09/12/2012 12:45PM

New York Horses, Santa Anita Breeders' Cups

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As we all know, this year’s Breeders’ Cup is at Santa Anita. We should also know that the last two Breeders’ Cups at Santa Anita, in 2008 and 2009, were unmitigated disasters for New York horses.

How one defines a “New York horse,” or for that matter a horse from any circuit in a time when it’s commonplace for big trainers to have multiple divisions in a number of states, can vary. But for purposes of this discussion, I classified New York horses as ones from primarily New York-based stables regardless of where those horses might have had their final preps, or horses who had their final preps at a New York track.

By my count, there were 42 such horses in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup. Only one of them won, that being Maram in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

I counted 41 such horses in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup. Again, only one of them won. That was Tapitsfly, who also landed the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

To recap, because it deserves emphasis, in the last two Breeders’ Cups at Santa Anita, New York horses went 2 for 83, and the race these winners won is near the bottom of the Breeders’ Cup totem pole, a notch, maybe two, above the Marathon.

These numbers are so staggering that even the most provincial California racing fan would have to agree that there was something more at work here than just the West being best.

Some might suggest that shipping could be a factor and note that it is more difficult shipping from cooler New York weather into a warmer fall climate than vice versa. Although that makes some sense, I’m not buying. European horses faced a similar climatic change in the 2008 and 2009 Cups, but had to travel more than twice as many miles as New York horses. Yet despite that, Euro shippers won five of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races in 2008 (all on Saturday), and six of the 14 Cup races in 2009.

Certainly, a major factor could have been the synthetic main track that was in place at Santa Anita for the 2008 and 2008 Cups. In looking back, I can think of only a few New York horses that even ran just reasonably well on that synthetic surface – Sky Diva, Ready’s Echo, Midshipman, and Gio Ponti, who, notably, was a turf horse. Otherwise, every New York horse seemed to flounder on that synthetic track. But while it should be noted that New York horses, who went 0 for 16 in main track races in the 2008 and 2009 Breeders’ Cups, did better on grass, they did only go 2 for 12.

Of course, the main track will no longer be an excuse as Santa Anita went back to dirt almost two years ago. Whether this will enable New York horses to be more competitive in this Breeders’ Cup remains to be seen. But the viability of New York horses in this Breeders’ Cup is something to think about as we assess the major final Cup preps, which are almost at hand.

chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I can only hope that Trainers shipping to Santa Anita understand those rock-hard surfaces. 'If he don't like to hear his feet rattle, he ain't gonna run on it.' Prayers for safe trips for all...
Roy Sankar More than 1 year ago
the breeders cup should be in NEW YORK!!! The bulls**t in politics that go on between the breeders cup board and NYRA needs to stop immediately!!! all you idiots are doing is hurting the industry more then helping ...how about putting your personal feelings aside for once and play this one for the bettors and horses instead of for your own pride.
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
New York horse courageous cat was also a good 2nd to goldikova
AZ Wildcat More than 1 year ago
Maybe I am being old and cynical but this is the worst quality I have seen in horse racing in 48 years and that is saying something after Drosselmeyer and Court Vision won last year. Any third rate Euro will come take our cookies on turf, and probably on dirt if they try. I'll Have Another went to Japan so fast it makes your head spin, Bodemeister got a hangnail and was retired, Paynter almost died and Alpha, Gemologist, etc are B grade at best. In the Turf Sprint you can be sure that a California horse (Mizdirection, Lakerville) will win because you just aren't going to get a horse or rider who has never ridden that course up for a win, and after Amazombie cashes his Social Security check he will take down the Sprint. Acclamation will be hard pressed to get ready in time, and a Marathon in the U.S. is 7 furlongs. I think it is time to change the name to The Dixie Cup...
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
I highly doubt. We are in better shape this year than 2008 and 2009 in defending our home turf against the Europeans. Let's see: Turf Sprint - we always win because European sprinters are used to running on a straight course, they can't handle the turns especially not at the downhill turf course at Santa Anita Juvenile Fillies Turf - we always win. I don't know why, maybe because 2yo fillies don't travel well. Juvenile Turf - most likely we'll need to concede this race Filly and Mare Turf - Marketing Mix will represent us well, especially on the rock hard Santa Anita turf course with a downhill stretch. Looking at her run at the end of the 9.5f Beverly D, she should get 10f at Santa Anita easily. Mile - We will be well represented by Wise Dan. People forget that the Mile used to be a race that American milers and twinners (9f turf horses) excel at. We have had many good ones over the years with truly electrifying turn of foot that can put away the Europeans. Artie Schiller, War Chant, Da Hoss and other horses that rival Goldikova's turn of foot. We haven't had one in recent years, Goldikova dominated. We have one this year in Wise Dan. He's a special horse that can handle the Europeans. The Woodbine Mile will be a preview of things to come. The Turf - We will be well represented this year with Ioyabigtime and Point of Entry. The frontrunning Ioyabigtime will be extra tough on the Santa Anita turf course a la Presious Passion. The Europeans will have to send their first string 12 furlong horses to beat these two. The Dangerous Midge sorts will be sent packing by these two worthy American defenders.
Fab More than 1 year ago
Seems to me that if a trainer in New York KNEW he/she was going to run their NEW YORK-based horse in the Breeders' Cup and it was being contested on synthetic surfaces that they PREPARE their horse ON the surface to find out if it can be competitive ON the surface before entering, shipping, running, and then making excuses. If not deemed to handle it well enough to be competitive, then pass. Train the horse for the situation at hand. If the horse is not good enough for the "situation at hand", find another situation to prepare the horse for. The Breeders' Cup is the big time ... approach it appropriately, Every NFL team has access to grass and sythethic surfaces to best prepare for their next game (i.e., "the situation at hand"). They pump in crowd noise to prepare for the "situation at hand". I don't like synthetic surfaces, but it is what it is. Adapt or limit your opportunities. This goes for the players too.
Michael Watchmaker More than 1 year ago
In fact, there were several New York horses who shipped for BC preps on synthetic.
Meathead More than 1 year ago
Mike maybe the NY horses were not good enough back then this year will tell the tale on the dirt I think. MH01
mikey More than 1 year ago
This year the horse's are all pretty common.They take turn's beating each other.The guess is who is feeling good that day.
rdeeps52 More than 1 year ago
Lets see, this article could have been two words, "synthetic surface" Every synthetic race winner in those two years was either a grass horse or a horse that had been running on the surface, Zenyatta, Life is Sweet, Ravens Pass. I don't think there was 1 winner, from any part of the country where the final prep came on dirt and won, or even ran well in those 2 years.
Jason Landman More than 1 year ago
Precisely my point as well. If you're going to compare Synthetic to Dirt you might as well compare Dirt to Turf or Turf to Synthetic. All 3 are different surfaces. With all do respect to Mike, this is making something out of absolutely nothing.
Michael Watchmaker More than 1 year ago
That's fine. The why did NY horses win only 2 of 12 races on turf. Not a great win percentage.
Brian Russell More than 1 year ago
Mike, Because Europeans won 7 of the 12. The California based horses were also 2 for 12 on the turf with the turf sprint being both of their wins on their unique course. The 12th winner was Forever Together who was based in the Mid-Atlantic.
Jason Landman More than 1 year ago
Only 2 of 12? That's 16% of the turf races and factoring in California, Kentucky, and Euro based horses I don't think that's really that bad of a win ratio. In fact, that's probably above average if you look over the last decade the domination of the Euro's in turf races (sprint excluded).
Duncan Macpherson More than 1 year ago
Mike, I think it is fair to point out how poorly NY horses ran on the main but I'm not sure I concur about the grass. In my opinion it is fair to wonder about the synthetic surface more than the Santa Anita location. Euros dominated the turf and California horses also had a 2 for 12 record on grass only winning the turf sprints (unless I missed something). Personally I would give NY some credit for Forever Together given that she was a two time Diana winner trained by an Easterner, although certainly not a full time New Yorker. The main is still there but the synth is gone and Ron the Greek seemed to do just fine earlier this year. I'm not sure throwing out New York horses would be my top angle this year.
Steven More than 1 year ago
Because like every BC at SA other than Imports they can't compete. This year will tell a story to the horsemen. Their will be most likely 5 favorite's prepping outside of California Point of Entry, Dreaming of Julia, Groupie Doll, Wise Dan an Questing. All of these wonderful animal's will be 3-2 or less in final preps. Horsemen if you want to win a BC race at SA you need to prep at SA.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I don't agree that the NY runners can't compete, just that as the road-team they were at a disadvantage, just like the Cali horses when the races are back East. But you bring up an excellent point that this year is shaping up as definitive. With SA back to dirt, surface can't be used as an excuse. And you are correct that Easterners are likely to be heavy favroties in a number of races. I would probably add the Juvenile because there hasn't been an impressive 2 year old male unveiled in Cali thus far. The Filly and Mare Sprint appears to be Groupie Doll's. Questing, Royal Delta, and It's Tricky tower over the Cali runners now that Potesta is sadly retired. In the Juvy Fillies it's basically a handful of quality Easterners vs. Executiveprivledge. In the Turf among the North Americans, there is Point of Entry and Little Mike from the East and not much in Cali unless Acclamation can get healthy in time and horse-for-course Bourbon Bay does the same. In the Mile among the Americans, Wise Dan stands out, with Obviously, Mr. Commons, and Jeranimo a level below. The Cali turf females are not a strong lot, with the possible exception of the 3 year old Lady of Shamrock. Cali doesn't have a strong program for juvenile turfers, so I wouldn't expect much in those 2 races. And if Shackleford were to win the Kelso, I would assume he would be the Dirt Mile fave. That leaves the Sprint and Turf Sprint with likely Cali faves, and the Classic with a wide-open field with maybe Game on Dude favored.
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
Because they weren't that good to start with? Those same new York horses would have been 2 for 12 even if the breeders cup was at Belmont. New York's best turf horse Gio Ponti was 2nd in the classic.
Fred Reardon More than 1 year ago
Hi Mike, I well remember those years of 08 & 09 when SA had the BC and ran on synthetics I also remember sitting around and waiting for the one sure thing - Zenyatta. As a result I made a lot of "mental bets". You know. Mental bets are where you keep your money in your wallet and only lose your mind. Thanks, as always, and how about a BC back at Belmont.
Craig More than 1 year ago
This year it won't matter.All the U.S. horses are bad.And we won't get any Euro first stringers.