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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100 Oak Points…

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There has been a lot of buzz about the new Derby Point System. A point system I am not crazy about. I feel there needs to be some tweaking in the adjustment of how this point system chooses who is qualified for the top 20 spots in the Kentucky Derby. In the past, the field was based on earnings rather than points earned in specific races. Fillies that had enough earnings had an opportunity to run for the roses if their connections felt they were fit and ready.

However, with the new points system, the only opportunity for a filly to earn points toward the Kentucky Derby is to run against the colts in major prep races. Plans most trainers and owners do not consider early on in the season. As Bloodstock Agent John Moynihan states:  “With the timing of (the Derby), you don’t really consider it until the last minute. You want to see how the cards fall; there are so many different scenarios that come into play. You’ve got to look at the quality of the colts out there and how well they’re doing and also the quality of the Oaks. (Courtesy of Bloodhorse article: Oaks Owners Weigh In on Derby Points System).

In the past great fillies have faced the boys, and triumphed with success. Out of 38 fillies that ran in the Kentucky Derby, 3 have gone off to win:  Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980) and Winning Colors (1988).

Of course it’s interesting to ponder on what could have been, as this year’s Kentucky Oaks has a group of strong contenders. Bob Baffert in an interview with Bloodhorse said that this is the most competitive Oaks he has ever been in. The field has a lot of fast fillies, and this year’s competition is fierce. So why not have the new Derby Point System allow any filly with 100 Oak points or more; become eligible to “consider” the Derby. If this were the case, this would have given the following fillies the option of running in the Kentucky Derby:

1 Beholder 164 Richard   Mandella Spendthrift Farm
2 Rose   to Gold 164 Sal Santoro Kathleen Amaya and   Raffaele Centrofanti
3 Unlimited   Budget 160 Todd Pletcher Repole Stable
4 Dreaming   of Julia 132 Todd Pletcher Repole Stable
5 Close   Hatches 100 Bill Mott Juddmonte Farms

Courtesy of: Kentuckyderby.com/oaks/leaderboard)

There are a lot of pros and cons to consider for every horse entered into the Derby, but having a filly in the race does add excitement for racing fans. The handle gets a piece, the filly and its connections get exposure, female race fans will get some action on the filly. It’s a win/win situation for everyone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every filly is just as good as this year’s crop of 3-year old colts. The message I’d like to convey is there “could be” an exceptional filly out there that will not have the opportunity to “measure her brilliance” by running against the boys.  I understand with a new process there is always room for adjustments as the process itself unveils what works, and what could be improved. The final goal is providing the opportunity for the best 20 horses to make it to the gates the first Saturday in May. Who wouldn’t want a talented filly in the most prestigious race in America?  In my opinion this current process is passing up on some truly talented fillies.

This year’s Kentucky Oaks is full of “Girl Power”, and lots of it.  Dreaming of Julia, I’d call her a freak definitely would give these boys a run for their money. Her final time for the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr.II) on March 30th was 1:48.97. She ran nearly two seconds faster than the boys who ran in the Florida Derby later that same day. The winner- Orb’s final winning time was 1:50.87. I’m a huge fan of Orb, and I think he is a very talented colt.

Churchill Down’s should really consider adjusting its’ point system to allow filly’s the opportunity to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. How awful would it be if the great Zenyatta was unable to participate in the Breeder’s Cup Classic?  We would have missed that memorable opportunity to have the first female horse to win this competitive race. Rachel Alexandra not only beat the boys in the 2009 Preakness, but that same year she went off to also beat “older boys” in the Haskell and the Woodward.

With the right horse, the right connections, and the right timing many talented female horses will be missing out on the chance to become a part of racing history.

Freedom Star May Want a Piece of that Apple Pie…

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Busy on the Derby Trail,  I’ve been lost in translation chasing who’s hot and who’s not and haven’t written a blog in 3 weeks!.  It’s getting very close to separating the contenders from the pretenders and the thrill of April 30 and May 1st quickly approaching is just too exciting!

Lots of great fillys and Mares but one that stands out at the moment is front running Freedom Star who dominated the Azeri Stakes and is looking hot, and ready to rumble!  She once again had a gate to wire win this past Sunday in the Harry Henson H. Stakes at Sunland Park to rack up a second consecutive win.

4-year-old daughter of Street Cry under the reigns of Bob Baffert is one fast filly, and definitely a “star” to watch.  When challenged by her competitors she is able to literally run them down. Could Freedom Star be ready to bite into the magical apple and face some real contenders in the Apple Blossom Invitational (gr1) on April 9?

If Freedom Star does make it to the Apple Blossom, it will be a very interesting race.  We’ll see if she is up for a match with big sis Zenyatta who is also out of Street Cry.  Wow, some really big shoes to fill and a really big piece of pie to eat!  With that said, I’m sure Dad is very proud of his two daughters…

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!