Sunday, November 8, 2009

Breeders Cup 2009 Recap

Not that the anti-synthetic crowd needs anymore ammunition, it worth noting that 0 pure dirt horses, managed to hit the board this Breeders Cup. Americans have bred for dirt for centuries and the decision to run the Cup over synthetics has thoroughly punished all dirt runners. For those ready for a conventional Cup, fear not, 2010 marks the return to normalcy.

With that said 2009 was an entertaining event. Lots of turf-like finishes in most races and some great efforts by many sentimental favorites.

Below is a brief recap of each race with the top three finishers and my grades for each of them going in.

Zenyatta - B
Gio Ponti - C
Twice Over - C

What more can be said about Zenyatta? She is without question one of the finest race mares of all-time. Denmon made a lot about her being last, which was curious considering she comes from dead last every race. Perhaps he was playing it up for the viewing audience that may not be aware of her closing tactics. I'll save the Horse of the Year debate for another post, but Zenyatta has earned the right at the very least to be in the discussion. What an effort.

Its no surprise that turf horses hit the board behind her. Pure dirt horses have been punished in the last two Breeders Cups. Props though to Gio Ponti and Twice Over for making a go of it.

Rip Van Winkle and Einstein ran horribly. Perhaps Winkle's foot issues were even greater than disclosed. It also appears Coolmore made the blunder of overthinking their strong hand. They split their pair of Mastercraftsman and Winkle trying to win two races and in the process won neither. The former should have been in the Classic.

Conduit - A
Presious Passion - B
Dar Re Mi - B

Props to Conduit for repeating, but the story as usual for me is Presious Passion and his wild front running antics. He is by far my favorite horse of the year and he ran a monster race yesterday. Its nothing short of amazing that a horse can go 45 for the half and still have the ability to dig in and re-kick down the stretch against a defending champion. He is all heart and my vote for Coolest Horse of the Year.

Dirt Mile
Furthest Land - D
Ready's Echo - C
Midshipman - B

Saving ground is great as long as you A) get a hole late and B) have a horse willing to go through it. Mastercraftsman was the best horse in the field but he paniced while trying to fit through on the rail and as a result got beat as the overwhelming favorite. Rail trips are great for questionable stock or horses that need small advantages, but there is absolutely nothing worse than getting the best horse beaten because he can get a clear run the entire race.

Goldikova - A
Courageous Cat - D
Justenuffhumor - C

What a run by Goldikova. She was stalker in this last year and a dead closer in 09. Delegator laid an egg despite getting a pace to run into with co-entrant Gladiatorus doing his best rabbit impersonation on the front.

Vale Of York - B
Lookin At Lucky - A
Noble's Promise - B

A completely logical result all the way around. Vale of York validated his Euro form, Lucky will feel hard pressed having to go so wide all the way around and Noble's Promise ran a winners race just succumbing to the top two late.

Dancing In Silks - C
Crown Of Thorns - C
Cost Of Freedom - C

Anyone that saw this coming deserves some real credit. A great bit of racing riding by the leaders pinning even money favorite Zensational down on the rail. He was going to be up against it under ideal conditions, but they had him beat a furlong from the gate. Quite surprised Fatal Bullet ran so poorly. He got the ideal trip and just flopped. Gayego made a good run but fell victim to the chalk from the rail syndrome that plagued a few too many horses this year.

Turf Sprint
California Flag - B
Gotta Have Her - A
Cannonball - C

Great effort by the top one. My favorite pick of the day Gotta Have Her ran huge and I think wins this race if she doesn't run into so much traffic. She was poised to pounce, but had to check mid stretch.

Juvenile Turf
Pounced - A
Bridgetown - C
Interactif - A

Not much to say here. The best horse wins on class.

Ladies Classic
Life Is Sweet - B
Mushka - C
Music Note - A

This race should have been a signal for things to come. Life Is Sweet has spent a year finishing behind Zenyatta and it was quite pleasing to see her finally get a chance to shine. What a finish. I'm not sure what happened to Careless Jewell. She ran rank and I'd love to know what she was thinking when after a sensible opening quarter she bolted and essentially ended her day early with an absurd second quarter of 22.

Music Note never made much impact and its pretty clear that she is blunted by synthetics.

Filly & Mare Sprint
Informed Decision - A
Ventura - A
Free Flying Soul - D

Informed Decision is a synthetic freak. She's now beaten Ventura twice and its clear her tactical speed is what makes her superior at 7f over the defending champion. Not a bad effort at all by Ventura, who just leaves a bit too much work when facing the top one.

Filly & Mare Turf
Midday - A
Pure Clan - C
Forever Together - A

Midday proved her class and won this with tactical speed. Forever Together, who has last a small step this year, simply left too much to do late. Big run by Pure Clan.

Juvenile Fillies
She Be Wild - B
Beautician - B
Blind Luck - A

Quite a bad beat for Biofuel who likely wins that race if not for severe interference on the far outside in the stretch. I liked both top two finishers, hinting in my grades they would be overlooked based on their last races. Beautician to be fair still looks like a second best type, but if she can get that killer instinct she could be something serious. She Be Wild is the deserving champion of the 2yo fillies after a nice rebound from her near miss.

Juvenile Fillies Turf
Tapitsfly - C
Rose Catherine - B
House Of Grace - A

Huge runs by the top two. I try not to put too much emphasis on morning reports but Tapitsfly was the talking horse in the field all week. Rose Catherine proved her huge Beyer was legit. Quite surprising that Junia and Lilly ran so poorly. I suspected they would be battling at the wire but perhaps it was too much too soon for Junia and the end of a long campaign for Lillie.

Man Of Iron - B
Cloudy's Knight - B
Mastery - A

Too bad the old warrior Cloudy's Knight got beat on a head bob. The old man made a valiant effort and ran the winners race. Mastery, who many beleived was the lock of the day had no excuses. Man Of Iron proved his class and has made Europeans 2 for 2 in the new Marathon.


Bull Lea said...

Cry me a river, cowboy.

The east coast-based trainers could of come out months earlier and raced in our prep races before the Breeders Cup.

The fact is:

A dirt horse cannot come from the east and get acclimated to a synthetic surface overnight. It doesn't work that way. Do you guys finally get it now? I sure hope so.

I don't want to hear a word from the "east" about the races out here, because their just "flat-out" excuses.

Now, its finally dawned on every east coast fan how good Zenyatta is.

Remember when they were bashing Zenyatta about her Beyer speed figures?

Well Mr. Andy Beyer and others have "no clue" on how to judge horseflesh on a syntheic surface.

I laughed when I saw a 0 for 14 record for the east.

Gary said...

Pure dirt horses not hitting the board in a single race is not an excuse, it is a fact.

There has never been another time in the history of American racing where dirt horses have been penalized for being able to run over a surface they have been bred to compete over.

You find that "laughable", some find it laughable that the sport has been further divided and fragmented at a time when the sport has never been less relevant to the public.

BTW, I'll address the HOTY next, check back. I'm sure you will love it!