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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Emma is Eager, Rachel, Not

Eager Emma won the 6th at Belmont on Friday for Shug; the first win for this three-year old NY-bred daughter of Unbridled's Song, out of the graded stakes winning NY-bred Shawklit Mint. Shawklit Mint is by the Wood Memorial winner Air Forbes Won, a son of Bold Forbes, the 1976 Derby and Belmont winner.

And man, what a great Belmont Stakes that was. This year, given yesterday's developments, NYRA will be quite fortunate to a) have a crowd as large as the 57, 519 on hand that day; and b) to have such a memorable edition of its classic race in a year, as in 1976 when Preakness winner Elocutionist did not run, in which the only plot lines are the presence of the Derby winner and the tradition of the race itself. "I told him 'Just get me to the eighth pole,' and I'll take it from there," said Angel Cordero Jr. And with the Hall of Fame jockey driving furiously, an exhausted Bold Forbes held off Great Contractor and Mackenzie Bridge, gutting it out in a final time of 2:29 after the mile and a quarter in 2:01 4/5 (just a fifth slower than his Derby win). The victory by the Puerto-Rican-owned colt thrilled the Latino community. Hopefully, it won't come out that Sonia Sotomayor bet on the horse; the Republicans will then accuse her of allowing her ethnicity to influence her opinions.

As for the announcement that Rachel Alexandra will not run, I imagine you've seen the statement by Jess Jackson by now. "We will always put her long-term well-being first. And, of course, we want to run her when she is fresh." Some of us, including yours truly, felt that Jackson could, if not should, have said that before the Preakness. Of course, I was wrong that she wouldn't run well; the notion that Jackson was taking an undue risk is certainly easy to dismiss now.

To me, it still comes down to what that risk was in relation to the reward; and now we can start to quantify the latter. There's no question that the filly made a big impact with her dazzling Preakness win and, as evidenced by the TV ratings, with her sheer presence. However, I think it's perfectly legitimate to ask: Is the publicity that she generated better for the game then what would have resulted from a likely, in my opinion though by no means certain, Preakness win by Mine That Bird? (Charlie Hayward figures it cost NYRA some 30,000 fans on track) And, will her panache carry over beyond the Triple Crown once the sport goes into its self-imposed virtual media blackout that is its relationship with ESPN?

- The 1976 Belmont Stakes:

13 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Sigh.

Or maybe Democrats will demand that Canonero II be added to the 10 Greatest Throughbreds list, because South American breds are underrepresented.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the video, I boxed Majestic Light/Great Contractor that day.

Cordero carried Bold Forbes over the finish line!

This race may have started the big post race celebratory jockey fist pumps.

alan said...

>>Or maybe Democrats will demand that Canonero II be added to the 10 Greatest Throughbreds list, because South American breds are underrepresented.

LOL. You're funny for one of those right-wing types!

Anonymous said...

Great Contractor may have had a theoretical edge in that race that I can't remember another modern horse having......he already had experience at 1 1/2 miles having raced in a Hialeah grass stake at the distance versus his elders earlier in the year.

At least I remember it that way.

steve in nc said...

Thanks for the memories, Alan. I loved that horse, and Angelito too.

Anonymous said...

It starts every year about this time: Shorten the Belmont to a mile and a quarter, or some lesser distance. D Wayne has been promoting it, Ray Kerrison's column in Saturday's Post alluded to it, his reasoning being that the Belmont has become the Triple Crown race most difficult of the three to handicap.

I say au contraire, NYRA marketing needs to create a new marketing campaign for the Belmont Stakes centered around the rich, historic nature of the race, the oldest Triple Crown race by several years, it's notable winners, it's notable sires of stakes winners, it's unique mile and half distance, it's NY venue at an historic American racetrack, and it's legendary status as a race that showcases "stayers" instead of sprinters.

The fact that we haven't had a Triple Crown winner in 31 years says it all: It is a most difficult achievement in this age of speed. But we sales and marketing types always believe that we should turn negatives into positives, and that is exactly what the NYRA marketing dept needs to do. Put on your Col Matt Winn hats and re-live the days of that marketing genius who single-handedly put the KY Derby on the map and in the public consciousness, vaulting over the Belmont Stakes. It's time for the Belmont Stakes to recapture it's premier status in the Triple Crown series. /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

Alan, you are correct that it would have been better for the sport if Rachel had skipped the Preakness and waited for the Belmont.

MTB trying to run down a loose on the lead Rachel in the final eighth of a mile, what a roar we would hear from the 110,000 on hand.

Instead, an obviously knocked out Rachel will probably avoid serious challenges the rest of the way ( I suspect there is a problem that they do not want to admit, yet, for publicity reason, if she was healthy Jackson would run her), while MTB will return to NM for a vacation followed by one easy prep before a Breeders Cup try on a surface over which he appeared less than his best.

Wake me when its over.

tvnewsbadge said...

It clearly would have been better for horse racing long term to have a Triple Crown winner, or at least a serious contender.
We see that now with the greatly scaled back crowd estimates for the Belmont Since RA isn't running and MTB no longer has a shot at the crown.
We've coulda had our cake and eaten it too if Jess Jackson had not co-opted Calvin Borel, but I guess he felt Horse of the Year was more important.

Anonymous said...

To all u "it would have been better for the sport" types who think the RA connections should have waitted for the Belmont, what planet are u from ? It also would have been better for the sport if smarty jones and big brown and fupeg etc didn't retire after their 3yr old seasons. Here you have a sportsman in jess Jackson throwing down 10 million big ones to RACE RA in the preakness and beyond and Still all u whining horseplayers complain. If this horse was with the old connections u would have seen her once at Belmont and once at SAratoga against 3yr old fillies at 1-9. Kudos to jess Jackson and Steve asmussen, even though it appears most of you don't appreciate their efforts.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy the Greek touted MBridge that day...I think I had the exacta...if they had them back then!

rgustafsom said...

Excuse me if I shed no tears for NYRA. This race, touted as "the test of champions" should be able to stand on its own and not cry about 30,000 wanna be's( I was there to see the latest Triple Crown Champion) staying home instead of showing up at the track only when a TC is on the line. These folks don't really give a rat's ass about horseracing and are more like rock band groupies than true fans.

Anonymous said...

"To all u "it would have been better for the sport" types who think the RA connections should have waitted for the Belmont, what planet are u from ?"

Planet Earth to anon;

No one wrote the filly should have stayed with the prior connections or run only against fillies, just that it would have been better for the game if he had waited three weeks and run in the Belmont inteade of rushing her into the Preakness. If trying to create an event it is better to let the anticipation build.

The analogy you make to the retired colts is apples and oranges.

Rgust- no one is shedding any tears for NYRA, just for the sport. IF MTB ran down RA in the Belmont to win the Triple Crown (not saying it would have happened, totally different pace scenario) the sport would have a triple crown winning gelding running for the next few years. Instead, we got a one shot bump in TV ratings.

Anonymous said...

HOPE YOU ALL REALIZE BOLD FORBES WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY AND BELMONT, AND LOST THE PREAKNESS TO AN INJURY! HE STILL CAME IN 3RD AND WOULD HAVE BEEN A TRIPLE CROWN WINNER IF...HE BATTLED UNTIL THE END EVEN WITH A HOOF HANGING! CREDIT WERE CREDIT IS DUE!!!
JR CORDERO WAS AN AMAZING JOCKEY WHO LOVED, UNDERSTOOD, AND RACED BOLD FORBES LIKE NO ONE ELSE COULD HAVE...34+ PLUS YEARS LATER, I AM PROUD TO SAY BOLD FORBES, JR CORDERO, AND E.R.TIZOL WERE THE DREAM TEAM OF HORSE RACING!!!! BIASED? MAYBE...AS A THE GRAND DAUGHTER OF A MAN WHO HAD A VISION AND A DREAM, AND FOLLOWED IT AGAINST ALL ODDS, TODAY I SAY "FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS...WITH DETERMINATION AND BELIEF- ALL IS POSSIBLE!"PAPA VIEJO" (E.R.T) YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION!!! LOVE YOU FOREVER!!! TU NIETA!!!