A couple quick comments about this past weekend’s racing:
Quality Road’s performance in the G1 Donn Handicap was visually spectacular, but I want to see him string together more than one or two good races before I’m willing concede he’s the most exciting horse on the planet this year. Typical for this era of disproportionate hype, Andy Beyer goes so far as to note with his usual portentous authority: “...as great as they (Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta) are, neither of the females delivered a performance as good as Quality Road's win in the Donn.”
Has he been snorting that pure Washington DC snow?
I know that all tracks are not created equal, but you would figure that 9 furlongs is 9 furlongs. So, when Quality Road went 1:47.49 on Saturday carrying 123 pounds, that’s quicker than Rachel Alexandra’s 1:46.33 carrying 121 pounds in last year’s G1 Mother Goose at Belmont (which she won by over 19 lengths), or her 1:47.10 carrying 117 over a sloppy Monmouth track in the G1 Haskell Invitational? What about her geared down 20 ¼ length win in the G1 Kentucky Oaks, going 1:48.87—maybe not time-wise on par, but certainly in terms of visual impressiveness? And let’s not even forget Zenyatta’s masterful win in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Neither female delivered a performance as good as Quality Road’s Donn victory? You are absolutely right—they each delivered BETTER performances (plural). Seriously, my perception of a horse's performance is not all about the man-made construct known as BEYER SPEED FIGURES (large letters to magnify their importance as the greatest contribution to handicapping and horse racing since, well, pari-mutuel wagering). Yes, I'm being factious.
As an excellent example of why falling for hyped horses, particularly 3-year-olds this time of year, is an exercise in futility, I give you Eightyfiveinafifty. Lightning-quick in a 6 furlong maiden effort at Aqueduct on January 9, recording the highest Beyer (!) of any 3-year-old thus far, he entered the 8.5 furlong Whirlaway Stakes this past Saturday a huge favorite—and proceeded to bolt to the outer rail where he crashed through it, dumping his jockey Jorge Chavez and jumping another fence on his way back to the barn. Becky rightly asks, how do we analyze his Triple Crown prospects? Honestly, from his breeding alone, I think it is highly doubtful he can get 10 furlongs, so while he may be exciting to watch and certainly to root for when he returns to the track, I would frankly be shocked to see him at the post come the first Saturday in May.
If Janet Patton’s story in the Lexington Herald-Leader is factual, then Ahmed Zayat is a bigger jerk than his megalomaniac naming of his horses indicates. Collecting $2.75 million on an insurance policy for Thorn Song who may or may not be dead, when trainer Mike Mitchell claims there’s a “small chance” the horse may have run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile when insurance company check indicated the horse was already dead? Wow, talk about brass balls, and heartless, to boot! Seriously, Thorn Song had fans who would have appreciated knowing of his passing...godspell, gutsy grey beauty.