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Nov 25, 2009

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            The big debate after the Breeders’ Cup was who should be Horse of the Year? ZENYATTA just beat the boys in the biggest race of the year, however, that can be debated because it is over synthetic surfaces. She ran her record to 14 for 14 and 5 for 5 for the year. We are going to give you our reasons for who we think should be Horse of the Year.

  1. RACHEL ALEXANDRA- This three year old filly was 8 for 8 in 2009 winning five Grade I races and defeating the boys three times, once against older males at Saratoga in the Woodward despite plenty of early pressure. Her big splash this year was in the Kentucky Oaks in which she won the race by more than 20 geared down lengths. She was then privately purchased and came right back in the Preakness two weeks later and was very game to the wire defeating the Kentucky Derby winner MINE THAT BIRD by a length. She came back about six weeks later in the Grade I Mother Goose and scored by a ridiculously easy 19 ¼ length score over just two rivals. She then came back five weeks later in the Grade I Haskell and easily defeated the boys again by six lengths. They skipped the Travers and instead waited until September 5th to run against the males again and held on by a head after taking pressure throughout some very solid fractions. She was done racing for the year according to her connections because her owner, Jess Jackson, didn’t want to run over what one of my good friends calls it “the fake track”. He had enough of the fake track last year when a mediocre turf horse beat the best horse in the world, his horse, CURLIN in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. She clearly had done enough to win Horse of the Year and should be given that honor.
  2. ZENYATTA- Is clearly second in the Horse of the Year running. She showed why she is a champion with her win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic over GIO PONTI who should win Turf male but that may go to CONDUIT who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf in his only start in this country this year. ZENYATTA is great, she is undefeated for her career but this is Horse of the Year not Horse of Career. She was beating up on some very suspect fillies and mares before her big effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Not to take anything away from her but this was done over synthetics, 13 of her 14 starts have come over synthetics. She never left her home base in California when RACHEL ALEXANDRA ran over seven racetracks, fast tracks, sloppy tracks etc. If they give ZENYATTA Horse of the Year by that token they should have given it to RAVENS PASS last year. She had one race this year that would impact the Horse of the Year honors when RACHEL ALEXANDRA can point to five races that were standouts. They are two great horses but RACHEL ALEXANDRA deserves if for her “year” of work.


On Thursday November 19th at Aqueduct two races were taken off the turf. Not a big deal right? Well it is a big deal when those races are taken off the turf after the pick six started and with about 6 mins to the start of the pick 4. NYRA had three races scheduled to go on the turf that day. The 4th, 7th and the 9th. After the fourth race apparently some of the jockeys didn’t feel it was safe to run over the turf course so they refused to ride the turf.  These are very good points as we want to see the safest journeys for the horses and riders and wouldn’t want them to race over a course they didn’t deem safe. However, between the fourth and fifth races is where the change should have been made. The 6th race was a dirt race, the 7th was on the turf if they didn’t want to ride then simply make that decision before the fifth, giving ample to the trainers who had horses in those races for the turf to scratch and more importantly the bettors the much needed ample time to make their changes in their pick 4 bets. The late pick 4 pool is generally the largest pool at NYRA on any given day so to have that pool in chaos doesn’t make one bit of sense. I was ready to play a pick 4 that day but when the change was made I didn’t play one. How would I know who was scratching out of the other two races in enough time to make an educated play. Because the announcement was made before the pick 4 regardless of the amount of time before those two turf races didn’t become “all” races. This forced me not to play and I am sure many others as the pick 4 pool only had $110,000 compared to $133,000. The pick 6 that day even though there were many tickets with 6 winners it only paid $109.50 because of some old law on the books that wouldn’t allow them to pay out the bulk of the pool. Instead some how there was a carryover into the next day. This is bad business practices when it comes to the pick 4 I understand they are up against it in the pick six but these laws have to be changed. The bettor always loses out and again in this instance they did again. One day the powers that be will understand this and do something right for once.

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