Strictly from a handicappers perspective, horses generally improve off their first back from a layoff if that race was not a stellar performance. From what I understand, Zenyatta did something like a 102 Beyer, and Rachel did a 100. Both horses are capable of improving off those efforts, but the fact Zenyatta won means she is more likely to bounce a little (meaning she may not improve as much as Rachel Alexandra next time out, if at all, and may even decline a little).
Reports were that Rachel Alexandra was 80% going in, and Calvin Borel was told to ride her like the race was a prep. OK, the way horse racing works for most horses is that if a horse is 80%, then runs a route race, especially, there is a huge shot that in three weeks, the horse will be anywhere between 90-100% going into the next race.
Rachel Alexandra running style is perfect for a dirt track, while Zenyatta's style is perfect for a track made from artificial substances. It is a huge if that Zenyatta can even be a Grade 1 horse on a dirt track, because stone cold come from behinders generally only do well if suicidal fractions occur (though Zenyatta did win the Apple Blossom last year against average to fast early fractions, it is rare for horses to kick in every time consistently). It is sort of hit and miss. In other words, on the dirt, Rachel at 90% would most likely have beaten Zenyatta at 100%. The reverse would be true on a plastic track.
Horse racing desperately needed this match up, it would have been fantastic momentum that would be carried through to the Triple Crown and then possible rematches between these two exceptional mares.
And who knows if one match up will ever happen now. Horses get hurt. It is a fact of life. Schedules don't have to mesh again this year, and each of these two horses are one bad step away from retirement.
Jess Jackson now joins Frank Stronach and David Willmot as well as many others as being very bad for growing horse racing in the Big Ego and Little Else Club.
I agree with Bill Finley most of the time, but he is out to lunch in his latest article where he says that passing the Apple Blossom was the right thing for Rachel and Jess to do.
Rumour: Chantal Sutherland Engaged To Mike Smith
Roger Stein reported this on his radio show yesterday (early on in the broadcast). He wonders if Sutherland will come to Woodbine to race, though last reports are that she will. But there is also a rumour from a few sources that she will ride at Del Mar come July.
If she does wind up doing this it will be a huge blow to Woodbine, because she is one of the few bright spots Woodbine has to offer.
Financially, she would be much better off riding at Woodbine, but once in a while love overrides income.
Fort Erie backstretch opens today. Opening Day coincides with the Kentucky Derby which is May 1st this year. No news on who is going to manage the place July 1st.
Almost Missed This Story Entirely (From March 10th):
Windsor Raceway is in the market for a new race secretary after Paul Brown, who has held the position since 2006, had his licence indefinitely revoked by the Ontario Racing Commission. Although no details for the cause of Brown’s suspension were released, an ORC ruling issued Feb. 10 indicated the suspension went into effect Feb. 1 and by order of the ORC, Brown may not submit a licence application for at least two years.
The ORC is also involved with an investigation into alleged race fixing in the state of Michigan. Last week, Michigan State Police executed search warrants at three homes relating to alleged race-fixing at three Michigan tracks - Hazel Park Raceway, Northville Downs and Sports Creek Raceway. Though the police said in a statement that as many as 30 people could be involved in the alleged scandal, according to an industry source, only one person was taken in by police and that person has since been released from custody. “The (Michigan) Gaming Control Board is in place to ensure the integrity of our 75 year old family industry, and we applaud their efforts to eliminate participants whose actions tarnish the reputations of thousands of hard working Michigan families that call horse racing their way of life,” Michigan Harness Horse Association president Brett Boyd said in a statement on the MHHA web site. At this point, there has been no indication that any Ontario horsepeople or Ontario track is involved with the investigation, although several Michigan horsepeople race regularly at Windsor Raceway.
For some reason Standardbred Canada looks like they missed it.
Harness Horseman Gets 20 Years For Shipping Meth Ingredients to Canada and the US
OK, lets leave today's post on a light note. Two very funny scenes from Seinfeld from the episode The Subway:
Classic Kramer whipping himself during a race. Every true horseplayer has done this at least once in their life: