Count me among those who applaud Jess Jackson’s decision to pass on this year Breeders’ Cup with Rachel Alexandra.
As easy as it may seem to do so, I don’t see this simply as a vilification of synthetic surfaces, as Jackson implies in his media comments regarding “plastics.” Nor do I totally disagree with Steven Crist’s belief that if “his [Jackson’s] decision prompts a more thoughtful debate about the place of synthetic tracks at the highest level of racing, he will have improved rather than spoiled the sport in the long run.”
What does pleases me about Jackson stating in late June that he won’t send the promising filly westward in early November is maybe, just maybe, other owners will follow suit, and the Breeders’ Cup will be put back into proper perspective—rather than the “end-all, be-all” it should be nothing more than the cherry on top of a serious campaign of races.
In recent years, horse racing has suffered from small or weak fields for graded stakes, as trainers develop conservative paths to what is touted as the “World Championships.” Some of the best horses barely run and yet, if they win one race on one day, somehow they are considered champions.
Perfect example: 2007 Female Turf Eclipse winner Lahudood. Over the course of that season Citronnade, Nashoba’s Key and Honey Ryder all put forth far more impressive campaigns, yet two wins—in the G1 Flower Bowl (where she was a huge longshot) and the G1 BC Filly & Mare Turf—somehow made Lahudood the champion? I couldn’t loath that result more.
So, even though Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra may never meet, if the latter continues a campaign which matches her up against males, such as in the G1 Travers, Rachel clearly deserves serious consideration for Horse of the Year. And I refuse to emotionally-invest myself in venting about Zenyatta’s connections opting for a conservative itinerary (particularly as I highly suspect she will be upset this weekend)—if they can live with their choice, so can I.
What does upset me is the cruel twist of fate.
On June 14, a beautiful chestnut 2-year-old colt named Olredlgetcha—a Florida-bred son of Limehouse, out of the Cobra King mare Mystical Beauty—made his racing debut, impressively winning the Victoria Stakes at Woodbine. As a damside descendent of Foolish Pleasure, I was thrilled to see yet another example of his bloodline race successfully.
Just one short week later, Olredlgetcha was euthanized due to the ravages of a staph infection in his right hock, apparently caused by a minute puncture wound he received during the race. All that promise, gone.