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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Preakness and Filly Don't Need Each Other

The latest reports say that neither Mark Allen nor Ahmed Zayat (and certainly not Marylou Whitney) will enter horses in the Preakness with the express purpose of freezing Rachel Alexandra out. Personally, I had absolutely no problem with the concept of them doing so. Allen's notion of running an 0-for-9 maiden is rather extreme however, and poses a danger to the horse itself.

Still, I would only have criticized him for over the latter issue had the scheme come to fruition. People talk about the good of the game, but, for one thing, this is competition. And if an owner, particularly one striving for the Triple Crown, has a chance to exclude a horse which would likely beat his (not to mention deprive him of the services of the jockey who played such a huge role in the Derby success), and do so playing completely within the rules, why would he not do so? I couldn't believe reading Joe Drape equate the posturing with the public outrage after the fatal breakdown of the filly Eight Belles at last year’s Derby as well as Congressional scrutiny of its drug and safety policies. C'mon, this is nothing but competitive gamesmanship; I'd hardly make that comparison!

Besides, I don't see where the good of the game at all requires that Rachel Alexandra runs in this race. She's the most spectacular Kentucky Oaks winner of all time; what's the urgency to run her back so early in the season on two week's rest against this bunch of colts? What exactly would she be proving if she wins? She was being sensibly spotted to share the spotlight on Belmont day against her own kind, and they'll be potential for plenty of far more dramatic encounters with horses of either sex down the road. Assuming she goes on, I'd be more excited to see her face Zenyatta than any of these guys (and even the older ones).


Unknown said...

I would like to see her take on Zenyatta, Stardom Bound, Music Note, and Cocoa Beach.

Whether you think she should run in the Preakness or not, it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth to see the classless way Mark Allen and Ahmed Zayat were thinking of taking advantage of her situation.

Tony said...

Just because someone has the right to do something, even to gain a competitive advantage, doesn't mean they should. I agree the filly isn't going to win the Preakness, but the conspiracy being created to keep her out would have been disastrous for the sport. Racing finally got a star to promote, and for a variety of reasons, largely competitive and, in the case of the Derby winner's connections, utterly selfish, they tried to keep the girl out for no other reason than the media spotlight wouldn't be on them. I'll be one of many unimpressed with Jess Jackson buying into a dream instead of earning it, and be one of many thinking he has a good, not great, filly who beat up on Oaks bottom-feeders. But there was no honest reason, given what appears to be questionable quality in this crop, to keep her out by entering the NW1x-eligible and a maiden who'd be running only from spite (to spite Calvin Borel) if they would have run at all. The tragedy would have been that people were at least discussing racing in public again (and not accompanied by "had to be euthanized"), and these folks wanted to make "their" race a non-competitive joke for petty reasons.

malcer said...

Sorry, but isn't winning the Triple Crown regarded so highly because it's supposed to be the ultimate proof of a horse's superiority to their crop?

I'm not sure if "gamesmanship" is such a great thing to strive for. It's certainly not the spirit this sport was founded on, which would be "sportsmanship", and I'd prefer the latter.

Anonymous said...

I usually agree with you Alan but you are way off on this one. Rachel Alexandra is great for the game right now and I find it hard to believe you would rather see d Wayne lukas enter 3 horses that will run 12th, 13th, and 14th. Who knows where and when zenyatta will show up. The fact is there are few spots on dirt that will be as exciting to see alexandra than next Saturday

Anonymous said...

Agree I had zero problem with the concept of entering another horse to excluse RA, as long as the horse actually ran. Entering and scratching just to keep her out would be bush league.

Jackson purchased the filly to run here, but he knew she was not nominated so has to live with the consequences. If Lukas and/or Zito can run a no shot horses just to get publicicity why should Zayat be excluded from doing the same.

Media, who cryed a river over the 8Belles tragedy, are now a hundred percent in favor of RA running. Hypocrites.

Personally, I think she should run, the only question anyone seems to have is running her back in two weeks, but she faced no one in the Oaks and the race hardly amounted to more than a long breeze.

So she should run if they want to and she gets in, and Zayat should enter other horses if he so desires.

IF she is excluded or just does not enter, if I ownded MTB I would have a real problem using Borel, personally, recognizing he won the Derby for them of course but to be sitting around with a Derby winner and be a jock's second call simply would not sit well with me. I would want my new jock riding that horse every morning to get familiar with her.

And I would not use Mike Smith, the AWT has rejuvenated his career due to his patented late wide rally, but it is a suicide route at Pimlico. I would have used Desormeaux or Dominguez.

onecalicocat said...

Allen and Zayat went through a thought process that is completely understandable. I would hardly call their thinking "classless."
It looks to me like the new owners of Rachel Alexandra are the ones taking advantage of a situation that (at first look) is highly favorable to them. They got rid of trainer Wiggins and avoided the tougher races the colts went through in order to get to this point.
I will not be rooting for Rachel Alexandra Saturday because I believe the better people are connected to other horses. I don't wish Rachel Alexandra any problems except I would like her to lose the race.

Anonymous said...

Come on people, this is a sporting contest not a business deal! Get your minds right.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if PETA is burning up the phones to owners of nominated horses to try and exclude RA?

Anon 850am, sorry, but once Jackson ponied up $? Millions to purchase RA and run, this race became as much of a business deal as it is a sporting event.

First, Pimlico racing secretary should be fired for writing such ambigous conditions, second, there should be no limit on starters regardless.

But the rules are what they are, and if Zayat wants to enter another horse to help his chances he should do so.

Anonymous said...

Three questions that I need reconciled;

How is it that running RA is considered "good for the game" a year after 8 Belles death was considered horrible for the game?

For years we have been reading that we need a triple crown winner for the good of the game, so even ignoring the 8Belles tragedy for a minute how is it good for the game to try and defeat the Derby winner?

If the horse rallying up the rail to win by daylight was Dunkirk instead of Mine That Bird how differently would the situation be reported?

El Angelo said...

This whole controversy is in no way deplorable or bad for racing, because it's getting the general public talking about the Preakness. As Oscar Wilde noted, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

SaratogaSpa said...

I ditto El Angelo's comments.

Anonymous said...

Or P.T. Barnum: 'I don't care what they say about me, just make sure they spell my name right!'

Anonymous said...

Having Rachel Alex. in the race will be the only way to save the Preakness this year. Have you seen how bad a shape racing is in these days? I know you have so I will just say I strongly disagree with your perspective. If it was 1974 I would have time for your argument but not today. I hope her and MTB duel down the stretch.

Erin said...

I wasn't planning on watching until the RA announcement. (To watch requires I take the night off work.)

Now, it's a horse race.

Does anyone wonder how this all might be playing out differently if RA was a colt? Yes, a colt would've likely already faced these if that were the case; but if he hadn't, if maybe he was a small timer, late comer. RA is no small timer or late comer so, no, it's not the same, but the level of emotion right now certainly wouldn't be so high if she weren't a "girl." Which is silly. She's a racehorse. Like the rest of them.

And anon 9:43, didn't you know that "it's good for the game" is now a euphemism for "it's in my best interest"?

used in context: Allen to Zayat - "You'd have been the favorite...I'm looking for vindication that my colt was not a fluke and I'm sure you are looking to beat us also....can you please help us. It's good for the game."


Anonymous said...

MTB's owner is quite the piece of work. I raised an eyebrow when I read how he and his trainer became friends after they got in a bar fight with some other"gentlemen." Now he's the "mastermind" of this plot? Wow. THAT'S the kind of warm and fuzzy story we all love at Triple Crown time. Just what racing needs, owners like this. You knew he was a genius when he paid $400,000 .....FOR A GELDING. And I should root for this horse? Sorry.