Friday, December 4, 2009

Saying farewell to an historic 2009, and Hello to what could be in 2010

Saying farewell to an historic 2009, and Hello to what could be in 2010

By: Wesley D. White

What could you say about the year in horse racing that we have seen in 2009, from top to bottom, from the beginning to the end, we have seen some performances and some yearlong achievements that are second to none in this truly magnificent sport. First let me start by saying that in this post I will not weigh in on the HOY debate, as I do not have a vote and even if I did have a vote it would be a vote that I made privately due to the incredibly intense nature of the HOY voting between the horses that are in contention for this honor. Next let me say to the connections of the winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic, congratulations are in order, the owners stepped up on this championship day venue and placed their horses in ambitious spots and were rewarded with the types of races that will not soon be forgotten. Special kudos goes out to Zenyatta and Life is Sweet for putting on an absolute show, and putting their names down in the history books. Never to be forgotten are the trainer, John Sheriffs, and the Jockeys, Mike Smith & Garrett Gomez for great rides on both of these mares. The classic victory by Zenyatta is one for the ages, to beat the boys the way she did it was a remarkable feat and it really showed how classy a lady she really is.

Next let me say to the connections of Rachel Alexandra her owner, trainer and jockey. Thank You, Thank you for again for the 3rd year in a row allowing your horse to prove its mettle on the track and not just once, but over and over again. In this age of paper races and imaginary fictitious races, I have to say that I am utterly impressed with the way that Mr. Jess Jackson handles his horses. He doesn’t allow his horses to be handled with the proverbial kid gloves, Mr. Jackson could have plotted out a course similar to that of other fillies and mares that run, and placed Rachel strategically in races like the Mother Goose, Alabama, Coaching Club American, Personal Ensign and then the Beldame, but that would have been boring, it would have been nice to see that she could beat the same fillies over and over and over again, but unless one of the fillies were to jump up and beat her and the type of rivalry developed that we had between Proud Spell and Music Note, Jackson would have been criticized for continuing to run in the same boring races throughout the year. Instead he took chances, he took chances that have never been taken before, and had the sense to realize that due to the fact that the filly had been running since February it was important to stop on her. Looking back at the last 12 months for Rachel running 10 times during that time took its toll and would have taken its toll on any horse male or female. I understand that some feel that he should have just continued to run her into the ground by going to the Breeders Cup. But the truth is extending her season another 2 months would have most likely been detrimental to her health. I enjoy that Jess Jackson challenges his horses I can only compare his sporting actions to those of the Europeans who run their fillies and mares against top tier male competition all year long. This is not seen in the U.S. as the many grade 1 races out there allow for the connections to pick and choose the easiest spots or the path of least resistance. Sad but true, and then at the end of the year there is a big push and marketing scheme by the connections and race tracks to lobby for these Eclipse votes. That does not impress and unfortunately leads to an award becoming political. So to the connections out there with competitive horses, please follow the lead of people like Rick Porter the Owner of Fox Hill Farm, Jess Jackson of Stone Street Stables, these men realize that a champion is made on the track, all year long, not by means of a piece of paper or an award.

Let’s not forget the other spectacular performances that we saw that day from Goldikova, Conduit, and Informed decision. First when you think about Goldikova and how this mare is being compared to Miesque, it really gives you an indication that she is something truly special, the way that she wins her races is something that leaves you astonished, because her closing kick is something we’ve not seen in quite a while, now I say that keeping in mind that I am not taking Zarkava into consideration. The reason well because we didn’t see Zarkava up front and personal; in my humble opinion, and I’ll only weigh in on this because for some reason in the horse racing circles, every horse that comes along and is undefeated or very impressive has to be compared to horses of the past. The problem I have with that is with regards to the fact that the respect that Zarkava was given was short lived. The very next year across the pond a colt by the name of Sea of Stars comes along and wins a number of Group 1 events and all of a sudden he is compared to the best, not the best in the last couple of years but the best ever. Now I watched both of these horses win the event, both Zarkava and Sea of Stars, but there is one difference, Zarkava brought such electricity to the race that I was up early watching the running of the race, bright eyed and bushy tailed, this year not so much, I watched the race hours later on YouTube. A filly running by colts from the back of the pack, a filly who faltered in the gate and broke extremely slow, a filly who because of the break was shuffled back to last at the start of the race and was pinned down on the rail the whole time and had to make an amazing run within the last 2 furlongs to win the race comfortably. There is not any amount of words that you can use to describe Zarkava, I for one wish that the Aga Khan would send her to Santa Anita last year. The problem again though is that the way that the Breeders Cup is view by the Europeans, they view the B.C. as second rate or lower tier. They feel that American horses do not deserve to be on the same turf as their horses. And they prove that every year by skipping the Breeders Cup.

Going back and considering the number of stellar performances by the fillies and mares that raced this year, what can you say? Rachel Alexandra, Ventura, Zenyatta, Goldikova, and now to hear that Vodka beat the boys in the Japan Cup. It really shows that there are some outstanding females out there showing they are champion caliber on the track. The connections again are to be applauded for allowing these ladies to do what they love to do most. Whenever these connections have stepped up and thought outside the box they did so with fillies and mares that were able to handle the stresses of facing males but doing so without putting them in races that might take too much out of them. No one wants to see a repeat of the Rags to Riches saga. Her performance against Curlin on Belmont day in 07 was magnificent, but if Pletcher could go back and see what that 12 furlongs took out of Rags to Riches and the rest of her career, maybe, just maybe he makes a different decision about that race. You do not want to put a horse’s career on the line to win or run in one race.

Let’s not forget the performances of the Birds, both Mine that Bird and Summer Bird did some things that will not be soon forgotten. Mine that Bird skimming the rail with Calvin Borel up is one of the most exciting memories to take from 2009. Going into the race no one even knew of the horse, but afterwards he would always be known as a champion, a champion of the Kentucky Derby, a gutsy little colt that reminds me so much of Afleet Alex by stature the way that he accelerates in the final 3/16th of the race is truly amazing. There were some questionable decisions made by the connections but we all know that Chip Woolley and the owners were doing so in the best interest of the horse. Here’s hoping for a wonderful 2010 season for this little guy. As for Summer Bird he is a big, robust son of Birdstone who has all the talent in the world, when you think about how this guy was ridden early in his career coming from way off the pace because that’s what his father did, and then later in the year being so much closer to the pace, that is extraordinary. You don’t see changes made like that often and certainly not mid season, after a 3rd place finish in the Arkansas Derby, Summer Bird went on the Win the Belmont, Travers & Jockey Club Gold Cup. This is a stellar resume and I would be quick to say that in many other years Summer Bird and his connections could be looking at HOY honors. Incredibly this year he has been trumped the Ladies. I was saddened to hear that Summer Bird injured himself while training for the Japan Dirt Cup, there are a lot of ways to view this injury, it is possible that he may have injured himself during the running of the Breeders Cup and the injury didn’t show up until now, he may be injured due to a long campaign and it is just now taking its toll. Most important though is that he is able to have successful surgery and enjoy a normal life, I know the owners are stating that he might run again, but that is not going to be the focus going forward. The focus going forward should be on him being able to be comfortable and rehabbing for whatever lies in front of him.

We are led into 2010 with so much anticipation and so much eagerness to get things started. We would be wise to temper our keenness due to the fact that it is possible we may never see another year like 2009 again. The Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown hype has already begun, with horses like Buddy’s Saint, and Super Saver winning big races, Vale of York and Looking at Lucky and of course one of my favorites Dublin. This is one intriguing horse going forward to 2010, while at Saratoga for the Woodward I caught up with D.Wayne Lukas, we talked for a few moments about Dublin and where he intended to winter the horse, and it looks as if he will be coming through Arkansas to achieve his major goals. I would anticipate a run in the Southwest, the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby is all goes well with him. He seems to be a big horse that has not quite grown into his body, I believe the next time we see this big fella he will be more filled out, and much bigger.

The Oaklawn meet is coming upon us pretty quickly and with the quality of horses that are wintering at Fairgrounds those of us close to Oaklawn feel that there could be some incredibly important graded stakes races run during the 56 day meet. The Apple Blossom could potentially include a horse that we all want to know where she will run next, Rachel Alexandra. With Jess Jackson doing the smart thing an allowing her plenty of time off to rest, she is being pointed towards a return in March or April of ’10 and that could possibly mean a run at the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. With the hopeful return of Summer Bird who could run in the Oaklawn Handicap, that leaves the imagination running wild about what we could potentially see that day at Oaklawn, maybe a record crowd of upwards of 80,000. I am excited about the prospect, and to hear that the Arkansas Derby has been upgraded like it rightfully should have been years ago to Grade 1 status.

2009 will go down as one of the most exciting and thrilling years in the history of horse racing, but we need to move forward and look optimistically to 2010 to solidify the game of horse racing, it needs new fans and a new following to be able to get back to the status it had in its glory years. We are now in the age of what have you done for me lately, and what we have lately is an impressive product, one that the ntra and other bodies needs to make sure stays in a positive light. The safety of the equine athletes is most important, the measures being taken to verify that the tracks are in the best shape possible are important in this regard. I will say this Horse Racing is here to stay, the product that is being put out on the track right now is impressive and people are coming back to the sport, we need to keep it that way and continue to enjoy the beauty of these magnificent creatures and the joy they bring to us as they do what they love to do most and that’s “Run like the wind”.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

WoodWard Weekend Part II

WoodWard Weekend Part II
As I made my way to my seat, I began to realize where I really was again; I had just walked into the historic Saratoga Racecourse, the “Graveyard of Champions”. Thinking back on some of the most memorable performances that I can recall made me very aware of why this track is so historic. Thinking back to the 2008 Travers Stakes, and the incredible stretch drive when Colonel John and Mambo In Seattle hooked up. The 2008 Woodward as Curlin ran down Past the Point, and the most thrilling race to date that I’ve seen was the Alabama as Proud Spell and Music Note hooked up in this 1 ¼ mile classic distance event. The race set up perfectly for both fillies as Proud Spell sat stalking and Music Note was allowed to sit back in a closing position, as they turned for home they locked horns and ran together the length of the stretch, with Proud Spell winning by a head over Music Notes. These are the things I remember and passing through the gates of Saratoga the historic impact hit me like a ton of bricks.
Florence Griffith Joyner, Veronica Campbell, Dannica Patrick, these women are considered the speedsters of the world. Only one though has put herself in a position where she would face her male counter parts on a regular basis, the feat that Jess Jackson is going to ask his filly to accomplish today is something not unprecedented but it has not been accomplished in the history of horse racing. Seeing the horses come out for the first race was an incredible thing to see. The horses prancing around in the paddock, and the thought in the back of my head that Rachel Alexandra was back in her stall, most likely about to be awakened to get ready for her run with destiny. The first race was won by a horse with a fitting name, Starforaday, it was a nice ride by Rajiv Maragh that got Starforaday up for the win in the Starter Handicap.
The 4th race was one to focus on due to a horse that I was told would run well named Mother Russia, looking at my program and having my buddy pick out some horses was fun, he missed the superfecta by 1 horse in the first race. Beginner’s luck is something that is so amazing in horse racing. It was great to talk to the guys from, they were very much handicappers and serious handicappers. We talked about every subject under the sun, Ruffian, Barclay Tagg and his comments about Rachel A, Todd Pletcher and his running of horses into the ground. We even spoke of Quality Roads run in the sloppy Travers and how Zenyatta would fare if she were running at Saratoga. The next few races are a blur due to the time spent walking around the grounds and taking in the scenery and also waiting to see the running of the 7th race. Mr. Rick Porter the owner of Fox Hill Farm has a horse running in this race. His name is Gun Rock and you can believe that this horse will be ready to go; the Fox Hill Farm horses don’t just go out on the track for a workout. Fox Hill Farm horses are quality horses and win a large number of races. Gun Rock does his job for Mr. Porter today and wins the 7th race, I picked the superfecta in the 7th race, not the largest payout but it was a nice confidence builder.
The 8th race came and went, and I was looking forward to the running of the Forego Stakes, another of Fox Hill Farm horses is running in this race, Kodiak Kowboy is a nice sprinter, a horse that doesn’t need to go to the front like the majority of the sprinters that you find out there today, Kodiak allows them to go out and fight each other through testing fractions and then pick up the pieces. Gabriel Saez is the jockey up, the first call for Larry Jones, and speaking of Jones, he is in the process of moving his horses to other barns. This is a very difficult time for all involved to see Mr. Jones step away from the game. Kodiak Kowboy starts slowly today, a bit slower than normal, he’s covered up through the first ½ mile and then he is presented by Saez, he makes a nice run but is beaten today by Pyro. Pyro, wow does anyone remember Pyro, the horse with the extremely quick turn of foot that we saw down at the Fairgrounds in Louisiana. Yes that same Pyro, came charging off the turn, and when he turned it on he was able to out quick Kodiak Kowboy to the wire, he wins by a ½ length. Nice run by the son of Pulpit as he has come back from being given time off to impress.
Rachel the RockStar – Believe me when I say that I’ve seen my fair share of impressive horses, I have seen the likes of Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Lawyer Ron, Borrego, Curlin, Eight Belles, Proud Spell, Flower Alley, Invasor, Bernardini, and others. I have seen how the crowds react and respond to horses of this nature, Grade 1 winner, impressive horses that prove themselves over and over again. Some of these horses could be considered rock stars on a small level, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw as the 9th race ended and the 10th race was preparing to begin. The crowd begins to swell and I am thankful that I am able to be on a rail or gate which leads the horses down the path and to the paddock and walking ring. One by One, they are led down the path, Da’ Tara, Cool Coal Man, Bullsbay, Asiatic Boy, It’s a Bird, Past the Point, Macho Again, and then someone yells, “There she is, Here she comes” and then there is the first moment we’ve all been waiting for. In her usual casual yet very professional style, Rachel Alexandra led by Scott Blasi is led down the path past thousands, and I literally mean thousands of her adoring fans. She’s used to this and its nothing new to her. But it was new to all of us to see a horse that has taken the heart of horse racing and to allow her connections to place that heart directly on her back and say no matter what I am going to impress and I am going to be a champion of champions no matter what Is thrown in front of me.
The Post parade – What a site to see the horses led out to the track and the look of confidence on Calvin Borel’s face, the thought raced through my mind as I made my way back to my seat that we could see a number of different things but the way I approached the race was the same as every race that Curlin ran in. I wanted to see my favorite break well, be allowed to stretch her legs a bit early and get a clear run down the stretch. There was worry in the crowd about race riding and these big boys boxing her in, but my thought was you can’t box what you can’t find. The question is how fast would the early fractions be and how much would that take out of her closing punch, or would Borel want to take a chance and allow her to rate. Its been playing over in my head for days after the post positions were announced. We will see how it plays out and then I hear a gasp from the crowd and Tom Durkin says: “Oh Rachel Alexandra has thrown Calvin Borel off, many thoughts ran through my mind, was she loose how far did she run off or was she the Rachel that I know and did she just stand there and wait for Calvin to climb back into the irons. It’s a great thing that she is as professional as she is because she just stood there and waited for Calvin.
One disaster averted – Calvin Borel is back aboard his filly, she looks like she’s calmed down and is collected again, such a beautiful athlete she is lean but powerful and she is on her toes and she’s ready to go, I am very calm and focused and anticipating the break and now they are finally loaded in the gate.

The race call: Say’s Tom Durkin: “Andddddddddddddddd they’re Off”, good, good I think to myself she didn’t bobble out of the gates like Rags to Riches, she didn’t stand there like I want Revenge, and she got a nice even start, Past the Point wants to do it on the lead again huh, oh wait there is Da’ Tara also, Darn that Nick Zito, his rabbits are in there to do a job, I wonder where Cool Coal Man is, I am sure I’ll hear about him on the lead at some point right. Around the first turn, did Durkin say “Duel” that’s not what I want I want to see her sit second and get that outside 3 wide spot but, yep there he is Cool Coal Man, who would have guessed that. It’s a bird, Bullsbay and Macho Again back there waiting, bidding their time to make a run at the filly, what is that first quarter up in.
The First Quarter went up in, OMG, are you serious, 22 4/5, I put my hands on my head and I think to myself this is what her detractors wanted to see, Rachel on the front being pressed against older horses and folding late, there were smiles im sure by some, but the majority of us in attendance there were some frustrated people. People watching a filly be asked to run the first quarter mile faster than most horses will ever run a ¼ mile in their careers. Now here are my thoughts as they are going down the back stretch, she just put up a 22.85 with pressure the whole way, I see Calvin keep his wits about him, I also see her ears are pricked and she’s going along without effort, not stressing at all, fast enough naturally to put up a first quarter in 22 and change but this tactic is going to play into the boys hands if we don’t slow the pace down some. Now a breather to most horses is a: 24 4/5 or: 25 2/5 quarter mile, but to a horse with the talent of Rachel, I knew that she would get the breather she needed with a flat :24 and that’s what Calvin needed to do, take a slight hold, not cut off her air, but try to nurse out a couple of :24 second quarter mile splits. Da’ Tara still there with her and Past The Point looks like he’s gotten a second quarter breather he’s 1 ½ lengths off her and Cool Coal Man is still there. The next quarter mile split is up, “Yes Calvin, that’s what im talking about” I yell out loud, he milked a :23.56 quarter there to the half mile pole, lets slow it down just a bit more for the 3rd quarter. With just a half mile to go she has a length lead and im comfortable. The third quarter is up, “Yes, Hell yes” I yell :24.13, and she’s relaxed and not fighting and at this point I realize that these boys better have their tap dancing shoes on because with the last two quarter miles that she was able to get a slight and I do mean ever so slight breather, she’s going to be hard to catch in the stretch.
The Dramatic Stretch Drive – Yes, Yes, Yes they are turning for home and I look around and notice that the crowd, everyone in the crowd is on their feet and they realize that we are about to witness something incredible. The closers are coming, the closers are coming, no this is not a war fought with weapons, it’s a war fought with heart and talent and determination, and we will get to see what these older horses are made of, but more importantly what this Super Filly is all about. I see Asiatic Boy and Macho Again, but Bullsbay is coming first, I feel good looking at Calvin he hasn’t asked her yet, oh yeah that’s a good sign. Now they are straightening out, and Calvin asks finally, and wow did Rachel respond, she repelled Bullsbay, he’s hung abit now, maybe due to be told no by the filly. Macho Again, who, oh yeah the son of Macho Uno, yeah I knew he’d be coming, he was 8 lengths off her all the way around, well guess what he’s the fresh horse, and Rachel has had to make every step of the way. My response to Macho Again was bring it on big boy. Rachel must have felt the same way, she could see someone coming, I am not sure who she thought it was, maybe they had a bit of conversation in the paddock or in the starting gate but she was not dismayed. Calvin is asking Rachel and she is responding, she’s put Bullsbay away with ease, but this Macho horse he’s decided he’s going to make her earn it today. Macho Again took a shot, no dice she’s stepping away from him, oh wait he’s coming again, this time he’s not hanging he’s actually making up ground on the filly. Its going to be very very close, I can see she’s tired but she’s laying it down and her stride is lengthening. “Here’s the wire” says Tom Durkin.
Rachel Alexandra wins – Rachel Alexandra the Great, that’s what she will be called now, the final time 1:48:29, that’s and incredible time for a horse that made every call. Dealt with basically a shot from every horse, and won with something left, as she rebroke after the wire and Macho Again never went by her. OMG this place is electric, I can’t feel my hands, and I can’t feel any sensation, people are crying, people are yelling and everyone is celebrating as if they won the race themselves, high fives all around hugs and kisses. This is monumental, the results have been made official, and Calvin Borel has turned the filly around and is bringing her back to the Winner’s Circle. I have to take a moment to collect my thoughts people are grabbing me and jumping up and down and I just have to sit for a moment. Emotion overcomes me, I think back to standing in Oaklawn Park arguing with a guy who wanted to tell me that Stardom Bound was a better horse than Rachel. I think back to posting that winning the Martha Washington and Fair Ground Oaks, and Fantasy without effort means that there is something more to her engine than we’ve ever seen before. I think back to the Oaks where she wins by 20 lengths just in an open gallop. Beating the boys in the Preakness and Romping in the Mother Goose and the Haskell, Are you serious, did this filly actually just beat older horses in this race. I just witnessed history, I put my head in my hands and think to myself, she is amazing, and I’m glad to just be a part of this historic event.
The Appreciation of the crown as Rachel is brought back to the winners circle is something out of a Hollywood story. No one has even thought about leaving the grand stand area or the standing room only area. Please Reference: These people are still 10 or 15 deep trying to show their respect for Rachel and what she has just accomplished. The applause and cheers is amazing, she is truly a RockStar. She has shown the heart of a true champion, she has shown she belongs in the conversation of all time great horses, not fillies. She has stepped up to the plate and she swung for the fences and the ball never had a chance. She is Rachel Alexandra, no she is Rachel Alexandra the Great!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The 2009 WoodWard Trip - Part I

WoodWard Weekend Thoughts - Part I

What will this weekend be like I thought to myself as I boarded the plane, heading from Little Rock to O'hare in Chicago, looking at all of the travelers who were making their way from terminal to terminal boarding flights to destinations. All of these people were probably heading to holiday destinations and have had their trips planned out for months. The flight from Chicago to Albany didn't take that long, but a nice interesting conversation began with a woman who was from Saratoga Springs and had seen a number of the running’s of the Travers and the WoodWard Stakes. "Why are you heading to New York", I was asked over and over again by a number of passengers, "To see history made in the Woodward Stakes at historic Saratoga Race Course", wow was the response from about 5 or 6 patrons on the plane, they all looked as if they knew I wasn’t just coming to see a horse race or two. “Isn’t that girl horse running against the boys?” “Yes”, I replied, as one of the ladies told me that she was from the Saratoga area and that I needed to take in all of the sights and sounds of Saratoga Springs. She stated that her father had taken her to see the running of the Travers and Woodward ever since she was 12. She knew exactly where I was going and why, I knew that this was going to be a special weekend.

The Morning Of. – The morning of the Woodward came very quickly, into the shower and then dressing for the day, there was this excitement that was pulsing through my veins. It has been a very long time since I felt like that. Walking out the door and down the corridor to the elevator people were talking about “Rachel”. “Rachel Who” I asked jokingly, they looked at me and said: “The filly running today, it’s going to be special,” riding through the country side in New York and seeing the sign that said Saratoga Springs led me to think back to the very first time I stepped into a race track. My hometown Oaklawn Park, known for developing Champion 3 year olds that go on to become darlings of the horse racing world.

At Old Saratoga – The sign said Saratoga Springs, and I could feel how close I was to such a historic venue, I thought back to my great grandfather who introduced me to the sport, I thought about all of the people who had a hand in giving us the opportunity to watch these majestic creatures strut their stuff. I thought about the legendary race track known as the “Graveyard of Champions”. Could that possibly have an effect on Rachel’s career, would she leave today known as a Champion Race Horse, or as another horse that couldn’t quite get it done due to a number of different factors. What I thought about most was one thing “Rachel being able to walk back to her barn after the race, and enjoy the accolades of a wonderful historic win, or a very well respected effort on the track.” Either way the only thing that stood out to me at that time was the fact that we were pulling into the parking area of Saratoga Race Course.

Union Avenue- As we exited the vehicle, we could see down a path, a path of barns, and it felt so surreal to be so close to the living quarters of these champion race horses. We walked the path down a dirt road and came to a security guard, and asked how close we were to Steve Asmussen’s barn. The guard advised that we were not far from Asmussen’s barn but that we would need credentials to be able to visit the area. Then it hit me that I was on Union Avenue as we came to a clearing, at that point I looked to my left and there was the most handsome horse heading to training at the main track. He walked slowly past us and all traffic stopped as they allowed for the horses to have the right of way. He pranced slowly across the street and was led into the track area, we stopped for a moment to take in the sounds of the horses that were already mid flight and in full gallop around the main track. What a sound that was to hear the power of these animals as they went about their business doing something they love so very much.

The Saratoga Entrance & Rachel Pins – Looking up at the entrance to the track, I realized and it set in that I was here, a place that I had watched plenty of times in the past on television, I recalled in my memory the sound of Tom Durkin’s race calls and thought to myself, in not but a few hours I will hear this legendary announcer call a live race. I walked up to the gate and paid my general admission fee and I received my pin. My friend walked through and paid and received his also, I turned around and thought about all of my message board friends and thought some of them might want to partake or have a little piece of something, a day that is going to go down in history as a legendary day for the world of horse racing. Politely I walked back to the admissions window and stooped down low and asked the man, “How much for me to get, let’s say 15 of the Rachel pins”, he looked at me and said “what, what do you have going on”, I said “message board friends”, he said “how many do you want”, I said “15”, he pulled a hand full out of the bag and gave them to me. I felt so good that I would be able to share this special day with my friends. Both from and also I walked into the gate and it was time to get focused.

Training Ends – The last horses that were out during training hours were wrapping up their workouts and gallops. The jockeys brought the horses close to the rail and the gate to allow onlookers to be able to see the horses up close and be able to see what it’s like to deal with these large individuals. Families are there early, its only 11 a.m. and children are running around enjoying the vast expanse of the standing room only area. People were walking in with their breakfast food and finding their seats. The sun was out in full glory and it was a beautiful day, we found our seats and watched the videos of some of the greats that have run at Saratoga.
Famous fillies on display in the video were: Davona Dale, Lady’s Secret, Shuvee, Personal Ensign, Go For Wand, Azeri, and at the end of the video every race of Rachel’s current Win Streak was shown on the big screen. It was great to see all of the all-time great fillies and mares that had run at Saratoga that they were featuring. To see the mystique of such incredible champions all of the female version, and to realize that the filly “Rachel Alexandra The Great” was the reason we were all there.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rachel Alexandra - Do people really still doubt her?

Horse Racing Pundits – Are there any out there that still doubt the extreme talents of the Super Filly, Rachel Alexandra. After going 7 for 7 in 2009 and winning those races by over 60 combined lengths, beating the colts twice quite convincingly, and setting track records, I have to be of the opinion of the trainer of Summer Bird, Tim Ice gave his opinion about those few detractors that she still has when he said: "I ask you, what do you want her to beat?" Ice said. "What does she have to prove? She's beaten everybody that they've put in the race with her, so to say that she hasn't beaten anything would be a knock against thoroughbred racing because she's beaten the Kentucky Derby winner (and) she's beaten the Belmont winner.
"People don't understand. If they're going to say she hasn't beaten anything, these are all horses that are Grade 1 winners. And to say she hasn't beaten anything, to me, it makes no sense.
"Rachel Alexandra is what she is - she does it so easy, that maybe it just seems like she hasn't beaten anything, but the horses that she's beaten are top-notch horses. I think it's a shame that people have that idea that she hasn't beaten anything."
In some ways you can look at many of the detractors that are left and realize that they have a bad taste in their mouths about how Jess Jackson handles his horses. When I hear the criticism that Mr. Jackson gets, like how he should announce where Rachel will run sooner, or she should run in certain races, I think that he might have opened that can of worms upon himself due to his website, as you remember when he was trying to choose Curlin’s next race after his loss in the Man O’ War he asked the public where they thought Curlin should go. Sadly in this world of ignorance, you can’t leave decisions of this nature to a public who collectively struggles to understand the fundamentals of horse racing.
Then you have those that are or seem very jealous of her accomplishments due to the comparisons she draws to Ruffian and Personal Ensign, and the other greats, some people seem to get their feelings hurt due to comparisons to such historic fillies and mares. It’s sad though that she gets run down by these ones, they say she hasn’t beaten the same company that Ruffian and others beat, but really who did they beat, races were run differently back then and there is no way to compare the competition.
On the other hand though when dealing with the comparisons that are drawn between Rachel and Zenyatta there is ample evidence that one horses’ connections is looking for the most difficult spots that will allow for greatness to be defined and the others is looking for the easiest spot to make sure that the horse stays undefeated. But what does undefeated really mean when there is lower quality or competition in the gates. I wonder out loud sometimes what Zenyatta’s record would be if she ran prominently in the East Coast. It seems very feasible to think that if she ran in Grade 1 races predominantly she would most likely have a record of 12 start 9 wins 2 place and 1 show finish. That would be more respectable in consistent Grade 1 competition in comparison with an undefeated record in a few grade 1 and a number of grade 2 races that is not considered running at the top level of horse racing. I feel remorseful for those that feel that due to one person being a fan of Rachel they have to tear her down. Here is one of the most immature quotes I believe I have ever come across. This was posted on a message board: “some get so frakkin know-it-all arrogant, that I actually hope RA loses just so they will shut up. I don't like rooting against horses (esp. when they are obviously talented) but NO horse is perfect. ALL of them have limits, and they need to realize that. Pundits of all type will say what is on their minds. For ever article they post saying that RA is unbeatable, I could find one that said she's vulnerable facing older males. Just wake up and realize that she is a living creature in the hands of humans and that she has limitations, whether they want to admit it or not. “

Seems like a bitter very sad person who has no ability to love horse racing for what it is.
Here are some comments from other bloggers regarding the schedule that Zenyatta has run in: “And not to pick on Zenyatta, who I dearly love and greatly admire, but she has made three starts this year and all of them have been in California. C'mon!! Is she that fragile? Talk about picking spots carefully to keep a perfect record intact...yet that is not up for public debate because it's good management.”
“Anyone would question Zenyatta's greatness just because she never raced "outside of the box."
You must not follow this particular blog, because to date about 7,146,887 posters have done just that, and repeatedly! They say they regret that we will never know just how great Zenyatta might have been, because she just kept beating up on the same bunch of overmatched females again and again. Personally, I agree with them (though I love Zenyatta).
Judging from the postings of the knowledgeable racing fans on this blog, I'm concluding that many others also will question Zenyatta's greatness because of how her campaigns were handled, especially in 2009. In fact, I think it is likely to come up whenever her name is mentioned in the future.”
“Zenyatta is great, I won't deny her that. But she isn't better than Rachel is. NYRA has eliminated the detention barn for the Beldame. They are increasing the purse if Rachel & Zenyatta both show up. The Mosses have stated that the reason they won't go to Belmont is because of the detention barn. What reason will they come up with now that the detention barn is gone for why they won't come to the Beldame? Because really & truly, they are doing nothing more with Zenyatta than ducking Rachel. She has her 12 win streak because they have so carefully mapped her races into ones where there is NO competition for her and she is all but guaranteed a win. She barely pulled it off in her last race. Her jockey is so over confident that he will cause her to be beaten. Her final kick is good, but she is aging fast (she's 5 now) and that kick isn't going to be enough to come from 12 lengths from the leader in the Breeders’ Cup races. Her race performances are declining, while Rachel's are improving each time out. Rachel is better at 3 than Zenyatta was at 4 (which is why Zenyatta never faced the boys). At this point, in my opinion, there is no comparison between the two horses.”
This upcoming weekend is going to be very exciting as we’ll get to see the highly touted Quality Road go up against a number of quality colts. He has a lot that needs to be proven, others want to prove they belong, I believe that Warrior’s Reward and Summer Bird may take a step forward, the question is what type of race will Summer Bird run, I believe his run was compromised due to being so close to the lead last time out. I guess the race will unfold however it does.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rachel Alexandra – Her next start, the 2009 Woodward

Rachel to the WoodWard - History in the making!!!!

As the 2009 racing season began, there were many expectations for a number of top horses. Out west the Pamplemousse and Pioneer of the Nile were highly talked about. On the East coast Quality Road and Captain Candyman Can, Dunkirk was all the talk, and in the mid west, Old Fashioned and Friesan Fire were high on everyone’s buzz list. There was a filly though that made quite an impression in the running of the Martha Washington Stakes, her name is Rachel Alexandra and if you haven’t heard of her by now, you would need to wake up from the trance or coma you are in because her name is synonymous with Horse Racing on a level not seen since the likes of Barbaro or Smarty Jones.
Many were very disappointed due to the announcement that she would bypass the Travers and head to the Woodward, some of her detractor’s state this is an easier spot. I for one using sound reasoning do not feel that way at all. Comparing horses like Quality Road with 2 starts in 4 months to horses like Macho Again, BullsBay and the other possible showing up on Woodward day means that this won’t likely be an easy route. I don’t feel that she will be headed but I think that it will come down to her high cruising speed and the ability to turn it on in the final turn after straightening out. Rachel is a pleasure to watch in everything she does from her races, to her workouts, to her prancing around in the paddock down to her taking baths in the morning after going to the track. I love the fact that she prepped in Arkansas at Oaklawn Park. And I will enjoy even more so making my first trip to Saratoga Race course to watch the running of the Woodward. Stating the obvious is unneeded but this will be a great experience and one I won’t soon forget.
Will Rachel Win, most likely but she may have to work next Saturday to get into the winners circle. Who will provide her the most difficulty, sadly whomever sends their horse will be compromised, looking at the list of nominations, I see that Jonesboro is a possible, so is It’s a bird, Da’Tara, Bullsbay and possibly Bribon. The front is where they would want to be watching because if the fractions are too slow she will go straight to the lead and most likely prance away with the victory. But this is a field of competitors that Rachel has not seen before and we will get a chance to see what she is really made of. I hope everyone enjoys the day of racing on Travers Day and also the Woodward weekend, it should be exciting.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The pursuit of Perfection or the pursuit of Greatness

Perfection or Greatness?

By “AfleetAlexForever

Perfection is defined as the state or quality of being or becoming perfect, the highest degree of proficiency, skill or excellence, a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.
Greatness is defined as being notable, remarkable, exceptionally outstanding, important, highly significant or consequential, distinguished, of noble or lofty character.
Both of these attributes are impressive and there are times when one prevailing quality outshines the other, which one would be foremost, I have no idea they both have their positives and there would seem to be no negatives. Well then we get to the topic of horse racing, there are a number of qualities that could be used to quantify what we are seeing on the race track this year. We are all lucky enough to be able to experience the incredible talents of two equine stars that are as impressive as any 2 stars running at one time in the history of the sport.
One of these stars resides on the West Coast and another resides on the East Coast. They are owned by connections who take extreme care to make sure that they put the health of their stable star first but there are some differences in the way that the connections have campaigned these two stars. Zenyatta is a 5 year old mare; she races in California and has a perfect race record of 12 starts and 12 wins. She Is trained by John Shirreffs who is based in California, and owned by Mr. Jerry and Ann Moss. The Moss’s have campaigned 2005 Kentucky Derby Champion Giacomo and B.C. third place finisher Tiago. Thus far Zenyatta has bankrolled 2.5 million dollars in her career; she has won races like the Apple Blossom Handicap, the Clement L. Hirsch and the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic. The 12 for 12 undefeated records pretty much sums up what her career has been about. The Moss’s have come under fire due to the path that they have taken to allow Zenyatta to keep her perfect race record. This has caused there to be question about her place in history even if she finishes out her career with a perfect record. Her connections realize that they have a very special mare, but in the process of trying to keep a perfect record some question the quality of competition that she has met in her career, It appears that her connections are doing what they can to protect her perfect record, get her to the Breeder's Cup and win and therefore keep that record intact, and retire her. Some might argue that this Is taking the path of least resistance, but others would tend to say different. During Zenyatta’s 12 race career to this point she has faced 8 grade 1 winners. This on the outside looking in would give indication of greatness due to the quality of the competition. When you look closer though it would appear quite a bit different. In the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic alone Zenyatta faced 5 of her Grade 1 foes. That would leave 11 races where she faced a total of 3 other grade 1 horses, some of these races included the same horse over and over again. In comparison, Ginger Punch the 2007 Breeders Cup Ladies Classic Champion faced close to 20 Grade 1 winners in her career. So the big question is does the quality of competition make a difference. Quality over Quantity, some might make an argument for both sides. Remember though no matter what that undefeated is still undefeated and Zenyatta is a true Champion.
Does the pursuit of perfection leave the door open for another to slide in and achieve the standard of greatness? On the East coast stands the embodiment of Greatness in the eyes of many. It has been a long time since a 3 year old filly caused the connections of so many horses to wait to make decisions about every race that is being run until they know where her connection are pointing. In Rachel Alexandra there is so much potential, potential seen and still unseen. Rachel Alexandra is a 3 year old filly out of sire Medaglia d’Oro she is owned by Stonestreet Stables & Harold T. McCormick, with Jess Jackson of Kendall-Jackson Winery holding controlling interest. They purchased the filly after her Kentucky Oaks victory from her original owners: breeder Dolphus Morrison and partner Michael Lauffer. Initially she was trained by Hal Wiggins, after new ownership she has been turned over to Steve Asmussen. Rachel has raced 13 times with 10 wins out of those races, she is currently on an 8 race winning streak and has won those 8 races by a combined 69 ¼ lengths. She has lost races therefore she is not being pampered to continue on an undefeated path. She at this point has no competition on the 3 year old level, and is most likely going forward to either open competition or will run against older females for the first time. She has emphatically beat both 3 year old fillies and colts and now has caused the connections of older male horses to await decisions before making a decision about the next race. One likely race for her is the Woodward Stakes, and the connections of the Whitney Winner, Bullsbay has stated that they do not want to run against Rachel Alexandra and will await the announcement from her owner. Her owner Jess Jackson is a wine mogul from California, he is a sporting man who wants his horse to achieve the most possible. This can be seen by the ambitious schedule that Rachel has taken on since being purchased in May. So while perfection is not in the scheme of things, her greatness and incredible legacy will be without question.
So again the question you have to ask yourself is Perfection or Greatness, if you had to choose one which would it be.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Alexandra The Great - Yes ***Rachel***

“One for the Ages”, this is one of the phrases that was used to describe the dazzling performance of the Brilliant Rachel Alexandra in the running of today’s Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey this afternoon. The crowd was electric and anticipated Rachel Alexandra’s appearance in the 13th race of a 14 race card. With the same grace as a beautiful princess, with the same presence of a professional athlete who is about to tangle with other elite athletes; Rachel Alexandra pranced out onto the wet, soggy, Monmouth Park track. It took the super filly and approximately 1:47 1/5 seconds; this is the time that was needed to stamp her name in the history books as one of the greatest fillies to ever step foot on a racetrack. For the second time in as many tried Rachel beat the boys, this time though there was little doubt about the outcome. Rachel for the first time in her career bobbled slightly out of the gates, but was still athletic enough to right herself and secure a nice stalking position in the 3 path going into the first turn. This time there was no race riding by jockeys trying to take Rachel out of her comfort zone, by pushing her out 4 or 5 paths out into the race track. There was however an incredibly hot pace with a quarter mile in 22.99 seconds and a half mile in 46:43 seconds. The fractions were very similar to what she was forced to do in the Preakness, but this time she sat tracking kindly behind the leaders, and her connections were actually able to train her properly for this race. Down the backside something appeared on the inside rail that only true horse racing enthusiasts would find out of sorts, and that was Summer Bird going up to take the second position behind Munnings. As the field rounded the far turn the question was what would take place in the last 4 furlongs. Munnings looked strong, Summer Bird looked primed for a big finish, and then there was Rachel. Rachel was the lone filly in the field of 7 and when she was called upon, she spurted away from the colts. In the blink of an eye, Rachel Alexandra straightened away and she began to open up on the field. The crowd began to sense that they were witnessing something great, something special, and something historic. The filly was on cruise control in the last 1/16th of a mile, and just like that the Haskell Invitational was in the book. The record books that is, and it was something truly that will be talked about for years to come.
I for one must say that watching the progression of Rachel Alexandra’s career has been something special. The fact that this special filly has such heart and such desire and such talent, she is something extra special. Rachel Alexandra has made a believer out of those that she’s faced and for a trainer like Tim Ice she has now garnered all of his respect. When asked if he would want a rematch with Rachel he is stated as saying: “We'll take a look at the Travers," he said. "If she's in there, she's in there. I'm not going to invite her." The 116 Beyer speed figure that Rachel achieved in this race was impressive but her jockey Calvin Borel feels that she’s run better than this race: "Nah, she run a better race than that," he said. "I thought the Preakness was a top performance coming out of the 13 hole and knowing going in that she wasn't 100 [percent] she still laid it down for me. She run today, but I knew she'd win today and I come in with so much confidence today it was unbelievable. Till the day they hook me and give her the eye I don t know how good she is."
We are without a doubt witnessing history in the making with this brilliant filly, she is conquering worlds and the hearts of people that once seemed unimaginable. It will now be a privilege to see where and when this superstar filly is pointed to her next race. We will all be on the edge of our seats to see how things develop.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monmouth Park's 2009 Haskell Invitational

Haskell Invitational Grade 1 August 2, 2009

Its official – as is his customary way Jess Jackson loves to keep everyone on the edge of their seats, awaiting the announcement. Then he steps to the podium, and then comes the announcement:
“Rachel Alexandra is to face colts in the 2009 renewal of the Haskell Invitational”.

The announcement makes for huge ovations and applause in the conference room where the management of Monmouth Park has awaited the announcement.
At this point in her 3 year old season there is really no other decision to make, why you might ask. First, the last two times that Rachel Alexandra has stepped out onto the track against her own gender she has won by a combined 39.5 total combined lengths. For those that don’t know during her stretch of 7 straight victories her margin of victory in these races is 63 ¼ lengths. So the question is who really wants to run against her. Apparently not the connections of Big Drama who have deferred to the West Virginia Derby, not the connections of Papa Clem, and can you believe that even the connections of the great Zenyatta does not want to test the abilities of Rachel Alexandra. Watching the interviews of some of the great trainers of our day, and trying to put Rachel Alexandra’s accomplishments into perspective, there are a number of adjectives that are used to describe her. Beating the likes of Pioneer of the Nile, Mine That Bird, Papa Clem, Musket Man, General Quarters. You can understand why Kieran McLaughlin would call Rachel Alexandra a “Superstar”, he says he at no point wants to have to run against this filly.
I recall the discussion that I had with a man at Oaklawn Park who told me that Stardom Bound would run down Rachel Alexandra, and with all due respect to Stardom Bound’s race record and the wonderful decision to give her some time off from racing to freshen up, I would have to say that Rachel is on a totally different planet compared to the other fillies and mares that are out there training right now. If you listen to Larry Jones you’d get an understanding of how incredibly impressive this filly is.
“Only the Lord knows how fast Rachel Alexandra is,” said Larry Jones, who plans to start Friesan Fire in the Preakness Stakes (G1). “Anytime you have a horse as fast as her, the only chance anyone has to beat her is with the boys. “We chased her earlier this year with two fillies and finished 19 and 11 3/4 lengths behind her, but all of the sudden that didn’t seem so bad after she won the Oaks by 20 [1/4 lengths].”
“I don’t know that we can beat her based on talent or physically, but maybe we can beat her mentally,” said Gary Stute, Papa Clem's trainer. “She’s had a clear run in most of her races, so maybe if she gets pinned inside she won’t like that very much.”
“She may not even know she’s running against boys,” Jones said. “She’ll go to the front and just think there’s a bunch of girls chasing after her.”
What was the result; Rachel Alexandra stormed to a clear length victory in the Preakness which we know is now well documented. But what of the Haskell field, as of right now with the possible defection of Papa Clem and Big Drama, there will be only 6 entrants in this race, thus far. , The Haskell lineup at the moment also includes Belmont winner Summer Bird, Munnings, Atomic Rain, Bunker Hill, and Duke of Mischief.
There will be some speed in the race, and it looks like that could set up perfectly for both Summer Bird and Rachel Alexandra. No one would expect Rachel to have to go to the front unless she is coming from the outside, but that would be in a full field, in a field this small this would most likely be a stalking trip for Rachel. Summer Bird though is an interesting entrant into this race with Monmouth Park known for such tight turns and with the shorter distance here not really being the best for Summer Bird. Summer Bird is known as being a plodder, a steady horse but has never really shown much of a turn of foot which will be needed in this race, but he is training beautifully according to his trainer Tim Ice. "He was perfect again," said trainer Tim Ice, referring to his Sunday morning breeze. "Everything is exactly on schedule. He'll have his final breeze next Sunday. Kent Desormeaux will be here for that." "He was perfect again," said trainer Tim Ice. "Everything is exactly on schedule. He'll have his final breeze next Sunday. Kent Desormeaux will be here for that."
This filly is something special and when you see a filly begin to turn colts and geldings towards a plan B, that’s saying something. She has their respect and they are paying attention to what she is doing. But its not only the boys that are taking notice, looking at the way that the connections of Acoma looked at running against R.A. gave indication that she has everyone’s attention. According to David Carroll he would run Acoma in the Delaware Handicap if the situation was right. He said: "If Rachel goes, we're not going to run.” It says a lot when the connections of a 5 year old mare don’t want to run against a 3 year old filly. But this is not the first time this has happened if you recall this was the interview that Jerry Moss gave on 6.27.2009. Saturday morning, in an interview on the "Down the Stretch" radio show on Sirius XM radio, Jerry Moss, the owner of Zenyatta, said "there's a good chance" Zenyatta would leave Southern California to race this year and that he "would very much like" to see his mare face Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra.
Moss said no decision on Zenyatta's schedule would be made until after trainer John Shirreffs assesses how the mare comes out of Saturday's Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Zenyatta scored her 11th victory in as many career starts in the Vanity. Rachel Alexandra posted her seventh straight victory with a romp in Saturday's Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont Park.
"Obviously, we take it race to race," Moss said. "[Shirreffs] is going to need a week to see how she's come through this . . . then maybe we'll say something about where our next start will be, and it could be out of the state for certain."
"If the two horses are ready and at the top of their form, I would very much like to see a race between the two of them," Moss said. This was before the running of the Mother Goose, then after seeing both horses run that day Mr. Moss came back on 6.28.2009, and changed his mind. Stating that the detention barns would cause Zenyatta problems just as it did Tiago and Giacomo. Is it really the detention barns that caused these two horses’ issues or the fact that they were not the highest quality of horse?
I would think that in Zenyatta’s case there would be no reason to worry about that due to her being undefeated and of such high quality stock. Hopefully we’ll see these two clash. That is still in the air, as for right now we have one horse working towards a Horse of the Year campaign and another horse working towards Horse of California Campaign, very similar to Lava Man. Stay tuned the Haskell should be exciting.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rachel Alexandra Vs Zenyatta, Just tell me where!!!

In one corner stands the up and coming challenger - Rachel Alexandra - winner of 7 straight by a combined 63 1/4 lengths. Winner of the Fantasy Stakes, the Kentucky Oaks, the Preakness Stakes (A Triple Crown Race) and the winner of the Mother Goose Stakes in devastating fashion. Are there any more superlatives that can be used to describe this filly.

In the other corner stands the Champion - Zenyatta - Ultra consistent, she always makes her run and guess what she always wins, She has won the Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic against a top notch field that included reigning Eclipse award winner Ginger Punch, Grade 1 winners Cocoa Beach, Music Note, Hystericalady and Carriage Trail.

The stage is set, the competitors are warmed up as can be confirmed by their practice rounds in the Mother Goose and the Vanity. So the question is when will this showdown take place. I hate to disappoint everyone but "IT WONT".

The owner of Zenyatta stated that he would wasn't afraid to run Zenyatta against R.A. outside of California during the summer, which would leave plenty of time for Zenyatta to be ready for the Breeders Cup. Well that statement was made on Saturday morning, hours before the running of the Mother Goose at Belmont Park. After watching both competitors do in their weary foes, it looked as if we were primed for the marketing explosion and awaiting the venue and the race that these two great mares would run in. Whoops, it seems as if Jerry Moss watched the replay of the Mother Goose a few too many times. On Tuesday not more than 72 hours after announcing in an article in DRF that he would ship Zenyatta to face Rachel Alexandra, Mr. Moss had a change of heart. I would guess that watching the Mother Goose and the ease of which Rachel Alexandra won that race gave him indication that this would be one horse that his super mare could not catch having to go five wide on the final turn. I must honestly say that I don't blame him. I do find it very cowardice that he would go back on something that could be so instrumental to the well being of horse racing. But every owner has to make his own decision about things of this nature and it seems that the thought process is the preserving of her perfect record is most important to Mr. Moss and the synthetic legacy that Zenyatta will no doubt be labeled with.

When I think back to Zenyatta's 2008 and 2009 campaign, I like most writers and horse racing fans will think back to the four Grade II events that Zenyatta ran in for no apparent reason other than the fact that this was the softest most convenient schedule ever run in by a horse that was considered to be the best mare in racing at the time. Zenyatta's connections have allowed her to be disgraced by running in lesser known grade 2 events against horses that have just barely broken their maidens. Then because of her running style she wins those races not in a romp or convincingly, but by a few lengths. What does this mean for her legacy? Well she'll be known as the champion that beat a number of allowance company and faced very little legitimate competition. And for the naive West Coasters that talk about how she faced such a stellar field in the B.C. Ladies Classic, well she did but on a synthetic surface. A surface a number of these horses had never raced on. So was the playing field even, no by no means.

Lets also talk about the stupidity of the Breeders Cup for first hosting the Breeders Cup dirt races on a Synthetic surface, and then having the nerve to do so two years in a row. The best way to put it, like many out west who try to make excuses for dirt horses running bad out west, CLASSLESS. Listening to message board members who talk about how Curlin was over the top by the Breeders Cup or the same excuse for Ginger Punch. This is ridiculous, and very much shows a lack of knowledge with regard to the game of horse racing. That same excuse can not be used for every dirt horse that struggled last year on the synthetics. Lets run down that list.
Curlin - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt - 4th in the classic on synthetics. - Career worst
Cocoa Beach numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 2nd in the L.C.
Music Note-numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 3rd in the L.C.
Hystericalady -numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 5th in the L.C.
Ginger Punch -numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 6th in the L.C. - Career Worst
Fabulous Strike - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 5th in the Sprint
Black Seventeen - Grade 1 winner on dirt 7th in the Sprint
First Defence - Grade 1 winner on dirt last in the Sprint - Career Worst
Munnings - Graded stakes winner ran 10th in the Juvi
Mine That Bird - Kentucky Derby Winner Ran dead last - Career Worst
Be Smart - Graded placed - Career Worst
Doremifasollatido - Graded stakes winner on dirt - career worst
Pyro Graded stakes winner on dirt - career worst
Lewis Michael - Grade 1 winner on dirt - career worst
Indian Blessing - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt - had never fired on synthetics.
Intangaroo - Grade 1 winner on dirt
Dearest Trickski Graded Stakes placed
Dream Rush Graded Stakes placed

So this is the list, I would love to hear the excuses that the west coasters can make for the
18 horses on this list that were all over the top or whatever excuse you'd like to use. Please ask Bob Baffert to verify the reason why Indian Blessing will not run on the west coast for the rest of her career. Well this would give indication that synthetic surfaces play differently than dirt and the difference between dirt and synthetics horses is large. So the nonsense that is spoken by some about Jess Jackson's decision to skip the Breeders Cup is not going to be the first announcement of this nature. This can be expected more and more as we get closer to the running of the Breeders Cup. Attendance will be down and the handle at the track will be down, all things that I personally could care less about due to the fact that the Breeders Cup and California has disgraced horse racing by taking a championship such as the Breeders Cup and put it on a synthetic surface. Could you imagine the Kentucky Derby on a synthetic surface, NO, not possible because it is a dirt race and has been for hundreds of years. People don't understand what tradition means. This does not mean changing something that has been in place for years on a whim.

Back to the match up that will not happen. Lets look at the thoughts of some who realize the truth behind the balking of the connections of Zenyatta. Some just plain and simple want to see Zenyatta challenged, not by horses that have run in optional claiming races, or allowance races or even Grade III events. Something has to be done to allow her to prove her greatness because as of right now that is in question. When you continue to beat up on the same horses continually and not impressively let me point out, that means that either you are afraid your horse will lose to decent competition or you just don't care about the legacy that she will be remembered for. If you look at the resume of Pepper's Pride 19 for 19 she was impressive because she beat horses that were of comparable quality. Therefore she towered over these, Zenyatta is beating horses that no doubt are no where close to her ability. This would mean you step up and actually face some competition. Zenyatta due to her connections handling of her will not be known with Personal Ensign, Zarkava, Azeri, Indian Blessing, Eight Belles or Rachel Alexandra or many other outstanding fillies or mares. Why because these stepped outside their comfort zones because their connections felt that they were the very best and wanted to challenge that theory. The Moss's know that Zenyatta can beat inferior fields on synthetics and they are happy doing that, if that's how they feel then let that be, but please don't start the talk about Horse of the Year. Right now Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird, Einstein, Well Armed, Precious Passion. All of these horse have more right to Horse of the Year honors, with R.A. being at the top of the list due to her impressive wins in the most prestigious of races that are being run at this time. Does Zenyatta's race record match up with a Grade II Milady and Grade I Vanity win. Not even close. Do her connections seem to care. It seems as if they don't and I understand that but I don't understand why they would be afraid to face a 3 year old up and coming star in Rachel Alexandra. Show that you have confidence in your charge and let this match up happen.

Is zenyatta overrated, absolutely not, she is a very good race mare. Will she be able to show her true greatness, unlikely, she will always be remembered as the horse that faced and beat very little whose connections were petty and classless and begged for HOY votes.

Here's to the connections of Rachel Alexandra for allowing us to see the greatest thing running today, and campaigning her as if they want her to win Horse Of The Year. Kudos Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen. Thumbs down to the connections of Zenyatta for being cowards and hiding out west. Thumbs down to the West Coast lovers who get to watch lower tier horse racing and connections. Now we all understand why the state of horse racing is as it is out West.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rachel Alexandra - The Grade 1 Mother Goose

Rachel Alexandra, Rachel Alexandra, Rachel Alexandra! She is the absolute darling of the horse racing world, and for the connections of fillies & colts & yes even for that monster out West, let me give all of you a clue about what is going on. "She is Still Learning", lets quickly break down the Mother Goose and see what actually transpired. Rachel A, broke very alertly and she ran the first quarter in approximately 23:37 seconds and then she followed with a 2nd quarter of 22:09 with a 3rd quarter breather of 24.20. These are extraordinary splits for a horse that is able to hit the Belmont straight and win by almost 20 lengths. Most horses would be gased after these type of fractions. Rachel Alexandra was hardly breathing in the winner's circle. Calvin Borel is quoted as saying: "She's Not Normal", I would tend to agree in every way shape form and fashion. Borel made an impressive request to his filly on the turn, and he split horses and urged the filly a few times to go on, and then the race was over. Just like a future hall of famer, Borel put his stick on the filly’s shoulder blade a couple of time to allow her to get something out of the race and that is where her public workout began. She was able to run what would seem to be 1/16th of a mile and then he put the brakes on her. She begin to slow up and when she stopped the timer it read 1:46.33. Pretty good time huh, well not if you are up on the history of the race, the time was .25 faster than the race run by Lakeway in 1994, and less than a second slower than the track record set by Secretariat. The margin of victory bested the previous record by more than 6 lengths. And again I state that Rachel Alexandra didn’t break a sweat in this race.
Lets break down the competition that Rachel Alexandra faced, in the filly Malibu Prayer she faced a Allowance horse that previously won an allowance race by 7 ¼ lengths in a time of 1:44 and change. In the filly Flashing, she faced a graded stakes winner who has won 4 races and has shown a great deal of ability. Enough ability that people actually wagered on her and thought there was a chance that she could upset Rachel Alexandra. It wasn’t in the cards for Flashing that day. Now in comparison Zenyatta was out west beating up on an allowance and optional claiming field of horses that have not come close to winning a graded stakes event, Zenyatta struggled to get past the field as Mike Smith had to vigorously go to the whip on Zenyatta . Did the weight have something to do with the lackadaisical effort, its very possible? Could it be that Zenyatta is just not the same horse, I really don’t know, she is still very impressive but has no credentials for Horse of the Year thus far.

Where should Rachel race next, at this point all plans to run her against the boys should be scrapped until a meeting with Zenyatta. How many people realize that if she is asked to extend herself as she did in the Preakness, let’s say in the Haskell or Travers, then that would set up a vulnerable Rachel Alexandra. The next stop on The Rachel Alexandra tour should be in the Coaching Club American Oaks on 7/25/2009 at 1 ¼ mile, and then possibly the Alabama on 8/22/2009 at 1 1/8th mile, this would set her up perfectly to meet Zenyatta with 6 weeks rest until the Beldame which is on 10/3/2009 and at 9 furlongs which is a distance both connections want to race their mares. Here is the catch though, Rachel would seem to get a bit of a breather at some point this summer again, the freshener that she received after the Preakness did her good, she seems very ready to put together a nice summer run, and that would be the real question for Jess Jackson to answer. Are you really not going to send her to the Breeders Cup, if so there is absolutely no reason to race her after her meeting with Zenyatta on October 3rd. That would be the end of her season and she could rest and get the winter off, come back to Oaklawn Park, and prep and get ready to run in the Apple Blossom. And then take off from there and try to possibly repeat HOY honors depending on what the rest of the year holds.

Comparing the 2 Champions – This is a touchy subject for some, there are certain members of certain message boards that feel that California racing is just as competitive and has the same quality of racing as the East Coast. Your heart may try to tell that because you are naive or just ignorant of the fact that California racing has been invalidated by the synthetics, but when a Grade 1 winner and defending Eclipse award winning mare runs against a field of optional Claimers, well facts are facts. California racing means very little in the overall scheme of things as verified by HOY voting in 2008. A horse winning meaningless races doesn’t have a shot at winning HOY and my statement is validated by what Mr. Jerry Moss had to say earlier today. As mentioned in the newly posted DRF: “"We can't do what we did last year," Moss said. "We have to find a bit of a variety. She ships very well and we wouldn't mind shipping. "If you're going to run against the boys, you might as well do it in the big one," Shirreffs said. "The Breeders' Cup is at Santa Anita."
At this point there is no reason for debate as to who the best horse is, we’ll let them figure that out on the track but at this point my thoughts go back to the class of competition that has been kept thus far by the 2 mares. Zenyatta has run against 1 Grade 1 winning horse thus far in 2009. Thus far Rachel Alexandra has faced 1 filly that is a grade 1 winner, a grade 3 winner, 3 Grade 2 winning and a number of Grade 1 winning males. The current record in 2009 Zenyatta 2-0 1 G1, 1G2. R.A. 6-0, 3 Grade 1, 2 Grade 2 races. And so I ask you thus far who is the front runner for HOY. That one is easy, but apparently not so much for those on the msnbc horse racing board. If the horse they enjoy has not won a race you can catch an argument for that horse and its HOY credentials. Sad but true. I enjoy being away from the California Queen of editing, but she doesn’t know anything about horse racing, you know who you are, I enjoy not having to deal with the hatred by the board follower, sad that your jealousy of Jess Jackson causes you to be such an idiot. And last I must say that I enjoy not having to deal with the meaningless that never really say much but want to chime in to the come to the defense of others. Please take some classes to try to learn and understand horse racing because you continue to embarrass yourselves with your idiotic statements. How far off were you with your HOY thoughts last year, amazing how the naive can keep that feeling as if they actually know something. Well you don't. You don't know much at all, there are some sites out there that can help the amateurs. View them, learn something. It may help you in the future, and yes that goes for you also Mrs. "I do bet on racing and have followed it for many decades." Rank Amateur at best is where you rank. As for the other member of the board that feels that they need to continue to mention my absence, it makes me feel good to see how bitter some menial people are. If by some chance you had business of your own Mrs. "thanks to the absence of a certain board member we can all enjoy these fillies in peace" maybe you wouldn't have to worry so much about what I do. Its great to see that you have not progressed much more than your usual rants about how great west coast racing is and how one horse is better than the other. Its lovely to see the credit I get for all of the immature statements made on the board within the last year or so during the Curlin vs BB saga. All my fault, sure, I'll take that but at the same time I'll take to the bank the fact that I have an opinion that I'll share at any and all times. You on the other hand, you are basically like the previous follower mentioned, a degenerate, someone who likes to hear a statement, certainly not an original thought of your own, but any statement and run with it as if it were yours. Some of you are sad people, hold your grudges, as long as u need to. But remember that just causes stress and a long hard life for people like you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rachel Alexandra HOY - Already? YES!

Yes you heard it here, she's done more against more and will continue to do more than any horse out there in the country, and no its not about running against and beating a nice set of sophomores in the Preakness Stakes. Its about a legacy, a challenge, and sportsmanship, things that have led Jess Jackson to be voted the most influential figure in the Sport of Kings. Owners and trainers the likes of Rick Porter, Mary Lou Whitney, Maggi Moss and others trainers like Larry Jones, Tim Ritchey, Steve Asmussen, Todd Pletcher, who will show sportsmanship and race their horses against the very best, these are people that can be respected. The same superlatives that Jerry Moss and John Sheriffs know nothing about, which naturally would lead them to receive absolutely no votes for such a prestigious award. That word chimes very loudly in the back of many people's minds eye. Why, because important or prestigious (DIRT & TURF) races define champions, they make a horse, whether a mare or colt, what they really are. What does ducking competition, scratching out of races when the weather and track surface are perfect, and hiding in California to run on a synthetic surface while beating up on fields or 3 or 4 horses that have accomplished little more than allowance company wins do for a horse and its connections. In my opinion it ranks your horse right up there with the likes of a Pepper's Pride, undefeated is what they want, but when you beat no one you wont be remembered.
What everyone will remember is the whining that Sherrifs did after his horse was embarrassed in HOY voting in 2008. Let's look at one interview where Sherrifs was quoted. The question: "The debate has already begun as far as Horse of the Year honors. It seems it may come down to a two-horse race between Zenyatta and Curlin. Make your case for Zenyatta."
The Answer:"The debate has already begun as far as Horse of the Year honors. It seems it may come down to a two-horse race between Zenyatta and Curlin. Make your case for Zenyatta."
It seems to me that John Sherrifs would have a marvelous career as a politician, as he spews as much crap as the big timers on Capital Hill. Seriously John, beating the likes of Dawn after Dawn, Double Trouble, Fleetheart Silver Z, Kris' Sis and Silver Swallow over and over again was a challenge for your horse. I am not sure I understand the dynamics of that statement. Beating a champion like Ginger Punch in the Apple Blossom now that was impressive and she received a great deal of respect from me for that win, as I was there live to watch her run her race. But then it was back to Cali to bury our heads in the sand I mean the Synthetics, and race against allowance competition fields for the most part for the rest of the 6 race campaign. Its incredible to think that Sherriffs feels that people with common sense are naive enough to believe that it was difficult for Zenyatta to beat allowance fields. And if that is the case then I would guess that he is saying that she is not that great a horse after all. I would love to be able to delve more into that statement but, lets not, it was a ridiculous statement by a man lobbying for votes for a horse that won 3 Grade II races. Just the fact that this horse, such a great horse was allowed to run and compete at the grade II level, says one of two things to me. Either she really isn't as good as advertised and they have to find the softest spots for her to run in all year long so they have a rested horse for the B.C. (which in my opinion is a debacle due to being run on synthetics) or the connections are so worried about keeping her race record perfect that it seemed better to continue to win Grade II races in comparison with the losses that Curlin suffered while being allowed to face new and exciting challenges. Oh by the way, Remember Curlin 2007 & 2008 Horse of the year by landslide votes each time. Jess Jackson is a man that impresses, he always does what is right by his horse and allows them time to recover from a race before jumping the gun and asking too much of his charge. He is a brilliant man who knows that to win championships that are deserved you have to step out of your comfort zone (he lives in Cali) and allow your horse to show what a truly great champion he or she is. How was he rewarded for that type of sportsman ship, do we all remember the final HOY tally. Curlin 153, Zenyatta 69, Big Brown 13. I would have voted B.B. HOY before I would have voted for Zenyatta as his campaign was stronger, and he faced much better competition. The same will hold true for Rachel Alexandra this year, she has already 2 Grade II and 2 Grade 1 wins under her belt, one a historic win that we mentioned in the Preakness against males. She will go forward in the Mother Goose a race with historic significance at Belmont Park next Saturday, and I am sure the connections of Zenyatta will continue to look on and wonder what could have been if they decided to ever ship their horse to a venue with the intent of actually racing her on dirt against other Great horses. Don't get me wrong, I hold no ill-will towards Zenyatta, I love the mare, again, I was privileged to watch her race live at Oaklawn Park. I question what the connections are doing, trying to develop a legacy, maybe someone should explain that having another Pepper's Pride does nothing for the game of Horse Racing, running only in your own state against claimers is 1 and I do mean 1 step above what the connections of Pepper's Pride did, but they did it even better as she is 19-19. I really hate it that she will never get to strut her stuff on the biggest stages on a true championship surface. Because the synthetics will never cut it. And I will again give a big Wet Willy Thumbs down to the Breeders Cup and their board members for allowing the B.C. to be held in California period on a synthetic surface for dirt horses but for allowing it to come back to California 2 years in a row, its as if children are running the show in the front office of the Breeders Cup, an embarrassment to horse racing in general. Put the championships back on Dirt where they belong, so we can really find out who the best are.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Alexandra The Great - How Good is this Filly? Hmm

I've watched this race a number of times and I don’t believe that R.A. in any way ever changed leads, what im saying is that all of the superlatives that you can use to understand what type of engine this filly has don’t really give you a true understanding of her potential. 1. She's winning races at the same distance as the colts in faster times without ever being asked, she looks as if her pedigree and her training is going to allow her to go as far as they want to take her, (the 1 1/2 mile Belmont is well within her scope) her times in the last few races:
1 1/8 Oaks: 1:48.87
1 1/16 Fantasy: 1:43.35
1 1/16 F.G. Oaks: 1:43.55
1 Mile Martha Washington: 1:36.40 (beat stakes record by 2 full seconds)

Comparing F.F. races
1 1/16 L.A. Derby 1:43.46
1 1/16 Risen Star 1:45.11
1 Mile Lecomte 1:37.67

Faster times accomplished with no asking of her jockey, F.F. was at the least all out in 2 out of 3 of these races, and although he won the L.A. Derby by daylight the jockey was asking at certain points down the lane.

I wanted to make sure to point out what type of greatness we are possibly looking at, and how even with a bounce from her 108 Beyer in the Oaks if she runs a strong 102 or 103, it’s possible that she could trounce this field, she is going to be close to the lead and with that long stride I don’t believe that any of these colts will close in, Papa Clem, Pioneer of the Nile and F.F will get a piece and if Big Drama is in decent form coming off of this layoff he could be included somewhere, but it seems as if these horses are all running for Second, now take into consideration all of these connections know this, and they also know she'll be carrying 5 lbs less just like Rags against the Belmont Field 2 years ago, this is going to be intriguing until they turn for home and she starts to open up on this field of horses, I think with all these considered here we are looking at a Possible Horse of the Year candidate in Rachel Alexandra.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rachel Alexandra - The Preakness Conspiracy

This is absolutely the most ridiculous situation I've ever come across during my time of being a horse racing fan. Here is the summation from

"The owners of Mine That Bird and Pioneerof the Nile began the day on Sunday by revealing that they were going to do what they could to keep Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Rachel Alexandra out of the Preakness Stakes (G1). By the end of the day, after hours of controversy and hand-wringing by Thoroughbred racing officials and fans alike, both parties decided they would do no such thing and would not try to prevent the Kentucky Oaks winner from taking on the boys in the middle leg of the Triple Crown.
Since Rachel Alexandra was not nominated to the Triple Crown, she would have to be supplemented to the Preakness for $100,000 by new owner Jess Jackson, and she could not take the place of a nominated horse if the race draws more than the maximum of 14 starters. Mark Allen, the co-owner of Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Mine That Bird, said early on Sunday that he planned to enter a nominated maiden named Indy Express in the Preakness. Ahmed Zayat, the owner and breeder of Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, also said on Sunday morning that he planned to enter at least one additional horse. Zayat led all owners with 22 nominees to the Triple Crown.
Both Allen and Zayat acknowledged that they wanted Rachel Alexandra to be excluded. “I just want my rider back,” said Allen, referring to jockey Calvin Borel’s decision to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness rather than Mine That Bird. Borel piloted the Medaglia d’Oro filly to a dominant 20 ¼ victory in the Oaks (video).
Zayat originally said he had both business and personal reasons for wanting to avoid Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.
“I want my chance for revenge with Mine That Bird,” Zayat said. “It’s also a business decision.”
Zayat said he had received numerous calls from owners and breeders encouraging him to use the power that he has to bump Rachel Alexandra. “People are concerned that it would not be for the good of the sport,” Zayat said. “Nobody wants a situation like we had last year with Eight Belles.” Zayat also received a call on Sunday morning from Allen, urging him to help push the filly out. Allen said he did not think fillies should race against colts at this stage of their careers. He also said entering the maiden, who is winless in nine starts, was a business decision. Allen said the colt would not be scratched and would run in the Preakness.
“He’s a good colt; I can tell you one thing, he won’t be last,” Allen said of the A.P. Indy colt trained by Joe Merrick. Zayat also indicated that he would scratch any horses he entered other than Pioneerof the Nile.
As the drama continued throughout the afternoon, industry professionals and racing fans made their feelings known.
"If that’s what we’ve come to, it’s a sad state of affairs," Maryland Racing Commisision Chairman John Franzone said. "If you’re doing it to prohibit this horse from being in, it’s just not good. The point is, if you truly think you have the best horse, you take on all comers, you don’t try to manipulate it so there’s an advantage."
Franzone did, however, admit that there was not much Maryland Jockey Club officials could do in the event that Zayat and Allen did try to keep Rachel Alexandra from the field.
"What if the Maryland Jockey Club just said, no, this is bad for our event? They’d be sued," he said. "Somebody would probably come to the racing commission and ask for an immediate decision. I can’t sit here and quote all the regulations, but I don’t think we have the wherewithal to stop someone from entering an open race."
Several hours later, both Zayat and Allen had backpedaled and dramatically changed their tunes.
Late Sunday afternoon, Zayat—who said he received a call from The Jockey Club—told Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas that he intended to enter only Pioneerof the Nile.
In an interview later in the afternoon on Television Games Network (TVG), Zayat said he would do what was best for the fans of the sport.
“Her former owner’s original plan was not to run in the Preakness. He said he had respect for the industry, and that the Triple Crown was to showcase the three-year-old colts and future stallions. I have never heard of a jockey moving from a Kentucky Derby winner to ride another horse. I find it disrespectful for America’s most coveted race. Considering all these factors, along with what I heard from other owners and breeders, I decided I would do what was in the best interest for all of us. To be honest with you, I’m not playing saint and am not above everything else. I have a vested interest; it was a business decision.
“One other criteria for me, I like playing by the rules. All these colts from the very beginning have had to compete and go through the regimen and tough scheduling and go from one race to another to get graded earnings, and that puts a lot of stress on them. And in all fairness, she did not have to go through all that, and her previous owners did not even bother to nominate her to the Triple Crown, and then someone else comes in and tries to change the name of the game and the rules in the middle of the game and I think that is unfair. I’m not against the filly running against the boys. Who am I to say that? But I am questioning the two-week interval. Why not give her a freshening and run her in the Belmont? Two weeks for a filly. Does our sport need another Eight Belles? We all know what happened to Rags to Riches after her race in the Belmont. We all know what happened to Ruffian. I did not want to have that part of it on my watch.
“Nevertheless, after getting off the phone from the president of The Jockey Club, who told me what he had been hearing, I have decided I don’t want to be viewed as not being a sportsman, so I am happy not to block her for the good of the game. Please understand this is not about me; this is about the industry, and although what is right is not very clear to me, I am happy to reconsider my decision for the fans.”
Later in the day, Mark Allen also retracted his earlier plans to block Rachel Alexandra from the race.
"I was thinking about entering a maiden in the Preakness to get Calvin back and to keep that filly out of the race," Allen told Sports Illustrated. "But that ain't right. I ain't gonna do it. It just ain't the right thing to do.
"I was hanging out with my girlfriend and riding my Harley around and I got to thinking about it. It just ain't right. And when you do things that ain't right, it'll come back on you.
"She might kick our butts, but she deserves a shot. Myself, I wouldn't run her against the boys. I'd go for the filly Triple Crown. But she ain't my filly. She may outrun us and she may not. But I ain't gonna stop her from running."
Jackson, who along with Harold T. McCormick purchased Rachel Alexandra earlier in the week, said through all of the controversy that he still planned to enter the filly in the Preakness.
"Rachel Alexandra had an impressive workout today, and she is ready to run in the Preakness," Jackson said. "Since it's Mother's Day, I wish I could announce to all mothers everywhere that this incredible filly is entered to take on the boys, but Triple Crown rules may prevent us from sending her to Pimlico. I want the fans to know we are prepared to enter her, and I am hopeful that her entry will be accepted. I know we all want the thrill of seeing Rachel Alexandra race next weekend."
Zayat said he also had been encouraged by a representative of Marylou Whitney, the owner of Mine That Bird’s sire, Birdstone. Whitney plans to start Luv Gov, who won a maiden race on Derby undercard (video), in the Preakness.
Luv Gov's trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, said the colt's presence would have nothing to do with Rachel Alexandra. “We think he has a legitimate chance,” Lukas said. “It has nothing to do with keeping the filly out. When I called [Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coleman Blind] I asked him how many they had and he said 13. It has nothing to do with Rachel Alexandra. We want to run.”

As a fan of the sport, and a lover of thoroughbreds, let me just chime in and this is outrageous, this is as bad for the game of horse racing as Manny Ramirez's suspension from baseball for doping. Bad sportsmanship is not something that should be tolerated and just the fact that the owners would make a statement of this nature should lead to suspensions and huge fines. I don't like this for the game of horse racing and I hate this for the connections of the filly. I guess we will see what develops.