Vic Zast

From the perspective of being an owner, an industry pioneer in corporate sponsorship, a track president and fan, Vic Zast writes the "Destinations" column for The Blood-Horse. His five-star ratings of international events have shed light on racing in all corners of the globe - from England, Australia, Hong Kong, Dubai to Japan.

Vic is a regular contributor to, a columnist for the Illinois Racing News and has written on racing for, National Public radio and The Age, Australia's leading daily.

Vic makes his home in Chicago and lives in Saratoga Springs in August.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wet Track Tips Sound Familiar

For each Kentucky Derby, a wise-guys selection surfaces on the backside and the spoken-out-of-the-side-of-the-mouth tips begin circulating.

This May much of the hush-hush surrounds Cowtown Cat owed largely to his superior Tomlinson number, a factor that indicates he may like an off-track.

The fillies are set to contest the Kentucky Oaks on Friday and its all but assured that rain will be a factor. Several Oaks contenders showed this morning that a sloppy track wont make a difference to them. Heres what their connections had to say.

She handled the track beautifully, said Heather Stark, exercise rider for Autobahn Girl.

She handled the track great, said E.J. Bowler, exercise rider for Cash Included.

She galloped over the track fantastic, said trainer Wesley Hawley about Dawn After Dawn.

Now, got that?

Written by Vic Zast

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Queen Cometh

When Queen Elizabeth II goes racing in England, she arrives at Royal Ascot in an open carriage drawn by four handsome draft horses.

Old punters pay attention to her long trip down the homestretch in front of the adoring crowd. The slower the Queens journey and the deeper the wheels of her carriage are - the softer the turf course.

Nobody is allowed to touch the Queen, so she must exit from the carriage unassisted. This may pose a bit of a problem if Will Farish, her American host here in Louisville, has arranged for an Escalade to take her to Churchill Downs on Derby day.

That would be the cool way to go. Just ask P. Diddy or Tony Soprano, who travel by this mode instead of a limo. But what do you think the odds of that happening are?

Written by Vic Zast

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Dumb, as in Yum!

An unidentified spokesperson for Yum! Brands, the official presenter of the Kentucky Derby, announced Monday that the company is changing its name to Dumb! Brands.

Actions speak louder than words, the spokesperson said, indicating that the change in name was decided upon after the companys chairman and CEO revealed a $1 million bonus for this years Kentucky Derby winner if the winner exceeds Barbaros 6 length winning margin. As a food service company, were hopping on the Barbaro gravy train, the spokesperson said.

The chairman referred to the bonus as a Yumfecta. His remark sent dictionary experts scrambling to understand why. The proposed change in the company name needs no explanation.

Written by Vic Zast

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Barbaro-mania on Ice

Overtime NHL hockey pre-empted the Barbaro television documentary on Sunday. Imagine that. Just when it looked like Derby week would be starting on the first day of the week for a change, itll be starting at about the same day its ending.

NBC representatives said that Barbaro: A Nations Horse might still be slotted on the network schedule, but more likely Barbaro-maniacs will have to find it on CNBC-cable.

Just as well. Maybe now the em-PHA-sis will be put on the right syl-LAH-ble. Barbaro is yesterdays news. Curlin and Street Sense and Hard Spun are current news.

Written by Vic Zast

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Enough with the Barbaro Already

Forgive me these Imusian remarks. But am I the only one who has had enough of Barbaro?

Like the Anna Nicole Smith saga, Barbaro's tragic story just drags pitifully on. Here it is, nearly 12 months since he raced, over three months since he died, and the opportunists are selling anything with his name on it that they can get their hands on. Do we have another Seabiscuit in our midst - a presence more lucrative as a ghost than alive?

The word from Churchill Downs today is that the track plans to honor the Barbaro team on Derby day. Between the sixth and seventh races, the boozefest in the grandstand will subside for a tear-jerking eulogy. Won't it be swell - celebrating the horse's demise and subsequent glory from his grave as opposed to the promise of another champion?

Even before Derby Week dawns, "Barbaro: A Nation's Horse" will be televised. On Sunday, April 29, this one-hour NBC-television documentary will trot out the same cast of characters for the umpteenth time. Perhaps this time, owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, trainer Michael Matz and Dr. Dean Richardson can explain why America fell head over heels with Barbaro in the first place.

Horses often die as a result of injuries sustained on the racetrack. But does the empathy for Barbaro carry on because he was a Kentucky Derby winner? Or, is it because tragedy is better at the box office than comedy?

Written by Vic Zast

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BallHype: hype it up!

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