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.