What Zenyatta means to racing; BC thoughts

It was only a matter of minutes before TVG was muted on my television as the hysteria that surrounded Zenyatta’s 13th consecutive victory was on full display.  The effusive praise of the champion mare was lost on this racing fan as her win, while routinely spectacular, summoned the question that seems affixed to this mare: why hasn’t she been run where she’ll be tested? 

Granted, she was tested in the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar against a field that she should have absolutely walloped, but the competition she faced that afternoon and in basically every race she’s run in 2009 has been downright laughable.  It is due time for Mr. and Mrs. Moss and John Shirreffs to do what they’ve thought unthinkable thus far.  They need to run Zenyatta against males.  In the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

She is beyond facing females, doing so would be a disservice to the great mare.  Zenyatta ending her 2009 season in the Ladies’ Classic would be the equivalent of your son or daughter completing algebraic equations in the 3rd grade and you keeping them studying simple division.  It is beneath her. 

Keeping on the Santa Anita/Breeders’ Cup topic, was there a more frightening result than Gitano Hernando winning the Goodwood?  I know frightening seems like an odd word but when a horse who was the equivalent of a N1X winner at a B-level track can come over and beat the “best” synthetic handicap horses in a Grade I race you have to be left awfully puzzled.  His victory made something else very clear.  American horses are in big trouble in four weeks.

There were certainly performances that ranged from good to bad to absolutely ugly on one of the biggest Saturdays of the racing year.

THE GOOD

Informed Decision – This gal absolutely loves the Polytrack at Keeneland and she showed again today that she’s going to be an absolute bear in the Filly and Mare Sprint.  She seemed completely beaten at the eighth pole in the TCA at Keeneland and dug in late to get up in the final strides.

Todd Pletcher – He continued a strong run at the Fall Championship meet by breaking his ugly 0 for Grade I streak with wins by Take the Points and Devil May Care.  The former has blossomed into a very nice turf horse while the latter showed tremendous potential in winning a Grade I in career start #2.  Expect both to soon be seen at a racetrack in Southern California near you.

Richard Dutrow, Jr. – Can anyone move a horse up who just arrived in his barn like this guy?  He won Grade I races in the span of 40 minutes at different tracks as Homeboykris found his stride late to take the Champagne shortly before Court Vision on a head bob in the Shadwell Turf Mile.  He already had D’Funnybone ready for a Breeders’ Cup try, so his cup runneth over.

THE BAD

Justenuffhumor – Had he “jumped the shark” prior to his Shadwell Turf Mile flop today?  It seems so as he was lifeless in his first try at a mile since his maiden win as he turned for home about 10 lengths out and never factored into the decision.

Dublin – He was basically a no-show in the Champagne as he seemed to be in a great spot down the backstretch and around the far turn but came up empty when called on and even behaved greenly when it counted.  You can expect him to be off the Breeders’ Cup trail for now but might still be a 3YO worth noting.

The Breeders’ Futurity – Ugh.  The streak of head-scratching results in this race continued (at least for me) as Noble’s Promise won his 2nd consecutive stakes race and became the first Grade I winner sired by Cuvee.  He is obviously Breeders’ Cup bound but where were the favorites in this race?  Backtalk finished a non-threatening eighth at 7/2.  The maiden, Make Music for Me, checked in fourth beaten 4 3/4 and Dixie Band was tenth nearly four lengths behind Soundman, who set the pace and stopped at 99-1.

THE UGLY

Ramon Dominguez – Look, I’m as big a Dominguez fan as anybody but the ride he put on Courageous Cat might have been the worst he’s ever given any horse anywhere at any time.  In a race loaded with confirmed speed he decided to use this son of Storm Cat into the turn to get the early lead, he then conceded the lead going down the backstretch, waited to make a move around the far turn while the eventual winner got in position, attempted to split horses in upper stretch, angled out and finished with interest.  Pardon me, but I don’t think Take the Points is a length better than Courageous Cat.

So there’s definitely a lot to chew on before the two day Breeders’ Cup bonanza but I am certain of one thing at this point.  Races run on the Pro-Ride are going to get a fraction of the money out of my pocket that they have in year’s past.

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