Ladies First: Part One

By Michael-Louis Ingram, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: November 10, 2009

PHILADELPHIA (BASN) — Once again the sports world went to the post as thoroughbred racing took center stage with the 25th edition of the Breeders’ Cup.

As in last year’s event, the venue was Santa Anita Race Track, a blessing for fans, but a potential curse for many handicappers since the switch to Pro Ride, a synthetic surface which, in my humble opinion, doesn’t offer any pattern of consistency in charting and handicapping a horse’s progress from one race to the next.

The fact that this venue sports an artificial surface is the sole reason for the quirkiest of quirks – the front runner for Horse of the Year sat out the event because of the plastic track.

Her Royal Highness, Rachel Alexandra, Dominatrix of Dirt and Warrior Queen of all Thoroughbreds, had forced the hand of her greatest rival, “Lady Z,”aka Zenyatta, in defeating the top male competitors, assuring her strong consideration for Horse of the Year.

Zenyatta, who had run an amazing 13 for 13 in her career to tie the great Personal Ensign, knew it would not be enough to win the Ladies Classic; her handlers knew she would have to run in the BC Classic against the “Bird Brothers” (Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird), and win so the world could say, “Let the debate for Horse of the Year begin.”

New Format

The format for this Cup was expanded from previous events, with 14 feature races spread out over an entire weekend.

Friday was designated as “Ladies Day,” with six Cup races filling out the day’s card. Saturday brought out the males (and the ladies that would dare run against them) for eight races, with the finale being the BC Classic.

The betting was hot and heavy, with over $144 million wagered over the weekend and ticket prices were scaled down to insure a good gate; a total of 96,000 attending the Cup made it clear someone was paying attention to the economy…

In addition to the punters’ new best friend, the ten – cent superfecta box, there was separate betting on which jockey will score the most victories – simply another chance to place a couple of bucks on who would be the best of the best astride the Noble Beast this past weekend.

Recap (Friday)

Win: Garrett Gomez again showed everyone why he is arguably the best jockey riding today, at the very least in North America, with a ground saving ride on Zenyatta stable mate Life Is Sweet to take the Ladies Classic for trainer John Sherriffs.

Sherriffs would go on to capture a rare trainer’s double with Zenyatta’s BC Classic win!

As great as Gomez was in the Classic, rider Robert Landry‘s ride on Careless Jewel was horrible. He guns ‘Jewel to the front, continues to run her in suicide fractions while she jumped out to an eight length lead; as he attempted to throttle her speed down, it was too late and the field swooped by the spent ‘Jewel.

Place : On Friday, The Cup poureth over with value from the very beginning in the BC Marathon.

Rosemary Homeister, Jr. rocked the house on her very first Cup mount, riding Cloudy’s Knight, who, at the age of nine, was the oldest horse running in the event.

“Junior” and Cloudy’s Knight almost stole the race, nipped by John Murtagh and Man of Iron at the wire by a nose hair – and a couple of boogers.

Show : Nice ride by Mike Smith on longest shot Free Flying Soul, who ran third to Julien “The Werewolf” Leparoux and Informed Decision in the Filly/Mare Sprint. Smith got “Soul” out to the front and put her in good position to hold on for show at 35-1.

Saturday

Win: Zenyatta’s win was a given; but it deserves separate consideration on merit and we’ll elaborate more on that in Part II. A tie in the Win category as another female, Goldikova, became a repeat winner as she again spanked the boys at the TVG BC Mile on the Santa Anita turf.

“Goldi” and jockey Olivier Peslier could be back a third time next year at Churchill Downs for a record setting precedent.

And a tip of the hat to jockey Ahmed Atjebi, who came flying on time with 20 – 1 morning line bomb Vale of York to head favorite Lookin at Lucky and Gomez at the wire in the BC Juvenile.

Place: While Goldikova did her thing in the Mile, she had to come from the clouds as our Long Shot Special, Courageous Cat and Gomez almost stole the show with a nice four-wide move from Empire City’s Cat Cave at the top of the stretch…

Show: Tyler Baze and 24-1 shot Cost of Freedom sneaked into a traffic jam finish in the Sentient Jet BC Sprint, capping off a tote bomb explosion with Joel Rosario and 12 – 1 shot Dancing in Silks on top of ‘Freedom and 16-1 Crown of Thorns.

Next Time: More “Girl Talk” as the ladies get serious – The Warrior Queen versus the Undefeated Queen – who is the Undisputed Queen of Royal Badness?