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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Being Fair (Trying)

The stud plans for Eskendereya were announced; and it would seem as if Ahmed Zayat might have done quite well when he sold off a majority share to Jess Jackson. (Scroll to the bottom of this Bloodhorse article for an educated guess as to how much he got.) "Eskendereya was widely considered to be the best of his generation," Jackson said in a statement.

That's questionable on its face considering that a) he was beaten by Lookin At Lucky the only time they met; and b) the list of horses who he beat have turned out to be third stringers in a crop of highly dubious quality. Jackson Bend - Aikinite - Pleasant Price - Ice Box trailed him in the Fountain of Youth; Jackson Bend - Awesome Act - Schoolyard Dreams in the Wood. Aikinite won an entry level allowance at Belmont; have any of these others won a race? Based on that, I don't know that you could conclusively say he was much, if any, better than Trappe Shot, no less Lookin At Lucky. If I were Jackson, I'd be rounding up mares before he loses any more luster.

Even pedigree-wise, he doesn't look overly impressive on paper. Giant's Causeway out of a Seattle Slew mare sounds nice, but, aside from being a half brother to the grassy stakes winner Balmont, there ain't much on the catalog page, at least through the first three dams. On the other hand though, some interesting names deeper in the breeding as I wrote about here. And his inbreeding to Northern Dancer, Bold Ruler, and Hail to Reason, combined with a lack of Mr. Prospector, could make him attractive to a variety of mare owners for a variety of reasons. For one example, check out the hypo-mating with Zenyatta if you have the means.

- The hyperkinetic marketing department at NYRA continued their steady diet of press releases with ten on Monday. Just a so-so weekend of attendance (though a highly successful twilight card on Friday....a bigger crowd than on Sunday in fact); attendance was down 11% compared to the first full week last year. But the cards have held up well, as NYRA emphasized.

“The racing has been very exciting and competitive to date and we’ve already seen some sparkling two-year-old and stakes performances,” said NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward . “These initial attendance and handle comparisons are skewed by various factors including the earlier July start, a rainy opening day, and last year’s huge first Saturday which was one of the largest crowds ever for a non-Travers/non-giveaway day.
NYRA claimed that the crowd figures are "consistent with preliminary predictions." We were also alerted to the fact that RACHEL ALEXANDRA BREEZES AT SPA FOR PERSONAL ENSIGN. And here we go again. We'll be hearing a lot about the filly leading up to the Personal Ensign I'm sure. If we're really lucky, Rachel's Sandbox will be reactivated.....oh man.

You'd think that NYRA would have learned from its wasted efforts with Curlin that there's no long term, and not much short term, benefit from putting forth such effort to promote the appearance of a single horse. Besides, Rachel is toast now anyway. There was a window of opportunity last year; she gained some mainstream recognition for winning the Preakness and, to a lesser extent, the Haskell and the Woodward, and there was enough buzz so that a matchup with Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup could have attracted interest if ESPN really cared to do so. Forget about it now; even if they do finally meet in the Breeders' Cup, no one outside of our world is going to give a rat's ass given how nondescript and under the radar (as in, untelevised) as the campaign for each has been. You can't create a rivalry just by saying there is one; there has to be a history and a narrative, and right now we have neither.

As you may know if you've been here before, I've been all over Jess Jackson for his ducking of Zenyatta. But let's be fair here. For once. Jackson has declared where Rachel is going to be, and there's no obvious reason I see why Zenyatta couldn't be there too. I mean, they don't really even want to run at Del Mar from what I've read. I've given Zenyatta's connections the benefit of the doubt considering the importance to her legacy of her retiring undefeated, and their willingness to face Rachel at Oaklawn. And no doubt that Jerry Moss would have to swallow some pride in conforming to Rachel's schedule. But c'mon; the fact is that the race date doesn't conflict with any of Zenyatta's goals, and the distance is actually in her favor. So if he really had the best interests of the game in mind over his own ego and self-interest, he'd be at the Spa with his great mare on August 29.

Besides, if Zenyatta did come, Jackson would probably find a reason to duck her again anyway. (Well, I tried.)


El Angelo said...

Well, Ice Box did win the Florida Derby and was a good jockey ride from winning the Kentucky Derby, but your point is well taken.

While I agree that LAL was and is ahead of Esekendereya, the fact he beat him in the BC Juvenile means zero to me. Eskendereya isn't a polytrack horse, LAL is. I suppose that means that LAL is "better", but if I'm looking for a sire, I'm looking for one with dirt success and pedigree, not one who's good at running over bubble wrap

Anonymous said...

NYRA fails to account for the absolutely perfect weather this past four day weekend.

Friday was indeed crowded, but Saturday and Sunday were down, so much so that one of my companions for the weekend, who goes to the track once per year, this weekend, every year, asked what happened to all the people?

NO betting lines, few lined up at the rails, reserved seats available both Saturday and Sunday (whole sections were unsold Sunday).

I am guessing that a lot of folks arrived early for the Friday twilight card, inflating that attendance figure, then either departed Sunday or found something else to do around town.

What we need is a comparison of total attendance and handle, Wed-Mon, for what used to be week one.

PS - there were vacancies at our hotel all weekend, unheard of in prior seasons.

Figless said...

LAL is obviously a very nice horse that handles multiple surfaces.

ESK was very talented, but I would prefer to breed to the horse that stayed sound and proved his worth over a period of time.

But of coure that means I would not have bred to Mr. P or Danzig, so what do I know?

alan said...

>>Eskendereya isn't a polytrack horse, LAL is.

Baffert seems to think that LAL prefers dirt. Which is why I think we'll definitely see him in the Travers.

onecalicocat said...

Lookin at Lucky is one terrific colt.
His losses were not his fault.
He is always trying, no matter the obstacles,
I think if he keeps racing he will be seen as an animal with charisma.
The racing world needs more "personality horses": like Alysheba, Dr. Fager and Mine that Bird.

MrJarvisCocker said...

El Angelo is partially right. While Lookin at Lucky is better on dirt that synthetic, he's far better on synthetic than Eskendereya ever was or hoped to be. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile was hardly a true bill.

While true that Eskendereya has not been flattered by the competition he beat, keep in mind he beat them by wide margins. Your argument would have more teeth if he had only won the FOY and Wood by a length or two instead of margins of 8-10.

alan said...

>>Which is why I think we'll definitely see him in the Travers.

Oh well...

Alan Mann said...

With all due respect, Eskendereya ran once on synthetic, and he had trouble that day (though not nearly as much as LAL). So I can't possibly understand how anyone can draw a conclusion as to what his abilities were on that surface.

Figless said...

Amazing what a jockey change can do for a horse.

The next horse that desperately needs a change is Fly Down.

Another is Forever Togethar.

El Angelo said...

Fair point Alan, but I'll reiterate that if you're looking for a sire, his one start on poly was completely meaningless.

Anonymous said...

I recall that Baffert shipped Point Given back to Del Mar after winning the Haskell in '01.....and then turned right around and shipped him to Saratoga a week or 10 days later following a bang up work to run in the Travers. History does repeat itself. Baffert does have stage presence. Now, if Moss and Shirreffs will only get the message and ship Zenyatta to Saratoga it could turn into a five star Spa Meet. The Old Spa would be on top of the world. /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

Genting approved by Lottery, Patterson to sign off on them.

Let the litigation begin.

Anonymous said...

Fly Down is nothing but a plodder. He has beaten nothing. Yeah, he beat Drosselmeyer, another plodder and winner of this year's Belmont, that won that race in a pedestrian 2:31+. This group of 3 y.o.'s is one of the slowest and the most pathetic that I have seen.

Figless said...

Fly Down is certainly a plodder, but a riding change could not hurt, even his critics would have to agree he has gotten some piss poor trips of late.

Anonymous said...

Another horse one need of a rider change: Adagio, incidentally, who runs tomorrow at MTH. Last time, Adagio was blocked in on the rail, behind a slowing horse, and lacked room to run all the way around the turn and most of the way down the stretch. A seam opened on the inside about 40 yards from the wire and Adagio practically turned around and looked at his rider and said, "You've been choking me all the way around the track and NOW you want me to run?! Screw you. I'm not playing." Mike D.