A Capital Rivalry

A Capital Rivalry
It has been a long, long time since racing has had a real rivalry, brought to life on the track. Last year we had Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, but them being females and racing in each other in female races, they were not publicized as highly as they would have been if they were colts. In 2009 we had Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, both highly publicized but nothing ever came to fruition on the track. The last real knock-down, drag-out rivalry I can remember was Easy Goer and Sunday Silence, during 1989.

Since then, as I mentioned we have had rivalries, but either they were not publicized as they should have been, or they just never happened on the track. This year coming year in 2012 we could finally be able to see a true rivalry that will be publicized and shown across America. The two horses that could bring this about are the unbeaten Hansen and the ultra-talented Union Rags. The two met for the first time in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and finished only a nose apart, with Hansen getting the nod.

For 2012, both connections have set tentative schedules for their charges, and as of now it looks as though the two could meet twice more before the Triple Crown. Both colts are being pointed towards Gulfstream’s three year old prep series. Hansen is possible for the Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby, while Union Rags will most likely skip the Holy Bull and pick up in the Fountain of Youth and continue with the Florida Derby.

Gulfstream is one of the premier tracks for the leading three year olds to make their mark. Last decade Florida sent a total of five horses that either won the Kentucky Derby or finished second or third. Of those five three were winners. There is no doubt in my mind, that should these two continue to dominate, that Gulfstream will publicize and hype this potential rivalry to its fullest.

If this rivalry comes to fruition it would be exactly the shot in the arm that racing would need. Both have sporting trainers in Mike Maker and Michael Matz. It wasn’t long ago that Matz was on top of the globe when training the unbeaten Barbaro to a dominant win in the Kentucky Derby, only to watch everything fall apart as Barbaro broke down in the Preakness Stakes. Marker has had success with his horses, but one could argue that he’s never had a horse with the raw potential and ability that Hansen has shown.

Also, the Triple Crown and the Triple Crown Trail contain the most publicized races, with the exception of the Breeders Cup. The three year old division often takes the most attention of any division in racing, which is why it nicknamed the glamour division. This is the optimum time for a rivalry to take place, so let us hope that if everything goes accordingly, that the powers to be do not pass up a fantastic opportunity to bring racing back into the public eye.


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Older Comments about A Capital Rivalry...

medomoreno, I'm hoping we get something close to that, lol.
The most obvious was also the most exciting of my lifetime: Affirmed / Alydar.
Floridaf, we did hype Zenyatta and Rachel, that was an enormous hype. Big Brown and Curlin both had hype as well. The only difference was that match races weren't tabu back then, like they are now. You also had owners that were a little more sporting. The hype is still here, the sportsmanship is not.
Sir Barton vs. Man o'War and War Admiral vs. Sea Biscuit may have only have been media hype, but at least back then they had the good sense to hype up something like that. We could probably take a leaf out of their book because the sport could certainly use the [good] publicity.
One rivalry that never came to fruition, was Holy Bull and Cigar. Holy Bull's last race, in which he was injured, was the emergence of Cigar.
Sunday Slinece/Easy Goer, Noor Citation, Armed Assault, the list is long
Sir Barton and Man o War, as well as Admiral and Biscuit only met once, it was more media hype than anything with those. Brian, I rarely ever hear about that one, and it's a shame that it get they hype that the others did.
Some are trying to pass off Animal Kingdom and Shackleford as a great rivalry, which is a bunch of nonsense in my opinion. Though it isn't recent, Secretariat and Sham had quite a rivalry, as did Sir Barton and Man o'War and War Admiral and Seabiscuit.
I hope we are not forgetting the excellent rivalry between Silver Charm and Free House of the late 90's.
medlocke : Please fix your mistakes, I really don't want to do them as there are so many !!
The last truly great rivalry between 2 brilliant American horses, IMO, was the Sunday Silence vs. Easy Goer rivalry back in 1989. But I do believe had he not broken down in the 2006 Preakness that Barbaro and Bernardini had the potential to become that same kind of rivalry on the same scale. TJMO.
Hansen looks like the new Holy bull
This would be fun to watch and great for racing. I hope it happens but the key is keeping all the good horses healthy, something that has not happened much in the last few years.
The whole division looks very promising for next year. I'm sure we'll see some stars rise up. Hopefully we'll have a Gulfsteam rivalry, and Arkansas star, and a Cali star all gunning for the Derby. Of course it is racing and nothing is always for certain, but it seems that most of these horses are trained by good people, their breeding is pointed towards distance and soundness, so hopefully we'll see some top quality races this year that the media can capitalize on.
Union Rags is going to mature into a wonderful horse. He has all the element to be a great horse. However, the trainer need to modify his running style so he don't beat himself up. Train him to huge the turn and conserve his energy for the end.
I'm looking forward to seeing Hansen and Union Rags hook up again at Gulfstream. Next year should be a great year if all of the big stars remain sound and healthy.
Matz is a great guy, he deserves some good luck. And rivalries are what this sport is built on. Hopefully Hansen and Rags continue their development and will get to meet before the Derby. Thanks for giving us somthing to look forward to in an otherwise quiet month of racing.

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