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.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.
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]
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.)