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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not Time

- I'm thinking that Jess Jackson isn't really that anxious to see Curlin face Big Brown. He couldn't possibly have really believed that Team IEAH would be the least bit enticed by Jackson's proposed $50,000 donation to the Belmont Child Care Association if the two met in the Woodward. I mean, I find it almost laughable. No disrespect whatsoever of course to the BCCA, a worthy not-for-profit endeavor providing a vital service to the teeming backstretch community in NY. But really. If these guys really want to make an impression, let them put up some serious money and go mano to mano, and the winner can donate to charity as he pleases.

Jackson's entreaty for the two to meet in the Jockey Club Gold Cup won't do either. Do you really think that IEAH will run Big Brown over the surface which produced his astonishing collapse? (Or whatever the hell it really was.)

Big Brown's camp has no reason to face Curlin at this time, and Jackson has to know that. No way he's going to run back less than four weeks after his grueling Haskell win. From reading the body language of Iavarone and Dutrow since the race, I get the feeling that he's been slow to bounce back. "No, we can't run in the Woodward," Iavarone said. "We've got to get him back on his feet." [Newsday] And the turf race they seek is a perfect spot in my opinion; easier on the feet, and a nice lead-in to the Classic, which will be run on God knows what, but likely on some-thing more similar to grass than to the sandy Belmont main track.

I know we all want to see owners show the kind of sporting nature which can help provide a jolt for an industry for which I think downtrodden is not too strong of a word to refer to its current state. But Team Big Brown needs to take care of their horse now; it's not their time to face the champ. As far as I'm concerned, whether there will ever really be such a time is a matter still up to debate, for one thing. But if there is, it would have to be this fall, in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

However, it's Jess Jackson who now says that the Classic "is not part of my current plan for Curlin." And what's sporting about that? I admit that the absurdity of the surface fiasco at Santa Anita dulls any criticism of Jackson here; can't really blame anyone for being hesitant. But I'm disappointed to hear him seeming to rule it out without giving the surface a shot. Barring what I at least hope is the unlikely scenario that Pro-Ride is a complete disaster, I think that Jackson would be undoing all of the considerable good he's done by campaigning Curlin at four by skipping the Classic and ducking Big Brown without a reason other than to tell the world that he doesn't like synthetic tracks.


El Angelo said...

A contrary thought (I'm not sure I even believe it): Jackson is ultimately doing everyone a favor by passing on the BC on synthetic by pointing out how stupid it is to contest the "championship" races on a fake surface. If the best horses don't show up, perhaps the BC/NTRA will be recalcitrant to award future cups to synthetic palaces.

DC said...

They don't want to run Curlin on a synthetic track. But it's okay to train him on one (Keeneland) many times over. Give me a freaking break. If Curlin doesn't run in the Breeders Cup, it has nothing to do with the surface. Hell, they were talking about the Arc before he had made a single start on grass. I'm not buying it.

Anonymous said...

Jess Jackson has gone to that place where old rich guys go who believe their own bullshit. It stopped being about Curlin and started being all about Jess about two jumps after the Preakness last year. He made billions in the wine biz but he cannot top the ego gratification he gets out of pontificating. He hijacked the NTRA media teleconference two weeks ago to tell everyone where Curlin would start next and then went on for an hour about racing leagues, owners' rights and the need for higher purses. Shhhhh...

Jessica said...

Zito, Frankel, and Baffert have also expressed reluctance to send their stakes-winning horses to the BC this year, so Jackson is hardly alone is not wanting to experiment over Pro-Ride on one of the biggest racing days of the year (especially because there won't be much time to get in a prep race before). Not that I agree with any of them -- if you have a sound, championship-caliber horse, you should be at the Breeders' Cup, regardless of your feelings about synthetics.

alan said...

Jessica - Zito and Baffert are two of the leaders of the anti-synthetic brigade as we know. I think Frankel is more open-minded, but that he's understandably wary of the mystery surface which will be in place. As he should be!

ljk said...

Jackson "would be ducking Big Brown without a reason"? Did I miss something or did Jackson offer to meet BB in the Woodward or JCGP on good old fashioned dirt? BB's had success on dirt but now needs a walkover turf workout race?

You think the Curlin crew is scared of BB? Be serious.

Iavarone: "It’s unfortunate that Mr. Jackson would have to require our horse to run to make a charitable contribution. When you offer to make a donation to charity, it shouldn’t come from anywhere but the heart. We’ve made significant donations to various charities."

What an ass.

Iavarone: "I know some people think I’m arrogant, but I don’t consider myself that way at all...”

What a colossal ass.

I'm halfway hoping Iavarone gets his made to order grass races in September and Jackson enters to crush him.

Erin said...

dc: Training on a synthetic and racing on a synthetic are two different things. What you want out of a training surface versus a racing surface are two different things.

DC said...

That may be true, but i hardly think that difference would be enough to keep the best horse in training out of the biggest race of the year. There must be another reason (assuming they do pass on the race, which i doubt).

Anonymous said...

Curlin has won a Breeders Cup, won in Dubai, done everything asked of him except win on turf (and even then he was a fair second)...and all of a sudden his connections are selfish for not wanting to run on a synthetic surface?

He's won the Classic, been Horse of the Year, and done all these things at 4 that Big Brown is 1000% guaranteed NOT to do for obvious reasons. He has nothing to prove. And Jess Jackson has no reason to apologize to anyone for not wanting to run on a synthetic surface that a handful of trainers are wavering about (because SA screwed up once, and odds are good they might not have gotten all the proper bugs out of it).

Curlin's already cruising to another HotY championship. He's done all he needs to do. The chapion and his connections have earned their right to call their own shots. No one's obligated to run in the Breeders Cup simply because they're a champion that's still in training. Some people like Jess Jackson set their sights much higher than that, on doing something different. For that, he owes no one a damn thing, including showing up at Santa Anita in late-October.