Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rachel Alexandra-Something we can Remember

So now it is official, Rachel Alexandra is retired.

She ends with a race record of 13 wins and 5 seconds from 19 starts with career earnings of $3,506,730.

In an age where the news cycle spins and spins and we just go on the next thing, the next name, the next item and forget everything we just saw or learned, Rachel Alexandra stands out for being memorable and remaining in the news these last 2 years. Hard to do in America, where only Zenyatta is on equal par as far as name recognition to the everyday casual racing fan.

In a country where seemingly everything that is new gets old quick and than forgotten, like the oil spill we were all riled up about but now gets nary a mention in the media, Rachel continued to get her media ink ,website, and social media mentions. Heck she might even be trending today on Twitter, although the twitless seem to think the topic "signshesahoe" seems to be important enough today to be a trending subject. If only I was joking.

On a personal note, I was lucky enough to see Rachel race in the flesh twice, in the Woodward Stakes in '09 and this past summer in the Personal Ensign Stakes. I will always remember her Woodward Stakes victory. I have never heard the crowd roar like they did that day at the Spa. Here is a picture (click to enlarge) I took as Rachel entered the final furlong of the Woodward Stakes. I love how everyone in the crowd is looking intently at the race as Rachel roars down the stretch holding off Macho Again and Bullsbay. We all know it takes a special horse to hold the attention of an entire crowd like that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Travers to BC Classic Drought Continues

It is now official, another year will pass without a horse winning both the Travers Stakes and the Breeders Cup Classic. Not that he was confirmed to even run in the BC Classic anyway, but it won't be Afleet Express as he will not run for the rest of the year after being injured. He was slated to run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup next on October 2nd.

No Travers winner has gone on to win the Breeders Cup Classic since its inception in 1984, despite great Travers Stakes winners in the past such as Point Given, Lemon Drop Kid and Easy Goer. In the last decade Medaglia d'Oro, Flower Alley and Bernardini all came close. The one to come the closest recently was when Bernardini lost a stretch duel to the great Invasor in 2006. Here is a look at the last 10 Travers winners and how they fared in the Breeders Cup Classic and if/how they raced as a 4 year old :


Year of Travers Win

BC Classic Finish

# of Wins as 4 year old

Point Given


Did Not Run

None-Retired @ 3

Medaglia d'Oro



3 (5 Races)

Ten Most Wanted



None (1 race)




None-Retired @ 3

Flower Alley



None (3 races)




None-Retired @ 3

Street Sense



None-Retired @ 3

Colonel John



1 (4 races)

Summer Bird



None-Retired @3

Afleet Express


Will Not Run


Friday, September 17, 2010

Names of Interest at Belmont Park

Coming off the high of the summer season at Saratoga, it takes me about a week to get into the fall meet at Belmont Park. 4 Days into the meet and I have yet to place a bet. But today has some familiar names on the Belmont Card so maybe today is the day I come out of my cave and take a look around.

The familiar names include 3 year old's Aikenite and Radiohead in the 1st in a $60,000 overnight stakes on the turf.

In the 3rd we have a $60,000 NY-bred Overnight Stakes with a short field but familiar NY-breds in Manteca, Giant Moon and the senior warrior Naughty New Yorker.

In the 7th, an allowance optional claiming for $47K over the Widener turf, keep your eye on also eligible Little Nick, shipping in from Monmouth. He will have to scratch into the race but if he does, worth a shot if he doesn't come down too much from his morning line odds of 6-1. He's trained by Anthony T. Quartarolo, who returned to the training game this summer at Monmouth after a long layoff. He may be familiar to Harness fans at the Meadowlands as he was a harness driver there back in the day, than a harness trainer, before jumping over to train the Thoroughbred's.

At Monmouth this summer he was 50% in the money out of 10 starts.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Blue Skies, 9-11 and Belmont Park

Those who expect to reap the blessings of Freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it. -Thomas Paine, "The American Crisis"

As I went out for my morning run this morning, I was struck by the crystal blue skies above my head, with nary a cloud in the sky. Of course, 9 years ago today on 09/11/01 the sky was also crystal blue above the greatest city in the world-New York.

Today as you go about your activities try and make today a day of remembrance and reflection for the 2,976 victims who were murdered on 09/11/01.

If you make your way to beautiful Belmont Park for opening day of the Fall meet, throw a few bucks on Aces Mark in the 8th race, an allowance for NY breds. Aces Mark is named after Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis, scouts for the Los Angeles Kings, who were aboard United Airlines flight 175 when it was deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11. You can read more about the story of Aces Mark over at Teresa Genaro's Brooklyn Backstretch site.

Never forget the what happened that day, and never forget how lucky we are in this country, to truly pursue liberty, do work of our choosing, and enjoy our leisure time unencumbered and of our choosing at home with family and friends or at various destinations across our land including our local track.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Saratoga Numbers

NYRA's Dan Silver puts his best spin on attendance and handle at Saratoga over at the NYRA website. It seems just silly to compare this years 40 day meet with the 36 day 2009 meet plus the last three days at the Belmont 2009 meet. I only took 9th grade Prob and Stats but somehow I conclude this is an apples and oranges comparison.

Just compare Saratoga 2009 vs. Saratoga 2010, something like this:

2009 attendance : 854,424 (36 days) Average: 23,734
2010 attendance: 878,284 (40 days) Average: 21,957

2009 on track handle: 112,005,864 Average: 3,111,274
2010 on track handle: 114,693,168 Average: 2,867,329

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Day 36 and the Trap Door

Day 36 is usually Labor Day, where we watch the final race, tally up the Jockey and Trainer titles and say goodbye to the Spa. Instead we plow on with 4 more days of racing.

Attendance stands at 758,153 after Day 36, an average of 21,059 per day- about 5% down from 2009 figures. Maybe I'm getting old, but it doesn't seem that long ago that attendance was in excess of 900,000 for the 36 days of Saratoga racing.

Today was a weird day at Saratoga with the very popular 3 year old filly Lisa's Booby Trap going off at even money odds in the second division of the $70,000 Riskaverse. At one point with about 15 minutes to post she was at 3-5 odds, even though she had never run a race on turf before. I guess this shows how everyone loves a good story. However you were shown the trap door if you bet on her, as Lisa's Booby Trap finished dead last, 17 lengths behind the winner.

Supposedly Dateline NBC had a film crew following around owner/trainer Tim Snyder and Lisa's Booby Trap all day for a possible network special on the horse. It's unknown if the Van seen speeding down Union Avenue towards I-87 South right after the race was indeed the NBC crew getting out of town.