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Zenyatta, Beyers, Tons of Questions
She is the Equine Orchid. The Toast of the Coast. The Reflection of Perfection. Yet for all the superlatives bestowed upon the undefeated Zenyatta, she is well behind the eight ball in terms of being the Number One Selection for Horse of the Year. The clubhouse leader is Rachel Alexandra, an Amazon in her own right, whose magnificent season beating fillies, colts, and older males will be talked about for many years to come.
Even if Zenyatta runs her undefeated streak to fourteen with a victory over older males in the Breeders' Cup Classic, it is highly-questionable whether she could wrest year-end honors away from Rachel Alexandra. That being said, it would be wrong not to celebrate her victory in last Saturday's Lady's Secret Stakes over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.
Perhaps a more appropriate nickname for Zenyatta is Hambone. The Zenyatta Experience begins in the paddock, continues into the post parade, and doesn't conclude until she is led off the track for her victory bath and victuals. Like all great performers, she's there to give the people their money's worth, and she has a wonderful habit of putting smiles on the faces of her many fans.
It starts in the walking ring where the undefeated one paws the ground as if recreating her resume,. One. Two. Three. Four. This little piggy is for when I smoked Ginger Punch at Oaklawn. This is for when I ran past Hystericalady like she was tied to a tree. This is for when I dominated the Ladies' Classic.
Once through the tunnel, and onto the racetrack for the post parade, Zenyatta doesn't gallop, jog, or merely walk. Rhythmically and methodically, she struts as if the Pro-Ride is her personal catwalk. Knee up...Extend...Repeat. Heidi Klum couldn' do it any better.
When the gates spring, the huge mare (17.2 hands) is all business. There is no game plan. Everyone in the world knows where Zenyatta is going to be when the field hits the clubhouse turn. Absolutely last. Then, when the real running begins, here comes the fastball. Try to hit it. So far, everyone that has stepped up to the plate against Zenyatta has taken their cuts. They've all walked back to the dugout scratching their heads. Every single one.
"...No disrespect to the other horses today," said her jockey, Mike Smith, after the Lady's Secret. "But she only ran about four jumps when she turned for home, and then she shut it down...I just have so much confidence in her and today, she had 10 gears, and she only had to use four of them."
The naysayers ask, "who has she beaten?" The answer is simple. She's beaten every horse that's ever faced her. Most times, she doesn't break a sweat. Some great horses have been defeated because of bad trips, or physical issues that compromised their performance. Some, like all athletes, simply had a bad day. Not Zenyatta. Not yet.
"...It's a once in a lifetime horse, believe me," said trainer John Shirreffs. "You don't see Zenyattas. They come so seldom..."
As racing fans, it is easy to sing her praises. As handicappers, we must wonder if she really can beat males in the Classic. Her Beyer Speed Figures are in decline, and she hasn't reached a triple-digit number in the last two races. Going into last year's Ladies Classic, she had paired up lifetime tops with 108 Beyers. This year, she brings a 99 and 97 to the table. Usually, an undefeated champion is lock city. In the Breeders' Cup, Zenyatta's name will likely raise more questions than definitive declarations of her superiority. Win or lose next month, we've been along for a very enjoyable ride.
(Photo - Benoit and Associates)
Another popular veteran wowed the Santa Anita faithful over the weekend. Presious Passion has the raare mixture of speed, stamina, and courage, and he loves to hear his feet rattle over firm turf. He got the conditions he craves in the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship last Sunday, and he showed his rivals his heels every step of the way.
"I wasn't worried about the distance because this horse gives 100 percent," said Presious Passion's regular dance partner, Elvis Trujillo. "He tries hard at a mile and one eighth or a mile and a quarter."
Next up is the Breeders' Cup Turf at 12 furlongs against the toughest competition Presious Passion has ever faced. He'll be a longshot that day, but he's overcome the odds for most of his career.
(Photo - Benoit and Associates)
Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races (scroll over for more information):
Here are the lifetime past performances for the highest and lowest Beyer Stakes performers for the week:
Dan, thanks for the pp's. Do you think it's better for a horses soundness to wait until they are three to run?
Also, will you do a Breeders Cup Beyer chart like the one you did for the Cali Cup sometime?
Dan, will you please post the pp's for Marsh Side, Cloudy's Knight and Collier Hill?
Different strokes for different folks. Some horses are very precocious, and will do their best running at two. I can understand the anxiety associated with two-year-old racing as it relates to longterm soundness. I think a happy medium can be realized if we wait until July to begin racing the babies. Do we really need 2 furlong races in Florida in California in March and April? Are 4 1/2 furlong races during the Spring at Keeneland really necessary? Just a thought.
Here are the Breeders' Cup Beyer Pars:
Filly and Mare Turf: 107.40
Juvenile Fillies: 95.32
Ladies Classic: 106.89
Here's what I have for the horses you requested:
With BC just around the corner and the mentioning of Turf Monsters, could you post the lifetime PP's of my favorite runner and the least mentioned BC winner of all time, Great Communicator! He was one tough customer, not flashy but got it done on the front end!
Here's what I have for Great Communicator:
Any thoughts on the CCAO being moved from Belmont to Saratoga, just like the Woodward was a few years back? Does anyone at NYRA care that the Alabama and Whitney have twins? Moving the Woodward was stupid. Moving the CCAO is beyond comprehension.
I'm disappointed with the idea just as I was disappointed with the move of the Woodward from the fall meet to Saratoga. I understand that NYRA wants top-class racing at Saratoga, but they already have it with the Travers, Whitney, juvenile series, Diana, Test and Alabama, etc. By top-loading the Saratoga meet, we're watering down Belmont Spring as well as the "Fall Championship" stand. The Coaching Club has been in existence since 1917, and although run at Aqueduct between 1963-67, it has been a staple of the Belmont spring meet. Yes, the fields have been weak the last few years despite turning the distance back from 1 1/2 miles in 2004, and it's possible that moving the race to Saratoga will strengthen the assemblage, but NYRA should feel some responsiblity for preserving the history of the sport. The CCAO and the Triple Tiara were once valued prizes just like the Handicap Triple was for older male runners. The Handicap Triple is merely a ghost as the Suburban and Brooklyn Handicaps are shells of their former selves. The Triple Tiara has lost so much luster that it's not even considered a prize worth winning. Instead of piling on to an already loaded meet, perhaps we should add more horsepower to the meets that need it.
I received a workout for Crossing the Line yesterday. He hasn't surfaced since 2007 when he won the Del Mar Mile. I know that they tried to come back with him in 2008 only to have him sidelined again. Is this horse retired or legitimately coming back?
I haven't heard anything definitive, but I'm assuming the gelding is making a comeback. He hasn't raced since 2007, but attempted a comeback last year before being sidelined once again. I added him to our Disabled List located on the right-hand side of the blgo (sorry, but I'm still behind on the DL).
Never been a big fan of Solis. Has he ever been leading rider at a major meeting?
Alex Solis was leading rider at Oak Tree in 1996 (35-18 over Gary Stevens), and in 1998 (28-22 over Laffit Pincay Jr.). He won the Hollywood Park Spring/Summer meet in 1994, 1996, 1997, and 1999, and won the Hollywood Park Autumn meet in 1993, 1995, 1996, 2001, and was tied for first in 2002. Solis won the Santa Anita riding titles in 1991-92, 1996-97, and 2001-02. He won Del Mar in 1996, and 2001, was leading rider at Gulfstream in 1983-84, and won the Tropical at Calder meetings in 1982-83, and in 1984-85.
May I impose upon you for the PP's for Arp. He went from breaking his maiden at Fairplex for $32k to winning the Gr3(?) San Miguel in 1993. And he was a clouds horse. I don't think I've ever heard Trevor relish making a call as when he delivered, "AND HERE COMES ARP!"
Here are the lifetime past performances for Arp:
Thanks for Remembering R Betty Graybull! That was an exciting race, even though I didn't get to watch it until the NYRA replay show last night due to the signal issues they were having yesterday. If anyone comes across her winning Beyer, could you please share?
Congrats to Sedonia for R Betty Graybull's victory at Belmont on October 7. The filly earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.
Looking at some nice juveniles this week. Dan can I see the PP's on Storm Atlatic and some big strapping sons of Unbridled Song! Even the Score, Half Ours, Eurosilver and Political Force.
Whatever happened to Eric Reed's then 2yo colt Hidden Leader, who raced once on KEE poly winning his 7f debut by 5+L with a 94-96 Beyer, then never to be seen again (except for a few works in the winter of 2008)? This is your mention of him at the time: "Can a son of Belong to Me compete on the Triple Crown Trail?"
He looked so good winning first-out back in 2007 with a 96 Beyer, and hasn't raced since. He last worked in April so it's doubtful we'll see him anytime soon, if ever. Shame.
Can you give me the BSF for Accessorize? The 2 year old filly, winner of the 2nd race at Belmont on Sunday, She looks like a superstar in the making!
Accessorize, a half-sister to Grade 3 turf winner Prussian, earned a 68 Beyer Speed Figure for her debut win on Sunday afternoon. Another juvenile filly that bears watching is Rose Catherine, and impressive winner in her turf debut for Todd Pletcher. A daughter of Speightstown, she was a winner every step of the way, and earned a 90 Beyer.
Would you give us the PPs for some of those foreign horses that are apparently planning to come over for the BC?
Try these out for size:
$10 Trifecta Key 8/1-2-5 ($60)
$20 Trifecta Key 8/1-5 ($40)
Next week's HG Race is Wednesday's NINTH Race at Penn National, a $5,000 maiden claimer at six furlongs:
Here are the past performances for tomorrow's HandiGambling exercise:
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. Past performances are available on the previous blog entry.
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.
Hey Keith L. "What's your deal??? Swatting me with the brush for making a "joe Schmoe " comment? Did you read my post??? Are you a sensitive guy?? I wasn't referring to you or anyone on here as being a joe schmoe. I feel the majority of horseplayers that take the time to be involved in this blog have at least a little knowlege of the game. It's comments like yours that have kept me away from even reading some of the nonsense and pettiness that happens here. Do you take everything personally? I don't have the time or energy to get in a verbal war of words with these mouthy keystroke anonymous tough guys. I just stated that average joe at the track (degenerate gambler) does not have the perception that the majority of people on this blog have. I have never disrespected anyone's opinion as this is America and everyone Is entitled to an opinion.
One last thing... Check out this career maiden in the PPs from the 1st race at Rockingham Park! 16-0-0-4 so far - what a born loser!!: http://kdl.kyvl.org/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=drf1930s;cc=drf1930s;rgn=full%20text;idno=drf1935061101;didno=drf1935061101;view=pdf;seq=32;node=drf1935061101:32
HG @ Penn: $100 win on #1-thegraygiginthesky. Jockey jumps off other one and takes this one.
Hi Everyone Katieattherail (who is finished hiking in Moab, UT) and soon heading back home...will like to meet up with Form Blog Friends at Woodbine on Saturday the 17th.... Stay tuned for more details to be posted after the HG race ..later today. SR Vegas ...sloshing her way thru California
Walt, There was no reason to announce plans for 2009 that early. I can see 2008, but they could've waited another year plus to figure out 2009. What was the rush? vicstu, I would bet against RA in the Classic as well. To say she skipped the Derby is a little harsh, being that Jackson didn't even own her at the time. Does she have to win every single Grade 1 on the calendar? This is a 3YO filly for crying out loud. Besides, do you really think Zenyatta is going in the Classic anyway? I'd be shocked. Also, what do you see in Summer Bird's PPs that suggests he was at a disadvantage in the slop? Fine, RA might've enjoyed MTH more. I'm not sure I'm on board with your assessment of Makybe Diva. Winning 3 Melbourne Cups in a row IS an impressive feat, but I think you are overrating that race quite a bit. 21 G1 winners over 3 races with about 25 runners in each... that puts a different spin on it, no? The best horse she faced in those 3 races was probably Vinnie Roe. Don't get me wrong, it was a great accomplishment, but I just can't say she was the most accomplished filly overall. The rest of her race record is quite average for a Group 1 horse. "Are you honestly arguing that RA beating Macho Again (BY A HEAD)would be the same scale of accomplishment that Zenyatta beating the field that is probable for the BC Classic?" a) Not really, although 3YO fillies are not typically supposed to beat older males. b) What's so great about the probable Classic field? Mastercraftsman? Other European turf horses? Gio Ponti? Doesn't that say something? I thought the Classic was designed to be a dirt race. Which leads to point (c)... c) Frankly, whatever happens on this surface has no relation to what would happen on dirt. I have no clue how to relate the 2 or make sense out of any of those results in relation to dirt. "Name the last filly to win the BC Classic? We have had 4 fillies win a TC race since 1980. And the field for the BC Classic lays all over the Preakness IMHO." How many have run in it? Isn't RA one of 4 TC race winners, which pretty much nulls your point? Of course the BC Classic is a better race (generally speaking)... the Preakness is restricted to 3YOs. This year's Classic, however, will have a distinct European flavor... grass. So what does it all mean? About Lawyer Ron, much of his reputation as a 9 furlong monster at 4 was due to his victory (singular case) in the Whitward at Saratoga. That's right, the Whitward. He beat the same exact field in both races under the same exact conditions. Way to go, NYRA. Can't wait for the Alabama Club Oaks.
Annie Thank you very much re Rip and Spanish Moon-very interesting. I'm getting excited already. As to Sea the Stars-of course. But hey Dan-could you post the PP's for Sea Of Stars? It would should provide context for the five you did publish. I'm tempted to make fun of one of the above comments, but won't. All the postings are so good I don't want to be a jerk (again). Thanks again, Annie.
One thing that needs to be remembered about the time the 2009 BC was chosen: The New York Racing Association was still in a protracted situation with the state over the franchise that was about to expire at the time, and Churchill Downs officials had no interest in hosting a BC. I believe other tracks turned down the BC as well. That, coupled with the breakdown of George Washington in the 2007 BC Classic (the last BC on dirt) at Monmouth, and with the Euros at that time from what I remember saying they would not come if the BC were on dirt, and that gave BC Ltd. no choice but to put the BC at Santa Anita for a second straight year. This may be the last BC at Santa Anita for a while, and not because of synthetics. With Asia and Australia now too big to ignore from a handle standpoint, I think next year's BC at Churchill will be the first BC contested under the lights, with The Meadowlands in my opinion a prime candidate for the 2011 BC as it is still the premier night track in the sport. The potential handle from the Asia-Pacific region can send the Breeders' Cup purses to unreal levels, which is why I think it will happen as early as next year.
Mickey, Sorry, can't help myself. Rachel has beaten... A SA Derby winner A Ky Derby winner... Two Belmont winners... A Stephen Foster winner... A Travers winner... Runner up in Dubai Classic... A JC Gold Cup winner... A Whitney winner... Is that enough?
HG Penn National Wow, there are some ugly lines in here: Shady General - 5 races, beaten a combined 135 lengths, highest beyer (17) in initial try - yikes ! Thegreygiginthesky - beaten by 40 lengths in most recent with 0 beyer and you get 8 to 1 on the morning line (which is probably about right). But enough negativity from me. I will give it a try with the 6 - High Favor. He did actually pass some horses in his only other try at Penn. So my bet will be: $80 win #6 $10 ex bx 6,12 Good luck to all !!!
Annie, They could run at Freehold and I would be there cash in both fists. The BC Classic survived without the presence of Mineshaft, Holy Bull, Point Given, etc.--all horses to skip and win HOTY, by the way.