Rossington, please analyze for us the horses Zenyatta beat in the rest of her races this year. Thanks!
I'm reading that he's been supplemented to a race in Hong Kong in December, so he might have one more race in him before he's done.
So you're saying that two is not several? Interesting. Ok, a "pair" of graded stakes races. Happy? And I'll continue to disagree that the Travers was the deeper field. This isn't about Macho Again's career record. I'm well aware of his disappointing 3yo campaign. However, this isn't about his entire career, this is where his form was at one point this summer, and at that point he was a seasoned older horse who'd won the Stephen Foster (over Einstein, Asiatic Boy, Arson Squad), the New Orleans Handicap (over essentially nobody), and had run 2nd in Whitney to Bullsbay, and defeated Commentator in the process. Was he the best horse in training at that time? Not by any means. But was he very capable of winning a Grade 1 race on the dirt? Of course. And the same goes for Bullsbay. Nobody is going to confuse Bullsbay with a Champion, but there's no denying that he was in excellent form this summer. Personally, I'd rather take on Summer Bird (who I'd just crushed weeks before), Quality Road off just one 6.5f prep, and the overrated trio of Hold Me Back, Warrior's Reward, and Charitable Man than much more seasoned horses in Macho Again, Bullsbay, Cool Coal Man, and Asiatic Boy.
I'll also never buy into the ridiculous argument that Rachel somehow should be docked for running in the Woodward over the Travers. Look at the facts here - The Travers included Summer Bird (a horse she'd just trounced in the Haskell) and Quality Road, as well as completely overrated horses in Charitable Man and Warrior's Reward. The Woodward included Macho Again and Bullsbay, the 1-2 finishers of the Whitney, and Macho Again had already won several graded stakes races earlier this year. Both were in the best form of their lives, and each was completely capable of winning a Grade 1 race on the dirt. Cool Coal Man was entering the race off a big 107 Beyer, and Asiatic Boy and It's a Bird were both solid older horses. It's not as if this field was a joke by any means. In all actuality, from top to bottom, it was deeper than the Travers. Now, if you're going to say that she ducked the Travers because of the distance, who really cares? Isn't it good ownership to put your horses in the spots where they're best capable of excelling? If you've got a horse that is probably best suited going 9f, why try him or her at 10? Zenyatta's connections ducked running in the mud at Churchill back in May, but I don't see anyone condemning them for that decision. They also never took her out of California this year, nor did they ever run her on a conventional dirt surface in 2009. Why? Because those scenarios didn't give her the best chance of winning. Just like 10f doesn't seem to give Rachel Alexandra her best chance of winning (although that could be false). Why fault somebody for spotting their horse as best as possible? It's not as if she ducked the Travers for the Pennsylvania Derby here.
The problem with the thinking behind the 'World Championship' argument is that nobody beyond the Breeders' Cup itself anointed it the 'World Championships.' That is part of their marketing plan, but it's just that, a marketing scheme. Yes, the Breeders' Cup is a year-end culminating event, but in no way is it synonymous with the Super Bowl, World Series, Final Four, etc. All things considered, it's just another day of Grade 1-level horse racing. Championships have been and will awarded to horses who didn't compete in the Breeders' Cup, as will championships be awarded to horses who lost in the Breeders' Cup. If it is indeed the 'World Championships,' neither of those scenarios would be possible.
You can let the pace figures tell you whatever you want, but there's no way Zensational and Fatal Bullet both run off the board. 0% chance of that happening. They'll soften one another up on the front end, but I don't expect any sort of absurd speed duel. Regardless, Baffert brings Zensational into this race in peak form, and it's going to take something a little nicer than the Gr 2/3 talents of Cost of Freedom or Dancing in Silks to beat him. Gayego is a monster closer and is going to come flying late. Fleeting Spirit would be a consideration if she'd ever run on a synthetic surface, but she's lost to 3 different horses this year, lost the Turf Sprint as the fave last year, and is just 1 for 4 at the distance. I'll pass.
It's a shame Zenyatta is campaigned by the people who have her right now. This is a mare that has deserved much better handling than she's received, and her legacy is going to suffer tenfold because of it. In decades, I think people will remember Rachel Alexandra - and it's amazing to consider that she's possibly not even the best female in racing right now. They've just never campaigned Zenyatta with any boldness (i.e. why wasn't she in the Goodwood instead of the Lady's Secret?), and her legacy is going to suffer because of that. A shame.
If she takes to the synthetics and does in the Spinster what she did on the dirt, she should be your Ladies Classic favorite. She won't be, but she should be. Zenyatta can win that race and will go off favored if she runs, but in my eyes she's still running off the reputation she earned last year. She's shown no improvement to her 2008 form in 2009, and I have to wonder if she's regressed. Careless Jewel is taking the easiest path possible to the race and she'll have raced against nobody, so I don't see her as a threat. Music Note and Cocoa Beach probably aren't going to win this thin, and Swift Temper is a nice mare, but never has been or will be at the pinnacle of her class. This race will be Icon Project's to lose.
The BC brass realize that this is a boring race that nobody cares about, and they've positioned it accordingly on the schedule, at a time when half of their 'target audience' can't watch it. Too bad they couldn't switch it with the Distaff.
Kind of a 'yawn' race. Hard to believe horses like Tiznow, Sunday Silence, Alysheba, Seeking the Gold, Creme Fraiche, Gate Dancer, Sunny's Halo, etc won this in the past. Now it attracts horses like Going Ballistic, Fantasticat, My Pal Charlie, Soul Warrior, etc. What a drop off...
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