02/04/2010 10:20PM

Apple Blossom Time?


News reports about the proposed $5 million showdown between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom April 2 make no reference to an insurance policy covering the additional $4.5 million Oaklawn will put up if both of them run. If you were an actuary (which you already are every time you accept a price as a horseplayer,) what would you charge for such a policy -- that is, what price would you make it that the showdown actually happens?


On the positive side, the venue is perfect. Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta both have run and won impressively at Oaklawn, and the Apple Blossom is a race of appropriate stature and history. The giant purse strokes any egos that need stroking. On the downside, trainer Steve Asmussen said today that "From a timing standpoint, it's less than optimum"  for Rachel Alexandra. She's been off for five months and had her first published workout just last Sunday. It's extremely unlikely she'd make the Apple Blossom her season debut off a seven-month layoff, and it's way too soon to tell if she'll be ready for a prep race three or four weeks hence.

Oaklawn tinkered a bit with the Apple Blossom, extending the distance from 8.5 to 9 furlongs and changing it from a handicap to a scaleweight race. At least that spared someone from having to weight the two of them, which could have been tricky in both an absolute and relative sense.

Let's say Zenyatta returns in the Santa Margarita Handicap March 13 and wins under the 130 pounds she might be assigned for that race. (She won the Vanity under 129 and then won the Breeders' Cup Classic, so how can you drop her?) So now you'd give her 131 for the Apple Blossom and where would you peg the filly who just beat her for Horse of the Year?

I think you'd have to make them equal weights, which is what they'll carry under the new conditions of the Apple Blossom -- but they'd both be at 123 instead of 131.

And as long as we're at it: If we get that far, who's the morning-line favorite?

Ryan More than 1 year ago
Alright, we are on the same page. Last year's three year old class was weak, and the older horses are weaker. And no, I didnt read the article, but I hope everyone returns to dirt.
Leon More than 1 year ago
Ryan, Everyone was saying the 2009 crop of 3-year olds was "weak", but the older horses are much weaker. That's why I never understood why Zenyatta's connections didn't take on them sooner...Tres Borrachos...Gitano Hernando...Richard's Kid? C'mon, man... By the way, Did you read the article about the surface discussion in California? 70% of the trainers want a dirt track, and the reduction of injuries during race day is due to better vet controls. There has been no injury reductions during training hours, and they have actually increased at Golden Gate. The synth track at Santa Anita has its days numbered...paraphrasing Vic S...YESSS!!!!!
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Leon, Umm, that is what I have been saying all along so Im glad we agree there. You said that last year's three year old class was good and then cited races that they won against the older horses that you just said are "nobodies"!!!
Leon More than 1 year ago
Ryan, You just confirmed my point. Who are the older horses? Nobodies!
Mike More than 1 year ago
QR's had a good race as a 4 year old and against a nobody field. Rachel set records in 4 different races. Not just the Donn, but 4 different races at 3. Zenny raced over 2-3 surfaces and only had 5 starts. There is no way RA loses this race.
Ryan More than 1 year ago
They didnt trounce Einstein, he was giving a lot of pounds to all those horses and they barely beat him in the clark (it was the clark i think?). But my whole point is made by you listing the horses the beat. Einstein (who is past his prime unfortunately but still very good), and then Bullsbay, Macho Again and Dry Martini? I mean that isnt exactly murderers' row. How do those horses (or last year's class) stack up to Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, Tiago, Rags to Riches...... (and please dont list races won, as I said before, somebody has to win the races)
tim dean More than 1 year ago
Why doesn't a track name a race the Lady's Secret? I seem to recall a race on the west coast named for her that was recently 'renamed' the Zenyatta. As a kid growing up in the Northwest I thought Santa Anita was the Holy Grail of horse racing. And it was, Whittingham, Swaps, Shoe, Native Diver, Frankel, Pincay, The Wolfman, Longden, and on and on. It isn't any longer and renaming a race that once belonged to a mare the equal any female equine was the last straw for me. It would be appropriate for Z and RA to square off in a race, perhaps at CD on Derby week in a race named after a mare who re-deserves such an honor. Shame on you Santa Anita. And finally, PUT A DIRT SURFACE BACK, DAMN IT!!!!!
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
leon, the San Fernando is part of the Strub series restricted to 4 yr olds. No big deal, just trying to keep it real.
Leon More than 1 year ago
The older horses division has been even weaker than the 3-year olds; it was so weak Gio Ponti had to be named champion older horse. There were no repeat winners in the Grade I's in California in 2009, and 3-year old Zensational swept the sprint G1's, with the exception of the BC. I've already mentioned the 2009 crop of 3-year olds have won the Woodward, the Jockey Club, the Tom Fool, Amsterdam, the Clark, The San Fernando, Santa Monica & the Donn, trouncing Einstein, Bullsbay, Macho Again, Dry Martini, Proviso, Delightful Kiss, etc.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
I am convinced in my heart of hearts that if not for a series of hoof injuries to Quality Road last year, no one outside of Canada or New Mexico would have ever to this day heard of Mine That Bird. Hey Steve did anyone notice that the prop for the first score yesterday was under over 730 of the first quarter? and the ball went through the uprights, you guessed it, at 730 of the first quarter then hit the net and stopped the clock at 729. Tough beat for someone huh? George in Tampa