Forget Curlin vs. Big Brown. Not going to happen, no matter how long we fans hold our breath (and each horse’s connection farcically spew theirs). And, honestly, who cares?
Instead, the real talk should be about the best race we most likely will see come October—the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (don’t even call it the Ladies’ Classic—what a chauvinistic misnomer).
Barring injury (knock on wood), the probable field, noting each runner’s most significant achievement thus far this year, includes:
• Zenyatta (G1 Apple Blossom, G1 Vanity)
• Ginger Punch (G1 Go For Wand, G1 Ogden Phipps)
• Hystericalady (G2 Delaware)
• Little Belle (G1 Ashland)
• Music Note (G1 Mother Goose, G1 Coaching Club American Oaks)
• Sweet Vendetta (G2 Black-Eyed Susan)
• Proud Spell (G1 Kentucky Oaks)
• Tough Tiz’s Sis (runner-up in both G1 Santa Maria and G1 Vanity)
• Storm Mesa (G2 San Clemente)
• Lethal Heat (G2 Hollywood Oaks)
Unfortunately, we lost Eight Belles after her game runner-up effort in the G1 Kentucky Derby and multiple G1 heroine Nashoba's Key to a stable injury, and other promising fillies are on the sidelines, including G1 Acorn victress Zaftig and G1 Ashland runner-up Bsharpsonata, but toss in G1 Go For Wand runner-up Copper State, G1 Ogden Phipps runner-up Golden Velvet, G2 Delaware Handicap runner-up Lemon Drop Mom, G2 Delaware Oaks runner-up African Violet, G3 Arlington Park Oaks winner Sky Mom, G3 Monmouth Oaks victress Maren’s Meadow or even on-the-comeback-trail Unbridled Belle.
Now there’s a damn fine group of horses! Isn’t that what we want to see—competitive racing between multiple quality animals, not one or two horses beating up on a pathetic collection of inferior beasts?
So, why are we obsessing about two colts who appear to be on two very different planes when it comes to current form? The Woodward is too early for Big Brown...his connections want a pissy-ass turf race at Belmont in mid-September, even though there is no graded-stakes race as such scheduled for then. They'll settle for a collection of allowance horses that the Delicate One can barely defeat. Curlin’s connections have consistently stated they have no intention of running on an unproven artificial surface, such as Santa Anita will have for the Breeders’ Cup, so Iavarone and others (like that idiot Jason Shandler) trying to shame them into running there regardless is asinine. Get over it! If the Woodward or Jockey Club Gold Cup doesn't "fit" Big Brown, why should Curlin's connection acquiesce?
Listen up, bozos. Friday, November 28—G2 Clark Handicap, 9 furlongs over the Churchill Downs dirt. There, aim for that and duke it out, or scuttle off to stud, Big Brown. Your 15-minutes of fame are almost up anyways (plus his connections have no intention of ever running him on real dirt again—a revealing fact to any shrewd potential breeder who doubts his durability and soundness). Be afraid, be very afraid.
That’s harsh, I know, but I’m sick and tired of hearing the crowing, the posturing, and the phony bravado about Curlin and Big Brown. Meanwhile, we are BLESSED with one of the most outstanding crops of fillies and mares in years—proven on dirt, on synthetics and on turf. And as an industry we are completely missing a prime opportunity to bring new fans to the sport, by focusing on two horses raced by a bunch of misfits instead of a very talented group of fillies and mares with little baggage to haul around.
Just look at the probables for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf:
• Mauralakana (G1 Beverly D)
• Forever Together (G1 Diana)
• Ventura (G1 Just a Game)
• Black Mamba (G1 John C. Mabee)
• Precious Kitten (G1 Gamely)
• Pure Clan (G1 American Oaks)
• Satan’s Circus (G1 American Oaks runner-up)
• Diamond Diva (G1 Gamely runner-up)
• Goldikova (G1 Prix Rothschild)
• Communique (G1 Beverly D runner-up)
• Rutherienne (G2 Jenny Wiley)
In addition, we might also see European starters like the super-impressive G1 Prix de Diane victress Zarkava, G1 Irish Oaks winner Moonstone, or G1 Epsom Oaks winner Look Here, in addition to the talented multiple G3 winner Dreaming of Anna, G1 Diana runner-up Dynaforce, G2 Lake George winner My Princess Jess, G2 Sands Point victress Raw Silk, and G3 Orchid winner Hostess. Come on!
Not to mention filly sprinting phenons Indian Blessing (G1 Prioress, G1 Test), Intangaroo (G1 Santa Monica, G1 Humana Distaff), and Mistical Plan (G1 Princess Rooney). It is in the Distaff divisions where this year’s real excitement lies.
That’s the conversation we should be having.