Breeders' Cup Not a World Championship

I voted for Rachel Alexandra for Horse of the Year because I thought she accomplished more in 2009 than Zenyatta.

Those that voted for Zenyatta made a solid, well-informed decision. Who can argue with someone who voted for a mare that was unbeaten during the year and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)? I can’t, but I do disagree—vehemently and vociferously—with those who say the award should have gone to Zenyatta because Rachel did not run in the Breeders’ Cup.

Their logic, they say, is the event is officially called the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, so that is where the championship should be decided.

I’m not sure where to begin rebutting such a silly argument, but here goes:

• The name World Championships is just that—a name, a title. No one actually thinks the Breeders’ Cup is a World Championship. If you are going to argue Rachel should not have won Horse of the Year because she did not run in the Breeders’ Cup, then can I argue Zenyatta should not have won Horse of the Year because Sea the Stars did not run in the Breeders’ Cup? All the best horses from around the world do not compete in the Breeders’ Cup, despite the title of the event.

• You cannot compare Thoroughbred racing to other sports. In baseball, football, basketball, etc., the league office determines the schedule. It tells teams when to play, and where. Teams can’t decide to skip a game or pass the playoffs. In racing, the owner and trainer decide a horse’s schedule. If they decide not to run in the Breeders’ Cup, or any other race for that matter, it is their decision. As a voter, I can certainly take their decisions under consideration when voting; I can question their actions or motives. But the Breeders’ Cup races should be weighted equally to other races throughout the year.

• Of course the Breeders’ Cup races are not weighted equally by the majority of voters. Otherwise Goldikova could not have been champion because she flew in from France, won the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), and flew home. As I have stated previously, Miesque was the greatest Breeders’ Cup winner I have seen, but I did not vote for her as champion either. I have always believed the Canadians have it right in this regard. To win a Sovereign Award, a juvenile must make a minimum of two starts in the country; horses older than 2 must make a minimum of three starts. One start does not define a champion.

• The Breeders’ Cup is a great event for racing. It draws attention to the sport; it stresses many divisions; it is a great example of how breeders are helping the industry. But a horse should not have to run in the Breeders’ Cup to become a champion.


Leave a Comment:


We have a penchant for the overhype in this country. That's why we have the World Series in a sport hardly played beyond our shores. The "World Champion" LA Lakers or the soon-to-be crowned "World Champion" Colts or Saints.

Maybe it looks good on hats or sweatshirts but doesn't mean a lot in reality.

27 Jan 2010 10:47 AM


27 Jan 2010 11:11 AM

Dan, I agree that people take the "world championship" description much too seriously. Growing up in Canada, my friends and I were amused at the "World Series" of baseball - when there were only US teams involved. We chalked it up to typical American boastfulness. But now it's spreading: "Dubai World Cup"? The World Cup of soccer (football) is perhaps a good example of a truly global sports event. All that said, I still disagree with your vote, but that's racing!

27 Jan 2010 11:21 AM



27 Jan 2010 11:35 AM

I agree that it really is a marketing tool.  Now, if some Australasian or S. African horses ever ran the Breeders' Cup might be able to lay some claim to World Championship.

As an aside, regarding Miesque and the one race making a champion argument.  Do you think that Miesque should be in the Hall of Fame off of only two wins in the US?  Just wondering.

27 Jan 2010 11:41 AM

Very well said.  The Breeders Cup is extremely important, but it is not the sole factor in deciding annual awards.  

Also, you are absolutely right that the Eclipse Awards should require more than one start in the USA for eligibility to win. Not only does that make it more definitively an American award, but also it would explain why, in a year when a great European horse comes over and wins, he or she is not handed the award.

27 Jan 2010 11:42 AM

At least the Dubai World Cup has a truly international feel with runners from South America, Europe, North America, Japan, South Africa, etc turning up.

The shine is coming off Breeders Cup and with the switch back to dirt tracks you can expect to see fewer and fewer European runners in the event.

27 Jan 2010 11:46 AM

Anybody with a World of Money can run in it.

27 Jan 2010 11:48 AM

Thank you for voicing my exact thoughts on the matter. The Breeder's Cup is an important showcase of talent, especially for the hype it creates outside of the normal arena of horse racing fans, but a deciding championship series it is not.

27 Jan 2010 12:03 PM

I agree with some of your comments, but you can't be serious when you say "Breeders' Cup races

should be weighted equally to other races throughout the year." Do you really think the Woodwood and Breeders' Cup Classic were equal? Over the years, most Breeders' Cup races have brought the best in racing together (in full fields), whereas many Grade I races during the year have small fields, many owners avoiding a better horse just because they don't want their horse to lose. They are trying more to not lose, rather than trying to win. This is something that is destroying racing. In the old days, it would be unthinkable for Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta  not to meet on the racetrack. Both owners (although I agree that it is their right to decide where and when they race) should be ashamed of themselves for missing the opportunity to race against the best!! If I had a vote, I would never vote for a healthy horse in any category that did not show up for the Breeders' Cup! That said, it was a great year for racing to have this great filly and great mare to watch. Hopefully they will meet several times in 2010.

27 Jan 2010 12:06 PM

Good points!

The filly Zarkava didn't get nearly the hype in North America as she did in Europe for her incredible campaign.

As a Woodbine regular, I like the Canadian rule as well.  It's double rewarding - we can celebrate our own but it's also incentive for a horse like Champs Elysees to stick around and win a few races - which is likely to pay off at Friday's Sovereign Awards.

27 Jan 2010 12:15 PM

"World schmorld". Yes the name is just a name. We are pretty ethnocentric over here. We think the world revolves around us. That being said, I am a Rachel fan, but I still think Zenyatta is still a great horse that has not been entered in enough challenging races. I think this is the year she WILL BE because the Mosses realize she is even better than what THEY thought. We are going to see some pretty exciting racecs if Zen and Rachel stay sound.

27 Jan 2010 12:21 PM

Maybe the Breeders Cup is not a World championship, but it should be a United States Championship. The biggest disappointment in racing last year was that Rachel and Zenyatta did not meet on the track, we need the champions of each division to prove who is best on the track not in some subjective end of the year vote by turf writers. You say racing is not like baseball or football, well that is the problem, there has to be some way to get horses together on the track and now the only races where horses from all parts of the country and different ages face each other is in the Breeders Cup. The Breeders Cup is the best thing that has happened to racing in many years and it needs to be supported by owners and everyone in racing.

27 Jan 2010 12:25 PM

I cannot find it within me to deny either Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta Horse of the year.  Their wins were all heart-pounding and spectacular.  The crowds were with them all the way.  Their appearances were the greatest publicity coup for the sport of racing.  Both were unbeaten.  Both broke records.  I cannot say one word to disparage either lady...and I think continually rehashing a done deal is superfluous and counter productive, for the horses, their connections, for the fans and for the sport itself.  Let it go folks.  Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are the biggest thrill in horse racing for the past 10 years...just enjoy the fact that we have even more to look forward to in 2010.

27 Jan 2010 12:28 PM
Patti T

Dan, I have to just as vehemently disagree with you.  Not only did Zenyatta win the Breeeder's Cup Classic - beating the best horses from Europe and across the USA and Canada.  She is the first female horse to do that - in the history of the Breeder's Cup.  Who's to say Sea The Stars or Rachel is better than Zenyatta?  He did not compete, Rachel did not compete.....the one who did and remained undefeated in all her starts - Zenyatta did.  This is horse horse can assume to win unless they compete!

Breeders' Cup is the test of Champions.

27 Jan 2010 12:30 PM
Brian Appleton

If the Breeders' Cup wants to become a true "world championship" event then they should rotate hosting sites from other countries as well as the United States. I'm sure there would be plenty of prestigious tracks around the world that would want to participate.

27 Jan 2010 12:36 PM

I've been saying that the Breeders Cup shouldn't be called the World Championships because it's only been run in two countries and running back to back years on a synthetic track didn't help either. But I have also said Zenyatta beat the better competition by far. I'm not just talking about tha Classic but Life is Sweet flattered Zenyatta's for by winning the Ladies Classic. RA had no chance of winning either race so she didn't show up. She loves a synthetic track but why run in races you know you can't win. Jess Jackson picked his spots and used the media to win the Eclipse. He should be a boxing promoter. He would be great a overhyping American bums.

27 Jan 2010 12:38 PM
Lisa Andres

Nice article, great logic, fantastic job setting this point straight.

27 Jan 2010 12:41 PM
Bill Daly

Couldn't agree more. Unless you have participation from the best horses all over the world, the label "world" is meaningless and even worse a display of hubris.  I've had a problem with the BC ever since its' inception as so much history and tradition has been sacrificed to ensure its' success.  Is racing really better off than the way it was prior to the BC.  I don't know about most people, but I really miss drama and prestige of such races as the Washington DC International - a casualty in the all encompassing drive to make the BC a smashing success. Other races with long histories and great prestige such as the Woodward Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Spinster Stakes, Alcibiades Stakes, etc. are diminished from what they once were.  These were championship caliber races that attracted the best horses in training and helped decide Eclipse awards.  Call me retro, but the emphasis on the BC needs to be altered so that fans have more than a relative handful of races to look forward to each year.  

27 Jan 2010 12:46 PM

An argument I have with people ALL the time.  It's all a marketing scheme.  Evidently it's working for some people.  I'd rather have a horse who's won a 100+ year old race than one of the "Breeders Cup World Championship" races.

27 Jan 2010 12:49 PM
Michael Martin

A sound and well reasoned point.  Self appointed, the Breeder's Cup has fallen in stature by not incorporating all those formerly important races mentioned above into its scheme.  In fact, the presence of the Cup races has in effect downgraded the current staturer of those races.  Improving the importance of those races--not sure of how to achieve that--would add to the Breeders Cup's status.  It would then be closer to a "World" championship.

However, is there really a need for such a thing?  Ambiguity exists in nature, and modern life, and is the fuel for debate.  Horse racing does not lend itself to a double elimination format.  The desire for certainty in an uncertain world will always be unrewarded.

27 Jan 2010 1:10 PM

I can't believe how incredibly rude this article is!  I mean I think Rachel should have won too, but there's no need to degrade Zenyatta and the Breeders Cup... leave everyone alone because the vote is over and no amount of anamosity can change the result.

27 Jan 2010 1:12 PM

"The Who-Shows-Up-Championship". Nothing more nothing less.

27 Jan 2010 1:31 PM

Bill Daly- I agree that I miss the Washington DC International.

27 Jan 2010 1:34 PM
Jim H

I agree with most of your claims on the breeders cup, However I think Zenyatta beat better horses in the breeders cup than Rachel did in the Woodward and she did it easier. Not to take anything from supergirl. I just hope they meet and the result will make the voters look really smart or really wrong. I still think supewoman should have been horse of the year

27 Jan 2010 1:53 PM

If the Breeders Cup races count that much, why do you even need to run the other races?

I would much rather base a horse on their success in a year than on one race, irregardless of the race.

I did not think Goldikova earned the US title.

27 Jan 2010 1:59 PM

This HOTY has nothing to do with the Breeders. If JJ said "we are going to avoid the top quality competition in the Breeders but we will campaign Rachel for HOTY" Would you vote for Rachel for HOTY? I wouldn't and IMO I think this is closer to the truth.

Of course, some of you still believe that 'Plastic' excuse! lol

27 Jan 2010 2:14 PM
dr fager01


27 Jan 2010 2:20 PM

I disagree with you!  The Breeder's Cup is run at the end of the year and is like a yearly championship race(s).  Rachel should have showed up period.

27 Jan 2010 2:25 PM
Mary Dixon R.

Having Santa Anita (synthetic track) host the Breeder's Cup not only for 1 but 2 years is what's taken the shine off of what previously was the most important event in thoroughbred racing besides the K. Derby.

In 2008,  Curlin, the best throughbred in the world, initially, wasn't going to show up then when Jess Jackson, in a sporting gesture, decided to race him, was(arguably) beaten by synthetics.

Of course, everyone knows who was absent last year. Jess Jackson learned his lesson w/Curlin &, thankfully, didn't race Rachel. She was at the top of everyone's list for HOY prior to that for many months.

Synthetic tracks took the championship status out of The Breeder's Cup! And, there's Dubai....

27 Jan 2010 2:32 PM

Bill Daly and Footlick,

Not only do I miss the Washington DC International but I also miss the 2 mile Jockey Gold Cup. What happened to the Metropolitan three race handicap series for older males? Oh, I forgot, handicap races no longer exist. I also miss the big races leading up to the Triple Crown for both males and females. Now it seems hurry up so we can get to the Breeders Cup and off to the farm. Bummed...

27 Jan 2010 2:44 PM
Richard Mattison

The breeders cup is something special.It is howevr a private  club,if you have not paid a foal  subscription,to race becomes prohibitive.A champion should not be crowned at a private club.

27 Jan 2010 2:44 PM

If they do not carry more weight than your average grade 1s throughout the year then there is no point in having them.  The point is, the bright, sparkly use of the word "world" notwithstanding, that they were conceived as a championship event.  I can think of reasons why a top horse who does not participate should not be penalized when championships are handed out.  Horses get hurt, or sick, or go off form.  They are not machines.  But a sound horse who stays in the barn, just 'cuz.  Yeah, that's a black mark as far as I'm concerned.  Either the BC is the year end championship event of the sport or they are not.  If they are, then take them seriously as such.  If not, get rid of them and restore the fall handicap series with its old luster.  

27 Jan 2010 2:52 PM
Dave Johnson

Thirty years ago, before the Breeders' Cup, there was a fall series of races in New York--the Marlboro Cup, the Woodward and the Jockey Club Gold Cup--that had the power to grab the voter by the lapels. These demanding Belmont Park races, run only weeks apart, were there for all comers to run in, and if proprietors of horses chose not to participate, they might just as well have given their Horse of the Year aspirations a quick flush.

As Affirmed and Spectacular Bid proved in 1979, you could only duck your opponent so long. Spectacular Bid ran in the Marlboro, absent Affirmed; then Affirmed showed up in the Woodward, while Spectacular Bid stayed home.

If Affirmed would of ducked Spectacular Bid in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, it would of cost him "Horse of the Year".

There is a reason why Zenyatta is seen as the people's horse, Mr. Liebman.

27 Jan 2010 3:00 PM
Northern Dancer

Dan Liebman,

Are you Jess Jackson's lawyer?

Your argument doesn't hold water. Sea the Stars is a European equine athlete.

We give our "Horse of the Year" honors to American horses.

Jess Jackson decided that he could not beat Zenyatta and chose not to race against her. He learned from Curlin's failures.

"The World" respects Zenyatta. Rachel Alexandra hasn't earned "The World's respect"

Maybe she will this year. Time will tell.

27 Jan 2010 3:14 PM

 The Breeder's Cup is still  an important part of American racing. Besides Jess Jackson, name one owner or trainer who has had a legitimate contender for  a Breeder's Cup race and didn't compete? Most owners / trainers would LOVE to plan a campaign that ends the year in a Breeder's Cup win! Barring injury or a much deserved rest, if you have a horse that deserves to be in the Breeder's Cup , you RUN, otherwise what are you doing in this business?. WHY would you keep your horse in the barn? And with the exception of the DC International I do not believe that any of our other races have been diminished. So is everyone saying that winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup, or the Woodward is not prestigious? Who on this  blog would not want to win one of those? The reason why the Cup has been diminished has been very evident the past few years, you can lose the Classic and still win HOTY or you could win the Classic and lose the HOTY to a horse that was resting in her stall.It is more about the perception of the voters. And the voters are only a minute part of the entire thoroughbred community.    

27 Jan 2010 3:15 PM


Wikipedia states that the Breeders' Cup World Championships was created "as a year-end championship for North American thoroughbred racing, and also attracts top horses from other parts of the world, especially Europe."  Dan, so what is it-is the Breeders' Cup a day for crowning a champion or not?  Well, I guess I already know the answer. i.e. Zenyetta.

27 Jan 2010 3:27 PM

Dan Liebman:

The world wants Zenyatta...

Dubai Racing Club chief executive Frank Gabriel:

"A horse of the calibre of Zenyatta will be of paramount importance in the 2010 Dubai World Cup"

Gabriel added: "Representatives of Dubai Racing Club will be in contact with the Zenyatta's connections and from an international racing viewpoint we hope they agree to run her in Dubai against some of the best horses in the world."

"To have a horse with the following of Zenyatta run during the first season of Meydan would be a fitting beginning for the racecourse"

Meydan wants Zenyatta for Dubai World Cup:

27 Jan 2010 3:32 PM

I agree that the 'World' is very misleading.  I also believe that the mix of horses from different countries makes the BC a special competition.  However, just winning a BC race should not necessarily make a horse an 'eclipse champion'. Eclipse champion should depend on overall performance during the entire year. Zenyatta is certainly Eclipse Champion quality but for 2008 not 2009 (RA is the right choice).

27 Jan 2010 3:36 PM

In reality, based on your argument, the Horse of the Year is probably just as bogus a title as Breeders Cup is a phony world championship.  Neither one REALLY means anything outside the little group that selects the honoree.  This year we had an outstanding filly in Rachael Alexandra and an outstanding mare in Zenyatta -- each an amazing champion in her own right.  Among another group of voters (and not even necessarily the "general public" that everyone on these blogs loves to disparage), a different horse might have been awarded top honors (similar to the Golden Globes, SAG, and Oscars).  Why don't you all relax and appreciate both these glorious gals while they're still ours to enjoy.  Especially you, Mr. Waldrop --  It's just your opinion (and your big  powerful Eclipse vote, of course.)  

Time to move on to see who will awe and inspire us this year...

27 Jan 2010 3:55 PM

Anybody who does not believe or know that the breeders classic has the best top horses/best field put together in one race every year since it's inception are in denial.

27 Jan 2010 4:07 PM

One of the reasons (Among many) that our Industry is losing it's "Integrity" is because our so-called leaders have already lost theirs.

Calling the Breeders Cup by it's "Over-Dramatised" name the Breeders Cup World Championships is just too much.   It makes it look like somebody was trying way to hard to purposely impress others.

Other Sports leaders have it right.

"The World Series"...sounds perfect the way it is.   Simple and to the point.

"The Super Bowl"...sounds perfect the way it is.   Simple and to the point.

Neither one sounds "Over-Done" and those 2 events are 2 of the most viewed on the planet.

The Breeders Cup World a little too much and Not as simple and to the point.

Change it !!!

27 Jan 2010 4:17 PM

It really should be...

"The Breeders Cup"

Simple and to the point.

27 Jan 2010 4:19 PM
Bill Daly

Footlick, that race was the precedent for the Arlington Million as well as the BC Turf. Mr. John Shapiro should be remembered fondly as the father of international turf racing - such as it is - in the U.S.  He spent a lot of his own money to see that the race was a world class event.  He even paid the travel expenses of all of the foreign participants.  He even got a Russian horse or two to participate. Unfortunately, they weren't very competitive.  The usual suspects dominated those races: French, Irish , English and U.S.  Some truly great horses participated in the International over the years: Kelso several times.  In fact I think he participated in 4 or 5 of those events and won the race in which he set a track record on his last attempt. My memories include seeing Steve Cauthen steal the race aboard a lightly regarded Johnny D. The great All Along easily dominated her field as did April Run. Perhaps the best edition of the race I saw was Macdiarmida edging Tiller in a thrilling, down to the wire epic.  It really is a shame the race is just a memory today.  

27 Jan 2010 4:22 PM

Wow, after reading this blog I can't help but wonder if the industry wants horse racing to thrive or fail. Just the other day I read a poster dismissing the significance of the Triple Crown and now I come to this blog to read a writer dismissing the significance of the Breeders Cup. Real nice!!  

27 Jan 2010 4:27 PM

While the World Championship is a marketing name, you cannot tell me that the quality of the field in the Woodward was anywhere near the quality of the Breeder's Cup Classic.   Whether you like it or not, the races attract very deep fields and the races become the highlight of the year. There were wonderful moments with wonderful horses.   The fact that RA did not stand much of a chance of winning any of them does not mean they should be disparaged.   She could have run the mile and we would have seen a great race by 2 great girls.

27 Jan 2010 4:31 PM

Hey they had to call it something - the "greatest two minutes in sports" was taken by the Kentucky Derby.

Plus I think the Breeders Cup is VERY hard for a three year old who has gone for the triple crown - and which is the "harder" of the two - Triple Crown!

27 Jan 2010 4:38 PM
Carlos in Cali


I believe the Breeder's Cup was designed to bring together the best horses in America and help determine end of year honors,top-class foreign participants are an added bonus.Though I definitely do not think the "BC races should be weighted equally to other races throughout the year",I do feel like these other important 'preliminary' races should be used as a gauge in allowing only those that perform valiantly & consistently,into the BC.Maybe,have an earnings pre-requisite to even be considered,like they do w/the Ky.Derby.

If the cream of the crop are going to keep avoiding each other like the plague,fine(not really),then the BC should be the determining factor in who's best in their respective divisions.No way should a no-show be honored w/an Eclipse Award if they don't compete in the Big Dance,unless of course,they're sidelined with an injury or if they absolutely dominated their peers prior to.This is how it should be nowadays simply because, some outfits refuse to settle it on the track,unlike the times before the advent of the World Championships,that is..The Breeder's Cup.

And,why not crown the foreigners Champions off of one race if they have to ship all the way across the globe,get quarantined and kick-butt.With these disadvantages that they face and still outperform America's best on their home court,it just proves that the better horse won.Imagine if say,Miesque or Goldikova were based in the US year-round.Would you have any doubt that they'd be undefeated here?..

27 Jan 2010 4:57 PM

  Why do you feel compelled to defend your decision ?

27 Jan 2010 5:35 PM
joe c.

I recall the excitement in the Downs dining room as Skip Away and Silver Charm galloped in the early a.m. darkness Breeders' Cup eve '98.  I don't recall much complaining when Skippy won HOY over BC winner Awesome Again; a good case could have been made for AA.  Should Pleasantly Perfect have been HOY over Mineshaft?  The BC is an exciting day of races, badly marketed which have never caught on with the general of football soaked sporting public and press.  I too miss the D.C. International, the GR.1 Laurel Futurity and Selima ,  and the Belmont  Fall Championship Series.  Bless Rachel and Zenyatta, their greatness and their victories.

27 Jan 2010 5:52 PM

I agree the breeders cup is a joke...the best horses aren't always there competing against each other. Racing will always be the way it is. The owners, and trainers have their own agendas as to where their horse runs. As far as who's the better horse, I believe the only way to prove who's better is to have a match race. There are way too many circumstances in a normal race to prove who's the best horse.

27 Jan 2010 6:01 PM

The Breeders' Cup is something that should be considered highly and it reflects talent and the power that a horse has and their desire to win. Breeders' Cup is a place where people and horses come all around the world to compete. Rachel didn't race cause the owner didn't know if his horse would win or lose so he didn't want her to lose cause he wants everybody to think his horse won't lose. I think Zenyatta should have been horse of the year not just because she went to Breeder' Cup and win but that she couldn't be beat even in her close call race and that she loves to run and so what if she didn't win horse of the year she is still a champion and is going for another year and is a horse who will break more records like she did last year with her undefeated streak and her being the first filly or mare to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. I know she will break more records.And no matter what Zenyatta will be the Queen and Rachel the Princess. Go Zenyatta!!!!!!! Zenyatta rules!!!!!!!!!!

27 Jan 2010 6:10 PM

 So, here I am with my Rachel hat, reading about what I was present for on Nov. 7 was no big deal. That I saw a horse break Personal Ensign's record by winning the Breeder's Cup Classic was of of little consequence. That becoming the first female race horse to win the Classic earns a "so what". The becoming the first horse to win two different Breeder's cup races has no historical significance.

 I wish the heck you would have written this article sooner so that I wouldn't have wasted my money. When Patrick Biancone said that Zenyatta was "the horse of the century", you should have been around to remind him of Miesque. WQell, I'm keeping my Rachel hat, AND my Zenyatta hat. I will continue to wear both. Zenyatta's, however, is the only one that says 14 for 14. Rachel's future hats may well say "Horse of the Year". One is your opinion, 14 for 14 is a fact.

27 Jan 2010 6:12 PM

Somethingroyal- I know, you are so right.  But that was an era where they bred horses who could run from 7 furlongs to 14 furlongs.  

27 Jan 2010 6:23 PM

Richard Mattison has it right--the Breeders Cup is a private club.

It is incredibly expensive to race a horse in the BC races if they have not been nominated as foals.  It gets out and out ridiculously expensive if the stallion is not nominated.

The BC is a marketing gimmick to help sell yearlings from expensive Kentucky stallions.

It is not a "championship" event.

27 Jan 2010 6:25 PM

I wonder if the 'Breeder's Cup' will be this unimpressive this year if it is the only big race that Zenyatta and Rachel compete in together. Since you folks act like it ain't nothing now, but it sure was something in the past years. Did it mean anything when Curlin won it? I mean, was everyone talking about how he won the BCC in 07, it just goes to show, the biases, furthermore, RA and Zenyatta don't have three year old races to compete in this year, so the darn BC races will have to be the highlight attraction here, right?  Well, I guess not, since they don't mean anything anyway, I guess, it only matters what year, and who is running in it, that they matter?

27 Jan 2010 6:27 PM

Yay Somethingroyal: the Suburban, the Brooklyn and the Metropolitan!  The 2 mile Jockey Club Gold Cup and the 1 1/2 mile Coaching Club American Oaks!

And add my name to the list of those who really miss the Washington D.C. International.  Horses from Russia, fergawdssakes! And Japan, before Sunday Silence and Northern Taste changed the face of that country's breeding.  

Now, we have the "World Championships" which get by-passed depending on where they are and never include anyone outside of the US, Britain, France and sometimes Canada.  Where are the Australians, Brazilians, Argentinians, Japanese, and yes, even Hungarians (Overdose, anyone -- even if foaled in UK)?


p.s. Speaking of those Russians, since I remember something about them allowing AI, and isn't there a connection to the Washington D.C. International in that they still have frozen seman from Anilin?  (3rd to Kelso and Gun Bow and 5th in the Arc -- a pretty good horse, even for a Russian.)

27 Jan 2010 6:36 PM
good choice

You voted for the right horse dan, a vote for zenyatta would have set an even worse precident, The race for horse of the year now starts in june! This is hardly fair two the three year old division who knocked themselves out the first half of the year, older horses already have a maturity advantage they should not have the luxury of a freshness angle two!

27 Jan 2010 6:58 PM
Mike S

I don't think RACHEL ALEXANDRA has earned the world's respect. That's something she could have done if she had come to the Breeders Cup, racing's championship day, and defeated ZENYATTA. However, since she did not do that, I think it was ZENYATTA that earned the world's respect.

27 Jan 2010 7:09 PM

I agree with the general opinion that  horses do not have to run in the breeders cup in order to be horse of the year. I think the overall performance of the horse throughout the year should determine   who is horse of the year. I dont understand that why owners of Rachel and Zenyatta were so scared to run them agianst each other in order to dismiss any doubts and hard feelings of people in different parts ofthe country. In every other country of the world top horses consistantly race multiple times to detrmine who is the best horse. For example Ravens Pass and henrythenavigator race against eachother multiple times even before the breeders cup classic.Even this year Every one knew that sea the stars was the best horse on the land but still mastercraftsman and rip van winkle raced against him multiple times.I think our owners need to grow up and let the horses decide rather than difference in voting block.I will say that Jess Jackson should stop fearing that Rachel cant run on the synthetics and actually give his horse a chance in order to prove that she is the best horse period and the best place to start that will be in the Dubai World cup.I think he need to learn few thinks feom the owners of japanese horse of the year Vodka who are planning to run her aginst the best un the world on march 27th. She has never run on synthetics but her owners are showing confidence in their horse and Jess jackso needs to the same thig. He owe that to horse racing fans from around the world.

27 Jan 2010 7:11 PM

What a remarkable blog.

Will there be no end to the hateful and resentful tone of the Zenyatta supporters?

The article is not denegrating Zenyatta, though many of your responses surely suggest that is how many of you feel. Didn't the article begin with this statement:

"Those that voted for Zenyatta made a solid, well-informed decision. Who can argue with someone who voted for a mare that was unbeaten during the year and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)?"

You can stomp your feet and scream at the top of your lungs all day and all night.  But, you will never be able to overcome the reality thatt more people disagree with you than agree. Can you consider the possibilty that there is an opposing view that has merit, or are you such a slave to your rage that you can not recognize a contrary point of view?

27 Jan 2010 7:15 PM

If the Breeder's cup means so little why does every one want to ran in it? Except Jackson of course.  Why do they have such big purses?  Let's just throw it out and make every one happy since it counts for so little.  

27 Jan 2010 7:15 PM

The Breeders Cup is the best two days of horse racing in the world period. Comments like yours do nothing for the sport. I love Breeders Cup and look forward to it every year. And yes i am from the east coast and i think Zenyatta should have been 2nd to sea the stars as HOY.

27 Jan 2010 7:30 PM

I do want to address Tim's comments above.

I for one am not buying the arguement that Zenyatta beat "better competition by far."  Of course, I am not sure that she didn't, either.

What I do know is that the majority of Zenyatta's competiton was running on a track on which they had no record of success. over.

Gio Ponit; a great horse.  A great synthetic horse?  Who knows?  Summer Bird, a great horse.  A great synthetic horse?  Who's to say?  Mine that Bird clearly doens't like synthtics.  Richard's Kid looks like a one hit wonder to me. Rip Van Winkle and Twice Over, what was their previous synthetic form? Not much.  I like Colonel John on synthetics, but he is clearly no longer at the top of his game.  Einstein is proven on synthetics (The first horse on this list who has proven himself more than once on the surface.) Well, no one can disagree that he just through in a career clunker.

A top class field based on their resumes? Yes.  A top class synthetic field?  I just don't think so.

27 Jan 2010 7:34 PM

I agree with Northern Dancer, If you don't show up to run in the Breeder's Cup Classic, you should not be HOY.  Jess Jackson didn't like his chances after Curlin lost at Santa Anita so because of that RA didn't show up.  Zenyatta is unbeaten!!!!! Thats means no other horse has beaten her,  what about Rachael?  She doesn't have a perfect record.

27 Jan 2010 7:38 PM

Dan, I totally agree with your point of view, especially that Goldikova should not have won the American turf female championship. American championships should be awarded to horses who prove themselves in at least 3 races in the country during the year.  Furthermore, the voters definitely picked the right Horse of the Year. Four easy races against the same hapless foes at the same race track, with only one race against the highest level horses does not equal a Horse of the Year campaign.

27 Jan 2010 7:44 PM

Speaking of misnomers, why call it the Breeders' Cup, the breeders are not honored in the winners' circle or given a trophy or even mentioned in the hype for the race.  By the way, I breed and race thoroughbreds.

27 Jan 2010 7:47 PM
Jim C.

Oh please, Dan, gimme a break.  You are flat out WRONG.  Your latest column is almost as insufferable as a Jess Jackson acceptance speech.

You have a decent magazine, which I subscribe to, but you have an obvious Eastern bias when it comes to Rachel v. Zenyatta, and West Coast racing in general.  (How many times have we had to read your WHINING this year about the Breeders' Cup being held two years in a row on the "plastic" at Santa Anita?)

The idea that Rachel "accomplished more" than Zenyatta this year is utter nonsense.  The fact is that Zenyatta won the biggest race of the year against the best field assembled anywhere this year -- at least on this Continent.  And Rachel's connections ducked the event.  WHO exactly did Rachel beat this year worth remembering?  WHO?  Macho Again?  Good grief.

There is still a HUGE disconnect between the solid majority of horse racing fandom, who clearly preferred Zenyatta, and the wise guy turf media, such as DRF and Blood Horse.  The upside to the Horse of the Year travesty is that now most people will realize how utterly meaningless the Awards are.  In no other Sport is the champion crowned by a bunch of biased, wise guy sportswriters.  Even College Football has the BCS.

Anyway, the outcome of this year's HOY voting is a Black Mark on the Sport, probably the most horrible moment since Ruffian's match race at Belmont.  And you were complicit in the outcome.  

27 Jan 2010 8:02 PM

Footlick - I'm afraid you are correct. I sure miss those days.

27 Jan 2010 8:16 PM

The Breeder's Cup Classic should have put the final exclamation point on Zenyatta as Champion Horse of the Year.  What a huge disappointment in the voting system, to a fan of the sport. I think Zenyatta was the Fans choice.

27 Jan 2010 8:19 PM

Who ever really thought it was a "World" championship?

For that we need to look at the International rankings, like the IFHA, where they don 't penalize a horse because the handicappers can't pick winners on it.

You can't have a "World" championship when you exclude the World's greatest horses from consideration.

27 Jan 2010 8:22 PM
admiral lobell

So what's your point?  And what's news about it?  You sound as though you needed to write a column just to rain on somebody's parade.  You're right about one thing though the BC is an event.  An event that just happens to bring players all over the world together for one day.  And that's good for the sport.  So get with the program and write something positive.

27 Jan 2010 8:22 PM

OMG! has anyone on this blog EVER entered a horse in the BC? or the Classic??  stop whining about who was the best. Both horses were the best in each race they entered. No doubt it was a tough decision between Z and RA.  But if you want to be on top, you need to show up. Its as simple as that.

27 Jan 2010 8:36 PM
Midway Sue

Agree completely Dan. The Breeders Cup was just the "Breeders Cup" for years before a marketing idea changed it to The Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Everyone in the industry knew it was to try to get new fans to the sport by advertising it as a "Championship" Problem is that never happened. Ask the average person, not a racing fan, who won the Derby, they know. Ask them who won the Breeders Cup Classic, they say "whats that"? No offense to Zenyatta fans but most non-fans I talked to know Rachel because she won the Preakness, a Triple Crown Race, but when you say Zenyatta they say "who"? I was surprised at first but it just re-affirmed the fact that the Breeders Cup is and was developed for the breeders who pay $500.00 per foal to nominate and run their horses in what is really restricted races. Unless you have tons of money to pay the supplements. A lot of good horses never run because of this, so how can anyone say a horse that wins one of these races beat the best horses in the world.

27 Jan 2010 8:50 PM

"The Breeders’ Cup is a great event for racing. It draws attention to the sport; it stresses many divisions; it is a great example of how breeders are helping the industry."

I can certainly agree with the those thoughts.  So why are you so intent on shooting it down?  What other series of races is open to all the best runners from all over the world?  Do you want Dubai to take over as host of World-class racing?

"But a horse should not have to run in the Breeders’ Cup to become a champion."

Obviously, MR. Liebman, a majority of other dirt-loving East-coast elitist voters are in agreement with you on that!

As Editor of Bloodhorse, I'm surprised you have allowed so many pages of print to be dedicated to the BC since it is so unimportant.  Why hype it? Perhaps you should curtail the print you give to the prep races and offer a simple list of winners in your mid-November issue. Let interest in Thoroughbred Racing slowly disintegrate as soon as the big name East-coast races have played out by early September so you can hibernate until the run-up to the Triple Crown, how's that?  Or maybe you should start an AMERICAN Cup series, as there will be far fewer horses from across the pond accepting invitations to future dirt races.

Sorry, SIR, you have failed to justify your vote against Zenyatta by denigrating the Breeders' Cup and all the fans who see it as the Super Bowl of racing (as it was intended to be by Mr. Nehrud).  You'd have done better to just let Steve & Jason redirect attention to the TC while you resisted the temptation to write one more inflammatory, totally unnecessary blog on the subject.

27 Jan 2010 8:56 PM
Bill Smith

The Breeder's Cup has become more of a showcase if you will for horse racing fans and non horse racing fans alike to get a taste of the sport for 1 or 2 days.

The "DAY" was more important I believe back in the 1980's and even into the 90's. But with the start of the new century the day has started to become a lil lack lustre.

There have still been some special moments but overall one can not say a Breeders Cup win doth a champion make.

The perfect example was last year with the fight of the fillies.Rachel was not even in the Breeder's Cup and did she deserve to win HOY?? YES she did. The races she won outside of the Breeder's Cup were far more history making than anything that happened at the Breeder's.

The Breeder's Cup should go back to 1 day only and try to get back more of the prestige it once had.

As for the comment on the Canadian way of doing things...that was bang on! Starting once in America and being named a champ is simply ridiculous.

What a horse does throughout the year is important not what they do in one race.Take the Kentucky Derby;Mine That Bird won but at awards time he was not a winner.It is time to stop placing too much importance on certain races and start taking into account the validity of what the horse has accomplished the entire season!!!!!!!!!

27 Jan 2010 9:22 PM
Dan Liebman

Well I guess if you can be a champion off one race you can be a Hall of Fame member. But obviously I would not vote for Miesque or any winner of one race to be a Hall of Fame member.

27 Jan 2010 9:42 PM
Dan Liebman

Yes I realize not all grade I races have the same depth of quality in their fields. That is exactly my point. A voter should look at the past performances of every horse and the quality of every field. So a Breeders' Cup race, in that regard, is treated the same as every other race.

As for a trainer skipping the Breeders' Cup with a healthy horse. I have no problem with that. Believe me, Rachel was not the only healthy horse that didn't show up at the 2009 Breeders' Cup. And certainly trainers of 2-year-olds have chosen to skip the Breeders' Cup for various reasons.

27 Jan 2010 9:46 PM

The Breeders' Cup doesn't have to be weighted equally to other major races.  It's okay to say they are the most important races in the given divisions, but that's a far cry from declaring them Championship events-- world or otherwise-- to the exclusion of the rest of the racing calendar.

27 Jan 2010 9:48 PM

If you are going to make the Breeders Cup meaningless on synthetics.  Make SURE that you treat it the same way when it returns to dirt...which I have little faith that you will. like you said, it is just another race, keep that in mind next year

27 Jan 2010 9:55 PM

I have to ask what is the criteria for selecing HOY?

Certaintly Secretariat was awarded HOY as a 2YO without going out of his division.

Personally I thought Zenyotta should have been HOY in 2008 because of the dominance in her division.

Once Curlin and Big Brown came off the drugs they were not the horses they once were.

Should they have been awarded?  I think not.

27 Jan 2010 10:18 PM

This article is a perfect example of why TB racing is in a terminal decline. The author disses the Breeders Cup, the premier TB racing event in the USA and Zenyatta the undefeated 2 time winner of Breeders Cup events. And to what end? To defend his vote for a horse that ducked the reigning champion Zenyatta (twice), ducked the biggest race in the USA Breeders Cup and never ran a definitive 10f race.

But the author is correct 2009 proved the Breeders Cup Classic is nothing more then just another G1 race. When an undefeated reigning champion can win BC Classic and not be awarded hoty then the breeders cup is all hype.

27 Jan 2010 10:56 PM

The Breeders' Cup will not be a world championship until it is hosted in foreign countries on a regular basis! Nothing could kill the BC as a concept more than picking a permanent host track or even rotating a few US tracks.

It is time to split up the dirt and turf races to different tracks! Hold the turf races at Colonial Downs and the dirt races in Japan. Or the turf races at Longchamp and the dirt races at Churchill. Run the races every 15-20 minutes to keep the TV audience engaged and make it a true international event!

As to the fees, it is a minimal expense to nominate a foal, an expense that is usually passed along to the buyer. And a stallion only needs to cover one extra mare per year to cover the stallion fee. Those fees help to support the program by offering added money to stakes races throughout the year. Until advertisers pay $2 million for a 30 second commercial, the money has to come from somewhere.

I disagree with how much this blog denigrates the events, and Zenyatta's win was very historic, but I agree the BC has much room for improvement before being the definitive championship.

27 Jan 2010 11:12 PM

I couldn't agree with the author more.  

Those who claim Zenyatta's field was deeper choose to ignore the majority of the field was running on a foreign surface, and on her home field.   She didn't set fast fractions, nor run a particularly fast time either.  

And other than that race, who did she beat?  The same mares over and over again.  

The Breeders' Cup races have been a joke for the past 2 years running on the same sub-par synthetic track which most dirt horses handle poorly.

But as the author said, these are NOT world championships.  More truly international fields will be in Dubai in March.

27 Jan 2010 11:13 PM

Well, we should do our best to make it "THE" premiere event and make it world championship day in horse racing because if not for those couple of days and one Kentucky Derby nobody cares about horse racing.  There were 2,500 people at Santa Anita today and 7,500 there last Saturday.  Horse racing is a dead issue in this country and I hate to say that because I love it so.

27 Jan 2010 11:19 PM

I'd be just fine if the whole Breeder's Cup just went away, except that it would probably kill off the industry. Like some of the above posters, I miss the Metropolitan series, the 2 mile Jockey Club Gold Cup, and am tired of seeing the historically great stakes relegated to "Breeder's Cup Prep" status.   After April, everything's all geared to "Breeder's Cup, Breeder's Cup, blah, blah".

27 Jan 2010 11:32 PM
John T

John Gaines created the Breeders Cup to be be something very special in horse racing and to me he succeeded.Ever since it,s innargual running some of the best horses in Europe and North American racing have participated and I for one have so many fond memories of races that would have never taken place with horses with so many different countries if it had not been the brainchild of one John R Gaines.It,s sad to see such an important part of racing like the Breeders Cup being shot in the foot like this.

27 Jan 2010 11:36 PM

I, too, think the Breeders Cup should just be viewed as another race in a horse's campaign. Some years it has a really strong field, some years it doesn't, just like any other race. The 2009 Classic was a mixed bag. Zenyatta was, of course, a standout, but an unknown against the males. And as for the males I've seen better years. My personal favorite, Einstein, was just not running like he had been, Rip Van Wrinkle had problems with quarter cracks,  Summer Bird had never run on a synthetic track and Mine That Bird never has done well in California. Then there was the scratching of Quality Road. Gio Ponti was nice though. So not taking anything from Zenyatta she was probably too much mare for the guys. However, the minute Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness the Mosses should have been hunting around for some boys  to beat because I think that's what it came down to in the end: Rachel beat males three times. It doesn't matter that they weren't that great either but she did beat them and became the first filly ever to win the Woodward. I had a feeling the minute I saw an article that listed all of her achievements with the word "Historic" that she was probably going to be Horse of the Year. Then came the comparisons to Busher and Twilight Tear ... But look at it this way, Zenyatta's in good company -- Personal Ensign never took Horse of the Year either. Nor did another great racemare: Ta Wee. Though a sprinter in times of distance races she did manage to carry 142 pounds on her back to win her last race as the DRF stated,"Handily." Fort Marcy won the Washington D.C. International that same year with 127 pounds "Fully extended" but took Horse of the Year nonetheless.

28 Jan 2010 12:40 AM

Do people not understand the history of the Breeder's Cup? It began in 1984 by the racing industry to help promote and celebrate the industry, and it does a good job at just that. And, here is another little bit of information many people may not know about the event: those horses that run in the event are born into the event. That is the time those horses are foaled they have already earned their right to run. And, those who have a lot of money and who want to enter their horses can. So, who is to say there is not a very good horse out there that could run against these champions and win. We will never know because if a horse's breeding is not from certain stallions and mares and if the horse's owners do not have a ridiculous amount of money to nominate their horse the fans will never see some very good horses run. And, another point: how can the winner of the Breeder's Cup Classic, which has only been in existence since 1984, determine which horse should receive the honor of Horse-of-the-Year? Does this mean Cigar didn't deserve his honor, or Affirmed his honor, or even better yet...Secretariat? All of these horses, and many more, received Horse-of-the-Year without running in the Breeder's Cup races because the Breeder's Cup did not exist back then. Come on people...a little respect for the industry. Please do not compare some "member's only club" day-at-the-races event as the determining factor for Horse-of-the-Year when there are so many other races out there that have so much history and heritage when it come to the sport of racing. Please do not tell me so many people have fallen for the marketing ploy of the Breeder's Cup. And, let me just say: I watch the Breeder's Cup and enjoy the races, but I would never compare those races to any of the so many other races which have been in existence for years and years, and have had so many of the greats run in and win.

28 Jan 2010 12:51 AM

Ya!! the Breeders Cup is just another marketing gimmick, just another race, Since horse racing is doing so GREAT why bother with something like marketing, or trying to get all the best horses available together. Hell we have a 9 race card at Finger Lakes or some place tomorrow anyway.

28 Jan 2010 12:55 AM

I like Zenyatta so much better than her fans. Please stop attacking everyone who presents an opposite point of view, understand this horse race is over and let go of your wounded feelings.     Rejoice at what we saw and move on. More than half the Breeder's Cup winners were NOT crowned Horse of the Year in their winning year.  It's not the determinative factor, nor should it be.  And sorry, Patti T, Zenyatta is an outstanding horse but she did not beat the best horses in the world.  Sea the Stars wasn't there and he is ranked the number one horse in the world for 2009.  If he had been, you'd have seen Zenyatta safely tucked away in the Ladies' Classic even though she's done well at Santa Anita and had home field advantage all the way over every horse in the field.  Other top Euro horses weren't there.  Vodka wasn't there.  Zenyatta beat a good group of North American stakes winning horses and her victory was a thrill to see.  It was the reason most Eclipse voters gave if they chose Zenyatta.   This wasn't a popularity contest or a case of East Coast bias: Zenyatta clearly received her fair share of votes from Eastern writers or the vote would have been much  more lopsided for Rachel.  It's not American Idol, the fans don't get to vote.  Don't blame Rachel Alexandra or her connections for that.  Saying Zenyatta is "the people's horse" is no different than sticking the phrase "World Championships" on the Breeder's Cup.  Saying it doesn't make it so and it's irrelevant to the contest.  I also don't get all you "racing experts" who can't stop carping about a healthy horse staying home, Rachel didn't show up because they knew she couldn't beat Zenyatta, blah blah.  Are you her veterinarian, her trainer, anyone who knows the horse or cares about her?  Didn't think so.  Wouldn't you have been among the first to shriek about that awful Jess Jackson forcing her to run for his big old billionaire ego if she'd been euthanized on the track after she broke down trying to run on an unfamiliar surface after an exhausting campaign? Yeah, that's what I thought.  Notice how dirt horse Summer Bird got injured switching back to dirt after he had a bad time with the Pro-Ride?  He may never race again.   Zenyatta was carefully rested and lightly raced so she could be exactly right on November 7, 2009.  Rachel has run as many races in two seasons as Zenyatta ran in four.  Both of them were perfect, both undefeated in 2009.  Now I know those facts are nothing to waving a pink sign in the air and screaming Zenyatta Rocks!! but fortunately there aren't a lot of folks like that among the turf writers.  And since they could only chose one and not both, which I would have preferred, most voters picked the horse they believed had the stronger campaign in 2009.  Remember that Moment of the Year poll?  Zenyatta won (and I voted for her too) but which horse had MULTIPLE spectacular moments on that poll?  2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra.  And that's why she won.   It's a new year and maybe it's going to be Zenyatta's year at last.  I will be cheering for her in 2011 if she finally wins that final trophy, even if she has to beat Rachel to do it. p.s.: they want her in Dubai because she's a monster on synthetics and they need some big names for their new racing venue.            

28 Jan 2010 1:44 AM

Right Said, Fred!!  You are so spot-on right.

It is just so sad, they came out with this TRUTH only AFTER the 6 months of debate regarding the HOY.  This article could have saved FANS lots of needless hair-pulling, mud-slinging, verbal grenade-launching, and ON-LINE WARFARE!!  ROFL! This issue is one of the BANNER arguments raised by the ZEN-ZOMBIES led by this Mike Relva and JJ Phony.  They have this daily, never-ending rant about how Rachel was a G3 horse coz she never raced in the BC.. come on, GIMME A BREAK!!

Anyway, THANKS FOR THIS ARTICLE... Better Late than Never..

28 Jan 2010 2:21 AM

I read your commentary with great regret, because you miss the point totally.   I want to ask you Two question. Have you ever spend  one day one week or one year looking after training or owning a horse?

2 In any american World Championships sport (NBA, NFL,NBL, NHL.) how many countries do you see represented in these finals?  But you still call them World Champions. At the breeders cup you have horses from all over the world represented. Open your mind.

28 Jan 2010 3:43 AM
Charlotte Ann

One thing that is being overlooked is that the NTRA had voting for the Moment of the Year. There were ten choices and Rachel was in four of them. The great and I do mean great, Zenyatta was in only one. It was the true moment of the year, but that was the only one for which she was nominated. HOY is for a year-long body of work and that is why I had Rachel as HOY by the narrowest of margins over Zenyatta. Another point to be made about artificial surfaces is try and come up with the name of a dirt horse that had a decent showing at the last two Breeder's Cup series of racing. The Pro Ride track has a definite favorable bias for turf and artificial surfaces runners and a decided unfavorable bias against true dirt horses. Jackson, despite whatever one may think of him as a person, did the right thing by giving Rachel the rest of the year off. She absolutely ran her heart out and deserved no less.

28 Jan 2010 4:01 AM

Maybe we should call it The Breeders Cup American Championships? The Idea of having more than 1 start in the US is a good one also. At least 2 for younger horses and 3 for the older ones. Absolutley one race does not make a champion, Golidikova although a great mare won more on reputation this year.

28 Jan 2010 5:14 AM

Pretty lame argument.  The Breeders Cup and The Dubai World Cup are the only true signature CHAMPIONSHIP events held.  Also, if you voted for Rachel Alexandra, it explains your misinformed perspective.

28 Jan 2010 6:51 AM
al bundy

can we all agree the horses leave the gate at the same time?

can we all agree the horse who hits the wire first is the fastest?

rachel is 2 seconds faster than zenyatta.

the next time breeders cup comes to santa anita it will be dirt and more plastics.

dubai put down plastics to put american horses at a disadvantage.he cant win an american classic on dirt and it has to piss him off that we won 50 percent of the runnings of the world cup.

the way to get the best american horses to meet thru out the year is simple.cut down the number of grade 1 races.or all the grades.

the only juvy race to be a grade 1 is the breeders cup juv.horses will travel to get that g1 status.why travel when every other weekend is a graded race right here in my backyard.

and to the guy who said the world does not revolve around the us i ask have you read a newspaper in the last 2 years?

when rachel and zenyatta do meet i will be at the window with two fists full for rachel.this could be the only time all year you can get 1/1 or 6/5 on i thank the zen fans now for the cash.

28 Jan 2010 7:31 AM

To Grey K.

As an owner / breeder, "racing expert" as you say, you are right on one thing And that is that Rachel's campaign WAS exhausting. The mere fact that she has not had a workout in nearly 5 months can tell you just how exhausted she was. Now is that fair to a 3 year old filly? Her 2009 campaign was borderline risky and irresponsible, but the plan long term was to duck Zenyatta in the ladies OR anyone that should show up in the Classic. That was their plan, and it worked out the way they planned it by getting HOTY. Not to take anything away from Rachel as she is a brilliant filly, but that was more marketing genius, than anything else. Again, take a poll of owners and trainers and see just who would have managed her in that way. We "experts" always put the horse first.

28 Jan 2010 9:08 AM
Pam R

Thank you for bringing this topic up.  I totally agree with you. People need to remember that the BC is only 26/27 years old.  There have been HOTY's for much longer than that and they did not have BC races at the end of the year to determine who would win.  Yes, Zenyatta made history becoming the first female to win the Classic, but RA was the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years! That's a time period of over 3 times longer! Not only that but she is the first horse in the history of that race, that's over 130 years old, to win from the 13 post.   She made history in just about all of her other races, many of which have been around much longer and have incredible history behind them.  She broke records set by the immortal Ruffian, who, until probably last year, was considered by many, the best filly of all time. It also makes me upset when Zenyatta's fans talk about RA dodging the best competition.  First of all, RA ran more times, and ran against the males more.  Secondly, while RA went out and raced in the mud a couple times, Zenyatta's connections kept her in the barn and only raced her on dry, synthetic tracks.  I'm not saying Zenyatta can't handle dirt well, but the fact is RA raced on more tracks as well as on off tracks.  She actually proved her versatility, while we can only guess what Zenyatta might be able to do. Like someone else mentioned, I do like Zenyatta and her connections, I just believe that RA did more.  I am also thrilled that both ladies are coming back this year. I admit I am slightly partial to RA, but I am not necessarily saying she is better.  RA is better than anything Zenyatta has faced yet, but Zenyatta has proven to be something special too.  I can't wait to see them meet.  People also need to quit knocking RA because she is owned by Jess Jackson.  She did not pick her owner, and she did not let anyone down in her eight terrific victories.  Mine that Bird won the most prestigious race in the World(even rich sheiks can't buy a horse to win it,yet), yet no one considered MTB for the award at all. Zenyatta's fans need to accept that she did not win, and if they truly think Zenyatta is better, they can dream about her beating RA on the track.  In the meanwhile, let's hope that both mares stay healthy and give us another year of historic racing.

28 Jan 2010 9:25 AM
Pam R

I wanted to add one more thing; someone mentioning that they think you look smug in your picture(which I don't think you do), is a personal, lowdown thing to do, that has nothing to do with the horses themselves. I've been recieving the Blood-horse magazine for several years and it seems to me that that is the picture you have used for a while now?  Let's hope that if Zenyatta ever loses she takes it better than her fans.

28 Jan 2010 9:32 AM

Greg K- I have to correct you on the fact that Zenyatta has been running for 23 months, not 48.  She didn't start until the end of her three year old year, due to her size, nerves, hives and a temper that they felt had to be gotten under control.  Rachel has been running 15 months, still a shorter time that Zenyatta, but not two years shorter.  Other than that, your opinion is your opinion.  

28 Jan 2010 9:33 AM

You guys keep forgetting that in order to participate in the BC, a series of installments have to be paid by both breeders & owners. Many owners have chosen not to participate because of the prohibitive supplemental fees.

The BC would be a championship event if there were a number of requirements to be met: a minimum # of appearances, stakes wins & graded earnings per year.

The BC has lost some of its luster because of their management. They've created too many divisions, decided to run on synth two years in a row, and they have not taken the proper steps to ensure that thet best quality of horses do show up for the event. You can't just call it "The World Championship", just because a few euros show up.  

How much luster have they lost? 10 of the 14 winners of the 2009 BC did not win an Eclipse award, and the races are not even on network TV anymore.

So much for the "World Championship" title!

28 Jan 2010 9:40 AM

The debate this year for HOY, both before and after the presentation, has been really interesting.  Maybe I lean to being more of a traditionalist because in a future year where everything else was equal and you have two horses, colts or fillies/mares, one winning the Triple Crown and the other winning the Breeders Cup, I would vote for the Triple Crown winner.  Again, as in this year, one horse shows versatility at more tracks and conditions, and the other wins the Breeders Cup Classic. It could happen (wouldn't that be great!), then what would the voters do?

28 Jan 2010 10:19 AM

The Breeders cup is a championship designed for North American racehorses.  Other countries do enter their horses.  When more Euros started entering, they started calling it a world championship.  You can nominate a horse as a foal, or you can nominate a horse later.  The fees only differ..." May be nominated at any time and receive eligibility for their entire racing career. The nomination fee for a non-nominated horse sired by a nominated stallion (in the year of conception) is $100,000. The nomination fee for a non-nominated horse sired by a non-nominated stallion is $200,000."  There are "win and you're in" graded stakes throughout the year.  Considering the purses, the fees appear to be standard.  Don't forget it is the "breeders" cup.  I doubt the Dubai "world" cup will change its location, so why should the Breeders Cup go outside of North America?  And when a writer seeks to justify his Eclipse vote by denigrating an illustrious racing series, he does a great disservice to the sport.  We need to promote this sport, not bicker, rationalize, or keep beating the dead argument over Horse of the Year.  2009 is over.  

28 Jan 2010 10:43 AM

PS...the Breeders Cup was not only televised on major networks, it was broadcast globally.  That's why other countries are more familiar with Zenyatta than Rachel Alexandra.

28 Jan 2010 10:45 AM

Reading some of these comments I'm reminded of Conan O'Brien's last Tonight Show monologue, specifically the part where he mocked Internet trolls by going "Dear Internet..."

Seriously... "suck it"??? "Lame argument"? Very mature and classy. I'm sure the Mosses would be proud and in fact cheer you on. How happy they must be to have such fans speak on behalf of Zenyatta...

I agree with the notion that the Breeder's Cup is not a world championship if only because I also believe the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the NBA Finals do NOT crown a world champion. To me the only truly global sports events that can claim to crown "best in the world" are the Olympics and the World Cup. A gold medal means much more to me (in my silly opinion, which is meaningful only to me) than an American championship ring.

Still would have loved to have seen Queen Z win HOTY but it was based almost entirely on emotion and nostalgia, which disappeared as soon as they announced she was coming back. I'm very much looking forward to seeing her continue her reign this year and hopefully they will bring her back East so I can go see her! Also looking forward to RA, Quality Road, Summer Bird, and more. It's going to be a GREAT year. :)

28 Jan 2010 10:46 AM
Rachel Fan

Looking at comments like the one made by the Jenifer person gives an indication that more moderating need be done.  Or parents need to get control of their kids and keep their juvenile children off of adult blogs where people try to have some sense of maturity and class. Classless Jenifer, grow up.

Not sure as to what you are accomplishing with your mad, obsessive blogging about how Zenyatta should be HOY, even her own owner knew that she wouldn’t win the award.  

Make sure that dirt races are not on a synthetic surface and you wont have horses like Rachel and Fabulous Strike and Dublin sitting at home come BC time, to quote a hall of famer in D.Wayne Lukas he said that “synthetics makes great horses look mediocre and mediocre horse look great”  that’s basically how it is, a horse running on dirt can hold :12 seconds 1/8th mile splits all the way around on synthetics that’s not even remotely possible, so you have horses like Tiago able to finish in front of a Hall of Fame horse like Curlin in the 08 BCC, add to that the fact that no horse that prepped on dirt won a race during the two years that the BC was held on synthetics.   What stupidity by the BC committee for holding the even at that venue on that surface for two years straight, what they got was a slap in the face when JJ kept the most popular horse in the world off of that track.  Oh you don’t think that Rachel is more widely known.  Well look at the numbers for the BC a .86 share in the television ratings category, that’s ridiculous, Rachel’s Preakness drew a 8.6 share.  Wow how many more millions of people saw that race, and Rachel’s Kentucky Oaks drew a 6 share in the ratings.  Incredible huh how this filly captivated the world.  And now you want to spin it as if Zenyatta reached some type of international audience, lol that’s laughable.  I have more respect now for Moss because he says he’s going to go after Rachel and make her prove she’s worthy of her HOY trophy, but sadly Mr. Moss if you had watched and read these blogs and probably listened to your advisors, and im not talking about your trainers wife who told you that running in the easiest races they could point her to so she could be fresh for the BC, I mean wow should she not have won, on her surface beating horses that had run serious campaigns, I mean Zenyatta was campaigned like she was a 2 year old.  Really timid and soft as possible so they could go to the Ladies Classic. There was no plan to run her against males until Rachel did it 3 times and they knew she was landslide to get HOY, Moss and Sheriffs both said Mid Year that Rachel was a front runner for HOY and they passed up on the Pacific Classic and Goodwood, why, because in their words it would be asking too much of her to go against boys and at 10 furlongs.  Im glad she dispelled that so emphatically, and unlike a number of people I was very happy to see she won the BCC I knew that would make it interesting the HOY vote because Idiots like Gary Stephens and Jerry Bailey were again on Espn and Tvg and on other national broadcast lobbying for HOY votes for Zen.  But you can’t win it off of 1 race and that’s why people that can look at things objectively get to vote, not the fans who think, well she won the last race I can remember and it was a big race so imma vote her HOY.  People knew who would win, and w/o the BCC what would Zenyatta’s campaign be about, it would be laughable, winning the Lady’s secret matches up to Rachels win in the Fantasy, lol.  Simply ridiculous that we are still having this conversation.  Let it go people, Zen is happy resting in her stall right now, and im sure Rachel is enjoying a bath after a mile jog and mile and one half gallop this morning.  Let the connections allow them to race and then we can talk, we’ll listen for Zenyatta fans to make excuses as to why she suffered her first and second and third losses of her career.  But for real racing fans we’ll have more respect for a horse like Zen with a loss due to being in a real battle than for her to be undefeated beating absolutely nobody the majority of her career on synthetics.  Rachel Alexandra Horse of the Year 2009-2010. ha Get used to it Zenyatta fans.

28 Jan 2010 10:48 AM

OMG people how did this become a HOY debate again, give it up please.  Both sides need to shut it. I do think that these races should carry a bit more weight but the whole should be evaluated.  I have to admit I am not really a fan of the 2 day format but I do like some of the additional races. I loved watching the marathon this year and I think we need more races at longer distances to encourage breeders to bring stamina we have lost in the TB horse. Why have the Breeders Cup if it really just going to count for the same as any race.  The synthetic thing is getting a bit old horses all over the world race on it, its only the US thats stuck on the dirt thing. The very best horses can run on any surface.  I personally think that Curlin's defeat in the BC was more about a very long year and a exceptional horse in Ravens Pass running best race on that day.

28 Jan 2010 10:52 AM
Bill Daly

One point that I think has been overlooked in this discussion is how do we create sufficient interest in the sport on a year round basis - like it used to be.  Prior to the BC there were championship caliber races throughout the racing calendar which mattered in determining awards at the end of the year.  My argument is that so much of the focus now is on the BC series of races that nothing else matters except for the Triple Crown races. The general public is definitely not tuned in to racing except for the Triple Crown and the BC. In order for the sport to thrive this needs to change.  Maybe horse is an anachronism whose day has been over, but I sense there's life in the old sport and the problem is how to get the general public interested more often than a few times a year.

28 Jan 2010 11:06 AM
Ann in Lexington

I cannot believe so many people have forgotten the motivation behind creating the Breeders' Cup. I was alive and sentient in 1983/84 and I DO remember.

The driving need was to find a way to keep hot-shot 3yos who had won 1 or more Triple Crown races from retiring immediately and being syndicated for megamillions (this was the first bloodstock bubble, before the change in the tax laws in 1987). To keep them around for fall racing, one needed a megapurse. Instead of finding a way to supplement the purse of an existing race, they decided to hit up the breeders, to the tune of one season's fee for sire nominations and a per foal nomination. All the other races and the BC stakes supplements were added only to give stallion owners and breeders whose products weren't likely to be top-class at 10f on dirt a reason to nominate. The idea of a high-class carnival was not a new one in racing - the Melbourne and Randwick Carnivals, Arc weekend, Royal Ascot, and Pellegrini weekend all preceded it. All of these included championship caliber races, but a championship can be earned without winning one.

If this were indeed supposed to be a series of championship races, there would be qualifications for entry that were NOT based on whether their sire was nominated and horses like Rick's Natural Star would not be permitted to run. The owners of Siphon, Sandpit, Redattore, Lido Palace, et. al. had horses who were leaders in their divisions but couldn't justify the expenditure to enter.

I also miss the great racing of the 1970s and 80s, when John Henry raced all year to earn his laurels, when Flying Paster didn't duck Spectacular Bid despite coming up short every time. The "Breeders' Cup is everything" mentality has done more to drain the guts out of summer/fall racing than anything else.

28 Jan 2010 11:48 AM
Manny Cadima

Your comments are spot on Dan!

28 Jan 2010 11:53 AM

I am a Rachel fan and was ecstatic that she won HOY.  I do think Zenyatta is also fantastic.

But my point in leaving this comment is that I am appalled at some of the language and personal comments and attacks that some of you bloggers have left, not only toward these two beautiful fabulous females, but also toward their owners and fans and Mr. Liebman.  

Let's all act civilized and adult, can we please, no matter what our opinions might be.

28 Jan 2010 11:53 AM

Some bizarre spinning of facts by GreyK needs to be addressed:

(1)"Wouldn't you have been among the first to shriek about that awful Jess Jackson forcing her to run for his big old billionaire ego if she'd been euthanized on the track after she broke down trying to run on an unfamiliar surface after an exhausting campaign?"


Before Jackson bought her, Rachel ran and won on the synthetic track at Keeneland. That suggests she could have handled Santa Anita's Pro-Ride, too, provided Jackson's campaign had not exhausted her. I suspect the Breeders Cup wasn't part of his plan from the beginning because of its 1-1/4 mile length.

(2)"Notice how dirt horse Summer Bird got injured switching back to dirt after he had a bad time with the Pro-Ride?"


This comment twists facts to the point of turning them into fiction.

Let's try common sense. Switching from dirt to Pro-Ride was OK. Workouts and the Nov. 7 race on Pro-Ride were OK. But somehow, it's the fault of Pro-Ride that he was injured working out on a dirt track in Japan, several weeks (Nov. 28) after the Classic?


By the way, I hope no one quotes the sad tale of Kinsella's breakdown at Santa Anita as "proof" that "all" synthetic tracks are bad. Honest Wildcat also recently broke down at Aqueduct, fractured two sesamoids and was later euthanized. Jockey Richard Migliore is recovering from a mild concussion suffered in that fall, too.

28 Jan 2010 1:11 PM

Once again the Breeders Cup offers the largest purses in the US,which also draws the best horses in the world.   So why would any one in their right mind connected with Horse Racing want to belittle it and say it should count for nothing.  Would we be having this discussion if Rachel had showed up and won????

28 Jan 2010 1:12 PM
Dan Liebman

Obviously, MR. Liebman, a majority of other dirt-loving East-coast elitist voters are in agreement with you on that!

Wow, I'm considered an East coast elitist? First of all, I live in the Midwest. Secondly, my ballots over the years would prove to you I have no regional bias when voting.

As Editor of Bloodhorse, I'm surprised you have allowed so many pages of print to be dedicated to the BC since it is so unimportant.  Why hype it?

Perhaps you should curtail the print you give to the prep races and offer a simple list of winners in your mid-November issue. Let interest in Thoroughbred Racing slowly disintegrate as soon as the big name East-coast races have played out by early September so you can hibernate until the run-up to the Triple Crown, how's that?

Where did I say I don't believe the Breeders' Cup to be a great event? Quit reading between the lines. All I said was I don't think you should have to run in the Breeders' Cup to be a champion.

28 Jan 2010 1:33 PM
Dan Liebman

I read your commentary with great regret, because you miss the point totally. I want to ask you Two question. Have you ever spend  one day one week or one year looking after training or owning a horse?

I'm not sure why being a trainer or owner would have any bearing on what I said. For the record, no I have never trained a horse. I have owned horses.

2 In any american World Championships sport (NBA, NFL,NBL, NHL.) how many countries do you see represented in these finals?  But you still call them World Champions. At the breeders cup you have horses from all over the world represented. Open your mind.

My point about pro sports in the U.S. was that their schedules are arranged by a league office. Not  so for horse racing. I have always loved the European participation in the Breeders' Cup. We've seen some fantastic horses and they have added much to the series. But that does not make it a world championship.

28 Jan 2010 1:37 PM
Dan Liebman

Manny, good to hear from you. Hope you and your fellow Louisville handicappers are doing well. Keeneland and Churchill meets will be here after the snow metls.

28 Jan 2010 1:38 PM


    Since when does beating allowance competition on Polytrack become the same as beating Grade one competition on Pro-Ride? Keeneland is one of the quirkiest synthetic surface. No matter how good you are on dirt or turf, that track does not play similar to either surface. CT decimated the Spinster field then came to SA and didn't even enter the top three in the 08 Ladies Classic. Pro-Ride is a whole nother ball game. It plays like turf, which is why when CJ kept clicking off insane front end fractions this year, she came right back to the field. Also it plays to closers, explaining why it has been said to be LIS favorite track of all the synthetics in Cali. You cannot compare the two, that does not make sense.

28 Jan 2010 2:22 PM

"Their logic, they say, is the event is officially called the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, so that is where the championship should be decided"

WRONG!! That's not the reason why Rachel shouldn't be HOTY

Rachel avoided the strongest field that would be assembled for the year!! So anybody can now campaign for HOTY while avoiding the toughest field assembled.

Lets face it, the only top horse that Rachel beat was Summer Bird.  

28 Jan 2010 4:26 PM
J.B. Pelham

No win situation for the winner of the 2009 "Horse of the Year" honor.

I knew ahead of time that "whoever" won 2009 "Horse of the Year" would be more and more disrespected as the years roll by.

Whoever didn't win 2009 "Horse of the Year" would be the one that "the public" would back and respect.

28 Jan 2010 4:39 PM

To Ben, who said the shine if off the BC since we're going back to dirt:

The shine was just fine when European turfers had only half the biggest races on the card to their advantage.  If it makes us "dull" to take back our dirt races, I'm delighted to be dull.

Hey, give us a call when you run the Arc on dirt, would ya?

28 Jan 2010 5:26 PM

Dan, I can't read all the comments here -- I got the gist quickly enough.  You should've left out the part about Zenyatta versus Rachel -- that's all people are seeing instead of the main topic of your post.  Which is why I skipped it -- there's nothing more boring than the tired commentaries of Rachel versus Zenyatta.  

28 Jan 2010 5:34 PM

I've read most of the posts regarding this very fair, well stated article.  What amazes me is that there are so many angry, hateful and rude people.  I don't understand some of the nasty comments to this author!  If you have a different opinion as many do, why must it be stated in such a rude and demeaning manner?  I understand love of a horse, I do.  What I don't understand is the constant slamming and hateful remarks made by some of the fans.

Rachel Alexandra won HOY.  According to some, she only beat G2 males and she was worn out after the Woodward so she isn't nearly as good as Zenyatta.  She may not be as good as Zenyatta but we will never know until they face each other.  Rachel ran fast fractions in the Woodward ALL THE WAY.  She didn't lope in the back and then pour it on coming into the stretch.  That was a hard win and she still held on to win.  That must be taken away because she didn't beat Secreatariat and Affirmed.  Jess Jackson somehow managed to find the worst horses in every race to run his filly against so she wouldn't lose.  She accomplished absolutely nothing.

What garbage.  Jess Jackson DUCKED

Zenyatta.  He's afraid of her.  Mr. Moss was more concerned in keeping her perfect record.  Rubbish.  Both owners ran their horses where they wanted.  They did what they thought was best.  Yes, Zenyatta was over-looked two years in a row and that is a travesty because an undefeated horse is a rarity in this sport.  But in the end, does it really matter?  No.  It doesn't.  Zenyatta will go down in racing history as one of the greatest as will Rachel. I just don't understand all the hatred and negativity that in no way affects the fans in the least.  Did the loss of HOY cause you to lose your job?  To lose business?  Did your bank account get cleaned out because she lost?  Did anyone in your family become seriously ill because of it?  NO!  The truly important things in your lives remain the same so why all this anger?  It makes no sense at all and it makes the true horse racing fans look bad. Crucifying the connections of either horse is horrid especially since I'm quite sure most of you don't even know either horse's connections.  I just don't get being that hateful to anyone.

28 Jan 2010 5:53 PM

Children, behave!!! Looks like Suzanne, maybe one or two others plus myself, are the only adults in this blog.

I think the rush to install the synths on all CA tracks was a little premature. I know the reasons why, but I think it would've been smarter to install a synth surface at one or two CA tracks and see how those surfaces held up under training and racing. Get insights from horsemen on all levels and take it from there. Depending on the results, synth surfaces could then have been mandated at all CA tracks or things could've been left the way they were. I've always thought that a well-maintained dirt track that was not souped up on stakes days is every bit as safe as the synths supposedly are.

I also still think that not all plastics ;) are created equal--perhaps some are more weather and work resistant than others. Maybe some do better in more humid/wet climes. Maybe if some were mixed with a bit of dirt....

28 Jan 2010 5:53 PM

I agree with Dan 100%.  Depending on the calibur of the horses that show up, a BC win might carry a little more weight than another Grade 1, but a BC win is not synonamous with "Champion". There is no requirement that to be eligible for year-end awards a horse must compete at the Breeder's Cup; nor should there be.  Nor do I believe that a horse should receive an American year-end award off of 1 start in America; even if it is an impressive BC win. I too, don't understand how this got back to a discussion of "Rachel Alexandra versus Zenyatta" for horse of the year but since it has, I disagree with comments that Zenyatta beat the best horses in the world.  The fact is the best horses in the world did not compete for various reasons. In Rachel's case, it was for a very valid reason; she'd already had a full campaign in 2009.  It would have been irresponsible of the connections to keep her in training for another 2 months in order to run in the BC - she deserved the rest!  Furthermore, no sensible owner with a great dirt horse is going to risk a perfect record on a surface that has proved to be unkind to "dirt" horses. Also, specifically in response to one of Patti T's comment; Rachel was also undefeated during all of 2009.  In her case she was 8 for 8 compared to 5 for 5 for Zenyatta and more of Rachel's wins were of historic proportions. This does not mean that Rachel Alexandra is the better race horse.  Hopefully, we will know the answer to that question this year.

28 Jan 2010 9:52 PM
Bet Twice

Zenyatta fans are allowed to be disappointed their horse didn't win HOY and Rachel fans are allowed to be thrilled their horse did, but denigrating the Breeders Cup to substantiate a choice in voting is simply absurd.  

We can take the "World" out of it (though Europe and Japan often show up), but its the only race of the year where the best meet.  Do all the best always race?  Nope, but year in and year out, I'd put my money on the BCC field over the Woodward or the JCGC or the big Cap.

Anyway, America seems to like the BC - my friends actually know its happening.  

Honestly, I think Rachel accomplished more than enough on the track to make a vote for her merited.  Why throw the baby out with the bathwater?  

28 Jan 2010 9:53 PM

Again, another blog has been infected.  But, I want to clear up a misconception about closers.  I always see the comments that they just lope around while the other type of horse runs the whole race.  Do you realize that if this was true, and a closer only runs the last quarter mile, that no closer would ever win.  They would be about 50 lengths behind the field once they started running.  If a horse is 12 lengths behind at the first call, then 12 lengths behind again at the second call, then the horse is running as fast as the leader.   That is the only way a horse can keep up.  When at the third call the horse is 5 lengths back of the leader, the horse is running faster than the leader.  And when that horse wins, then that horse gains again in the stretch and passes other horses, that horse is running faster again.  It is a myth that closers have an easier race than horses who set or track a pace, or that they haven't run as hard or they just lope around the track.  I'm just tired of hearing that myth trotted out over and over again.  How do you really think a horse keeps up with the field if they aren't running as fast as the field?  Monica V- this is not aimed at you even though you used the term.  I've seen it so many times it finally had to come out of me-lol!

29 Jan 2010 12:03 AM

The Champion is the one that's perceived to be the best OR the title given to the winner of a contest (or series of contests) that are accorded as such by those with authority to do so. The winner of the World Series, NBA Championships, and to some degree the boxing world, and etc. conform to the latter, the Breeders' Cup Championship doesn't, nor should any single horserace. I perceived  Zenyatta to be the outstanding runner of 2009, and her performance in The Breeders' Cup Classic did certainly help form that perception. The fact that it was NAMED The Br. Cup Championship (on Breeder's Cup World Championship Day) did not, however, influence in any way my perception of her performance that day, or my overall perception of her body of work during 2009. For me, the one (by a performance, or peformances-during a year) that is perceived to be the best, should be the one accorded Champion. The "rule" should be that flexible, and nothing less. Can a single race's performance be sufficient EVIDENCE?- I say that in some instances it can. To take this latter argument to the extreme- consider that a horse could un but a single race during the year, but in that race defeat convincingly all the top candidates in its division (each perceived to be near or at the top of their game). Is it not likely that this winner was the best horse (that year) in its division?      

29 Jan 2010 1:20 AM

FunnyCideOver, when I refer to Breeders Cup having lost its shine, I was not referring to the move back to dirt tracks.  I was referring to the fact that Breeders Cup has failed in one of its most important remits – to make American Racing popular with the general public again.  No one can argue that it has succeeded on that front.

As to your comment about running the Arc on Dirt, no one is asking Breeders Cup to stay off dirt, I am simply stating that you cannot expect as many Europeans to come and take part in Breeders Cup as have done in recent years.  Along with this goes the fact that the money coming in to Breeders Cup from European entry fees (totalling almost $4million in the last 4 years alone) will no longer be there to help boost the prize money levels.  Without European, and other nations, participation there is no justification to use the word “World” in the description of the meeting.

At least Europeans have been prepared to “come and have a go” at Breeders’ Cup, and other major US races, with some considerable success.  The distinct disadvantage of travelling long distances has not put sporting owners and trainers off travelling to America, so tell me why so few American trained horses come to Europe to take part in our major races?

It can’t be the prize money as the Arc is the third richest race in the world.  It can’t be the travelling as Europeans don’t have an issue with travelling to the US.  It can’t be the surface as turf is the best surface to run a horse on.  It couldn’t be the fact that the race is run at a mile and a half, an alien distance for so many US horses, or that medication rules are so tight in Europe?  Could it?!

29 Jan 2010 4:57 AM
Pam S.

I am about as retro as you can get.  I actually miss things like rotary dial phones, VHS tapes and vinyl records.  I miss when people got more dressed up for their daily activities.  So I have no quarrel with those who are nostalgic about the old days and the way the sport was before the Breeders' Cup.

But we all have to realize things change.  It's not the 1940s or the 1970s.  We have the BC now, I think the majority of fans support it and enjoy wagering on it and attending it if they can.  It is a very positive addition to the game.  Given the fact that there's a division for any qualified horse, the purses are so large, and Euros do show up which they don't for any of our other races, I think the BC as a whole is more important than anything other than the KY Derby.  Even the other TC races aren't THAT important unless someone wins all three.  And yes, it's too bad about the Washington D.C. International which did attract foreign horses, but it was just one race.

If they want to call it the "World Championships," I'm not offended.  They wanted to sound like other sports and I don't blame them, since other sports are largely more successful and solvent than racing.  If they just want to call it the Breeders' Cup, that's OK, too.  I like how the event is rotated, also, because if you live in the West it's hard to get to Saratoga and Belmont.  

Final comment regarding the rotation:  I am a Zenyatta fan and I think I speak for many when I offer this:  How about we never again grouse about Rachel winning HOY, if everyone else will PLEASE stop complaining about two-years-in-a-row-on-synthetic.  It's time to let go of both issues.

29 Jan 2010 12:41 PM
Pam R

You can not really say that the BC draws the best horses in the world-Two of the world's best for sure, were not there(RA and Sea the Stars), not to mention some others who may not have made it.  Also, perhaps I'm remembering incorrectly, but it seems that many racing analysts were saying leading up to the BC Classic, that for most of those horses, the synthetic surface was either one they did not like(Mine that Bird), or for many, was unknown on how they would handle it.  We know Zenyatta was racing on a surface she clearly does very well on.  She had a pretty strong home court advantage.

29 Jan 2010 2:42 PM

Footlick- re your take on why it may be just as difficult for closers:

If it were only that simple; but it's not. Oftentimes a pressed leader, or even those directly behind are exerting themselves beyond their "comfort zone" so to speak-they are expending too much then to enable them to complete the race in a time that otherwise would be within their capabilities (capacity). It is not uncommon for thooughbed racehorses to become "keyed-up" to run faster by what's happening around them. Imagine yourself running-starting out too fast (rather than pacing youself). At its extreme, you'd have little if anything for the last part-might nearly slow down to a walk. Should this occur, your total time for your run would be greater than had you paced yourself more appropriately.  

29 Jan 2010 3:47 PM

Footlick is right on the closer vs leader thing, that the closers do in fact run as fast as the leader. I do however think that in all cases the leader does have the harder race. For one the closer drops back and has a slower first quarter mile, which save up energy, where as the frontrunner guns it out of the gate to get to the front, using more energy. Now this does not happen all the time, but pressure also affects horses. If a lead horse is being pressured that would take more out of them than the closer who has no real pressure at the back.

29 Jan 2010 3:58 PM

PAM R: The BC once in a while will miss a few top horses but year after year the Breeders specially the Classic since it's inception is the STRONGEST FIELD PUT TOGETHER FOR THE YEAR. BTW, MINE THAT BIRD RUNS WELL on synthetic. He is a very small horse and his 2009 campaign wore him out. Yes Zenyatta has home court advantage but so what?

29 Jan 2010 5:15 PM


This controversy was due to Rachel ducking the Breeders. If Rachel skip the Goose and the Woodward and ran in the Breeders and won, THERE WOULDN'T BE ANY CONTROVERSY and she would have been HOTY hands down. It's the eastern bias toward synth horses that added to this controversy. Rachel is HOTY not because she is the better horse but she had a longer campaign ON DIRT but ZENYATTA IS THE STRONGER HORSE! Smarty Jones had a longer and harder campaign than GhostZapper but since the Zapper ran on dirt, he was awarded HOTY BECAUSE HE WAS THE STRONGER HORSE.

29 Jan 2010 5:21 PM

Great commentary, Dan.

While I would have preferred  Co-Horses of the Year, celebrating both these females, I've never felt the Breeders' Cup should be a "litmus test" for Horse of the Year, or any divisional championship. Giving an award to a horse should be based on an entire year's body of work. Certainly the Breeders' Cup is part of this decision, and might be a tie-breaker if all else was equal.

I also feel that a horse who comes over to the United States, wins one race, then is given an American championship, is unfair to our American-based horses. I like the Canadian criteria, and wish we'd adopt something like it as our own.

29 Jan 2010 6:55 PM

When it comes down to it though... This years Breeders Cup kind of WAS a world championship, was it not? We had CHAMPION horses all in ONE race, the only ones who didn't show were Sea The Stars(who had NOTHING to prove) and Rachel (who had EVERYTHING to prove)... Even if Rachel had come and run second to Zen, I would have respected her more and thought her deserving of Horse of the year, because Zen would have beaten her on her home track... The fact is though, she didn't come to the Breeders Cup, so she didn't prove herself better than Zenyatta.

While Zenyatta never left California, that was never the plan for her... Maybe while Jess Jackson was moving Rachel all over the country he should have went ahead and brought her to California.

I guess we will end up seeing in the end who is the better horse in 2010. I think that both of them are amazing horses but I think that the Breeders' Cup Classic is a championship race

29 Jan 2010 8:53 PM

Good points. I also think the BCC(one race) for Z wouldn't automatically make her HOY. Which I am glad it didn't. People think RA is all hype they need to stop and think of Z as well.

29 Jan 2010 10:18 PM

Up to the moment of the BC classic I would not allow one race to determine my decision. However Zenyatta just didn't win the race. She performed an historical run that will stand above time. In 50 years from now Zenyatta will be read as the better horse. That is of course if things stand as they stand now before an oncoming year.

I would have voted for Zenyatta based on the issue she was the highlight of the year when you look at the historical script.

30 Jan 2010 10:36 AM

LDP- Thanks.  I agree that a confirmed stretch runner has a harder race.  I just get tired of people saying that a stretch runner only runs in the last quarter.  I do believe the easiest trip is always the stalker, because they are ueually always running in their comfort zone and get the jump on their stretch running adversaries, like Affirmed and Alydar or Sunday Silence and Easy Goer.  But, all horses run hard, in my opinion.  Hope all is going well with you- haven't seen many posts lately.

Sceptre- I guess I answered what I would have said in the LDP response.  I believe the need-the-lead type is the most vulnerable and has the hardest race if pressed.  I was just tired of hearing that closers only run in the stretch and lolligag in the back until then, not expending any energy.

30 Jan 2010 11:01 AM

There are so many holes in you argument, I think you should be forced to go and re-read what you wrote. The Eclipse award is not a World Championship award, it is a N.A. award so your argument regarding Sea the Stars affecting the outcome of the R vs. Z debate makes no sense. Saying all races are equal is even sillier. The only valid point that you make is in regard to the number of NA starts a horse should have to be considerd for an eclipse award. The fact is that 90% of the time, the Breeders Cup races represent the best fields of the year in N.A. If you are truly interested in helping this sport grow and attract new fans, you should be firmly on the side that the BC is the the years NA championship(still open to the world). And as such, it important that the voters punish owners who decide that it is just another race by not voting for horses in the Eclipse Awards who voluntarily skip the race. You are right, horse racing is not like the MAJOR sports, hence the resaon it has become a minor sport.

30 Jan 2010 1:03 PM

Charles- You need to work on facts. Smarty jones didn't race after the Belmont and he never ran on synthetics(and I'm from Philly so I have no bias toward GZ). I believe that Zapper and Smarty had about the same number of races(4-6) that year. Ghostzapper won because he ran some of the fastest races with insane splits(while on the pace) at 10f and did it in the biggest race of the year for open company. He was awarded one of the highest Beyer figures ever recorded as well as being weighted in Europe as an all-timer.

30 Jan 2010 1:11 PM

To the poster who made the remark that "...Rachel(who had EVERYTHING to prove)...", I respectfully and emphatically disagree. The filly had nothing to prove. If I remember correctly, Rachel was already winning races last year before Zenyatta made her first start. When one looks at many of the wins of a historic nature, a Triple Crown race, two other victories against males, including older horses, and wins in Herculean fashion, if this isn't a Horse of the Year, I don't know what is. The Breeders' Cup would have been another big race, but at that point, it was nonessential.

I was all for Zenyatta sharing Horse of the Year with Rachel, after her BC Classic win, which was also historic; but the only way I would have personally selected her over Rachel is if Sea The Stars had shown up, and Zenyatta had still won. That didn't happen.

30 Jan 2010 1:24 PM

You almost have to take the Breeder's Cup out of the mix.  It is unfair to horses that ran superbly all year and were given the break they so deserved to include those who needed time to heal.  I was one that wanted nothing to do with the Breeder's Cup this year because of all the talk that the winner would be honored and that a horse that didn't run would get nothing.  This is so ridiculous beyond belief.  Then I noted that Goldikova received an award.  Why?  It was a dishonor to a few special horses that ran this year who showed more talent and guts than she did.  Breeder's Cup you say?  Pooh!!!

30 Jan 2010 1:46 PM
Pam S.

Hawkeye, is it "unfair" that the Kentucky Derby, America's greatest race, is run on the first Saturday in May of a colt's 3yo year (he might not even be 3 yet by the calendar), it is a mile and a quarter and he has to carry 126 pounds?  Maybe it is.  It may not be the best timing for these developing colts (or fillies).  Yet year after year the gate is full, or nearly so, with those who are healthy and have the earnings.  Why?  Because the owners want to run in the Derby.

I think if an owner wanted to get his healthy horse to the Breeders' Cup (and many do), he would make those desires known to his trainer and a schedule would be plotted that would culminate, hopefully,  in the BC race of choice.  I see nothing unfair about it.  

If you are saying it's unfair to vote a championship to a BC winner, just because they are a BC winner, well, how often does that happen anyway?  And Goldikova, well, she is a great mare, has won two BC Miles and could win a third.  Plus there were no outstanding U.S.-based turf females this year.  Goldikova was richly deserving of her award.  

Take the Breeders' Cup out of the mix??  You mean just quit having it?  Sure, if you want a static, geographically limited and  rapidly aging fan base, just go back to the old days, when championships were decided in 150-year-old races on the East Coast.

30 Jan 2010 4:31 PM

LDP-Just read my post.  It shouold have been a confirmed front runner-lol.  Old age.

30 Jan 2010 5:09 PM

Hawkeye- Maybe Goldikova's connections feel the same.  But you are wrong about any horse showing more talent and guts.  She was the best turf female that ran this year, and quite possibly the best turf horse.  Take away her award, but don't diminish how easily she has defeated our best milers two years in a row.

30 Jan 2010 5:17 PM
Lil Darlin

The Breeder's Cup is flawed and has been since its inception, IF it's true purpose is to determine a champion. One race does not determine the better horse (see - Mine that Bird in the Derby, Volponi in the 2002 Classic, and if we go WAY back, how about Upset over the great Man O War? All ran the best raceS of their careers on the right day).

A series of races in the fall, in my opinion, would hold so much more weight in determining a champion, and instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, why not take three existing races, with history already on their side, and turn them into a 3 month, three race, three track event? You can have one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast, and one right in the middle, to be fair. Horses would stay in training through the fall, races on which the sport built its reputation will once again see high caliber fields, excuses can't be made for all 3 races, and the fans will benefit from multiple showdowns of the best in the sport. The international flavor may be compromised, but honestly, the event really is more of a North American championship than a world chamionship anyway (Sea the Stars, Zarkava and Vodka seem to think so anyways).

The concept of a Championship event is nice, and shouldn't be chalked up to "just another race." But as long as it is a one race show, it will continue to be a breeding ground (pun totally intended) for excuses, accusations, and subsequent controversy, especially now that a new surface has been added to the mix.

30 Jan 2010 6:30 PM


A good example of my point would be a horse like Evita Argentina. Let's assume all her competitors, including Evita, are primed for their best. The less the "speed duel" up fromt, the less likely for fast initial and middle fractions. If Evita lays back, as is her custom, what happens up front will have little or no effect on what will be her final time, but it could bare greatly on her final finishing position; i.e. because she's a confirmed closer her comfort zone fractions during the race will essentially remain unchanged from race to race (assuming her condition, etc. is identical from race to race). Yes, traffic is a variable with these types, but it's only this variable that can impact on the "hardness" of the race for the Evita Agentina-types. Same cannot be said for front-runner-types, and even some stalkers. So, all else equal, I would say that the confirmed closers do generally have it a bit easier. There are, however, that rarer group that allow themselves to be positioned according to their rider's want-too fast a pace and they'll obligingly permit being layed off, too slow a pace and they'll stalk closer or take the lead. They are the ideal-tend to lose less position, and avoid stretch traffic-these types do have the "easiest" race.      

30 Jan 2010 7:58 PM

Sceptre- I really don't want to get into  debate.  I'm sorry I brought it up.  I'm just tired of people saying that closers only run the last part of the race.  They all would be 50 lengths behind before they started their run if they did that.  If you want to say they have an easier race, that's fine.  I've seen enough of them breathing very hard at the end of their race to know how much energy they exerted.  I think it evens out in the end.  You don't. That's fine.

30 Jan 2010 11:00 PM

Lil Darlin- they had a championship series, and it was a series of handicaps and then weight for age races from summer through fall.  If horses would run in them they would use them.  But they don't run in handicaps anymore, and you saw what the weight for age fields were like this year.  As far as Sea the Stars, his people would have only considered the BC if he had lost the Arc. The Aga Khan has sent horses in the past, but always planned to end her career with the Arc, because he knew she would win.  And Vodka's connections didn't seem to ever be interested in the US.  Even in the breeding shed, as she is booked to Sea the Stars after the Dubai Cup.

30 Jan 2010 11:07 PM

sceptre- sorry I jumped down your throat a little.  We all have different opinions.  I do agree that the tractable stalker type does have the "easiest" of the three and is least affected by pace.  Sorry again.  

30 Jan 2010 11:10 PM


    Hello, everything is fine, I've just been a little busy. I still stop by and watch the bickering, I just got tired of commenting on it. IMO, I have a favorite, but both horses are fantastic. I would actually say midpack horse have it best. They would probably encounter some traffic problems, but not as many as a closer, plus they have the jump on closers. Also, unlike stalkers, they get to sit further off a fast pace the could cook the stalkers that run too close.

I hope all is going well with you too, I enjoy reading your posts.

31 Jan 2010 9:04 AM

We would not even be having this conversation  if the Breeder's Cup was anywhere else but Santa Anita last year. Was there ever a reason publicaly stated about just WHY this happened? And please don't say the owners and trainers had anything to do with it, most of them dislike the surface there. TWO years in a row, at the same track? On the same surface? This is the only reason that Zenyatta stayed on the West Coast, to prepare for the big day. This year will be different and will without a doubt, quiet all her critics.But if the Cup had rotated , like in all years past, the outcome would have been entirely different.And if the BC officials decide on just one location from now on,( which would be a disaster, but) they better choose a central location, otherwise they can kiss the prestige of the Cup , goodbye.

31 Jan 2010 9:21 AM


    If MTB runs so well over pro-ride then why was were his best finish a sixth? The time he ran on the pro-ride before that he finished dead last. Also, just wondering where did he finish in the Classic? Oh, up the track.

31 Jan 2010 10:18 AM

Pam S., you summed it up when you said "and a schedule would be plotted that would culminate, hopefully,  in the BC race of choice"

...hopefully, being the key word.

PS The BC's being held in the East this year, along with all those other "old" what do you do?


31 Jan 2010 10:32 AM

I guess all of you clamoring for the BC races as the determining factor for year end honors think Dancing In Silks should have been voted champion sprinter then?

Come on.  It is one race.

I do think it should be viewed as slightly more important because it is the only time outside of the TC races that East and West coast horses usually meet, but it is one race.

And the synthetics the last two years ruined the races anyway.  The American HOY has been, from the inception of the award, the best DIRT horse.  

The BCC had only three legitimate dirt horses in the entire field, and one scratched at the gate.

In the end it came down to Oaks, Preakness, Haskell, Woodward trumping the BCC.  The better campaign won.

31 Jan 2010 11:36 AM

Pam S., Owners can be the biggest obstacle to a trainer at times.  The owner gets into a fever over certain races to the disadvatage of the horse.  Since horses develope at differing rates many trainers are wise to wait and not be pressured by an owner.  After all, the owner pays for the best care so why do they sometimes have the need to push things too early?  There are many reasons but none very logical.  Many horses have not gone to the Derby and many of those have been allowed to grow and have become great handicap horses.  It still amazes me that the Jockey Club Gold Cup was cut back in distance as so many other races have been.  We have so many potentially good two and three year olds each year that are injured because they are pushed too hard.  Sure an injury can happen anytime but why invite it with "speed, and more speed". Money has infected the sport.  And don't forget that some owners just want the prestige of being able to say, "Yes, I have run a horse in the Derby."

I did not intend for the Breeder's Cup to be discontinued.  However, the Eclipse Awards should be for horses who ran most of their races in the USA.  Canada has its awards and we supposedly have ours.  Frankly, the whole award system has become to0 political.  The stubborness the voters had this year by not giving a dual HOY award was demeaning to the sport.  Both filly and mare should have received the honor.  They both accomplished  feats that have not been seen in many years if ever.  

Also, all of you need to remember that match racing is going to be pushed by many but it is a dangerous event when you put two very competitive horses together.  I saw Ruffian break down and will never forget it.

May all the horses we follow from the $5,000 claimer to the Grade I runner have safe and healthy trips all year.  

31 Jan 2010 12:39 PM

With all of the bickering about HOTY and running or not running in the Breeders Cup it makes me think of the old argument for a "Point System".

7 points for a Grade I win.

4 points for a Grade II win.


1 point for a Grade III win.

Or something along those lines.

It would also take out any Corruption or Favoritism among the Voters.

With a "Point System" there really could be "NO" dispute about who really deserves HOTY honors.

And "IF" there ever was a Tie in total points, then all Ties go back to the Breeders Cup points placings.

31 Jan 2010 4:58 PM
Pam S.

j.sloane, I think we're largely in agreement.  I'm sure trainers have started many horses in the Derby when they didn't really want to, but were bowing to the wishes of the owner.  No doubt the BC too.  Just sayin', if your horse is healthy and more or less belongs in the BC race in question, then make that the goal and schedule the horse's season accordingly so he/she is ready to run in November, and "hopefully" not knocked out.  Every owner doesn't have a Rachel or a Zenyatta, but if they don't take a shot, small fields in big races will get even smaller.

I also agree the Eclipse people could adopt the Canadian rule so no horse with only one U.S. start could win an award.  But since they haven't done that yet, Goldikova was the best choice for champion turf female.

I don't want any match races either, and I don't think there will be any.  Just another example of how racing has changed.

And Rachel, technically this year's BC is being held in the Midwest, or in a border state if you want to call it that.  It's not the East Coast.  I won't attend because I'm too far away, but I'll get all excited over it, watch it and wager some, just like every year.  I always look forward to the Cup.  I think moving it around to different parts of the country surely has created some new fans.  Not boatloads of them, but some.

31 Jan 2010 5:51 PM
David R

Dan makes a decent argument about the Breeders' Cup not being a "World Championship" even. However, he is way off when he write that a Breeders' Cup race should weigh equally with all other races. Nonsense. The field that Zenyatta beat in the Breeders' Cup Classic had over 10 Grade I winners in it. The quality of that field was much more talented than all of the fields combined that Rachel Alexandra faced in 2009. If Rachel had run in the BC Classic she would have been in a photo for third.

31 Jan 2010 9:14 PM

Pam S- that is true.  If you have a horse that belongs in the BC, please run them.  I don't see anything wrong with giving a Euro an Eclipse if that horse was heads above the rest.  I don't think any Euro has gotten the award that didn't deserve it.  I defy anybody to name a turf filly who was better than Goldikova.  I alwaays look forward to the Cup too.

01 Feb 2010 12:22 AM

j.sloane0087- If a horse proves in one race that they are totally superior to anything that ran during the year, why would you have a problem with that horse being the Eclipse winner?  It makes no sense to vote a lesser horse the Eclipse winner, even if Canada would.  Shouldn't the best horse win the award?  That's what I always thought.

01 Feb 2010 12:30 AM
Fire Slam

I feel law makers in California who mandated Cali tracks install synthetics, and the BC folks are to blame.

Santa Ania shouldn't have hosted the BC two years straight. Now SA is going back to dirt.

Its not the connections of the horses fault. Zens camp stayed in California and won race after race. Why ship and stress the horse? They did right by her. Same for RA. Why run her on a surface she is not use to running on? Her connections kept her on dirt, and kept winning.

Blame this lost match up on none other then human error.

01 Feb 2010 12:52 PM

The problem is with the structure of racing today, as you point out racing is not like the NBA, Baseball or the NFL, and this is the problem. The Super Bowl is like a national holiday, NBA players make millions of dollars a year and the LA Dodgers draw 30,000 fans for a Thursday night game in June while horse racing is barely surviving. How popular would these other sports be if they were run like racing, if the Celtics never played the Lakers or if the Colts were undefeated after the regular season and they decided they had done enough and skipped the Super Bowl? Racing must have a way of determining championships on the track. This is the reason the Breeders Cup was created, now it needs to be modified. I have heard Jess Jackson talk about a league for racing, I don't know exactly what he has in mind, but we should have a series of races leading up the Breeders Cup, with the champions of each division determined by some point system based on results from these races and the Breeders Cup.

  Look at the one bright spot in racing today, the Triple Crown races and specifically the Kentucky Derby. Most owners, trainer, jockeys and fans would say that the Derby is the one race everyone wants to win, but the Kentucky Derby was not always a great race, back in the early days the New York owners refused to send horses out for the Derby, Man O War didn't run in the Derby because his owner didn't like "Western Racing" and thought that the Derby was just another race. Later Churchill Downs management persuaded the eastern owners to send their best horses and that was what made the Derby the greatest race, it is not the Mint Julips, the hats or My Old Kentucky Home that makes the Derby great, it is the horses. We need something like this for all divisions in racing. A race or series of races that draws the best horses from all over the country, the best sprinters, milers, grass horses to determine who is the champion on the track.

01 Feb 2010 2:52 PM

All this talk about the BC is missing the point IMO.I was led to believe the Eclipse Awards are based on horses who had at least one start in the U.S..Singspiel was awarded an Eclipse in 1996 and never raced in the U.S. and only won one race in CANADA.Diplomat Jet won 3 G1'S on the turf in the U.S.and lost out to Singpiel.It is time to come up with a system people can understand and appreciate instead people with personal agendas doing the voting.

01 Feb 2010 5:51 PM


"The American HOY has been, from the inception of the award, the best DIRT horse"

REALLY? then how do we define JOHN HENRY who beat the best dirt and TURF horses for generations? SHOY?


Let's be honest here. John Henry odds of beating CIGAR on DIRT is probably around even money but CIGAR beating John Henry on TURF is a LONGSHOT!

01 Feb 2010 6:42 PM

Some interesting blogs.  One note of historical relevance....The Kentucky Derby and The Preakness were run on the same day in 1920.  His owner preferred the Preakness as he was eastern based.

As for the BC races and HOTY.  I agree with those who wanted co-champions which has happened in the past (before Eclipse Awards were given out).  My other thoughts which I've shared with Bloodhorse before is the downgrading of the importance of the Jockey Club Gold Cup and its reduction in distance.  A top horse could win the Jockey Club at 2 miles; today it is really just a shell of its former importance.  And the BC Marathon is a joke in distance.  But why run more than 10 furlongs when the purse is high and nothing comes close monetarily at longer distances?

As for one race deciding a title.  I find that ridiculous.  If I have a top horse and I race that horse just once during the year and win should I get a title?  I don't think so; but we tend to view the BC as deciding our champions.  Throw out the year long accomplishments.  As I view 2009 I have to look at the whole year not just one race; nor just what happens in summer and fall.

I would like to see The Washington International come back as a prestigious race; but not as a prelude to the Breeder's Cup; but as a stand alone race such as the Arlington Million.  The Pimlico Futurity and Selima are two races I also have missed.

One thought in voting for Eclipse Awards is to evenly divide where the voters reside or where their work is based...cut out East/West bias.  

I'll just look ahead to this spring and see what develops.  

01 Feb 2010 11:08 PM

Many of the posts have been a bit off (initial) topic, and I confess the same for what I now would like to add- Some here have disparaged the synthetics, and I've read only one post that offered some defence. It seems that the non-participation of RA in the BC and the subsequent debate over HOY has further fanned the flames. So, allow me to request that synthetic bashers ask themselves one question-answer honestly to yourselves.- In your heart of hearts would you have preferred that the catastrophic injury stats for dirt vs synthetic been no different? Rememeber, answer honestly this question to yourself...Synthetics aren't perfect, at best they're a work in progress. They may not be the best solution, but the results as a whole have been somewhat encouraging. Yes, there are many types of synthetics and some play differently, as do many dirt tracks. Some claim that dirt tracks, if managed (more) properly can be the equal in safety to synthetics. There is no retrospective proof of this. I don't blame the BC committee for allowing the BC to be held at SA two yrs. in a row. As I recall, there were no catastophic breakdowns these past two Breeders Cups. One thing is absolutely certain; Racing needs to better protect the racehorses, and if altering track surfaces will help, this must be done. Change often impacts negatively on tradition, the transition period is particularly difficult for those of us who tend to define ourselves so closely to this sport. Please step back for a minute, though, and recall why synthetics were introduced-particularly in Calif. where the previous breakdown rate was so high. Many express elation that Santa Anita may return to dirt. Are you also willing to accept their prior breakdown rate? This sport was severely flawed for many years, probably from its inception. Until recently many of its flaws went overlooked. Yes, we can selfishly return to those days-then in many ways we could enjoy racing more-at least until we return our focus to its dark side. Lastly, most were elated that Zenyatta will return, moreso because of her owners' intention to have he compete more frequently on regular dirt. She is, however, a filly that has trained and raced predominantly on synthetic. Why has no one (particularly those who profess to adore her) expressed concern about how this could affect her future well-being? Yes, she has an able, smart trainer, but the advent of synthetics is relatively new-how much experience can he have with such a situation as this?      

02 Feb 2010 1:02 AM

sceptre- great post.

02 Feb 2010 10:55 AM
Pam S.

sceptre, I agree, great post.  I have never understood all the bitterness and outrage over the Calif. synthetic tracks.  (Especially while synthetic tracks elsewhere seem to draw little attention.)  It appears to be rooted in Curlin's loss in the 2008 BC and Rachel's non-participation in the 2009 BC.  But as you said, both events were injury-free and in my book that counted for something.

I hadn't considered the risk that switching surfaces might pose to Zenyatta's well-being.  Like everyone else, I felt confident that her 2008 Apple Blossom win was proof she was "at home" on dirt.  But that was two years ago, and it seems right that you sound a note of caution.  But I have confidence in Team Zenyatta; they know their horse and they do what's best for her.

02 Feb 2010 11:42 AM

SCEPTRE: Zenyatta's trainer has stated that SHE LOVES DIRT and only tolerates synthetic. Besides, this powerful mare is so solidly put together that any real handicapper/horsemen who watches her after each race will realize that her races were basically workouts. Just looked at her after the classic! Ears still perked, light on her feet and very alert. Now compare that to Rachel after the Woodward where she was gingerly walked to the winners circle, a picture of a worn out filly who basically peaks at 8 furlongs. Zenyatta is a brute of a horse and build like a tank. I would like to see how close she can come to Secretariat's time in the Belmont at 12 furlongs. So, don't worry about Zenyatta on dirt, Sherieffs has done a great job on scheduling her races.

02 Feb 2010 12:47 PM

David R:

The Breeder's Cup is ONE race, and it is not the defacto championship race. It has not been for years.

I love the Lil Darlin's idea of a summer-fall championship series, to be run on 5-6 different tracks in the country, ala Nascar, with an Eclipse Award and a big-fat bonus check to the winner.  

Details would need to be worked out, but it could motivate owners and trainers to ship horses around the country, and it could create a play-off atmosphere and a grand finale to the horse racing season in the US.

IMO, it would definiteky be better than deciding championships based on the results of one SINGLE race, on one specific surface, or based on popularity or regional voting.

I'd like to read your opinions on the matter.

02 Feb 2010 5:27 PM

Dear Charles,

Your remarks about Zenyatta's looks, and what you peceived as relatively effortless performances have no bearing on the risks involved in switching her from sythetic to dirt. It's all about what you can't see-her bones may be  modeled essentially for synthetic, not dirt. I'm not privy to her training regimen, so let's hope she trains on a fair amount of dirt. I do know that at facilities which have both, the horses routinely alternate, even if the race day surface is one or the other. I'm fairly sure that her connections are aware of this issue, but only they know what risks they're willing to take with her. Let's face it, they chose to bring her back at six; for me not very positive evidence that Zenyatta's well being came first. I remain skeptical and concerned...Recall, if you will, Arazi's lone tour de force dirt performance; he was never the same again.      

02 Feb 2010 5:37 PM

There is no scientific evidence on whether synth tracks are actually safer than a well-kept dirt track.

There are other facts that have not been taken into consideration regarding breakdowns in the BC.

Horsemen, jockeys & trainers sometimes push the envelope with horses that are less than 100%, and medication sometimes masks pain and other problems. Official Vets sometimes turn the other way to allow a less-than fit horse to run. How often do you hear a trainer saying "this horse might need a race"? Doesn't that increase the likelihood of a breakdown?

Track superintendants make tracks lightning-fast in order to record fantastic times that would create buzz after a particular race. We all know this goes on.

Horse safety depends on everybody involved doing their jobs correctly, not just on whether the track is made of dirt or something else.

02 Feb 2010 5:43 PM


FYI: Horses also breakdown during workouts.

By the way, the bigger the animal, the more likely it is to sustain injury, because of the weight and impact on its extremities.

Just thought you should know.

02 Feb 2010 5:46 PM


You people are making a big deal out of nothing. First of, IMO breakdowns occur more often on horses that are drugged. That's one issue that should be PENALIZED TO THE HILT. Second, if you people are going to nitpick everything, LETS JUST SHUT THIS INDUSTRY DOWN. ANY HORSE AT ANY TIME can break a leg even while walking, so spare me your PETA BS. Zenyatta was so big that they waited for her to mature and didn't race her till she was almost 4. That tells me her well being is foremost to Sheriffs/Moss. BTW don't compare Azeri to Zenyatta. Azeri like Rachel puts a lot of pressure on themselves when they run while Zenyatta relaxes. If you watch Zenyatta's powerful kick, she glides and reaches out horizontally NOT VERTICALLY. That is why besides being huge, she covers so much ground effortlessly and thus less pressure but her weight in deep surface is a disadvantage thus the scratch at an off-track. IMO Rachel is more of a risk because she tend to give it all even though she is very tired. Look how her subsequent Q's are slower specially at the finish 25-26 range. Rachel looks impressive only against the fillies not because she is really kicking it at the end but because the other fillies are dying so bad. Compare that to Zenyatta who can run a sub 22 last Q after running a mile and you can tell which horse is really being pushed hard and which horse is stronger. Let's just hope they both have a very safe campaign in 2010 and I for one wouldn't race Rachel against Zenyatta. That is one race that Rachel can never win and it has nothing to do with the 'plastic'. Jackson did the right thing in skipping the Breeders. It wouldn't have mattered if it were on dirt.

BTW LEON, read this

03 Feb 2010 11:27 AM

I have attended five Breeders Cups, and plan to attend this year in Louisville.  I enjoy seeing the quality of horses, but agree that th two day card is not world championships.

03 Feb 2010 2:16 PM

Oy. Here we go again. I thought this argument was dead.

Don't get me wrong - I love Zenyatta and was bitterly disappointed when she didn't win HOTY in 08. On the other hand, while I think her BCC was awesome, so was RA's entire season. I was thrilled to hear both were coming back in '10.

As for the Breeder's Cup deciding, Arcangues, Volponi, Skywalker, Cat Thief, all should have won HOTY? Based on their victories in the BCC? When there were better horses out there that year, who for some reason didn't fire or run their race? As for RA not being undefeated (career, not year), remember this: EVEN SECRETARIAT AND MAN O' WAR LOST! Those two greats, rated one and two by the Blood Horse, did not retire undefeated.

Time to let it go and look forward to 2010.

03 Feb 2010 6:51 PM

Charles- It wasn't easy, but I tried to respond to your earlier posts as politely as possible. In truth, if this was only a one-on-one (just the two of us), I would have bowed out, because attempting to change one uninformed mind isn't worth the effort. Many here, however, have been exposed to your thoughts, so for them I feel obliged to respond...It's rather clear to me that your perspective on these subjects is rather limited and, may I suggest, somewhat warped. -As an aside, I very much hope that you have no involvement with the ownership of horses...Your comments about breakdowns are patently absurd and not worthy of explanation. I've already tried to describe why I have concern for Zenyatta-the polytrack vs dirt issue-which you appear to overlook in your verbose remarks. Lastly, it was rather telling when you substituted AZERI for ARAZI in addressing my example of one who may have been the worse for wear after having competed at a high level over, in this case, dirt vs turf previously. This would suggest that your experience is limited to the degree of having no awareness of Breeder' Cup Juvenile winner, etc., ARAZI. I'd suggest that you refrain from pontificating, and instead keep a more open mind as you hopefully continue to read, watch, and learn. Your words too easily feed into those with similar ignorance, or self-serving motive.        

04 Feb 2010 12:14 AM


I was under the impression that most horsemen, trainers & jockeys were very supportive of this switch, at least in California. What I gathered from the article, reading trainers' opinions, the concern from the Jockey Guild, and Mr. Shapiro's state of mind and personal nightmare after ordering such mandate, is that the new surfaces have not met expectations.

There is no evidence of what happens in the mornings with horses during training hours, and their multi-million expenditure decreased catastrophic injuries by a combined 37 horses in California; if each track spent $2M replacing surfaces, they spent $216,000 per saved horse. I'm sure

they would have been able to lower catastrophic injuries by other means with that kind of dough.

While we are all extremely happy about the 37 fewer catastrophic injuries, it still does not answer the question of whether these catastrophic injuries could have been avoided by stricter vet & medication controls, and by investing some of that money spent on synth tracks on studies on how to make dirt tracks safer, since everyone agrees synth tracks are a lot more expensive to keep, and they have failed to deliver what they promised. Were expectations too high? Obviously.

In terms of handle, Polytrack-user Turfway Park' handle for 2009 $58.6M, was flat with their 2006 handle ($58.5M), the first year of the Polytrack era, which I guess can be considered good under the present economic times; however, if we factor in 20% cumulative inflation the last 4 years, they can't be too happy about those numbers, especially when it is considered that avg purses for their last meet fell 14% compared to 2008 levels.  

According to the article, the majority of the Horse racing community has serious doubts about synth surfaces. So do I.

04 Feb 2010 9:47 AM

LEON, I don't know but this I know! Woodbine and Keeneland and a few others are very happy with their synthetic and their attendance and purse shows that. It's possible that SA just didn't install and maintain their synth correctly.

The other fact in life is putting in changes is hard to accept.

04 Feb 2010 3:34 PM
Ann in Lexington

Mike, you didn't read my post or understand it. The Breeders' Cup (so-called because it was funded by  breeders) was NOT created to be a year-end championship race or series of races. It was created to keep high-profile 3yo stallion prospects  from retiring before the fall.

If the Breeders's Cup was created to be a championship race, it would be invitational, to some extent - the top horses in each division would be invited to take part - and cheap no-hopers wouldn't be allowed to take part (look up the history of Rick's Natural Star). They wouldn't run things like a Futurity, or one of these mega-purse sales races to determine eligibility.

How race differs from the NFL or NBA is that there is no tournament where teams face one another and only the winner advances. It is more like NASCAR or golf. One might win Daytona or Augusta, but if one doesn't win anything else, or even perform with distinction in many other events, he/she doesn't end the year at the top driver, or golfer, or tennis player.

05 Feb 2010 10:41 AM


The 37 fewer catastrophic injuries was a combined number for ALL California tracks.

At an average of $216,000 per saved horse, it is a very steep price to pay for a track that does not meet expectations provided. Moreover, that number does not include the extra expenditures in maintenance & repairs.

All I'm saying is that, at least in California, the mandate was rushed, and they could have used funds smarter. I agree Woodbine has had a very succesful switch, but Arlington's numbers were down 3% in 2009, when compared to their last year with dirt, so all that expenditure did not help handle because of the economic climate.

Keeneland has always been a premier meet with fantastic handle & purses, and the weather hardly ever plays havoc with racing there. The only thing synth racing did for Keeneland was to render their most important race (the Blue Grass) totally irrelevant as a prep for the Ky Derby and the rest of the TC.

It is extremely important to protect horses, but I'm sure there are other means to achieve so than forking out a couple of mill for a surface switch that has not delivered in its promises.

06 Feb 2010 1:02 PM

Leon, no matter what synthetic if done right is better than dirt. SA problem is that they were done wrong! period. The Breeders cup being done there 2 years in a row didn't help the controversy and Rachel not running on it amplified it a lot more. LET'S BE HONEST HERE...THIS IS ABOUT DIRT BIASED TRADITIONALIST NOT LIKING SYNTHETIC! Anybody who really believes that Rachel has any chance of beating Zenyatta on any surface if both were in top form is in denial. HOTY or not.

08 Feb 2010 11:49 AM

Recent Posts

More Blogs