Sunday, November 8, 2009

Girl Power at the Breeders Cup

Saturday proved to be a historic day in horse racing with the victory by the 5 year old mare Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Breeders Cup Classic. Trained by John Shireffs and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, the daughter of Street Cry (IRE) out of the Kris S. mare Vertigineux covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:00 3/5, ahead of her eleven male competitors (Quality Road was a late scratch after refusing entry and breaking through the gate).

Not since Azeri finished 4th to Ghostzapper in 2004 has a filly or mare tried to win the Classic, but unlike the prior three, this time the girl ruled. Breaking slowly, Zenyatta trailed all but the Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird entering the first turn, and remained in 6th entering the homestretch (see photo right). But Mike Smith had patience and confidence as he weaved his way through the tiring field. Zenyatta was just getting into gear. Smith swung the giant mare out wide and gave her a couple quick cracks of the whip. That was all she needed to get down to business and race past the probable US turf horse of the year Gio Ponti who held on for the place. In finishing first by a length, Zenyatta concluded her illustrious career a perfect 14 for 14, eclipsing the the Hall-of-Fame filly Personal Ensign's 13 straight to start a career, but falling a nose short as the most exciting race in Breeders Cup history.

Zenyatta beat 7 millionaires including the aforementioned Derby winner Mine That Bird and the Belmont and Travers winner Summer Bird. She also beat some of Europe's best, although she didn't have the chance to face the world's best horse - be it Rachel Alexandra or European superstar Sea the Stars - both opting to stay home after tough campaigns. Jess Jackson can say he doesn't want to race his filly Rachel Alexandra on the synthetics after Curlin lost last year, but his decision was made when Rachel was all out winning the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes in September.

Would she have beaten those two champions Saturday if they were running? Doesnt' matter because they didn't run. They can't take away her Breeders Cup Classic title. Will this vault Zenyatta to Horse-of-the-year honors? She'll get some support for sure, but I'd wager she'll fall a little short - remember, the horse center of the world is Kentucky, not Los Angeles, and they have never seen her race in person. Which is a shame, because she is something special. Click Here to Read More..

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breeders Cup Friday

Back from my exciting weekend in the City of Brotherly Love which went great save a 9th inning Yankees rally, but was fun nonetheless. Time to get back to handicapping and the 2 day Breeders Cup at Santa Anita is a good place to start.

Friday was "Ladies Day" last year, but this year they move the Marathon to Friday and stretch it out to 14 furlongs making a true test of the stayer. Last year's winner Muhannak is in the race, but hasn't run well this year. The class of the field is Mastery who won the Group 1 St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster in his last outing and he's the likely winner, but I'm gonna take 9 year old Cloudy's Knight to spring the upset at a price. The #4 horse has won his last two starts at 12F and comes into the race in top form. #1 Black Astor could be a surprise as well as he sports a pace advantage on these.

The BC Juvenile Fillies Turf is somewhat of a crapshoot given the limited preps available to theses fillies and the presence of several Euros in the field. The #8 Lilie Langtry looks especially tough having won almost $1mln already in her career but her trainer Aiden O'Brien hasn't had success with his shippers going 0-23 in the past 3 years according to the Daily Racing Form. I'll look to #11 Junia Tepzia who is 2-2 racing in Italy by Rock of Gibraltar (IRE), a top turf sire. Longshot #5 La Nez is a local filly that could spring the upset at a big price if she takes to the turf.

The BC Juvenile Fillies is usually dominated by favorites like last year's Stardom Bound but this year's contest appears wide open. I like the #7 Devil May Care who's half to Regal Ransom running in the Classic tomorrow. #3 Blind Luck out of the Jerry Hollendorfer barn could give him his first BC winner as she won at this track and distance last race.
The BC Filly & Mare Turf has last year's champion Forever Together in the field as well as 4 other millionaires. I'm gonna take the hard knocking #3 Rutherienne over the #5 Pure Clan.
Ventura, pictured above should repeat in the F&M Sprint unless #2 Sara Louise isn't caught.
The Ladies Classic is without superstar Zenyatta who has opted to race tomorrow in the Classic, which should make this a more interesting affair. #1 Careless Jewel is a logical first choice with #5 Proviso looking to extend the Euros dominance on the syntethics at Oak Tree.
Picks: Race 3 -#4, Race 4 - #11, Race 5 - #7, Race 6 - #3, Race 7 - #9, Race 8 - #1
Click Here to Read More..