October 15, 2008

Breeders' Cup teaser

Big Brown may be out for the Classic, but come next Saturday I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know if I'll be back again. The allure of seeing Curlin race in person again was just too much to resist. I previously saw the colt last spring at Oaklawn Park dominating other three year-olds. After all, the 25th anniversary of what John Forsythe (of "Dynasty" fame) originally coined as "Racing's Greatest Day" is about so much more than a two horse confrontation that wasn't meant to be. This culmination of the year's greatest equine performers has evolved into two days of truly world class thoroughbreds, thus, aptly renamed the "World Championships" of horse racing. Considering that picturesque Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California is one of the last remaining iconic racing venues I have yet to attend, what a way to check this one off my bucket list!

It's hard to believe that only one horse has ever successfully defending his Classic victory, back when Tiznow grittily held off Giant's Causeway and Sakhee en route to winning back to back Classic titles. Will that be Curlin's destiny on a synthetic surface where he's never even raced? Or will he face a similar fate to Unbridled, Cigar and Pleasantly Perfect, who all finished third trying to defend their Classic triumph? Curlin will certainly have to earn this victory with the likes of Go Between, Colonel John and the intriguing Japanese import Casino Drive, who was forced to scratch the week of the Belmont Stakes back in June. Win or lose (in my opinion, only if he loses), owner Jess Jackson stated he very well may race one more time before concluding his monumental career.

The other standout race, at least on paper, will be the Distaff, er... "Ladies Classic" by its proper name. Zenyatta tries to keep her unbeaten streak alive against rivals Hystericalady and Ginger Punch. Can you still call it a rivalry if one mare has dominated the same fields again and again? As an Arkansas Razorbacks fan, I have to loosely apply the term "rivalry." But seriously, this is one time I would have liked to see her connections go against conventional wisdom and give this monster mare a chance against the boys in the Classic. If the three year-old filly Eight Belles (God rest her soul) could trounce a decent group of boys (sans Big Brown), I would think that a more mature and physically imposing Zenyatta could hold her own against this group. But, they didn't ask this guy's opinion.

Finally, the Filly and Mare Turf division may be the deepest field of them all, with a nice blend of U.S. based runners and European invaders. The various ruling families of Dubai will be represented, as will top English and Irish operations, who traditionally do especially well in the Turf races. However, this year the synthetic surface is also likely to play into the imports hands since grass horses can generally translate success to the non-traditional surfaces as well.

I will have more specific tips/comments on most Breeders' Cup races middle of next week, after I have time to study the official entrants' charts that will be announced tomorrow. Just a reminder to my "bettor" friends that the DRF will be selling full past performances of all entries by the end of day tomorrow, giving you over a week to fine tune your handicapping... dangerous for sure! And for those of you without a local track or OTB nearby, please refer to the link below at www.bodoglife.com .


Horse Racing

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