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Monday, November 09, 2009


Joe Drape's account of the Classic in the Times on Sunday was a delightful read. Seems a shame he's spent the last couple of years highlighting the negative aspect of the sport when he can be so breezy when writing about something good.....extraordinary in this case. He relates how Mike Smith "smooched in" on Zenyatta in the starting gate. I'm not sure that's exactly what he meant, as I can't find any definition of "smooched" that's not related to kissing. That, I think, we would have heard more about. But somehow it seemed perfectly descriptive of the pre-race shot on ESPN of the amazon filly packed into the claustrophobic confines of the starting gate. (The Head Chef particularly liked that.)

Once Zenyatta got clear in the stretch, Drape writes that she was "large and in charge.."

The Triple Crown winners got left first. Mine That Bird and Summer Bird, see you later. Rip Van Winkle and Twice Over, go back to Europe. The only horse left was Gio Ponti in the middle of the track. He is a salty colt who has won four Grade I races on the turf, and runs like a horse who loves what he does.

He was running another big race now, but his jockey, Ramon Dominguez, was working hard with his hands and whip to keep it that way.

Smith, on the other hand, was a passenger on Zenyatta. The only thing he was beating back was a smile. [New York Times]
I think Drape prefers this tone, because, on Monday, he was so totally giddy over the whole thing that he suggested that Santa Anita be the permanent home of the Breeders’ Cup.

Oh man, he's not gonna make a lot of friends with that attitude. (I'm just the messenger here guys and girls, I didn't say it.) I can't say that I know anyone who thinks that would be a good idea for the Breeders' Cup; and most people would suggest directly the opposite, that it be permanently consigned to dirt.

Having said that though, I think there would be a place for an annual event, perhaps alternating between a synthetic track here and a venue in Europe, for a competition between North American and European horses; more of a Ryder Cup format than something purporting to be a World Championship. Then the Breeders' Cup could be a dirt event and make (most) everyone happy. What time of year such an affair would be staged I'm not sure; perhaps in March, say in lieu of the World Cup, an event motivated completely by vanity and greed, and one which does ZIPPO ZILCH for the sport in this country (except to steal away many of our top runners and render some of them diminished, if not useless, for the rest of their career.)


sid fernando said...

by smooch, he means something close to your definition -- making kissing sounds to get her to move. it's common with horses for handlers to do that.

Anonymous said...

Sid, correct, jocks smooch to horses all the time.

Terrific prose by Drape, too bad he can not cover the sport regularly, he obviously loves the game, and the horses.

Summer Bird not done yet, off to Japan to run in the Japan Dirt Cup, not sure I agree with this move, he certainly deserves a freaking break.

jk said...

Two of my best days at the windows have been the last 2 bc's. They can have the BC at Santa Anita forever as far as I am concerned.

alan said...

>>Two of my best days at the windows have been the last 2 bc's. They can have the BC at Santa Anita forever as far as I am concerned.

C'mon man, we want details, don't you wanna brag?

ljk said...

I'd say the word Drape was looking for was chirp.

If the goal of the BC is to benefit the sport in this country then it should be permanently on dirt. As you (kind of) suggest, let the best turf/synth horses battle it out on the Tapeta at Meydan each spring.

ljk said...

Oh, and great to see another Ryder Cup reference.

jk, you're not from Lewiston Maine are you?

Keith - Triple Dead Heat said...

Zenyatta inspired some great writing across the board. Happy to see the positive focus. Racing needs this.

Munick's video over at BC360 covered how Quality Road also may have dealt with claustrophobic gate issues. More smooching required?

Anonymous said...

Leave it at Santa Anita. Look at the weather for the last two. Perfect. Compare that to the disaster of Monmouth Park. I would rather bet on the poly track and a fast turf course that a sloppy mess and soft course.
Also, does anyone know if Zenyatta knew she was running against males ? Can a horse sense the difference ? I know that if I was in a gate with 12 females, it would alter my racing capabilities. Thanks.

Glimmerglass said...

In addition to Summer Bird running in the Japan Cup Dirt (as the late Tin Cup Chalice did last year too) so too does the beat go on for Cannonball.

He did Royal Ascot this summer, the BC, and now he's off to Hong Kong for the Cathay Pacific HK Classic (G1) on December 13th and then, if all goes well, goes to Oz for the January 31st, 2010 running of the Coolmore Lightning Stakes (Aus G1) at Flemington.

Anyone else note that Zenyatta earned a Beyer of just 112 for the BCC? He prior best in 2009 was 104.

Rachel's top Beyer figure is 116.

jk said...

I am not from Maine, I am from the Bronx.

I hit the late pick 4 on Saturday but it was very lucky.

I did not use Zenyatta but wound up with her when Quality Road, who I used, was scratched at the gate.

Better to be lucky than good. It paid $1980 for $1.

I feel like this is more like confessing than bragging!

Anonymous said...

Plenty of folks that had Z in the P4 were very disappointed in their payout due to the scratch.

They really need to fix this problem with a conso payout, a la the DD.

bobby digital said...

Build a track with 3 courses: a dirt, a turf, and a synth.

Have the Breeders' Cup there every year.

Have a Dirt Mile, a Turf Mile, and a Synth Mile.

Make it a 3 or 4 day Event. Thurs - Sunday.

Get media to cover it outside of Blood-Horse and Thoroughbred Times. Get it in the daily US newspapers and magazines.

alan said...

>>Build a track with 3 courses: a dirt, a turf, and a synth....Have the Breeders' Cup there every year.

I have a perfect location for that...just stick some Poly down on the inner track and run it at the Big A!

sid fernando said...

@ ljk, yes, they chirp, too, as well as cluck...and other sounds that can't quite be defined...but they do smooch, too.

Anonymous said...

Want a permanent championship at Santa Anita- have the yearly synthetic specialists only Synthetic Breeder's Cup. And if it does not find success, don't blame us for not letting the synthetic salesmen drag us down with you. Chuchill Downs 2010 here we come.

ballyfager said...

@Steven - The weather at Mth was gorgeous for a solid week just prior to that Fri/Sat. You can't count on the weather that late in Oct. in the Northeast. I realize they have to cater to TV but somebody should have stopped these dummies from shooting themselves in the foot.

@JK - love your candor and the money is just as green even though you backed into it.

Anonymous said...

I live on the east coast and would love to have the Cup here, but only if they put a tarp on the track. I only time I stay away from wagering if the tracks sloppy and off the turf races. You just can't handicap those. Knowing it will be sunny, fast and firm makes it easier. Fake dirt of no fake dirt.

Anonymous said...

It was 65 and sunny the weekend before this years cup in NY, the weekend that would have been the BC if it were properly awarded.

Mth was a fluke.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who are convinced that synthetic tracks are a negative and anxiously await the return of the BC to the dirt of Churchill Downs I say - be careful what you wish for. Consider the following results from races run on the DIRT at the 2006 BC at Churchill Downs:

1. Six of the top eight spots in the Breeders’ Cup DIRT Classic went to Californians, Europeans and Polytrack horses.

2. A turf horse won the Juvenile Fillies as Polytrack horses finished third and fourth.

3. Four of the top six spots in the Ladies’ Classic (formerly Distaff) went to Polytrack horses.

4. A California-based synthetic horse won the Sprint.

5. Polytrack horses ran one, two, three in the Juvenile, sweeping the trifecta.

Anonymous said...

1.)invasor, bernardini and premium tap, none of these horses were all weather horses
2.)dreaming of anna, she broke her maiden on dirt
3.)round pond, happy ticket and balletto, which one of these prefered AW?
4.)ok, a california horse won
5.)street sense, did her ever even win on a AW course?
circular quay, see previous question, great hunter, yes he was an AW horse.