The Year That Was By Lenny Shulman

 (Originally published in the December 25, 2010 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.

By Lenny Shulman


After racing primarily in California in 2009, she crisscrossed the country in 2010 racing an ambitious schedule mandated by her owners and thrilling fans everywhere with her signature come-from-behind style.
Zenyatta? No, Blind Luck.

And so it went in 2010—plenty happening, but little of it going as planned.

The great Rachel Alexandra—Zenyatta face-off, hatched last January after Rachel had taken Horse of the Year honors and Zenyatta came out of retirement, was sweetened by a $5 million purse offer from Oaklawn Park and pushed by a demanding racing public. The race promised to save the sport and create nationwide interest but somehow still managed not to happen. Disastrous? No, bad luck.

After toiling in anonymity—at least outside the racing world—despite her brilliance and 19 consecutive victories, Zenyatta finally became a mainstream phenom when her story was told on the “60 Minutes” TV show. Millions of new fans got to jump on her bandwagon—right before her only defeat.

This year, racing was able to put the contentiousness of the 2009 Horse of the Year voting behind it—just in time for the contentiousness of the 2010 Horse of the Year voting.

Speaking of things not going as planned, Frank Stronach booted the Oak Tree racing meet out of Santa Anita, the only home it had known since its birth in 1969. After a four-hour racing board meeting Stronach finally agreed to change gears and host Oak Tree. A week later he decided to put a new racing surface in at Santa Anita and Oak Tree was once again shown the door, ultimately racing the dates at Hollywood Park, where it, too, toiled in anonymity.

Not to be outdone, New York took nearly a decade to begin building a slots parlor that had been approved in 2001. Even by contractors’ standards—and you can usually time their work with a calendar—this set a new benchmark for procrastination. But the hammers have been taken to nails and things are looking up in the Empire State, except for the demise of New York City’s offtrack betting network, which only threatens the existence of racing and breeding in the state.

New Jersey instituted an innovative, high-quality, high-purse race meeting at Monmouth Park that becomes the model of the future for jurisdictions everywhere. New Jersey then decided it wants nothing to do with racing, whacking it like a bit character in “The Sopranos.”
Are you beginning to see the yin and the yang of what’s been going on in 2010?

Keeneland instituted boutique night sessions at its September yearling sale that increased sizzle and commerce. By auction’s end, however, small- and medium-sized breeders were spending their days wondering why they couldn’t sell horses at a profit.

Thanks to the federal stimulus package, banks once again had plenty of money. In fact, they still do, since they’ve decided not to loan it to anyone, certainly not to anyone in the horse industry.

We had “Jockeys” on Animal Planet; “Secretariat” in movie theaters; Zenyatta on CBS; we’ve got “Luck” coming out on HBO soon, and yet we have no idea whether the Preakness or Belmont Stakes (both gr. I) will be on TV.

In fact, we have no idea where the Preakness will be run.

Young titans Kevin Plank of Under Armour, Mike Repole of VitaminWater, and chef Bobby Flay all won Breeders’ Cup races this year, heralding a new era in horse ownership. None are eligible for Social Security.

Churchill Downs decided to make a splash by entering the rock music festival business this year. Soaked, Churchill Downs decided to exit the rock music festival business this year.

Goldikova, the great French mare, became the first horse to capture three Breeders’ Cup victories and will be kept in training to go for a fourth. Rachel Alexandra, the great American filly, became the first Horse of the Year to be retired mid-season for absolutely no reason.

Innovative horsemen work for months seeking to develop a new financial model for the sport that will raise all boats. The plan is harpooned by a sea of self-interest.

It is finally over for 2010. We look forward to 2011.

62 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Mike Relva

MR SHULMAN

While I admire your knowledge on racing, admire even more your great devotion to Zenyatta and the fact,unlike some writers you and Mr Haskin know a great mare when she comes along. I love Zenyatta as much as a fan can that doesn't actually own her. I've followed her from the beginning.  People like Andy Beyer and others' have an axe to grind. They can get back to me when a horse comes along that runs up a 19-1 score and nearly beats the tidal wave back in the last race of her career.

21 Dec 2010 6:32 PM
txhorsefan

I think you nailed it, Lenny! Much of what you have written would be very funny, if it wasn't so sad.  As you said, now we look forward to 2011 and hope it is a better year.  Thanks for sharing your unique point of view.

21 Dec 2010 6:41 PM
Carole

Thank you, Blood-Horse for the wonderful video of Zenyatta running free and visiting once again with her devoted family at Lane's End.  A joyous, magical gift!

21 Dec 2010 6:52 PM
annie

Yes, it's true!

21 Dec 2010 8:28 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Lenny,

What a great recap of the year in racing.  You said a "key" phrase here "a sea of self-interest", which is driving the downward spiral of the industry.  Your article echoed the closing argument that Abigail Anderson just made about the industry in her response to Steve's "I Lied" article.  Horsemen and breeders (Rob Whiteley's "A Modest Proposal") write solutions and suggestions only to fall on deaf ears.  There should be meetings with key representatives from each faction of the industry to implement change for the good of the sport, not themselves.  No one is on the same page, owners apparently have little voice, trainers have to defend themselves, put in polytrack and then rip it out, lack of tv and media coverage and the virtual non-existence of marketing, and it goes on and on and on.  What about talk of a Commissioner of the NTRA? Heck, Larry Jones all but did that himself and thank God he is back.  Mainstream America has no idea on what channel to watch a race, ABC? NBC? ESPN? ESPN2? TVG? MSG+? HRTV? Zenyatta should have been a household name 2 years prior to this last Classic.  At least the "Jockeys" show got horses and jockeys names out there and was well done.  If the downward spiral continues in this vein, the sport will become only for the ultra rich.  And isn't the fan the prospective owner, doesn't it all start with the fan who can aspire to become part of the industry?  At the core of the horse industry lies the fan and the horse, the two key elements that need to be nurtured and connected for its success.  Now you explained why Dublin veered right out of the gate at this past Preakness, he didn't know if he was at the correct track!!!!!  You write very well Lenny, like Steve.  Your article was kind of a satirical commentary on the year and state of affairs in the industry but it is so "spot on."  I always enjoy the "And They're Off" segments, so funny and informative as well.  In Steve's blog we were all animating the horses at Lane's End and giving them voices in barn conversations.

I had A.P. Indy defending himself as top candidate for Zenyatta's suitor, and A.P. said, "But Lenny Shulman says I am the MAN!" I know how you love A.P.!  Thanks for the article, keep influencing the powers that can implement change.

21 Dec 2010 8:30 PM
John T

 After the race at Oaklawn park took place without Rachel Alexandra

and Zenyatta participating there just seemed like a domino effect of the two ever meeting.

On 2011 one of the big stories

could be about the Preakness if racing in Maryland does not get sorted out soon.

On a much brighter note I thought

there was a better abundance of 2 year olds to look forward to in 2011.

21 Dec 2010 9:02 PM
Alex'sBigFan

The "new" NTRA, or at least as I see it.  Any additions/changes are welcome!  Supposed to be for fun but some of these people would really be dynamic!

Commissioner NTRA:  Rob Whiteley, Liberation Farm (breeder)

V.P. & G.M.:  ?

NTRA Industry Spokesman:  Larry Jones

NTRA Poster Boy/Girl:  Zenyatta

Sr. V.P. Public Relations:  Steve Haskin

V.P. Public Relations:  Lenny Shulman

V.P. Owner's Association West:  Jerry Moss / Ann Moss

V.P. Owner's Associaton East:  Mike Iavaronne

Director Marketing/Creative:

Don Draper!!! ("Mad Men")

Marketing staff:  All Steve Haskin's Bloggers

President Jockey Club:  Mike Smith

Operations & Logistics Manager:

Tex Sutton

Co-Presidents Trainer's Association West:  John Shireffs / Bob Baffert

Co-Presidents Trainer's Associaton East:  Todd Pletcher / Mike Matz

Advertising Models:  Bo Derek & Zenyatta

V.P. International Sales & Finance:  Sheikh Mohammad

Race Coverage TV personalities:  Todd Schrupp, Jerry Bailey, Christina Olivares

V.P. Domestic Sales & Finance:  ?

Farm President:  ?

Director Human Resources:  ?

Director Equine Resources:  Zenyatta

21 Dec 2010 10:46 PM
Freetex

Well you wrapped up 2010 tight and without any bows.

Isn't it just pitiful?

I always enjoy your commentary and straight talk.

22 Dec 2010 12:55 AM
Deacon

Maybe Lenny you could throw in the Life at Ten debacle as well, and I might add that Churchill Downs hosting breeders cup races just doesn't do it for me. CD is legendary for the Kentucky Derby, the breeders cup just doesn't fit. I couldn't agree more with your words. One day the hater's of the big mare will get down on their knees and pray that a horse such as Big Z comes along again that  in the future may save racing. It's guys like you and Mr. Haskin that breathe a fresh air into this sport........Let;s just ask this question, what did we really learn this year?

22 Dec 2010 2:22 AM
Bellwether

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT...WHAT ABOUT "THE LIFE AT TEN" DEAL???...COVER UP???...THREE SLAPS ACROSS THE CHOPS FORE OUR OBSCURE NATIONAL TREASURE..."THE HORSES","THE GAMBLER$" & "THE OWNERS"...LONG LIVE THE KING!!!..anyway...ty...

22 Dec 2010 5:06 AM
Dray

Mr. Shulman, did you happen to get a chance to call out the connections of the “great” mare for running the exact same, “we are focused on beating Pepper’s Pride” campaign for the 3rd straight year. That was a huge part of the void that was felt in horse racing, its hard to appreciate a horse that runs in southern california 16 out of 20 times.  Proving greatness was never part of the equation with these people.  Otherwise races like the Stephen Foster, Personal Ensign, Beldame or JCGC might have actually been in the thought process.  Do you remember the statements “we will campaign differently, and show her off to the rest of her fans” or what about "if the Breeders cup was on dirt we would prep on dirt", interesting, the BC was on dirt this year, where did they prep. when making these statements in early January, it never struck me that they would be referring to November and December after she was retired and at the farm (Lane’s End).

Its pretty awful that she was pitted against overmatched fillies in the majority of her races, running against 0 grade 1 winners in 2010 and 1 Grade 1 winning filly in 2009 give indication as to what Jerry Moss and John Sheriffs was trying to accomplish.  It was never about proving she was better than Personal Ensign, who DID retire undefeated, it wasn’t about proving she was even the best horse in California, because you actually have to run in the best races in a state to be called the best in the state.  Ducking the SA Handicap, HWGC, Pac Classic and the worst duck of all, choosing the Lady’s Secret carded 2 races earlier than the Goodwood.  Considering her owner came out and said we want to run 9 furlong races, why would they duck the 9 furlong Goodwood to run in the 8.5 furlong LS, a distance that certainly wasn’t close to her best?  The connections baffle me, and the Crazed fans who feel that these people can do no wrong are really what seem to be confusing.  You all settled for whatever ho hum campaign Moss pieced together to beat Pepper’s Pride of all the horses out there, and then failed to do that, passing up on Grade 1 quality races in your home state with purse structures from 500k-$1 million, to run in allowance quality f/m restricted races with purse structures from $150k-$300k shows a lack of faith in her ability to handle a quality campaign or maybe they just knew the results of the BC would have happened numerous times to her in her career if pitted against tougher.

Also Mr. Shulman, you have a great deal of critique and certainly seem to have an ax to grind against Jess Jackson, what are your thoughts on a “Trainer” coming out before the biggest race, the most important race in the U.S. a race that many stated since the big 4 were running in the race and if 1 won it would certainly solidify HOY.  What are your thoughts about the trainer of aforementioned horse coming out and saying that the horse is deserving of HOY even before the running of the race no matter the outcome.  Do you find this classy Mr. Shulman, and can you name for me 3 trainers that have been bold enough to come out and make a statement of that nature. Also could you imagine the backlash if Steve Asmussen was to come out and make that type of statement.

Last of all let me add that I was appalled at the thought process that 2 people that are considered industry professionals could make a statement that a trainer with less than 20 wins (I believe the number is 14) ranked 30th in earnings and ranked 99th I believe in the trainer standings should be in consideration for eclipse award trainer.  That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, do you actually think about what is said before you say it, you lose credibility when you make statements like that.  Im just saying.

22 Dec 2010 9:42 AM
The Rock

Alex'sBigfan,

You wrote: "Race Coverage TV personalities:  Todd Schrupp, Jerry Bailey, Christina Olivares"

Yikes, where's the remote! lol. I'd go with Laffit Pincay Jr, Ron Ellis & Kurt Hoover. If I hear Schrupp mention "America's horse racing network, TVG" again, i might have to smash my tv. Jerry Bailey has a wealth of knowledge, but he shouldn't be conducting the follow up interviews. Christina O: I don't mind the eye candy, so maybe she can do a paddock roundup.

Laffit has great delivery as a host. The best I've seen so far between HRTV & TVG. With Ron Ellis you have the trainer's perspective, and he's pretty spot on with his picks. Kurt Hoover will give the handciapping perspective on the races.

Alternates: Simon Bray, Scott Hazelton, Matt Carothers. (Carothers & Hoover perform very well together during the run up to the Breeders Cup races).

22 Dec 2010 10:28 AM
tbracer

The medium and small breeders only got one sentence, but it is a deeply disturbing one.  We small folk dont have any say as to stud fee "deals", prices, fees, etc.  Making expenses has become almost impossible, forget making a profit.  The big boys still make their money, charging excessive interest and litigating rather that work with those of us who have been crushed by the inability to sell anything.

I truly pity any new owners that dont have vast resources.  The big industry guys make the rules and their only concern is to get all your money and then move on to the next poor sap.  This is no longer a business for people who love horses.

22 Dec 2010 10:57 AM
Dave

Mike, I think it goes both ways. There have been a lot of people hating the horses (Zen, Rach etc) for their own feeling stupid reasons. Liek I keep saying they all should be respected. They went/go out everytime to try to entertain us, we should appreciate that.

22 Dec 2010 11:24 AM
fb0252

i'd like to know Mr. Shulman'thoughts why horse racing fails to advertise on the internet.

22 Dec 2010 12:38 PM
nmh

speaking of Life at Ten what has

become of her... is she ok?  will

she race again...she just seems to

have disappeared  

22 Dec 2010 1:11 PM
Mike Relva

DAVE

Agreed! I greatly respect RA,it's her connections that draw my disdain. You see what a classic example compared to Zenyatta's camp that ALWAYS placed her first. RA deserved to end her career on a high note instead of connections draining the tank last year cause of greed.

22 Dec 2010 4:13 PM
Rowner

Very Very Funny but it is also so so SAD!!!Life at Ten debacle should be mentioned as a final black eye for 2010. Its pretty bad when the main stream media thinks the best story at The Breeders Cup was a fight between two jockeys. What to do, what to do??? I am not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel for the future of 2011.

22 Dec 2010 6:10 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Deacon,

I did not like the BC at Churchill either, especially the Classic run under the lights.  It gave an eery, surreal effect to it.  I liked it much more at Santa Anita, but now there's a Santa Anita with dirt!  Monmouth did a great job with the BC.  I attended it.  Monmouth had to deal with a deluge of rain for 4 days prior to the BC and they handled it exceptionally well.  Unfortunately, GW's demise happened in the Classic, but GW probably should not have been entered in that particular race. Then the BC was yanked right out of NJ, looking like never to return any time soon.  

The Rock,

Ok!  We will go with your TV personalities, good choices.  We can keep Jerry Bailey and Gary Stevens for their hands-on expertise.

Lenny's article too should be mandatory reading along with Abigail Anderson's for the entire industry.  What great "wake up calls" for action.  It was lovely to see the video of Zenyatta frolicking in the snow and bucking and kicking.  She looks happy enough and is certainly showing a true champion can run on any surface, even snow (or the frozen tundra as I like to call it).  When the video showed her and Mario that's when I lost it and the tears just flowed.  I hope she gets to see Mario often for I feel that is who she loves most of all.

Thanks to the Mosses, Lane's End, Bloodhorse, Steve, Lenny, fellow bloggers for all of these wonderful posts.  Happy Holidays to all.

22 Dec 2010 8:47 PM
Merry

OMG - get rid on "the Hammer" on any race on TV - as dated as Howard Cosell and his toupee.

22 Dec 2010 9:29 PM
sentinel

Your view of the racing industry is jaundiced but then so is the whole sport - an accurate view.

I loved your article about Pat Valenzuela.  Surely a jockey of his superlative talent will fight off his demons this time. We're all rooting for him.

22 Dec 2010 10:15 PM
skyfire

IMO, TVG is horrible.  HRTV with Pincay, Stevens, Jeff S., John White etc. far and away the best racing on TV.

Wow, Dray, that is your most lucid post ever.  I feel that Z underachieved because of the campaign.  I  still believe she should have raced in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga and that starts on dirt probably would have led to a clear Z victory in the BC.  As a parent, I do not want my child to underachieve.  I don't think it is praiseworthy at any level.

22 Dec 2010 10:58 PM
Bellwether

nmh...SHES UNDER THE RUG...THE POWERS THAT BEE N KENTUCKY R RITE N A NOVEL...MERRY XMA$!!!...ty...

23 Dec 2010 4:00 AM
Rachel

We appreciate you, Lenny! Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

23 Dec 2010 11:23 AM
nmh

bellwether... i just want to know

if she is all right., is she a

sound and healthy horse..,, that

should be an easy ? for her people

to answer...

23 Dec 2010 1:45 PM
Mike Relva

DRAY

First I don't believe Lenny HAS A AXE TO GRIND W/ RA's CONNECTIONS! You seriously show a lack of respect for Zenyatta and others'. She beat your QR(Take QR to the bank) didn't she. As many losses as you've had,do you think anyone really takes you seriously? It's a major joke when you call yourself a fan!

23 Dec 2010 3:52 PM
Mike Relva

SKYFIRE

I think we've got your views already. It changes nothing when writers like Bill Nack,Steve Haskin and many others,including HOF trainers that believe otherwise. Let's see next year if the ratings for the Breeders Cup triples like last month. The great Jack Van Berg stated it best when he said" I don't see anyone coming to see Blame". I'll bet you that these individuals I mentioned have far more weight with opinion than you,Dray and others that refuse to admit what a truly great horse Zenyatta really is! BTW how's your football team doing? lol

23 Dec 2010 4:02 PM
Bailey

Uncle Mo will be 2011's way of bringing racing back to the spotlight, he will be the next tripple crown winner!

23 Dec 2010 4:54 PM
Mike Relva

DRAY aka (TAKE QR TO THE BANK)

Somehow I can't wrap my head around thinking of you and the word,credibility in the same breath. That's a scream!

23 Dec 2010 10:24 PM
Slew

Skyfire...when is a Dray not a Draynay?  Maybe when it's an AAF.  Insightful and ironic blog, Mr Shulman.  Thank you.  

24 Dec 2010 4:58 AM
Matthew W

No way would I have risked the streak v males less than 1 1/4--and why should they have gone East v fillies? You saw the Oaklawn Race, they ducked her, they ducked her out there and certainly out West, so what would've been the gain to go out there to face the minor leagues? The point is, they went out to Churchill, over a tiring track, and ran lights out/several lengths better than the field did, including the "next Exceller", Blame--although at least he'll get the older horse Eclipse--and he also gets to be immortalized as the horse who beat the Unbeatable Mare--big raspberries for the lawyer guy who wouldn't know greatness if it bit him in the backside!

24 Dec 2010 11:51 PM
Matthew W

Forego never came out here and I had a pic of old #10 in my room for years--you don't need to go to NY to be a great horse==that must make some cringe--but "it is true" (THAT must also make New Yorkers cringe! Him and Sunday Silence...)

24 Dec 2010 11:57 PM
Robin from Maryland

Perhaps the best of 2010 was seeing The Queen and her team at Lane's End.  Beautiful video, have watched it so many times and still cry when I see her with Mario - what a bond those two must have.  Will wait with baited breath for the selection of her mate,  It sure has been fun guessing and reading all the other bloggers theories.  On an aside note, Congrats to Kevin Plank and his winning filly in BC. Maybe he can kickstart, or restart Maryland racing, God knows we need it!!!  He has done wonders in restoring Sagamore.  To all Happy Holidays and New Year.

25 Dec 2010 12:51 PM
August Song

The answer is to establish a National Throughbred Racing Commission and elect a Chairman. There would be one set of rules and it would applicable in every state. Enough with one state does this, and another state does that.  

25 Dec 2010 2:20 PM
Slew

August Song...what I've noticed about commissions...they argue among themselves behind closed doors, do not release any info for years, and never initiate a solution.  Another irony between an ideal and the harsh reality.

27 Dec 2010 6:58 AM
Michelle

2010 FACTS:  Zenyatta became the All-Time Leading Female Earner (with at least one start in North America); Zenyatta entered the Top 10 All-Time Leading Earners (with at least one start in North America); Zenyatta became the world record holder for 8 consecutive Grade/Group 1 Wins; Zenyatta tied the Record of 19 Straight Wins surpassing such greats as Cigar and Citation;  Zenyatta raced in 6 Grade 1 races winning 5; Raced essentially the same campaign as 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri (except Azeri did not take on males that year).  

Call me crazy but that sounds pretty darn good to me.  

27 Dec 2010 5:16 PM
Denmark

Dray is right on.  Schrupp and Christina (though adorable) do not cut it.  Frank Lyon is very knowledgable.  Ellis is fantastic and Baily is great.  We need Gary Stevens, he's not only drop dead gorgeous but is as knowledgable as Baily.  Love Eddie D, he's a no nonsense type that would come across beautifully.  Ken R. has to go.

28 Dec 2010 9:49 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

2010- The eggnog was too strong and the fruitcake was too old. Lenny, Steve, and Stable Boy continued to present the best video show on horse racing in history. Santa Anita returned to a fabulous dirt track, safe and sound, and withstood 13 inches of rain to open a week earlier than it would have with the old track. Zenyatta continued to show her greatness to everyone without kaleidoscope eyes. Writer's who didn't embrace Zenyatta's greatness, and in fact ridiculed her accomplishments were bad for racing, and helped to not take advantage of bringing millions more fans into racing. Beyer's feeble attempt to make up for his blindness to greatness with one final article after Zenyatta's career was over was like a child putting a half eaten cookie back into the jar and saying he didn't eat it. Beyer you ate it. Now go to your room and watch each of Zenyatta's races 100 times or more, and don't come out until you're ready to tell the truth. Attempting to pit Rachel against Zenyatta in the press and then in a race was a travesty, and bad for racing and the petty arguments about who was better were sickening to say the least. They both should have been celebrated in their own right as great champions. The real fans knew that they could love both. Far too many thought they had to choose one side or the other. Poor Rachel was whisked away to who knows where. Zenyatta is still celebrated and shown to the world. The video of Zenyatta frolicking and singing White Christmas in the snow was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. CD's mistakes in The Breeder's Cup were disgraceful. Anyone watching could tell that Life At Ten was sick as a dog and shouldn't run. Luckily she was too sick to give the kind of an effort that could have taken her life. Rough Sailing was not so lucky. He lost his life on Saturday Nov 6th in the BC Juv turf because the turf course was too slippery from over watering the night before to make an attempt to appease Euro cry babies who wanted a softer surface. I like the way you always speak the truth Lenny. You are a gentleman and a scholar. Happy New Year to all.

28 Dec 2010 10:04 PM
Fran Loszynski

She even dances and prances! She was a highlight of 2010 racing. Zenyatta is a racehorse in a world all by herself. She delights in the fact that people enjoyed her dancing maneuvers. This is not only an intelligent racehorse, but a racehorse who aimed to please not only her fans but herself. Zenyatta deserves Horse of The Year.  When a racehorse wins that many races and a jockey Mike Smith works so hard to get her safely across the finish line each time, They both deserve the Award. Jockey and Horse of the Year. Anything less would be foolish on the voter's part. She is a magnificent racehorse. My mother who knew alot about racehorses said once "It's the Ears, look for the spiked ears!" They listen to horses gaining up on them. Zenyatta's could hold telephone wires across the city! I wish her a healthy bluegrass life.

29 Dec 2010 8:09 AM
JTaylor

2010....THE YEAR THAT COULD HAVE BEEN.

29 Dec 2010 8:48 AM
JTaylor

"That was a huge part of the void that was felt in horse racing, its hard to appreciate a horse that runs in southern california 16 out of 20 times"

Dray, I guess Personal Ensign can't be considered great either...she only left the NY/NJ area once.

It just really baffles me all of this animosity amongst everyone concerning Zenyatta.  The fans of Zenyatta need to settle down and not shove the Queen down everyone's throats, and the detractors need to shut the #$%! up and let us celebrate her Greatness..  Now let's all buckle up for Derby Trail!

29 Dec 2010 9:02 AM
LetItRideMike

Thanks so much for the hard work all year, Lenny. You and Steve made those of us whose jobs keep us from being on track as much as we'd like feel as if we were there.

29 Dec 2010 10:11 AM
NancyP

Hi Lenny - Thanks for the thoughtful and humorous article!  I always enjoy whatever issue you write about, as you are always on target.  I'm looking forward to my favorite ATO videos with you and Steve in the new year.  It always brightens my day.

Mike Relva - BRAVO!  I love ALL OF YOUR POSTS TO DATE! Keep up the good fight against the forces of darkness!

Here's wishing you all healthy and Happy New Year!

29 Dec 2010 11:16 AM
NancyP

To Alex'sBigFan - Just a short comment: BRAVO ON THE CONTENT OF ALL YOUR POSTS HERE!  You, Mike and Lenny have really been hitting the issues on the head!  I loved your NTRA makeover! From your fingertips to God's eyes!

And, just on a very sad note - for me anyway - was the mysterious death of War Pass!  I loved watching him at the races and following him in The Blood-Horse.  It is a sad end to the year!

Bless you all - Wishing the three of you a Healthy, Joyful New Year!

29 Dec 2010 11:29 AM
NancyP

Dr.DrunkinBum - BRAVO TO YOU ALSO!  Your points are stated perfectly!  I always enjoy reading your comments.

Have a Healthy and Joyful New Year!

29 Dec 2010 11:42 AM
Christine

For the last time!

Quality Road ran the worst race of his life in the Classic. His performance was NOT indicative of his real talent or previous performances. Even when he lost in the past, it wasn't a dead-last effort.

Did Zenyatta beat him? Every horse in the race beat him. He threw in a clunker.

He beat himself. I wouldn't brag about finishing ahead of an opponent who was clearly having an off day.

I would brag about beating an opponent at their best.

Big difference.

29 Dec 2010 11:53 AM
Sophie15

I just wanted to post my idea for a point system for the eclipse awards. I tried to post it on another blog but it was not posted. I analized Blame and Zenyatta at the bottom.

Grade 1 10 pt + # of horses

Grade 2 8 pt + # of horses

Grade 3 6 pt + # of horses

Upgraded stakes 4 pt + # of horses

2nd place in these races will earn half the number of points as first place. 3rd place will earn half of the second place points.

An extra ten points will be awarded to a horse that does the following:

- Break a record

- Win the Triple Crown

- Win the Filly Triple Crown

- Break the earnings record for colts

- Break the earnings record for fillys

There are probably more times when bonus points can be earned, this list I just came up with off the top of my head.

Winning certain races counts towards the different divisions. The division winning horse that has the most points wins HOY.

Zenyatta:

-Santa Margarita 17

-Apple Blossom 14

-Vanity 15

-Clement L Hirsch 15

-Lady’s Secret 14

-BCC 10.5

Total 85.5

Blame:

-BCC 21

-WDS 14

-Stephen Foster 20

-Whitney 15

-JCC 7.5

Total 77.5

29 Dec 2010 12:07 PM
Bill Daly

I nominate "Gonna Go Round In Circles"  as the most appropriate song for 2010 - and not just in horse racing.

29 Dec 2010 1:27 PM
an ole rail bird

thanks lenny, for your contribuction to blood horse mag.& horse racing in general. thanks for realizing that the best human intrest story in the world does not make for hoy. its time to let queen z , rest in her retire & prepare to produce a champion. now, lets go with racing. it will be another year , before we know it,& little has been written about the future. lets go horse racing.

29 Dec 2010 2:18 PM
Katherine

Off topic, but has anyone heard anything about Dublin?

29 Dec 2010 5:05 PM
Mike Relva

NANCY P

You are kind,thanks for your comments.

29 Dec 2010 5:37 PM
Mike Relva

DENMARK

A newsflash for you,DRAY IS NEVER RIGHT! Don't sink to his level!

29 Dec 2010 5:43 PM
Mary Jane

Mr. Shulman,

I used to like and follow horse racing. Then I stopped. The only time I heard anything about horse racing was when yet another Triple Crown hopeful was a disappointment, or, when an up-and-comer was dead or dying on the track. All I could see was that the industry was in a free-fall from bad publicity, drugged animals, and despair. Then came Zenyatta. For all the "Inside The Beltway Talk" of track surfaces, not enough "tough" competition, East/West bias, gender bias, etc. I finally understood why I stayed away. Your industry has forgotten who buys the tickets to see your "product." We, the paying public who may not be as informed as some of your insiders, don't give a hoot. We don't care if a horse runs on dirt or styrofoam. We want to be connected to the story. We want you to make us care. We are a distracted public. We have other things to do and not a lot of money to spend on entertainment. It is not a surprise to me to read your assessment of racing 2010. The industry lacks focus. You desperately need a paradigm shift.

Please stop talking to one another. Get some "outsiders" to help offer suggestions. And, whether one believes she is HOTY or not, Zenyatta and her STORY made the turnstyles spin, the ratings go up, and the people bond.

You want to "follow the money?" Then, for goodness sake, learn how to "follow the story," outside the ever-shrinking world of horse racing. Zenyatta showed, it can be done.

29 Dec 2010 6:05 PM
drfager

we probably wont see yhe likes of BIG Z in this sport for a long time to come. you know what i say god bless those who saw the show. to see her was like watching gladiaters battle in the roman coliseum.

30 Dec 2010 3:59 AM
Lisa g

Lenny, why do some people refuse to see the absolute perfect greatness of Zenyatta?  BC was in the dirt, photo finish, left 10 best of best men trailing behind.  I just do not get it.  I am a Zenyatta fan, but I do not try to belittle Rachel's accomplishments, in fact, I am extremely proud of her...it has been the years of the girls..

30 Dec 2010 7:53 AM
dr doom

oh lord. another doom and gloom report.  maybe the sport would gain some momentum if every writer on the planet didnt keep screaming its the end of the world...

30 Dec 2010 11:05 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

NancyP

   Bravo to you also, and have a great 2011 !!!! Your posts are always excellent.

Alex'sBigFan

 You are a breath of fresh air. Happy New Year !!!!

30 Dec 2010 5:14 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Nancy P,

Thank you for your nice comments.  I just read War Pass just arrived at Lane's End and died the next day, Dec. 24.  WHAT??????????  The cause of death is not known but I hope Bloodhorse follows up and informs us because the article announcing it leaves us shrouded in a cloud of mystery and thinking another mysterius paddock death?

On another note, I would give Christina at TVG a chance, guys.  She is very, very young and up and coming and making inroads in a male dominated industry.  Give her a chance to mature and grow her knowledge of racing and she will be great.  Please do not refer to her only as "eye candy."  She is an intelligent girl up against an all male cast of "racing analysts."

Let's give her that chance.  

If there was only a way to capture and market the frenzy and excitement that this country experiences on Derby Day, and translate it to all major stakes races and show Mainstream America that horseracing is a glorious sport to behold.  Our equine athletes are young, innocent, try their hardest for us, and are better examples than some two-legged athletes.  To come out and support an animal athlete is such a great feeling, I wish America could feel what they feel on Derby Day always, as we die-hard racing fans do.  Then the industry wouldn't be in this such turmoil and would have a substantial fan base.  Market, Market, Market......

30 Dec 2010 9:37 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Dr. D.,

Thank you and Happy New Year to you too.  I like your choice of The Factor.  We factor in 2 uncles with him I guess so far!  I cannot find any more info on Elite Alex.  I hope Tim Ritchey (Alex's trainer) still has him in Delaware.

If The Factor and Uncle Mo keep going like this I could be standing at the Belmont looking at the next TC winner!  Wow!  I go every year to the Belmont.  All the best to you in 2011.

Sophie15,

Nice going on the point system!  I liked it.  They should further clarify a female Grade 1 from a male Grade 1 as well.  Wasn't it John Shireffs himself who said "I thought a Grade 1 was a Grade 1."

I agree with his philosophy on that, females beating females in a Grade 1 should hold equal value as males beating males in a Grade 1, but apparently it is not viewed as such.  How does Lucky come out in your point system, I think he won 4 or more Grade 1's this past year?  

31 Dec 2010 5:22 PM
Alex'sBigFan

If I was in NTRA marketing, I would live by this philosophy:

"Above all nurture the horse and safety first. Market to and cater to the fan, connect the two.  Do this with an innate passion for the sport, create successful promotions, make it fun as well as profitable for the fan and bettor and that should equal prosperity.

Passion + Promotion = Profits."  

And then I would make my marketing team watch the closing scene of "A Day At The Races" with the Marx Brothers.  High Hat wins the race, saves the sanitarium, Harpo is atop High Hat as the jock, the grooms and hands and public are dancing and singing and escorting High Hat to the Winner's Circle.  It depicts racing at its most glorious level, and that contagiousness is what needs to be spread."

ABF

31 Dec 2010 6:10 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Alex'sBigFan

  Elite Alex just had a workout at Oaklawn Park so he might be there.  I was just thinking the other day that I need to see A Day At The Races again soon!! It's probably been 25-30 years since I saw it. Nice PPP philosophy. I like it. Lucky you, going to Belmont every year. Nice. Yes, War Pass, another tragedy. This one is the weirdest of all. It has been  strange, all that we've lost the past year far too young. Keep posting. You have great insight and talent.

02 Jan 2011 12:44 AM
Alex'sBigFan

Dr. D.,

Thank you very much.  Yes you are right Elite Alex is wintering in Arkansas with Tim Ritchey.  No one is posting anymore to this great article by Lenny, what a shame.  It points out so many trouble spots in the industry that need work.  As a matter of fact Lenny could write the script if they ever do a re-make of "A Day At The Races."  You gotta watch that again, it is a scream!  Groucho plays Dr. Hackenbush, a veterinarian from Florida who poses as an intern in a sanitarium to woo a rich widow so she will invest in it to save it from a bunch of guys who want to build a casino on it since it is near a racetrack.  Chico is the hired hand, a young woman owns the sanitarium, her fiance buys a kooky racehorse that hates his former owner and owner's voice, Harpo is the jockey, and thus the wild antics of how to save the sanitarium begin.  It is hysterical, especially when Harpo sneaks High Hat (love that name) into the race attached to an old-fashioned water sprinkler wagon that comes barrelling onto the track!!!!  The movie is priceless!  I was born like 30 years after they made it!  But Lenny S. has that great dry wit to write something like that don't you agree?  Ah yes, the Belmont, it is only a 40 minute drive for me from New Jersey but it usually turns into 1 hr. and 40 to go over the GW Bridge that day.  I always have Polly of Couture Hats in Kentucky do a designer hat for me for that day.  She's great, she participated in Steve's winning Blog with us in the beginning.  The year Big Brown ran she did a large black hat with feathers and flowers and I was in it in the sweltering 95 degrees that day and ABC got me on TV and my cousins in New Hampshire and everyone in NJ saw it and said I looked great, I was MELTING!!!!!!! Oh well, hope your Uncle Mo and Factor make it all the way to the Belmont.  Back to Steve's other blog about the new 3 yr. olds...................

10 Jan 2011 11:22 PM

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