Saturday, November 06, 2010
I root for the New England Patriots. I’m still quite sour over the 2008 Super Bowl against the New York Giants when New England lost and thus finished the season 18-1. When I talk to my father about that game: 1.) I still say I’m not over it and 2.) I say that it was the worst 18-1 season in the history of sport.
How did Eli Manning not go down on that play? How did David Tyree make that catch, and why didn’t New England’s Rodney Harrison whack the ball off Tyree’s helmet?! Perhaps he was as shocked as anybody that: 1.) Eli Manning, who I have grown to like, but revered him as a puppy that season, somehow avoided a sack and 2.) What the %*#$!
I say all this and bring this up because it is my feeling that after 6 P.M. today we may be looking at the most disappointing 19-1 horse racing career the sport has ever seen. It pains me to say it and boy, oh, boy, do I hope I’m wrong, but I think Zenyatta loses today. It’s not a dirt thing. It’s not an East Coast thing. It’s a numbers thing. The horses she’s running against are true dirt horses and a lot of them are very, VERY good. Namely, Quality Road.
Now, for the two followers I have, you may remember that a couple of weeks ago I wrote that I called Quality Road Scott Norwood and called him choke job. After looking at the sheets he is several lengths better than every horse in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Earlier in the year he ran the lowest number that Thoro-Graphs Jerry Brown et al have ever issued in a negative 7. Never been done. Not only that, but it didn’t take that much out of him. He was freshened up and ran a negative 5 in the Met Mile. Freshened up for a few more weeks? He runs a negative 3. Four weeks, his shortest rest of the year, he still runs a negative 2.
That does look like downward form but with the bullets he’s been breezing (4f in 48.60 at Churchill Dows on Halloween and a 5f 1:01.42 move at Belmont) and having not run since the Woodward over two months ago, he promises to match that negative 2 if not surge past it to a 3 or 4. He gets the 1-hole which could be trouble, but with the turf horse Paddy O’Prado and Haynesfield to his left, jockey John Velazquez should be able to get off the fence and into the clear and not get bottled in. I don’t think Quality Road will get hung up in a speed duel with those two horses and First Dude (who will run huge, just watch, think Hard Spun in 2007, our last dirt cup).
Where that negative 2 may not seem monstrous, it’s is the best by many lengths over any of the horse below him, namely Zenyatta. She’s never run faster than a negative 1 and she did that at Hollywood earlier this year. She followed that with a positive 1 and a negative 1/4 . She is wildly consistent but usually follows a “negative” effort with a slightly “positive” effort ... and in the land of Thoro-Graphs, that’s bad.
These figures do account for ground loss and we all know that she suffers from ground loss.
So who figures to be the Eli Manning of this Classic? The Tyree? The Plaxico Burress? The Manning will undoubtedly be First Dude, eluding the pressure but setting the pace, the tone. Tryee will be Haynesfield, a front-runner who will, no doubt, assist Quality Road by being sent close to the front thereby allowing Burress — Quality Road — to catch the game-winning touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone.
The Patriots threw bomb after bomb in their last attempt at trying to score in the Super Bowl. It was certainly questionable strategy but it was symbolic: this is a prayer. Four downs, four Hail Marys.
Coming down the lane Zenyatta will have four downs to score and she can’t settle for a field goal.
And if Zenyatta loses she will fall short of the grand comparison with the greatest mares of all time. I’m sure folks will chime in about her California insulation, that her wins — albeit in spectacular fashion — weren’t against the type of competition that will rank her in that tier revered for the Hall of Fame of Hall of Famers. If she wins, well, this 20th race will, no doubt, be her greatest triumph. But I see too much 2007 New England and not enough 2007 New York.
My fear is that her run in the Classic and her run at an undefeated career will come up short and she’ll be remembered more for failing in the big game — despite the courageous efforts of jockey Mike Smith, trainer John Shirreffs, and owners Jerry and Ann Moss — than by being the greatest mare of all time.
Like I said, I hope I’m wrong.
Written by Brendan O'Meara
Friday, November 05, 2010
Carryover 2.0 BC LADIES DAY LIVE BLOG
Horse Race Insider's Brendan O'Meara live blogs from a hotel room in Saratoga Springs, New York for his buddy's bachelor party. The forecast calls for extended periods of horse playing, temperatures in the mid-to-upper sixties, and a 100 percent chance of hilarity. Grab a seat on the couch. The beer's on ice!
5:56 a.m. ... Not sure why I should start this now, but I'm looking at my Thoro-Graphs and I'm feelin' all kinds of good about this day. I've also got a column to write for 2.0 that will be broadcast on tape delay. What that means, exactly, I don't know.
In either case, it's raining here in 'Toga and while it would be nice to be in Louisville in that gorgeous press box, there's no place I'd rather be than right here, right now. Let's get this thing rollin'. Wendall???? You with me today???? Beulah's done! Get it together! Let's break out Limp Bizkit's song "Rollin'" because we've got Rollllllin' Pick 3's and some Pick 4's to hit.
Who's with me?!
8:41 a.m. ... Got back from the gym. I'm going to hammer away at my column and then it's back to handicapping. I think I'd better throw up some picks on this blog. Stay tuned.
8:58 a.m. ... Just finished my column. It's a doozy and will, without question, tick off some people. But a columnist is not doing his job if half his readership isn't hating him. My problem is that 100 percent of my readership are haters (not complete true, but I do love how one person said that I need to work on my prose when I said that rooting for Zenyatta is like rooting for the flu. I don't know. I thought it was funny. Opinion writing ain't prose. Read "Six Weeks in Saratoga: How a Three-Year-Old Filly Won the Woodward Stakes and Became Horse of the Year"
and then talk to me about prose. If you hate that, then, well, that's my prose writing style. And I'll be open to suggestion.)
10:30 a.m. ... Marathon picks:
2. A.U. Minor
Try it out.
10:53 a.m. ... Got some Juvenile Fillies Turf for y'all.
I'm going with Julien Leparoux here for the win.
2. Quiet Oasis
3. New Normal.
Go on, take a bite.
11:10 a.m. ... Got some Filly and Mare Sprint Picks.
1. Sara Louise (don't feel strong about this, but what the Hell!)
2. Dubai Majesty
3. Secret Gypsy.
Ready to make some money? No. There's always a Taco Bell nearby.
11:32 a.m. ... Been nursing a Sam Adams Chocolate Bock. Not bad. Ready to imbibe some more, but not after I post my Juvenile Fillies picks.
1. Awesome Feather
2. Theysken's Theory
3. R Heat Lightning
12:07 p.m. ... I am at Taco Bell. Ominous coming here BEFORE we lose. I think this is what you call foreshadowing. But my gang and I have our burritos, or PPs, our TGs.
U! S! A! U! S! A!
2:00 p.m. ... All right. The keg is tapped, our bets are placed, it's BC time. The real kicker is we don't have the first couple races of the early Pick 4 at Churchill. But that's OK! We have the interweb and we'll stream some replays and see what happens. You probably want me to throw down some picks. Well, I won't disappoint.
Filly and Mare Turf. Sorry Forever Together, you've had a great go of it, but no more. You're getting beat by:
2. Eclaire de Lune
Ladies Classic, but let's call it was it is, the BC Distaff. As an aside, how bad would Rachel Alexandra monstered this group? Especially if Life At Ten wins. But she won't. Here's who will:
1. Malibu Prayer
2. Unrivaled Belle
3. Blind Luck
3:13 p.m. ... Noble's Promise kind of screwed us there. I liked Bulldogger and Cool Bullet and Noble's Promise. With the NP win we are alive to the singled Calizeo in the fifth.
I find it funny that Silver Edition is running in this race. This horse's success — when he's had, and it's not often — has all been in sprints. Now he's being asked to stretch to 1 1/16th miles. It's as if D. Wayne, when all else fails, turns to Silver Edition to bring him to a race day.
I guarantee he will not win this race!
3:32 p.m. ... Worst. Breeders' Cup. Ever. Apart! Damn you! Apart! Calizeo failed. But you read it here. Silver Edition did not win. Now it's onto BC races. The undercard is for chumps.
4:08 p.m. ... Good Ol' Pete and I have been sittin' on the porch, sippin' on Miller Lite, smokin' a couple stogies. Now that's livin'. Also livin' would be hitting the marathon with Giant Oak, Alcomo, and Prince Will I Am. Trevor Denman ... take me away!
4:17 p.m. ... That's a stinger. I liked Eldaafer, and we had him in other tickets, but because of that rat Apart (I'm sorry Apart. I can be so cruel) we didn't have him on this ticket.
Whoa! Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano are going at it. Borel is out of his mind! This is ugly stuff. This is great theater. Best. Breeders' Cup. Ever!
I've never seen anything quite like this.
We just got to talking about how boring the Marathon is. Borel was certainly effected by the move Castellano made. Martin Garcia's horse showed some amazing athleticism. So too did Garcia.
Now the No. 2 is DQ'd.
Unreal stuff here at the BC World Championships!
4:31 p.m. ... great commercial by Three Chimneys. If I could only scrap together a few million.
4:48 p.m. ... All right. Got Quiet Oasis, Kathmandu, and New Normal in an exacta box. It ain't much. But it's something. Should be a good race.
5:03 p.m. ... Two races, two races, you do the math. More Than Real ran a game race.
When I have cable, which I haven't had in years, I watch Food Network. I'm a Food Network junkie. I love "Throw Down" with Bobby Flay and he loses every time. Looks like he won big here.
Late Pick 4! Late Pick 4! Late Pick 4!
5:32 p.m. ... Getting read for the F&M Sprint. Can't believe Sara Louise is the favorite. This is her second race of the year. Seems like an unsound horse. I'm a big fan of Secret Gypsy, Dubai Majesty, and Champaigne d'Oro. Though, I have Sara Louis for my official HRI pick. I don't have her on my ticket. Will this backfire? Most likely.
5:41 p.m. ... Thank you Dubai Majesty. We are now alive to the next three legs of the Pick 4 three deep in each leg. All you can ask is to be alive.
7:27 p.m. ... Had some Internet problems. Shared Account really messed things up. We needed Midday to be alive in our Pick 4 and two Pick 3s. Life is a bit on the sucky side, but we're like Zenyatta: we're starting slow and finishing strong. We plan on raining hell fire on the boys Saturday.
Well, I'd like to think that I'll hit this exacta with Malibu Prayer, Blind Luck, and Unrivaled Belle.
7:47 p.m. ... Everyone, I demand a standing ovation! I hit the exacta for $1! Wowee! That's $27! That means I'm only down a little over $100. That may not seem like much, but to a writer with little to no income, that's still an onion in the ointment. But we come back! What don't kill us make us more strong!
Too many exclamation points? You bet!
Written by Brendan O'Meara
Friday, October 22, 2010
Trick or Treat? Treat!
“ ... All this and Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes.”
Horse racing's worst bet will be viewed over 13 million people on Halloween and she won’t be asking for Snickers, Kit-Kats, or Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups. Zenyatta will breeze onto CBS for a piece on 60 Minutes.
Who gets the by-line? Morley Safer? Steve Croft? Anderson Coope
r? It doesn’t matter because this will be seen by more people than the World Series.
The Paulick Report, always eager to slip a ‘Z’ into a headline broadcasted the news “Zixty MinuteZ.” Almost as good as “Zeventeen.” Gives me a craving for FroZted FlakeZ.
What’s amazing about what Zenyatta’s done for her connections is that she has drowned out her owner’s 2005 Kentucky Derby win with Giacomo. Zeriously? When was the last time you even thought about Giacomo? All I have to say is that Zenyatta’s win streak will come to a screeching halt if she’s bred to him.
This is bigger than “Secretariat.” This is because it’s topical. She’s alive. She’s racing and she will stomp on the throats of her competitors.
She’ll run into some, ahem, quality horses, namely Quality Road. My feeling is that everyone is waiting for this colt to explode and put it all together on the biggest stage, but something happens to him. If a horse has the capacity to choke it’s Quality Road. He’s like Mitch Williams in the 1993 World Series, Scott Norwood in the Super Bowl, Calvin Borel in the 2009 Belmont Stakes.
Paddy O’Prado’s entry in the Classic confounds me. What’s worth more? Finishing fourth in the Classic or winning the Turf. Let’s do some math.
Zixty percent of $3 million is $1.8 million. Okay. That’s if he wins.
Fourth place in the Classic? $300,000.
A win in the Turf would make him the unofficial winner of the Grand Slam of Grass and would put him right in the mix for Champion Three-Year-Old Male. Sure, he finished third on an offtrack in the Kentucky Derby but that was against Super Saver and Ice Box. What have they done? Trick. Mine That Bird has a better shot at winning the Classic than Paddy.
(Could that have been the worst trainer change in the history of racing? You mean to tell me that Bennie Woolley was doing a worse job than Wayne Lukas is doing with the 2009 Derby winner? Hey, Mr. Allen and Dr. Blach, how’s that day rate treating you?)
If Mine That Bird wins the Dirt Mile I will write my next column in the nude and be the cover model when I launch The Carryover Body Issue just like ESPN The Magazine did
. I can pull that off. Now to get the baby boomers involved ... Don’t forget the hand sanitizer. (Now, there's no complete nudity, but there are de-robed athletes so if there are sensitive eyes now's the time to skip this link. Baby.)
From dirt mile to grass mile, I can’t wait to see Goldikova set the table for Zenyatta. The Mile will be endlessly exciting should Gio Ponti point there. (Him running in last year's Classic over Santa Anita's schizophrenic track was one thing, but REAL dirt. Stick to the sod, buddy.) But there’s no beating Goldikova. Talk about two great singles in your Pick 6 tickets with Goldy and Zen. I can’t talk for all the chalk in my mouth, but you’d be a fool not to have them singled on at least one ticket.
I hope Mike Smith turns Zenyatta loose. This is it. When she straightens out for the final time two weeks from today we may be privy to the most historic quarter mile in the history of racing. And may her hooves whiff over the dirt as quiet as a whippoorwill in flight.
For the readers of this off-beat blog I call The Carryover 2.0 I’d like to announce that I have signed a book contract to publish “Six Weeks in Saratoga: How a Three-Year-Old Filly Won the Woodward Stakes and Became Horse of the Year.”
After some fifteen rejections I found a willing publisher and I am very excited to share this story with readers across this niche and beyond.
Brendan O’Meara is the author of “Six Weeks in Saratoga: How a Three-Year-Old Filly Won the Woodward Stakes and Became Horse of the Year.” It will be published by SUNY Press in the summer of 2011. You can read more at The Blog Itself or visit http://www.brendanomeara.com.
Written by Brendan O'Meara