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By Dan Illman
The one thing the weekend's huffing and puffing has accomplished is that Rachel Alexandra is now the biggest fan favorite racing has seen in quite a bit of time. Certainly, nothing else has changed with the exception that Mr. Lukas has intentions of entering Luv Gov in the Preakness. The connections of Mine That Bird and Pioneerof the Nile, perhaps due to public pressure, perhaps due to a bout with sanity, have wisely decided to forego their initial plan of blocking the dominant Kentucky Oaks winner from the second jewel of racing's Triple Crown.
The major question surrounding the weekend's controversy is...why did any of this start in the first place?
Why has Rachel Alexandra created such an uneasiness among her competition? While a very good filly, she will be wheeling back in two weeks while taking a step up in class and trying a new distance for the first time. She'll be favored if she starts in the Preakness, but isn't the proverbial mortal lock. If Mine That Bird and Pioneerof the Nile are as good as their connections claim they are, whey should they be fearful of this filly? Shouldn't they want to beat the best competition available to prove the quality of their runners?
It's hard to buy into the argument that The Triple Crown is a showcase for the stallions of tomorrow. The lovely filly, Rags to Riches, defeated the mighty Curlin following a stirring stretch drive in the 2007 Belmont Stakes. Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion of 2003, was a gelding incapable of breeding. Mine That Bird is also a gelding. Imagine if Rags to Riches and Funny Cide were cheated of their opportunities. Racing fans would have missed some memorable moments because those two aren't as viable from a breeding perspective as intact colts.
There is no guarantee that a Classic winner will make a classic stallion. Lil E. Tee, Sea Hero, Go for Gin, Silver Charm and Charismatic are just a handful of Kentucky Derby winners that didn't make an impact at stud. The breeding business is a cluttered industry. A Classic win looks good on the resume, but it won't make or break a stallion. Nowadays, any horse that worked an eighth of a mile in under ten seconds, sold for $16M, and never won a race is a stallion. Andromeda's Hero, for goodness sake, is a stallion. The breeding industry is built on the premise that if you have a heartbeat and some libido that you can attempt to make it at stud.
It's also difficult to embrace the argument that Rachel Alexandra's entry in the Preakness is totally irresponsible, and may lead to a tragic breakdown on a major stage. What if the Zayat or Allen longshot entrants were injured? Imagine the PETA uproar.
While the owners pour money into the game, and deserve to reap the rewards of a Triple Crown win (and the future benefits such a win would pay once a racing career is over), the Classics are also for the fans, and they provide a wonderful opportunity to promote the sport in a positive light. The public deserves to see the best face the best on an equal playing field. If Rachel Alexandra doesn't win the Preakness, let it be because she isn't good enough on the day instead of excluding her entirely.
But racing fans needn't despair. The story of Rachel Alexandra facing the big, bad bullies is going to be a hook for a general media hungry for a story to equal Mine That Bird's miraculous upset. I think the public will eat it up. While Mine That Bird's quest for the elusive Triple Crown is a natural story, it is matchups that create interest. Whether it is Affirmed-Alydar, Ali-Frazier, or Feller-Dimaggio, people want to rally around their favorites, and root them home. Hopefully, because of the Rachel Alexandra vs. the boys angle, televesion ratings will soar, the horses will put on a great show, and some non-racing fans will become interested in the sport. If we could create at least one new fan, and potential bettor, because they are awed by what they see this Saturday, the game wins. Whether Rachel Alexandra wins the Preakness or not, her participation ensures that we, the racing fans, win by seeing the best compete on the racetrack, where all sexes can be equal, if only for two minutes or so.
Some Preakness news:
*Jeremy Rose will ride Terrain.
*Some quotes from recent Pimlico press releases:
*Lukas on Flying Private: "I've got a nice horse. He's a very good horse. He didn't show up in the Derby, granted, so tell them to bet on somebody else. Having said that, he's a well-bred horse, he'll go a mile and three-sixteenths. He's got a top rider in Alan Garcia, who just won the Peter Pan. There's a lot to like."
On Luv Gov: "We think he's our Belmont Stakes horse and we are looking for another spot to get a good one in." He's truly a mile and a half, a mile and three-sixteenths horse. And he ran a huge race on Derby day. He actually ran better than most of the horses in the Derby. We're going to give him a shot to go."
"We entered and I told Coley Blind, the stakes coordinator, that we would enter only if there was no controversy with the filly and we did not exclude her. If in any way, shape or form she is excluded because of our entry, then we will not enter. We are not trying to keep the filly out."
Luv Gov won his maiden in his tenth lifetime start on Derby day with an 87 Beyer Speed Figure.
*Thomas McCarthy on General Quarters: "He came out of the race pretty good the next day, but right after the race he had one nostril completely closed or clogged. (Atomic Rain) must have hit him right there in one eye. It was closing pretty fast when we got to it and got all the dirt out from under the lid. He took a pretty good knock."
*Gary Stute on the possibility of facing Rachel Alexandra with Papa Clem: "There should be 13 of us (concerned) to be exact. She changes the whole race in my opinion. She's an exceptional filly. I've kind of been following her around and she's impressed me a lot. If I could change places in the race, I probably would."
*Derek Ryan on the possibility of facing Rachel Alexandra with Musket Man: "I'm glad she's in there. Why not? She'll keep Big Drama pretty honest on the lead and if you get beat by her, you'll be getting beat by one of the best (fillies) of all time. If you beat her, you've beaten one of the great ones of all time - plus, plus."
*Hull will not run in the Preakness
Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races:
*Mervyn LeRoy (Hol): Ball Four (P. Biancone/J. Talamo) - 105
*Lone Star Derby (LS): Mythical Power (B. Baffert/V. Espinoza) - 101
*Decathlon (Mth): Acting Zippy (W. Bennett/E. Castro) - 100
*Peter Pan (Bel): Charitable Man (K. McLaughlin/A. Garcia) - 98
*Wilma Mankiller (WRD): Miranda Diane (S. Seaton/N. Matz) - 97
*Lyman (Pha): Secretintelligence (T. Ritchey/J. Shepherd) - 96
*Nasty and Bold (Bel): Atoned (T. Pletcher/J. Velazquez) - 95
*Kingston (Bel): Banrock (T. Bush/K. Desormeaux) - 95
*Three Coins Up (Bel): Dry Martini (B. Tagg/E. Prado) - 95
*Railbird (Hol): Witty (R. Mandella/V. Espinoza) - 95
*Professor (Bel): Legal Consent (C. Martin/R. Dominguez) - 92
*Chester House (AP): Snapphok (J. Gulick/I. Karlsson) - 90
*Hendrie (WO): Smart Surprise (J. Carroll/P. Husbands) - 89
*New Providence (WO): Stuck in Traffic (N. Gonzalez/E. Da Silva) - 89
*Red Cross (Mth): Access Fee (L. Murray/L. Garcia) - 88
*Tom Ridge (PID): Great Love (J. Robb/E. Rodriguez) - 87
*Foxy J. G. S. (Pha): Marie Soleil (S. Lake/A. Mariano) - 87
*Elizabeth Bay (Bel): By the Light (R. Dutrow Jr./E. Prado) - 85
*Route 66 (WRD): Distinguish (M. Lozano/A. Jimenez) - 85
*Jim Coleman Province (Hst): Almost Time (D. Condilenios/F. Fuentes) - 83
*Inaugural (PID): One Smokin' Lady (R. Reid Jr./F. Pennington) - 83
*Texas Stallion (colts) (LS): Valid Stripes (A. Laborde/K. LeBlanc) - 83
*Texas Stallion (fillies) (LS): City Tone (J. Bruner/C. Landeros) - 82
*Emerald Downs (Hst): What R the Odds (M. Snow/F. Perez) - 78
*Princess (Lnn): Apple Crumble (J. Wise/J. Olesiak) - 59
Here are the lifetime past performances for the highest and lowest Beyer stakes performers of the week:
Alan, you'll like this. Another example of a supertrainer, perhaps?
4 races are mentioned in the indictment, all from TBD, is it possible for you to give us charts?
1-10-06 race 10
1-29-06 race 3
1-31-06 race 8
4-15-06 race 3
Here they are:
Any chance we could get Birdstone's Lifetime PPS
Here they are:
Has Pletcher yet been punished for Wait a While's procaine violation? I haven't seen his name on the California Board website.
Haven't heard anything since late April when Pletcher's defense team were mulling the possibility of an appeal.
cigarvacation and Lenny, I'll get right to work on finding out some answers on the pricing issues, and will get back to you ASAP.
Back with more next time.
Hey Dan, Please inform kccris that Miranda Diane is a four year old & never raced at two. And that she has raced in the Southwest, not the Midwest where he says snail oil is used? I looked snail oil up & found nothing on the internet. What is it? Also please tell Alan (her #1 fan besides me!) that Miranda will be running in the Saylorville if she get in but we are planning on being at that that race on June 26, not June 21. "Super" Shane Seaton will be there & Nina too if possible.
handi preakness play as follow: $ 4 Tri key #2 over 3,6,9,11,13/3,6,9,11,13 =$80 $20 win #2 =$20 look for a repeat with Mine That Bird...
Tencentcielo, The reason Rachel was disappointed with the offerings is because she really only wants CHOCOLATE CANDY. :) Annie
Keith & SR Vegas, LOL! Some more great ones! It's funny, just out of the blue this afternoon, I thought of what someone had said (maybe tencent) about Rachel asking her trainer if the saddle cloth made her butt look big and I just broke out laughing. This has been great! Annie
I just watched Calvin Borel on Jay Leno, and not one word was mentioned that he wasn't riding MTB in the Preakness. Weird. Annie
Lurker, Welcome! And don't hesitate to comment any time you feel like it. Sounds like you enjoy this blog as much as I do. :) Annie
BigEasy, I was really just wondering how you (or anyone) would even know which numbers are correct versus incorrect. Jeff, I think the differences in performance were probably too small to really get hung up about. Musket Man had more to do because he was the furthest from the pace, but not by a lot. He seemed to be tiring the least of the 3, but, again, not by a lot. For me, Pioneerof the Nile may end up being an Afleet Alex type... just when I think his tank is empty and am sold that he won't get added distance... well, you know the rest. Afleet Alex was simply a tough, classy, durable runner, who proved to be much better than I originally gave him credit for. I admit to not liking him going into the Derby, liking him less in the Preakness, and even betting against him again in the Belmont. Pioneerof the Nile, so far, has been that kind of horse for me. But I won't be fooled as easily this time. This horse is a winner and is very good and game. I still say he didn't completely stay the trip in Kentucky, but it may not matter in the Preakness if just a few things go his way. I have similar thoughts on Musket Man and Papa Clem. Basically, Rachel Alexandra has to lose (she's at least a mild bet-against for me anyway), and Mine That Bird needs either a bad trip or an off-day. I still say Mine That Bird is the one who really relished the route, so I'm not ignoring him here, especially if Smith settles him midpack. He just needs to fire for a piece of this... or the whole thing. IMHO, leaving him completely off tri/super tickets is a mistake, especially since he'll be an overlay. Just my 2 cents.
Preakness: I'm afraid that I am going to have to regard MTB in the same way I regard any 50-1 winner of their last race - A BET AGAINST IN THEIR NEXT RACE. The seas parted for MTB in the Derby. It was meant to be. But, the likelyhood of that same thing happening in the Preakness is next to none, IMO. I am going to tackle this race with the premise - If they were good before the Derby, they are good now. This pinpoints 7 horses (in alphabetical order): BD, FF, GQ, MM, PC, POTN and of course, Rachel. It is from this group that I will attempt to fashion my bets. As far as I am concerned, the rest are not even in there. I could be wrong, of course, but some kind of a stand must be made and this will be my startting point. Annie
Vicstu and SunG, You are the same people and you are both wrong. Vicstu, This Preakness has gotten more hype and PR buildup than it ever would have gotten without all the RA controversy/buildup. You have missed the boat terribly in your attempt to be right from the beginning and repeating the same mantra about how this was supposed to be about the little gelding that could. The hype is 10 fold over what it would have been before RA came into the picture and has had the exact opposite effect of your prediction and you seem to be reading and hearing only what you want to read and hear. You sound like Chicken Little yelling about the sky falling while you are missing what is actually happening. This could be the most interesting and watched Preakness in years and it is ALL because of RA being bought and entered in this race Be happy, the sport is getting exactly what you want ( national publicity ) whether it was the opposite of your prediction or not. Let's hope RA gets in and let the hype machine continue for as long as RA can carry it.
kchris, I haven't seen the Form yet, so I was looking at the Brisnet PP's and didn't realize that Renda hadn't been working regularly. I've got to think she's been galloping, but with only one published work I'll have to rethink using her. However, I do like Bon Jovi Girl quite a bit, even more so now with the scratch of Hooh Why. Without her in the race, there's no confirmed frontrunner, so whoever goes out is going to be setting a moderate pace. She's been finishing close to the best horses by comparison, and was favored over Just Jenda and Afleet Deceit two back. We can at least say no one in this field is better than either of those two at this stage. And she likes to win... I agree Cassanova Move is probably the horse to beat off her seconds to 'Dixie, I'm just not sure CM likes to win races. I think it's worth trying to beat her at least this Friday at what will probably be around 9/5... Two others that worry me are Payton D'oro and Don't Forget Gil. Payton is on fire and could end up the lonely pacesetter, and DFG comes out of the same race that Laragh just won out of. Neither would surprise me... But even with the scratch of Hooh Why knocking my odds down, I'll still take 7/1 on BJG...