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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Questions and More Questions

Would Mike Smith have been as good natured, and John Shirreffs so forgiving, if Garrett Gomez on Life Is Sweet had cost Zenyatta victory in the G2 Milady with his “jockey games”? It didn’t look all that funny to me when Zenyatta had to check on the backstretch and—once again—go extremely wide to get it done. Seriously, is this the only way she can win? (I’m being facetious.) Saturday's facile win begs the question: does Zenyatta have anything else yet to prove racing against fillies and mares? Instead of repeating in the G1 Vanity on June 27 (which Shirreffs claims is "a possibility"), shouldn’t she go in the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11—or both? The time has come to truly test her; there simply aren't the quality distance older mares to take her on.

Does Zenyatta’s victory on Saturday elevate her over Rachel Alexandra in the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) World Thoroughbred Rankings? As regular commenter tvnewsbadge pointed out, the latest rankings are up for the period of 1 November 2008 to 17 May 2009—and Rachel Alexandra is tied for seventh place with Mine That Bird (as well as five others, including English 2000 Guineas winner Sea The Stars) with a 121 rating. She’s the highest ranked female, ahead of Japanese stars Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka (whose 119 rating is shared with Musket Man), as well as Cocoa Beach and Ventura. Even though the end date would suggest otherwise, there’s no indication that Rachel Alexandra’s Preakness victory over Mind That Bird factored into the ranking. The last IFHA rankings (1 October 2008-29 March 2009) had Zenyatta at number five, behind Zarkava (3) and tied with Goldikova, with a 125 rating. Silly numbers, I know. The real answer will reveal itself only on the race track.

Can life get any sweeter for Calvin Borel? Not only did he ride five winners at Churchill on Saturday, but he guided venerable old warrior Brass Hat to victory in the G3 Louisville Handicap—the 8-year-old gelding’s first turf victory and first win in nearly two years. I’m in awe of both man and beast. Borel also finished second in two other races, and third in another. There’s some indication Brass Hat may try the turf again, in the July 4 United Nations at Monmouth.

What is a day of Belmont racing without Jean-Luc Samyn winning on the turf? In race 6 on Saturday, he guided 11-1 Yield Bogey to victory over a host of shorter-priced horses. Actually, the 5-year-old son of Langfuhr shouldn’t have been such a surprise as, despite his two recent dirt races, his previous turf starts were quite good. It was a nice cash for me on a rather off day—took too many risks playing against favorites. My head's spinning with all the racing this Memorial Day weekend, and Monday looks to be best of all.


Anonymous said...

Can we finally admit, Mike Smith is NOT a great rider? To have to check when you come from last in a small group? He is average at best.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think it is safe to say he sucks. And if you watched jockeys, he is a creep as well. How Chantal doesn't dump his ass is beyond me.

tvnewsbadge said...

"Can we finally admit, Mike Smith is NOT a great rider? To have to check when you come from last in a small group? He is average at best."

No opinion as to his credentials, but it's interesting that his nickname is "Five Wide" Smith.

Amateurcapper said...


It was race riding...GOMEZ tried to hem SMITH and Z on the rail to give his owners the best chance to win. There was no contact, just tight space. SMITH was savvy enough to know he had enough horse to steady, then put GOMEZ and LIFE IS SWEET on the rail. Within a matter of strides, the race was over. Against the boys, if they go that route, Z will have more aggressive racing to deal will make this race look like child's play. Chalk it up to experience, for both horse and rider.

As for Anonymous...SMITH sucks? know better than a Hall of Fame jockey who's ridden almost 4,800 winners, won 13 Breeders' Cup races, two American Classic races (Derby '05, Preakness '93) not to mention an Irish 2000 Guineas!!!!

I'm sure you also know how to settle down CS, know how to treat her better than SMITH??? Is it so hard to understand that SMITH wants a wife and family...not a wife to worry about sustaining a catastrophic injury each day at the track? Did you see what happened to RENE DOUGLAS yesterday at Arlington Park? He may be paralyzed. How about MARTIN PEDROZA off since January after his mount flipped in the paddock and landed on him? He broke a pelvis...the pelvis is where the female reproductive system is. How about the myriad of catastrophies that await horse and rider each a.m. during workouts? Remember the collision during a.m. works @ CD just prior to the Derby?

SMITH knows all too well the risks of being a jockey. Broken shoulder in one fall and two broken vertebrae in another fall, both in 1998.

Rant over.

Anonymous said...

I'd first like to see Zenyatta defeat the boys at 9 furlongs before 10. What about sending her to Saratoga this summer for the Whitney?

If they'd rather keep her against fillies and mares, at Saratoga she would at least meet the East Coast contingent. I think she's far superior to them; it would be great finally to see a CA super-mare confirm her form at the Spa.

Gary said...

With the Belmont coming and Zenyatta's return two great stories swept by. One mentioned in article BRASS HAT but another in Autism Awareness. AA not new to a long shot victory (symbolic) and a great performance this past weekend had come off a set back injury last year. It's another feel good story that I was glad to see happen.