A Day at Saratoga

As the sun begins to peek over the Adirondacks, a thin layer of fog still blankets the Oklahoma training track. Cars are pouring into the East Avenue gate to park on the grass near the top of the stretch. Across the street on Union Ave., people have been lined up for hours with their coolers and picnic accessories hoping to get a choice spot, preferably near the paddock or in the shade of an elm tree. Downtown, people stroll up and down Broadway and on the side streets, heading to their favorite breakfast eatery to handicap the day's races.

At one end of Steve Asmussen's barn at Oklahoma, the distinctive broken blaze of Rachel Alexandra can be seen by passersby as she peers out her stall, eyeing all the activity. Standing a few feet away, Rachel's "bodyguard" Amy Kearns has her eyes glued to last year's Horse of the Year, her stomach already in knots. Barbara Banke, wife of owner Jess Jackson, stops by the barn to get one final look at her star filly and touch base with Asmussen and assistant Scott Blasi.

Just outside the track's clubhouse entrance, directly across from the paddock, the quaint old stakes barn seems aglow with the presence of Zenyatta, as trainer John Shirreffs stares intently at her, making sure he hasn't overlooked anything. Zenyatta already has her game face on. Racing's most conspicuous diva knows when showtime is getting near. She has been anthropomorphized to such a degree many are convinced she knows the "Roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd." Most in attendance this day have never seen her now-famous California two-step that she performs before every race.

By 10 o'clock, Route 9 leading into the town of Saratoga is a wall of cars. Many have gotten off an exit before the track, because the Northway is bumper to bumper. People want to get to the track early to get their "Rachel" and "Zenyatta" buttons and other giveaways. NYRA is having its first "Sign Day," awarding prizes for the most inventive and well-constructed signs - one prize for best Rachel sign, one for best Zenyatta sign, and one for best sign depicting both fillies. They are already popping up throughout the rapidly growing crowd - "When Queens Collide," "Welcome to Zaratoga!" "Alexandra the Great," "Zen-yada yada yada," "Coup d'Spa."

The theme song being played around the track is "I Enjoy Being a Girl" from the musical Flower Drum Song. You can even sing along: ""When my (trainer) comes to get me at my place. Out I go with my Joe or John or Billy, like a filly who is ready for the race."

Around 11:30, Rachel and her crew leave the barn and make their way through Oklahoma, then cross Union Avenue and head to the monitoring barn. Coming from the opposite direction, Zenyatta eyes the new surroundings as she makes her way to the dreaded barn that has already compromised the chances of the Shirreffs-trained Giacomo and Tiago in the Belmont Stakes. A wary Shirreffs keeps a close eye on her, but so far, she seems to be taking it all in stride (how's that for the power of positive thinking?).

As the day wears on, the anticipation grows, as does the late-arriving crowd. This is finally going to happen. Who will be the favorite? How will the race play out? Which filly will reign supreme at day's end?

Despite the verbal wars of the past, the crowd for the most part is respectful to those in the opposing camp. It is Saratoga after all. There are a few zealots on both sides who engage in some minor oral skirmishes, but there are many in attendance who love both fillies and just want a true, safe race to see once and for all who is Queen of the Turf. Although there are a number of hard-core New Yorkers who have adopted Rachel, the Big Apple also has spawned quite a few Zenyatta fans as well, and the Mega Mare has lured thousands of her loyal legions from California. Saratoga is mainly a vacationer's melting pot, so the entire country is well represented.

Finally, it is time for the feature. Here they come down the horse path, as the crowd, which has been lined up 10 deep for the past half hour and longer, form a gauntlet of star struck admirers, armed with an assortment of still and video cameras and cell phones of all shapes and sizes. All are aimed at Rachel and Zenyatta. As both fillies enter the paddock they are given a rousing ovation. Small children sit atop their parents' shoulders trying to get a look at their mom and dad's favorite horse, the one they've been told is the greatest filly of all time.

The paddock is jammed. This is the place to be, and you can barely get close to the saddling stalls. The designated trees for each filly are already surrounded by a large throng. Cameras are clicking at a frantic pace.

Then it is ‘Riders up!' Mike Smith and Calvin Borel sit proudly atop their noble steeds. Their blood is up and they can't wait to get it on. A chorus of cheers follows each horse around the paddock. They then explode into a glorious crescendo as Rachel and Zenyatta make their way on to the track.

The gate is brought into place. Palms are sweating. Hearts are beating out of the chest. The butterflies are churning. The crowd lets out one final roar as the horses enter the gate and Tom Durkin bellows "It is now Post time."

What's that you say? Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta might not even meet at Saratoga? Sorry about that. I guess it was just a dream.


Leave a Comment:


But a lovely dream at that.  I do believe the Moss's don't want to go to Saratoga, so cloud 9 remains empty.  

15 Jun 2010 5:51 PM

oh..my..goodness.  I was THERE!  What a rude awakening in those last 2 lines. "Sorry about that" indeed!

You painted a glowing picture then doused it with a pail of water. :-(

(but so well done, of course! :-)

15 Jun 2010 6:00 PM

I fear we are all dreaming as I don't think this will EVER happen.

15 Jun 2010 6:07 PM

If Rachel alone can get 30,000 people to Saratoga, how many people would come to see BOTH GIRLS?! It would be beyond incredible.

15 Jun 2010 6:36 PM
Cheryl G

Oh, I want to go back to sleep and finish that dream.  : )

15 Jun 2010 7:07 PM
Kevin A. Burke

Before reality exists, there first  exists the dream.

Very good, I'll keep on dreaming with you!

15 Jun 2010 7:09 PM

So, at least the NY state legislature functions...in your dreams! Lol!

15 Jun 2010 7:37 PM

Well one thing about it Steve if it does happen you've already got your story wrote.It is a good one just the way it should be. Both of the girls being there together, getting their first looks at each other Zen dancing to the track Rachel trotting on out. Why does it have to be a dream? Some connections need to get busy.

15 Jun 2010 7:38 PM

I think we'll see RA there, and that is very good.

15 Jun 2010 7:46 PM

Yowza!  I'm going, if it should happen.  (Hey, miracles do, SOMETIMES.)  What an amazing day and race that would be!  Thanks, Steve.  I was totally there.  

15 Jun 2010 7:57 PM
Fahad Malaikah

Great job, Steve! This brought to mind precious memories of Saratoga from last year.



15 Jun 2010 8:00 PM

I had a very similar dream this spring, except my dream was in Arkansas. The anticipation of these two mares getting in the starting gate for $5million dollars and the Apple Blossom title was excruciating. Then...pfffft...the Hoty didn't show up.

Oh.. that wasn't a dream!

15 Jun 2010 8:24 PM

Steve, in your dream, is Quality Road in the starting gate???

15 Jun 2010 8:45 PM
The Deacon

You got the dream down pat, now for the race? Where would they run. The Diana is on turf, the Alabama is for 3year olds, so maybe the Woodward?

15 Jun 2010 8:45 PM

My heart was in my mouth as I read those words, cold adrenaline made my stomach tight and my mouth well with anticipation. I live forty minutes from Saratoga. I thought "Finally" a chance to see perhaps two of the best horses of my generation and alas, it was a ruse!

A cleverly and well written one at that! Kudos again Mr. Haskin for giving one the finished artwork; while the connections are still mixing up the paint. As a student striving towards become an equine journalist, you not only idealize what great journalism in the equine industry should be, you make it happen time and time again!

15 Jun 2010 8:47 PM

You really had it going there, Steve!  What an amazing story and you captured my attention from the beautiful description of the scene in the first sentence until the sobering realization of your final words - it was just a dream.  Ugh. It's more fun to keep the dream alive in many ways, but part of me simply does not care if these two great race mares ever meet or not.  Would one race ever settle any thing?  Don't people still argue to this day that Sunday Silence was a better horse than Easy Goer?  Some things will never be proven beyond all doubts, but I know one thing in my heart - I love them both.  Thank you for sharing your dream!

15 Jun 2010 9:18 PM

First let me say you should be rewarded with this dream coming true as there is no better place for history to be written.It would be good for people around the country, and world to view horse racing in a positive light.Steve more than anyone you  know the countless exciting races in this tracks history.Great Job

15 Jun 2010 9:20 PM
Robin from Maryland

Wonderful story...Really thought it was happening, and my heart suddenly went into my throat.  I for one DON'T want to really see it, because it will no doubt turn into a match.  I for one was at Belmont the day the Great Ruffian broke down.  Let both horses remain champs alive and well - one being HOTY and the other who should have been.  But it was a nice dream anyway.

15 Jun 2010 9:43 PM
Darkie's Doll


Could you carry the dream just one step farther and let us know which race you are dreaming about? The Diana or perhaps the Woodward or would it be one of those "Saratoga Special" overnight stakes? For the record I think Z would win in whatever race. Since she has nothing left to prove let's hope the Mosses and John give us a real thrill.

15 Jun 2010 10:12 PM
Steve Haskin

Yefo, no Quality Road in my dream. That dream will take place at Churchill Downs.

Deacon, you didnt mention the logical races -- the Ruffian or Personal Ensign. That answers your question, too, Darkie's Doll

Thank you, La Qua and best of luck in your journalistic pursuit.

Txhorsefan, one race probably wouldnt settle anything, but it would settle a lot more than no races. We have to start somewhere.

Yes, Donnie, that's why this is the place where they should meet first. It would be an amazing event.

Robin, I doubt it would ever turn into a match race. There would be other horses in the race and their running styles do not suggest a prolonged head to head battle. The only negative would be seeing one of them get beat. How about a dead-heat dream?

15 Jun 2010 11:29 PM

It was such an exciting tale-I had been on vacation; knew Z'girl had raced on Sunday her 17th-trying to figure out how she got to Saratoga- you really had me!!! Hope it does play out-but not fond of match races- want them both to become happy , healthy Mama's.

15 Jun 2010 11:35 PM

From your words to the ears of their connections. May it come to pass.

I recently read there is great dissatisfaction in the NYRA with the detention barns and their expense, and because they haven't proved that useful. Also, many trainers dislike them.

Do you think they could be discontinued this summer?

15 Jun 2010 11:47 PM

I think it's a fine dream Steve. Like I said on your other blog, you are the man to bring the dream to life.

15 Jun 2010 11:47 PM

Steve, I understand the Ruffian Handicap is being run at 9 furlongs this year. is that correct?

15 Jun 2010 11:48 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Breeder's Cup Classic will be good enough for me, although meeting prior to that would be fantastic. I got a hold of our dear friend Ralph Kramden and he said that he could borrow his company bus to take us all to the track at Saratoga if it does happen, so we can drink champagne. He said to eat, drink, and be merry and leave the driving to him. Norton is making the sandwiches. We could all share one and not starve. To sleep per chance to dream. I'm going to replay this article in my head tonight before going to sleep so I can see who wins. Great story Steve. Thanks for taking us there. It was an exciting day at the track.

15 Jun 2010 11:58 PM

I agree with Robin from Maryland.  I do not want to see Z and RA race as it would be a match race.  Though I thankfully didn't see the Great Ruffian break down, I have read the books written about her.  And, yes, I cried and cried just reading the books.  Hopefully, Z and RA will never meet.  Really, I couldn't stand to see either of the lose anyway.

16 Jun 2010 12:23 AM


One could have exchanged the names Empire Maker and Funny Cide for Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra in this tale.  The fact that those two never met at Saratoga was a shame.  It may also be the time when racing at Saratoga "jumped the shark."  Attendance has been down ever since.  From going to the Spa each year for the past decade, the numbers of race fans has tailed off.  It's a shame, too.  

The Go For Wand would be the ideal race for these two to meet.  Curlin did not bring about huge numbers of fans for his Woodward, but Rachel's win in that race last year was the loudest I have ever heard the crowd at the Spa.  Curlin was 2-time HOY, Rachel once and Zenyatta should not be denied it if she meets Rachel in the Go For Wand and wins, and then stays in the F&M division for the rest of the year.  However, Zenyatta will have a much better chance of winning the Classic again this year at CD than Rachel.  There is no chance of Rachel dispatching Quality Road at the eighth pole in November, and it's likely she will stay in the F&M division for the rest of the year.  

The matchup of the year has to be Rachel versus Zenyatta in a race restricted to F&M.  Quality Road will be fending off Blame and who knows, Trappe Shot, in the JCGC and then the BC Classic.  Let's face it, the Travers this year may get all three of the Triple Crown race winners, but it's third tier compared to Rachel v. Zenyatta, and Quality Road v. Blame.  

16 Jun 2010 2:16 AM

Mr. Steve Haskin,

Flip this fine story that you penned - 180 degrees.

Have Rachel Alexandra come out west.

After all, the connections of Cigar knew which summer meet is the most prestigious.

If my memory serves me right, Mr. Allen Paulson chose Del Mar and the Pacific Classic to try and break Citation's all-time consecutive wins record.

16 Jun 2010 2:26 AM
The Deacon

I am still in favor of retiring Zenyatta now, nothing more to prove. She got the record why run her anymore, why risk getting her beat. It must be hard for the Moss connection to give up something this wonderful and exciting but all things come to an end sooner or later. History in this sport has taught us some very painful lessons. For every exhilarating moment we have been given,  there are probably many more heartbreaking memories to draw from.

Great article Steve, but alas it is only a dream........

16 Jun 2010 3:31 AM
Steve Haskin

Secretariat, Allen Paulson lived near Del Mar. So much for more prestigious.

16 Jun 2010 6:20 AM
Steve Haskin

CV, that is correct.

Sharon, as I said this would not be a match race, and the match race didn't kill Ruffian. She broke down early in the race. Running head and head for a half mile doesnt kill a horse. It happens many times every day.

16 Jun 2010 6:26 AM

Oh boy!  Add Goldikova in the mix and you have a race of a lifetime!!!  The girls are single handedly bringing interest to thoroughbred racing.  You go girls!!!!!!

16 Jun 2010 7:30 AM

That's exactly what it would look like even tho the Breeders Crown people say only Churchill Downs can put on a big show. I doubt if Zenyatta will come to the east coast. They'll probably pick neutral ground. The Twin Spires should be busy for the next 2 years.

16 Jun 2010 7:34 AM

Mr Haskin,

Your flight of fancy was very enjoyable. I was all ready to go until you woke ME up. Reading your article was almost as good as being there. You paint such a vivid picture.

I'm so Rachel/Zenyatta worn out that it took me a while to read this article. When I finally did, I was delighted to find one of the best "fiction" writing of this year. It was great fun, something that has been sorely missing on the subject. Thank you for making me smile at the thought of those two great horses facing each other. Somehow, the topic had gotten contentious and irritating, to say the least.

What you wrote put the pleasure back into the mere mention of such a race. Thank you!

Dr Drunkinbum,

Please save me a seat on that bus! But I'll pass on a bite of that sandwich.  :)

16 Jun 2010 8:06 AM

Steve, I really like the idea of a dead heat finish for this dream race we are imagining.  That would solve my problem of being too sad should one of them not win, but I understand how the speculation keeps people interested along the way.

I do know how you feel, Zookeeper, regarding how contentious the subject of both mares has become and often falls into bitter argument.  At that point, I stop reading, there is no more learning taking place for me there.

Dr. D - save me a seat on the bus!

I'll have to think about that sandwich - lol!

16 Jun 2010 8:51 AM

A very nice dream indeed.

For those who don't want to see them race against each other because they don't want to see either horse get beat...

That's not what the game is about.  All of the great horses lost a race, but it ultimately didn't diminish their accomplishments or their stature.  If they DO meet, one of them will best the other, but it won't change the fact that we are lucky to be witnessing the stories of TWO magnificent horses simultaneously, two very different horses, but both of them potentially among the all time greats of the sport.

If you love thoroughbreds, you've got to love these two.

16 Jun 2010 9:07 AM
Debbie in NJ

I'M THERE!!!!!!!!!!

Great Dream!!! Hope it comes true. Some day, somewhere, some track!!!!!!

16 Jun 2010 9:11 AM

Still my beating heart you Leslie Bricusse fan you...Who can I turn to?...Why Steve Haskin of course.

I am drinking the Kool-Aid. Save me a seat.

16 Jun 2010 10:01 AM
Bill Daly

Nice dream, Steve, but I detect some dyslexia here: "Roar of the greasepaint and smell of the crowd"??  That is hilarious.

16 Jun 2010 10:08 AM
I Davis

Perhaps after reading this article, the "powers that be" that can make this happen will do away with the detention barn before Saratoga's opening day....so Z's connections can reassess the possibility of a Z and RA meeting prior to the BC at CD.  Racing needs it badly....and the Ruffian would be the perfect race....it's all about the best of the females and at a distance that both have won at in the past.  Bring it on!

16 Jun 2010 10:26 AM
Rachel O

Let's look forward to the BCC where, hopefully, Z, RA, RT, and QR, plus perhaps some of the Triple Crownies will show up--all sound and raring to go.

My dream: Quality Road will rekindle his passion for Zenyatta and go nuts at the gate again, Rail Trip and the Triple Crownies will bash each other side to side, cut one another off, are exhausted by the time they get to the stretch, Z cuts through the wreckage, and  the Queens will run the race of their life in a stretch duel.

Who wins? The dogs want to go out, so I wake up.

16 Jun 2010 10:29 AM
Bill Daly

My apologies, Steve, I forgot all about that 1965 musical with Anthony Newley.  Still, it is a great dyslexic title, no?

16 Jun 2010 10:29 AM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D, maybe we'll find a suitcase full of money on the bus, even if it's counterfeit.

Bill Daly, I'm glad you remembered about the play before I had to scold you for branding me a dyslexic. It is a strange title, but it didnt stop it from being a hit.

For those looking past Saratoga to Churchill, I'd like to see them settle this between themselves and not have to contend with each other AND Quality Road, Rail Trip, Blame etc. The showdown would kinda get lost a bit in the overall scope of the Classic.

16 Jun 2010 11:22 AM

Dr Drunk, Zoo et al. While we are dreaming lets just shoot for the lottery. Then we can take our private jet to Saratoga, have a super chef prepare our meals. We can sit in our private boxes and rub elbows with the Mary Lou Whitney's, Ogden Phipps and all the rest of racing royalty!

Gotta think big to match a dream like the one Steve gave us.

Oh and just for entertainment in between, we can watch Zookeepers colt run and one of our best fillies!

Dream BIG, it's what keeps all of us in racing going day after day!

16 Jun 2010 11:32 AM
Pam R

I loved your little dream.  Like you indicated though, I don't think we will see Zenyatta outside of California again except if she runs in the Breeder's Cup. For me personally, that is one of the primary reasons I have a hard time comparing her to greats such as Man O' War, Secretariat, Citation, and Cigar.  I would also like to see her beat up the boys a little more and prove she can run on an off track.  I really want to like Zenyatta, but it's hard when her owners seem to take the easy way out most of the time.  On the other hand, RA has already proven her versatility and though she has lost some, Secretariat did too.    

16 Jun 2010 11:39 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

With the money from the bus we'll open a hot dog stand at Saratoga and make a bundle at The Big Race. We should have enough for new bowling balls too. By the way Steve, you're the speaker at the next Raccoon Lodge Meeting.

16 Jun 2010 11:48 AM

...and then the alarm went off and my youngest cat was head-bonking me, telling me it was time to get up and feed him, and my Belgian Malinois was staring at me as only she can.

16 Jun 2010 11:52 AM

Very well written, I've never been to Saratoga but I plan on going before I die, specially now after reading this lol.  Thanks, great dream!

16 Jun 2010 11:52 AM
Jean Lubin - equine artist


     Before reality, first comes the dream.

     In my perfect world, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta race to a

dead heat - bliss!

16 Jun 2010 11:59 AM

To me Steve, what is most striking about your story here is that it is a fantasy, and it's so strange to me to see one sport, inspire such detailed fantasies in a number of people, and then it actually affects others,

but certain people remain so untouched. The fantasy element in this story was so strong. It seems this is definitely a story you wanted to write. The photographers fantasize about the pictures they might get, I would think. We all share a fantasy world in a way, with our own parts, what we all want to see at the tracks. Racing is a swift little subculture. Like if the stock market was romantic, and had action.

16 Jun 2010 12:21 PM

Oh, for the daydream of filly fans to come to life as you described it!

Wherever such an event occurs, I pray it is as close to my home as Saratoga--because I wouldn't miss it if it cost me an arm and a leg! A beautiful picture you've painted in that dream- may it at last one day come true?

16 Jun 2010 12:39 PM


I just love the way you write.


16 Jun 2010 12:51 PM
Steve Haskin

"Fellow Raccoons and Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler, hummina hummina..."

The Big "Z's" of horses and owners -- Zenyatta, Zarkova, Zardana, Zensational, Zayat, Zookeeper.

Lensjockey, very well said.

Melissa, thanks and hugs right back at ya.

16 Jun 2010 1:39 PM
Jerry B.


Well written article but you have the "wrong" location.

Have Rachel come out west. We already tried the other way around and the 2009 "Horse of the Year" ran and hid.

16 Jun 2010 1:43 PM
KC in Oregon

Steve - You tell such an awesome story....  I was right in it, seeing it happen.  I really don't want either of these two to ever lose to each other.

16 Jun 2010 1:52 PM

Lovely dream!

I'd be fascinated to know which great racemare would win. My guess is Rachel could win at 9f, not at 10f. One race may not settle the issue but, as you say, it would be a start and what a start!

What fascinates me most of all is that Rachel championship year was the best 3 yo campaign since the last TC winner, and Zenyatta may be one of the top race horses and best closer ever, of either sex. What frustrates me most is that in Zenyatta's case we may never know it.

Do the connections of a great horse have an obligation to let that horse reach for the stars? I think Rachel will have her chance now that she is returning to form. I can see why the Mosses are fulfilled by Zenyatta as an equine Rock Star, they are in that business. But in racing that isn't the pinnacle and they have a horse that could go all the way.

16 Jun 2010 1:54 PM
Ray G

....and at the head of the stretch Rachel has opened a three lengths lead but Zenyatta is coming very fast and wide! Borel is driving the filly and Zenyatta closes ground with every stride. A few yards to go they draw even....

It's Zenyatta by a neck.

Back to dream now.

16 Jun 2010 1:57 PM
Tim G

jayjay, put it on your bucket list.

16 Jun 2010 2:02 PM

Mr Haskin,

Flattery will get you everywhere! :)

16 Jun 2010 2:10 PM

Wow!  I could smell the crowd and hear the greasepaint.  Just before that damn alarm went off, I realized I wasn't breathing.  Too much!  I was telling a friend yesterday that if they ever met, I would need to watch it from a hospital.  Zenyatta's Vanity just about killed me!  As did Rachel's two losses.

I'm really glad that many here envision a dead heat.  That's always what I've imagined - I wanted a dead heat for the Horse of the Year Honors, too.  I would hate for either of them to lose.

One additional idea for the dream:  that this magnificent race be televised ON ALL NETWORKS!

16 Jun 2010 2:28 PM
joe c.

...And it may have actually gotten some press and television coverage.  Watching Z viv SportsSouth/TVG during a S Carolina thunderstorm Sunday night, I though how sad that Zenyatta's charisma and style and greatness have not been seen by a major audience.  Rachel got a shout-out from Whoopi/The View after the 09 Preakness, and some may dismiss it but that stuff registers with the public.

16 Jun 2010 3:23 PM
steve from st louis

Steve: Never happen. Makes too much sense. If we could only get both owners to sit down over a couple bottles of Jackson's reserves, then racing's got a chance at a pulse. Until then, we can only dream.

16 Jun 2010 3:28 PM
Pam S.

I didn't read this blog for a while, thinking it was just a mood-and-atmosphere piece about Saratoga.  When I did start to read it I knew right away it was a fantasy, just like the imaginary conversations between horses that some people like to write.  

But I really, really enjoyed it.  I think my favorite part was the sign competition -- "Coup d'Spa," huh!! -- and it is a great marketing idea as well, IF this should come to pass.  

I have read opinions and news coverage to the point of dizziness, and I still don't know what to think about why this can't happen.  Zenyatta is the picture of size, power and dominance, yet it appears that shipping is the opponent she can't beat down.  And Rachel, well, since she is a traveler extraordinaire, it would be great if she came to fabulous Del Mar, but there is the ironclad no-synthetic rule.

So I guess the best reality we can hope for is the BC in November.  Lots of comments about that on the other blog!!

16 Jun 2010 4:02 PM

Re-dream Mr Haskin.

This dream is in the wrong location.

This dream happens where "The Turf meets the Surf".

16 Jun 2010 4:14 PM

omg  I was  so  excited  and  then it  was just  a dream,  my  glass is still half  full and  do believe  it  can  happen, so go  baby go!! steve,  you  trixter you!!!

16 Jun 2010 4:22 PM
Jimmy T

Racing needs these dreams to increase its fan base. Can anyone say Seabiscuit vs War Admiral. Both owners say they want to share both of these historic fillies with the racing fans of the world. This dream would have the potential to increase the popularity of the sport positively. It time to just do it & there is not a better place to do it than at Saratoga!

16 Jun 2010 4:28 PM
Steve Haskin

Rick, the "Turf" and the "Surf" are the only two things that will meet at Del Mar.

16 Jun 2010 5:08 PM
Alex Evers

The Personal Ensign is the perfect race for this match up... and as a photographer there is no better track in America to document such a glorious event. The iconic steeple in the background as these two come roaring down the stretch... wouldn’t it be nice...

16 Jun 2010 5:22 PM
Bob Z

Funny, I had a similar dream a couple of days ago...

Both horses were in Saratoga and the people were going absolutely nuts...

The only problem was that Zenyatta was running in The Diana on July 31st and Rachel was running in the Ruffian Handicap on August 1st...

Its time that one of the  J's called the other and they both hash out what race they both will run in...

It already June 16th.... time grows short...

16 Jun 2010 5:38 PM

I'm trying to figure out which weekend to spend at Saratoga.  If RA & Zenyatta meet there it will be an easy decision. I'm excited about the posibilites this year for Churchill Downs with the Breedens Cup and Saratoga.  I hope RA stays in the east this season. Forget about California.

16 Jun 2010 6:00 PM
Cheryl (Alex'sBigFan)


What an awesome picture you painted of this event.  If it ever happens they need to make you in charge of it right down to the marketing!  My palms are perspiring and slipping off my steering wheel as I am one of those cars piling in for sure.  Don't forget NYRA is holding the best "Ladie's Hat Contest" as well and winner gets photo with Rachel and Zenyatta.  And wow, that Zenyatta, 17 -0!!!!  I think we are going to see more than just a

Quality Road roaring up in the gate if Zenyatta runs the BC Classic again!!!!!!  The California two-step, I love it!!!

This is a great, great story Steve.

There is a great video on YouTube

called Zenyatta Struts, everyone check it out.  Keep dreaming these stories Steve, we need them!!!!

Thank you so much for writing this, your creativity and vast knowledge of the horse industry and of how it should be always shines through!

16 Jun 2010 6:10 PM

"...and Zenyatta may be one of the top race horses and best closer ever, of either sex. What frustrates me most is that in Zenyatta's case we may never know it."

Brigitte 16 Jun 2010 1:54 PM

Because nothing creates doubt like a 17-0 winning record held by no other modern Thoroughbred. Gosh, you just can't tell how good Zenyatta is...;)

Maybe it will be easier to figure out if she wins, 18, 19 or 20 Brigitte.

16 Jun 2010 7:08 PM
Ida Lee

Yep sounds great. But I would need to know way in advance of their meeting so I can have my supply of Valium ready because my heart could not take seeing both my darlings in the same race. I almost passed out this weekend just watching Zenyatta's race. I have a feeling the big day will be the BC. In the meantime, the anticipation is almost as exciting as the race itself....

16 Jun 2010 7:23 PM

If she hits #21 against the same competition it will be all the more frustrating but the "may be" will stay firmly in place.

16 Jun 2010 7:44 PM


Sorry to wake you, but Zenyatta will never go to New York.

Why should she? Please answer.

New York MUST go to California, or wait for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

16 Jun 2010 10:00 PM
Mike Relva


Well stated!

16 Jun 2010 10:03 PM
SARATOGA welcomes Zenyatta!

Mr. Haskin, you have written the perfect article. This article has got to earn you an Eclipse Award this year. It's the best thing that I have read this year. I hope that it comes true!!!! Congratulations!

16 Jun 2010 10:22 PM
Steve Haskin

John, I'm only answering you because you said please. You want to know why Zenyatta should go to New York? Here is my answer: Why shouldn't she? I recall Jerry Moss saying he was keeping Zenyatta in training to travel and show her off to the rest of the country. New York is part of the rest of the country and they've been known to have some pretty good races there. But if you feel she should not go to New York then please disregard my column.

16 Jun 2010 10:33 PM

Mike Relva,

Hey! Is your voluntary exile over yet? I forgot how long it was suppose to be. Glad to see that you are still checking in from time to time, on this side of the stable. :)

16 Jun 2010 10:37 PM
Steve Haskin

Spa WelcomesZ, thank you, but judging from your name, you might be a tad biased :). The article will not win me an Eclipse Award because I don't submit stories for awards.

16 Jun 2010 10:42 PM
Darkie's Doll

Sorry about confusing the Diana (on turf) and the Personal Ensign. Have to agree with Jerry B though- Zenyatta has been East (actually twice)and won both, so its only fair that Rachel goes West at least once - even if she doesn't face Z. She only has a fair chance at 1 1/16, at 1 1/8 doubtful and at 1 1/4 not even close.

Would still love to see Zenyatta at Saratoga whether against F/M or the boys and again in the BCC at Churchill. To me she has a heart the size of Texas.

16 Jun 2010 10:49 PM


Thank you for anwering my question.

I do appreciate it.

As I understand the Moss's are from New York, as well as Mike Smith (at least that's where he got 'on the map').

That said, I'm sure that they (the Moss's) have more than contemplated going to NY.

But the Moss's also said that it's not about the HOY but about Zenyatta. Just to enjoy Zenyatta, and have Zenyatta enjoy herself.

I don't think flying Zenyatta all the way to NY and enduring the detention barn, the humidity, the heat, the fans of the opposition (I say this with apprehention because New York has fans of Zenyatta), and anything else is 'for the enjoyment of Zenyatta'.

I'm afraid that Zenyatta win race in the Hirsch at Del Mar in August, then the new "Zenyatta Stakes" later on, then on to the BCC at Churchill.

16 Jun 2010 11:20 PM
Windy City wants RA and Zen race

what a beautiful dream....Let's just hope Team Rachel and Team Zen read your story and will come together to make yours(ours, to be precise) dreams come true....That would be a great shot of new energy to the racing. I cannot even imagine how many people would want to come and see it...My four-year-old son would be soooo happy to see this race with mommy :-)I guess I go back to dreaming right now, it feels so great, soooo great! night-night :-)

BTW, great well written dream, Mr Haskin!

16 Jun 2010 11:46 PM
Windy City wants RA and Zen race

or even better scenario: neither Team wants to go all the way to the opposite coast, so they decide to meet half way. And where would that be?? In Windy City of course!!!! I know, Arlington has a poly, but if they would decide to race on old, good turf? In that case, I would be even more generous and I wwould take my 1 year old baby, and even my husband (but him only in a case if the race wouldn't interfere with Mundial/soccer World Cup schedule :-) this dream is even better to dream....keep dreaming, keep dreaming...:-)

"never laugh at anyone's dreams - people who don't have dreams don't have much"

16 Jun 2010 11:58 PM
Windy City wants RA and Zen race

Darkie's Doll -

no offense but you must be blondie...I can smell it (so am I, so don't worry) You are sooo funny, Zen went East twice? Are you reffering to App. Blos.?? That would be East for you? Hahaha, so NY is Middle East or Far East for you? Just curious... :-)))

17 Jun 2010 12:03 AM

Steve, here's how the dreamm ends: Tom Durkin's call, "And as the horses enter the stretch, Rachal Alexandre have the lead by 2 but both Rachel and Calvin are looking over their shoulders and they see a green, pink and brown tornado coming after them.  An eight of a mile to go and it's Rachel trying desperately to hold on to her lead, but her she comes, Queen Zenyatta is mounting a furious rally in the middle of the track.  One pole to go and Zenyatta has blown on by Rachel.  The moment we've all been waiting for has arrived, and it's Zenyatta proving her superiorty, she beats Rachel by 2 in perhaps the greatest race ever to occur at the spa, and the crowd is in a frenzy . . ."

17 Jun 2010 12:05 AM

Steve, Beautiful visualization! Saratoga is hotter than hell in the summer and Sherriff's concern for Zenyatta is dehydration and its effect on her huge frame.  Personally, I would prefer she race in California until the Breeders Cup.  In my opinion she doesn't have to prove anything to any of us, neither does Rachel. They are who they are in this time and space. Sometimes the blogs about Rachel and Zenyatta remind me of the ancient blood thirsty Romans watching innocents or gladiators sacrificed to the rule of the mob.

17 Jun 2010 2:17 AM

Let's try to make this dream a reality.  I've started a Facebook group "Bring Zenyatta East!"  It worked for Betty White.  Maybe it will work for us.

17 Jun 2010 7:19 AM


   I HAD the dead heat dream! That was the only way that I could bear seeing my girls run against each other, I suppose!  & I have to say that the roar when they both came back rocked the house! The glee of everyone there, after waiting for 5 minutes (it seemed, it was a dream) barely breathing, hoping it was their girl.  In reality I fear it would turn into World War II.  But in my dream everyone hugged each other nodding, as if to say, they are both incredible!  THAT is how I would like to remember them in 20 years - equally breathtaking!

17 Jun 2010 8:05 AM
Fran Loszynski

Not since reading about Seabiscuit and War Admiral and their race, have I read a more beautiful article about Saratoga. It is a beautiful train ride up the Hudson and when you arrive at the train station you can almost feel the old time reporters in their top coats and hats gathering to go to the track. I was lucky that day I was invited to the Vanderbilt Awards for Afleet Alex's owners and others in the racing field. Don't go by car, go by train; you will never forget the ride. If more people read your article Steve aka the owners of Zenyatta and Rachel A. -they may get ideas!!!!! I love Saratoga, what better place for them to meet in history.

17 Jun 2010 8:41 AM

You have to love ruffianruns' addition to the dream - network television!!  Now wouldn't that be something?

17 Jun 2010 8:48 AM
Bob Z

Why do people continually believe that it was the fact that it was a match race that caused Ruffians accident?

She either stepped on a rock, just took a bad step or as some speculated at the time that some  birds got spooked that were in their path and they took off in front of them... and that caused her to have a misstep...

Its not the fact that their were only two horses in the race... would anybody feel better if their were 8 more horses behind them when it happened... ?

17 Jun 2010 9:01 AM
Bob Z


If the goal is to get Rachel to the Breeders Cup...

What races would you run her in leading up to it..?

Would you run her against the males?

Would you try her at 1 1/4 miles?

Would you be pointing her to the Classic or the Ladies Classic..?

Would you do as little as possible to get to the BC or throw caution to the wind and run her in the bigger races against the best competition?

17 Jun 2010 9:15 AM

Last year I wrote a blog about a dream race, but the runners were Sea the Stars, Zenyatta, and Rachel A. (and using their racing styles that was the order of finish)  After that, I watched the BCC and had to admit, Zen's win was so much more astounding and dramatic than any dream I could conceive.  So perhaps we may find reality even better than a pleasant dream.

17 Jun 2010 9:23 AM
Bill Daly

This just in from Ed Fountaine of the NY Post: "Some spillover effect: Four days after 12,000 people (from a population base of 17 million) saw Zenyatta win her 17th straight taking the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park, the southern California track had to cancel today's live card because not enough horses were entered."

Question: Why aren't there sufficient horses in California to fill the races?

17 Jun 2010 9:58 AM
Fran Loszynski

Steve I know I've already blogged about this but I would like to write this to the "Moss's"

Santa Anita and California is a wonderful place to show champions like Zenyatta and Rachel - but -

a long time ago in the farm fields and dairy farms of the Hudson River Valley, farmhands were strapping on halters on horses that they thought could run around a made-up dirt track. They fell off their horses winding the turns, farmhands bet aloud and families cheered. Your racehorse has this history in his blood like all racehorses. I can guarantee when Zenyatta gets off the train or horse trailer her nostrils will fill with the air of that history. You will feel it too while in the grandstand.  It won't be the California sun but it will be the good earth of the one and only "SARATOGA" COME FOR THE EXPERIENCE OF IT.  Thanks Steve hope this helps to get them up East.

17 Jun 2010 10:10 AM
Mike Relva


Hello! It will be over Aug 1 and I've got a few things to say to several,I'm sure you have an idea whom I'm referring to. lol

17 Jun 2010 10:19 AM
Steve Haskin

Bob Z, what I dont understand is why so many people are convinced this is going to be a match race. It's just a regularly scheduled stakes race, and you can bet it's going to draw at least a half dozen horses. And if any two horses are ill equipped to stage a match race it is Rachel and Zenyatta, who have totally different running styles. The earliest they could eyeball each other is in the stretch.

To answer your other question, the key to Rachel is how she performs in her next start against better competition. I'd like to see her run straight, as she did last year, and not try to drift or cock her head or make Calvin throw eight crosses on her in the stretch. The fact she was able to do what she did running that way is pretty remarkable in itself.

Addressing Zenyatta and running in hot weather, we're talking about a filly who has run 15 of her 17 races in So Cal and won the Ladies Classic in 90-degree weather. If she ships early to Saratoga, she'll acclimate to any differences and possibly a few  humid days and should enjoy a number of cool mornings and evenings. Saratoga can get hot, but it's summer, it's supposed to be hot. So Cal can get just as hot. As I said, some mornings at Saratoga can require jackets.

17 Jun 2010 10:35 AM

Mike Relva,

Yes I do. August seems like a long way off but, at my age, time flies even when I'm not having fun. There's not much humor going on out there with Dr Drunkinbum & Ted from LA missing in action. This is supposed to be fun. Maybe my sense of "fun" is not the same as others'.

I'm glad you're well and rearing to go. lol!

17 Jun 2010 10:38 AM
Bob Z

"make Calvin throw eight crosses on her in the stretch."

I never heard this before... does this mean ... use the whip?

17 Jun 2010 10:43 AM

Nice wishful thinking. Who could not love both horses? They are both great horses and we may see them against each other in the fall. i cannot fathom why there has to be hate,

17 Jun 2010 10:57 AM

I don't know what the big deal is. Rachel has two losses already. She has nothing to lose. It will be interesting to see who else is in the race. In a paceless race at 1 1/16th or 1 1/8th Rachel wins. If there is some pace pressure Zenyatta wins. Not hard to figure out people. Zenyatta wins at 1 1/4 regardless of pace.

17 Jun 2010 10:59 AM

I got news for you Saratoga fans, both Hollywood Park and Del Mar are near the Pacific Ocean.  It rarely gets above 80 degrees in the summertime.  Zen likes this weather, and if you want a REAL race track experience, come to Del Mar this summer.  I'm not going to say it's better than Saratoga, but it's the west coast's playground, and has much history too.  Plus the facility is new and comfortable and the beach is right accross the street.  If you can afford Saratoga, then you can afford to fly to San Diego and see Zenyatta race August 7th.  She's not going east, the Moss' have  had too much problems in the NY detention barns, and Zenyatta is too special to end it all there.

17 Jun 2010 11:20 AM
Bob Z


"To answer your other question, the key to Rachel is how she performs in her next start against better competition."

Thats my question... If you were managing her and she was ready to run what race would you pick for her?

17 Jun 2010 11:34 AM
Tim G

Bob Z, throwing a cross is something a jock does with the reins. Shortening the hold etc. Sometimes they just shake the reins to get the horses attention, the movement of the bit.

Nothing to do with whipping.

17 Jun 2010 12:12 PM
Steve Haskin

Bob Z, a cross is when the jockey takes the reins and crosses his arms with them. This helps gather the horse and helps them straighten out if they're weaving or drifting.

Monmouth Park is near the Atlantic Ocean. So what? If I wanted to go to the beach I'd go to the beach. When I was at Del Mar, it was pretty darn hot and humid that day. And talking about Del Mar history, the races are now run Polytrack, remember?

17 Jun 2010 12:17 PM
Fran Loszynski


problems are at every racetrack. The West Coast is just that "the playground of horseracing"

SARATOGA and BELMONT are the test of champions. If you want horseracing, then you want Saratoga, if you want fun in the sun and delightful amenities, you want "I Love LA". Why isn't Santa Anita one of the Triple Crown Races instead of a prep? Racing in Saratoga would enhance her career not hurt it. A true racehorse can race anywhere. Your beaches and new facility are fine but come smell the maple and the oak, put on a nice L.L. Bean jacket, with "duck'boots" (if it rains) and get a few splinters in your hand as you hold onto the rail shouting. Experience the sound of surrounding wood springs and watch a few butterflys try to race along with the racehorses. We love Zenyatta and Rachel A. -we want to give her that history behind her.

17 Jun 2010 12:24 PM
Tim G

Steve, most jocks throw a cross to urge the horse on, correct?

That was Kent's defense when he was called before the stewards about his not riding out on Paddy O'Prado. He said he was smooching, yelling and throwing crosses.

Bob Z, Mike Smith has a website where he answers that very question. Explains how and why he does it on Zenyatta.

17 Jun 2010 12:33 PM

The only way I see RA & Z meeting is in the Molly Pitcher at MP.

Unfortunately, the Molly PItcher is a Grade II, but MP has boosted purses in the past to make things happen.

17 Jun 2010 12:33 PM
Pam S.

Team Zenyatta faces some obstacles in coming to NY, such as dehydration from air travel and Eastern humidity affecting the horse's well being ... but I am sure I read somewhere that NYRA would dispense with the detention barn if Zenyatta were to show.  Is this true?

Steve, you're right that there is some humidity at Del Mar.  I could tell by my naturally wavy hair the times I went there.  Being from Pennsylvania, though, I'd guess it's somewhat worse in upstate NY.  I think the key would be to get there early and acclimate a la Curlin in Dubai.  But maybe the connections are fearful of this because Zenyatta has never been away from home for very long, and apparently she is a creature of habit just like my 20-year-old cat (only faster).

17 Jun 2010 1:14 PM
ron h

loved  the article. but till they move saratoga to california and put down artificial surface,zenyatta will not be there.


17 Jun 2010 1:21 PM
Ken from RI

The sad thing is that if both camps want to make this happen they SURELY CAN!!! When you think about it, if they truly have the game of racing itself as a top priority and not their respective horses then it WOULD HAPPEN, just imagine the media attention it would garner (this points again to what a disjointed conglomeration that the state of horseracing is now in)....but we will all be shocked if it does come about...sigh

17 Jun 2010 2:27 PM

Zen is coming in the fall to the BCC.  She came in April to the AB, she ran, she won. Its not her fault JJ pulled RA out even though she had a 100 beyer from the NOL,

IF they want to prove RA, then its time for her connections to send her to the champ.

Send her to delmar in the HIrsch.

Delmar is like Keeneland and RA raced and won on that surface before (Keeneland),

So , therefore, Its time for Ra to head west, fly over the rockies, because ZEn came for you  and you were a no show,now its time for you to go to her.............NO EXCUSES............same surface.........man up JJ, quit living on excuses...You have given to many already........

17 Jun 2010 2:33 PM
Bob Z


I just got totally lost ... it happens just not often...

"Monmouth Park is near the Atlantic Ocean. So what? If I wanted to go to the beach I'd go to the beach. When I was at Del Mar, it was pretty darn hot and humid that day. And talking about Del Mar history, the races are now run Polytrack, remember?"

I didn't mention anything about Monmouth Park or Del Mar...

All I'm asking is that if you were Team Rachel .. what specific race would you point her towards..and why?

Would you take it easy with her (what race?) or challenge her (what race?) with the goal of getting her to the Breeders Cup and as a secondary concern maintaining or enhancing her legacy?

17 Jun 2010 2:46 PM

OMG! you made me way too jazzed. what a lovely dream

17 Jun 2010 3:21 PM
Steve Haskin

Bob Z, that second comment wasnt meant for you. I forgot to put the name down.

I would give her one more race against fillies. The Delaware Handicap is possible, but that can be a quirky, tiring surface. I see nothing wrong with the Ruffian on Aug. 1, then maybe the Woodward again or wait for the JC Gold Cup.

17 Jun 2010 3:44 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

How about a match race at Pebble Beach right in the middle of the golf tournament this Sunday. They could start at the first tee, and end up at the 18th green. I'm sure they'd have no problem holding up the tournament for a few minutes to see Rachel and Zenyatta race. And it's already on national TV. Plenty of grass to eat after the race too. So for those of you that want them to face off at the beach, there you go, that's the answer. Why wait?

17 Jun 2010 4:34 PM

Steve, your dream is my wish. I must say this, you had me at the title!

17 Jun 2010 4:40 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks! Trust me when I'm back,certain host isn't gonna appreciate what I'm going to say.

17 Jun 2010 4:52 PM

Steve Haskins, What chances does Rachel have at this point to even be considered as a nomination to any award this year?  Other than hang the moon , what will she have to do from here on out to even be considered?

I know her first half of the year is a black mark on her 2010 resume.

What is your take at this point? and if you think she wont be able to do what she would need to do, Do you think JJ would even try or just let her run in some races from here to the BC or BCC. I know I have been curious.  JJ said she would take the road this year like Zen had last year.  What do you think , Steve??

17 Jun 2010 4:54 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

How about the sand traps? lol! Did you also figure out how they're going to get the greens back to the ideal flat condition after those two have trampled all over them? Golfers would hate you forever for suggesting such an atrocious misuse of their sacred grounds.  :)

I think Mr. Haskin has the right idea. Saratoga here we come! Our bus should be easy to spot while escorting Zenyatta's van to the track. Does Kramden know the way?

17 Jun 2010 6:15 PM


Saratoga has tailed off since 2003 when Empire Maker and Funny Cide didn't meet?  What?

Until the recession took its toll on racing, in general, during the rain-soured 2008 season, Saratoga experienced nothing but straight up attendance and handle growth year after year.

If you have really been at Saratoga year after year as I have, you would certainly know that your statement was in error.

17 Jun 2010 6:17 PM
Cheryl (Alex'sBigFan)

To Fran L.

You stated it exactly right, a true champion should be able to run on any surface.  I was in Del. for Afleet Alex Day in 2005, you sound familiar, did I meet you?

To Steve H.

Steve, you said the key to the whole thing, early shipping of Zenyatta.  She flys Tex Sutton First Class Equine Air Travel and in the footage I saw of her arriving in Arkansas she looked like she could run the race as soon as she got off the plane. I

am sure they would have extensive measures in place to take care of hydration issues.  If she can fly to Arkansas and Kentucky for the BC Classic this year I don't see NY being a problem.  She (Zenyatta)

as well as Rachel, is an imposing, statuesque mare, with a keen sense of awareness, she would ship just fine.  What a treat for us NJ/NY fans to get to see her.  I don't think many realize her potential, and this level of athleticism as

she literally dances and prances all the way to the starting gate.

If QR or Lookin at Lucky or any of them did that it would be cause for alarm in owners and trainers!!!

Zenyatta puts on a show before the show, this is one unique horse.

Imagine the enrichment of Saratoga's history if this event took place and Zenyatta won?  Remember the line from Carly Simon's song, "I hear you went up to Saratoga, where your horse naturally won."

17 Jun 2010 6:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Sodapopkid, she's the defending Horse of the Year. Her first three races arent exactly a black mark. She has a win and two close seconds with all the big championship races coming up. I'd say her chances for an Eclipse Award nomination are pretty good.  She'll have to win some big stakes, but it wont take too many to get her back. I have no idea what JJ has in mind for her, not does anyone else.

17 Jun 2010 6:43 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   All of the sand traps keep it from being purely a grass race. That's the beauty of it !! If they don't like the grass, they can run through the traps. Yes, Steve has the right idea, and they should meet at Saratoga, and it would be one of the great bus rides and races of all time. In my humble opinion, they would be meeting this summer if not for the Oaklawn fiasco, which was an even dumber idea than my Pebble Beach idea, trying to force Rachel into a race months before she could logically be ready. And it has become the reason they don't want to ship Zenyatta this summer, because Oaklawn took so much out of her. If they were patient then the matchup would have naturally happened at Saratoga or Monmouth. However, you know how time flies, and Breeder's Cup Classic is just around the corner. The other talent in the field would detract from the matchup but still be great if Rachel, Zenyatta, Mine That Bird etc etc, can all get there. A dream field is possible.

17 Jun 2010 6:47 PM

I would espect that JJ is on pins and needles as to were to run her next.  Those big stakes races, she would have to win in, And you know the comp and ZEn is a bit strong this year compared to what she faced last year.........I know the pressure is a whole lot harder on her connections this year.  Dont you agree Steve?  because she still dont act exactly right, I noticed in the FDL,  when comeing out of the gate she looked over at the other horse instead of looking forward, Calvin had to straighten her up.......she looked at the other horse as if to say "Where did you come from" she dont look focused on racing to much.  I guess they will have to keep working with her......I think she rested to long after the woodward, and she went to long without light trainings..................

17 Jun 2010 7:03 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Kramden knows the way but I don't know if Moss and Jackson do, and if Norton talks Ralph into taking a shortcut we could be ten miles from Saratoga and end up in Del Mar. At least we'd be at the beach. When we were kids my Aunt told us to get sunburns to start the summer so we'd tan better later. We got a lot of very bad sunburns and thought nothing of it other than the excruciating pain. Even without my Aunt's philosophy we would have gotten bad burns. We refused to put shirts on, sun screen didn't exist, and we were in the sun all day, even first time out. Well we did put clothes on the next day to protect our blisters and hide our misery.

17 Jun 2010 7:21 PM

I love this! It's a shame Zenyatta's connections won't let her race against the boys outside of the BC. If they think she's so good, why won't they show her off? It's upsetting and as a fan of both ladies it is frustrating. Hopefully JJ will concoct another  killer campaign with Rachel and we'll see the two meet at Saratoga. Until then, one can only dream.

17 Jun 2010 9:05 PM

The Saratoga Dream may still come true. Both group of connections do not like to talk way in advance, especially RA's. Look how long it took to announce that she would go in the FDL.

I think that the Z Team should choose a race at Saratoga that suits her and if Rachel shows up for it also then we'll get the thrill we're all hoping for. I would not go there for the express purpose of meeting Rachel. Too much can happen to derail the whole thing and after the AB debacle we don't need another one. If Rachel shows up, great! If not, the East Coast will still be very happy to experience the "Art of Zen".

Dr Drunkinbum,

Ouch! those sunburns hurt. I remember them well. I never tanned, I just kept getting redder and redder as the summer progressed. The proverbial "lobster", that was me!

17 Jun 2010 11:12 PM

Fran L.

I somewhat disagree with you on New York racing being the "test of champions".  Everybody knows N.Y. horses do lousy in the Breeders' Cup races.  And because of the BC, Saratoga, Hollywood, Del Mar, Monmouth, Arlington are showcasing major prep races for the BC.  Back pre-BC, you had a good arguement NY had a good fall championship series.  No more, just prep races.  BY THE WAY FOLKS, ZENYATTA IS CALIF RACING'S LAST HURRAH!  After she retires, we are faced with sup-par racing, we have no chance to get slots.  Northern Calif cant fill races, Stockton fair only had 7 races today, Hollywood Park canceled, horse shortage.  Let us have Queen Zen.  Del Mar is just 20 miles north of the San Diego Airport, you Saratoga fans can give it a try this one time.  Or wait for the BC at Churchill.  This is a true statement:  Calif racing is on it's way down, and there are no lifeboats in sight.  Be there at Del Mar!

18 Jun 2010 12:27 AM
Fran Loszynski

Cheryl (Alex's Big Fan)

No I wasn't at Afleet Alex Day, I wish I had been there. I was told by the owners he really wanted to take Jeremy and himself out on the track to run! You sound like a big fan. I have an ongoing debate with a friend of mine I call her the #2 fan of Alex! LOL

Watch the Monmouth Race 10  the 19th Afleet Again and Afleet Express Yeehawwwwh!  

I bet if I could meet the Moss's I could convince them to bring Zenyatta here or just talk them to death about it! These two horses running in a race could do alot for charity also.

18 Jun 2010 8:01 AM
Horse FAN

My daughter & I also have had this dream! ! !   We would so be there.  First priority for me is that the Zenyatta connections pick the best race for her.  She is racing history and NOT Rach.... even if both are in the race -- in my opinion.  But we still love Rach. Travers with some of the 3 yr olds, Zenyatta, and Rach...would just be too much to hope for.  Whatever race does not matter......... QUEEN Zenyatta at Saratoga is truly a dream not to be missed ! ! !

18 Jun 2010 8:19 AM
Richard Patrick

As a solid Rachel fan, I have to say, I love watching Zenyatta, her power, her grace, her personality. She is one of the best fillies EVER. I still can't, however, grasp her true greatness because of the synthetic tracks. It's a third surface (dirt, grass, synthetic). We never even bothered to compare English Channel and Curlin because they raced on two different surfaces - yet, might they have been a test of two champions also?

So until Zenyatta steps out a little bit beyond California (more than just twice), I will always have a question in the back of my mind.  And, please, all the Zenyatta fans, don't get mad at me, I LOVE to watch her race, and she is TREMENDOUS!  She's every bit as good as Rachel - at least on her tracks.

I wish Zenyatta's folks would do like Alysheba's and Cigar's, (and yes, Rachel's) and take her to every track and run her against every good horse in the land.  

Let her be as good as she can be.

18 Jun 2010 9:36 AM

As of today Zenyatta has nothing to gain and everything to lose by facing RA. Unless RA picks it up (I hope she will) and goes in tougher races and continues to win there is no point. RA's been beaten twice already this year and had to enter a very suspect race to get a win. Let her really prove she's back with a couple of wins against Older Males this year then it would be worth Zenyatta facing her. Right now if Zenyatta beat RA there would be legions of RA fans saying she's just not the same this year but last year would have been different. There is no upside at this point. Zenyatta needs to get out there and face Older males on the dirt for now if she wants her reputation to continue to grow and let RA prove she's really back before considering taking her on.

Mike Relva,

Looking forward to Aug. 1st. Too bad I'll be in Vegas at the MGM or Harrah's Sports Book for the weekend of racing and out of touch with the blogs.

18 Jun 2010 10:05 AM

It is the exagerations and falsehoods that tick me off regarding the RA/Zen debate. If people could make their point without distorting the facts the discussions would be a lot more enjoyable.

I've reached the point where I don't care where they race or against whom. I'm hoping they stay sound and looking forward to their next race. Getting to see them run the way they do is enough for me. "Easily pleased"? I plead guilty!

18 Jun 2010 12:07 PM

Ken from RI, I just have to respond to your comment from 6-17 2:27pm.  "If the two camps truly had the game of racing as their top priority and not their respective horses"  Really, the horses should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be the top priority.  If you don't take care of the horse, not only is it cruel and totally unacceptable, but you'll end up having no horse to race.  The horse has taken milleniums of abuse from the human race, I would hope that we would've evolved enough to treat them with the care and respect they deserve.  

18 Jun 2010 1:58 PM

What a glorious scene you played out for us! You had me fooled from the start! If this ever happened it would be the greatest thing for racing in a very long time!

Go Zenyatta!

18 Jun 2010 2:06 PM

A fly on the wall at the Spa heard this conversation.

Zen:  Hey Girl, how are you?  I was hoping to see you at the Breeders’ Cup.

RA:  Oh, I partied so hard at the Spa last year so I went to New Orleans for some R&R. Where did you get those gorgeous shoes?

Zen: Anne picked them up at a luscious farrier on Rodeo Drive.

RA:  They look so neat; they would have looked great for my Vanity cover.  Are those real diamonds?

Zen: Of course, but they’re just for show.  My work shoes are a bit clunkier.  It’s so hard to find comfy shoes because my feet are so big.

RA: Girl, that’s not the only big thing on you.  You got a lot of junk in that trunk.

Zen: True…but the boys like it just fine….they’re always hanging back to get a good look.  Speaking of which, met any cool guys lately?

RA: I got engaged last year, but I really haven’t met him yet.

Zen: An arranged marriage?

RA:  Sort of…but I hear he’s a hunky chestnut.

Zen:  Does that mean you might have a ginger kid?  They are so allergic to everything!

RA: I don’t have much choice.

Zen:  You have got to meet my uncle.  He’s the only stallion I can really look up to...And the girls go crazy for him.

RA:  Do you mean the Rock?  The girls are always talking about what a stud he is.  Sounds yummy, what about you, Z?

Zen:  Well, I met a cute guy at the BCC last year who was so brilliant they named him Einstein, but he just couldn’t keep up with me. I heard he retired to Florida.

Ra:  I heard QR was at the BCC, and that he’s really cute.

Zen:  Oh him....he had a Kelly meltdown, and Uncle Rock says he’s got a lot of growing up to do.

RA:  You know, I met a cute guy last year, but he was so short and didn’t seem at all interested in me.

Zen: Is that MTB? I met him at the BCC, and he does not seem at all impressed with any of the girls.

RA: So, do you think you’ll go to Florida?

Zen: I like California, but Uncle Rock says Kentucky is where the party is.  He has a friend he wants me to meet.  He calls him A.P.. but I hear he’s a bit long in tooth.  

RA:  What do you think of younger guys?  I met a charmer at Churchill called Vic, and he looks almost as big as you….but he’s sooo cute!

Zen: Cool it!  Here comes another two-legger…oh they are so dumb!

RA:  They’re even worse with a whip in their hand.  I showed Calvin last year!  I practically tossed him into the stands.

Zen:  Mike’s a sweetie, but if I see that crop again, I think I’ll bite him.

Ra:  It looks like a crowd headed this way.  You shouldn’t mind, I hear you’re quite a diva.

Zen: Believe it!  I haven’t lost a race yet!

RA:  I’m so jealous!

Zen: Why?  You did win Horse of the Year!

RA: Yes, but you got the Guinness!

18 Jun 2010 2:39 PM
Fran Loszynski

Richard Patrick

I loved your last line let the racehorse be as good as she can be.

I bet if we asked Zenyatta what she would like to do-she would say-"Bring it on!" I have always believed a racehorse knows when they are being depended on to race well and race continuously. I believe they question when there is a gap in their racing and miss it if their heart is in it.  Soooo

"LET'S ASK ZENYATTA" !!! Bring her up to Saratoga and let her go! If she baulks take her back to Calif. At least give her the chance to make her own decision-yes I just said that.

18 Jun 2010 2:58 PM

ZooKeeper, I'm right there with you!  I am soooo tired of all the bashing from people and like you, I just love to watch both of them (the girls)!!!  I don't care anymore about where, or who they race. I just love to watch them no matter what!!!  Look at what these fabulous ladies have done for the sport!

I'm in California but, northern Calif so, I can't get to DelMar or Santa Anita.  But, it would be great if GGF would write a race for either of these ladies!  I Would be there in a heart beat!

18 Jun 2010 3:55 PM


Great dialogue! Did you notice how they're friendly with each other? No bickering, no stabbing, no name calling. The "two leggeds" should take the hint!!!

18 Jun 2010 4:41 PM

Slew....  That was great!!!!  I wanted more of your story!!!  I was laughing sooo hard.....

Here's my dream race....

Zen, Rach, Blindluck, Goldikova,Tuscan Evening, Quality Road, Rail Trip, Looking at Lucky, Mine that Bird, Pomplemouse and SuperSaver.  All in S.Calif under the summer sun and at 1 1/2 miles.  Who would make that distance other than Zen???  Let me play it in my head for awhile and I'll let you know the out come and who did and did not go into the gate!!!!!  LOL

This is a fun blog, thank You!!!!

18 Jun 2010 5:54 PM

Zookeeper - Could not agree with you more - re: your 12:07 pm comment - I just love to watch them both race - love to see all the online videos, the photo shoots people post, etc.  The racing each other does not matter to me.

Terri V - beautifully said - thanks!

Slew - I love it!! Hilarious dialogue!  Thank you for making me laugh - needed it today.

Steve, I hope it isn't inappropriate to say here, but I really enjoyed and they're off this week - y'all are so fun!

18 Jun 2010 6:23 PM


You are a peach!  The best attitude of all and a true fan.  Keep blogging!

18 Jun 2010 6:57 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  I assume it was a phone call. They exhibited their class. Once again teaching a little horse sense and class to two-leggers. Nice reality check, now I'm going back to watching Mr. Ed. Wilbur is in a real jam this time.

txhorsefan-I liked Lenny's monologue.

18 Jun 2010 7:38 PM
Mike Relva


BTW enjoy your posts. Hope you have a nice trip in Vegas. Was there in Jan. w/my gf. Will be flying to CA soon and on to Palm Springs for few days. You know whom I'm talking about,right? Noticed his comment about your posts. You made perfect sense. Look how biased he is regarding one certain horse. He's going to have to deal with my posts' very soon!

18 Jun 2010 10:05 PM
Cheryl (Alex'sBigFan)


Very creative, great stuff.  I do this a lot, personifying them and giving them a "Mr. Ed" quality.  Love it.  I had the colts all chiding Quality Road after his gate issue freakout accusing him of

being spooked by "the ghost of Secretariat."  I write this stuff to a breeder friend and I am glad somone else is on the same page!  Keep it up.  We all enjoyed it!!!

Fran L,

Afleet Alex Day in Delaware was awesome.  Please say hello to his owners for me, I wrote them a beautiful poem for that day and sent it to Tim Ritchey.  I met Tim that day but was not able to meet the owners.  Not to digress too much from the Rachel Zen thing but that day Alex tapped his foot 3 times in the Winner's Circle, where they brought him out with Jeremy up as if he wanted to go right to the track, ask Chuck Zacney, he was right there.  Yes,

Alex wanted to run that day and poor thing he never ran again.  I followed Alex since he was 2 yrs. old.  I was at his Belmont, truly one of his biggest fans!

Rachel and Zen have this ironhorse quality as well.  I love both of them.  They won't run RA on synthetic but at least Zen has tried dirt, right now she I think is more diversified.  RA has what Steve said happened to Big Brown, broken momentum, a lapse or too much time off from training and hard to come back quickly.  The more video footage I watch of Zenyatta the more intrigued I am by her.  If this Saratoga race never takes place at least the BC Classic should be one for the ages.

18 Jun 2010 10:26 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Some interesting races today, June 19th, Saturday. Paddy O' Prado and Dean's Kitten, Colonial 10th. Jackson Bend, Schoolyard Dreams,  Soaring Empire, Afleet Again-Monmouth 10th. I'm starting to love Jackson Bend. He tries so hard. Belmont 9th Lady Shakespeare and Gozzip Girl. HP 8th-Alphie's Bet. Charles Town 10th-Backtalk and Northern Giant. No predictions.

Slew-Oops, it wasn't a phone call. I missed the fly on the wall part. Hummina, hummina, hummina.

Monica V.- She's a plum too, but no fruitcake. The bashing by some has gotten so insane, it's nauseating.

19 Jun 2010 11:22 AM

Dreams do come true and I have had a similar one, thanks for writing yours so clearly. Hope to see this meeting soon

19 Jun 2010 11:22 AM

Dr Drunkinbum,

I share your admiration for Jackson Bend. Another little colt that could. I'll be rooting for him this afternoon. A win would be wonderful after all the "try hard" finishes on the TC Trail. One thing is for sure, you can never safely leave him out of your bets. He always finds a way to get on the board. This time, I'm really pulling for a win! He more than deserves it.

"Nauseating" great descriptive word. Is that why you've left the barn? I wish I could... It's a case of fatal attraction. lol!

19 Jun 2010 12:50 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  I'm usually only in the barn when they have carrots, apples, peppermints, sugar cubes, or oats. When all they have is old, recycled hay then I'm usually galloping in the pasture, swiping apples from the orchard, or digging up carrots in the garden. Sometimes when it's cold out and I'm trying to get into the barn, they won't let me in.

19 Jun 2010 4:38 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Colonial Turf Cup-Pre-race, best looking physically is Kindergarden Kid followed by Paddy o Prado. Kindergarden looks great.

19 Jun 2010 5:14 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Afleet Express looks great pre-race, Monmouth. Is a new star going to emerge?

19 Jun 2010 5:26 PM

Thanks Steve for the oppotunity, and I'm glad you all enjoyed  it...welcome back Mike, and Dr.D.  Neither lady has a phone and this is why...Part Deux.

Zen: Did you get the new iphone?

RA: You’re kidding!  I only wish.  After the NOL, Jess made me sign a confidentiality agreement, and then took my phone away.

Zen:  Really….what happened in the NOL?

RA:  Promise you won’t tell another soul????

Zen:  Of course.

RA:  I was trying to rest up but N’awlins is not the place to rest during the Mardi Gras season.  Throw in a Super Bowl Championship, and it was party central.  I barely got any sleep, and I discovered that a Mimosa is not just a tree.  What a hangover!

Zardana was the only girl who wasn’t out the night before, and she didn’t have time to brunch at Brennan’s.  So the other girls and I hit the track with splitting headaches and very fuzzy tongues.  Never again!

Zen:  Zardana never did tell me the whole story.

RA: Do you have an iphone?

Zen:  I did, to keep in touch with my agent but so many reporters and fans kept calling that I could never get a call out.

RA: Didn’t you get an unlisted number?

Zen:  I did, and changed it several times, but someone kept giving my number out.  I think it might have been Dottie.  I think she thinks that John was spending too much time with me.

RA: I heard that you were invited to Ascot.

Zen:  Yes I was, but they won’t let me take my lasix there, and some days I just feel so bloated, I don’t want to run.  Then there’s that whole BP mess, and I’m not really happy about that.

RA: Well, I can’t wait until next year.  I just want to settle down and have some babies.  What about you?

Zen:  I live in Hollywood and I’m a star.  There is no way I’m ready to chuck my career right now.  If the right guy came along though….I really did like Midnight Lute, and we still keep in touch.   By the way, what’s your daddy like?

19 Jun 2010 7:12 PM
mike rullo


have you ever talked to moss??

why is he so hesitant to show case

his filly??

do you rember mc hammer with lite light, he went to belmont and whiped meadow star.

when you are the best why not ship

and prove to everybody how great she is.

19 Jun 2010 8:46 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

Loved your 4:38PM comment. LOL!

Not only do you have a great imagination and a fanciful way of expressing it but you also can spot a winner: Afleet Express! That must have made our friend Fran very happy. :)

Jackson Bend faded so badly. Never seen him do that before. Hope nothing's wrong. Paddy O'Prado, finally on his preferred surface, ran to his looks. Loved his win!

How did Gozzip Girl manage to regain her footing is beyond me. That was a major stumble if I ever saw one. What an athlete!

As a Tiznow fanatic, I was elated with Golden Itiz's performance at HP in the Affirmed. Shades of more to come? Fingers crossed...

HAPPY FATHERS DAY! Mr. Haskin and all the Dads who graze in this pasture. Hope you have a great day!

20 Jun 2010 10:27 AM
kathleen o

slew, that was priceless

20 Jun 2010 11:07 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Congratulations for the awards you received last night. Recognition for one's work is always very nice. I'm pleased as pie that the American Horse Publication people have aknowledged what we, your devoted fans, have known for a very long time. Wonderful!

Although all of your articles are always a treasure, it is icing on the cake that the first place award was granted for your reporting on Mine That Bird's victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Bravo!!!! The little gelding and your reporting of his valiant effort captured our hearts and minds. The award couldn't have gone to a better weaver of tales and what a tale it was!!!  

20 Jun 2010 1:54 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Congratulations on first place !!!  Speech, speech. Hummina, hummina. Woohoo !!!! I am so thrilled that they made the right choice.


  Poor Jackson Bend needs some serious time off !!! He's worn out. Paddy is looking really good. Both Afleets looked great pre-race.

Slew-Thanks !! It's nice to have you HERE. Remember, this is PG rated when they get to the breeding barn !!! Thanks for the inside info. Good stuff.

20 Jun 2010 2:26 PM

"Then there’s that whole BP mess..."

Loved that part, Slew! :)


That was a monstrous bounce by my guy Jackson Bend in the Pegasus! He was so much better than this in the Preakness. Maybe he's just tired. I hope Zito can build him back up again in time for the Haskell.

In regard to the topic of Zen and Rachel...

I read something elsewhere that speaks to how lucky we are to be witnessing so many terrific horses racing today in Rachel, Zenyatta, Quality Road, etc. It was an article on the Paulick Report titled "Perspective."


From the article:

"On Friday, I read something that added some much-needed perspective to the subject, and it reminded me that those who spoil the air surrounding these two outstanding fillies are missing out on a greater point: that we are so very fortunate to have witnessed what both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra have accomplished..."

These 2 comments on that article also caught my eye:

Bob Baffert said:

"Zenyatta is a great mare that has been managed perfectly. She can't help it that the competition has been a little suspect. But she makes them all look suspect. She is fun to watch and great for the sport. I love watching her run. She knows where the wire is."

LauraS said:

"When a history of horse racing is compiled in the year 2100, it will show that in the year 2010 a six-year-old, seventeen-and-a-half-hand mare named Zenyatta became the first horse of either gender to reach seventeen races undefeated in major competition since Kincsem in 1878. It is quite possible that that history could show that Zenyatta reached 18 (equaling the immortal Eclipse), 19, or 20 races undefeated, possibly including ten straight Grade 1?s for a total of 14 Grade 1s, with a Breeder?s Cup Ladies Classic and two Breeder?s Cup Classic wins. Will this history record the vitriol spewed about quality of competition, Beyer numbers, all-weather vs. dirt vs. turf surfaces, East Coast vs. California, Zenyatta vs. (insert whomever, Rachel Alexandra, Quality Road, horses of prior eras, name your favorite) or will it focus on the fact that Zenyatta achieved the above distinctions while being a deep closer who routinely spotted the field ten or more lengths, carrying weight assignments up to 129 lbs and up to 19 pounds above her rivals when such weights were uncommon, beginning her races by dancing in the post parade, obviously knowing where the wire was in the stretch, and winning with her ears pricked, hardly winded and barely sweating? I would like to think that by 2100 the latter scenario will win the day. I just hope that the final line is not 'and yet somehow she was never voted America's Horse of the Year."

I would only add...AMEN.

20 Jun 2010 3:49 PM


20 Jun 2010 5:25 PM

keep it going slew....more more RAVO

20 Jun 2010 5:33 PM

I want to add my congratulations, Steve, on your award.  No one is more deserving.  

20 Jun 2010 5:34 PM

Happy Fathers' Day to all.

20 Jun 2010 6:12 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, Zookeeper. I appreciate the kind words. And thanks, Dr. D. and Terri. I stumbled on this news by accident looking for something on our website. I'm frankly surprised considering my editor asked me if I wanted to submit something for the AHP Awards knowing I never submit stories for any awards, and once again I told him 'no.' Obviously, someone decided to submit this without my knowledge.

20 Jun 2010 8:54 PM

Mr. Haskin,

The person who submitted your work for an award deserves a medal. We think the world of you and your writing is highly anticipated by true racing fans all over.

Since you're such an unassuming person, you do the writing and leave the gloating to us. We're very good at it... lol!

20 Jun 2010 11:10 PM

Steve: I'm sorry. Ruffian broke down on the backstretch, hardly "early in the race," one that was stupid and ill-conceived as a Battle of the Sexes. The same would be the case with a match between Rachel and Zenyatta, ala the Battle for the Tiara. Plain stupid.

21 Jun 2010 3:31 AM
LouAnn Cingel of Union, Missouri

Wow!  Wonderfully written-even if only a dream, it made me break out in a sweat!  If the race were to really happen though-Zenyatta would be the one to hit the wire first.  GO ZENYATTA GO!

21 Jun 2010 8:14 AM


I have a curiosity question about Zenyatta.  I'm sure that you have visited the Kentucky Horse Park & seen the stride comparisons of the big three near the Man O' War monument.  Any idea where Zenyatta's massive closing stride might measure with these guys?  

I have often wondered if she would fall in between those boys somewhere or she she actually engulfs them all!

21 Jun 2010 9:09 AM

"Then there’s that whole BP mess..."

Loved that part, Slew! :)


That was a monstrous bounce by my guy Jackson Bend in the Pegasus! He was so much better than this in the Preakness. Maybe he's just tired. I hope Zito can build him back up again in time for the Haskell or give him some extended time off and choose another appropriate race.

21 Jun 2010 9:43 AM
Mike Relva


Way to go,you deserve it! Enjoy always reading your work.

21 Jun 2010 10:17 AM
Steve Haskin

Richard, the first half-mile of a 1 1/4-mile race is early in the race, and show me where anyone at any time even mentioned the words match race in regard to Rachel and Zenyatta. Do you really think even if there was a match race that these two fillies would hook up early and go head and head with each other?

21 Jun 2010 10:19 AM

Congratulations, Steve, on your first place award  - Bravo!  While you may choose to hide your light, keep your brilliance in the shadows, we who recognize your talent and are devoted to your ways with words, are thrilled to see you receive the acclaim.  Hope that makes sense, but any way - we're happy and proud of/for you!  :)  In other words, ditto what Zookeeper said.

Slew - you did it again and I loved it!  LOL!  Thank you so much for sharing your wit with us.

I didn't get to see much racing this weekend with lots of family stuff going on, so there's lots of reading to do today, replays to see.  

Belated Father's Day wishes to all who are dads!

21 Jun 2010 11:39 AM

I doubt Zenyatta is coming to NY.  The Zen camp already said they are pointed to the BC Classic.

If the RA camp wants this meeting to go down, all they have to do is point RA towards the BC....simple as that..but they will not commit, because they are afraid of THE GREAT RACE MARE, ZENYATTA!!!

21 Jun 2010 2:37 PM

Richard, I'm with Steve, if Zen and Rach meet up it will not be a Match race.  Think about it for a moment.  They have totally different running styles.  Heck Zen might even give Rach a 15 length lead and then fly right on by her.  But, there would be other horses in the race.

Slew: keep it up!!!  We're all loving the phone conversations that you have imagined between the two Champions.  Sooo funny!!

Steve: Yes, Congrats on your award!   You certainly deserve it!

21 Jun 2010 3:24 PM

Lovely dream, Steve.  I've been wishin and hopin for months that Zen would finish up on the East Coast before the BC.  On the contentious "other blog" some of the comments have been about Zen not shipping well.  I was wondering if you know any particulars about her shipping problems.  Is she fractious on the plane?  Does she just not thrive (not eat well.....) in new barns?  Does she become over-excited and fret (so not training well or losing weight)?  Some commentors seem to believe that because you can put a horse on a plane they should, of course, be shipped all over.  But, horses are just as individual as humans.  Some of us love to travel and have no problems but others just can't.  They have sleep problems, digestive problems....etc.  I was just wondering if you had any specific info on what Zen's shipping issues are?

21 Jun 2010 5:53 PM

Steve, congratulations on your award.  You are too modest and need to submit your stories.  You are an artist and a poet.  Your dream was sublime, and much too beautiful to be allowed to disintegrate into another battle field....so I threw in a bit of a pratt fall so that we may continue to dream instead of argue.

And thanks folks, the ladies would send their love but are unable to text message...something about the lack of opposable thumbs...and no longer having phones.

21 Jun 2010 6:58 PM
chris m


21 Jun 2010 8:44 PM


My curiosity would like to echo the question above from racingheart. Has Zenyatta's stride been measured or estimated, in comparison to the strides of Man o' War-28 feet; John Henry-25.5 feet; and Secretariat-24 feet?

When Zen gets cracked up and running down her competition she really stretches out.

21 Jun 2010 9:01 PM
Paula Higgins

Forget a race between the girls before the BCC, not going to happen. They will not meet up until the BCC, if then. The goal for Zenyatta is the BCC and they will keep her in California I think for the duration. As for Rachel, hard to know what the plan is regarding the BCC. I am not sure they know either. I think alot depends on how well the boys race the rest of the year and how well Rachel races as well. I don't think Steve Asmussen is going to pick tough races for Rachel, if he does, she will be done by the time of the BCC. I think Mr. Jackson and Steve Asmussen will take a page out of John Shirreff's book and be careful what races she runs in the rest of the year IF the BCC is their ultimate goal. If the BCC is not their ultimate goal, they will enter her against the boys in some tougher races, just like last year. Hoping she will win a few and hoping QR, Blame and Rail Trip split the difference, which will mean they cancel each other out for HOTY. I don't think HOTY is even on John Shirreff's and Jerry and Ann Moss's radar. They want the BCC to cement Zenyatta's place in history. ITA with those that think Zenyatta winning HOTY or not, is irrelevant to the discussion of her greatness now.

Steve, congratulations on your award. It is well deserved.

21 Jun 2010 11:27 PM

I have gone twice to Saratoga. If you consider yourself a true racing fan, a trip to Saratoga is mandatory. An experience like no other in this world, and RA and Zen should be there this year. There is absolutely no excuse.

22 Jun 2010 12:13 AM

Great idea Steve, except for Tom "Too Close to Call" Durkin calling the race. The two big girls would probably finish close enough that it would be all Tom could do to bellow "Too Close to Call". Why he can't call a photo which is obvious to most racegoers is beyond belief.

Fly in Trevor Denman or any of the capable Ascot or Australia callers. It would be a shame to waste this moment.  

22 Jun 2010 1:42 AM
Fran Loszynski

Congrats Steve on your award-you know how I feel about your writing-well-deserved. You are always fair with all synapses of racehorses whoever they are. Of course I am thrilled you like Afleet Alex also. Thank you Cheryl (ABF) for the Delaware story- Alex tapping his foot three times-I had a tear in my eye.

Steve is there any way you could influence Zenyatta's owners to bring her here. With all your great write-ups especially about Saratoga? I know the Moss's are probably being practical but sometimes the mythical in horseracing keeps it going. Let's send them a pic of the beautiful landscape and history of Saratoga. I can't believe with such a beautiful racehorse like Zenyatta that they don't want the Saratoga history behind this great horse. I bet in their hearts they want Saratoga in Zenyatta's portfolio. Go ahead, give it a shot, write them a note! If anyone can do it you can.

22 Jun 2010 8:12 AM

Paula H.  I agree with your post 100%,  I believe HOTY is not even on their radar anymore, Why should it be, when you have a horse that has made history...........HOTY are only for east coast horses, very few west coast horses get it. This year it will go to Quality Road, colts always get it, so why should the Mosses fly ZEn everywhere when she dont like to travel by air, just to run after HOTY. Zen next race will put her with Eclipse himself and that is a testament of time that has not been done by a NA horse since who knows when......she is way to good now for just a one year award.......The BCC is her goal, and that should be her final number of races, #20.  

Everyone seems to forget about the 'Zenyatta Stakes' race, formerly the L.Secret race, The Mosses may want to run her in that one as well. That would probably be number 19, then on to the BCC.

In Zenyatta's case , when you eclipse Eclipse himself, why should you even worry about a HOTY award, You have proven your greatness to the test of time, going undefeated for all these races is by comparison, far better than a one year HOTY award,  IF people think beating against these great fillies and mares that Zen has beat, if they think that feat is easy , just go ask RA, she is a tesatament how good these older mares are.............some are better than alot of colts........

I agree with Paula as to JJ taking a page or two out of J.Sherriffs book on conservative racing on up to the BCC........

22 Jun 2010 9:08 AM

If Quality Road maintains his form, those mares are running for 2nd!

FYI: I Love Z & RA.

22 Jun 2010 9:20 AM

If NYRA wants Zenyatta at Saratoga they need to 86 the detention barns.  If CA wants Rachel they need to 86 the polycrap.  Getting rid of the detention barns is realistic.  I don't blame Jackson for keeping Rachel off poly and I don't blame the Mosses for keeping Zenyatta out of a detention barn.  No need in handicapping your horse in a race such as this.

I am shocked that people who would visit this website would be so unfamiliar with the racing styles of Zenyatta and Rachel to think it would be a match race.  

22 Jun 2010 10:01 AM

Congrats Steve!! Nobody deserves the award more. Your work is without equal.

Mike Relva,

Have a great time in CA. Soak up some sun, relax, and come back firing over on the "darker side" of blogs.

22 Jun 2010 10:49 AM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, everyone. Your words are greatly appreciated.

I have not seen any record of Zenyatta's stride being measured. But I'm sure it ranks right up there. John Henry's stride longer than Secretariat's?

22 Jun 2010 11:27 AM


I'm very glad you received an award for your writing.  If anyone deserves one it is you.  

I have been reading your columns for quite sometime and they are just superb and the reason for that is you have such a love of this sport and of the horses.  You write from the heart with such a depth of feeling that it touches your readers.  Not only are you a great writer but you are a class act all the way, always reasonable and always a genteleman.  Thank you for all the reading pleasure you provide and your special insights into this sport.

22 Jun 2010 12:51 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you very much, Monica. You're very kind to say that.

22 Jun 2010 2:24 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

This is Tuesday and Tuesday Weld was on Ozzie and Harriet. She was Ricky's date and came over to the Nelson's with her parents for dinner. Zenyatta hasn't had to use her full stride yet so we don't know how long it is. Measure it in The Breeder's Cup this year and we'll know.

Monica V-Very nicely stated.

22 Jun 2010 4:20 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Those calling Mine That Bird a "fluke" and other negative comments can start writing their apology speeches. He's going to be a force. They had no business doing that in the first place anyway after his great Triple Crown races. He's in the top five prospects for a Breeder's Cup Classic win this year. Borel could make the wrong choice if he chooses Rachel over him, if there is a choice at that point. It would be a tough decision if they are both at the top of their game. Be prepared for some serious horse racing this summer and fall. We're lucky that we have some extremely high quality horses racing as four year olds. Racing at three and done for healthy horses is not good for the sport.

22 Jun 2010 8:30 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

If I remember correctly, D. Wayne Lukas said Mine That Bird is the best horse in the last 300 years. You show 'em Bird.

22 Jun 2010 8:52 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks! Get your popcorn ready for Aug 1. lol

22 Jun 2010 10:25 PM

Mike Relva, I agree with the Wiz, Cant wait to see you back over there,  always enjoy your telling it like it is.......which is the truth................ See ya over on the 'darker side' Aug. 1 .

22 Jun 2010 11:12 PM

I also agree that the HOY award is a pile of crap, it's an east-coast beauty contest judged by east-coast writers.  After being frustrated by the '08 and '09 awards, I no longer care.  Rachel and Curlin and any other horse owned by J. Jackson may win the award annually, but Zenyatta will get her statue in the paddock and have a movie made about her.  And the disrespect she is getting will only add to the plot.  To you New Yorkers, I live in California.  If I wanted to see Personal Ensign or Ruffian race, I had to fly to NY.  So WHY MUST Zenyatta race at Saratoga?  It's your playground, that's fine, but Zen is a California girl, and everybody knows that horses who start in NY never win Breeders Cup races...If you want to see Zen, fly to San Diego on August 7th and see the queen in action.  She will be in front of her home fans who appreciate her so much, and there will NEVER be another like her.  She only has 3 races left, if you haven't seen her and you love horse racing, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The Del Mar website will be selling reserved tickets soon.  I suggest you get some, they will be going fast.

23 Jun 2010 11:14 AM

Great article, just wondering why no one is crying for Rachel to come to California or how about they meet halfway in Arlington Park.  I just have to say the way a lot of media, etc in the East have treated Zenyatta, if she was mine I probably wouldn't take her there either.  Churchill or Arlington seem like great choices.  We know they won't meet in the Breeder's Cup Classic, cause Jess won't put her in there.

23 Jun 2010 2:05 PM

I just happen to come across this video on youtube, it's from Make a Wish Foundation and is titled, Zenyatta and Zoe Bragg.  It is such a touching story and decided to share it with all the fans that love and adore this fabulous Mare!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


23 Jun 2010 4:32 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks to you! I enjoy your great support for Zenyatta. Although I've been in exile continue to read your posts and others'. At least you and a few  illustrate great loyality. You should feel good about it always.

23 Jun 2010 5:43 PM

Thankyou, DinkyDiva,  that was a real good tear jerker when I wasnt expecting it.........that would bring tears to anyone's eyes.......

Anyone that cant admire Zen and her connection's for a job well done and the job they continue to do with her , if you cant' appreciate and admire it , You don't know horse racing..........

I say to the Sherreffs  and the Mosses,  

By your standards and expertise handling and managing of a beautiful six year old mare to be were she is today and having her place in history as she has cemented it.....I say to you , Thank you , For A Job more than well done...I say a job beyond comparison.......BEAUTIFUL.....

23 Jun 2010 6:31 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Dinky Diva

   That was so beautiful !! Thank you very much. I really, really enjoyed it. Don't forget that Andy Beyer said "toss Zenyatta" also. I think Mike Smith might have said, "That was for you kiddo," to Zoe Bragg. That was such a great day. Maybe the most thrilling ever. I was jumping up and down like crazy. Only about five more months until we hear again that she can't win the Classic when she hopefully pulls it off again. Only six or seven more months til Haskin's Baker's Derby Dozen starts again. The greatest continous reporting in racing or any sport or any news. Cheers for that link Dinky-for you're a jolly good fellow.

23 Jun 2010 8:36 PM


You can add the following female racehorses listed in Bloodhorse's Top 100 Thoroughbred of All Time that NEVER raced in California:

#70 Shuvee

#72 Go For Wand

#80 Ta Wee

#90 Davona Dale

#91 Genuine Risk

in addition to #35 Ruffian and #48 Personal Ensign.

And THEY want Zenyatta to fly all the way to New York.


23 Jun 2010 10:59 PM

Mr. Haskins,

I think it's very cool that you are responding to people blogging here <:-) Must say your triple crown picks have killed me in recent years...but I still value your opinion? I don't like it when that mean old Lenny makes fun of you, hehehe.

If Zenyatta beats Rachel, Quality Road, Blame (along with a euro or two) at the Downs in the B.C. Classic on a muddy Novemeber day...her legacy will live as the best forever.

24 Jun 2010 12:41 AM

Sodapopkid...  I know, I had never seen it before and had no idea what I was in for and had pausing issues etc., with youtube and when I finally saw the entire thing, right when the commentators were so against her winning and not to waste your money and the (music interlude) when she made her move, I was in tears, crying like a baby. It was just a fabulous story and I've seen the one with Rach and the young girl and the autistic boy with Zen but, this one surpassed those because, it was magic!  Zoe not only hung out with Mike but, she was there to witness HISTORY!  And I know, that made everything worth her fight!  God Bless Zoe and may the Queen stay with you and help you through your struggles!

24 Jun 2010 2:13 AM

I sure hope Rachel wins her next race!  GO, GO RACHEL!  The Best racehorse in North America !!  AMERICA'S SWEETHEART !!

24 Jun 2010 4:21 AM


Zenyatta's legacy is assured already.  Whatever she does from now on is icing on the cake.

24 Jun 2010 11:04 AM

Mike Revla,

Where have you been?  I haven't seen you around in a long time.

24 Jun 2010 11:04 AM

Great link DinkyDiva!

I ran across another Zen video on YouTube that shows all 17  of her stretch runs. Apparently, it was put together and uploaded by a young girl. The quality isn't the best but if you like to watch Zenyatta run it's worth it.


24 Jun 2010 3:09 PM

CV...  I found that video a couple days ago, I still have no idea how I stumbled across it but, I have watched it over and over and everytime, I cry.  My partner and a friend were here last night and I showed it to them and was crying and it made our friend uncomfortable and couldn't figure out why I was crying!  LOL ....  She has no idea that I have a love affair with the great Zen!!

24 Jun 2010 4:20 PM
Mike Relva


Hello,how's everything?

24 Jun 2010 4:55 PM

When you were at that site, did you happen to check out the video called "One Moment In Time?"  If not, here is the link.  Enjoy..


24 Jun 2010 5:25 PM

Thanks DinkyDiva, that was a wonderful video.  Bloodhorse had a great one of Rachel on here a few months ago about a little girl who was sick (cancer I think) who loved Rachel and she was treated to a wonderful visit too.  Horses are therapy like no other.  Thanks to Zen's connections and Rachel's for sharing their treasures.

24 Jun 2010 6:32 PM


Just think,  This is the last year we will have her to ispire us as she has..................


24 Jun 2010 6:36 PM

Wow!  Dinky Diva, thank you so much for the link to that awesome video.  I had not seen that one yet and it took a while to dry my tears before I could see the monitor in order to type my gratitude.  Terri, you are right about the great video with Rachel Alexandra and the little girl named Rachel also - another tear worthy, wonderful video.  The connections are to be commended for their generosity with these stars.  We are so blessed.

24 Jun 2010 7:43 PM
Steve Haskin

Killed you, Rondo? Think of what they did to me :). I had done pretty well before that with some good winners but have lost my way in the last few years, especially with Super Saver this year.

24 Jun 2010 7:56 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Anyone can pick favorites and have a decent winning percentage. I pay no attention to writers or hosts that pick favorites all or most of the time. I only listen to people that have the insight and guts to go for horses with higher odds, and then I still have to evaluate it myself. Some races are quite appropriate for longshots and some aren't and those that aren't you just have to pass. Very few people make money or standout from picking or betting favorites all of the time. Their win percentage has to be extremely high. I admire public writers or handicappers that have the guts to go for horses with odds. They know they have to live with it if they get killed. You can't bet listening to others anyway, you have to have your own methods also. Then if they reinforce what you're already thinking it might add a little confidence. What I like most about Steve Haskin is his physicality reports. That is where you can get some really good clues. Sometimes he doesn't listen to his own clues because he is going for even higher odds. With any public statements, you have to pick and choose what is relevant for you. This year, coincidentally a lot of Steve's picks were horses I was already picking. I didn't have a good Triple Crown but would have if Paddy could have finished to give me a big exacta. With Steve sometimes you have to read the fine print. He gave great clues for Mine That Bird's and Super Saver's readiness for a big race. Then you throw in Borel to seal the deal. Steve, next year if you listen to your own clues without regard to odds, then you're going to pick some winners. Guaranteed. So what if you pick one of the favorites. Another thing about odds-you can't say that a horse can't win because he is 20, 30, 40 or 50-1. It's real easy to talk yourself out of those kind of bets simply because they are high odds. Quite often horses are ready for the best race of their career so far, and win at high odds when you can't see it on paper.

24 Jun 2010 8:42 PM

Great piece Steve, I enjoyed the dream.  I'm curious though why you and so many others seem to think we may eventually see the two great mares face each other at the Breeders Cup Classic at Churchill in November.  Assuming they both stay healthy and make it to Louisville isn't it more likely that Zenyatta will be defending her title in the Classic on Saturday and Rachel will be running on Friday night in the Ladies Classic?  I just don't see Rachel getting the distance of 1 1/4 miles, especially against a field of the caliber she would face in the Classic.  The only way I see this matchup happening is if Zenyatta's connections opt to enter her in the Ladies Classic rather than the Classic.

24 Jun 2010 10:28 PM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D., I do take a lot more pride in my physicality picks/comments than my handicapping selections. I have had a number of my "best work" horses win the Derby, but as you said, sometimes theyre just too low to pick. I suggest readers ignore my lousy picks and remember what I say about the works and looks of the horses.

Bob, to answer your question, no I dont think that is more likely, not from an owner who has run Rachel in unorthodox races since he bought her. Although Rachel, especially this year's version, looks to be more vulnerable at 1 1/4 miles, I dont think Jackson would back out of a confrontation with Zenyatta at that distance. He knows what the repercussions of such a decision would be. But thats still a long way off.

25 Jun 2010 10:19 AM

Mike Revla,

Everything is fine.  Still following the horses and hoping to visit Kentucky again next year.  I've just got to visit Smarty, Big Brown, Curlin and Tiznow.

Hope all is well with you.  

25 Jun 2010 10:52 AM

Sometimes it bugs me when I see people constantly bringing up the handicappers' betting at the BCC.

The object of a horse racing is to win the race.

The object of a handicapper is to make money.  

How much money will you make by betting a favorite at 1/9 odds?  or 4/5 odds.  Ten cents?  The point the 'cappers were making at the BCC was not that they didn't think Zen would win.  It was that one could not make any $$ by just betting Z to win.  So they were boxing exactas, and picking long shots to try to make $$, but rooting  for Zen to win.  

Since the legendary mares believe two-leggers are a bit slow, and can't seem to figure out the difference between a horse and a handicapper, they put their hard earned money into stocks on oat futures and malt beverages.  They also believe that English jockeys jiggle too much in the saddle as though they were sitting on Mexican jumping beans, and they really feel bad for Afsare who was uppity enough to beat the Queen's horse Quadrille at Ascot, because she's the one who gets to say, "Off with his head". ;)

25 Jun 2010 10:55 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Steve-There is no law that says you can't have two picks. Have one based on physicality and workouts, even if it's 2-1, and your longshot pick. In the betting world, someone could bet two horses to win anyway, if one is a longshot. Example would be $10 to win on the 2-1, and $2 to win on the 20-1. I don't bet 2-1, but I do bet 2 at 10-1 or higher sometimes. Obviously when you're writing you can pick two but tell Lenny you're picking two also. Your longshot stab, and the one based on looks and workouts, which I think is your forte. Don't let Lenny bully you into picking just one. Tell him it's your story and you're stickin to it. I know that sometimes you pick two anyway based on what I just said, but sometimes someone wants to force you to pick one, you pick the longshot stab, and then that's what everyone remembers if he comes in last.

25 Jun 2010 11:12 AM

Bob....  I agree with you about Rach not getting the 1 1/4 but, perhaps she eventually will be able to if they train her for it.  But, seeing her go into the Classic, I don't see that happening and for Zen to skip the Classic and to go into the Ladies Classic, I don't see that happening either.  It would be nice to see these two settle the rivalry on the track, of course!  There's still plenty of time so, we'll just have to see.  I just wish that Jackson would say sooner where they will put Rach next instead of waiting until the last minute.  That isn't fair to Rach's fans.  Also, I bet if they would say at least a week or two prior to the race, the Mosse's might surprise everyone and throw a curve ball by showin up unexpected with Zen.  Then, what will Jackson do?  Scratch Rach!?  What excuses would he come up with?!  

25 Jun 2010 2:31 PM

I know most everyone believes Rachel can't get 10 furlongs because of her Preakness and her Woodward.  I think she can get 10 furlongs.  If you remember, she came out of number 14 in the gate, she was immediately hussled up to the front and kept it up the whole way.  At the Woodward we were seeing a tired horse run on heart and guts to win by a head having been pushed the whole way.  At the Haskell we saw a horse who get easily get 10 furlongs.  She was 6 lengths ahead and no one was gaining on her.  I think by the time the BCC comes around, she'll be ready.

25 Jun 2010 3:02 PM


I'm so sorry!  I spelled your name wrong!  I thought about it last night and checked and sure enough I did.  My apologies.

25 Jun 2010 3:13 PM
Mike Relva


That's great. Smarty is one that I wanna visit. Was at the Kentucky Horse Park to visit my all time fav,Cigar on his b. day. They had a party for him. He looks very well for twenty.

25 Jun 2010 7:55 PM

A video of Zenyatta:



I look back over the years of Zenyatta's career and one thing sticks out.

Bob Baffert had a Grade I racemare named "Tough Tiz's Sis".

Bob sent out "Tough Tiz's Sis" multiple times against Zenyatta and after watching Zenyatta beat his best racemare, he decided he was tired of getting his brains bashed in.

Baffert ended up leaving California with Tough Tiz's Sis and headed to Belmont Park. He entered her into the Grade I Ruffian Handicap.

Tough Tiz's Sis dismantled the field and won by a bakers dozen and broke the stakes record.

Baffert knows horseflesh and he once told the press in 2009 that they should rename the 2009 Clement L. Hirsh.

He told Del Mar officials that they should rename it to "The Zenyatta Invitational"

How impressive is it to see a Hall Of Fame trainer, like Bob Baffert, respect her the way he does? Bob has gone so far as to show up for the 2010 Vanity Handicap to watch Zenyatta run, when he didn't even have a horse in the race.

Bob Baffert: "A Class Act"

28 Jun 2010 6:42 PM

The only way for Rachel and Zen to meet up is in the BC Classic.  It would be stupid to ship the great one east with the BC just 4 months away.  Shipping takes a lot out of a horse, and with the $5 million prize waiting at Churchill in November, why burn her out?  If you east-coasters want to see her in person, buy BC tickets or fly to San Diego on August 7th for the Clement Hirsch Stakes.  Then in early October, Zenyatta will perform in the Zenyatta Stakes at Oak Tree (now being held back at Santa Anita) and then on to the BC Classic.  Just 3 races left in one of the greatest careers in history.  After denying her the HOY for 2 consecutive years, she doesn't owe the east coast nothing.  If I wanted to see Ruffian or Personal Ensign, I had to fly to New York.  They weren't going to bring those gals to the left coast, were they?  What good would that have done to the horse?

28 Jun 2010 11:28 PM

Why don't they both meet in the Arc against the best horses in Europe and then see who's the better of the two?  What a race that would be!

11 Jul 2010 6:23 PM

Recent Posts



Social Media

More Blogs