After basking in the gloaming of a reasonably successful Breeders’ Cup—one, however, that only firmed the penumbra position of real dirt racing in America—it was back to business as usual with a host of premature retirement announcements. Among them, lightly-raced synthetic sprinter Zensational who will stand for $25,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale—exactly what the sport needs, another Unbridled’s Song son breeding! Conduit will race once more before standing stud in Japan, while Mastercraftsman will stand in Ireland.
Beyond the promised return next year of geldings Cloudy’s Knight, Presious Passion and Mine That Bird, I’m most looking forward to Summer Bird who should only ripen into a magnificent older dirt horse, the quality and quantity of which (not withstanding Curlin) has been severely lacking in recent years as so many 3-year-olds (Street Sense, Hard Spun, Big Brown, etc.) retired well before really proving themselves on the racetrack. Others returning include Cannonball who embarks on a Pacific Rim campaign, beginning in Hong Kong and then on to Australia, before heading back to Ascot next summer, and Rags to Riches’ half-brother Man of Iron who will aim for Dubai’s spring carnival.
Those fillies and mares retired or likely to be retired include Music Note, Cocoa Beach, Zenyatta, Ventura, and Seventh Street—but the good news is, in 2010, we will be able to enjoy the likes of Goldikova, Informed Decision, Sara Louise, Rainbow View, Dar Re Mi, and Rachel Alexandra (not to mention a Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs).
Sayonara, Azeri ($2.25 million), Magical Fantasy ($1.8 million), Lady Joanne ($1.6 million), Ginger Punch ($1.6 million) and Laragh ($850,000)—Japanese buyers raided the fall sales on Tuesday, coming away with all of the aforementioned G1 winners. They also acquired G1-placed Jardin and the unraced Loves Only Me, half-sister to European champion 2-year-old Rumplestiltskin, whose dam is a full-sister of Kingmambo, out of the champion Miesque. Talk about some nice bloodlines!
Among those who failed to meet their reserve at Fasig-Tipton were Diamondrella ($1.1 million) and Honey Ryder ($1.25 million), while those removed from the sale included recent G2 Raven Run winner Satans Quick Chick, G1-placed Silver Swallow, G1-placed Dubai Majesty, G1-placed Justwhistledixie, and Xtra Heat’s promising daughter Elusive Heat.
Finally, a plethora of analysis and commentary regarding the paramount issue du jour—who should be Horse of the Year—is out there, and you’ll find none better than those of Lisa Grimm (Superfecta), Teresa Genara (Brooklyn Backstretch), Gary West (West Points), Jeff Scott (The Saratogian) and, for historical perspective, Kevin Martin (Colin’s Ghost).
As I alluded to in a previous (albeit abbreviated) post, I (and other more highly-respected industry insiders) firmly believe this year deserves co-Horses of the Year, as both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are equally worthy. It's not like it hasn't happened before.
And don’t give me that bullshit about the Breeders’ Cup being the “World Championships” (it’s not—deal with it) or it “cheapening” the award by not selecting one over the other—this isn’t the damn electoral college or something equally profoundly important. It’s just a stupid award which, frankly, no one outside of the industry will even care about so why affect discord and hostility among what few fans remain? Let’s be adults, put aside our bias about the horses’ owners and their campaigns, and just celebrate two equally spectacular performances. Honestly, this sport does its damnest to piss people off on the smallest things rather than take on and fight the really important battles.