12/18/2009 1:00AM

Beautician worthy of another chance in Starlet


PHOENIX - I was licking my chops at the prospect of this year's Breeders' Cup.

Oh, I'm not talking about the esoteric joy of watching the likes of Zenyatta, Goldikova, and company. I'm talking something much more practical - I was looking to cash a bet. A nice one, too.

After seeing the way Beautician had finished full of run when second in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga on Sept. 6, I truly believed I was on to something. The daughter of Dehere stalked a fast pace and while unable to get to the terribly fast winner Hot Dixie Chick, the way she galloped out - ending up 8 1/2 lengths clear of third - caught my eye. So when she came back in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 9, I was - call me selfish - sort of rooting against her. I wanted her to run well, of course, just not too well. I wanted her to show me the talent I believed was there routing, but I wanted her to be like a bikini - show a lot, but not everything. I got my wish. Jostled between horses down the backside and blocked and forced to steady in midstretch, she finished fifth and surely that had many fleeing the bandwagon. Not me.

In fact, this was better than I could imagine. This sent her into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 6, in my mind, proven capable of routing and doing so at a high level. That fifth-place finish staring people in the face would have them looking elsewhere. I was right.

Beautician went off a hefty 8.90-1 and expensive wine and other delicacies were dancing in my head at the prospect. Well, you know by now my disappointment. She was everything I thought she was - she bided her time, moved up nicely between horses, and loomed boldly into the lane. I was downright giddy.

Trouble was, She Be Wild was better than I thought. She came bowling home as well and outfinished Beautician. Fortunately, all was not lost - I was bright enough to at least back-up my girl just in case someone beat her. The payoff was nice; it just wasn't nice enough to pop a cork on a bottle of Screaming Eagle.

But now the Ken McPeek trainee has set her sights on Sunday's Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet, and while she won't be 8-1, she may not be favored either. That's because she seems to be a filly who sort of falls through the cracks. BC Juvenile Fillies favorite and third-place finisher Blind Luck and Moccasin one-two-three finishers Bickersons, Miss Heather Lee, and It Tiz are going as well and figure to take money.

So I'm looking at it this way: Beautician owes me. She can help me with my Christmas shopping Sunday.

No loser in Horse of the Year race

Recent columns and blogs show you the passion that has been evoked by the Rachel Alexandra/Zenyatta argument. Some of the vitriol in the debate puzzles me. I've received numerous spiteful e-mails for siding with Zenyatta.

It's just an opinion. There are numerous colleagues of mine who I greatly respect who completely disagree with me. Dick Jerardi did a superb job in this publication Friday making the best case I've seen as to why he sides with Rachel. I simply fall on the other side. I don't hate the Rachel backers or Rachel. But isn't disagreement about a couple horses the very crux of this game?

This is by no means intended to slight the Eclipse Awards or diminish what a terrific honor it is to be Horse of the Year, but in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? Will either Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta be diminished in the slightest because more of us voted one way than the other?

Do we view movies like "Citizen Kane" or "The Wizard of Oz" in any less a light because another movie was named Best Picture that year? Do we hold Ted Williams's 1941 season, when he hit .406, in any less reverence because Joe Dimaggio, with his 56-game hitting streak, won the MVP? Do you think 25 years from now one of these great distaffers is going to be forgotten just because she didn't get the statue?

What we've witnessed, as proven by the fervor of this debate, has been remarkably special. Each accomplished more than enough to win Horse of the Year. That one of them won't get it does not detract from her achievements in any way.