It's Showtime

OK, the curtain is about to go up for the revival of “My Cup Runneth Under.” Most of the audience is disgruntled. The cast is not as strong as it should be; the stage is poorly constructed; the ensemble is too large with too many amateurs; the producer should have moved the show to a different venue.

Everyone is bitching and complaining, and there are the constant cries of what might have been had the show opened at one of the palatial theaters in New York or Louisville. OK, so most agree the producers messed up.

The audience starts to squirm as the curtain rises. The boos are ready to be hurled at the first faux pas. The stage lights go on and the show begins. At that moment, all else is forgotten. People realize they have paid good money for their seats and they’re going to try their best to enjoy the performances. The actors are all pros and they deliver their lines with aplomb and belt out one big musical number after another. The audience laughs and cries and cheers. All the “what might have beens” are booted out the stage door into the alley. For that moment, as Shakespeare would say, “The play’s the thing.”

This scenario by now should be sounding familiar. Anyone who has moaned and groaned about this year’s Breeders’ Cup, mainly running it over a synthetic surface at the same track for the second straight year, is justified in doing so. But it’s time to suck it up, put all gripes on the back burner, and enjoy the show that is going to be put on at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 and 7. All we can do at this point is hope it lives up to last year’s performances, even though many walked away feeling the leading actor, Curlin, was unnecessarily upstaged by lesser talent.

But that was then. It is time to concentrate on this year, with or without Rachel Alexandra and Sea the Stars. Some of the great performances in the history of the theater were turned in by understudies, not to suggest that Zenyatta and many of the others who will be on display are stand-ins to anybody. If Zenyatta should win the BC Classic or even the Ladies Classic, you can expect a standing ovation worthy of the sport’s greatest champions.

After this year, with all favors paid in full, the Breeders’ Cup will return to good old terra firma for several years at least. Who knows if there even will be 14 races any longer? Yes, some horses have missed out performing on dirt on the world’s biggest stage. That is their misfortune. But Rachel Alexandra will be given another chance next year, as will this year’s other Triple Crown heroes Summer Bird and Mine That Bird, although there is nothing to say the two “Birds” won’t be able to perform at the highest level this year. That is still to be determined. But even if they are not, at least we know, barring injury, they will be back next year to face Rachel.

For now, get your program, sit back in your seat, and enjoy the show. It’s the only one in town.


Leave a Comment:

Greg J.

    Yes, In twenty two days the curtain will go up and let the races begin!  It has been a long exciting year of ups and downs. November 6th cannot come quick enough!  All the coulda, shoulda, woulda will end, and all the true fans should be excited that the two best days this sport has to offer has finally arrived!  May all the participants cross the line safely and may the spoils go to the victor...

22 Oct 2009 1:49 PM


I like the way you sort of framed that article.  You are one of the few writers covering this sport who seems to understand the huge difference between synthetics and dirt and is, at least, willing to address it in writing.  

I will enjoy the experience of horse racing at one of our most beautiful venues ( how can you not with those San Gabriel Mountains as a back drop ).

I will however, as I did last year, consider this to be a Breeders' Cup SYNTHETIC & TURF Championship, because that is what it is.  When they have a BC on a venue with dirt and turf then I will consider that a BC DIRT & TURF Championship.  Simple as that.

22 Oct 2009 1:54 PM
Harry Bird

This year's Santa Anita Breeder's Cup may well be remembered as one of the final days of top notch racing in California. Today's announcement of a 10% purse cut at Oak Tree is just another nail in the coffin. Unless a slot rich Indian tribe buys the race tracks, racing on the west coast (aided by the disastrous synthetic experiment) seems headed to oblivion. Today's first race at Belmont (3 of 6 entries former California racers) tells the tale.  

22 Oct 2009 2:17 PM

The Breeders Cup races always produce some exciting and thrilling moments. I enjoy the drama and the energy these races produce. Even without Rachel and Sea the Stars (who may not have run anyway even in the perfect scenario) these races will be great to watch regardless. I still like Gio Ponti in the Classic, and I think Goldikova is a monster at a mile on the turf. The Sprint may be the most interesting race of all. Obviously Zensational is brilliant and Fatal Bullet is a major threat, but I like Gayego.

Thanks for a great year Steve in blogging. You have written some great articles about our heroes of the past, present, and future. These articles have been insightful and entertaining.

I really wish though Steve you would do a piece on the great South American horses of the past. Horses like Forli, and Candy Ride,

etc etc.

Finally, I don't Rachel would have run this year in any of the Breeder's Cup races whether it was run on dirt or synthetics. I think she has had a hard campaign and the connections were going to shut her down regardless. She ran 8 times as a 3 year old filly and thats a lot to ask. Sometimes the gas tank just goes empty. I would be surprised if she comes back next year. Jackson won't risk her reputation or legacy if he feels she can't repeat this years performances.

Just my opinion.............

22 Oct 2009 2:19 PM

Thank you, Steve, for putting things in perspective.  

22 Oct 2009 2:20 PM

I'm probably one of the few who is happy about a second year at Santa Anita.  I think I finally figured out how to handicap the pro-ride so I'm hoping for a big weekend.

But with that said, I still welcome the BC's return to good ole dirt.    

22 Oct 2009 2:28 PM
Steve Haskin

Deacon, I'm just not familiar enough with those horses to write a blog. I have visited Forli at Caliborne but just dont have enough personal involvement with the horse to have anything different or insightful to say about him. And I only saw Candy Ride once, at Del Mar. I only write historical blogs about horses who I can give a different perspective on.

22 Oct 2009 2:42 PM
The Rock

I've been watching HRTV on mondays & tuesday morning & nights as they've been replaying the past Breeders Cups. And at every venue, they're is always someone complaining about the venue. Gulfstream is too hot to be in, Belmont is too deep and most dirt races are run around one turn. Churchill's turns are too tight, Santa Anita & Hollywood favor west coast horses and are speed favoring, etc. Someone out there is gonna gripe about where the BC stage is set, no matter what venue its at, especially if the venue is the West Coast. Just watch the 1993 taping and hear all the east coast connections complaining about the weather and how the west coast horses dominated. It wouldn't have mattered if it was on dirt or synthetic.

22 Oct 2009 2:46 PM
The Rock


I don't know if its the short fields or what, but this meet has been pretty formful at SA. I think i heard that 38% of favorites are winning. Late P4 was all chalk yesterday and it paid a pretty decent $88.

22 Oct 2009 2:50 PM
Tim G

All the 'true fans' will be getting a diluted product. Less than they deserve and will be 'settling'. The woulda, coulda, shoulda's will really NOT be forgotten by those who love racing.

Particularly those who play at the highest level of the game and feel like their hands are tied, not allowing them to do what they really want to do. Race at the BC.

Shows you what can happen when racing is left to politics and the 'ruling boards' aks NTRA, BC and CHRB. A National board with a commissioner? NO WAY to keep special interest groups and politics out of it, with racing coming out the loser.

Think about the steep decline in racing and the formation of the NTRA, see any odd coincidences there?

22 Oct 2009 2:51 PM
Tim G

Steve your historical perspective is second to none.

Maybe the 'powers that be' need to consult people like you and 'others' who have lived this game for decades?

22 Oct 2009 2:53 PM

Good points Steve, as always, but I have to say I'm dissapointed with your use of "bitching". That's nasty language, kids come on here and read this stuff.  Try to keep it user friendly and professional please.

22 Oct 2009 2:54 PM

 I just believe that everyone is going to have to except the cards that they have been dealt and play them the best to their advantage. I don't think that all of the negativity surrounding the BC with shoulda, coulda, woulda, type hype is the best way to attract people to the sport.

 I am not saying this because I support synthetics either, cause I don't. (I would rather my horse got dirt in its nostrils like any other horse on this planet, than inhale some man made particles of assorted junk).

 The BC didn't totally suck last year. I thought it was awesome and I got to see some good horses perform to the best of their ability on their special day. We might not have STS or RA, but I dont think that, that is what is important. What is important is that we have a BC that is attracting horses form around the world and we get the opportunity to see them compete with our horses in our own back yard. I can't afford a plane ticket and such to Dubai or Europe...hehe.

 I also like the fact that the past two years the BC is not just a US race. It has really been opened up to a few other parts of the world. I understand that those probably wont show up at CH next year, but at least it happening.

 The truth is there is still a lot of horses that could turn in a great performance on the 6th or 7th, and I cant wait to see what kind of glory awaits them at, and after the finish line.

 By the way Steve, congratulations on one of your favorite horses Take The Points. You always stuck with him and saw that the horse had some ability and talent. He is definitely starting to show it.

 I would also like to add that Zenyatta is awesome. I just love watching her. She is one of the best looking race horses that I have ever seen. Built to perfection. She even looks better than most stallions. She is big and strong like a man, yet delicate and light like a lady. Such class, grace, and courage. I love how she is always so game for her races, she knows what to do, and how to get it done...whether it is by 1 1/2 lengths or a nose.

Go Baby Go!

22 Oct 2009 2:59 PM

Deacon - Perhaps you know this, but Forli has had a large influence on warmblood breeding (Hannoverian) through his grandson, Prince ThatchXX, by ThatchXX.  Prince ThatchXX did remarkably well in his stallion testing, placing 3rd against an otherwise all warmblood class.  He was stood by the state stud, Celle, and in addition to producing a son who was on the German Olympic dressage team (Piccolino), he is particularly known as a broodmare sire.  His get in general are dressage horses, he does not produce jumpers.

22 Oct 2009 3:12 PM

Thank you for trying. Not to change the subject, but I was reminicing last night and I watched the 1967 Travers Stakes in which Damascus (your favorite horse, and one of mine) won by about 22 lenghts or so. I think he was about 10 lenghts behind on the clubhouse turn. What an amazing performance. So much is written about Secretaiat's Belmont win but almost no one ever mentions this historic performance by the great Damascus. He was truly one of the top 10 of all time.

Just do some reflecting...........

22 Oct 2009 3:22 PM
Happy 2 Be BC Bound


BRAVO!!! As always, I enjoyed your optomism...I amSO SICK of the complaining about dirt/turf/synthetics! Sounds like whining to me. Those people that choose to go to the Breeder's CUp CHOSE to witness a "syhtetic championship" as they call it but so many of those "opposers" fail to realize that it is what it is and complaining and whining is NOT going to mandate a track surface change to accomodate the complaints. As you said, it is what it is. As Shiznik said, Santa Anita ia gorgeous venue worht the trip alone and in my opinion, it will be a joy to be there enjoying the stars that did enter the stage. We simply cannot define synthetic performances based on Curlin's run in the BC CLassic last year. He too had a long year of tough races and stepped up to the plate each time. Even Secretariat lost so most need to realize these horses are not immortal and have bad days and good days just as we do. Maybe Curlin didn't like the view! Who knows? The point is now is time to stop the complaining...our moms taught us if we can't say something nice then dont' say anything at all...why ruin it for the rest of the fans with naysaying...especially this late in the game? Just enjoy what we are givein and forge through to DIRT Championships next year where all the synthetic/turf specialists will be at a disadvantage because there won't be enough fields to accomodate them. They can either open the idea of adding a couple "synthetic dirt" races to the BC cards OR they can leave it the way it is and every year SOMEBODY is going to be at a disadantage. Fact is a CHAMPIONSHIP day to showcase champions and champions overcome adversity...that's what makes them champs. They can also still be champs in defeat but the neat thing about the "mix up" this year is that it throws an added angle in there and those who thought their horses were a "given" to win will see that their horses have to work at it to over come the surface, the post, the break, the trip, and anything else that comes their way in that two minutes before the wire. I wish them all the best of luck and look forward to the SECOND best mountain view from a racetrack that there is. Even though smaller I would say that as far as mountain views go, Emerald Downs TAKES the prize as Moutn Rainier loom large and snow capped (all year long) in the near distance. BREATHTAKING!

Happy to say that THIS Horse Racing maniac is thrilled to be going to Santa Anita for the Breeder's Cup and looking forward to seeing friends, meeting people, and seeing the equine stars WE ALL love. CA Here I come...COMPLAINT FREE!!


Thanks Steve!

22 Oct 2009 3:27 PM
Steve Haskin

BA, I appreciate your desire to protect children from "nasty" language, but you should also complain to Websters dictionary. It is a commonly used word, defined by Webster's as ,"to complain." I dont believe Webster's makes it a practice to use nasty words.

22 Oct 2009 3:55 PM
It aint easy being good!

I like today's article about Einstien we all have a short memory and this horse could be sitting on a big race. Just because the euros dominated last year dont let persuade your decision this year. You have a belmont winner, a horse that has broken 2 track records and a beast in Zenyatta that it proven on this track. It speaks volumes over a washed up Tiago, Casino Drive ...bust and Curlin!

22 Oct 2009 3:57 PM
Bill Daly

People who feel that Curlin was upstaged by lesser talent should rethink that conclusion.  On that surface, on that day, he was the one with lesser talent.  My feeling is that he was over the top by the time that race was run and wasn't ready to deliver his primo performance regardless of the surface.  What makes the BC on ProRide such a difficult handicapping exercise is that none of us have a clue how most of these horses will perform - particularly those who have never run on it.  You have correctly pointed out previously that nobody has the book on how to handicap races on synthetic, much less the BC with all of this talent assembled.  I know one thing; I don't bet SA ProRide with a lot of confidence on BC day.  I'm just ready for a lot of surprises. opinion.

22 Oct 2009 3:58 PM

Beautifully stated, Steve!  I couldn't agree with you more.  I have never liked any artificial surfaces - don't believe we can improve on dirt and grass but I will watch any race I possibly can and would never miss watching the Breeders Cup races, no matter where they are held.  I loved them last year - no matter how they sorted the races on which day.  There are some wonderful horses out there and infinite possibilities - that's always the way it is in a horse race.  These horses do not have to be perfect - even Secretariat and Man O'War lost.  What a horse can do is carry your heart around the track with them; make you part of something magical.  The thing is that those who are busy complaining will miss the joy of what is there to experience.  And there are some amazing horses out there to enjoy.

22 Oct 2009 4:53 PM
Karen2 are da man!!!!!! I didn't mind the word "bitching" fact, I felt it to be absolutely appropriate. That is what we have been doing..Bitching........but even the "fake" surface won't keep me from enjoying the show. I can't wait to see so many stars in one place.

Deacon....I do a lot of reminicing. I love you tube. Some nights I just watch certain races over and over....still sends chills down my spine.

22 Oct 2009 5:00 PM
steve from st louis

Steve: Thanks for sending BA to the woodshed.

22 Oct 2009 5:03 PM
Tim G

LOL Steve. Most of those 'children' she wants to protect roll off four letter words like they are nothing and listening in on one of their conversations would curl her hair.

Mountain Views?

Well the Southern Rockies, Downs at Albuquerque. IN the mountains? Ruidoso.

If we're going for the scenery? Keeneland.

If we're going for the most beautiful track? Everyone has a favorite, but for sheer size and history Churchill Downs.

I'm sure the 'fans' will have a great time wherever, but face it, the races are already suffering from no shows, for various

'reasons'. This year looks like the Cal/Euro Championships.

If we don't speak up about it as members of the industry? They'll plan another fiasco.

22 Oct 2009 5:05 PM
Rachel Alexandra Fan

This comment is going to be geared towards (Happy 2 Be BC Bound).

The reason that I am going to focus directly on this person and or the comment that was previously posted at 3:27 today is that there is so much tunnel vision that goes on towards certain aspects of horse racing that I never stop being amazed by the naïve comments and statements by people who I am sure mean very well.  Its just they are mis-informed, or blinded by the words and statements of other blogs or websites that they follow.  Or possibly even by the different people they are around in real life or on these message boards that they follow.  I will first happily address the first aspect of this person’s statement.  His quote is: “We simply cannot define synthetic performances based on Curlin's run in the BC CLassic last year.”

Let me applaude this person as it is true that we cannot view 1 performance as defining with regards to the way dirt form does not transfer at all to the synthetics.  Incredibly the tunnel vision that I spoke of earlier has apparently led this person and others who do not have a fundamental grip on the game of Horse Racing.  I guess this poster would want you to believe that Curlin was the only dirt horse that ran awful last year on the synthetic “plastic” surface.  As those of us who pay actual attention to the full scope of what happened on that day should come to a realization of the incredible number of dirt horses who backed up that day.  Lets look at this group up close:

1Cocoa Beach numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 2nd in the L.C.

2Music Note-numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 3rd in the L.C.

3Hystericalady -numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 5th in the L.C.

4Ginger Punch -numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 6th in the L.C. - Career Worst

5Fabulous Strike - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 5th in the Sprint

6Black Seventeen - Grade 1 winner on dirt 7th in the Sprint

7First Defence - Grade 1 winner on dirt last in the Sprint - Career Worst

8Munnings - Graded stakes winner ran 10th in the Juvi

9Mine That Bird - Kentucky Derby Winner Ran dead last - Career Worst

10Be Smart - Graded placed - Career Worst

11Doremifasollatido - Graded stakes winner on dirt - career worst

12Pyro Graded stakes winner on dirt - career worst

13Lewis Michael - Grade 1 winner on dirt - career worst

14Indian Blessing - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt - had never fired on synthetics.

15Intangaroo - Grade 1 winner on dirt

16Dearest Trickski Graded Stakes placed

17Dream Rush Graded Stakes placed

And 18th on this list and not last by any means - Curlin - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt - 4th in the classic on synthetics. - Career worst

So I guess this kinda gives an indication that maybe not only Curlin didn’t have a bad day, but Curlin couldn’t deal with the dead melted surface on B.C. day.

The second aspect that I want to address is previous race records.  An old timer once told me, when choosing your Derby horse make sure to choose the horse that never gave up ground in his career.  Guess what Curlin was that horse, that shows his greatness, there were 2 races in his career where Curlin gave up ground to another horse who came from behind and beat him, the Man O’ War on true turf and the B.C. Classic. In every other race a horse never ever made up ground on Curlin, please go back and check the replays if you like.  The point is this gives an indication that this was the surface that beat Curlin and the vast array of other dirt horses that will not be traveling to Santa Anita this year because of the synthetic surfaces.  Please tell the full truth when you post on blogs and message boards of this nature, be open and honest about all the facts don’t slant them to make yourself or others feel better.  That is the best way to handle situations of this nature.

22 Oct 2009 5:15 PM
Rachel Alexandra Fan

This is addressed to the poster (It aint easy being STUPID) he posted on 3:57 pm that Curlin was a bust.  The ignorance of posters like you makes these blogs difficult to read.   I can understand if you don’t like a horse and want to disrespect him or her. But keep comments like that to yourself, your invalid opinion that these horses are or were washed up means nothing to anyone.  Only an IDIOT would state out loud that the richest racehorse in the history of American racing would or could be considered washed up.  It also takes a real lowlife loser to sit behind a computer and spout off such stupid remarks.  I would advise you to pick up the books Horse racing for Idiots or Horse racing for dummies so that you can have a true understanding of what a champion is.  I am sure you may never know but at least try to comprehend things that Little Children can.  Kids know of Curlin’s legacy and his greatness.  Please crawl back into your troll-hole and read up on the game of horse racing, because the negativity that you bring to the table is unwarranted and unneeded.  

22 Oct 2009 5:22 PM
The Rock


Kids these days need to toughen up anyway. Their being coddled way too much. That word won't hurt'em one bit

22 Oct 2009 5:33 PM

I really think the Breeders Cup has been diluted by having so many races and extending it to two days. When it was first conceived it was a day to determine champions in various divisions. Not it is just a betting extravaganza. Added to the problem is the use of a synthetic surface which really blurs the line between dirt and grass racing. I have no confidence that any real champions will be crowned over this supersized event and, try as I might, I have been unable to work up any real enthusiasm for sitting in front of a TV for interminable hours.

22 Oct 2009 6:00 PM

I do believe bitchin was a word used in the 50's so youngsters were ahearing it than. Never heard booty unless it referred to Long john Silver. Alot of new words out there these days

22 Oct 2009 7:52 PM

Steve:  Karen2 gave me an idea. Perhaps we could have an all time favorite "horse racing moment", for each blogger, whether it be a favorite race, story or something that just moved them. You could perhaps set this up to pull the curtain down on 2009. Everyone has a favorite something in this sport, I think it would be nice just to share it.

22 Oct 2009 8:38 PM


I read your 5:15 post.  Maybe your answer for points one to four can be summed up in one word.....ZENYATTA.

22 Oct 2009 8:42 PM


i know what you are trying to say, but can you explain that Curlin never gave up ground to Street Sense in the Derby.

22 Oct 2009 8:49 PM
It aint easy being good

Um rachael your the idiot if you read my post again I said and curlin I was referring to casino drive being a bust which he was. All the breeding and the training and the hype and that horse never delivered. I love Curlin he is actually my favorite horse of all time. I feel that the US horses last year were somewhat weak compared to this year. So before you start people dummies and crawling back into holes maybe you should actually read the whole post YOU IDIOT!

22 Oct 2009 9:08 PM
Steve Haskin

I allowed It Aint Easy's post, only to respond to Rachel Fan's comments, which should have been deleted by our moderators, but they have lots of other things to do and cant catch everything. I also dont wish to waste my time having to scrutinize over people's comments. Rachel misunderstood the comment regarding Casino Drive and responded with unacceptable name calling. So, I will say for the last time, if anyone calls someone on here stupid, idiot, or anything to that effect, their posts not only will be deleted, I will make sure they never have a comment posted on here again. I appreciate every constructive comment and also appreciate that people take time to participate, but because of the number of instances of mud-slinging such as this one, I have cut down on my number of blogs because I have neither the time nor the desire to police every single comment. Nor do the moderators. I ask those who cannot resist resorting to name-calling to think of the others who participate on here and enjoy offering their comments and engaging in good clean spirited debate.

22 Oct 2009 9:36 PM

Steve can check and see if a majority interest in Jackson Bend may have been sold to a very prominent name in the business. Rumor has it he was sold?

22 Oct 2009 9:47 PM
Tim G

Hey Steve, I'm wondering about this rotation plan they have concocted. Do you think it'll be as ill conceived as this 2 years on an untested track that has only been in place since right before the first BC year at Oak Tree? (Woodbine is a sythetic track and heaven forbid the disaster that is known as Del Mar synthetic hosts a BC)

The purse cuts and lack of attendanc/handle is worrisome as are the 'still' available tickets to BC days.

Is it just the LA thing of did it once too boring to do again or the lack of a lot of horses going from the East/Midwest etc that is apparently inhibiting the draw?

Somehow, despite the issues in KY I just can't see tickets for great seats still available at this late date.

As for the name calling? Had to check to make sure it wasn't your colleagues blog comment section I was reading.

22 Oct 2009 9:58 PM

Long live Steve Haskins!!!!!

22 Oct 2009 9:59 PM

I liked your article Steve and I think it is important to put all the negativity of who isn't coming away so we can enjoy what we will be seeing.  It will still be an exciting event - I can't wait and if I could actually go I surely would! I wondered why it seemed like you were posting less recently.  That is really a bummer for all of us who love your articles that some people are being allowed to spoil it.  Won't you please reconsider...?  And just for curiosity-what happened to your last post?  I was reading comments on it over a couple days then it disappeared...?          To BA:  relax, it is 2009 and in this day and age I doubt that even qualifies as a "bad" word judging by what I hear coming out of young peoples mouths these days.

22 Oct 2009 10:15 PM

I am aware that is is used in Webster's dectionary Steve, but it has taken a totally different meaning in this day and age. You can also find just about any swear you can think of in Webster's, that doesn't make it right to use them. That word is used in a very offensive, vulgar manner today, you should know that. All I'm saying is that when you are in a position (like you) where your thoughts and opinions are going to be influencing people, you should be responsible with your choice of words.

22 Oct 2009 10:21 PM
John T.

As the old saying goes ''A Good Horse Should Be Able To Run On Anything''And as these are not 5000

dollar claimers we are talking about there will just be as many memorable moments in this Breeders Cup as there has always been.Just as Shakespeare never meant any of his plays to be about 2 characters

neither was the Breeders Cup meant to be about two horses and when the play is over there will be new stars to talk about.

22 Oct 2009 10:39 PM
Paula Higgins

I agree with all you wrote Steve. I also agree with the 0 tolerance policy towards personal attacks. I like to think those of us that love horse racing are better than that.

I am looking forward to the Breeder's cup Series and I will be thrilled with whoever shows up, and grateful to their owners and trainers that for sending them. Glass half full for me, rather than half empty. Still don't love the plastic LOL, sorry.  

22 Oct 2009 10:53 PM

Thank you, Steve, for another wonderful blog to stir up excitement and anticipation for the upcoming races.  It is such a disappointment, however, when people cannot tolerate another person offering their own opinion and it turns into ugliness.  Isn't that what most of these words we type are, our own humble opinions, not something sacred - carved in stone?  My purpose in coming to your blog is to read the body of wonderful information that you provide with your insight and clarity, not to see one person call another an ugly name.  Thank you for your gift of words, and I am looking forward to the BC and wishing mostly for all horses and jockeys to cross the finish line safely.

22 Oct 2009 10:54 PM
Mary in VT

Steve, your article is beautifully written, and I really tried to drum up some steam for this year's BC ... but I am just not feelin' it. The whole thing has been so badly botched, in my opinion, that I'm inconsolable that racing could shoot it's own foot like this. I'm not sure I will turn the tv on for anyone but Zenyatta. Well ... I guess the turf races are still turf races.

Unless dirt horses win the so called *dirt* races, I don't see how they prove anything about dirt racing or how they could rightly have any bearing on year end dirt championships without giving the fan base still another reason to cool off to racing. Similarly, if another wave of top dirt horses fail to deliver their usual effort on the ProRide, another wave of criticism will follow with another layer of fans saying "what the heck was that?" I'll be glad when it's over, and we can see what can be resurrected from the ashes. : (

Anyway, I hope everyone gets a safe trip and comes back sound.

P.S. You call that scenery? It's usually various shades of tan and brown, isn't it? Though I do like the palms.

22 Oct 2009 11:00 PM
It aint easy being good

Thanks steve I appreciate it and I think Rachel needs to have a smoke break! Going back to my original point I think that there is no distinct advantage of turf versus dirt I just think our american horses from last year where not as talented as this years crop. If you go to espn and ready jeremy plonks articlce it studies dirt to synthetic winners versus turf to synthetics. You will find that article very interesting in the results displayed.

22 Oct 2009 11:08 PM

Bravo Steve...............

22 Oct 2009 11:51 PM

Amen, Steve and thank you.

I am so counting on and hoping for the Queen, Zenyatta, to win either race she may enter ok BC day.  She is the horse who can race on the synthetics.  I am at most, in a quandry regarding most of our American horses.

So I will do my homework and enjoy the BC, each and every race, no matter what horses come out on top.

23 Oct 2009 12:42 AM
Alina L.

I look forward to the Breeders Cup every year, I don't care where it's held.  It's a fun day (or two) of racing and every year, no matter what venue, a big long shot wins at least one race so we all have an opportunity for a handsome payday.

I have to comment on the "bitching" complaint.  People who are worried about bad words should check out the social networking sites that your kids probably frequent.  The worst language I've ever seen was on supposedly sweet and innocent kids' facebook profiles.  

Anyway, this blog is obviously meant for adults so it's not the writer's job to worry about your kids.  It's YOUR job to supervise them.

23 Oct 2009 1:18 AM

Some of the races will be fun, but all my interest is sentimental...hoping Einstein pulls it off...that's about it...

BA, I appreciate your intent, I'm a mom, we get over's hard watching a little child go from the beauty of childish innocence to learning the jaded facts of life..;-)

PS Before anyone tells me I need to raise my kid so he gets a taste of the real world...oh well, too late... he's "only" a 22 year-old black-belt US Marine going on his 3rd tour to hell...

PSS Webster lists any word in the English language...reading it can be an eye opener for all ;-0

23 Oct 2009 6:39 AM

I totally agree Steve there's no need for name calling as we're all having good fun here,there's nothing like race fans in debate as everyone thinks he knows more than the other.However it's my opinion that the Euro horses are going to walk away with most of the cash plain and simple.US horses have a good chance in the sprint and some of the juvinile races.

23 Oct 2009 8:56 AM
Diane J

Lazmannick - you took the words right out of my mouth - Zenyatta is the reason those other good mares lost the race, not the surface.

23 Oct 2009 9:13 AM
Linda in Texas

It is always a new day for those of us lucky enough to wake up and enjoy it. It is up to us to

take advantage of it, those who prefer to find fault with every single opinion or use of the english language have little to nothing constructive in their lives, obviously. So with that said, i say thanks again Steve I liked your intro. The first email i open every morning is the one from I am always glad to not read about an 'old friend' having to be euthanized due to the infirmities of old age or a jockey being injured and paralyzed for life. Then i read the articles and Steve's Blog. Turf,dirt,plastic, whatever. The horses will be there. They will race. Lots of us will have to eat our words and swallow our pride after it is all said and done and horseracing will go on. New favorites will be foaled and careers followed. I hope i live to be 100 so i can witness it all. May the best horses win and all who have the thoroughbreds best interests at heart be shown some admiration and respect. I look forward to November 6 and 7.

23 Oct 2009 10:16 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

      Well Stated!, Civility people...


      Good point regarding Zenyatta :)

23 Oct 2009 10:41 AM

In a day and time of thoroughbred racing when you hear of a 3yr.old being retired, without exception it's almost always because of some career ending leg injury, in the case of "Sea The Stars" it's very refreshing to get to see a 3yr.old retired on merit and not on injury. As for Rachael Alexandra skipping the Breeders Cup, it's only happening because she's now owned by Jesse Jackson. The gentleman that originally owned her, I have no doubt, would be sending her to Santa Anita. If you'll recall, the same gentleman sent her without pause in late June, 2008 to race and she handled the synthetics fine. I guess you could say she made it look easy. So, imo, Sea The Stars gets a pass for merit, Rachael Alexandra does not for dodging.

23 Oct 2009 11:28 AM

BA:  While you are perusing Webster's for coarse language, you might look up how to spell "disappointed", 2009's Word Botched Most on Blogs.  Lots of disappointment this year from the spelling challenged.  I'm much more concerned that your children will not learn to spell properly than they might see a word that has legitimate use to describe a female canine.

That said: great column, Mr. Haskin, and GO EINSTEIN !!

23 Oct 2009 11:31 AM

Please keep it civil....if we have already lost some blogs because of mud slinging...we could risk losing them all together. These blogs are some of our life lines into thoroughbred's our great escape...

23 Oct 2009 11:36 AM

Geir Stabell of Globeform and Jay Hovdey of DRF have great columns about Zenyatta- whoever is interested

23 Oct 2009 11:50 AM

It ain't easy being good,

You are so right.  The Plonk article is very good and kudos to him for all of the research.

Mr. Steve Haskin,

If you have not read Mr. Plonk's article, I think you should.  It doesn't change the fact that The Breeders Cup should be run on dirt but it is GREAT INFORMATION TO HAVE AS A HANDICAPPER.  Here it is:

23 Oct 2009 12:01 PM
Karen D

One thing I have loved about this season is that the match up everyone was talking about this year was about the ladies.  Instead of their usual supporting roles, Rachel and Zenyatta lead the girls front and center into a well deserved spotlight.  I remember Quiji Board winning the Distaff at Churchill a few years back (her third appearance in that race by the way) and only a handful of photographers gathered around the winners circle. We have way too much tunnel vision.  

Maybe the turf/synthetic specialists deserve their moment in the sun too. And I still believe a good horse will run on any surface. Einstein is a great example.  I can't wait to board that plane to California.  I'm sure I'll enjoy this trip every bit as much as I have the many years before it.  It's all good.

23 Oct 2009 12:14 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr Haskins for your comments concerning out of bounds type arguments.  I thought I was back in the Club House at SA listening to well heeled guys screaming at one another with someone, finally, yelling "Well, I'll book your bet".  A ton of ad hominems in between.

However, may I add bringing politics in discussions as a no-no.  There is a lady who posts here, of whom I respect her equine opinions, however, not long ago on one of the pre-Classic threads, she interjected her thoughts on our President being awarded the Peace Prize.  This had, absolutely, no place on a horse racing web log.

I was beginning to think that BH web logs were becoming a cross of the KC Star juvie college and Chiefs ranters, either Political Animal or Free Republic political rants and occasional horse and/or trainer comments.

Shout out to Kat - Wasn't Interco out of a Forli mare?

23 Oct 2009 12:40 PM
Steve Haskin

BA, I apologize if my use of that word offended you. I felt it was a rather innocuous word when used as a verb in that context, but I can appreciate your concerns.

23 Oct 2009 1:04 PM
Mary in VT

I understood Steve's use of the word 'bitching' to mean complaining. It was not a vulgar usage.

Dog breeders have still another proper use for the word 'bitch' which is quite correctly used to reference female dogs. Though that is the correct term for a female dog, it does take the uninitiated by surprise at times. I will explain it to people, but I will not apologize for using correct terminology because any offense is caused by lack of understanding on the part of the hearer, not the speaker. Rather like referring to a mother horse as a 'dam,' don't you think?

Calling someone a 'bitch' is the properly offensive use of the word. Since neither Steve nor anyone else did that, perhaps we can give this particular part of the discussion a rest now.

Anyway, that's my two cents. : D

23 Oct 2009 1:19 PM
Kim R

Steve, you shouldn't be apologizing for what you say on YOUR OWN BLOG!!!!  I love all of your articles, comments, blogs, etc...  Keep up the tremendous work!

23 Oct 2009 1:28 PM

I'm a big MTB fan. I've been watching him on and off, on the security cam. I would like to know if someone can tell me why they put a cone on his nose that is hooked up to a machine? Is he having breathing problems, or is it something they normally do after a workout. It appears they wrap something wrapped around his midsection too. I can't tell since the picture is somewhat grainy. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

23 Oct 2009 1:35 PM
Steve Haskin

Mary, you are right, enough of that. I'll only say I don't apologize for using the word, because I find it tame. I apologized to this one person if it offended her.

Tim, we'll have to wait on the rotation plan. You can be sure they'll never do this again. It was done as a favor and they realize they made a big mistake. They need to make a sensible and poular decision. They are overdue.

23 Oct 2009 2:17 PM
Tim G

Well I was just told your colleague suggested they run the BC in California every year.

If that wouldn't kill it then I don't know what would.

Not sure with mindsets like that, that any decision would be popular.

I can assure him though that IT won't fly with horsemen West of the Mississippi and eventually would just die without the East/midwest support.

Fla was the other suggestion I understand, which never set records either.

Done as a favor and he tanked anyway. That was our first mistake. Letting ONE track owner monopolize so many tracks. That's my opinion but not far off from a lot of horsemen and fans.

23 Oct 2009 2:47 PM
Bill Daly

Steve, you are the man.  Respect for others' opinions is what it is all about.  You and I may differ, but as long as we show respect - regardless of how wrong or right our opinions are - it's all good.  Although, I am one of those who really dislike synthetic surfaces and never bet SA - except for the BC - I plan to enjoy these two wonderful days of racing. The BC is a pageant of racing at its' best for all of us to enjoy and savor. Period.

23 Oct 2009 2:58 PM
Majella from Ireland

Steve; Great blog. Maybe it's because I don't really have any opinion on dirt vs synth but I am SOO EXCITED for the BC!!! I really like that colt, Lookin' At Lucky. I hope he will do well. I love so many horses running at the BC this year, I won't know who to yell for. I love your optimism too Steve, everyone should just enjoy it, just because RA and STS aren't coming doesn't mean its not great!

And Seabiscuit has much more and certainly stronger language than what Steve wrote and isn't that a family movie? I know people have talked about this so sorry for adding to a closed matter but c'mon. Its not as if hundreds of Hannah Montana fans will suddenly flood this website. Steve didn't even use it in an offensive way anyway. Just my opinion :)

23 Oct 2009 4:50 PM
Tim G

sorry meant horsemen who ARE NOT West of the Miss.

Sounds like Todd has a huge contingent again. Sounds like he's taking a lot of his juvies.

Seems to me as though the Sprint is shaping up to be one of the better races.

Well, guess we'll only have to wait a few more days to see who else heads West, or across the pond. Then the real fun begins!

23 Oct 2009 5:06 PM

What a bummer! Icon Project retired!

23 Oct 2009 5:45 PM

Mr. Haskin, you mention Summer Bird will have another chance at the BC next year.  Has it been confirmed that he'll race as a four year old?  I hope so as I really like him.

Majella from Ireland, thank you for the laugh.  I got a big kick out of your comment about Hannah Montana fans flooding this web site.

Though it's supposed to be a closed matter I would like to add:  can't anything be just for  grown-ups anymore?  Parents, you need to watch your own children and stop expecting the whole world to be preschool friendly.

23 Oct 2009 6:22 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, I think your use of the English language is brilliant in every respect. You have elevated it to an art form on many occasions. Thank you for that. Besides being positively poetic at times, you have a ton of horse smarts as well.

It was nice of you to apologize for offending our fellow blogger since no one else was offended. In my view, anyone who views this site has a level of sophistication that doesn't require that particular kind of censorship.

23 Oct 2009 8:21 PM

Saddle - the machine they wrap around him is an Equissager, atleast it looks just like those I have seen on equine health product websites.  While I am not certain on the cone - he does take Lasix per DRF forms and I'm pretty sure that is the delivery system for the drug. Hope that helps.  I watch him, too!  I like waking up to the Bird with my coffee in the morning.  I think it is a great thing for the owner/trainer to provide the fans.

23 Oct 2009 8:27 PM
Steve Haskin

Irish, yes, the trainer and owner have confirmed Summer Bird will race as a 4-year-old.

Thanks everyone for your comments.

24 Oct 2009 5:02 AM
Derby Dew

Hey y'all,

It befuddles me when I read all these comments about the dislike of artificial surfaces.  To me, handicapping a race on an artificial surface is just another component of handicapping.  No two racetracks are alike, no matter what surface they have.  How often have we heard the jockey or trainer of a losing favorite say after the race that their horse simply didn't like the track - whether turf, dirt, slop, or plastic???  Same O, Same O.

Handicapping artificial surfaces should be no more difficult than decifering form on other surfaces.  Today's horseplayers have so many more tools at our disposal than when I started some 52 years ago.  I.e., one tool that's helpful with any surface is Brisnet's PP's which detail which running styles and post positions are doing well at various distances at that venue.  Also, trainer stats now reflect their degree of success for artificial surfaces.  

This game was never easy, and, for my money, adding artificial surfaces to the mix just makes handicapping a bit more interesting.  Heck, they could run the Breeders' Cup on ice (check the shoes) and I'd still enjoy playing it.


24 Oct 2009 9:04 AM

Derby Dew

I think that there are two ways of looking at it.....

a) From a handicapping point of view, where you are only interested in who will win the race.

b) From the horse's point of view, where you are only interested in seeing a horse perform to the best of its ability without the surface being an impediment.

24 Oct 2009 10:46 AM

I'am gonna just love the BC this year, my favorites are out of the races and I love horses soooo, guess I will love watching them run and hope no injuries occur....

Thanks Steve Haskin for another wonderful story...

24 Oct 2009 4:09 PM
Paula Higgins

Great news that summer Bird will be running as a 4 year old! Many thanks to the owner and trainer.

I don't like synthetics because I believe it creates an UN-level playing field. I think dirt is a level playing field for almost all horses. Some run better on grass but all should be able to run on the dirt as well. It's about what's real and not real. Synthetics are not a real running surface and I think it is harder for many horses to run on, especially because they are trained on dirt. If it really made a huge difference in safety I would say stick with it, but it doesn't. Let's put it this way, if you had Olympic runners training on a regular track and then they had to run on a completely different surface, how well do you think they would do? Then how about this question. Some Olympic runners train on a synthetic surface and some on dirt. Then the Olympics is held on the synthetic stuff. Who do you think would have the advantage? You need to have essentially standardized surfaces for grass and dirt races IMO. The reason riders and trainers say their horse didn't handle the track is because the horse DIDN"T handle the track. It's a no brainer. This issue is not about handicapping. I wonder how Secretariat and Man O' War would have liked the fake stuff????

24 Oct 2009 4:26 PM
Paula Higgins

One last comment about being warm and fuzzy when posting on a blog. I am a refugee from a figure skating blog site. I couldn't handle the viciousness anymore. Can you imagine that? FIGURE SKATING for goodness sakes where everyone dresses up in sequins and feathers. They are a REALLY tough bunch. They make us look like Shirley Temple in REBECCA OF SUNNYBOKK FARM. Will Ferrell and the brohter-sister skating teamin BLADES OF GLORY were spot on.

24 Oct 2009 4:47 PM

Paula- track and field tracks are not all uniform.  they differ all over the world and the runners have to adjust.  Some run better on one surface, some not but the great ones always seem to run their race regardless.  Dirt is not a level playing field in horse racing either.  Some horses don't run well on the deeper tracks, some do.  Some run better on the tighter tracks, some don't.  Easy Goer never ran his best the two times they ran at Churchill.  He obviously didn't care for the track.  JO Tobin always ran down badly everytime they ran him out East. They would put three run downs on him and he always came back bleeding.  He hated the deep East Coast tracks. Some run well in mud and some don't.  So why isn't synthetic looked upon as just another variable?

Just because synthetics play better to turf horses doesn't mean that great horses can't run on it.  Secretariat and Man O' War could run over glass if they had to and still win.  They would have handled it fine.  So would Round Table, Damascus, Kelso, Forego, Buckpasser, Citation, etc.  We just don't have horses of that caliber running right now.  I think some of the West Coast trainers observations that they think it's the adjustment from one synthetic to another that is injuring the horses might be accurate.  If there was one uniform course, the injury rate would drop.  Europe has only one type of all weather course and they run on it constantly and their injury rate is small.  I'm not defending them, but I don't consider them the huge evil that everyone else does.  They are different, and certain horses run better on them, but that doesn't mean that our upper echelon horses can't perform on them.  We need a uniform synthetic, and it needs to be installed in all the synthetic courses if we are going to keep them.  If we don't keep them,  then we don't.  It doesn't matter to me either way.  

How many horses have been injured when switching from dirt to synthetic or from synthetic to dirt as compared to the horses being injured going from one synthetic to another?  Synthetic tracks in California are as different as night and day.  A horse that can run well at Del Mar can't necessarily run well at Santa Anita.  And horses who relish Hollywood Park don't necessarily do well at the other two tracks.  But I do think that great horses can run on anything.  Curlin was tired  by the time he got to the Breeder's Cup.  I think that had more to do with his race than the synthetic track.  Both the European jockeys weren't worried about him because they said they knew their horses could outkick him, so they felt all they had to do is stay with him.  If Curlin was the same Curlin at the end of the year as the one that won the Dubai Cup, he would have been the winner.  But he wasn't the same horse.  We aren't getting some of our horses for the Breeder's Cup, but we are getting others that we would never see otherwise.  Maybe our horses won't shine as much, but we get a chance to see many European horses that we wouldn't otherwise.  And maybe some of our horses will surprise us.  I love European horses but I don't think Rip Van Winkle or Mastercraftsman are shoo-ins for the BC Classic.  The synthetic tracks are here  at the moment.  We shouldn't use them as an excuse.

24 Oct 2009 9:48 PM

Paula- you are so right about the figure skating bloggers.  they can be EVIL!!!  But you also know that each ice rink was not uniform and created equal either.  The greats adjusted their programs and the others made excuses about the ice or the size of the rink, etc. (And I know you are thinking of the same ones I am!!!)

24 Oct 2009 9:53 PM
Tim G

Paula, I'm in agreement with you. Most of us in this country are, even those who run on it, like Baffert etc.

Even though Dublin seems to have rebounded from his inexplicably bad performance at Belmont? He won't be subjected to that uncertainty at this fragile stage of his career.

Hmmm, maybe because the Euros run the clockwise, that makes a difference, LOL.

The thing about the synthetics is either they like them or they don't. BC day is a heck of a time to test it out. Especially when some are already swallowing hard with the fees especially those who weren't nominated and don't want to risk the fees on a surface their horse is unfamilar with.

Like it or not there is a rising number who are NOT going to subject these valuable animals to the uncertainty when they don't run them on it any other time of the year. We have NO true synthetic horses bred yet so we really are shooting in the dark. Don't know about the rest of them, but I agree with those who don't want to risk a 500,000-2.5 mil horse to win a race that will most likely have an * on it 5-10 years from now. That is ESPECIALLY true of those with an interest or a potential Derby/TC horse.

24 Oct 2009 11:14 PM


I agree that Curlin finished like a tired horse in the Classic, but I also think that he made his move too soon.  He had probably the most devastating kick of any in the race (Trevor said: and look at Curlin go is this believable).  And when he did move it was obvious that he wasn't bothered by the track surface.  He simply didn't have to move when he did.  Robby should have waited for the last possible second and not really move on him until they were in the stretch.  That's hindsight, I'm sure, but if he would have waited we might have ssen an entirely differnt finish, and who knows, maybe it would have led to Rachel being in the BC this year although I don't think she would have been in the BC under any circumstances (too much to risk).  

24 Oct 2009 11:41 PM


    I agree with that entire post pretty much. The thing I don't like about Cali synthetics is that they are trying to pass off to the general public that synthetics are the same thing as dirt and a lot safer. They are lying on both accounts, which tics me off. Synthetics are a whole different ball game than dirt and if they are going to stay then they need to classified as a completely different surface, since some dirt horses like it, and some hate it. The same goes for turf horses too. Also what I think would be best for both dirt and synthetics, if both stay around is to do studies on each seperately to find which kind of dirt is safer and what brand of synthetic is safer. Racing needs the uniformity, and we need to make sure we keep our athletes as safe as possible. For a dirt track, I would look at what Saratoga has, since they've had such success with it, especially over the past couple of years. Synthetics are still fairly new so more research would probably have to go in on that, from a person on the side I would go with the track Hollywood Park has. From what I can remember it has had the least problems of any of the others. Turf, I'm not sure about, I'm not an expert on any surface by any means, but I don't know much about turf. Maybe studies could be done to see what turf track is safest and what that track does to keep the track so nice. While I do not like synthetics in the least, they do bring in more international horses, which would give meaning to the World, in BC World Championships. If racing could find a way to make all tracks uniform, by finding the safest ways to maintain and mix each, then by all means go ahead and keep synthetics.

24 Oct 2009 11:50 PM
Paula Higgins

O.k. Footlick, I accept what you say about all tracks not being created equal but don't you think maybe that is something we can improve on? How about standardizing the grass and dirt as much as possible/to a reasonable degree so no one can make excuses. I still think synthetics feel different to a horse and the fact that there are different types of synthetics isn't great either.

I will agree that Secretariat and Man O' War could run on just about anything, but as you said times have changed and so have horses. As for Curlin, he was and is a great horse. I agree that he was tired and would have won if it was at the beginning of the season. He had a tremendously challenging year with quite a bit of travel. It was a privilege to see him race.

Yes, figure skating fans can be a piece of work and who can forget the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding saga. Yes, all rinks are not the same and the ice isn't uniform either. I think rinks are smaller in Asia for instance. Believe me, bad ice makes for a bad skate.

25 Oct 2009 12:44 AM
Soldier Course

The theater analogy is perfect.

I have an "understudy" story. It may be urban legend, but I'd like to think it's true.

I'm assuming everyone here knows Astrud Gilberto's iconic recording of "The Girl from Ipanema".

Astrud had accompanied her husband Joao Gilberto to the final recording session with Stan Getz. Another female vocalist was supposed to sing the song. She was somehow delayed in getting to the recording studio. Joao Gilberto suggested that they warm up while waiting on the vocalist, letting Astrud stand in for her because "she can carry a tune". Astrud took the mike. Stan Getz was awestruck. The rest is history.

25 Oct 2009 10:51 AM
Soldier Course

I'd like to say again how much I enjoy the B-H Blog Stable. I know things can get a bit rowdy at times, but that's what happens when there's great passion uniting us. A gentle reminder from Steve keeps everyone in line. Thanks.

25 Oct 2009 11:01 AM


   I agree about the move, and that Curlin's kick was probably the best of all in the field. I had actually wanted Robby to have Curlin closer to the lead, like he did in the World Cup. Curlin had shown the ability to run close to the pace or close, so why not have him closer to the pace in a race that only had like two speed horses? I think had he done that, that big move on the turn would not have been needed and he wouldn't have felt so pressured to move Curlin earlier than needed. I remember that call by Trevor and was amazed by the move, he was picking off horses like they were nothing around that turn, and had he waited, there is no doubt in my mind the finish would've had Curlin in front by at least three lengths. He was great, and that race did not do his greatness justice.

25 Oct 2009 11:28 AM

Laz- at first I thought that he moved early too, and his move was electric.  I also thought that it showed the surface didn't bother him.  I think though they thought they had to move early to get the jump on the Euros.  I do know that the two jocks on Raven and Henry said that they knew they could outkick Curlin.  I think they knew he was a tired horse.  He certainly could have waited and made that move as a stretch run, but then the Euros would have been even closer to him for the stetch run.  I still think he gets beat because I think they were faster that day.  Neither of them would have stood a chance if he ran his Dubai race.  Just another comment on Curlin, I thought his Man O War was a good race and a good effort.  It wouldn't have discouraged me from sending him to Europe.  Maybe not to run in the Arc, but there were other gr 1 races at 10 furlongs that I think he would have been suited for and very competitive.

25 Oct 2009 11:44 AM

LDP-Thanks.  You are right that racing would benefit from some uniformity.  I'm not sure how well we could do that with dirt and turf given the differences in the natural compositions all over the country.  But I think that there could be basic standards that racing could benefit from.  I also like the Hollywood Park synthetic best, and wish all the tracks adopt that as the synthetic of California.  And from what I've heard, they say it plays most like dirt of any.  And the synthetic horses seem to hold form there, but it might be better playing field for the dirt horses.  I think in Europe they only use the Tapeta(?) synthetic that Michael Dickenson touts.   They feel it is safe and they say they have very few injuries.  And I think I read somewhere that they race almost all year round on them.  I know synthetics aren't liked, but if they are staying, we agree that they need to be uniform.  Hopefully that will cut down on the injuries.  And I don't know what they are doing at Del Mar. It seems to just be a very quirky, weird track whether it's dirt or synthetic.  It reminds me of a track they raced on here in Illinois, Sportsman's Park.  It was a 5/8 track with banked turns.  They ran harness and thoroughbred meets there.  There were horses that couldn't run a step at Arlington or Hawthorne who were world beaters at Sportsman's.  It was just insane!  Horses would blow the turns all the time.  When Del Mar was a dirt track, they always talked about "Del Mar specialists" who became major horses when they ran there.  Who knows what that track is doing to their synthetic, but they seem to have the most problems and it doesn't seem to be working.  Don't you also think that they need to find a way to make the tracks more consistent from morning workouts to raceday?  So many trainers complain that many synthetics- especially Del Mar- were such different tracks in the afternoon.  Oh well- maybe in the future.  Thanks again for your insights LDP.  

25 Oct 2009 12:02 PM

Paula- yes, I think the key to synthetic racing is uniformity.  I don't know if we can make dirt and turf uniform because, as I said in my post to LDP, it is too dependent upon what is natural in the area.  But there is no reason that synthetics can't be standardized.  I think it was a mistake to let each Cal track pick their own synthetic.  If the Cal Thoroughbred Association wanted this to happen, they should have done the research and chosen one synthetic.

It was a privilege to see Curlin race and compete.  A very honest horse who always gave everything that he had.  His Dubai cup- even though he outclassed everything on that track, was just an amazing race.  I may be wrong, but I think he peaked in that race.  It gave you chills how dominating he was there.  Those two races in Dubai was what put Curlin on the map in Europe.  It solidified his reputation there.  They could see first hand what kind of racehorse he was.

On another note- it looks like Plushenko is back after 4 yrs away.

25 Oct 2009 12:11 PM
Ida Lee

Again, I really enjoyed reading your article and agree - let's forget who's not going to be there and let's enjoy the great horses that will be there. Just a few minutes ago I was planning on taking BC Friday off from work because, let's face it, the BC is always great racing. You get to see so many of the wonderful champs going at it. (and I'm saying this even though last year I tearfully swore I'd never watch the BC again after the equine love of my life Curlin was beaten so badly.) But, I'm going to miss Zenyatta, Gio Ponti, Kodiak Cowboy, Einstein, and so many of my other favorites race because my Queen Rachel and the incredible Sea the Stars won't be there? I don't think so. I can't wait!!! P.S. Win or lose, I still love the Golden God known as Curlin.

25 Oct 2009 12:51 PM

IMO, when you factor in heat, humidity, and rainfall vs. treated water, course maintenance becomes as much an art as a science, particularly with synthetics. Uniformity in all three surfaces would be difficult to achieve just because of climate differences.

25 Oct 2009 1:32 PM
Paula Higgins

Footlick, YES!!! Plushy is back. He will give the Japanese men and Evan a run for their money. Mao Asada is breaking my heart however. A brilliant skater who is having problems. Our girls did well. O.k. I promise no miore figure skating on this blog.

25 Oct 2009 1:36 PM

Indian Blessing...another synthetic "victim"....

25 Oct 2009 5:25 PM


    I do think the issue of morning to afternoon consistency of the tracks need to be addressed. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks the wax within the mixture causes that problem. It can become real hard and packed if to cold or loosen and melt if too hot. If racing could find a true substance that could be resiliant to not just rain, but temp the tracks would be in decent shape. I forgot all about Tapeta, and like that brand too, everything else needs to be canned.

25 Oct 2009 6:42 PM
Tim G

Dirt surfaces can be compounded the same, but the weather, drainage etc makes a difference.

The primary difference in maintaining a dirt surface? The track super. The synthetics require a manufacturers rep to manage that surface from everything I've heard.

Short of tearing up every track in the country there STILL is no way to have them uniform, track configurations vary too much. However since dirt is prevailing in this country in both racing and pedigree and a WELL maintained dirt surface is as good or better than the synthetics have proven? Makes it more exciting to keep it dirt and have differing tracks.

25 Oct 2009 7:26 PM


We must be thankful for the spectacular performances that Sea The Stars and Rachel Alexandra put on for us this year, however the show must go on and thankfully the game is much bigger than its momentary star performers.  

I am looking forward to seeing Quality Road, Summer Bird and Mine That Bird shut out the Euros in the BC Classic.  Even the "soap opera" surrounding Zenyatta is quite captivating.  Will her risk-averse connections take the chance of seeing her stocks lowered by Rachel Alexandra's deputy, Careless Jewel in the Distaff? or will they go for broke with her in the BC Classic, in a desperate last ditch effort for HOTY considerations while not standing to lose as much in her rating with a very likely defeat by a stellar field of colts and geldings?  This is thoroughbred racing at its fascinationg best, don't you think?

Another very intriguing angle for me is to catch a peek into Todd Pletcher's "hand" to see the aces that he is holding for the Kentucky Derby trail next year.  Interactif and Eskendereya are two very promising colts indeed that possess Derby winning pedigree "to die for".  Many observerer will be watching to see if, barring injury, Todd can finally pull it off on the first Saturday in May 2010.  The breeder's Cup is where the action is, Synthetics/Plastic and all.

25 Oct 2009 7:35 PM

Excellent insight given on this blog. Like many of you I do not like the synthetics either. I do believe that we need to have a uniform racing surface. Horse racing is historic. Each race comes and goes so quickly. It is the memories from the race that stir all of us. Here we are 1 year later and we still talk about the Classic in 2008 and Curlin's performance. I agree that Robby moved Curlin too early. He obviously thought he had enough horse to seal the deal. With regards to the synthetics,  I just do not understand the mindset of those folks who make these decisions.  These synthetic surfaces have deprived most of us with the ability to truly handicap a race. It's getting to be like throwing darts. If it aint broken don't try and fix it and I never thought the product was broken in the first place. Most would I think agree that California has the best consistent weather to run a race. That should help not hinder this sport. Just bizarre the way things are done..........

25 Oct 2009 9:11 PM

Hi all,

Just wanted to point out that most European "synthetic" tracks (we call them All-Weather BTW) are actually Polytrack (as used at Keeneland, Woodbine, etc).

Also, we don't just race clockwise (right-handed as we'd call it!), European racecourses come in all shapes and sizes some clockwise, some counter-clockwise (left-handed).

Some racecourses are round, others are L-shaped and others are shaped like a figure of 8.  They also go up and down, left, right - you name it, we've got it!

Take a look at this photo of the final stages of a race at Epsom Racecourse (home of the original Derby) and you'll see the true meaning of an uphill finish!

26 Oct 2009 11:39 AM
Shawn P

I can't believe there are still tickets available!

With the difficulties in racing it's sad to see that the biggest day outside of the TC isn't selling.

It's still going to be a great day, and hopefully all will be safe.  I can't wait to see Zenyatta, Zensational, Careless Jewel, MTB, Summer Bird and all the Euros.

Just every time another one announces they aren't coming it's like another dagger. Was thinking, people WANT the NTRA/BC types to be a governing board? I just don't think they can leave out the politics and 'favors'.

Carlos, if you're out there? I CAN take the heat. It's the 'man' who can't.

I'd definitely hang with you anytime and believe it or not I'm fun and I actually LOVE racing. Can't say the same for some.

26 Oct 2009 1:14 PM
Ann in Lexington

Many tidbits came to mind as I read these responses.

First: Dirt tracks had become more and more unfair in the last decade, packed down to favor speed horses. This also led to more injuries from concussion on the harder surface. Track management didn't bother to maintain a deeper, fairer and safer surface; probably considered it too expensive (labor intensive). (Sealing tracks to prevent deep, muddy surfaces, is another speed-friendly, injury-promoting strategy.) All-Weather surfaces are as problem-prone as dirt if they aren't maintained meticulously.

Second: Many East Coast horses don't get the conditioning on their packed-down, speed-favoring dirt courses that a good AW course can give them, so they don't 'finish' as well as as they do elsewhere when they race on AW.  

Track and field races are run on coated boards indoors, cinder and other surfaces outdoors. The best indoor runners often are not the best outdoor runners. Tennis majors are played on grass, clay, and HardTru. Some players master one or another, maybe two, but struggle on the other(s). To meet the ultimate challenge, the Grand Slam, you have to win on all three.

26 Oct 2009 1:32 PM

Ann- good points!

26 Oct 2009 4:54 PM

pNewmarket-thanks for the info.  I love the fact that the courses in the UK and Ireland and in Europe are so different and challenging.  Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and the Arc have to be three of the toughest 12 furlongs in racing.  I have a question for you.  They say Godsen is leaning toward the Turf for Dar Re Mi instead of the Filly/Mare turf.  I didn't think 12 furlongs was her best distance?  Is it because it's at Santa Anita?  I think I would rate Conduit and Spanish Moon higher than her at 12 furlongs.  I know she won the Yorkshire Oaks and the Vermielle, but Stacelita was always suspect at 12.

26 Oct 2009 5:10 PM

I am so tired of the complaining about the surface of which the Breeders Cup will be contested this year. If it wasn't this it would have been it was a different type of dirt surface. It deeper in the east ot the dirt tracks in the west is built for speed. I say the surface brings the "Dirt Horses" and the "Turf Horses" closer to compete with each other. In the end they are all horses. If you can't handicap on the Pro-Ride, I say great. It would be a death keel for racing if all the races 2-5 favorites were winning the majority of the races. Even at the same track, the conditions sometimes changes the surface. I find in most cases form holds and the basic handicapping factors still hold true. The Euros have come to all the the venues at all of the tracks and don't complain. We can't even go coast to coast without the!

27 Oct 2009 12:57 AM

Footlick, to the best of my knowledge the Lloyd Webbers are favouring the Turf as they feel that a mile and a half is her best trip - I'm told that they felt, had she been ridden more positively, she would have finished 2nd or 3rd behind Sea the Stars at Longchamp.  She certainly finished the best of all the front-running horses.

Also in the Turf she will get the 3lb mares allowance, which could make all the difference.

27 Oct 2009 5:31 AM

There are some very good comments on this blog but for me the fact is: STS and Rachel haven't ruined the day. STS was never actually coming and Jess Jackson is just too worried about Rachel losing. I agree with the post somewhere above that if someone else owned her she would be racing. The surface doesn't seem to matter to this great filly.

So I am very excited and looking forward to the BC. Let's forget about who isn't coming and be glad about who is coming.  We have a couple of days of great racing to look forward to. The way that horseracing is going we should relish an event like this. Who knows if there will even be a BC in 10 years. My wish is that all these great athletes, both equine and human, give their best and more importantly come back safe. Let the games begin.  

27 Oct 2009 9:42 AM
Mary in VT

Oh brother.

As I have watched horse racing slip away from the national consciousness, I have often thought that the sport of kings could really benefit from employing a top public relations firm to elevate it's profile among other major sports and national pastimes.

The XpressBet advertisement that came in the mail on behalf of wagering on the BC ain't gonna do it. For one thing, it readily admits that the loss of one horse - Rachel Alexandra - is a huge blow, and admits it twice. Secondly, it admits that handicapping the Pro-Ride is a 'struggle.' It admits that holding the event at the same venue in back to back years wasn't the best idea they ever had. They do try to make a case for the pluses outweighing the minuses, and at least they did put something in some mailboxes. They saw the need, at least they tried, and you gotta love their honesty. But after reading their ad I still find myself better versed in the flaws inherent in this year's edition of the once mighty Breeder's Cup that crowned so many a worthy champion.

I could just cry.

27 Oct 2009 12:02 PM

My mother bred, raised and showed Shelties when I was born and she swears up & down that my first word was bitch, LOL.

Concerning the synths, could all the problems in Cal. be simply because the synths have primarily been installed in colder, more varied climates?  We hear very little of  maintenance difficulties that happen in Cal. happening at Turfway, Arlington, Keeneland or Woodbine, although the first 3 have had other concerns. I'll be interested to see how the Tapeta performs in Dubai, although the Maktoums have more money and time to throw at any problem that may arise than any racetrack on these shores.

27 Oct 2009 12:27 PM

Thanks pNewmarket- I rewatched the Arc and I don't know what they wanted more of her?  Did they want her further off the pace?  Stacelita took the real pace heat, ran a bang-up 10 furlongs which everybody thought she would, but 12 furlongs was just too long.  It doesn't

make Dar Re Mi look any stronger off her Vermeille score.  All year people thought Stacelita was suspect at 12.  But Dar Re Mi did run strong against Sarkisa at 12.  I don't see Dar Re Mi outfinishing Cavalryman nor Conduit nor Youzmain.  But, 12 furlongs at Santa Anita isn't a European 12 furlongs.  I'm not bothered by the distance as I am about Spanish Moon and a healthy Conduit.  I usually love Euro fillies, but to me she's third best in this group.  Am I missing something?  I try to read as many Euro blogs and such as I can, but it's not like being there.

27 Oct 2009 9:46 PM

Many comments about wanting uniformity in surfaces.  However, why, when there were only dirt tracks did we have the term "Horse for the course"?  Why did Eddie Gregson's Super Diamond love Del Mar and not the two LA area tracks?  On turf, why did Frankel's Wickerr wake up at Del Mar, as did, many others on either surface?  Why did some run better at SA than over at HP and vice versa?

28 Oct 2009 7:35 AM

Footlick, I'm not sure that the Lloyd-Webbers were disappointed with the mares run per se, rather that they thought she could have finished closer given a better ride.

She's definitely tough and the owners think the world of her.

Personally I'll be having a bet known over here as a Lucky 30 where 4 horses are backed to win, show or place in various combinations.  My 4 are Goldikova, Dar Re Mi, Informed Decision and Forever Together.

28 Oct 2009 10:41 AM

Zenyatta's record should not be discounted against Rachel Alexandra's just because she runs on synthtetics - if it is as bad and as difficult to run on as everyone attests, then she should be applauded with even louder cheers and accolades!

28 Oct 2009 11:28 AM
Pam S.

It is unusually cold today where I live (it'll warm up again though), and it made me think how glad I am that it won't be cold or rainy or both for the BC.  I'm attending both days and really looking forward to it, especially now that Zenyatta is apparently headed to the Classic.  Pretty interesting.

Agree that Sea the Stars was always a longshot to come, plenty of other Euros, don't think he'll be missed that much.  As for Rachel?  Well, as Matthew W. said on the other blog, she was mismanaged, and with pretty much any other owner she'd be competing.  For now, though, it's out of sight, out of mind.  Not the death blow to the event that some would make it out to be.  

Those who continue to suffer such angst over the Breeders' Cup, instead of "crying," can't you just watch the World Series?  It starts tonight.

28 Oct 2009 1:11 PM
The Phantom

Zenyatta will not run against the boys, she's had 2 years to challenge them on her fav surface and the owner and trainer ducked away from facing really good comp so would they put her unbeaten record on the line against a stellar field that the real classic will have and that mile a quarter-No way, they are afraid as was RA's owner to go against a such a srong field and that extra distance.Both are ducked the best comp that to me is phony as would either of them being voted HOY without facing the best comp at the Classic distance.

28 Oct 2009 1:44 PM
Tim G

Uh, I could care less about the Yankees or the Phillies.

Anyone who had something they were pointing to a BC when they bought them or as they started to develop can't run them at Yankee stadium. It was a debacle from the outset and the favor is blowing up in their faces, taking a lot of innocent folks out in the process.

28 Oct 2009 4:52 PM

I've missed things for awhile but just watched Vineyard Haven win at Laurel here on the replays.  That was a really gutsy run on an awful track.  He looked great.  I've lost track, is he another one missing the Breeders Cup?

28 Oct 2009 5:50 PM

You're right Nancy, Zenyatta is the best sand, poly fiber, recycled rubber running horse ever.

28 Oct 2009 6:01 PM

Thanks pNewmarket- I think Magical Fantasy and Pure Clan will be tough in the F/M Turf.  Is that where Midday is running?  I might be leaning toward Spanish Moon.  the crowd and hoopla give me a concern since he acts up, though.  I haven't really studied the fields yet.  Goldikova looks imposing, as does Mastercraftsman if he's really going in the dirt mile.  Diamondrella had a great running style for the turf sprint and is in great form.  We'll see as we get closer!

28 Oct 2009 9:37 PM

pNewmarket- what about Rainbow View in the Ladies Classic?  Should be a good fit for her, nice distance.  Got her stamina run in at Woodbine.

28 Oct 2009 9:39 PM

bert- I know that there were horses who became world beaters at Del Mar before theswitch.  It's always been a weird track.  Maybe because it's so close to the ocean?  Tides and the moon- who knows.  I know there can't be uniformity in dirt and turf tracks, but it seems to me that we should have it in the synthetics.  I believe it would cut down on the injury rate if we did.  It's been mentioned by some trainers that the majority of the injuries have happened early in the meets, suggesting that it is the adjustment to different synthetic tracks that is causing alot of the catastrophic injuries.  I feel it could only help if they are here to stay.

28 Oct 2009 11:42 PM

From NTRA to Bloodhorse, man, I LOVE horses, i tell ya.

Can't help but chuckle at Laz.. Zen is kaput.  She's gonna be broodmare material next year, so give it a rest.

So, Zen is gonna run in the Classic-- that's SUICIDE if you ask me. Better if you just run the lady in the distaff.. RA is already the HOTY for 2009.

Zen HAS to run like Sea the Stars (fat chance!) if she expects to beat the "mediocre" field (I don't think so) of horses led by Rip Van winkle, SummerBird, Colonel John, Gio Ponti, Einstein, QUALITY ROAD, Richard's Kid, et al.

The odds are stacked against her.  Why?  Zen NEVER ran against males nor attempted to do that BEFORE.  And SummerBird ALONE will be a handful...much less QR, RVW, etc.  

Get the ambulance ready, Laz.. Zen will need it. LOL.  Your wallet too (if you bet on Zen that is) LOL

29 Oct 2009 2:22 AM

Footlick, Rainbow View has been more than a little disappointing this season.  At the start of the year she was being touted as the second coming and disappointed greatly in the 2,000 Guineas.

She is not a straightforward lady - John Gosden was quoted earlier in the year as saying if she was human she'd be the kind of girl to start a fight outside a bar!

Saying all that, she has a good US pedigree and at one point last year they were considering sending her over for the Juvenile/Juvenile Fillies so they obviously have no qualms about her running on the synthetic track.

One of the public training gallops in Newmarket is Polytrack anyway, so I am certain she will have worked on that.

I don't want to get into a big synthetics debate here, but in my opinion, the problems in the US with the syntetic tracks are more likely to be down to bad management than the surfaces themselves.

We've had synthetic tracks of one sort or another here in the UK for 20 years - today is the 20th anniversary of the first meeting held on an all-weather track - and we've never had the types of problems that have been quoted in the US.

Perhaps it is because our track management people (we call them Clerk of the Course) are used to having to manage grass which is far more labour intensive than dirt so managing a synthetic surface seems like a piece of cake to them!

Do you have training courses in the US for track management?  Over here the British Racing School regularly runs courses to bring Clerks up to date with the latest methods and initiatives.

29 Oct 2009 6:26 AM

Pasturelands- sounds alot like what they said about Zarkava last year- who has she beaten other than Goldikova, hasn't faces males, etc.  All she did was win the Arc in the same manner she won all the other races.  It can happen.  You don't have to be insulting.  Stranger things have happened than Zenyatta staying undefeated.

29 Oct 2009 8:44 AM


I thought that Pasturelands had put himself out to pasture.....I guess we're going to have to educate him all over again......He's right about Zen running in the Classic.....We'll all be watching her brilliant finish when she runs from MIDWAY IN THE FINAL TURN, home.  LOL

29 Oct 2009 10:31 AM

pNewmarket- I know she's been a big disappointment this year.  I didn't know there was a temperment issue.  Thanks for that info.  She's run two decent races though so maybe he has her in form and on good behavior.  As far as the synthetic maintenance, I don;t know if they have schools for that.  Somebody else might know.  But it seemed to me that the racecourses got some instruction and then were left on their own.  I know that the tracks change from morning to afternoon.  It would be wise if each company did what the British Racing School does.  I would think that those companies could run seminars, etc.

29 Oct 2009 11:28 AM
Diane J

Pasturelands - are you a horse racing fan? Really? Why would you even joke about Zenyatta needing an ambulance after the race? The best results of BC day would be all the horses returning to the barn safely.  Please don't joke about things like that.

29 Oct 2009 11:50 AM

ahhhh BC  my fav!!! I will take it as it is !! yes it can be better, but I am excited  and  chalanged at  the same time.

 what a handicapin nightmare!! bribg it on!! yeeeee haaa. good luck freddi head!!! the mile turf  and  the classic  are not  to be  missed!! what fun!!! is it time yet!!!

31 Oct 2009 6:28 PM

No one will argue Quality Road is the fastest horse in the race.  He will control the race from start to finish and I don't see him giving up the lead in stretch.  Quality Road for the win in the Classic.

01 Nov 2009 8:16 AM

God created Horses. God created dirt. Man invented plastic dirt. Who do you trust? The best horse this year is not competing in the Classic Race for the World Championship. This makes me less interested in watching any other horses compete when they are not competing against the BEST. From the Martha Washington to the Haskell, thank you Rachel Alexandra

03 Nov 2009 9:48 PM

Quality Road might be the fastest horse in the the race...for up to a mile maybe. He's a money burner in the classic. He's got a better chance of winning next years BC Sprint than this years classic.

06 Nov 2009 10:43 PM

It was too bad for Quaility Road...was not Zenyatta wonderful, what a both those horses: Queen Zenyatta and Princess Rachel,who could ever pick the best of the two??  What a Great Breeders Cup this last 2 days...

07 Nov 2009 8:46 PM

Good Morning Steve,

 I must say, after Zenyatta's wonderful victory, I raced to see what all were saying about her win on Bloodhorse Blogs...

 I for one was thrilled ....

08 Nov 2009 9:20 AM
Linda in Texas

Hello Steve, i am looking forward to your article about the Breeders Cup Races from your perspective and wonderful stories as always.

As i said in an earlier post, some of us will eat our words and lots have. If Zenyatta won on ice skates, it would not matter to me. She is pure thoroughbred racehorse for sure. I enjoy watching her with her groom and handler. She just seems to read minds and is so

well behaved and knows where the front of the pack is. My admiration for Zenyatta is the same i had for Ruffian when i watched her run. It has been a long time, but i do remember the feeling.  

09 Nov 2009 8:46 AM

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