10/29/2010 5:15PM

Letters to the Editor Oct. 31


Zenyatta Classic repeat appears unlikely feat at this year's Cup site

Zenyatta is the greatest horse I have ever seen since I began betting Thoroughbred races in the late 1950s, but I'll be betting against her Nov. 6 in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Why?

Five reasons: Point Given, Holy Bull, Forego, Skip Away, and Hansel. What do all of these distinguished horses have in common? They all ran some of the poorest races of their lives at a mile and a quarter at Churchill Downs, a track that often seems suited to bring out the worst in horses who are among the best running just about anywhere else.

If Saratoga is often unfairly accused of being the graveyard of favorites, Churchill should rightly be characterized as the cemetery of champions.

When Zenyatta steps up to the plate (last when the race begins but first in the hearts of her fans, including me), she will not only be facing the toughest competition of her remarkable career, but she will also have to overcome the "curse" of racing on a surface that has proven repeatedly to defeat horses of superior quality. This fact alone should make certain commentators not be so hasty to give Zenyatta a premature victory that may well be beyond her grasp.

Let's face the facts: She has won at a single non-synthetic track (Oaklawn isn't Churchill), and she's going to race mostly against horses she has never competed against before, all male, several of whom have been getting significantly higher Beyer Speed Figures this year.

I don't care how many races Zenyatta has won: When I bet the Classic, I won't bet her to win. (Of course I'll be using her in exactas with my choices.) And if she loses, she should still be Horse of the Year, for what should have been the second year in a row.

I'd love to see her win the Classic, regardless of my bet, but any realistic assessment of her chances must conclude that she has major obstacles in her path besides the other animals.

Joel Flegler - Tenafly, N.J.

Lukas comment has eyebrow on the rise

In the Oct. 28 article "Lukas looking to spring another upset," trainer D. Wayne  Lukas was quoted as saying "I bet her win and place, so I guess I did okay" after the Lukas-trained Decelerator's second-place finish (at 73-1) in the Raven Run at Keeneland.

Shouldn't it be forbidden for an owner or trainer or jockey to bet their horse anywhere but in the first position? Secondly, why would Lukas even feel the need to mention such a thing?

Rob Clayton - Elkton, Md.