RSS Feed for this Blog

Saturday, October 30, 2010


This is Proviso galloping at Churchill yesterday...again, this photo is courtesy of Churchill Downs (and thanks to them for having the good taste to include yours truly on their media list). Goldikova might be the most tempting horse to single on the Saturday card. But I think that this mare is one, listed at double-digit odds (along with The Usual Q.T., who I mentioned previously), who is eligible to provide some value underneath. She's proven to be no match for the two-time defending Mile champ in the past. But all she's done this year is win four Grade 1's in a row, running just a bit faster (according to the Beyers, anyway) each time, for trainer Bill Mott, who took over from the late Bobby Frankel this year.

Gio Ponti is entered in the Mile, but as you probably know, will be going in the Classic instead where, as far as I'm concerned, he's a dead-on no-doubt-about-it throwout in his first race on real dirt. Just another case, like Paddy O'Prado, of a turf horse caught in the middle of the Mile and the Turf, and taking a shot on dirt for no other reason than possible breeding shed glory. Well, fine with me, just subsidizes the odds on the others, in my opinion.

Zenyatta galloped a mile and a half at Hollywood Park, and her trainer says: "She looks just terrific.....Her weight is great, her coat is perfect." And her exercise rider, Steve Willard, said:

“Is superb adequate enough?....Judging by her aggressiveness, she’s training really forwardly. If I gave her her head, she’d go [three furlongs] in 35 and change. Her mind is in a different place.” [DRF]

There might be a lot of good horses and compelling races on the two Breeders' Cup cards (though also several races that I personally couldn't care less about). But let's face it, all of it - Goldikova included - is just a preliminary for the Classic, which, in turn, is just a showcase for Jerry Moss' spectacular, undefeated champion. Win or lose. What an amazing story for this mare to take her 19 for 19 record into this final race of her career. Only the bitter sourpusses of the world, those who just can't bring themselves to accept change and innovation in the name of the attempted betterment of the sport (especially when it poses a threat to their own methodologies and perception of how races should be run), would possibly be rooting against her. I mean, in the name of playing the game, I might bet on others, especially if Dirty really wants to give me 10-1 on Blame. But, even if she beats you, if you can't enjoy a deep appreciation what she would then have accomplished, then I think you should just be playing the slots, or some other game with less takeout and better odds of success.

And I don't see why she can't and won't end her career in the storybook fashion that we all...or at least most of us....would like to see. I'm not buying this stuff about this being amongst the deepest and/or most talented Classic field ever. I think it's being way overrated. You have the two throwouts I mentioned above, plus a collection of some pretty nice horses - including some three-year olds from a terribly mediocre crop - whose success I would attribute mostly to the general deterioration in quality that we have in racing today. Zenyatta aside, I would venture to say that there's not a horse in this race - with the possible additional exception of Quality Road, who, however, is not going to last the mile and a quarter distance - who's nearly as talented as any of the three horses who battled to the wire in that very first Classic. And I say that knowing full well that none of those three are even close to ranking amongst the all-time greats of the game.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Alan, count me in the bitter sourpuss column when it comes to Zenyatta. Zenyatta still gets an asterisk as never having raced against the best in NY.

If Zenyatta is still undefeated it means she didn't race against the best; I can't think of one horse on the all time greats list that didn't lose at least once. Too much of that phony Hollywood stage management to suit my tastes.

Buit no matter as the Z connections have made the sale to the national racing media with the possible exception of Andy Beyer? /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

hey grandpa you're aware that they run in places besides new york, right? the days of ny domination ended about 70 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Grandpa says only one state has made a bigger mess of it than NY. You guessed it: The Golden State. I disagree that the center of racing gravity has shifted from NY to La La land.

Nope, it is still the Big Apple, and this coming from a Sox fan and native, provincial New Englander. But this New Englander is pretty good at spotting imposters and that is what CA racing is.

NY is still Numero Uno when it comes to racing whereas CA has gone the way of feel good, synthetics, just like so many of the synthetic phonies in Hollywood.Ya gotta win in NY, on natural surfaces, or it just ain't the real deal.

NY is simply not ready to concede racing supremacy to CA, is it Alan? The Big A VLT's should give NY racing a big shot in the arm in 2011, and beyond, and certainly enough to turn back any challenge from the West Coast.

Next step is to reform the BC Series and Eclipse Awards before they do any more damage to stakes programs at tracks all over North America. Ya wanna win Eclipse Awards then ya gotta run your horse against all comers at least 6 or 7 times a season, your track or mine, on fast, slop, or in the goo. /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

This IMHO is a weak Classic.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you buying the NTRA/BC hype machine about Zenyatta and joining the " your a bad person if you aren't rooting for Zenyatta " brigade. What's next....the Tea Party for you?

I have a question for you, how would people react if a " major " racing organization ( bear with me please ) created a simulated race, which included some well regarded horses from the past, plus Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, and not only did Rachel win, but Zenyatta finished last? I'm guessing, and rightly so, there would be a ton of backlash. Thus, is it not fair to ask how the NTRA could produce such a simulation with the opposite result?

But, if you don't love all things Zenyatta you are a meanie....a bad and evil person. A sourpuss, I believe, in your words.

Alan, seriously, you are MUCH better than that.

race said...

Gee guys, grumpy or what? Why can't we separate Zenyatta from your hate of California racing. No way did I think she could win last year. That took a lot of guts, I do believe she is smart enough to know not to get to her belly, fast enough to win, but not to get too far down in her belly to ruin her. East Coast racing is superior, more fun, etc. But giminee Christmas give the girl a break. She just might explode on dirt after running in that muck out West--race

Anonymous said...

Sea the Stars is a piece of shit who never raced in NY too.

Anonymous said...

Zenyatta is a special horse. No matter what happens in six days, she goes down in the annals of racing. If you can't recognize this, well I don't get it. Everything about her is special -- her looks, her pre-race demeanor, and her performance on the racetrack. I think she will probably be even money or maybe shorter, but I wonder if she might actually offer better value in the multi-race/exotic wager pools, as I know a bunch of wise guys looking to beat her.

Goldikova is also a special horse, but I think she might be more vulnerable than Zenyatta. For one, she's actually lost horseraces, and the CD turf can produce quirky results. The Usual QT is very fast and might actually rate a chance against these Euros. Proviso can beat me. I wish Gio Ponti would run because he's not quite fast enough and he'll take lots of dough.

The late p4 actually seems manageable. -jp

Tony C. said...

"...Gio Ponti is entered in the Mile, but as you probably know, will be going in the Classic instead..."

Not sure where you get your information, but you're almost certainly wrong. He's 2/5 to run in the Mile.

Anonymous said...

Goldikova has " lost races " because she has been tested over and over again.

Too bad Zenyatta wasn't. Then again, she might have proved herself the superstar many have been hypnotized into believing she is, but wouldn't have caught her true rival, Pepper's Pride, in that case.

If Zenyatta wins Saturday, it makes it even sadder she was virtually never tested. If she loses, I guess her connections were very clever to pepper's pride her.

Tony C is right.....Gio Ponti is going in the Mile in all likelihood.

Steve D said...

Can't Zenyatta be a great horse - a performer for the ages, in fact - while still also leaving serious questions about her ability to beat top horses under a variety of circumstances? Absolutely.

I was overwhelmed by her victory last year, which I predicted and bet on. It was a fantastic, remarkable moment - a victory over open company at the highest stakes. It should have made her horse of the year.

But frankly, that was her only such moment. Sure, there's been other excitement, but all of it has come against fillies, most has been on synthetics and it's come against primarily regional opposition (when people are citing Ginger Punch as evidence for Zenyatta's all-time greatness, you know there's a bit of a weakness in the argument).

Her connections deserve the blame for this situation. What they have effectively done is made the Classic the defining crucible of Zenyatta's career. Had they come to New York and won the Whitney, Woodward or Gold Cup (just one of them), Zenyatta would have her place in history secure. Even if they had run in the Big Cap or Hollywood Gold Cup, the conversation might be different (though the synthetics issue would still loom).

But they've left it to the Classic. No excuses - if she wins, she's one of the all time greats. If she loses, all the questions remain. The notion of crowning her now win or lose is moronic, hence a column to that effect by Joe Drape, the defining idiot of turf scribes.

If she wins the Classic, I'm cool with some calling her "the greatest," even if I still hold Secretariat and Spectacular Bid in higher esteem. If she doesn't, then we collectively have to get a grip about the extent of her greatness, and how it was truly limited by the conservative nature of her connections.

race said...

To Steve D.
Well said, I would not change a word of your comments---yes, the connections have left it all to ride on the Classic--reminds me of some late nights at the crap table, more times than not, I got lucky, should be exciting come Saturday--race

Anonymous said...

A BC Classic win-or loss- will not change my opinion of Zenyatta and her place in the Pantheon of Thoroughbred Gods. It must be qualified, the old asterisk routine.

As Steve D from NC and another commenter have pointed out, Moss & Co should have shipped east this summer to contest the Whitney, or Woodward at The Spa, or another NY Grade I at Belmont with open company.They did not and therefore some racing fans, and a few in the media, feel like we're being used.

Zenyatta's career has been stage managed like some up and coming politician who believes that a loss along the way will tarnish the image. Such stage management should not be rewarded; this now gets us back to reforming the Eclipse Awards such that the BC Classic is not the be all, end all for HOY. /S/greenmtnpunter

El Angelo said...

I think GMP just equated Zenyatta with Rudy Guiliani.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any objections to people questioning Zenyatta's accomplishments, since the vast majority of her races came against Socal fillies and mares. Personally I think her accomplishments are amazing, but I it's a fair counter-argument to say that she hasn't been in enough true "wars" to be mentioned on a short-list of all time greats.

That said, I think the criticism of her connections is probably unfair. I recall a recent interview of her connections in which they said people don't understand the challenges and the stresses of shipping a mare like this. Okay, so fine, she hasn't shipped very often and it's fair to question her record when we get into the boring all-time great discussion. But please don't mention Pepper's Pride. It's an idiotic comparison. Zenyatta has been running in Grade 1s virtually the whole way through. And she has shipped and won on dirt twice. And she won the BC Classic. Easily.

As for Ginger Punch, fine she's not Man-o-War, but Ginger Punch was defending BC Distaff champion in that race, and was in the midst of a stretch of races where she was winning 6 of 7 with her lone loss against Zenyatta. -jp

DiscreetPicks said...

Amazing how a horse that has won two separate Breeders Cup races (including a win in the Classic a a female, something that had never been done before) can be described as "untested".

Just keep doubting her. At least thru Saturday. My subscribers will appreciate it.

Figless said...

>That said, I think the criticism of her connections is probably unfair. I recall a recent interview of her connections in which they said people don't understand the challenges and the stresses of shipping a mare like this< Anon 1137

I would counter that one of the arguments for greatness in any horse is its ability to ship and run well over a variety of surfaces, all of the "greats" they are trying to compare her to have done this, she has not. I am not talking the also conservatively managed Personal Ensign, I am talking the all time greats like Man O War, Secretariat etc.

Goldikova has run against the best, Z has not.

This from a Z supported in the Z-RA debate, its just reality.

IF she wins Saturday it merits discussion, sure, and she deserves inclusion on the list, but race for race, her record can not stand up against the true all time greats so she does not belong near the top.