10/12/2009 5:26PM

Back in the saddle again


    Opinions from an ESPN weekend of racing:

     Rachel Alexandra doesn’t yet have Horse of the Year wrapped up - not if Zenyatta wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  It will be a tall order for Zenyatta to defeat the Europeans - especially if Sea the Stars shows up - but she's ready for a new challenge.  She looks almost bored beating up on the same fillies and mares over and over again.
     What if Summer Bird wins the Classic?  It would seem almost criminal to deny Horse of the Year to a colt that wins the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic.  But in that scenario, voters would probably focus on the result of the Haskell, in which Summer Bird was soundly defeated by Rachel Alexandra.
     The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf might actually be a premier race.  The best 2-year-olds I’ve seen thus far are Lookin at Lucky, the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Interactif, who looks to have the Juvenile Turf field at his mercy - at least among the American contenders.  Who knows what the Euros will come with?
      Don’t get stuck in a middle seat on a cross-country plane flight.
      I’d rather spend a Saturday afternoon at Keeneland than a Saturday afternoon at any other racetrack in America.  I’d rather handicap a Saturday card at Saratoga than any other racetrack card in America. I’d rather spend a dawn-to-dusk Saturday in Del Mar than at any other racetrack venue in America. Does this sound contradictory?
      Gitano Hernando, who couldn't win a Grade 3 stakes overseas, defeated our best synthetic handicap stars in the Goodwood. He’s hardly a bum, but you’ve got to be kidding me. 
      Cowboy Cal looked solid in the Oak Tree Mile.  Court Vision looked solid in the Shadwell Turf Mile.  Good luck to them against Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It’s apples and oranges.
      Give me a working-class budget and a yearling sale, and I’ll take Kenny McPeek. He’s proven it over and over.
      Speaking of McPeek, it was nice to hear a rival trainer handing out credit to Rick Dutrow for the form turnaround of Court Vision. Too many other horsemen would ignore Dutrow's accomplishment while privately insinuating it had more to do with illegal medication than horse sense. I heard many otherwise intelligent horseplayers and horse insiders predict Dutrow’s demise when NYRA went to the detention barn, and again when raceday steroid use was abolished. I’m not saying Dutrow is as pure as the driven snow, but his demise hasn’t happened yet, and there’s a reason for that.
      Does Kent Desormeaux stay awake nights thinking of new adjectives to toss out during interviews?  He doesn’t want his mount to be “vivacious” leaving the gate?  But I’d much rather hear what Desormeaux brings to the table than the tired old, “We’re taking it one race at a time” mantra.  Kent makes it interesting and entertaining at the same time, even if he occasionally takes liberties with the language.