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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Morning Notes

Hank Goldberg touted the Jets on ESPN....make that on ESPN Classic (where they may want to consider consigning him permanently)....while picking Justenuffhumor in the Shadwell Turf Mile. Oh man. If he's equally accurate about the game as he was about the horse, the Dolphins will return the opening kickoff for a score, recover a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and the Jets will never be in the game! Thanks a lot, Hank.

Court Vision ($11.60) seemed too easy given the pre-race reporting of his switch to Dutrow and his "equipment change" to alleviate the discomfort caused by the testicle that had moved into his abdomen. I hate when that happens. Just as Iavarone said before the race, the cutback to a mile suited him did, I imagine, the slow early pace which allowed him to stay much closer than usual. He closed in 23.35, with each quarter quicker than the preceding one. Not much chance for Justenufhomor to close from the back of the pack in this one, and Alan Garcia said that he hated the soft track. Excuses, excuses; hope we're not hearing Rex Ryan complain about the footing at Land Shark Stadium late on Monday night.

When I criticized the Champagne field and the state of two-year old racing, I hadn't yet looked at the Breeders Futurity - now that was a worthy two-year old stakes; 14 horses of varying backgrounds from racetracks east and west. As this reader pointed out, a two-turn race on a synthetic surface is surely a more appropriate prep for this year's Juvenile than a one-turn race on dirt at Belmont. However, the Champagne seemed a more logically incremental step for many of the horses who raced at Keeneland, given that just four of the 14 had two-turn experience coming in. Noble's Promise ($27.80) was not one of those, though he was coming off a stakes win over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle. As a son of Cuvee out of a Clever Trick mare, one might deem him more suitable for the shorter distances; but if you look deeper into his distaff family, you'll find distance horses such as Parade Ground, Plenty of Grace, Military, and Soaring Softly. Those are grass horses too, and the fact that he liked the Keeneland Poly bodes well for his future on that surface.

Noble's Promise is the first graded stakes winner for his second year sire, standing for just $6500 at Gainesway in Kentucky.

I also mentioned yesterday that the handicap division lies in ruin, and I suppose it does even more so now after Gitano Hernando ($38), a previously nondescript three-year old shipper from the UK, upset the Goodwood, beating some of the west's top contenders - plus Derby winner Mine That Bird. "He's lightly raced, and it's amazing going from a condition race to a Grade 1," said trainer Marco Botti. [Racing Post] Not so amazing though when it comes to Euro shippers on American synthetics. As Jerry Bailey noted on ESPN, this could open the floodgates from overseas as far as potential Breeders Cup starters go.

The Team Valor-owned winner is by Hernando (Ninisky/Nijinsky) out of Ginos Spirits, a US stakes winner (G3 Nobel Damsel).

Zenyatta was the star of the day, and I'll get back to her since I gotta go and don't want to demean her brilliance by giving her short shrift due to my own time constraints here. But, before I go, I'll just pose the hypothetical question of whether, on some mythical racing surface on which all things are equal, do you think that Rachel Alexandra could really hold off her powerful close?


Anonymous said...

Believe GH was originally purchased with a Belmont Stakes start in mind, then something went awry.

Steve Crist pointed out that Zenyatta's race was slower than GH, which may make them reconsider starting her vs. the boyz.

Based on the time, I suspect Rachel would eat her for lunch just as I suspect Summer Bird would eat GH for lunch.

It is going to be very interesting to see whom the BC committee deems worthy to run in The Classic, I suspect it will be over subscribed and they will be splitting hairs between marginal Euro's and marginal Americans like Richards Kid, Colonel John and Macho Again. I guess MTB will get a spot but not so sure he even deserves one at this point.

Without researching I wonder if any of the BC Win and You're In Classic division horses will bump some more worthy candidates?

Silly to ponder, shouldn't the KY Derby be a Win and You're In race?

oso7 said...

Zenyatta has consistently run only as fast as she needs to for the win. Mike Smith said she only reached top speed for 4 or 5 strides as she came off the far turn and took the lead. She cruised home from there. I think Rachel Alexandra's tremendous speed would make her the winner at 1 1/16, but any distance beyond that it would be Zenyatta regardless of the surface.

Anonymous said...

How "Hammered" was Hank? I missed the broadcast:(

the Source of the James said...

I'd say Mine That Bird deserved to be in the BC, if for no other reason than name recognition.

And after all, he's the only horse to finish in the money in all three Triple Crown races and the only horse to even come close to beating RA, so I don't think it would be bad for racing to have e him in there.

Besides, the Euros are going to have the Americans for lunch again anyway, so it won't hurt to give the non betting general public someone to root for.

El Angelo said...

There are 4 automatically in the Classic from WAYI: Richard's Kid, Bullsbay, Gitano Hernando, and something named Gran Estreno. (Seriously.)

The next three are based on points. That would be Summer Bird, Quality Road and Macho Again, assuming they all want to run.

After that it goes to the panel. Assuming both want to run in the Classic, there's zero chance they would exclude Sea the Stars and Zenyatta, and I have to think that Mine That Bird would get a spot as well, since he did win the Derby and is actually next in points if you don't include Einstein, who wouldn't run. After that, it's a scramble of crapiness.

Anonymous said...

El Al, thanks a lot.

Also believe Gio Ponti is under considerationm so that leaves only three spots available if all the qualifiers enter, and I have to believe Colonel John would get one of those remaining spots.

A number of Euro's may enter, and based on last year's results and the fact that the BC is encouraging participation, the remaining spots will likely be filled with those Euro's, leaving the rest of the Americans out in the cold, justifiably I guess.

The bubble may be crowded, and if more than three Euro's not named Sea The Stars enter there will be some tough cuts to make.

Anonymous said...

Classic Lineup - ML Odds??

1.)Richard's Kid-50-1
3.)Gitano Hernando-25-1
4.)Gran Estreno-200-1
5.)Summer Bird-5-1
6.)Quality Road-30-1
7.)Macho Again-30-1
8.)Sea the Stars-8-5
10.)Mine That Bird-15-1
11.)Gio Ponti-12-1
12.)Colonel John-25-1
13.)Euro tbd-20-1
14.)Euro tbd-30-1

Anonymous said...

British odds for BC Classic;

4-5 Sea The Stars, 9-4 Rip Van Winkle, 5-1 Zenyatta, 7-1 Summer Bird,10-1 Mastercraftsman, 14-1 Gio Ponti, Gitano Hernando, Quality Road, Richards Kid,16-1 Rail Trip, 20-1 Bullsbay, Einstein, Mine That Bird, Tiago, 25-1 Macho Again, 33-1 Colonel John

ballyfager said...

I don't think your question of Rachel vs. Zenyatta is valid. HOY is, or should be, based on what they have done, not what might happen if they met in some hypothetical situation.

On that basis, Rachel towers over Zenyatta. Zenyatta MAY be every bit as good a racehorse, but the way she has been managed leaves her with no shot whatsoever at HOY.

El Angelo said...

The only other viable candidate for HOTY is Gio Ponti.

alan said...

>>Zenyatta MAY be every bit as good a racehorse, but the way she has been managed leaves her with no shot whatsoever at HOY.

Respectfully disagree. If Zenyatta wins the Classic, she has to be HOTY in my opinion. There have to be consequences for skipping the big dance. It's not like Rachel is hurt, the owner is just being a dick.

the Source of the James said...

Agree. If Zenyatta wins the Classic, she should be HoY.
But she won't be. RA had it sewed up when she won the Preakness due to her sex and the horse racing community still feel they owe a debt to Jess Jackson for Curlin.

However, what a win WILL do is cause fans to debate forever if the best horse really won.

El Angelo said...

Why should Zenyatta be HOTY if she wins the Classic? RA will have won more races, more G1's, have beaten every relevant horse except Zenyatta, and done so at seven different racetracks.

It's important to remember that it's Horse of the Year, not the career. What Zenyatta did last year is irrelevant.

As for punishing her owners for skipping the Breeders Cup, I saw no objection to Mineshaft winning in 2003 when he did the same thing. If the BC is a prerequisite to qualify for HOTY, the voters should make that a rule. But it's not.

Alan Mann said...

>>Why should Zenyatta be HOTY if she wins the Classic?

Because she will have won the race which has been designated as the World Championship race. Period! :-) If there aren't consequences for an owner holding his horse out for reasons that go no further than his bitterness and vindictiveness, then the Classic will be diminished and eventually have no meaning at all.

Alan Mann said...

And just to clarify, no, I'm not saying that any bum who has a good day and wins the Classic should automatically be HOY. But I do think that Zenyatta has certainly accomplished more than enough this year so that she's entitled to automatically qualify as HOY should she win the race.

DiscreetPicks said...

Funny how Sea The Stars is the European who seems to be getting most of the attention for the Classic, while he probably isn't going to run (not confirmed yet, of course). Rip Van Winkle is the horse that Americans should be getting to know right now. As it currently stands, i think he may be the most likely winer of the Classic.

Gio Ponti is also being overlooked, i think. He's already won on the Santa Anita main track, and he seems no less a threat than any of the American 3yo's, and/or the California contingent.

Regarding Zenyatta, it's purely speculation on my part, but i suspect she's better than 50/50 for the Classic right now, due largely to the Goodwood result. Her connections must feel that the Classic is ripe for the taking (as long as Sea The Stars doesn't show up), and i'm sure they've been a little bit jealous of all the attention Rachel Alexandra has received this year. And winning the Classic (a race that Rachel "ducked") would go a long way towards changing the media's perception of who the better horse is.

One last thing regarding Rachel Alexandra, something i've mentioned to Alan in the past, but i'm not sure has ever been mentioned here. If Jackson/Asmussen are so dead-set against synthetic surfaces, then why did they REPEATEDLY train Curlin over the Keeneland polytrack, over a period of a couple of years?

the Source of the James said...

Just curious, just who designated the BC Classic as the World Championship race???

If that's the case, why did Curlin and New Approach finish out 2008 as the worlds top horses? Curlin had his head handed to him in the BC and still got HoY and New Approach didn't even make the trip.

Alan Mann said...

>>Just curious, just who designated the BC Classic as the World Championship race???

Me. :-)

Well, no, the Breeders' Cup christened their races as the World Championships a few years ago. That presents a problem, such as with Curlin last year, because the Eclipse is based only on North American racing, and he lost to Euro horses making their only start here.

But I'm talking about the opposite situation. I think that if a horse like Zenyatta were to win this race, in which the best horses in the world, including Rachel Alexandra, are invited to compete, then she should have the inside track to HOY except in extreme circumstances. People like El Angelo and ballyfager feel that this IS one of those circumstances given RA's extraordinary campaign. I think that's a very fair point, but I lean towards disagreeing with them. Tough call though, and not something I'd get into a fist fight over, nor bring guns to the track.

El Angelo said...

By that rationale, though, if Summer Bird won the Classic, he would be HOTY. And given that Rachel Alexandra thrashed him in their only meeting, that would be a tough proposition, no?

o_crunk said...

Alan, the only justification you've given for Z to get the award is one race and "there have to be consequences for skipping the big dance."

Surely there has to be better reasons than that?

Z's campaign is a carbon copy of last year thus far. If she didn't win versus Curlin last year, how could she win against the "extraordinary" campaign of RA?

Frankly, while it's great for the game that Z was brought back this year, what exactly is the point of running the same campaign? If you're going to bring her back why not swing for the fences? And still sitting on the fence about going to the Classic? Sheesh.

jk said...

More hijinx regarding the Big A slots deal....

Gov's casino flip stirs fears of rigging

Last Updated: 10:17 AM, October 12, 2009

Posted: 3:55 AM, October 12, 2009

There's growing fear that Gov. Paterson is manipulating the bidding process for the long-delayed, multibillion-dollar contract for a massive video-lottery casino at the Aqueduct Race Track, The Post has learned.

Sources close to the high-stakes selection say they've been shocked by Paterson's recent "flip-flop" on whether one of the six bidders -- tied to influential Queens minister and former US Rep. Floyd Flake -- is even qualified to be licensed by the state Lottery Division, which is vetting the contenders.

"A couple of weeks ago Paterson said that AEG [Aqueduct Entertainment Group] couldn't be qualified by Lottery because of problems with one of its partners," a highly knowledgeable source said.

"But then last week the governor told people that AEG could be qualified for Aqueduct by Lottery. The same partner is there, so why the change, why the flip-flop?"


ballyfager said...

Alan, et al

Based on the way Zenyatta has been managed to date, I don't think you want to hang by your thumbs waiting for her to show up in the Classic.

Let's not forget they still have an undefeated horse on their hands. Are they going to risk that in a race where she would actually have a fair chance of getting beat?

And, even if she won the Classic (which isn't really a classic at all running on that crap), there's no guarantee that she would get HOY.

Rachel's people already rolled the dice and won. They'd have to be nuts to run her again this year. She's in the catbird seat.

I think Zenyatta's people will decide they'd rather keep their horse undefeated and concede HOY.

Alan Mann said...

>>By that rationale, though, if Summer Bird won the Classic, he would be HOTY. And given that Rachel Alexandra thrashed him in their only meeting, that would be a tough proposition, no?

Well, that would give Summer Bird the Belmont, Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the Classic. If he beat a star-studded field, including Sea the Stars and Zenyatta? I'd give him strong consideration for HOTY, regardless of her having beaten him. In fact, now that you mention it, he might even have a better case in that event than Zenyatta!...

...Partly for the reasons o_crunk mentions...and I also agree with the notion that they should just say she's in rather than sitting on the fence and sizing up the competition. But I still think that it has to count for something that a horse shows up to face ostensibly the best horses in the world while another avoids it. For whatever reason. I mean, we talk about this race all year, don't we?

Anonymous said...

Mmmm... Zenyatta and Quality Road running in the Classic. I am licking my chops at all of the money that would be headed her way and all of the stupid money that continues to follow Quality Road who has been the worst managed horse this year. If we could only get a Jeff Mullins horse to run as well. I will be looking to box all the Euro's and hope for a bomb.

oso7 said...

Jess Jackson uses the S.A. surface as the reason why RA won't run in the BC. Yes, Curlin was beaten last year, but he also ran the fastest 1 1/4 of his career. Curlin's downfall was he ran into 2faster horses that Saturday. I don't include Tiago because Albarado had stopped pushing Curlin after it was evident he was going to lose.
I see nothing wrong in awarding Summer Bird HOY if he wins the Classic. Yes, RA did beat him head-to-head but how many greats have lost to others when it simply wasn't their day to persevere? Secretariat vs Onion, Man 'o War vs Upset, Cigar vs Dare and Go and, yes, the list is endless. Jackson elected to say the synthetic surface was the reason his tremendous filly wouldn't run in the BC. Ridiculous, she can handle the surface, she already has. She's had a tough, noteworthy campaign this year, but I think Jackson is foolish to think she's already sewn up HOY. It's still up for grabs and the Classic will likely determine the winner if it involves either SB or Zenyatta as the winner.

ballyfager said...

@ Alan,

"I mean we talk about this race all year"

Not this year, for me. I'm not even going to buy a paper that day. I don't like synthetic tracks and I'm not going to have them jammed down my throat.

They're an ongoing fiasco. I long for the day when they'll be removed. And I think that day will come.

DiscreetPicks said...

This just in....Sea The Stars has been retired.

Alan Mann said...

>>This just in....Sea The Stars has been retired.

I know at least one guy in Las Vegas who's happy about that! :-)

DiscreetPicks said...

Yep, lol.

the Source of the James said...

"but I think Jackson is foolish to think she's already sewn up HOY. It's still up for grabs and the Classic will likely determine the winner if it involves either SB or Zenyatta as the winner."

There is no way on this Earth that RA will not get HoY.
She's had it locked in since the Preakness and her very vocal fans and Jess Jackson himself will throw the mother of all hissie fits if she doesn't get it and the horse racing communty simply will not take a chance on raising the ire of Jackson and taking the chance that he'll get even by retiring RA.

The HoY voters rightly see that there are much bigger fish to fry here than HoY when it comes to buldding the fan base and insuring the future of this sport.

HoY ain't going to put any butts in the seats, Rachael coming back for a 4th season just might, so if Hoy assures she'll be back for another season, it's a small price to pay.
After all, it's history, that HoY, that'll determine who is really remembered as the better horse.

Anonymous said...

Another example of racing shooting itself in the foot, no reason not to run this horse only being retired due to his allegedly stressful campaign ;

"It has been decided after discussions with Mr. Christopher Tsui (the horse’s owner) that Sea The Stars will not take part in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 7," Oxx said. "He’s had a long season and has been in regular fast work from March 3, with his final workout on Oct. 2. He’s been in intensive training for seven months with only a three-week break after the Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) at the beginning of July.

"We feel it is unfair to keep him going any further given his unprecedented record of achievement in the last six months. He’s come out of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) in his usual good form. He is fit and healthy and has been cantering since the race.

"He is now retiring from racing, but I have no information on stud career details and an announcement will be made at a much later date when plans have been finalized,” he said.

Alan Mann said...

>>Another example of racing shooting itself in the foot, no reason not to run this horse only being retired due to his allegedly stressful campaign

He didn't look too stressed to me. In fact, Oxx contradicts himself when he says: "He is fit and healthy and has been cantering since the race." When he says it would be "unfair," to whom is it unfair? The horse? I betcha he wouldn't really care. (And the same goes for Rachel Alexandra.) And I don't even see how a defeat in the US would adversely affect his value.

Anonymous said...

RA won the Oaks, Preakness (by a diminishing margin over MTB), Haskell and Woodward (over Macho Again by a nostril) none at a classic distance.

While impressive, certainly not your standard HOY resume.

If Gio Ponti, Summer Bird or Zenyatta win the BC Classic they will be in the running for HOY.

Mineshaft's award can not be used to justify RA's abbreviated campaign. It was an anomaly, a season with no other truly worthy candidate. He was retired due to injury. RA, whethar you agree with the decision or not, will be viewed as ducking the best by the voters.

And this from someone who is anti-synth and that agrees with Jackson decision not to run.

It is possible to agree with his decision but also disagree with his position that she is entitled to the HOY award.

If he does not feel she will like the surface, he should not run, but he should also realize it jeopardizes her chances at the award.

I believed he should have announced to the world that RA would run in the JCGC thereby putting the onus on the others to show up. By not doing so he left the door wide open.

DiscreetPicks said...

The fact of the matter is, the Breeders Cup just doesn't hold the same importance over in Europe as is does in America. Sea The Stars just won Europe's championship race, and the Breeders Cup is more like an afterthought in most cases. A good example is the fact that Fame and Glory is staying in Europe to run in the Champion Stakes, rather than coming to America for the BC Turf (where he would likely be the favorite). And that's a horse who's trained by a guy (Aiden O'Brien) who generally brings more horses over for the BC than anyone else.

Regarding Sea The Stars, bottom line, his connections probably felt it was better to go out in a blaze of glory (for breeding purposes) than to risk a potential loss over a surface on which he's never competed. They probably felt it was too great a risk to take.

the Source of the James said...

Espcially good decision given the hatred Americans expressed for the Euros after last years BC Classic, calling them "Euro Trash" and all.

In anycase Sea the Stars has had a much tougher 09 campaign than his American counterparts (RA and Zenyatta, for example) and proably has European HoY locked up, so really, it was a wise decision.

Anonymous said...

Same old, same old. Let's have a point system and let the numbers show the best horse in each division over the course of a long season. Based on Grade, purse money, etc.

What you hope for is a necessary showdown in the BC. But at the same time you don't reward the owner who tries to take the easy way to the title by skipping some of the big stakes along the way, and penalize the owner who has run his horse.

The Eclipse Award system needs to encourage owners to run their babies, not hold them back. In the end, this is the best way to benefit all of the tracks and racing as an industry. I have grown to dis-like the Breeders Cup because it is the Super Bowl, all in one shot mentality that ends up causing more harm than good. And all it proves is that one horse is better than all others on a given day, not over the course of a season. It's a no-brainer. /S/greenmtnpunter