This Is Unbelievable… Breeder’s Cup Classic 2009…

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I am counting down the days to this year’s Breeder’s Cup races .  Santa Anita Race track  is our favorite track in California and yes, we prefer it over Del Mar, but it’s just our personal preference because Del Mar is also a beautiful track.  The track is nestled at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains and the scenery looks like something you’d see on a post card. I kid you not, it’s beautiful and a visit to Santa Anita should be on your bucket list; if it isn’t already, and if you haven’t heard about this yet… Next year’s Breeder’s Cup races will once again be held in Arcadia, California!  3-straight years in a row, how exciting!

My very first visit to a race track was at Santa Anita for the 2009 Breeder’s Cup Races and for a newbie just learning about the sport; I was in awe.  How lucky was I to have my first racing experience to be at the Breeder’s Cup World Championships! Everywhere around me was filled with excitement. The racing fans, the horses, the jockey’s the energy was buzzing around me, and it took me awhile to catch my breath!

Since this is the 30th year for the Breeder’s cup races; I’m sure we can all recall a favorite Breeders Cup moment/or moments, and I wanted to share with you one of mine. For the avid race fan, you will probably recognize this memorable call by Trevor Denman and could tell me the exact race I’m talking about:

“This is Un—Be—Liev—Able!  Zenyatta!  What a performance one will never forget”  ….

Zenyatta - Breeder Cup Classic

Yes, one of my favorite horse’s of all time… The Great, Zenyatta.  There were many in the industry who doubted her ability to triumph against the best male horses in the world, but this would be her time to shine.

The public loved her, and everywhere you looked there were people holding these awesome signs: Girl Power! Go Zenyatta. I love to collect horse racing memorabilia, so my sentimental bet was a $2.00 win ticket on the #4 in Race 9 of the Breeders Cup Classic race.

Zenyatta - Breeders Cup Classic

I still get super excited when I watch this  A—Mazing race!  Just imagine yourself in the middle of this excitement as people around you are cheering, then crying tears of joy as Zenyatta became a part of racing history. She scored her 14th straight victory, and become the first female horse to beat the males in the richest race in all of North America.

What a memorable moment for everyone in the crowd to have been there to watch Zenyatta’s spectacular race!

Video Courtesy of YouTube, by: ‪HappyDane95

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Win And You’re In; Not Your Average Race Horse…

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BreedersCup

I’m a fan that gets excited about the sport of horse racing and all the great horses through time. Names that been repeated dozens of times throughout the years bringing fond memories to each racing fan.

To the average person who knows nothing about horse racing all racehorses tend to look the same. Some are brown; some are gray and some are even black. Their colors are brilliant, and without a saddle cloth you can’t tell one from the next, but look closer because each of these horses has a name; a name that has been engraved in time. Their names have become a part of racing history, and every racing fan will remember their favorite horse.

By far; not your average racehorse…

This summer, the Breeders Cup Challenge races get under way and the “Win and You’re in” races have begun. There are 67 qualifying races spanning 10 countries. Each of the 14 Breeders Cup divisions have challenge races. Every connection in horse racing is hoping to get an invitation to one of the greatest racing weekend of the year… the Breeder’s Cup World Championships held once again, at Santa Anita Park, on November 1st and 2nd.

The best is yet to come.

I can faintly hear the cheers and excitement brewing for this special weekend. To be a part of Breeders Cup weekend is a thrill in itself. You will be captivated by the energy that surrounds you, and watching these beautiful creatures run with speed and finesse is amazing! In a mere seconds your eyes will capture the wonderment of a 1,200 lbs race horse running by you like a freight train, and you will be able to sense the beauty, power and determination of these beautiful creatures.

There is awesome information on the Breeder’s Cup website, click HERE . “The Hall of Champions” honors each and every Breeders’ Cup champion dating back to the very first winner in 1984, Wild Again. It provides you with a picture, detailed information and the actual race replay! From triumphed comebacks to thrilling photo finishes, we can all go back in time to once again experience the thrill of victory!

I’m sure many of you will remember some of these spectacular horses!

Who is your favorite Breeders Cup Classic winner?

12=7+5…It Adds Up…

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With the Belmont Stakes now behind us, the dust has finally settled and we can now reflect on the final leg of the Triple Crown trail.  What a journey it has been for this year’s crop of talented 3-year olds!  On picking winners, we can either give ourselves a tap on the back for some great handicapping efforts, or knock ourselves across our heads for overlooking imperative information and picking incorrect winners.

Now who would have thought the results of the Belmont Stakes (1st- Palace Malice #12, 2nd- Oxbow #7, 3rd- Orb #5) could be compared to a Mathematical equation, but the number 12 is indeed the sum of 7+5. How simple does that sound? If picking a winner was that easy; we’d all be rolling to the bank!  I never really like numbers, in fact I hated Math in high school, but when I started to understand how the relationship of numbers within a horse race could actually help me with my handicapping, I actually appreciated all the numerical information I could I could get my hands on! I realized how important it was to keep things simple, and just understand each race and how the numbers within the race could help me to narrow-down my choices.  Nothing comes easy when you are trying to pick a winner and things can get even more complicated once different variables are added to the mix. Yes in horse racing anything can happen, but having the right information gives you a calculated edge on who to keep within a race, as well as who to toss-out. This may probably be the longest distance any of these 3-year olds will ever run. A grueling mile and a half, no wonder it’s known as “The Test of the Campion”.  Palace Malice who had set the second fastest initial quarter and half mile fractions in the Kentucky Derby’s history was by-far the best horse on Belmont Stakes day. He drew clear in the last quarter mile to win by three and a quarter lengths from Oxbow, with Orb in third. With such wide sweeping turns at Belmont Park, how difficult was this race to figure out?  Well, you could have eliminated half the field by understanding just how invaluable these factors were:

1.  Tomlinson Figures – The late Art Kaufman aka Lee Tomlinson developed the Tomlinson pedigree ratings as a handicapping tool. It became a part of the DRF in 2001, and can be easily found in your DRF forms. It’s located in the far top right of each horse’s career information box under WET, TURF, DISTANCE. It is a 3 digit rating purported to gauge a sire’s ability to pass turf, wet-track, sprinting, and staying ability to its offsprings. A look at the rating might give you a clue to which horse has the pedigree to get the distance

  • A DISTANCE rating range from 0-480 with a rating of 320 to be considered average. Each horse has a rating and is revised quarterly. Ratings are keyed to the distance of the specific race. The higher the rating the better chances a horse should run particularly well over that distance
  • For an off-track, a MUD rating of 320+ merits further consideration as a horse who could run particularly well over a wet track

Within the Belmont field the following horses had the highest Tomlinson Distance Rating:

**Midnight Taboo – 309

Palace Malice – 310

Overanalyze – 311

Incognito – 316

Oxbow – 330

2.  A favorable Dosage Index figure of 3.00 or less. The Dosage Index is a number that comes from the ratio of speed to stamina in a horse’s pedigree. The higher the number the more speed in the pedigree — while a lower number indicates that a horse should have more stamina. Anything above a number of 4.00 is supposed to indicate that a horse will have trouble at longer distances. It’s a useful tool to  quantify a horse’s ability, or inability, to negotiate the various distances at which horse races are run. It is calculated based on an analysis of the horse’s pedigree.

  • In the last 10 years horses that won the Belmont had a Dosage Index of 3.00 or less (In 2003, Empire Maker had a DI of 3.16)
  • In the last 25 years there have been three horses with Dosage Index above 4.00. Sarava in 2002, Commendable in 2000, and Touch of Gold in 1997
  • A Center of Distribution of .67 and higher. The CD value indicates the “Balancing Point” of the horse’s pedigree profile, with positive values toward speed. A CD of 0.0 means that he horse has an even number of speed points as he does stamina. A CD of  -0.5 means he has slightly more stamina points, and a CD of 1.5 for example, shows a large favor in the speed side of the profile.
  • In the last 10 years, there has been only one horse that had a CD lower than +0.67. Drosselmeyer in 2010 with a CD of +0.55

Again, only half the field in this year’s Belmont had a Dosage Index of 3.00 or lower, and a Center of Distribution close to +0.67 or higher:

*Unlimited Budget – DI 3.00/CD +0.92

Incognito – DI 3.00/CD +0.64

**Midnight Taboo – DI 3.00/ CD +0.75

Overanalyze – DI 3.00/CD +0.92

Oxbow – DI 2.50/CD +0.86

Palace Malice – DI 2.64/ CD +0.65

Golden Soul – DI 1.92/CD +0.61

Vyjack – DI180/CD.71

Giant Finish -DI159/CD.41

When combining all 3 figures for Tomlinson Ratings, Dosage Index and Center of Distribution there were only 2 horses that had very close numbers, and that would be Palace Malice and Oxbow. Orb’s Tomlinson Distance is 296, DI 3.21, and CD +0.86.

3.  In this final and most demanding leg of the Triple Crown Favorites Rarely Win. In fact, the last favorite to win the Belmont was in 2005 with Afleet Alex. Beware of the betting public, they can steer you in the wrong direction!

  • ***Understanding that most Belmont Stakes winners are Presser or Off the Pace types that sit 1-4 lengths off the lead in the early stages of the race
  • ***The only “deep” closer that managed to win in the last 13 years was Jazil and he sat about 8 lengths off the lead early on
  • ***Going back 10 years, there has been only 1 “wire-to-wire” type horse to win the Belmont. Da’Tara in 2008 at odds of 38/1

So it’s been proven once again that statistics, and numbers do matter when handicapping a race like the Belmont Stakes.  Being able to understand important factors within this race can help you choose the right contenders. There are also other factors to consider like the weather, but the use of the Tomlinson Figures will assist in helping you pick out the horses whose pedigree will favor a wet track. You can incorporate your other handicapping strategies along with these important factors to solidify your final picks.

Before we close the doors on this year’s journey for the Triple Crown, I must address the only three horses that ran in all three legs of the races – Oxbow, Orb and Will Take Charge. There were memorable moments of glory; as well as the sadness of defeat, but despite the various outcomes to all three races Orb, Oxbow and Will Take Charge deserve much respect for their commendable efforts.  Orb went off to win the Kentucky Derby on a sloppy track with the second fastest quarter and half-mile fractions set in Derby history. Two weeks later we patiently waited with anticipation for a Triple Crown candidate, but our hopes were shattered when out of nowhere Oxbow was guilty of stealing the 2nd jewel of the crown. He won going wire to wire, in what was the slowest fractions set in Preakness Stake’s history. Orb was sadly defeated, but managed to come in 3rd in both the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont. Three weeks later, a fresh horse emerged as suicidal fractions were set in the Belmont Stakes. Palace Malice won by 3 1/4 lengths over Oxbow, with Orb beaten five lengths, Incognito six lengths and Revolutionary 6 1/2 lengths. What can I say about Will Take Charge?  He had a disastrous trip in the Kentucky Derby when he ran into tiring Verrazano, and he never really had a chance to regain momentum and managed to come in 8th out of 19 horses. Although it seems “bad derby luck” could have been his excuse in the Derby, Will Take Charge was never a major factor in the remaining legs of the Triple Crown.

So as the quest for the Triple Crown ends, a few of these talented three year olds will eventually find their places in racing history. Some will move on and become remarkable turf horses, others will become unbelievable sprinters and maybe one of these horses may even go off to win the Breeders Cup Classic. What the future holds for each of these amazing three year olds will be a new journey with unlimited possibilities. Soon a new Spring will arrive, and a new cast of super-stars will create new excitement and the quest for the Triple Crown will start all over again.

It takes a lot out of a horse to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown so it’s no big surprise that it’s been 35 years since our last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed nipped Alydar by a head to claim his stake in horse racing history.

The 2014 Belmont Stakes will be run on Saturday, June 7, 2014.

*Filly

**In the last 75 years, no horse who ran 3 races or less has won the Belmont Stakes

***Courtesy of Super Screener, Belmont Stakes

Saturday the Unveiling of Brettyatta!

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It would seem that coming out of retirement is not only hip for football players…it’s now a thoroughbred thing, or maybe a California thoroughbred thing. Anyway, it started with unlikely comeback of Lava Man, and now, you got it, the return of the Queen – Zenyatta.

As a huge Zenyatta fan, I was there in the stands when Trevor Denman called her Breeder’s Cup victory “Un-Be-lie-va-ble!”  While she was sporting the familiar #4  of Brett Fevre, you had to be there to feel the energy of the cheering crowd. It was a historical event and simply an incredible feat of perfection.

Then disappointment struck us all, when the Moses’ acknowledged Zenyatta’s retirement. A perfect 14-0 career was to end in celebration at Hollywood Park. I had it in my mind that I was heading out to Los Angeles to be there and see Zenyatta for the last time before she headed out to Kentucky.

The retirement celebration was wonderful and quite sentimental as the latter part of Sunday was dedicated to the one and only Zenyatta, and her incredible 14-0 career. Many fans were touched by her greatness and presence as well as her little Spanish dance that would entertain the crowd. Her burning desire to win would leave her legacy to the sport of thoroughbred horse racing.

Fast forward to March 2010. Will Zenyatta be the Bret Favre of  horse racing?

Many of you know, Brett Favre is widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time so when he announced his retirement for the second time in his career he broke a lot of hearts once again; only to mend them weeks later when he decided not to retire and join the Minnesota Vikings. It was a great move as Brett led the Vikings to the NFC championship game, only to fall a little short of the Super Bowl.

Zenyatta is now out of retirement and ready to show us what she is really all about. Let’s hope 2010 is as great year for her as last year was for Brett Favre. With the Santa Margarita Stakes around the corner and the Race of the Century, the Apple Blossom in early April; we have much to look forward to. Zenyatta may continue to show us what perfection is all about!