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HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Calling out the Pot

I know I will not be well liked for saying this, but you can ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you it is not about being liked for me, it’s about telling it straight. So here it goes, what the heck is with the West Coast double standard? Us, living in the East are constantly accused of bias, yet I know plenty of people on this side of the States that loved horses like Colonel John, Mr. Hot Stuff, Lookin at Lucky, Rail Trip, Lava Man, etc. The current horse that is getting all the love is the small little filly, Blind Luck.

Blind Luck has run from one coast to the other proving herself constantly against the best of the best. She has yet to finish worse than third and has wins from distances as short as four and a half furlongs to 10 furlongs. She had wins over Polytrack, Cushion Track, and Pro Ride while also winning at the most prestigious dirt tracks in the nation. Heck, the only thing she has yet to do is race males, other than that she had done it all in 2010.

This year however, she started off the year with three straight second place finishes that saw her left in the dust of a speedier rival. Those two races did have excuses as they were run over an extremely speed biased track and Blind Luck may have been slightly rusty after a two month freshening. However, she lost again in the Azeri with absolutely no excuse other than she was second best on that day. However, even after those losses she was still held in extremely high regard and many still tried to make a case for her as best in the nation. Here is where the double standard occurs, since if I do recall correctly, it was not so long ago that another spectacular filly started her season slowly after a grueling 3yr old campaign but was dismissed by many, even ridiculed.

Rachel Alexandra, one of the best fillies to ever set foot on an American main track, did it all in 2009. Nobody could possibly deny her greatness that is unless you were blind, crazy or a Zenyatta Zealot –just kidding.- She ran in six different states and over seven different tracks and could win over a dry or sloppy sloppy. She broke the stakes record in the Martha Washington and Mother Goose, scored by 19 lengths or more twice –both in grade ones-, and took on males an unprecedented three times in one season, and she never once lost. In her final race of the season she took on older males, just after beating her 3yr old male peers, and won in an all-out 9 furlong dash. In that race she became one of only three horses to lead at every call in a grade one route at Saratoga in the last four years and the only filly to take the Woodward Stakes. A little side note, no horse has won a grade one route there it since.

After that race her connections laid her off for seven months before they next raced her. In that race she was rushed to get ready, in order to try and make the Apple Blossom showdown with Zenyatta. The result was her being a short horse and noticeably rusty, as she was beaten half a length. In her next start, she was still far from her best and was forced to rate. She was beaten a head to Unrivalled Belle, who was that year’s Breeders Cup Ladies Classic winner. It was after these two losses she was ridiculed and said to have lost her edge, even after she won decisively in her next two starts.

My question is why the double standard? Why is Blind Luck allowed over three races to return to form, the normal curve it takes a horse to regain its form, and Rachel Alexandra who missed training and was off for seven months was ridiculed? Rachel in the season of 2010 lost by a total of, maybe, a length. Blind Luck has lost by several this year when her losing margins are totaled. Rachel won her two races by 13 lengths total and Blind Luck has won hers by less than a length. Yet, Blind Luck is a monster who should be in the running for division lead and Rachel was a nag?

Do not get me wrong, I love Blind Luck and think she is spectacular for the sport. She is a throwback and deserves her praise. What was not deserved is the ridicule Rachel Alexandra received. Why is it that the horse from the West is allowed so much leeway and the horse from the East is practically stoned? As far as I can tell, the West complaining about how biased we in the East Coast are, might as well be the pot calling the kettle black.


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Older Comments about Calling out the Pot...

Tiznow, nobody said she was not a special filly, but saying she is in the running for HOTY? We have horses like Awesome Maria and HDG who are both unbeaten this year. Rail Trip, Tizway, Sidney's Candy, and Twirling Candy are all capable of leading the male division with wins in their next starts. That is the biased. Yes, most of the males i listed are west coast but the females are both on the east and are unbeaten and dominant against their own sex. If any female should be in the discussion it should be HDG and AM. Another point of biased, RA loses two races to previous stakes winners then wins her next two, yet I heard many people saying there was no way for her to get HOTY. What is the differnce? Why is BL a vailid candidate and RA was not?
Blind Luck is a true champion and it's only mid year. I am not counting her out of HOY discussion. Especially with the male divisions at this point in the year.
There is no question that there is a west coast bias toward some California horses, just like there is an East coast bias toward some eastern horses, it would be hard to read racing blogs and not see that. But I think the complaints about Rachels 2010 year is more than just a west coast double standard. The problem with Rachels record last year was that people were expecting so much more. I remember a blog on the Bloodhorse site where people were talking about where she should run during 2010, she was expected to win every race including the Whitney, Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Arc, Breeders Cup Classic etc. I actually think she could have had a good year in 2010 if she hadn't been retired after the Personal Ensign, with a great shot at winning the Ladies Classic, but after her exceptional 3 year old year, even winning the Ladies Classic would have been a disappointment to a lot of people.
Very well written, Laura. And, Tim, I think that the retirement was the owner's eager anticipation of mating her with their previous HOY, Curlin. She's in foal, and the due date is sometime in February. But, I, like you, would've loved to see her regain her old form.
I thought R.A was retired prematurely. Who knows maybe she was just rounding into form and may have had a great second half.
Agreed. I think that more was expected of RA due to her campaign of the previous year, whereas for BL it's not surprising for her to win or lose by a length, people were upset the RA wasn't the same horse. There was a lot of misdirected frustration and unwarranted comparative battles between RA and Zenyatta that got people riled up too. BL and Havre De Grace have a relatively friendly rivalry in comparison, and they've actually met!
Not only is Blind Luck sitting on 3 losses this year, one in which she was trounced by Havre De Grace in the Azeri by almost 4 effortless lengths, someone on a message board stated that Blind Luck should be in contention for Horse of the Year, laughable but thats what was said. Double Standard is pretty amazing if you asked me.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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