year,that she will be bigger than Curlin was, especially, since she is a filly.

10 Oct 2009 11:48 AM
Pam S.

Gary at Rough Creek, I think you are sounding smarter all the time.

Again, really hoping Sea the Stars comes to SA.  I'm sure he can handle the surface too.

10 Oct 2009 12:26 PM

HRTV & TVG are stating that if Summer Bird wins the Breeders Cup race that he runs in, he will be nominated the Horse Of The Year.

Over Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta..

10 Oct 2009 12:29 PM

Gary - Where has MTB shown that he is better "head to head" than RA on a surface that was fair to both of them?  Are you talking about the Preakness???  If so, check the order of finish.

10 Oct 2009 2:35 PM

Ragsy, HOY has been decided.  It's Rachel Alexandra.  You're not going to give HOY to SB who got beat by a undefeated filly by 7 lengths.

10 Oct 2009 3:50 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve as again, a super article. Super in that it brings out so much in so many. A good thing that it is a dreary day, cuz' i am going to unplug the phone from the wall, turn off the fax machine, and put my cell phone underneath the mattress in a room far from the living room and go back and read every word you wrote and then

every comment and i will be so smart i won't be able to stand myself. You are so right. Even without RA and STS the Breeders Cup

will be very interesting in that really i don't think any single horse can be decided now as the winner, unless there is a horse in the race named Pure Speculation! Because that is just about how it looks. I have my sentimental favorites of course, Mine That Bird and Quality Road and others also. It will be fun afterwards to

go back and visit the comments made here. Also a mention about Commentator and a wonderful photo of him just being introduced to his paddock at OLD FRIENDS the other day, hardly seems he is not 4. He just looks super in a stretched out run. We should not forget all of the retirees there and elsewhere and there are a bunch of great ones for sure.

But thanks Steve. You should charge admission to be able to read your columns.  

10 Oct 2009 5:24 PM

Gary- Thanks.  I do believe tht competing in all Triple Crown races is important, but I understand the trainers who don't want to.  Horses aren't as durable as they used to be and three hard races in 5 weeks takes it's toll.  You have to give credit to MTB fir performing well in all three.  But I also feel that if a horse shows they are truly dominant over their division they can be considered for the championship.  RA will be a deserving winner.  He is a better horse at a longer distance of ground, but they ran against RA anyway at a shorter one.  She was in her element that day and totally in control of the race.  She deserved the win.  I don't agree with saying her weight allowance played a part in any of her races against males.  They are made to equalize.  They are used everywhere there is racing.  I can't argue with them.  Just a weird fact- if I am interpreting them right MTB got a better Ragozin number than RA.  As far as HOY- it is a mixed bag whether it should be the best horse or the most dominant in their division.  Before the Breeder's Cup, races like the Woodward and Jockey Gold Cup were the championship races.  They have fallen away in importance for that now.  It's now important to point to the Breeder's Cup.  I think RA has done enough to be HOY.  She has been spectacular and gutsy.   There is nothing wrong with that choice.  Summer Bird winning the BC would cap of a great second half of the year, but RA still beat him.  Remember Lady's Secret didn't beat Precisionist, and Precisionist didn't beat Turkoman, and neither Turkoman nir Precisionist won the BC Classic, so in the end Lady's Secret was more dominant.  The beat horse?  No, but the most dominant in her division.  So, HOY.  Also politics and campaigning play a big part too in the modern voting for HOY.

Secretation- I agree with all those horses.  That's the problem for me.  There are just too many and deciding which ones to leave out has me second guessing all the time.  As to Round Table, I do think he would have been powerful in Europe.  He was fast in the shorter distances, but he could run forever if he had to.  He ws stout and ran without meds on raceday.  As to STS- he accomplished what Nijinsky ii couldn't.  Nijinsky ii won the Guineas, the Darby, the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup - which is now the Juddmonte International- but finished second in the Arc.  These are the holy grail of British 3 yr old racing.  It was a truly heroic feat for him to win all four of these.  You first run a mile, then run 12 furlongs, then run 10 furlongs, then ship to France to run 12 furlongs again.  No horse in European history has ever won these four races until STS.  And it does take a special horse to do it.

Carolyn- thanks so much for the compliment.  Don't let people rattle your confidence in what you know.  Nothing you or I say will rattle anyone elses. I believe in the rating of a horse by the class of horse they beat.  I think it is part of the process of ranking how great a horse really is.  The better class horse you beat, the less fast times and large margins mean when those horses are obviously totally outclassed and not top drawer.  I do believe if Zarkava had stayed in training STS would hve had to run a much stronger Arc to win it.  But, she didn't.  

I enjoy everyone's blogs, even if I don't agree with them, because you never know what you will learn or who you will learn it from.  

10 Oct 2009 7:31 PM
carolyn rogers

The Queen, in her rare beautiful form has made 13 wins out of 13 races, up with Personal Ensign. "CONGRATULATIONS" Zenyatta and her camp. Remarkable.

10 Oct 2009 8:09 PM
northern dancer

people who discount rachel's races because of the weight allowance are incredulous  fillies generally develop slower than colts -thus the weight allowance and 3yr olds are generally less developed than 4&5 yr olds -thus the weight allowance It levels the playing field developmentally speaking  Moreover if rachel is diminished because she WON with a weight advantage what does that make Secretariat who LOST several times with almost the same weight advantage-  chopped liver?  Secondly people who complain that she hasn't set any track records need to revisit some of her races  In the mother goose she came within a second of the trackrecord while being totally geared down for the last 1/16 ( still setting a stakes record) and in the haskel, in a quagmire and with calvin grandstanding the final 100yards or so she was 1/5 sec off the track record This strongly suggest that she could have set or equalled several track records if given the chance and perhaps in doing so muffled some of her naysayers

10 Oct 2009 11:09 PM

Carolyn- it was an amazing site to see her move so effortlessly and win with such ease.  I love watching her inhale her opposition and then stroll to the wire like it's just a workout.  La Reine Zenyatta!

northern dancer- her accomplishments are great.  A horse doesn't need to be setting records.   I think it is a ridiculous "requirement".  There are many great horses who only run as hard as they have to, others run as fast as they can for as far as they can.  Track records and stakes records are nice, but not necessary for greatness.  It's the manner that they win.  She is breathtaking in her greatest races, and gutsy in her tough ones.  As I said before, weight for age and sex has been in play forever.  There is no need to talk about it as an advantage.  It's the way it is.  Period.  There is room for both of these great horses.

11 Oct 2009 11:18 AM

Draynay, I sure hope your right about that.  

11 Oct 2009 12:05 PM

Just got back from Santa Anita and meeting/seeing MTB in person.  Some observations from a somewhat novice are that he actually raced a bit better than some of the media are indicating.  It was a very tight group at the finish, and a great race to watch live.  

MTB is FAR more intense in person.  I was shocked, he is a very spirited horse, and was a little bit amped up (high strung) yesterday.  He also looks like he has matured some in the last 6 months so we'll see what his form does in the next 6 months.

I had a good gut feeling about Gitano and had him in my trifecta but lost anyway because I really thought MTB would at least show.  

I had an awesome view of the top of the stretch right along the rail and a gap opened up for MTB on the outside.  I fully expected to see him squirt through but Borel pointed him toward the inside and away from that lane.  He looked good at the start of his move on the far turn and average coming down the lane.  

All in all, I think he is a grade one horse and can compete in the BC Classic if he can get a grip on the surface.  It will be a tall task, however, with the Europeans kickin butt in the US.

Finally, it was really wonderful to witness the crowd's appreciation for Zenyatta.  Mike Smith does not have to move a muscle with her, she was a treat to watch.

11 Oct 2009 7:02 PM
carolyn rogers

I heard that if SB wins the Classic, I heard it could be a toss up for HOY between him and Rachael. I can't see how considering what she has accomplished as a filly. That's not my decision to make, my vote won't count since I'm not a judge. My other question is if Zen wins in the classic (witch I don't see her running in) or in the Lady's Classic will she still be voted as champion older horse. Wouldn't that be the only other award she could get? Also, do any of you believe Zen will run next year?

11 Oct 2009 9:32 PM

Secretation:  My American top 10 list is:  Native Dancer, Man O' War, Citation, Spectacular Bid, Secretariat, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Ruffian, Whirlaway & Count Fleet.  Also think Northern Dancer was awesome but he was Canadian bred so didn't know where to put him.  As for the Euros-haven't followed them enough but Nijinsky was awesome as well as Sea Bird.

11 Oct 2009 9:52 PM
carolyn rogers

Wow, Darley Stables stands Rachael Alexandra's sire and Zenyatta's sire. Amazing, both sires standing at the same place for the two most amazing fillies in NA.

11 Oct 2009 10:15 PM

Queen - she's remarkable and team work is also stunning... keep going...


cleon dann

12 Oct 2009 3:40 AM

Interesting list Racingfan.  My top 5 would be Citation, The Bid, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, and Native Dancer.

12 Oct 2009 8:57 AM

cant find anything on i want revenge is he done on derby day it was "something he could race on"now its six months later any news loved this horse

12 Oct 2009 5:07 PM
Matthew W

Cindi: GREAT to hear the fruition of your story! Mine That Bird is truly a Gr I Horse! He proved that in The Preakness, and there's no denying his Derby Run, which was the most bizarre Derby run I have seen in 40 years! He went up against some really tough guys Sat---Colonel John and Richard's Kid are Classic Contenders! Mine That Bird will be around for years, hopefully! His size, connections, obscure homebase--all make him a "people's favorite" horse! He'll be 10-1 at least in the Classic....

12 Oct 2009 5:54 PM

sea the stars officially retired, tuesday, october, 13.

13 Oct 2009 8:49 AM
Linda in Texas

Just now reading on that Sea The Stars is being retired to stud and he is so young. So this ends all

speculation. He retires a winner!

And we will never know what could/might have been.

13 Oct 2009 9:09 AM

MTB is not a G1 horse and can no longer be protected in restricted 3 year old races.  He must now face older horses and he has not proven he can beat 3 year old horses.  One win in 7 attempts proves he got lucky once.  He was never a threat for a win since the Derby.  The Preakness was a nice second but never came close to winning the race.  Horses like Summer Bird have improved and MTB has not.  He got the perfect ride on a tiring mud surface and won the Derby.  But that was back in May and since then has done nothing to suggest he is an elite horse.  They can throw this horse into all the G1 races they want and pretend he has a shot but the true experts know he really doesn't have a shot.  How many more races does he have to lose before he is dropped down to get a win and get his confidence back ?  It is not MTB's fault.  I blame the connections that keep coming up with excuses and then find reason to throw him into the fire again.  It's like watching a prize fighter that keeps getting up only to get knocked down again and again.  Stay down MTB stay down I can't watch anymore.

13 Oct 2009 10:39 AM

nay nay,

You could say the same type of things about Smooth Air (who you have stood by after repeated dissapointments in G1 races)as you say about MTB except Smooth Air never won a G1 race or one as important as the KY Derby. Sometimes you are puzzling how you berate one horse but argue for another under near the same circumstances. I guess with you it's all about the arguing with others.

13 Oct 2009 12:47 PM

Stay down Dray stay down.Your comments are laughable.

13 Oct 2009 12:51 PM
Tim G

I could see if someone was truly concerned with Mine That Bird continuing to run if the horse were ill or unsound. I could see it IF that person truly CARED about the horse.

The past history proves that the person complaining the loudest does not care one bit about the horse himself.

Just because he hasn't won, he's still stakes placed and that is worth a lot of money AND he loves to run.

Why drop him down when he is still competitive in G1's? Just because a person who has no financial or emotional interest in him SAYS to? Because that person obviously has an underlying agenda? It just comes off as sour grapes. He beat you in the Derby, you lost your shirt on him. Not the first time, not the last. Get over it, ignore him, move on with YOUR life and let the people who pay for the groceries worry about it.

13 Oct 2009 6:27 PM

I thought I heard Borel say that Mine that Bird needed to get back to the correct surface or something like that during his post interview loss.  A few days later the word is that he is going to have "stickers" or "cleats" on his two back shoes.  Interesting...I just can't see this horse running well against older on that track.

14 Oct 2009 7:13 PM

The fact is that he is not WINNING the races. I he had gotten close in his last three, maybe MTB would have a case but he was non threatening thirds and a sixth in his last three. That is not competitive. If I were a trainer I'd be putting him in spots where he had a good spot at winning, not a sure thing, but a place where he can run and run competitively. Those are grade three grade two races. He's a good horse, but if he is not in really really good form he is not a grade one horse, he is when he is on form, no doubt about that. Right now though he is not in that fantastic form he was in the spring, he's just in "good" form, which need to be recognizied, so he can be put into lower level stakes, so he can win and probably get some confidence back.

15 Oct 2009 5:53 AM

If MTB were my horse I'd take him back to Churchill to race.  I think he's probably a horse for course.  Not just because it's the only track he won on this year, but also because his trainer has repeatedly said that he trains best there and seems to perk up when he goes back there after traveling.  

I think he'd stand a much better chance in the Clark Handicap this fall instead of the BCC.  But since that won't happen I hope to see him in the Stephen Foster next year with Borel aboard.      

15 Oct 2009 2:14 PM
Tim G

Lord, please bless me with a 'non Grade 1' horse like Mine That Bird!

1.8 million plus in purses and he's not a G1? I'm not sure how much longer I or for that matter ANYONE in the industry, can listen to people who don't own horses and don't realize how much that helps an owners operation (since most racing at that level have a lot more than just one horse) spout that nonsense.

More money earned by a horse, more money to pay the BILLS. More money to buy more horses to run for you fans enjoyment.

If the gelding were running up the track and losing by embarrassing margins? The argument would be valid. BUT he's finished no worse than 3rd in the 3 G1's and the G2 he's run in starting with the Derby, until the Goodwood. He had been off TEN weeks prior to that race and ANYONE who actually knows anything about racing, knows that MOST horses would be granted a bit of forgiveness as coming off a layoff.

ANYONE who says he isn't a G1 horse? They have never owned a race horse, trained a race horse or ridden a race horse who is IN training. Heck they've never even hotwalked, groomed, bathed or cleaned the stall of one on the track.

It's utter nonsense to make that statement about Mine That Bird and frankly, shows ignorance and arrogance. I'm embarrassed for you people saying that.

Check with someone on a THHOROUGHBRED race track to see if they agree with you guys, or even someone retired FROM a THOROUGHBRED race track.

15 Oct 2009 2:16 PM

I'm with Tim G...Lord, please also bless me with a non grade 1 horse..just like MTB!

15 Oct 2009 6:19 PM
Matthew W

Mine That Bird BELONGS in The Classic! He WON the Kentucky Derby by six---meaning he GET'S the distance, something you cannot really say about 1/2, or even most of the field--C'mon, "put him where he belongs"??? He belongs in The Breeders Cup Classic!!!

15 Oct 2009 8:54 PM

Anyone know where to find more non-grade-one horses?  Please, please let me know.  My bankroll is getting kind of low.....I could use an extra 1.8 mill.

15 Oct 2009 10:02 PM
Matthew W

Mine That Bird was closing--he vanned in from Riodoso---PREPPED in the Goodwood--NEEDED that race!....6-1 at least on the Derby Winner! Can you say Unbridled? The extra 1/8 is telling and I'll probably keep an eye on the little guy when many of them hit that proverbial wall at the 1/16 pole!

15 Oct 2009 10:46 PM
Tim G

FINALLY, glad to see some sense displayed by some people, very refreshing.

It's fine to love certain horses, but to make these bizarre statements to justify that 'love', once again I just don't get where they're heads are. Certainly not in a race horse owners mindset.

I'm going to bet that very few folks on here, or even in racing would turn this little guy down as a stakes placed horse.

I can't imagine the people dissing MTB have even SEEN a million dollars. Guess what? Unless you're in a field where you can make a ton of money? You won't see 1.8 million in your LIFETIME earnings.

YOUR life in a career is going to be a lot longer than 2 years of racing.

Even those of us with good incomes will take 4, 5 or 6 years to earn THAT much.

15 Oct 2009 11:20 PM
Tim G

Let me correct that figure, he's made 2.2 million + in his career.

If any of you who are dissing him made 1.9 mil this year so far? Well........ yes sure you have.

15 Oct 2009 11:23 PM

I may be wrong, but I don't think the amount of money won determines whether you are really a true Gr1 horse or not.  Mine That Bird reminds me of Dark Star and Dust Commander, to mention two Derby winners.  If you feel they were true Gr1 winners, then that's fine.  I'm not dissing him or any other horse.  But I guess I have to now sub-define as lesser and greater gr1 winners.  There is nothing wrong with a horse who really isn't gr1, but can jump up occasionally and run a big race at that level.  He won the Derby and ran a great race in the Preakness.  He closed well in the Goodwood.  And it seems to be a prep.  But it was not as tough a field as the BC Classic will be.  I'm not sure even a repeat of his Derby will be good enough to win the Classic.  But we will see.  

16 Oct 2009 9:52 AM

You're right Tim G what were we thinking.  Keep throwing him into G1 and G2 races and watch him lose again and again.  I said after the Derby his win was a fluke and he wouldn't win another race all year. Hmmm guess I was 100% correct.  Let me just ask you one simple question. How many more losses before you drop him down? 2 more races ? 4 more races ?  How many more ?

16 Oct 2009 11:48 AM


How many G-1 races did Bullsboy and Macho Again win?  They're true G-1 horses aren't they?  They must be to validate Rachel's win against G-1 older males.....MTB isn't a consistent G-1 winner, but he IS a true G-1 winner in the G-1 race that is toughest for 3 y-o's to win because of the distance and the quality of the competition so early in the year.....He will win a G-1 race again, probably more than one, but he isn't, at least not yet, the type that is going to rattle off 2 or 3 G-1's in a row.....Last time I looked, Rail Trip has only won one G-1 race too, so has Quality Road who has been in two G-1 races since hs G-1 win, so has Careless Jewel....Your arguement is similar to your argument against Zenyatta only with a different flare.....Cut the horse some slack.

16 Oct 2009 1:11 PM
Tim G

Footlick, if a horse is consistently stakes placed and earning money each time out? Then yes we in racing DO consider them a graded stakes horse.

It's not like he won the Derby and then ran off the board and lousy in his last few races trailing the field.

WINNING each time is NOT what makes a stakes horse. And yes money DOES have something to do with it because he's been placing high enough in Graded stakes company and therefore winning enough money to keep him there.

16 Oct 2009 2:55 PM
Tim G

I’ll try to be nicer Steve.

Draynay I don't think you have the correct concept of racing. Yes it's about attempting to WIN but there is ONLY one winner. You yourself have praised horses for hitting the board in a stakes race.

Maybe from a gamblers perspective , WINNING the bet is THE only thing.

From an owners/trainers/jockeys perspective? A stakes PLACED horse is something that most of us are thrilled to have and are a rarity.

Reasonable people  consider him consistent. He's a hard knocker in stakes races.

Your dislike of the horse is overkill..

I guess if you really believe what you say then the connections of YOUR current favorite should have bagged it with her after her second loss in a G111 and her 3rd overall?

Based on your analysis of MTB, conversely she should have been running in Allowances at best. See how strange  that sounds?

She finished 2nd in two G111's , at least MTB finished on the board in G1's and a G2, so does that make her not worthy of stakes company? I can't even make that comment with a straight face.

The answer to your question? You don't drop him down as long as he's hitting the board and is healthy and liking to run. It's not like he has the capacity to reason and say to himself “my gosh I didn't win I need to go beat my head against a wall“.

He ran okay off a layoff, needed the race and went back to the barn, chowed down was bucking and playing the next day. YOU are obsessed with it.

When they need to drop him down? If he loses badly in more than one race. But, IMHO, that's when they should just retire him. Why? People like you would find a new way to disrespect him.

That 'win only' mentality is what inspires certain guys in racing to try to get ANY edge they can. I guess the difference between us is thinking only coming in first makes a horse worthy of running in stakes company. The hole in that theory? Pretty soon you‘d have no competition because EVENTUALLY ALL races have only ONE winner.

16 Oct 2009 4:03 PM

Tim- I'm sorry if I did not make myself clear.  I never said he was not a graded winning horse.  I would consider him a gr1 placed horse even though he did win the Derby, though.  I never said he was not a graded horse.  And, there are quite a few gr1 placed/gr2 winners who earn alot of money but are not considered top drawer.  But since I'm not in the business, I guess I don't know.

Thanks for pointing out my shortcomings as far as my knowledge of horse racing is concerned.  But, maybe I did phrase my statements correctly and they were just misinterpreted?  But I will certainly remember that I am not a "we" in racing.

16 Oct 2009 4:24 PM

Draynay: like your top 5 list too.

18 Oct 2009 7:34 PM

have no fear. the americans will have all they can handle with the europeans as it stands!

20 Oct 2009 3:28 AM

The best idea I have read so far regarding how to keep horses in training instead of having them retired before the end of their 3 or 4-year-old campaign is this one:

Tax the stud fees of those stallions that are younger than 5 years of age, and channel such tax revenue to purses in the state or country where the stallions are serving.

A horse such as Sea The Stars was retired at his peak, after just a handful of races, to the detriment of the sport, the same way Smarty Jones, Bernardini and others have been retired.

Theses horses commanded stud fees that average around $100,000; if bred to 100 mares, that's a cool $10 mill. If a stud is only 3, tax the revenue by, let's say, 40%. That would mean $4,000,000 to be channeled to purses. Lower the tax to 30% if they start at the breeding shed before they turn 5, and there would be no tax if they are retired when they are in fact 5.

This way, there would be a better balance between purses and breeding earnings, that should result in keeping horseracing stars in training longer.

Someone named Paul in DRF suggested this idea...What do you think Mr. Haskin?

21 Oct 2009 2:03 PM

Recent Posts



Social Media

More Blogs