07/07/2009 11:00PM

Proof that there's nothing better than speed


PHILADELPHIA - Now, that is how you ride a speed horse.

Elvis Trujillo is my new all-time favorite rider, joining former occupants of that exalted spot C.C. Lopez, Tony Black, and Rick Wilson.

Couldn't you just hear everybody watching last Saturday's United Nations? "What is he thinking? He is going too fast. What is he doing?''

What he was doing was trying to win the race. And he did.

I did not like the ride on Presious Passion. I loved it.

If more riders rode more speed horses that way, my bankroll would be quite a bit fatter. If you are on a horse with a decided tactical edge, why give it away by keeping the closers in the race?

If I had a dollar for every rider I have watched try to nurse a lone speed horse around the track and manage to "nurse'' the run right out of the horse, I would be able to bet a lot more money on speed horses.

Presious Passion was really lone speed in the U.N. With the exception of Lauro, all the others were one-run plodders. Now, Trujillo could have opened up five lengths and tried to outrun the closers in the stretch. Or he could let his horse sprint out of the gate, open up 20, and make them catch him.

He chose the latter and it was some scene. I don't know if it was 20 or 25 or 30 down the backstretch. I just know it was a lot.

I am not sure what the first fraction of 19 something that flashed on the screen was all about. But I definitely understood 45.20, 1:09.81, and 1:34.67. I knew that meant Presious Passion was going every bit as fast as it looked like he was going. And I knew there was no chance any horse was going to catch him.

Racetrackers are conditioned to think a certain way. Really, it wasn't that long ago when many people deemed time irrelevant. That was still the prevailing "wisdom'' when I got into the game in the mid-1970s.

People still think if a horse goes too fast or leads by too much, that horse can't win. Obviously, there are cases when that is true. But not in the case of a horse with the talent of Presious Passion. When a good horse does that, it makes all those chasing him finish faster than it is possible for any horse this side of Europe to finish. American horses simply can't make up that kind of ground and sustain a run to the finish line.

The race after having a big lead, falling behind by a length in the stretch, and then coming again to win by a nose, Presious Passion did it the other way in the U.N. - sprinting for 1 3/8 miles.

As much as I loved the ride, it is impossible not to fall in love with the horse. Presious Passion just got a career-best Beyer of 106 in the U.N. The horse is better than he has ever been, as a 6-year-old.

I am glad to hear they plan on running him in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Put him on the fairway at Santa Anita and there is no telling how far his speed will take him. Don't know if it will be far enough, but it will fun to find out.

By the way, Presious Passion was only 5-2 in the U.N., the fourth shortest price of his 39-race career. The horse won his maiden at 28-1. And could have been had for $62,500. That was $1,842,018 ago.

Presious Passion was 10-1 when he won the 2006 Jersey Derby. He was 72-1 and 67-1 in his next two starts.

Trainer Mary Hartmann, who has done a sensational job with the horse, was not deterred. Presious Passion won the Cliff Hanger at 10-1 and then the first of two McKnights at 67-1. Then, there was the Pan American at 20-1, last year's U.N. at 13-1, and the 2008 McKnight at 7-1.

Presious Passion has been favored exactly two times. And lost both races.

Players just have a natural prejudice against speed horses going long distances. We American players love speed in sprints (except on all those new-fangled artificial surfaces), but disdain it going long on grass. Why?

Let's create a dream race

I have the solution to this year's Race of the Century problem. Get the New York Racing Association to put up $2 million for a late September race at Belmont Park. Monmouth Park invented a race for Big Brown last year. It can be done. It needs to be done.

Invite Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Mine That Bird, Einstein, and a few others. Get somebody to put it on television. Pick a proper distance. Sell tickets. Deal merchandise. Smile.

The Breeders' Cup and NYRA are having issues. The BC and NYRA can't agree to bring the series back to Belmont Park. So NYRA should just go and make the race everybody wants to see.

As for the detention barn issue that has Zenyatta's owner, Jerry Moss, concerned, there really is an easy solution. Waive it for the race. Let the horses for the $2 million Invitational stay in their stalls and surround them with security.

Other sports make allowances for their stars all the time. Watch an NBA game and notice how often LeBron James or Kobe Bryant gets called for traveling. They don't. Ever.

Rules can be amended as long as the spirit of the rule remains unchanged. This is way too important to get hung up on something so easily overcome. You have real fans out here. Let them smile.