Blame's Game

At the end of the afternoon of a perfect summer day, a colt named Blame assured the followers of Saratoga Race Course that it would remain the "Graveyard of Favorites." 

As the 7-2 second choice in a compact field of six over-achievers, the dependable 4-year-old son of Arch owned by Claiborne Farms and Adele Dilschneider turned his three-length deficit at the eighth pole into a narrow Gr. 1 $750,000 Whitney Handicap victory over the 1-2 Quality Road.

Jockey J.R.Velasquez, on the lead aboard Quality Road for almost the entire race, saw the writing on the wall as early as the quarter pole.  He looked long and hard over his left shoulder to see who was there coming at him.  It was the wrong side to look, as on his left side both Blame and Musket Man were advancing.  Quality Road should have had plenty left in the tank, thanks to his leisurely pace.  But Blame caught him anyway.

It was a Whitney that included four handicap division horses of very high caliber. Quality Road, Musket Man, Blame and Haynesfield had a combined winning percentage of 70 percent.  Three Whitney starters had won their last three races; two had won their last four. There were more Beyer speed figures over 100 in the PPs than you'd see at an NBA basketball game.

Blame's game was to run 12s. Nevertheless, few people in attendance expected that to add up to victory. Bridge jumpers poured cash into the show pool.  Of the $808, 560 placed there, more than $630,000 of it was wagered on Quality Road.  

It seemed there was something thrilling to see all day long. In the co-featured Gr.1 Test Stakes, Champagne D'Oro lived up to Eric Guillot's braggadocio. The trainer loud-mouthed his way through a local morning TV talk show, yet his filly's behavior on the racetrack in the late afternoon is what really spoke volumes.

The sixth race was a study in chaos. The favorite Justin Phillip never got to run in the 6-1/2 furlong sprint for 2-year-old maidens because he broke loose from the hold of his handlers and dashed off before he could walk in the post parade.  Thatcatismine reared at the start and dumped his rider. Tiz Blessed won and might have won anyway had none of this happened. He's a nice colt by Tiznow. 

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott sent out his 4000th winner as Sequoia Racing's Mystic won the seventh. The Unbridled Song's 4-year-old colt demonstrated why Mott is the ultimate pro. Mystic, reserved in midpack early on, was bumped several times before swinging three wide for his stretch run and still won. Other than that, there was very little action - Not!

On Sunday, fans will receive a Rachel Alexandra ball cap with each paid admission. Around these parts, Jess Jackson's filly remains "Queen of the Turf" - not Zenyatta.

Vic Zast writes a column for HorseRaceInsider.com each Monday. He has written the Saratoga Diary for bloodhorse.com in five of the last six years.

86 Comments

Leave a Comment:

OLD TIMER

So the question (after the Donn and Metropolitan) is did Quality Road not like the track or just have a bad day? Or has he lost something? We'll soon find out.

08 Aug 2010 10:14 AM
MTBFan(still)

Oh, Zenyatta...you have a wee little contender in the Classic...

08 Aug 2010 10:54 AM
Ann in Lexington

This year and last Quality Road has looked amazing at Gulfstream, while looking merely very good elsewhere. The second coming of Hindoo he is not, despite the ballyhoo of the racing press. The Superhorse talk is all part of the strategy to keep his potential stud fees as high as possible.

But I remember when a top runner raced every 2,3 weeks when he was fit -like when Slew and Exceller ran back 2 weeks after the Woodward to put on their epic struggle in the JC Gold Cup. And 3 weeks later Exceller won the 12f Oak Tree Invitational. These were fully tested colts who deserved their stud careers and no one thought less of them for occasional losses. The current obsession with 'never risk losing because it will damage his/her reputation' is destroying top class racing in this country.

08 Aug 2010 11:15 AM
smarie

Speak for yourself Mr. Zast. Zenyatta is MY "Queen of the Turf." Not Rachel Alexandra.

08 Aug 2010 11:18 AM
Taxman

What do you mean by your reference to the NBA and Beyer figures? The NBA doesn't chart its players with beyer figs. ????

08 Aug 2010 11:21 AM
sodapopkid

I think Blame is just better than a well rested and trained QR,  I like the closers, they are so thrilling and make a race a RACE.

And the queen is on the West Coast not the East Coast,  she(RA) will end up like QR,  except it will be her third or fourth time this year for another loss.

Lets not forget Zenyatta is now tied to Eclipse himself.  18 for 18

08 Aug 2010 11:28 AM
sodapopkid

Blame made that race yesterday,  He is the new King and Zenyatta is  THE Queen.

08 Aug 2010 11:30 AM
kathleen o

I think the question has been answered, QR is a miler.

08 Aug 2010 11:30 AM
RachelandZenyattaFan

Quality Road had the race as he wanted it, loped along on a easy lead.  I don't think he didn't like the track I'm thinking he just didn't fire or was caught by a harder running horse.  Hats of to Blame he's the real deal and the BC is going to be a real race, especially if Zen and Rach show up for it.  It will be one to remember.

08 Aug 2010 11:36 AM
Bill W

Blame is the real deal and Gomez fits him perfectly. I saw him win the S. Foster at Churchill.

08 Aug 2010 11:47 AM
marktoothaker

Vic what a great weekend it has been here at the Spa with Blame and QR plus fantastic Test stakes. Today is Funny Cide day at the spa and attached is a great video of him this morning and Jack Knowlton one of his owners.

http://www.thederbydream.com/

08 Aug 2010 11:47 AM
Southern Chris

Quality Road had no excuse, he was training exceptionally well according to Todd Pletcher and set a snails pace, Blame was simply the better horse that day. I liken it to when everyone thought the mighty Alabama was going to demolish underrated Utah in the BCS game and Utah came out on top.

08 Aug 2010 12:04 PM
Southern Chris

I got to give Musket Man his due. He doesn't win all the time, but boy is he consistent always gives his best.

So much for the trainer switch to Lukas for MTB, either his best days are behind him or they need to change his racing tactics and get him in the race earlier.

08 Aug 2010 12:08 PM
david

BLAME is simply a good racehorse.  QUALITY ROAD is also at the top of the division, the type kind of anointed by the eastern trade press over bet and hyped until another one beats him straight up.  Both are now positioned to become the best older males we’ve seen in several years.  As to ZENYATTA AND RAPHAEL, neither wants any part of these two boys.

08 Aug 2010 12:11 PM
Barbaro615

OLD TIMER has a point. But I simply think Blame is the better horse. Think about it. Who did QR face in the Donn. Nobody. There was only Musket Man in the Met Mile. Garrett had his whip put away with Blame, while John was whipping QR vigorously. So when the question Blame or Quality Road comes up, I'm goin' with Blame.

08 Aug 2010 12:12 PM
anna

amaybe he just doesn't like saratoga, since he ran second in the travers last yr even though he won the amsterdam stakes but that was due to him being the best horse in the sprint race prior to him finishing second in the travers

08 Aug 2010 12:24 PM
papillon

quality road's met mile was about 3 seconds faster than any mile he had ever run before. that is a huge step up for a horse--it was about 15 lengths faster than his comfort zone.

based on what JV said about quality road seeming to be just going through the motions yesterday, the met mile may have cost him more than anyone seems to think.

on the other hand, he is essentially a superb miler, while blame is a classic distance horse. the finish is pretty close to what you would expect between a horse who is best at a mile but able to handle 1 and 1/8th vs. a horse that is best at 1 and 1/4, but who has enough tactical speed to win at 1 and 1/8th.

what ever the reason, blame was the better horse yesterday.

08 Aug 2010 12:37 PM
Anita Knapp

Compact field of six over-achievers?   Are you joking?

Mine That Bird hasn't won a race since May 2, 2009.

Jardim is 0 for 5 this year, including 2 US defeats in allowance company.

Musket Man is 1 for 4 this year, his only win coming in the 7 furlong Super Stakes in February. But boy oh boy, he earned a big Beyer number beating that illustrious field which included Guam Typhoon and Chief Talkeetna.  

Haynesfield has spent his entire career beating such stalwarts as Ruffino and Bad Action.  And lest we forget he beat I Want Revenge (who was coming off a 14 month layoff after a leg injury).  And Haynesfield has even broken the Beyer 100 mark beating such scary competition.  

So that leaves Blame and Quality Road of "blow up in the BC starting gate" fame.   Wow, what a bunch of over-achievers.

08 Aug 2010 12:46 PM
kittens joy fan

Well it looked to me like QR's jockey stopped riding him as soon as he got in front, by the time the jockey saw Blame coming, QR had lost all his momentum.

08 Aug 2010 1:16 PM
sidekick

"On Sunday, fans will receive a Rachel Alexandra ball cap with each paid admission. Around these parts, Jess Jackson's filly remains "Queen of the Turf" - not Zenyatta."

So what was the point of those last two words?  Only to irritate and inflame?  It's funny. In all of the articles I have read about Zenyatta's day at Del Mar, I never read how they gave Zenyatta glasses since she is the Queen of the Turf - not Rachel. Let Zen have her day at Del Mar and let the Saratoga fans enjoy Rachel.  I hope to see them both at Churchill.

08 Aug 2010 1:39 PM
Zen's Auntie

The answer is Blame is a real race horse too.  QR Tried to hold a head in front but Blame wanted it more, this is what separates the great from the exceptional.  Its also what gets them hurt.

Qr ran a good race but Blame ran just a head better and thats in the heart of a closer.  I think QR had a bit too much rest and wasnt quite as sharp as before and also the distance tells on him. He is probably unbeatable at the mile if sound and himself any time any where right now but distance and good closers are what will separate him from the classic field.  

Zenyatta is a Phenomena I cannot wait until (God willing) the breeders cup classic that stretch is MADE for a closer and if we get to see her and Blame it will truely be a test.  

In winning her 18th I think She looked more workmanlike than ever - the photo on the home page of this site clearly illustrates her  eyeballing her opponent who was all out and accelerating, and running just enough more to keep her head in front.

To me it was a good school.  Zen learned to keep running and to judge being ahead.  She will need this skill to beat other Big Time closers in the stretch Im glad she had this chance.

I will say, this is the first time ever I have seen any horse gain ground on her (although it was only about a head) in the stretch ever. But she saw that and responded so it was a learning experince.

08 Aug 2010 1:46 PM
Bob Z

What were his previous races like at 1 1/8 miles?  The times?  The acceleration in the stretch...?

This pace was on the slow side so he should (?) have some left for the end....

08 Aug 2010 1:53 PM
Elle

How is Rachel queen of the turf? She's been far from awesome this year, she had one good year. Flashiness is not superior to longevity. Zenyatta's raced for three years. If we should be praising anyone, it's the Mosses for keeping her around so long when the norm nowadays is to retire after two years

08 Aug 2010 2:13 PM
Paula Higgins

Mr. Zast apparently you didn't see yesterday's race with Zenyatta. Zenyatta is the Queen and it is an ndusputable fact anywhere in the country. She is 18 for 18 and that equals the record of Eclipse. You didn't mention that Mr. Zast. How did that escape you?

Quality Road ran a very good race. But I think shorter distances are  where he excels. Blame is a true beast and is only getting better. He will be Zenyatta's biggest competition at a mile and a quarter. I don't know that QR should be entered in the BCC, but maybe the mile.

08 Aug 2010 2:15 PM
jayjay

QR's previous races were against low level fields, the Donn, the Met Mile (except for MM).  Blames previous races shows he is a better horse, he has been competing and beating top quality horses (Einstein, GQ, Battle Plan).  

I totally agree with Ann (from lexington).  QR was pretty much overhyped by the media also because of his track records, he is very good at Gulfstream Park, if that's the only track he races on, he'll never lose.  You take him out of there and run against real horses, well, we saw what happened.

Anyone who thinks he'll get 1 1/4 needs to get their head examined.  He won't stand a chance against Rail Trip, let alone Blame and Zenyatta.

08 Aug 2010 2:23 PM
Meydan Rocks

August 8th, 2010

Dear Diary,

Forgive me if I have already submitted this entry.As you might suspect,  I am still a tad woozy from the goings on this past ummm... saturday?

There were a ton of great races today. In the glorious “dirty” east, the oh so plastic and synthetic west and just about everywhere in between!

You would have thought I would have learned my lesson by now. After today’s results (which are not limited to the ‘Monster from the East’ losing to Blame after having relatively “soft” fractions), I shall hereby stop listening to “human beings” prognosticate and pontificate about horses winning and/or losing!

And don’t dare ask me about the money I lost! This is entirely NOT about that! :-(

I recall reading about the wise bard and seer, D. Wayne Lucas saying something along the lines of “humans do the talking and horses do the walking”.

I LOVE Rachel, love QR, love Zenyatta, love Concord Point, love Franny Freud, LOVE Skipshot and even the future Mondatta!

But when it comes to horse racing, no one knows anything is I what I strongly suspect.

I also suspect that all those horses better pray Zenyatta is TRULY the Queen of synthetics and HATES Churchill downs because come Breeder’s cup time, a lot of humans just might be jumping of bridges when the Breeder’s Cup Classic results come in.

I’ll be in touch (Dear Diary)... awesome racing weekend.

Oh it’s gonna be a doozy come November! I booked a room at the local Marriott in downtown Louisville. I won’t miss it for the world when it comes time for the “horses to do the walking”!

Yippee!

:-)

08 Aug 2010 2:27 PM
GunBow

Quality Road ran an excellent race while giving weight.  But the weight disadvantage was counter-balanced by the easy lead he was able to set.  He's a top class animal, but he's not the once in a generation horse many of his supporters had suggested.  And since he lost the Whitney with minimal pace pressure at 9 furlongs, giving up 3 lengths to Blame in the stretch, it's hard to be confident in his chances in the BC Classic at 10 furlongs against other speed like Rachel, Rail Trip, First Dude, and maybe Misremembered.

On Whitney day, Blame was just the better horse, and I think he'll be better than Quality Road in the BC Classic as well.  Quality Road might turn the tables in the Woodward if both run, but he's suspect to me at 10 furlongs against top level horses.

Mukset Man ran another brave race.  Keep in mind he was beaten only 2 lengths.  While Musket Man is a solid horse, no one is claiming he's a superstar, so his presence in such close proximity to Blame and Quality Road suggests to me that the latter two do not TOWER over other top BC Classic contenders.  Rachel beat Musket Man the same margin last year, so I think she would have fit with the Whitney field fine, although I'm not sure she would have won.  As for Zenyatta, she has proven repeatedly that her Beyer speed figures must be taken with a grain of salt, and in any event going into yesterday's races, her Beyers were actually just as good as Blame's.  Even 3 year olds like Lookin at Lucky and now maybe Concord Point have the potential to be able to compete with Blame and Quality Road, especially if they continue to improve over the next few months.  My top 2:

1. Zenyatta

2. Blame

I'm very interested to see Rachel at 10 furlongs in the Personal Ensign.  A big race puts her right at the top.  Quality Road is 3rd until then.

08 Aug 2010 2:51 PM
Kit J

Southern Chris, MTB was supposed to be in the race sooner. Wayne said that was what he wanted. It should have been easy for him to do, the pace was crawling. I've been watching Calvin ride at Saratoga, he's riding almost all of the Lukas horses and frankly it's not his track. He hasn't done too well for anyone that he's ridden for.

Gomez was smart enough to keep Blame within striking distance. If he'd have been as far back as usual there would have been no chance for him. I still say I think Quality Road is a miler.

08 Aug 2010 2:54 PM
GunBow

Rachel most definitely is a Queen of racing.  Last year, she might have even been THE Queen.  But so far this year, THE Queen ran at Del Mar yesterday, and that one has been a queen for 3 years now(4 gr.1 wins each of the last 3 years).

08 Aug 2010 2:56 PM
Zen's Auntie

OMG I just heard the awful news that Tuscan Evening collaped and died at Delmar after a 6 f workout - Im shocked.  Please people lets appreciate the Horses More and not bicker with foolish human pride.  My heart goes out to Hollendorfer and DeBurgh, this is a heartbreaking loss

08 Aug 2010 3:23 PM
Mike Relva

DAVID

Must be fun living in a fantasy world! We will see what happens at the Classic,Zenyatta won't be backing down from anyone! I'll wait for your spin in Nov. lol

08 Aug 2010 3:46 PM
hoofprintsandhorseplay

I went to Saratoga Race course today wearing my Zenyatta hat for the Undefeated Champion.

I believe the NYRA switched hats for today. The original hat for Sunday's giveaway had Rachel's image on the front of the hat.

When she went to Monmouth to race, NYRA went to plan B, and changed the hats!

Their marketing changed immediately after as well. I guess all the work and money the NYRA put into Rachel's barn this spring including sod for her to graze in couldn't be 'undone - so we'll take her off the hat!!

The cheap ones they gave out featured 'The Woodward' - with Rachel printed on the back.  

Maybe they will give out the 'real' hats to the suckers that pay $100 for a Traver's picnic table!

08 Aug 2010 4:07 PM
Nanch

Yesterday Blame was ready to race and Quality Road was not, it is that simple.  Could be the next time they meet Quality Road will be the winner - it has happened to racing greats repeatedly!  Study racing charts and you will see it repeated numerous times - Criminal Type and Ruhlman, Affirmed and Alydar, Silver Charm and Freehouse....

As for her Majesty Zenyatta - she rules regardless of the coastline.  As a writer for the Blood-Horse, I'm surprised at Vic Zast's foolish comment above regarding Zenyatta. It doesn't enhance racing at this point in time.  Real racing fans don't knock the stars, but appreciate them and the risks they take every time they enter the track!

08 Aug 2010 4:11 PM
Karen in Texas

Bob Z.---Are you asking about QR's previous races at 1 1/8 miles? His Florida Derby was run at 1:47.72, a track record. He was second for most of the race, began to accelerate, Dunkirk passed him briefly, and QR fought back and prevailed. His Donn was won in 1:47.49, breaking his FD record. In that race he was second until about the 3/4 pole, where he steadily accelerated to win by over 12 lengths. Yesterday, having been on the lead for the entire race, he seemed slightly unfocused to me. Whatever happened to QR, Blame ran very well.

08 Aug 2010 4:13 PM
hoofprintsandhorseplay

I have a friend who I've bet over 25,000 races with over the last 25 years.

I asked him this morning on the first tee - "did you see the race?" Pretty generic question.

He replies - "that was The WORST ride I've ever seen"!

That's the race I was talking about and anyone who handicaps and wagers deserves a straight forward ride.

Johnny looked back, over his shoulders, and under his arms at least 10 times!  He should have just rode his 'own horse' and not worry about what going on behind you.

The only other reason to 'worry' and look around would be if Quality Road got hurt. If he comes out of this race sound - the loss is squarely on the horrible ride Quality Road received.

You don't think Johnny got a talking too from Mr Pletcher after The Whitney? I guess you didn't see Sunday's 2nd race at Saratoga.

It was Johnny riding his first Pletcher horse since - and he rode the hair off that horse, whipped him to the wire when he was ahead by 10 lengths!!

With that kind of ride - Quality Road wins by 5 lengths!

08 Aug 2010 4:17 PM
Belmont

Quote from Vic Zast:

"At the end of the afternoon of a perfect summer day, a colt named Blame assured the followers of Saratoga Race Course that it would remain the "Graveyard of Favorites."

Vic Zast,

No Vic, Saratoga is known as the "Graveyard of Champions"...and believe me: Quality Road is no champion and he never will be.

08 Aug 2010 4:19 PM
moodygirl

I am so looking forward to Blame & Zenyatta in the BCC. Rachel too. But while Rachael Aleandra might be an individual's Queen of Racing and a great champion, there is only one Queen this year, Zenyatta, of course. How can you not concede that? Surely just to stir up trouble, which doesn't need any stirring. lol  Regarding QR & Blame, Draynay must be home eating crow sandwiches today.

08 Aug 2010 4:24 PM
OuijaWest

Prayers heard in Terlingua, TX after an exhausting day at the racing channels:  Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before...the BCC, I pray the Lord for a club house seat at the finish line and a pair of awesome binoculars.  Amen.

It's going to be a heart stopper.

08 Aug 2010 4:32 PM
Paula Higgins

David, you are dead wrong, Zenyatta has never backed away from any colt. Apparently you didn't see last year's BCC. She will give them both a run for their money they will never forget. In a large field, alot will come down to the trip. Very few horses in the history of horse racing have gone as wide as she does time after time, and also come from behind and win. David, I think you are forgetting her longest winning margins were on dirt. That says it all.

08 Aug 2010 4:45 PM
red4268

I've been watching races for over 40 years and in that Friday night at churchill when blame won that race I saw a true champion in the making. I have bet him to win the BC this year and am hoping that QR, Zen, LAL and any of the rest of them show up at churchill. I love taking 3/1, 7/2 or higher on what will be a horse that will do all the walking. Yes I did make the trip to the SPA to bet him and would have loved the 5/1 I was getting. BLAME is by far the Best horse in the land period. I too will be in LOUISVILLE and will be @ the BROWN

08 Aug 2010 4:48 PM
SCtoWA

It's always controversy that gets more people involved with a sport.  TOO BAD, we can't get our erstwhile media past baseball, football, basketball, and all the other "ball" games (golf, tennis, soccer just to name the ones that come to mind).  If Rachel is Queen of the Turf, pardon me?  Then Zenyatta is the Ruler of the Empire, past a queen.  The BC should be interesting indeed, Blame, QR, Z, RA - unless JJ has another excuse for her as well as some from across from both ponds and others.  QR had his cart upended, a lesson everyone should have learned by now, nothing is sacred in horse racing.  Now could we please get some national publicity on a horse that's undefeated after 18 starts?  That's a heck of a lot better stats than the boys of summer are putting up.

08 Aug 2010 4:59 PM
LuckySon

OMG can we PLEASE have  a blog that doesn't involve Zenyatta and Rachel?

Moving on, Johnny kept looking to his left and looking to his left and by the time he looked to his right, Blame was already up his ass!  If had looked at the right horse, he may have asked more from QR a little sooner than he did.  Still, Blame is a great horse, so props go out to him, but winning by a nostril is NOT an easy win!  It does not make QR any less of the horse than he was the day before nor does it make him a miler.  He simply wasn't asked for enough in enough time and let a nostril get by him.  He's still #1 in my book.  And it sure is going to be one hell of a race come November.  I'm not sure either girls will step in the gate with either of these two big boys.

08 Aug 2010 5:00 PM
I love Mine That Bird

Mine That Bird has that something in him, but where did it go? The sweetest little fighter. Anyone who says he is a fluke is wrong. Flukes don't finish 1-2-3 in the Triple Crown. I hope they can figure something out that is best for HIM! Maybe back a Churchill Downs.

I hope BC classic ends with Zenyatta MTB 1-2.

08 Aug 2010 5:04 PM
Cyd

Well people before we declare any horse super great on 18 wins 0 losses and you want to compare to horses of long past. Then lets see Zen is shy of 36 more wins!

Because the one that one 54 in a row and no losses racing all over Europe against both sexes was a mare named KINCSEM

54 Starts, 54 Wins, 0 Places, 0 Shows  

1ST Oesterreichisches Derby, 1877 Magyar One Thousand Guineas, 1877 Magyar Two Thousand Guineas, 1877 Magyar Oaks, 1877 Magyar St. Leger, 1877 Preis der Jockey-Club (Austrian Derby), Emperor's Prize, Grosser Preis von Baden (3 times), Grosser Preis von Hannover, Goodwood Cup, Grand Prix de Deauville

At the time of her retirement from racing, Kincsem was a European household name, winner of fifty-four races without a defeat, a stunning record which to this day marks her as one of the greatest horses that ever raced. In 6 of her races, she was awarded the win in a walkover as her rivals were afraid to face her. Read more: www.tbheritage.com/.../Kincsem.html or thoroughbredchampions.com/.../kincsem.htm

08 Aug 2010 5:15 PM
Saratoga AJ

Both QR and Blame received 111 Beyers yesterday, third fastest awarded for distances over one mile on dirt this year.

I don't believe Blame will be getting any weight from QR anymore!

08 Aug 2010 5:36 PM
michelle

Meydan Rocks is pretty funny.  Spot on.  

As for Quality Road, what's the excuse?  Not enough rest?  haha.  He's a nice horse at Gulfstream, but come on!  If I had a mare, and trust me I don't, him and Unbridled's Song would be last on my list of studs.  Give me a horse that ran consistently, stayed sound, and has a brain.

08 Aug 2010 6:03 PM
John

Vic,

..."around these parts Rachel Alexandra is the Queen and not Zenyatta..."

Your are wrong. I have alot of friends there at Saratoga, and you are wrong.

The ones you only hear from are all hard-core RA fans.

Most of the fans appreciate and acknowledge Zenyatta and her greatness.

08 Aug 2010 6:20 PM
LYNN k

It is alarming to me that at the end of yesterdays Whitney the TVG staff refered to Blame and QR as 'great' the fact is that we have seen some "great feats" in recent years such as Rachael's season last year and Zenyatta's thrilling close calls over medicore competiton on the synthetics as well as sintilating performances by QR, Blame, Mine that Bird in the Derby. None of them reach the standard of Greatness achieved by Personal Ensign, Cigar, or Triple Crown winners such as Seattle Slew or Secretariat.  Perhaps the closests thing to a great horse in traing today is Goldikova who travels internationally takes on all comers and can run over any surface or pace scenario no excuses.  Let us enjoy our current stars while we strive to improve the soundness of our breed until the next truly great one comes along.

S

08 Aug 2010 6:25 PM
Johnny

QR just did not fire yesterday really 24 1/4 @ 48 1/2. Qr likes to press the pace not be on the lead.

QR set a track record last year for I believe the AMsterdam @ Saratoga..

Taking nothing from Blame but if they hook up again I will give QR my money once again..

Queen Z looked beautiful yesterday it is such a treat to watch her.

She will defend her B/C title.

08 Aug 2010 6:46 PM
Robin from Maryland

What a great day in racing:  Blame wins, upsetting QR and TP, and "The Queen" remains unbeaten and on top - no matter what RA does, she WILL NEVER match or break Queen Z's record.  God willing Queen Z will get to CD and defend her title;and than maybe she'll get the honors she so rightly deserves: Horse of the Year!!!  

08 Aug 2010 7:07 PM
Lucy

  Quality Road is a good horse.  Blame is a good horse.  Blame was the better horse yesterday.  I would not write QR off on one second place finish (though I agree with those who think a mile-and-a-quarter may be more distance than he wants.)  Still, he will win a few more...many better horses have been upset at Saratoga.  As for QR's meltdown at last year's BC, remember, he was STILL a three-year-old COLT and high-strung three-year-olds will melt down from time-to-time.  I showed horses for years and I am always amazed at how they can get these young horses to survive the post parades.  I find myself praying for the horses and jockeys.

Zenyattta IS the Queen...Rachel is still a princess. :-)

08 Aug 2010 7:19 PM
Ghostzapper

It amazes me how no one is talking about the ride given to Quality Road. It was awful to say the least. Quality Road should have taken it to him. Instead, he loped along for the entire race. That's equivalent to waiting for the pack to catch you and then trying to hold them off. He should have just left them on the backside in his dust but was still being hand ridden in the stretch. Ridiculous.

On another note, does anyone not realize that the Whitney was a handicap? QR gave everyone weight and lost by a nose. Yet, now Blame is the star and QR a chump. Ridiculous.  

08 Aug 2010 7:24 PM
Bill Daly

I suspect a lot of the blogsters here would vote for Zenyatta if she ran for governor with the full faith and belief she could cure the Golden State's budgetary problems! Is it true she actually has been seen walking on the Delmar surf?

08 Aug 2010 7:30 PM
Jim C.

Bill Dwyre, a longtime horse racing writer for the LA Times, took aim in his column this weekend at East Coast turf writers like Zast: www.latimes.com/.../la-sp-dwyre-zenyatta-20100807,0,101169.column

Money quote:  “No, she has never lost to another race horse. Her defeat was at the hands of a bunch of sportswriters, many of whom may have had fogged brains from summer humidity in the East.”  After reading that, Zast came to mind, especially the part about “fogged brains.”  

Zast is biologically incapable of writing a column without taking at least one swipe at Zenyatta.  People like Zast remind me of the East Coast know-nothings who are still, TO THIS DAY, taking ugly shots at Sunday Silence in the comments section of the Youtube clips of the 1989 Breeders' Cup Classic.  Zast and his ilk just cannot get over the fact that the best horse in the country is based in Southern California.

The last time I checked, VIc, Saratoga's "Queen of the Turf" was dethroned by Zardana, Zenyatta's stablemate, at the Fair Grounds.

08 Aug 2010 7:54 PM
GunBow

Racing just can't handle too much good news.  My prayers are with Tuscan Evening and her connections.  I know Hollendorfer and William De Burgh absolutely loved this game little mare.

I was still on a Zenyatta + Whitney high, and this news just knocked me back to the ground.  I hate this.

08 Aug 2010 8:02 PM
Freetex

Great racing this weekend.

Blame showed his grit and heart.  Amazing how he and Musket Man were digging in like crazy.

Zenyatta looked every bit the star and oh her coat just glistened.  

Sick about Tuscan Evening and very sad for the connections.

08 Aug 2010 8:23 PM
Saratoga AJ

Looks like everyone is dismissing QR a bit prematurely. At equal weights, the Whitney would have ended up differently.

There are a lot of races left before we decide who HOTY ends up being.

As far as Zen's race, when a horse that has won only 3 of 22 lifetime starts in allowance and minor ungraded stakes company, (and has won only ONCE in 1 1/2 years), a sprinter who never raced beyond a mile, and carried only 4 lbs. less than Zen, still only loses by a half a head, I wouldn't be  crowing too much. That was not a great showing. And don't give me the pace spin.

But as I said earlier, it’s not Zen’s fault they have so little good horses on the West Coast right now. However, she will have to run a whole lot better than that to beat colts the likes of QR, Blame, Rail Trip or Lucky. Not saying she can’t run better, but it appears to me she may be slowing down a tad at 6 years old. We’ll see.

08 Aug 2010 8:50 PM
Barbara W

I realize these comments are mostly about QR and Blame, as they should be. But I am puzzled about something.

MTB hated the synthetic track in California, was run on grass and lost, and now comes up late in this race. He has put on weight and was training well, according to all I've heard. Is there more to the story than this? Borel was told to keep him close to the front (and had post position #1 at that), yet he competed badly. After all, this is the horse that won last year's Derby, placed in the Preakness, and came in 3rd in the Belmont. Does anyone have any inside information?

I would not have switched trainers, but no one asked me.

08 Aug 2010 9:09 PM
Ranagulzion

It was a great weekend of racing.  Blame is obviously a risen star with his narrow victory in the Whitney while in receipt of five pounds from "the king himself" Quality Road (lost few marks in defeat).  The contest was great for the sport and the rematch at level weights in the Breeder's Cup Classic should be a humdinger.  Those who think QR has stamina limitations at 10 Furlongs still have a lot to learn about this game.  anyway the intrigue, discussions and speculaation adds to the excitement of it all.

Majesticperfection's romp of the Vanderbilt marks him as one really classy sprinter that is going to take a lot of beating in the Breeder's Cup sprint.

Well well, what did the CH show us?  Nothing new ...Zenyatta is queen of synthetics and her resume loaded/paded with ....ah well ...everybody knows ...although we all know that she is better than 90% of the actual content of her resume.  She'd better win the BCC or else history wont be very kind ...to her connections ...to say the least.  

08 Aug 2010 9:16 PM
GunBow

Saratoga AJ + Ranagulzion:

I agree that in most divisions the Cali horses are subpar not only in comparison to the East but in comparison to historical standards.

However, as it concerns grade 1 races, I just don't see why more horses don't come out to Cali if the horseflesh out here was THAT bad.  And as it concerns Zenyatta races, I am continually amazed that more Eastern horsemen don't ship out and try to garner the glory that would come with giving Zenyatta her first defeat.  Every race Zenyatta runs in is historic, so the mere act of defeating her would make that winner historic.  In other sports, contenders run over each other to get the chance to take on the champ. Yesterday, only the connections of Rinterval took advantage of this historic opportunity, and they were rewarded with a 2nd in a gr.1 and deserved praise.  In one race, by running well against Zenyatta, the connections of Rinterval made a name for their horse and themselves.  

In a perfect world, yes I think Moss and Sherriffs should have brought Zenyatta back East again after the Apple Blossom.  But more confusing to me is how few horsemen from outside of California have gone for the chance to make history by coming out to Cali and challenging the big mare.

But, compared to the death of Tuscan Evening, this really doesn't feel that important to me anymore.  It's days like today that I am reminded to cherish what we have and be thankful that our stars are able to run at all.  

08 Aug 2010 11:34 PM
tana rae

When I saw Blame run down Battle Plan in his last time out before the Whitney, I thought to myself... this horse has "it" - that WILL TO WIN. Regardless of stats, beyers,

Moss, whatever the pros have to offer...sometimes you can just see it in the horse.  Blame did the same dang thing in the Whitney...he ran down the favorite nearing the wire and I'll be darn if he didn't know exactly where that wire was.   Intangible...can't really explain it based on handicapping info but it happens and when it does celebrate.  Zenyatta and Blame in BC Classic...they both have "it" and it's going to be one heck of a race if,God willing, both stay healthy.

09 Aug 2010 12:03 AM
LaurieK

History will not be kind to Zenyatta if she loses the BCC?  I doubt history is that big an idiot.  QR lost...so what?  The horse is a beast, but last time I checked horses aren't machines.  They have off days.  And Blame is the real deal.  It's no shame to lose on your off day to a horse like that.  RIP to Tuscan Evening.  She was a grand mare.  What a reminder that perhaps we should be appeciating the abundance of fine horses currently active on our tracks rather than doing what racing fans habitually do:  bitch and moan about nothing of consequence.  

09 Aug 2010 12:07 AM
tana rae

Oh, my sentiments exactly GunBow.  Was feeling great about Lisa's Booby Trap (what a feel good story), Blame - had a hunch, and of course, our BIG Z...was such a great racing weekend.  And then, the unexpectedly sad news about Tuscan Evening.  I've been crying ever since. Boy, you're up one minute in this game and down the next.  My sympathy to Jerry H. and her connections (owners, groom, everyone)...at least it was quick -apparently - and where she loved to be...on the track.

09 Aug 2010 12:18 AM
Susan

Shame on you Zast.  You just have to keep getting your negative digs in about Zenyatta.  If it is so easy to go 18 for 18 undefeated  running in grade ones,  than why are not more horses there?

I had Blame to win the Whitney and he proved me right.  The Breeders Cup Classic will between Zenyatta and Blame.  The rest will be also rans.  My bet will be on Zenyatta because she is the more dangerous closer.

And it is a very sad day in racing to lose a great mare like Tuscan Evening.  It makes you realize how fragile these horses really are.

09 Aug 2010 12:36 AM
LAZMANNICK

Quality Road lost a lot of his mystique.  No dominating win. No track record.  No 125 type Beyer.  Certainly not even close to the best horse to come around in years.  And now for the excuses.....he was flat, JR should have turned up the heat right off the bat, etc. and etc.  It is doubtful he can win at 10F against a deep field with speed, stalkers, mid pack closers and stone closers like we'll see in the BCC.  His defeat wasn't surprising considering that Blame always was the real deal, this in spite of the fact that his Beyers never approached QR's or even Rachel's for that matter.  The loss that mystified me was Little Drama.  He had a tough run down the back stretch and around the turn, but the others did too and they didn't fold.  He did.  I hope it was the sloppy track or something to that effect.  Zenyatta was Zenyatta.  It's disappointing that she won't be coming east quite yet, but when she does get out of Cali some people are going to be eating their words.  As far as the sprint division, Majesticperfection is going to take some beating.  He's definitely the boss of the sprint division.  And how about Champagne d’Oro?  The 3 year old filly division is much deeper this year than last.

09 Aug 2010 12:38 AM
LAZMANNICK

As far as Saratoga AJ's comments about Zenyatta…..the filly that gave her a tussle just happened to stretch Informed Decision a BC winner and multi G1 winner to the limit before losing by a head, this in her last start.  Delmar was a tough track on Saturday, probably about 2 seconds off what it normally should have played like.  The fractions were dawdling to say the least.  The ¾ time in the race was by far the slowest ¾’s in any of Zen’s races to date.  It’s interesting to note that the next slowest ¾ time was in last year’s Hirsch……1.13.64 compared to today’s 1.15.11 (both races her closest margin of victory).  It is also interesting to note that Rinterval was the pace setter, not another horse coming from off the pace.  She was already on the lead, not trying to catch up.  In last year’s Hirsch Zen’s final 1/16th was 5.96……this year’s version was 5.97.  To show how dominating Zen is, Dance To My Tune who was 1 1/4L behind her when they last met, was 7 lengths behind today and in a much slower race……I bet if you look back many of those who say she will have to run a whole lot faster to beat the top colts today, said the same thing last year after she almost lost the Hirsch.  Big deal.  Many of them said the same thing about Blame’s slow time is the Foster compared to Rachel’s FDL.  It’s all talk.  When the horses slip into the starting gate and the gate opens, then we’ll see.  It still makes me wonder.....they keep on questioning and doubting Zen and yet are making excuses by the bushel basket for Quality Road.

09 Aug 2010 12:56 AM
Brigitte

I'm guessing QR was taken out of his game and slowed down early so he would have something left, partly as practice for the Classic. But giving up his high cruising speed didn't give him another gear.

09 Aug 2010 12:59 AM
ZJ

Am too sick to hear about Tuscan Evening..... she was a Queen too and will be missed. She was a brilliant mare....

What more can you say about Zenyatta that hasn't been said already?

I was happy to see some others win this weekend. Majesticperfection will be my pick for the BC Sprint .... I really like him. Secret Gypsy was really good in the Honorable Miss.... I liked her from the outset. Also Concord Point ran a beautiful race in the West Virg. Derby.

Was also saddened by the injury to Harbinger, the sensation who won the King George VI and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in England..... I hope he recovers.....

09 Aug 2010 1:11 AM
LAZMANNICK

The way the pace scenario set up in both the Whitney and the Hirsch, Zenyatta had a lot more reason to lose her race than Quality Road did his.  The difference was that Zen found a way to win like she always does and Quality Road did not.  If you look back, Zen has had to overcome adversity many times.  Quality Road, when faced with adversity, has never over come it.  When he gets his way he can be a monster.  A check of last year’s Florida Derby confirms this when the track bias favored him to the point that Pletcher, who was his rival trainer then, complained bitterly because Dunkirk was at a disadvantage.  The Donn was another race that set up perfectly and the fact that the competition was no where near his standards helped.  However, whenever he has met a top horse (since the Florida Derby) like Summer Bird twice and Blame he has lost.  Even Musket Man, slightly below SB and Blame, can stay within two lengths of him and MM’s trainer has openly voiced his disrespect.  Quality Road had no excuses and could not find a way to win and to me you really have to wonder if he has the heart.  A horse with heart and a definite will to win is Blame who is without doubt at the top of the handicap division until someone knocks him off.

09 Aug 2010 1:22 AM
Marcelo

When it's all said and done come the first Saturday in November none of these horses, Blame, Quality Road, Rachel Alexandra, are going to be able to hold off the hard charging freight train that is ZENYATTA!!!!

09 Aug 2010 5:48 AM
Slew

hmmm ..."queen of the turf"?????...I do believe that's Goldikova, since RA and Zen have never raced on the turf.  Are we sure Vic knows the difference?  

To the Whitney...QR seemed disinterested.  The speed duel between QR and Haynesfield never materialized because Haynesfield was so fractious.  I think QR is a great miler, but Blame's a distance horse.  I thought it was a slow race, and my heart still belongs to Musket Man.  I thought the undercard this week at Saratoga was sensational, and I became amazed by Abilio, Talk Therapy, and Shirley She Can.  Champagne D'Oro showed extra gears, and a quick turn of foot, while my poor Pica Slew sort of hit a wall at 6f.  Majestic Perfection was just that in a deep field, though Big Drama and Gayego tried their hardest.

And on the West Coast...Wow...sheer poetry of motion.  When Zen starts moving along the outside, she really starts moving and glides across the track.  Now that's real perfection.

09 Aug 2010 7:02 AM
Saratoga AJ

Gun Bow:

"But more confusing to me is how few horsemen from outside of California have gone for the chance to make history by coming out to Cali and challenging the big mare".

Not to me. It's called S-y-n-t-h-e-t-i-c tracks. After the results of the last two BC Championships, what owner/trainer would want to chance their dirt raced and trained horses across the country to race on that crap?

In the old days it was different.

East Coast horses...including some of the best...went West sometimes. No more.

09 Aug 2010 9:08 AM
Saratoga AJ

LAZMANNICK:

QR had no excuse other than the 5 lbs, and did not run up to his reputation despite the excellent 111 Beyer he and Blame got (3rd fastest number of the year over one mile). Even third finisher  Musket Man got a 108...fifth fastest. So it was a fast race. His next start will really be scrutinized, count on it. The distance limitations will be the buzz again. But maybe Blame is a lot better than anyone thought too. He may be the only horse in the country who could have beat QR in that race Saturday.  

Now how you can possibly sing the virtues of 3 for 22 sprinter Rinterval is surprising from someone who knows racing as much you do.

Truth be told, I believe Zenyatta IS slowing down a little. Don't believe me? Take a few minutes to analyze the times of her races...compare the same stakes races she has won from one year to the next the last 3 1/2 years. There is a trend. I think the wear and tear is starting to show, IMO. Remember, there really wasn't any long breaks like RA had for instance. She is still great, but I believe the connections see what I see. She will race only two more times at most before she's retired. They'll shoot for 20 straight.

And I still think there is a very good chance that neither RA or Zen's connections will want to tackle what appears to be an exceptional group of colts this year. If so, they will finally meet Friday night on national TV in the Ladies Classic and not the BC Classic. Remember...you heard it here IF it goes down that way.

BTW, I'm hearing that Sherriffs is seriously considering the Beldame at "Big Sandy" October 2nd. How wonderful would that be...Zen finally comes to the Big Time in NY!!!

09 Aug 2010 9:49 AM
Barbara W

Devastating to hear the news about Tuscan Evening.

Praying for comfort for her connections. Reminded me of what happened to Swale.

09 Aug 2010 9:58 AM
Johnny

18-0 and getting bad mouthed by some.. Man that must be some good weed..

Is she slowing down? I do not think so she just knows were the finish line is.

Look at her beyer figures last year then all of a sudden she sets a career high beyer on B/C.. HMMMM luck I think not she just knows all the greats do..

She will repeat and join the great Tiznow. Could be some nice breeding their

09 Aug 2010 11:02 AM
Bill Daly

No chance that Zenyatta will race in NY.  She'll stay home until the BC.  She's not regressing at all. the fact that she was able to overcome a dawdling pace and still win with something left tells me that she's still got it. The filly or mare that ran second wasn't going to beat her. I do take issue with the quality of her competition however. I think most of us would like to see her face better competition as I doubt whether it would stop her. Bob Baffert said that she probably is even better on dirt and there is some evidence leaning in that direction. Unless they put the grandstand on back she ain't gonna lose.  It's that simple.

09 Aug 2010 11:15 AM
LAZMANNICK

Saratoga AJ

Just stating the facts about Rinterval.  She’s running the best races of her career right now, two losses by a head to two BC winners.  Saturday’s Hirsch was little more than a belated sprint as they ran the last 3 furlongs of the race much faster than the first part of it.  Personally I agree with you about Zenyatta.  I think given her age, size, and whatever issues she has that we are not aware of there has to be some kind of effect.  She is definitely running slower races, but I wonder if she is really slowing down.  When looking at the replay and watching the last 20 yards or so, I see a cagey horse.  She gave a little extra acceleration when they got close to the wire and the other one wouldn’t go away, like a mare that knows where the finish line is and how much energy she needs to expand to get there.  That also tells me that there is still a lot of run left and she will probably be cut loose when the big race comes.

As far as the Beldame, I heard that they were considering it too.  Then I heard that they might stay in Cali because they don’t want to ship east too early and then have to come back west and go back east again for the BC because Sherriff isn’t keen about stabling her in the east from the Beldame to the BC.  Who knows.  As far as the Distaff or the BCC, it’ll be the BCC.  To go in the Distaff would possibly tarnish her accomplishments and prove her skeptics right (at least according to them).

Regarding Quality Road…..that was a tough loss.  People are looking for all kinds of reasons why he lost.  If running 1 1/8M at Saratoga in a head to head dual at the wire is being flat, look out.  What would he do if he wasn’t flat?  I’ve always liked QR, but I never considered him the wonder horse that some have, at least not until he defeats legitimately good G1 route horses and so far, other than Musket Man who is maybe a cut below and Dunkirk on a heavily biased track, he hasn’t done that.  Their can be an excuse for the Travers, but not the JCGC (110 Beyer) or the Whitney.  To me three strikes and you’re out.   And to be listed as 2-5 ML favorite I thought was a little too much.

09 Aug 2010 11:22 AM
kathleen o

AJ, the track was slow, the fractions were slow, and as a closer, Zen's times are going to reflect that.  The strategy seems to be to set slow fractions so the front runners have juice left.  You should know that.  The speed horses were having problems with the track on Saturday as well.  Zen was bored to tears with that race.  Mike Smith said she was just playing, he had to keep her attention to the wire.  He also said he moved her too soon, and when she passes the last horse, she thinks she's done.  C'mon, AJ, give it a rest.  I'm tired of the fact that you diminish everything Zen does in order to embellish whichever East coast horse you favor at the moment.  Can't you just enjoy Zen while she's here racing?

09 Aug 2010 11:41 AM
Ranagulzion

LaurieK,

Zenyatta has been awesome on Synthetic surfaces BUT has competed only twice on Dirt in three seasons of racing (both in Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park).  If she runs in the Breeder's Cup Classic and fails to win, I assure you that all of a sudden the true content of her resume will come into focus and her ranking among the historic champions of the Dirt will take a major hit.  Mark my words.  I'm a fan of the great mare but sentiments should not mask the timidity of her campaign with respect to dirt races.  How fair is it to have your favourite mare racing two out of eighteen lifetime starts on dirt and wanting to be regarded as queen over a domain in which others, both past and present, have done better?  Think honestly about it?

Many fellow Zenyatta fans become antsy when these points are raised but these are the cold facts ...as a sparring partner of mine on these blogs would say ... (Hey COLDFACTS !!! do you agree?  LOL)

GUNBOW,

I'm in agreement with Saratoga AJ on the question of East Coast horses going West.  Before last years Breeder's Cup I shared your view (even after watching Curlin flounder in the BCC 2008) but alas, the cold facts of a second straight Breeder's Cup on Pro-ride finally convinced me that Dirt horses stand little or no chance against Synthetic specialists in their domain.  The records show that the move from Synthetic to Dirt is far more successful as many horses actually move up in their performances.  I never knock Zenyatta but I do chide the connections for an injustice done to the horses ability and insist that they should not begrudge the HOTY winners of the past two seasons for being enterprising.  The chickens are also going to come home to roost for those who think that she is more than a Synthetic champion if she doesn't triumph in the Breeder's Cup Classic in November 2010.  In my assessment of any undefeated horse I always leave room in my judgment for undisclosed talent (brilliance that is only drawn out by serious competition) hence Zenyatta surprised me in last year's BCC but not alltogether.  I'm looking forward to being amazed again as right now I think that there are a few colts and Rachel Alexandra that could overwhealm her on Dirt even at 10 Furlongs.  When I'm proven wrong in situations like these I'm actually quite happy and become a mesmerized fan.  Let's hope that the great stand-off ends in November.      

09 Aug 2010 12:09 PM
kathleen o

Seeing a lot of mention of the 5lb weight advantage Blame had in the Whitney.  Some have cited that as the reason QR lost.  These same people spent a great deal of time discounting the 9lbs that Zen spotted St Trinians.  I do wish some of you would read your previous posts before completely discounting them as it suits your current argument.

09 Aug 2010 12:21 PM
LAZMANNICK

I wouldn't even bring the subject of Rachel up until after the Personal Ensign.  To date, she really hasn't proven anything of consequence this year.  She might have run a fast FDL, but is she really good enough to beat Blame and would she have beaten him in the Foster?  That was a mighty big mountain to climb as Battle Plan would have run her into the ground.  She can expect the same thing in the BCC, if she goes in it which I hope she does.  There will be no easy go in that race.

As for the 5 pounds Quality Road had to give up.  Come on.  If he can’t tough it out carrying 126 lbs. and giving up 5 to a horse that was carrying 121, how can he be compared to anything that might be considered great.  He was 2-5 in the ML.  People expected him to romp, totally dominate.  What would he do if he had to carry 130 or 135?  the good ones did and they gave away 15 and 20 pounds when doing it.

09 Aug 2010 1:34 PM
sodapopkid

You all cry over QR carrying 123 lbs.  Well,I guess you would cry even harder if he had to carry 129 lbs. like Zenyatta does.  And she wins carrying the added weight plus on synthetic surfaces.   It just goes to prove how great she really is.

09 Aug 2010 3:06 PM
Shiznik

Be careful what you wish for!

Johnny V. thought he was getting a dream trip.  Afterall, he was on the fastest horse in the race (who most thought was also the best horse in the race) and he was able to set crawling fractions.  I'll bet he couldn't believe how lucky he was. I would say J.V. was thinking it was game set and match half way around the far turn (if not sooner).  No horse in this race was going to out sprint J.V.'s Quality Road  in the final 3 furlongs after a 48 and change half. J.V. was on top of the world coming into the stretch. He was looking back alright (multiple times), he was in shock.  Didn't the other riders know they couldn't let a horse like Q.R. crawl for a half mile and expect to beat him? I suspect that thought was what caused J.V. too look over and under his shoulder, repeatedly.

The problem is that Johnny V. forgot too race his horse (read him) and instead got caught up in his incredible luck and read only the race pace.  In most races with most front running and presser types J.V. may have been making the right call.  That style, however, doesn't fit Quality Road at all.  He is a dominator.  That is what he prefers too do. If Q.R. gets a real pace with real frontrunning speed he is happy to press (because he is able to cruise at his natural pace, which is fast). In these scenario's he is at his best (even at 1 1/8th, though a mile is his best distance) because he has ultra acceleration from an already high cruising speed.  This is his greatest asset, unadulterated speed.

However, When there is no pace and he has inherited the lead, you must let the horse have his head and cruise at his natural pace (fast).  To slow Quality Road down from his natural cruising speed is to take away his greatest asset.

Quality Road, if left too his own will, would have opened up 6 to 8 lengths on this field very easily and without doing anything the horse wasn't very naturally able to do.  With that lead J.V. could have still opened up a few more coming out of the far turn and into the stretch and had enough too finish a diminishing 4 or 5 lengths in front of Blame. J.V. did none of that and he did it intentionally.  It is counterintuitive to do what I suggest he should have done. Many riders are trained/told too pay attention to pace and if possible, slow it if you can, on a frontrunner.

Not on Quality Road! If he is going to be on the lead he needs to be given his head.

As a disclaimer, I am a fan of all horses and horse racing. I am not in the camp that believes that Quality Road is a great horse.  He is a good horse who has flashed greatness, imo.  Blame is also a good horse and imo, has a greater chance for greatness than Quality Road does.  I believe this mainly because of Blame's potential at classic distances, whereas I believe Q.R. is limited past a mile and an 1/8th. I also believe this because the connections of Quality Road refuse to see what they have, a potentially great miler who is so good that he can somtimes beat inferior fields that are more suited to distance. Kind of a shame, because there is no shame in being a great miler (which I believe is truly the best race distance and produces the best races because it tests the sprinters and the routers equally).

Each race is it's own puzzle and this is how I saw the Whitney, which may or maynot apply to the next race.

09 Aug 2010 3:30 PM
Delrene

Blame ran a great race.  Watched it at Del Mar on the big screen.  Waiting for a glimpse of Zenyatta prior to her race.

Let's all remember we lost a great horse in Tuscan Evening and honor the horses and leave the jabs at RA & Zenyatta off the written page..  The horses are better sportswomen/men than some of the authors of aforementioned comments.

09 Aug 2010 9:28 PM
Bill Daly

Shiznik makes some really good points. Jeff Siegal on HRTV made the same points after the race. Saratoga, it seems to me, that day was a difficult track for horses to go wire-to-wire at a mile and an eighth.  I haven't checked the stats for running styles at this meet, however. Obviously, speed carries differently on different tracks. It still seems odd that QR couldn't have accelerated more given the fact he was cruising through such a moderate pace. Perhaps, JV had too tight a hold on him, but it didn't appear as if he was rank.  I just don't know.

10 Aug 2010 11:15 AM
Breeder

Being that Zenyatta and Blame are 1st cousins,they run very similar races. The disadvantage I see for Blame is that he is right up there at the beginning of the race and many times he has almost gotten boxed in. Zenyatta sits back and lets them fight it out and then she just runs to the outside and leaves them in the dust. As she has aged, she has gotten smarter about what it takes to win and only does what it takes to pass the last horse. Mike Smith said it best "she does whatever it takes to get the job done". I wish for Zenyatta to retire undefeated. With all of the tragedies that have befallen our beautiful Race Horses in the past few years, it would be wonderful for 1 to see "The Dream" come true! You can bet that Zenyatta's first foal won't sell for $60,000

10 Sep 2010 6:13 PM

Recent Posts

Related Reading

More Blogs

Archives