03/15/2010 10:49PM

Zenyatta 1, Rachel 0


It's amazing how anticipation can turn to disappointment in just one day. 

The long-awaited showdown between 2009 Horse of the Year RACHEL ALEXANDRA and the phenomenal, undefeated ZENYATTA, expected to be held in the Apple Blossom Invitational on April 9, will now be put on hold after Rachel Alexandra's shocking defeat on Saturday at the Fair Grounds.

Most punters figured that if Rachel were to be defeated in 2010, it would be by a John Shirreffs-trained mare whose name begins with 'Z.'  Very few figured it would be ZARDANA, the plucky Brazilian-bred that stole the spotlight in the New Orleans Ladies. 

It seemed that jockey Calvin Borel was extremely conservative aboard Rachel Alexandra.  An opportunity to break the race wide open presented itself entering the far turn as Rachel Alexandra conceivably could have gone right by overmatched pacesetter FIGHTER WING.  Perhaps if Borel moved at that point, Rachel would have opened up daylight on Zardana, playing a game of "catch me if you can" through the long Fair Grounds stretch.  Instead, Borel waited for Zardana to draw to near-even terms, and the gritty, in-form Zardana refused to budge throughout the final quarter-mile. 

"I wanted to let her run her race early but they wanted me to wait," Borel said after the New Orleans Ladies.  "I wanted to go on past the speed horse early.  I'd have got by her anytime and my filly could have gone on but they wanted me to wait and not get into her until the sixteenth pole."

Rachel seemed a short horse and should move forward from the race, but when she'll race again is up in the air. 

"We had progressively accelerated her conditioning and it didn't work," said owner Jess Jackson, "We're going to go back, let her develop at her own pace.  I can't give you a prediction as to when but it might take a couple of months."

Rachel supporters could easily sum up the New Orleans Ladies as a case of "anyone can be beaten on any given day," but that statement holds little water when her great rival, the mighty Zenyatta, has never been defeated. 

After a crowd of 20,315 at The Great Race Place were wowed by the Equine Orchid's typical last-to-first win in Saturday's Santa Margarita Invitational, many found it hard to conceive a situation in which Zenyatta can lose.  She is that dominant in her races.

"This was her first race back and I wanted to make it as easy as possible," said Zenyatta's jubilant rider, Mike Smith. "I thought I would be able to follow Ski Dancer and wheel out wide when I needed to, but when Alex didn't move on I eased back and decided to follow Pretty Unusual.  I could've wheeled wide when we turned for home, but I decided to follow Chantal as far as I could.  I cut some corners and gambled a bit, but I was confident at all times that if she needed to make room, she could."

When asked about Rachel's defeat a half-hour earlier, trainer John Shirreffs said, "I didn't get a chance to see it, but I heard it, and it sounded great.  She's (Zardana) tough.  California's tough...We're tough.  Don't take us short.  Zenyatta will run in the Apple Blossom regardless."

And that's a frightening thought for would-be Apple Blossom entrants, Rachel or no Rachel.

(quotes courtesy of the Fair Grounds and Santa Anita Publicity Departments)


Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's racing action:


Here are the lifetime past performances for the top Beyer earners:

Download Warbling

Download Chief of Affairs


Aside from Better Than Honour and Weekend Surprise, has any other dam dropped two classic winners?

Here are the dams of two American classic winners:

MAGGIE B. B. - Harold (1879 Preakness), Panique (1884 Belmont)
CINDERELLA - Hastings (1896 Belmont), Plaudit (1898 Kentucky Derby)
LADY MARGARET - Margrave (1896 Preakness), Masterman (1902 Belmont)
IGNITE - Hindus (1900 Preakness), Sir Huon (1906 Kentucky Derby)
LEISURE - Royal Tourist (1908 Preakness), Holiday (1914 Preakness)
PRUDERY - Whiskery (1927 Kentucky Derby), Victorian (1928 Preakness)
WEEKEND SURPRISE - Summer Squall (1990 Preakness), A.P. Indy (1992 Belmont)
BETTER THAN HONOUR - Jazil (2006 Belmont), Rags to Riches (2007 Belmont)


Do you think Bob Baffert's campaign for Conveyance and Lookin' At Lucky is tantamount to an admission that it was a mistake to keep Pioneerof The Nile at Santa Anita last spring?

Is it true that Sham ran the second fastest time in the Kentucky Derby?  I thought it was Monarchos...but before the Sham Stakes HRTV kept saying that Sham ran the second fastest Derby ever.

Why don't the Mosses and Shirreffs own a rabbit type of horse, just to throw out there in races like the one she's in this Saturday, to ensure an honest pace for her?  Surely they have the resources to do it, and its done all the time in this sport.

I think Mr. Baffert made the right decisions with all three horses.  PIONEEROFTHE NILE seemed more of the prototypical turf/synthetic horse than the two he switched to dirt this year.  Pioneerofthe Nile made a nice amount of hay in Southern California and Baffert took a shot with him on dirt in the Derby and Preakness.
CONVEYANCE's running style and action seem geared more for dirt racing than synthetics.  His professional Southwest victory was a 180-degree spin from his unfocused effort in the San Rafael. 
As for LOOKIN AT LUCKY, I think Mr. Baffert wanted to see what he had under the hood on dirt.  The horse had a tendency to wait on other rivals on Pro-Ride.  Perhaps that indicated that it wasn't his preferred surface.  He sure didn't wait on NOBLE'S PROMISE in the stretch of the Rebel on Saturday. 
Different strokes for different horses, I guess.  In Jay Privman's article in last Saturday's "Weekender," Baffert stated, "On dirt, the fastest horse wins.  On synthetic, you have to like it."

SHAM has the second-fastest Derby time behind SECRETARIAT.  Secretariat ran the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59 2/5 with Sham another two-fifths behind him.  MONARCHOS is right behind Sham in third with a 1:59.97 clocking. 

When you have the "Reflection of Perfection" in your corner, you don't need a rabbit.


Dan, I remember hearing that alydar made his first career start in a stake race. Can you recall anytime in recent memory that a horse started in a grade 1 race as a first time starter. I know that connie and michael was a second time starter in the juvenile fillies last year and there was also a filly a number of years ago named forest something who got a 100 beyer going six furlongs at laurel then got thrown to the wolves in the juvenile fillies also.
thanks James FL

If I remember correctly, Groovy either opened in a stakes race or was entered and scratched.

ALYDAR made his debut on June 15, 1977 in the Youthful Stakes at Belmont, a 5 1/2 furlong race for juvenile colts.  He went off the 9-5 favorite and finished fifth behind a horse that had broken his maiden 22 days earlier.  That horse's name was AFFIRMED

The "Forest" horse you're thinking of was FOREST MUSIC, a Michael Gill-owned, Mark Shuman-trained filly that ran in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies following a 105 Beyer debut at Laurel. 

I can't think of a debut runner in a Grade 1 race off the top of my head, but I remember that LE PRINCE was entered as a debut runner in the 1990 Gotham, but was scratched by trainer Dominick Imperio on the morning of the race.  Le Prince, a New York-bred son of SEATTLE SLEW out of La Prevoyante winner SATANIA, eventually made his debut going seven furlongs at Belmont on July 22.  He won by 12 1/2 lengths and never raced again.

GROOVY made his debut a winning one in the Forever Casting Stakes going six furlongs at the Meadowlands in 1985. 

Some other notable debut runs:

MOM'S COMMAND won the restricted Faneuil Miss Stakes first-out at Rockingham in 1984.

RISEN STAR won the Minstrel Stakes at Louisiana Downs in his career debut in 1987. 

SKY CLASSIC made his debut in the Grade 3-C Clarendon at Woodbine.  He finished second at 3-5 odds.


Dan can you post the PP's for Sky Beauty please.

Here they are:

Download SkyBeauty


Speaking of nice pedigrees and HB/FB's, check out GP6!  What is this....Saratoga in the summer?   Can I assume Ambergis Caye will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

Why no dirt yet for this full to Perfect Drift???


If possible, may I have the PP's for the following please:
Go West Young Man
Noble Nashua
I know I'm taking liberties asking for a 6 pack but the first five pushed champions in the golden age of 1978-81 and I have a good story about Dorcaro.

Only if you tell the story about DORCARO  :>

Here's what I have for the horses you requested:

Download Oldies


Dan,  Alke green won the first at gulfstream last sunday and paid $329. I recall emperor ruckus winning at churchill in the 90s and paying $288, also mynameischase won at arlington and paid over $250 would it possible to get the pps?

Here's what I have for the horses you mentioned.

Download BombsAway


Apple Blossom, looking at the nominations I hope all these good horses show up! The Breeders Cup will be jealous..........On a side note I thought Pure Clan retired?

From Mary Rampellini's column posted on March 12:

Pure Clan breezed three furlongs in 36.80 seconds Friday at Oaklawn in what was her first work back after a freshening. She last raced on Nov. 6, finishing second by a length in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
Pure Clan is the only Grade 1-winning mare currently stabled at Oaklawn. She was nominated to the Apple Blossom Invitational, but will not be ready for the April 9 race, said her trainer, Bob Holthus.
Bob Holthus said that the target for Pure Clan's return is May at Churchill Downs. Pure Clan is being pointed for the Grade 2, $200,000 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 1.
Pure Clan, the winner of the Grade 1 Flower Bowl this past fall at Belmont Park, races for her breeder, Lewis Lakin. She is a winner of 8 of 16 starts and $1.9 million. She worked Friday under regular exercise rider Steve Schmelzel.


I am looking for past performances on a nine-year-old gelding named Sunsmanship.  Thank you!

Here they are:

Download Sunsmanship


Anybody know why She Be scratched?

From David Grening's column posted on March 13:

Catalano said he scratched She Be Wild out of the Florida Oaks because of concerns about the condition of the track after the Tampa area was hit with a deluge of rain on Friday, just around the time Catalano was getting ready to ship her from Palm Meadows.
"I had to make a decision to put her on the truck," Catalano said. "The weather was so bad that I figured it would be nothing but a hard racetrack, a muddy racetrack, or a washed out racetrack."
The official track condition at Tampa on Saturday was fast.


Re: Sidney's Candy
This one interests me. I don't expect to win the SA Derby, nor do I want him to because I want a juicy price come Ky Derby. I know he got away with easy fractions today, but I really like the way he looks and something tells me he his speed will carry nicely at Churchill. What do the pedigree gurus think about the ability to get the 1 1/4?

Here's what I wrote about him on our "Contender Profiles" page on the Kentucky Derby section of drf.com:

Trainer: John Sadler
Record: 4-2-1-0
Best Beyer: 99
Breeder: Jenny Craig and Sidney H. Craig
Tomlinson Distance Rating: 264*
Auction: Homebred
Dosage Profile: 2-2-5-1-0 (10)
Dosage Index: 1.86
Center of Distribution: 0.50
Sire: Candy Ride was a wonderful racehorse, winning all six lifetime starts, earning Champion Miler honors in his native Argentina at three, and breaking the track record at 1 1/4 miles in the Pacific Classic at four. He won between six furlongs and 1 1/4 miles, on turf and on dirt, and received a whopping 123 Beyer for his Pacific Classic score.
Candy Ride has been a versatile stallion throughout his young stud career. Some of his successful progeny include Grade 2 route winner Misremembered, Grade 1 sprint winner Capt. Candyman Can, and Grade 1 synthetic sprint winner Evita Argentina.
Dam: The second dam, Exchange, was a multiple Grade 1 winner on turf between nine and ten furlongs. A true rags-to-riches story, Exchange emerged from $32,000 maiden claimers to become a multiple Grade 1 winner, winning on both turf and dirt at distances between 6 1/2 furlongs and 1 1/2 miles.
The third dam is a half-sister to Steady Growth, winner of the 1979 Queen's Plate, as well as Kingsbridge, the 1983 Breeders' Stakes champion in Canada.
Outlook: Although Sidney's Candy has shown a great amount of speed in his short career, he has the pedigree to succeed at longer distances.


Is there any way we can keep a tally of how SoCal horses that go to dirt tracks do? I agree with Alan in that you cannot just bet a California runner because it show up on a dirt track (see Gallant Gent and Pulsion). It would be nice to flesh this out and see what the parameters are. Obviously I think it is a serious angle - and Wall Street Wonder, Champagne D'Oro, Lookin at Lucky, Conveyance, Zardana agree.
Has anybody kept up on the stem cell stuff? Successes? Failures?
Steve T.

I did a study through Formulator for the top 20 trainers (minus A. C. Avila and Gary Stute) at the current Santa Anita meet (as of Sunday's DRF), and how their horses did going from synthetic to dirt OUTSIDE of California over the past two years:

Richard Mandella - 0-0
Jeff Mullins - 10-34 (29%, $1.59 ROI)
Jerry Hollendorfer - 30-63 (48%, $1.79 ROI)
Mike Mitchell - 2-5 (40%, $2.08 ROI)
John Sadler - 0-7
Doug O'Neill - 21-81 (26%, $1.71 ROI)
Vladimir Cerin - 1-7 (14%, $0.68 ROI)
Dan Hendricks - 0-1
Martin Jones - 0-0
Ben Cecil - 0-0
Ron Ellis - 0-2
Jack Carava - 0-0
Jorge Gutierrez - 0-0
Barry Abrams - 0-2
Bob Hess Jr. - 1-12 (8%, $0.34 ROI)
Carla Gaines - 0-2
Bob Baffert - 10-28 (36%, $2.35 ROI)
Julio Canani - 0-1

There have been some success stories with stem-cell treatments.  SING BABY SING placed in a Grade 3 last year after having the treatment and EVER A FRIEND finished second in the Grade 1 Citation in 2009.  It's too early to tell if this will be a "wonder" therapy and there have been other horses that have not responded as well to the treatments.


Has anyone seen a BSF for Tiz the One?

It was a 101.


Didn't hear from Steve D. regarding HandiGambling so cayman selected the sixth race from Santa Anita on Wednesday.  Here are the past performances:

Download HG177

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."   Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. 

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.  The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.

Best of luck to all.

Let's do a Multi-Race HandiGambling in two weeks (Pick 4, Pick 3, Daily Double).