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Jan 15, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            The Eclipse Awards for the 2009 racing year will be held on Monday, January 18, 2010 at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, California. This year, however, the awards are much more interesting in year’s past. The top award for the 2009 Horse of the Year is up for grabs between two female horses that captivated the racing world in 2009. RACHEL ALEXANDRA and ZENYATTA were the only two finalists for this award and the backing seems to be split right down the middle.

            ZENYATTA who is undefeated in her career at 14 for 14 had a very good year going 5 for 5 but ended the year with a big win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic defeating the males for the first time in her career. Her dynamic finish through the lane as she altered course was breath taking and actually gave her a shot at Horse of the Year. Before that race the Horse of the Year was clearly RACHEL ALEXANDRA’S alone. RACHEL ALEXANDRA had a brilliant year going 8 for 8 with three wins against the males, one of those wins coming against older males in the Woodward Handicap at Saratoga. Her two other Grade I wins for the year came by 20 ¼ lengths in the Kentucky Oaks and 19 ¼ lengths in the Mother Goose. Her eight races came at seven different racetracks and covered six states. ZENYATTA on the other hand race only in California over synthetic surfaces and never left the state to race. ZENYATTA is now 14 for 14 in her career but lets hope those who voted didn’t vote on her career rather than on her year in 2009 versus that of RACHEL ALEXANDRA. We will find out on January 18th, 2010 as the Eclipse Awards are being broadcast on TVG starting at 7 PM ET. However, some rumors out of California are that ZENYATTA’S career may not be over as she has had some published workouts, it would be interesting to see if the awards have any bearing on what her connections decide to do.

            Moving on to some rather disturbing news in racing. During the running of the fifth race at Phildelphia Park on January 8th, 2010, two jockeys decided to take it upon themselves to settle a fight on the racetrack while riding in the middle of the race. Jockeys Eriluis Vaz and Ademar Santos got into it as they entered the backstretch. Vaz, who was riding DIVINE LIGHT came out into Santos mount, MI HELENA. Santos turned toward Vaz and said something to him. Vaz then hit Santos with a punch, Santos swung back which Vaz then hit Santos with his whip. After that the horses separated and there were no further incidents during the race. As of this writing, I have not seen anything which told of what punishments have been handed out as of yet. Both jockeys need to face severe punishments with Vaz clearly deserving more fines and or suspension. These two jockeys not only put themselves and their horses at risk but the rest of the jockeys and horses also were put in harms way. Not to mention the owners and trainers that entered these horses that were not given a top effort but their riders and could have easily caused harm to these horses. In addition to the disaster that could have occurred on the racetrack there was the fact that the public is betting on these races and clearly didn’t get a proper effort from either rider. Philadelphia Park needs to take swift and stern action and the other states should follow suit not allowing these riders on their grounds for a substantial amount of time; a year or so is a good starting point.

            On the positive side of things at Philadelphia Park since the slots have come in are the large fields, the quality of horses and the good betting opportunities. Just recently on Sunday January 10th they had a carryover of $99,084 which was finally hit paying $49,853. The large competitive fields allowed that to happen as they don’t get much on a daily basis in their pick six pool. New York and the other surrounding states that are not currently running a racino will have a lot of competition from Philadelphia for the years to come.


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