Sunday, November 15, 2009
Random Musings with The Turk and Jack Daniels Select
Many voices on the internet and the horse racing television channels are speaking out with passion about who is Horse of the Year. Occasionally this handicapper looks up from the Past Performances and has an opinion. I reckon I'm feeling opinioned today, especially after taste testing (for purely scientific reasons) some single barrel Jack Daniels Select. For the money, very very good.
How can the Veterinarian community not come to some agreement on what the proper use and need of race day medications is? There is hypocrisy at work amongst the Europeans who come to North America and begin to administer the drug, but I don't blame them, I blame the vets who can't work this out. No one ever blames the vets, well I'm blaming the medical community whose differing opinions created a rift that is hard to heal. I'm a hay, oates and water man myself and would gladly sacrifice the mindlessly overbooked claiming races run mid week to satisfy the simulcasting world and eliminate all race day medications. The debate can make a person feel ineffectual;I don't want the horses to suffer needlessly yet all over the World they seem to manage without these drugs. I need the folks who went to many years of college to sort this out.
I was at Saratoga when Rachel Alexandra won the Woodward and I thought "Horse of the Year" to myself. I must admit, I think Zenyatta did enough with the Breeders' Cup Classic to win the award outright. I'm not a fan of shared awards any more then I am a fan of not having a valedictorian because you don't want to hurt the other kids feelings. Rachel did great things repeatedly this year, but I think in one race Zenyatta topped her. The voters need to do their jobs and look at the body of work for both horses and make a decision they can live with. Both horses will be in the Hall of Fame and both will be spoke of in reverential tones for years to come. Rachel as a 4 YO at Churchill Downs may just pull the Classic off herself and then her legacy will most assuredly be considered greater.
We sure could use a few more rich folks in racing like Jess Jackson though. It's a real shame that Robert McNair divested himself from the sport. Cowboy Cal is still a nifty Graded Stakes horse.
The Larry Jones era ended with a whisper. He started the year with so many scary good animals but going out in spectacular style just wasn't to be for him. Let's hope the big cowboy gets back after it at a scale he feels good with soon.
Steve Crist has long been a beacon of useful handicapping information. At his blog this weekend was a great statistic to heed when considering shippers into a poly surface. According to Crist "...Horses who made their last start on the dirt were 0 for 21 at the Breeders' Cup this year, making the tally 0 for 43 in the two straight Cups on the synthetic track at Oak Tree, with 34 of the 43 finishing worse than third." The statistics he provided showed a 13 point BSF drop from the dirt prep to the poly Breeders' Cup effort. A compelling argument that I think you can apply to any dirt/poly angle on a horse that is unproven on the surface.
The Turk is still smarting after being sucked into "this horse must be good because he only lost to Sea the Stars by 2 lengths." I was shocked to see Mastercraftsman appear to be scared to go through a not so tight gap on the rail. I've watched the video and I know that's a tough horse but talk about stage fright at the worst time. Trainer O'Brien hasn't had anywhere near the success some of his European contemporaries have had at this two year run of turf form friendly Breeders' Cups. I think, like Mastercraftsman, we haven't seen his best for whatever reason (Salix makes you braver?)
Before I get called an arse, I know Rachel had a great year. I can't get past a 5 YO undefeated mare won the Breeders' Cup Classic and if I was voting, which I don't, as hard as it would be, I'd vote for Zenyatta.