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Monday, January 14, 2008

Zenyatta Kicks Back With Easy Win

- Santa Anita made it through the weekend, and no decision has been made on replacing it with a dirt surface. But, while the trainers seem to be satisfied with the condition of the surface, some riders have taken to wearing large safety visors in order to protect them from flying debris.

“They’ve got a lot of coarse sand and rocks in the track, and we need something to protect our faces,” said [Garrett] Gomez. “The sand stings." [Bloodhorse]
It's also worth noting for future handicapping that, according to Gomez, some horses are reluctant to run into the stinging kickback.

One horse that apparently was not bothered by kickback was the phenomenal Zenyatta, in the G2 El Encino. However, given that she was well back in last place and then way wide turning for home, perhaps she didn't encounter much. Trevor Denman seemed a bit skeptical as they turned for home when he noted that she "had to be ridden from 4th; she'll have to come down the grandstand side." She had a good 5-6 lengths to make up once she straightened herself out; but David Flores was easing her up after she blew by the three in front of her. And the really ridiculous thing is that John Sherriffs said afterwards that "She hasn’t uncorked her big stride yet, so we’re still waiting for that." [Bloodhorse] Gulp!

Given that this was the four-year old daughter of Street Cry's first stakes try (in her third career start), perhaps one can understand why she was 7-2 morning line against some legit stakes horses. She was dismissed by the Form's usually prescient Brad Free, who opined that the race was a virtual match race between Grade 1 winners Romance Is Diane and Tough Tiz's Sis. She ended up going off as the 6-5 favorite. I doubt we'll be seeing either that price or her being underestimated by the morning oddsmaker or Mr. Free anytime soon.

- As has been noted, Zenyatta is named after the Police's third album. After the reggae-infused punk rock of their first two excellent records, Zenyatta Mondata, with mainstream drivel like Do Do Do Do Da Da Da Da, or whatever it was called, was the beginning of the band's decline in my retroactive esteem, culminating in Synchronicity, an album which I find absolutely unlistenable nowadays. The late and great BBC DJ John Peel once said that he liked the fact that he would someday feel silly for liking the music he did at the time. I liked Synchronicity when it came out, and for that I feel really silly. And not in a way that I like!


the chalk said...


I was told the sand supply added to the Santa Anita surface contained loose grain debris as well. With the sole intention to dry out the synthetic sob. It’s become far too heavy. I'm laughing about the "Cali-Boys" comments regarding the kickback. I'm not sure if you or other readers have felt the grain difference between synthetic vs. conventional dirt, but synthetic is drastically lighter given its complexity. So, the common feedback from riders over the past few years has been the lack of kickback from the surface. Both better for rider and horse. It appears a little drainage problem makes a mess.

It’s funny because right here in our own backyard is the track with the most notorious kickback in the nation, Aqueduct inner. Because of its heavy sand based mixture and coarse components put together to support the winter elements of NY. Those pieces create kickback heavier than any. The other point worth mentioning for those interested, a horse that “eats the dirt” is going to eat it on any surface type or weather. One who is timid from its kickback is timid on any day and surface type. Unfortunately that training info is not in The Form.

Anonymous said...

What i heard about the kickback (in addition to the sand issue)is that small rocks from the lower-level drainage system (near the base) have gotten churned up into top portion of the track during all this re-fabrication they've been doing. And they're getting sprayed about within the kickback. Ouch.

John said...

Oh come on Alan, Synchronicity is still listenable.

And while I am questioning your taste, nary a word on your blog about West Point's phenomenal three year old, El Gato Malo!!

BTW belated congrats on your birthday and impending nups. I have only met the Head Chef but I surmised from our one meeting that she must be a SAINT !!!

Anonymous said...

Alan, you're not alone.

It's hard to believe at one time, while I was loving the Replacements, Elvis Costello, the Clash, Sun Ra, Miles Davis, and Fela Kuti, I was also listening to THE POLICE!

It's personally embarrassing! ;D

Alan Mann said...

chalk - Thanks for that info....I wasn't aware that the kickback on the IT was such a problem. Lack of kickback was one of the original selling points of the synthetic tracks, a notion which was quickly dispelled at Turfway and Woodbine.

John - Oh no, we're going to have to see Terry Finley's mug at the Derby again? And possibly with a real contender? Still catching up from the weekend and will definitely check that race out.

Forego - We all have our ghosts in the machine.....I mean, in the closet I guess! Speaking of the Replacements, this biography on the band is supposed to be quite good, and I plan to check it out. One of these days I'll have to tell my favorite Replacements in concert story.

Anonymous said...

Sadly that book is only average. I got it for Xmas and devoured it within days. But the author has a nasty knack for introducing parts of the band's history without explanation, probably expecting the reader to know exactly what he's talking about. There's too much "I remember when" scenester stories and not enough nuts-and-bolts info about the actual recording sessions and true insider stuff. Definitely don't pay full price for it. It's worth a read but, being a fan since I saw them at their CBGBs show in December 1984, I was really disappointed.