Last week I was all ready to talk about a comment that was made by a commentator but I was distracted by my overwhelming excitement from the Florida Derby win, so I will blog it to you this week.
There was onsite coverage from Gulfstream Park the whole weekend of the Florida Derby and I couldn’t wait to get home from work to watch. I sped home from work and started watching the taped races from the beginning. I have never been to Gulfstream, but I know they did a remodel since the last time the commentators were there. They were commenting about how much has changed and there is so much to do…well apparently they remodeled it back to the 1950’s that is my guess judging by the comments made. It went something like this, “Mom can take the kids shopping while Dad goes to the track”. HHHMMM
This week I am going to explore the contribution women are making to the sport since I started watching it in 2009. Actually, 2009 is a great place to start. In 2009, a mare was starting the season a perfect 9 for 9 and was winning the hearts of new and old racing fans. She was captivating the sport with her come from behind victories and her now famous dance. She was the biggest story of the year not only in 2009, but in 2008 as well. This great mare would go on to do what no other mare has ever done…beat the boys in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. By the end of 2009, she would be an astounding 14 for 14 and a front runner for horse of the year. She came back in 2010 to finish her career 19-1 and win the 2010 Horse of the Year honors. She also finished her career in the top 10 list of earnings by a horse.
Speaking of beating the boys, 2009 would see the emergence of another filly that would also captivate our hearts and along with Zenyatta become one of the biggest horse racing debates in history. This 3 year old filly not only romped against the other fillies winning by double digit lengths, she also was not afraid to go after the boys. Prior to running with the boys, she went 4 for 4 in 2009 against graded females then after defeating them by almost 20 lengths in the grade 1 Kentucky Oaks they decided she was ready for the Preakness. She beat them in the Preakness, in the Haskell and then she defeated older males in the Woodward. She finished the season 8 for 8 and that did secure her the 2009 horse of the year. Although she would not return to form in 2010, Rachel Alexandra will be a horse we honor for years to come.
Even Europe has their “queen of racing” and every year we have the chance to see her. She is one of the best turf horses since 2008 and she has the stats to prove it. She visits us every year on the day of our Breeder’s Cup Mile where all of the best turf horses come and she beats them every time. She is not undefeated and she has never been the American Eclipse Award Recipient for Horse of the Year, but she never ducks a race and always welcomes a chance to prove herself against the boys. In 2011, she will be trying to accomplish something that NO horse has ever done. She will be put up against the boys again and try to become the first 4-time Breeder’s Cup winner.
Starting in 2009, a filly has won the American Horse of the Year award twice and the European Horse of the Year. As far as the fans go, we have a way of asking and polling them also. According to the HRN Top 250 horses of all time, the top 20 consists of 2 female horses. Not bad, considering.
The funny thing about this comment is that it came at a time that the two biggest purses thus far were won by female jockeys. Chantal Sutherland won the Santa Anita Handicap (whether we agree with the stewards or not) and Rosie Napravnik won the Louisiana Derby. Both huge accomplishments for women in racing and that was just before the comments were said. Rosie Napravnik then went on to capture the riding title at Fair Grounds; she was the first female rider to do so. She led the standings with 110 wins; the closest jockey was more than 30 wins behind her. Chantal Sutherland broke into the top 20 jockey earnings in 2010; also not bad considering the ratio of male to female jockeys is probably greater than that.
In 2009, Linda Rice was the leading trainer at Saratoga edging out Todd Pletcher, Chad Brown and others. She was second in 2010, but that did not stop the New York Thoroughbred Breeders for naming her Trainer of the Year.
These are just a few examples of the recent contributions made by females in horseracing. This is just going over a few things that caught my eye since I started watching. I know there are endless more things that I could have talked about, but this is a blog, not a novel. I just wanted to send a friendly reminder to my favorite commentator and those listening to him that women enjoy racing too. We can do more than take the kids shopping while dad plays. We can beat the boys in the Classic or Preakness, we can win the Santa Anita Derby or get the riding title at Fair Grounds, and we can be the New York Trainer of the Year. Hell, we can even gamble on a few horses and we may even cash a ticket. As a matter of fact, I cashed a ticket that weekend by NOT following the advice of that commentator. The two leading racetrack channels have a pretty good amount of female handicappers and analysts. Take a look around next time you are at the track, the ratio of men to women watching the sport is almost 1-1 and I think the trend will continue.
To those of you that can appreciate the contribution made by both men and women to the sport, I thank you and respect the classy person that you are. To those of you that make such sexist comments as the ones I heard that day, I simply say…I better not; after all, I am a lady.