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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer of My Discontent

After perusing various media outlets and blogs, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must be the only person in the world not thrilled to see Rachel Alexandra running at Monmouth on Saturday. After such a tremendously ambitious campaign following her purchase last year, why are her connections satisfied with being so unbelievably conservative now? I don’t want to see her running against a bunch of no-name fillies and mares in the non-graded Lady’s Secret, regardless how much it might do for the morale of New Jerseyans or fit some ridiculously artificial date which the Sheets suggests she should run on. If she is truly healthy, then Rachel Alexandra should be running in the G1 Ruffian at Saratoga on August 1—or, better yet, the G1 Whitney on August 7. I guess I just expect more from a reigning Horse of the Year.

And, speaking of not meeting expectations, it’s nice to see Zenyatta’s connections pretty much sticking with the same non-imaginative campaign they took last year—continuing to run her against inferior competition, against her own sex rather than in open company. Instead of the G1 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar on July 29, why don’t they send her in the G1 Pacific Classic on August 19? With Rail Trip moved to the barn of Rick Dutrow, are there any top male handicap horses left in California to challenge her? Better yet, why isn’t she coming to Saratoga for the Ruffian or Whitney? Their reasoning, much like Jess Jackson’s, is so contrived I frankly just don’t give a damn anymore. Of course, I still love to see them run. However, they aren’t the center of my horse racing world any longer, that’s why, as one anonymous commenter inquired recently, I haven’t blog about either one of late. Until the two actually meet on the track, the whole argument is moot, isn’t it? It doesn’t look like that is going to happen any time soon—and too much can happen between now and November.

She may not be a world-beater or even a classic distance contender, but I just love 2-year-old Twelve Pack Shelly. Not surprisingly, this daughter of Deputy Storm loves to break on the lead and run away with races. I like that trainer John Salzman, Jr. has entrusted her to wily veteran Harry Vega, and that he’s not afraid to place her in open company. After setting a new track record for 5.5 furlongs at Laurel in her maiden effort on April 8 (in winning by nearly 11 lengths), she next finished third—a neck behind runner-up Boys at Tosconova and 1-1/2 lengths behind Lou Brissie—in the G3 Kentucky Juvenile on April 20. Boys at Tosconova next won a maiden special weight at Belmont by a dominating 12 lengths, and Lou Brissie finished a distant second behind Kantharos in the G3 Bashford Manor. We’ll see on Sunday if Lou Brissie recovers from that defeat, as he’s entered in the G2 Sanford at Saratoga. Meanwhile, Twelve Pack Shelly failed against Final Mesa in the Polly Drummond on May 15, having fallen to her knees breaking from the gate, completely throwing her out of contention. She came back to win an open company allowance race at Presque Isle on Friday. Again, she’s probably destined for a sprint career, but what a sharp horse!

Ditto for Final Mesa, a 2-year-old filly that trainer Wesley Ward calls “something very, very special” and “probably the best I've ever trained and I've trained some nice horses.” She was scratched out of Friday’s G3 Schuylerville in favor of stablemate Spa Sunrise, as the goal has apparently always been to run her in the G3 Sorrento at Del Mar on August 6. Watch her last victory in the My Dear at Woodbine, and put her on your watch list:

Speaking of watch lists, make sure to add Buzz Babies 2010, edited by Jessica Chapel (Railbird), to your must-reads if you are interested in 2-year-olds. And, in a blatant attempt at self-promotion, I also draw your attention to my post on First-Time Starters and Juvenile Pedigree Angles over at Hello Race Fans! If you paid attention to my warning about looking at dams, you would have hit the $71.70 exacta in Friday’s Schuylerville as quick research at Equibase reveals that the dams of both Le Mi Geaux and Stopspendingmaria won over sloppy or muddy tracks, unlike any other competitors in the field. I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing over there of late, including pieces on All-Weather Sires and Turf Pedigrees (with little tidbits like bet Kitten’s Joy progeny on wet turf—such as Kathern’s Kitten who won race 2 at Saratoga on Friday, paying $17.20).


Jessica said...

Thanks for the link, Valerie.

I always enjoy watching Rachel Alexandra, but this may have been the first time I felt no thrill. What next for her? A grade one, please.

suebroux said...

Juveniles/first-time starters are fun and potentially lucrative, indeed. I was especially intrigued with Le Mi Geaux - didn't exactly enjoy the whopping exacta though. But there will be no sneering over $20!

Thanks for pointing me to Jessica's link. I noted she listed Lady Giacamo, who ran down at Lone Star during the past meet. One might also consider Aces N Kings, an undefeated 2-year-old sprinter; very speedy. Of course, you'd have a little trouble unraveling his pedigree, as his sire is Jet Phone, a teaser. I think he's his only offspring!

sid fernando said...

Well put, Val.

tvnewsbadge said...

Both Rachel and Zenyatta's camps have bigger fish to fry... the BC Classic.
hat's really the only race that matters this year, so why burn them out?

Gary said...

If everyone and everything is honest Rachael and Zenyatta's connections don't want to look at a loss at this point. They want the opportunity for a big race and feel a loss will deflate the bubble they've created. They'll stick their neck out once this year but it will have to be for the race for all the marbles.