Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Catching Up

We have a few dead days on the “pick” front, with the next graded stake at the Spa on Saturday. That gives me the time catch up on a few stories and some items I've overlooked during the hectic opening weekend.

Del Mar Breakdowns

Del Mar had a rash of breakdowns to start the meet and has prompted many trainers to question the condition of the track, which does not seem to play with any consistency.

This again brings up the debate of the value of synthetic tracks. They were sold as the cure to many of racings ills yet a basic look at the facts says they haven't lived up to the hype. Kentucky Horse Racing Medical Director Mary Scollay said while the switch to synthetic tracks did indeed reduce breakdowns initially, though most figures have now risen back to previous numbers.

The question is, if the synthetic track is not definitively safer than dirt, what is the point?

New Time For The Amsterdam

The time for Quality Road's track record performance in the Amsterdam on Monday was changed today. It is still a track record but the time was changed from 1:13.45 to 1:13.74

Either way Quality Road is a brilliant horse. Hopefully he can stay together physically for the remainder of the year. He is special.

Graded Stakes Committee Gets Its Right.... For Once

The American Graded Stakes Committee, which has failed to reign in the expansion of meaningless graded stakes races in America finally made a good move today, downgrading the previously ranked G2 Lake George at Saratoga to a G3 since it was taken of the dirt. The field was littered with scratches after the rain Saratoga received all week(end) and the race became substantially less relevant.

You have to feel for the connections who thought they were getting G2 placings, but this was the right call.

Too bad the stakes committee can't substantially reduce the amount of races that get graded status each year, which would increase competition and curb the ducking and dodging that plagues the sport.

Moss Gets A Pass

Its quite interesting that Jess Jackson has been the target of a lot of attacks since he has refused to send his filly Rachel Alexandra out west for the Breeders Cup, nixing the possibility for the monumental showdown with the unbeaten Zenyatta.

The forgotten aspect of the situation is Jerry Moss and his 2009 campaign with Zenyatta. While Jackson has been attacked for refusing to run his filly over a synthetic track, Zenyatta has been in one of the most underwhelming campaigns by an undefeated champion ever. Zenyatta took half the season off only to come back and beat up on the same weak California contingent she did last year. If any horse has been handled with the kid gloves its Zenyatta and you can argue that this weak campaign has actually hindered her longterm standing. Rachel has been campaigned so aggressively that she has actually stamped herself in the eyes of many as the greatest filly to ever grace a N.A. racetrack. Zenyatta on the other hand, as an older horse, has been in a campaign that has done nothing to improve her standing.

So the question is who should bend and make this race happen? I think its Jerry Moss that should be under pressure to make the race. The BC Distaff means absolutely nothing in comparison to a match up with Rachel. If he really wanted to prove something with his mare he wouldn't need to use the BC as a crutch. He has a mare that is two years older than Rachel. A fully developed running machine that has had the benefit of a soft schedule. What more advantage does he want?

If this race never happens, many will wrongly blame Jackson, but as the old saying goes, “it takes two to tango.” Rachel's standing in the sport will largely be unaffected if this matchup never happens. The question is, what will history say of Zenyatta after a soft schedule that didn't involve a meaningful race against the boys or the rising star within her own gender?

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