Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Title Slips by Zenyatta

As the debate rages on for Horse of the Year, I suppose Zenyatta had a shot at the Sportsman of the Year (won by Drew Brees) awarded by Sports Illustrated every year. She certainly qualifies as an athlete who has had success in her sport and had a large effect on the sport beyond her winning. And yes, you don't have to be a man to win the title. Chris Evert won in 1976 and Mary Decker in 1983. Teams have also won, the last being the Boston Red Sox in 2004.

No horse has ever won the title, but Jockey Steve Cauthen won in 1977. I went back and read the article on Steve Cauthen by legendary writer Frank Deford. The first thing I noticed is how journalism has changed from when the article was written 33 years ago, back when magazines were filled with ads and readers had attention spans that would read behind 140 characters.

This years article in SI on Brees is a mere 11 paragraphs and 666 words. The article by Deford on Cauthen is a novel by current standards at 62 paragraphs and 4,332 words. You can read the entire article here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks...

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I hustled to finish my last work appointment in Saratoga. It is a cold today, but clear, and with the sun blazing it felt rather mild for this time of year. As I traveled back home down Union Avenue, I passed the grand old track, 3 months since the last patron entered, gates now closed, not to open again until half way through 2011. Seeing the track reminded me of one of my favorite quotes (by the wise Jesuit Balastar Gracian):
All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.
So enjoy the time we all have and I hope for everyone it is filled tomorrow with good cheer, good food, family and friends. And if nothing else, if you get tired at the Thanksgiving table arguing about politics, religion, and the economy, just throw a question out about who should win the Horse of the Year award to get the gang riled up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Post Zenyatta Life

Now it is official as Zenyatta is retired and will be sent to Lane's End farm in Kentucky.

So how does the game proceed post Zenyatta? In the short term the Horse of the Year debate will rage on, perhaps fueled even more by the fact that she is now retired. Judging by what I have read and heard thus far, I feel that Zenyatta will win the Horse of the Year vote. It is my opinion that turf writers are an emotional sort and are protective of the game they cover. I don't see how most of them can take emotion of out of the decision making. Emotion will win out and Zenyatta will win.

The most amazing thing is how late her popularity bloomed, especially in the mainstream. It was like a huge surge starting about 30 days prior to the BC Classic, pushed ahead by a 60 Minutes piece and a long feature article in Sports Illustrated. I can only wonder how much wider known she would have been had she ventured East a few times in the past 2 years, to dirt tracks such as Belmont, Monmouth or Saratoga.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Breeders Cup Also-Rans

With so many words now being written on the Thrilling finish Blame and Zenyatta gave us in the Classic , I don't know if I can add much, so let us take a look at some of the weekends also-rans as described in the Equibase Result Charts:

Mine That Bird (Dirt Mile, finished 1oth out of 12 starters):

Steadied at the start when Morning Line drifted out, raced three wide and was no factor.

This pretty much describes his year where he was never a factor in 4 starts. Mine That Bird was retired today.

Lookin at Lucky (Classic, finished 4th out of 12 starters):

within reach of the leaders the opening half while unhurried, advanced four wide past the three furlong marker, rallied in company with the winner approaching the stretch, battled that one to inside the final furlong and weakened

Part of my Tri-Box with Blame and Zenyatta, it looked for a minute that he would go with both of them all the way to the line, but he didn't do it and also allowed Fly Down to beat him by a neck at the finish for 3rd.

Quality Road (Classic, finished 12th out of 12 starters):

close up along the inside, moved off the rail on the second turn and stopped after six furlongs

Man did he stop.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

BC Friday Winners and Losers


Churchill Downs: Lights worked; Great Friday attendance of over 41,000
ESPN: Great video of the Borel-Castellano Fight; Jumped right on Life at Ten story
Longshot Bettors: All winners paid double digits with Shared Account paying $94
Bobby Flay: He made me $29 bucks and change on Real for More, plus he loves the sport


Track Vets: Gotta do a better job of checking on Life at Ten
Borel: Can't say I blame him, but this will tarnish his good guy image
Chalk Players: You took a bath, only paying favorite was Awesome Feather

Saturday's Predicted Winners:

Sprint: Big Drama with Supreme Summit underneath
Juvenile: Uncle Mo with Biondetti underneath
Mile: Gio Ponti
Classic: Lookin at Lucky, Zenyatta, Blame

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Breeders Cup 2010 Prop Bets

I direct you to the Thorofan "Handicapper's Corner" for a serious look at each BC race authored by many of us at the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance, including your truly where I took on the BC Sprint (love Big Drama).

You can also head over to the TBA Home Page and check out the Public Handicapping page for the BC races, where thus far 16 bloggers, writers, and tweeters have checked in with their picks (where 2 other 'cappers join me in picking Lookin at Lucky over the Superstar Queen Z).

For some less than serious bets, here are some Prop bets, culled from various gaming sites and my own curious mind:

How Many times will Zenyatta's name be mentioned in the race call-Over/Under: 8.5

How Many times will the ESPN TV crew mention Zenyatta's name during the entire 3:30-7:00 pm Saturday broadcast: Over/Under: 100

How Many times will ESPN mention BC Classic Longshot Pleasant Prince: Over/Under: 3

What will the Saturday ESPN TV rating be: Over/Under: 1.9

First adjective/expression to be used by winning BC Classic Jockey after the race:

"Amazing": 3-1
"She's the Greatest": 7-2
"Thrilling": 6-1
"He's the Best": 8-1
"This is the greatest feeling in the world": 10-1
"Unbelievable": 12-1
"I believed in my horse": 15-1
"I just would Like to thank God for all this": 20-1