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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Showing Spirit

Zenyatta's connections are still uncertain about the Classic, and as far as I'm concerned, she's therefore no longer eligible for Horse of the Year consideration even if she runs in the Classic and wins. This waiting is just weak, and not very champion-like. I still believe however, that Summer Bird should deserve a long look for the award should he prevail.

But as one filly dithers, another is definitely being pointed to face the boys; Fleeting Spirit, a four-year old Irish-bred daughter of Invincible Spirit (Green Desert/Danzig), will be entered in the Sprint. She has already enjoyed success against colts, having won the six furlong Group 1 Darley July Cup (Eng-I) at Newmarket in July; and she was a tough luck second in the five furlong Abbaye at Longchamps on Arc day. 4th as the lukewarm favorite in the Turf Sprint last year, owner Andy Stewart explains: "She's never run on an artificial surface, but she trains on it at home, and we're going where the money is." [Racing Post]

Fleeting Spirit will have a new rider in Frankie Dettori, replacing Tom Queally, who was in the saddle when the filly was left at the gate at Longchamps.

"And if you give away six lengths in a five-furlong race, you're not going to win," Stewart said. "Tom will go right to the top. In a few years' time I think he'll be the next Kieren Fallon or Lester Piggott. But we have spoken to Simon Crisford [the Godolphin manager], who said that Frankie will be available, and he will ride Fleeting Spirit in the Breeders' Cup Sprint." [The Independent]
Fleeting Spirit is out of a mare by the late Irish champion Distant Relative; her fifth dam is Be Cautious, who won The Test at Saratoga in 1960.

The Independent piece also contains some quotes from Breeders Cup president Greg Avioli, who I imagine must feel liberated speaking to British reporters who believe that synthetic tracks represent the salvation of American racing, as opposed to the stodgy, close-minded American racing press (all five of them) which actively campaigns for its demise. Carrying out an agenda in the guise of journalism as they do, perhaps they can work at FOX once the idea of racing writers in the daily press becomes extinct.

Speaking of the Europeans' success at Santa Anita last year, Avioli said:
"But that in turn is developing a wonderful theme....That Ryder Cup-type rivalry didn't previously exist to quite the same extent. Remember, it was only when the Europeans started winning, in the 1980s, that the Americans really became fired up about the Ryder Cup."
Here, Avioli takes further advantage of the Brits, who probably have no idea that nobody in this country gives a shit about the Ryder Cup.

I also noticed that Avioli, who may soon be looking for a new job himself, was up in Canada a couple of weekends ago, and, speaking of the prospects of Woodbine hosting another Breeders Cup, he said: "The biggest concern you have at Woodbine is going to be the temperature." [Toronto Star] Actually, I know a fair amount of racing fans who would rather see the event staged on the inner dirt track at Aqueduct in early February than on the Poly at Woodbine even if the weather up there was Del Mar-like. He's not really that clueless, right?

Another major synthetic defector as Indian Blessing will not be pre-entered in the Filly and Mare Sprint. "She just doesn't like the track," Baffert said. So there.

- The Jets' win in Oakland came at a steep price with the season-ending injury to their All-Pro, all-purpose running back/kick returner Leon Washington. So it might be best to focus on the short-term, which features an opportunity to take revenge against the Dolphins and their bush-league playground offense at home on Sunday. A win would put them at 5-3 going into the bye week; a chance to bask in that success for two whole weeks (and who knows, perhaps the Giants, faltering now in the face of some real competition, will have the same record). Us Jets fans have learned to appreciate the small things in life. Like a hot dog on the sidelines.


Anonymous said...

Despite what you seem to want to believe, it is Zenyatta's connections that have denied her a chance to be named Horse of the Year. While Rachel was beating colts in races like the Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward ( with a couple of wins by a city block in Grade 1s against her own sex ), Zenyatta was squeezing out a few narrow victories against tomato cans of her own sex while races like the Hollywood Gold Cup and, especially, the Pacific Classic were theoretically there for the taking. Only someone with an agenda that you like to accuse others of having would fail to see that clearly. I don't disagree that Summer Bird, especially if he wins the Classic, does deserve serious HOY consideration, but the special accomplishments of Rachel likely prevent that from happening. But, at least he presents a reasonable argument. Zenyatta isn't even in the discussion.

But, hey, I have to give you credit for sticking up for Greg Aviola, the architect responsible for putting the BC at the same racetrack for two straight years, tossing fairness and history in the trash, for an agenda that has helped put together the least compelling BC in the history of the event. Surely it is the connections of top horses that are misguided in leaving their horses in the barn, or running them in what were once dirt races, instead of their preferred surface ( turf ), and leaving races like the BC Turf in complete shambles. I'm sure Gio Ponti would have contested the BC Classic were it being held at either Belmont or Churchill. His connections clearly agree with you that Pro-ride is a dirt surface and not a turf clone. As, of course, do those even handed Euros.

But I have to even further give you credit for this comment..." as opposed to the stodgy, close-minded American racing press (all five of them) which actively campaigns for its demise. Carrying out an agenda in the guise of journalism as they do, perhaps they can work at FOX once the idea of racing writers in the daily press becomes extinct. " Reading drivel like this makes it clear, in actuality, that it is you who may be auditioning for a position at Fox, and not the handfull of racing writers who dare speak the truth.

I get your need to present yourself as some kind of contrarian in this discussion. But, you don't further your cause ( or agenda ) by dispensing silliness like the above quote. There's nothing wrong with being a fan of synthetic surfaces, but denying the problems they have presented, and the unfortunate situation that has been created by the unprecedented move by the BC of placing the event two years in a row on these unproven surfaces, while also taking cheap shots at the few willing to explain the situation, in the face of the Fox like propaganda presented by the BC and ESPN, damages your credibility, and not the credibility of those you choose to unfairly criticize.

Being a contrarian doesn't preclude fairness. Or at least it didn't at one time.

ljk said...

Can't see Summer Bird as HOTY for the obvious reason, a 2nd to RA. I do think that Gio Ponti, who has a big shot in the Classic, would be able to make a good argument (but would still end up behind RA in the voting).

Oh, and I'm like a lot of Americans who think the Ryder Cup is a really big deal.

alan said...

>>Oh, and I'm like a lot of Americans who think the Ryder Cup is a really big deal.


alan said...

Anon 10:02 seems to have a bug up his/her ass. We're not in that much disagreement over Zenyatta at this point....though I did admittedly believe that had they eagerly jumped into the Classic and faced a field stronger that what we'll see, that she could have overcome her limited campaign and deserved consideration.

And I've been pretty consistent that, despite being in favor of the synthetic initiative for several reasons, the idea to run the BC two years in a row at SA was stupid. And that the surfaces do indeed cause chaos and confusion in determining champions. I just don't think that's sufficient reason to toss them aside considering that 99.9% of races are not Grade 1 stakes races.

And of course I have an agenda. I'm a blogger expressing my personal opinions. If I didn't, I'd be like one of those plain vanilla racing writers reporting from such and such track in the Form. It's a big difference when journalists, under the guise of objectivity, pick and choose what stories and statistics to report as I think we've seen all too often the last few years of this. And frankly, I don't really give a fuck about "credibility." I write, and others can decide about that. I still seem to have enough of them to make it worthwhile after five years of this. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

Alan, so let me get this straight. Because Zenyatta's connections are uncertain whether they want to try the classic, she is no longer eligible for HOY, regardless of if she runs in the classic and wins by 10 lengths. Whereas, if her connections were more decisive about the classic, she'd still be in the discussion for HOY? That makes no sense, pal.

Anonymous said...

No the uncertaintly itelf does not dq Zenyatta, but it certainly is indicative of her connections lack of confidence which will and perhaps should weigh in voters minds.

IF they truly thought she deserved HOY they would have announced the Classic as her long range target a long long time ago and never wavered, as opposed to sitting on the fence waiting to see who shows up.

If the connections do not believe she is the best horse in the land why should the voters?

El Angelo said...

Count me in for those who love the Ryder Cup.

alan said...

>>Count me in for those who love the Ryder Cup.

For real??? :-0 And you get "fired up" like Avioli said, wave little flags and get all depressed and stuff if the Brits win? Do you bet on it?

Erin said...

Count me as someone who had to look up 'Ryder Cup' in Wikipedia.

El Angelo said...

No, I just love the golf and competition, especially when there hasn't been a relevant tournament in a couple of months.

For whatever it's worth, I'm far from alone on this one. The final day of the '08 Ryder Cup got a 3.7 TV rating. The Breeders Cup can barely crack a 1.0.

DiscreetPicks said...

Mastercraftsman has been given first preference for the Dirt Mile.

SaratogaSpa said...

I love the Ryders Cup, but in fairness I am a golf fanatic. I have found that most horse racing fans don't seem to like golf. I remember about a year ago, one blogger got multiple comments on one post bashing the game of golf.

It's all about one's passion for a particular sport. Look at Baseball right now.

The NY Daily News and Post will have the Yanks on the back cover and Front cover today, and most of the days in the coming 2 weeks-they are rightly serving their NY city readers passion for Baseball while elsewhere in the country it will be a ho hum event.

Anonymous said...

Count me in for those who love the Wildcat formation.

Anonymous said...

I love golf and horseracing. My poor wife.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the indecision of the connections of Zenyatta, it's still utterly absurd to think that should weight on the minds of the voters. If she were to run in the classic and say, win by 2 lengths, it's up to the voters to decide it that's enough to win HOY, or if Rachel's accomplishments trump her. Personally I think Rachel has it in the proverbial bag, but Zenyatta is a horse and has no control over the emotions of her owners who are obviously torn between preserving her perfect record and doing the sporting thing. And yes, of course she belongs in the classic. There is absolutely no reason in the world to think that 10 panels is not in her wheelhouse.

alan said...

>>Regarding the indecision of the connections of Zenyatta, it's still utterly absurd to think that should weight on the minds of the voters.

My personal feeling is that waiting and assessing so that they could enter her if the field comes up weak diminishes her case. But I do understand your point that it shouldn't weigh in the mind of the voters, fair enough.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it should not weigh in the minds of the voters, but it will.

With all this talk it just feels like a year for a 50-1 shot to win anyway.

When is this Breeders Cup thing anyway? Can barely find a word about it in the non-racing media, and IF there is a game six that night you will not hear a peep.

As opposed to all the suggestions, I am biased but I still like mine the best. It should be run on the weekend of the Army-Navy game, the only weekend without true competition from NCAA football or baseball, at Fair Grounds racetrack, renovated by the BC especially for this event.

Every year, same weekend, same place.

Anonymous said...

Richard's Kid will win the Breeder's Cup classic and pay $23.20.