By Gene Kershner, EquiSpace
how do you think the year is shaping up so far for the sport of thoroughbred
horse racing? Do you think the glass is half empty or half full? It's time for
my annual half year inspection of the Bests and Worst of thoroughbred racing.
You can see the mid-year reports for 2009 and 2008 in the archives (always fun to look back at where my head was at).
We seem to be at a crossroads in so many different areas. There are lots of positives and enough
negatives to go around. So here goes the halfway there edition for 2010.....
Best Moments in Racing -
1 - Zenyatta
remains the queen of racing through early 2010. No east coast sour
grapes here, she's continues her winning streak with wins in California (2) and
Arkansas (1) to raise her consecutive win streak to 17. The defending Breeders'
Cup Classic champ looms large to defend her title in Louisville in November.
This should continue to be fun to watch.
2 - Monmouth
Park's Elite Summer Meet. Innovative. Less is
More. Fabulous Purses. Weekend Race Dates. Big name trainers. The experiment is working
and is sure to be copied. Handle is
up. Attendance is up.
3 - Pletcher
wins his first Kentucky Derby. Super Saver helped the Toddster
smash the goose eggs next to his Derby record winning over a hard closing Ice Box by 2 1/2 lengths on a
sloppy track under the Twin Spires.
4 - Quality
Road emerges as best older male horse. The quality has shone through with major
wins in the Donn at Gulfstream and the venerable Metropolitan Mile at Belmont
Park. A big showdown looms in Kentucky at the Breeders' Cup. Stay tuned, this
one could be tremendous. The emergence
of the older handicap horses in 2010 is definitely a theme that has trumped the
3 year olds so far.
5 - Glen
Fullerton's 15 minutes of fame. The 40 year old plunked down $100K in a CNBC contest on Super Saver and won $900K and
bounced up and down on the NBC broadcast like a Mexican jumping bean. Why this
is not a commercial for the NTRA on the joys of racing is beyond me.
Mention - Lookin
at Lucky's Preakness win; Drosselmeyer's Belmont victory; Beulah Park's new
Fortune Six wager; Odysseus'
Tampa Bay Derby photo finish wire win; Canadian filly Biofuel making noise; Blind Luck wins Oaks at the
Worst moments in horse racing
- midpoint 2010
1 - Eskendereya
injured weekend before the Derby. The horse that
dominated the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial Derby prep races and likely
post-time favorite was out of the Derby even before the draw. Subsequently
retired and partially purchased by Jess Jackson, this horse had the pedigree
and stamina to be a legitimate Triple Crown challenger. Maybe next year...
2 - The Apple
Blossom Showdown. The Great Race that wasn't. After negotiating a race date
change and hyping the showdown between Zenyatta
and 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel
Alexandra, owner Jess Jackson pulled the plug saying RA wasn't
ready to roll.
3 - NTRA rolls
out streaming video, it fails. I shouldn't pick on the NTRA, but rolling out a new product
after touting it for weeks without testing it for the volume, well you know what happened. They seem to have it
straightened out, based on King Alex' latest post, applauding the IT
company that now has fixed the issues altogether. That post, by the way, has a
whole 7 comments.
4 - Aqueduct
Slots Debacle. See the Left at the Gate blog who covers it
better than anyone. Maybe in my
lifetime. Maybe not. This is a half empty endeavor, folks.
5 - Churchill
Downs pulls out of NTRA. Ouch. Even Churchill management's subsequent
commentary that their internal testing program is way more intensive than the
NTRA's Safety and Integrity initiative had to hurt. Many tracks are sure to follow Churchill's
Mention - Jockey fight on Dubai Cup card; Difficulty filling fields in
California; The Mig is injured and forced to retire; Jockeys reality show
cancelled by Animal Planet; NYCOTB bankruptcy issues mount.
So how do you think thoroughbred racing is doing half way through 2010, is the
glass half full or half empty? What did I miss?