Sunday, October 26, 2008

Breeders Cup XXV Conclusion

"None of [the Euros] are right for this spot." That's probably the second least accurate thing I'll write this year, still squarely behind "With apologies to the connections of Ichabad Crane, Ready’s Echo and Da’Tara, the 140th Belmont Stakes is a three-horse race." 2 minutes and Raven's Pass-Henrythenavigator exacta later, and what have we got?

A veritable mess for horse racing. Five races were on Pro Ride yesterday, and while we know Midnight Lute can handle anything you throw at him (much like Zenyatta on Friday), the other four races produced results that either probably or clearly would not have happened on conventional dirt. I'm sorry, but there's no way that the Marathon or Classic shake out the way they do with Euro winners and American dirt horses flopping on the dirt, just like Ventura won the F&M Sprint solely because it was a synthetic and she's great over that type of surface. It's a little tougher to conclude that Albertus Maximus and Midshipman were just synthetic freaks, much like Stardom Bound the day before; the first is a decent horse all around while the latter two are still improving 2yos.

But still: that's 8 synthetic races, of which somewhere between 2 and 5 were actually analogous to dirt. That's just not acceptable to the fans, and it's not going to be acceptable to the owners and trainers. The real result of this Breeders Cup isn't going to be who's Horse of the Year between Curlin and Zenyatta (note the absence of Big Brown right now from the discussion), nor is the big story going to be Midshipman's emergence or Goldikova's amazing finish or Conduit's scintillating Turf. All of these will get lost in the ether come next year behind the fact that we'll see even worse participation by East Coast horses if they keep next year's races over synthetics. And fewer dollars will be bet. (Yeah the economy's part of that, but myself and at least 4 others I know scaled back our wagering significantly. Why bet on someting that makes dirt form meaningless?)

As a final note, it's great for the connections of Raven's Pass that they won the race (and gives us a filmsy excuse to run a picture of his owner, the beautiful Princess Haya of Jordan), but I don't buy that he and Henrythenavigator are suddenly 3 times more valuable as sires. Unless you're looking for a horse to run on a synthetic surface, the winner's meaningless. Those two horses would have been thumped by Curlin had the race been over conventional dirt.


Anonymous said...

great post, I felt the exact same way after watching the races. The Classic was run almost exactly the same way as the Turf-- Eagle Mountain and Curlin each made their run at the top of the stretch and got caught later. If that race is on dirt maybe Raven's Pass and Henrythenavigator clunk up late for a piece, but they would've been lengths behind Curlin. And like you, I dramatically scaled back my bets, mainly sticking to turf races.

Anonymous said...

How could you possibly neglect to mention how one of the jurors from the Ted Stevens trial skipped out on deliberations in order to attend the Breeders Cup? That kind of juice would be right up your alley!