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Posted Monday, January 28, 2019
Horse of the Year should go to the horse who raced year round, not four months.
Posted Sunday, December 2, 2018

Mendelssohn, perhaps the most regally bred colt of the 2018 3-year-old crop, ended his career in Saturday's Grade 1 Cigar Mile, capping a campaign in which he repeatedly traveled to and from the United States between futile dirt starts.

The half-brother to emerging sire Into Mischief and champion Beholder, Mendelssohn, a $3 million purchase, will stand at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in 2019 -- and I believe his resume should be much stronger.

The colt's career took off after he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar, and connections from there hinted at a Kentucky Derby try. Mendelssohn, by late sire Scat Daddy, rewarded connections and gave them plenty of hope when he destroyed the UAE Derby (G2) field at Meydan.

He looked like the best chance trainer Aidan O'Brien had at the Derby. The same went for Coolmore.

Of course, we know what happened after that, as the track came up sloppy at Churchill Downs, and Mendelssohn was banged around leaving the gate. He never really had a chance. But there would be other opportunities, only I don't believe connections set Mendelssohn up to succeed.

Coolmore could have sent him back to Europe to compete in prestigious races such as the St. James's Palace Stakes, the Coral-Eclipse Stakes or the Juddmonte International. Rather, Mendelssohn continued to travel between America and Ireland, logging some 14,000 miles in transcontinental flights.

To his credit, Mendelssohn ran well to finish second in the Travers Stakes (G1) and third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). But I believe he should have been able to manage better.

O'Brien hasn't won a Grade 1 dirt race since the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile with Johannesburg. Overall, his runners in North America are 1-for-58 on the main track.

Had Coolmore believed Mendelssohn was a dirt horse all along, couldn't he have stabled in the U.S.? Remained with a more proven dirt trainer? Not forced to travel overseas every time he raced?

These are not new questions, of course, but rather those asked by racing fans throughout his campaign. And now that Mendelssohn is retired, we'll never really know what he was capable of if kept in the U.S., or given the chance to return to turf.

What we saw Saturday looked like a tired horse. Mendelssohn didn't show the same kick, failing to make the lead, and didn't hang on quite like he normally does even when defeated.

I don't think connections did what was best for the horse. The consolation is, we're only a few years from seeing what sort of foals he produces.

Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tuesday's news that 4-year-old filly Enable will bring her talents stateside and take on the boys in the Breeders' Cup Turf resulted in rejoicing among racing fans in the U.S. and Europe alike. The decision came nine days after she scored her Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe win, a feat accomplished only eight times in the race's history.

Enable will likely head postward as the Breeders' Cup Turf favorite, but regardless of the result, it's refreshing to see such a well-regarded horse taking a sporting chance in another big race. Fans should celebrate connections bringing Enable to the United States, especially after injuries and retirements have dulled the buzz surrounding this year's championships.

Over the last few months, top horses across all divisions were retired from racing or removed from Breeders' Cup consideration.

Chief among them, of course, were Triple Crown winner Justify and 2-year-old champion Good Magic. Elate is also out of the Distaff picture, while the early hyped 2-year-olds Instagrand and Roadster are both our of training. Across the pond, talented horses Alpha Centauri and Saxon Warrior were also retired due to injury.

With her confirmation Tuesday, Enable provides some of that lost star power.

The 2017 European Horse of the Year has only lost once in her 10-race career. Enable was also the rated the world's best 3-year-old filly in 2017 along with being ranked the fifth-highest ranked horse in the world.

Enable's impending trip to America reminds of another John Gosden trainee who was among the best of a generation, and also a Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner. When Golden Horn was announced for the 2015 Breeders' Cup Turf, racing fans showed similar excitement knowing they'd see a rare kind of talent run in American turf.

In both cases, connections didn't need to make the attempt, and Golden Horn actually ended up second to Found at Keeneland. In Enable's case, she has little left to prove and could have gone straight to a career as a broodmare. Instead, racing fans can celebrate following a depressing run of news leading up to the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs.

Posted Monday, September 3, 2018
Solomini is expected to return for a fall campaign, Zayat Stables reports.
Posted Sunday, August 19, 2018

This past Friday, the Breeders' Cup officially announced that its championships will take place at Santa Anita, Keeneland and Del Mar in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. For Santa Anita, this will mark the record 10th time hosting, while it's the second for both Keeneland and Del Mar.

Overall, it means the states of Kentucky and California will claim 15 of the last 16 Breeders' Cups.

Of course, Breeders' Cup officials call Kentucky home, and running in California almost guarantees beautiful weather in early November. But for a sport that needs to reach new audiences, perhaps it's time to give other states' tracks a chance.

Since its first running in 1984, the Breeders' Cup has visited 13 tracks in six states and two countries. Not since 2007 has it left Kentucky and California, that year going to Monmouth Park.

To visit another course would bring exposure to tracks that players don't always have top of mind, plus attract more local fans to the track.

Canterbury Park, located in Minnesota, produces great racing every year and the people of Minnesota show up. Oklahoma's Remington park, a popular Midwest stop, hosts its share of nice stakes in the fall already and could also prove a nice changeup.

More obviously, a place such as Laurel Park seems ready to host having recently undergone significant renovations. It could also soon be home to the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, with the ability to attract the Breeders' Cup one way to ease the blow locally of moving the state's biggest race.

If there is one track, however, that the Breeders' Cup continues to most overlook, it's New York's Belmont Park, which last hosted in 2005. Championships there always seemed to produce memorable moments. The track also sits within the country's largest media market.

Over the years, the Breeders' Cup has visited the likes of Arlington Park, Woodbine and even Lone Star Park, elevating racing there along the way. Seemingly, they're no longer even considered in the current rotation.

Of course, the Breeders' Cup is a business. Going to Churchill Downs, this year's host site, along with the future three tracks, means guaranteed success.

But the championships are also the only roving showcase for the sport, with the Breeders' Cup able to bring top-level racing wherever it chooses and expose a new group of people to the game. In the future, it's worth considering circuits outside of Kentucky and California for their chance in the spotlight.

Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2018
The most prestigious race in North America should award more than an overseas prep.
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2018
With the right trip and pace, Eskimo Kisses can upset Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou.
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Meet Jeff Brynes

I have loved this sport since my early childhood. My first true memory was when my grandfather took me to Saratoga for the 2005 Travers Stakes, and watching Flower Alley come down the stretch to duel with Bellamy Road. I'll never forget that day, the roar of the crowd, and the pure excitement of winning. I became an instant fan of the game. Since then, I've visited many tracks, among them Monmouth Park, Saratoga Harness, Freehold Raceway, Belmont Park, and the Meadowlands -- all in the New York / New Jersey area. 

Of all the horses I've seen in my lifetime, none have captured my imagination like Curlin. The two time Horse of the Year is, and will always be, my all-time favorite horse. Other favorites include Rachel Alexandra, Medaglia D'Oro, Wise Dan and American Pharaoh.

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