Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits: The Rachel Commentary, Queen's Plate Contender Workouts and a Speedy Exchange Rate

After a hectic weekend of horse racing, Monday brought plenty of commentary. The disappointment regarding Rachel Alexandra dropping out of the Apple Blossom was a hot topic of discussion on the web.

Left at the Gate argued No Dignity In Ducking Zenyatta:

I can't really blame Jess Jackson for being scared of seeing Rachel Alexandra get her little butt kicked by Zenyatta. But even he says that "she is healthy"; though "she is not in top form."

Well, a hard race and 26 days with a future Hall of Fame trainer should take care of that. Shouldn't it? I mean, as several commenters noted, had Zardana not been in the race, and she won by 11 with a 100 Beyer, we'd be looking forward to Oaklawn, and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Pete Denk of From The Ring To The Race Track asked Did Jackson overreact in pulling Rachel from Apple Blossom?

Did the sting of losing to Zenyatta’s second-string stablemate cause Jackson to overreact?

Do he and trainer Steve Asmussen have reason to believe their four-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly will not recapture her incredible form of 2009, when she won all eight of her starts, including the Kentucky Oaks (G1), BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (G1), Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1), and Woodward Stakes (G1)?

Or as some others have suggested, has Team Rachel developed cold feet regarding their previously stated desire to face six-year-old Zenyatta three times this year?

Bloodhorse.Com blog Triple Crown Talk even took time from their Derby Countdown to discuss the two mares in a post entitled, A New Top 10 and Thoughts on Rachel/Zenyatta.

First of all, it was extremely disappointing to see the news today that Rachel would not be pointing toward the Apple Blossom any longer. But is anyone really that surprised? First they weren't going, then after Jess Jackson handpicked the date he wanted they were, and now they are not again. Extremely predictable and frustrating. Are they doing right by Rachel? Probably. If they say she is not ready, we have to take them at their word. But it still doesn't help lessen the disappointment.

As for the race, let's be honest here. She got the perfect trip and wasn't good enough. Give credit to Zardana. She was game. But if we are going to throw around accolades when horses excel, we must also keep it real when they underperform. Steve Asmuusen must take much of the blame here. He didn't have her ready.

It's definitely disappointing that the Apple Blossom is off, but hopefully it will work out that the two find a suitable time and place to race before 2010 is out. Since Woodbine is off limits due to Jess Jackson's dislike of synthetic surfaces, how about Saratoga?

Well, that is, if there is a Saratoga meet as Brooklyn Backstretch worryingly blogged on Monday.


If you tuned into CBS at 9PM on Sunday night you were treated to a horse racing themed version of Undercover Boss as Churchill COO Bill Carstanjen shed his suit for backstretch attire and tried his hand working with a horse trainer, a jockey valet, a media rep and a cleaning person.

The premise of the show is for high-profile executives to get an inside look at what their company does well and not so well.

Bruce Watson, for DailyFinance.Com, wrote a detailed article entitled On 'Undercover Boss,' Churchill Downs Exec Horses Around, Gets Hosed.

Carstanjen pulled off not one, but two epic fails. First, Carstanjen bugled the worst call to post ever rendered followed shortly thereafter by demonstrating his inability to power up a vacuum cleaner.

However, for all the skills Carstanjen appeared to lack, the COO demonstrated a marked level of compassion when working with a valet at Arlington Park who was grieving the loss of his 20 year-old daughter. Carstanjen also seemed genuinely upset when his trainer's horse failed to win a race built up as a must win for the conditioner at Calder.

Each of the individuals that Carstanjen worked with were treated to a special moment at the end of the show.

Bill Carstanjen goes undercover for Churchill Downs Incorporated

Undercover Boss has already featured Waste Management CEO Larry O'Donnell; Hooters President Coby G. Brooks, 7-Eleven chief Joseph M. DePinto and White Castle Owner and Executive Board member Dave Rife.

As reality TV goes it's not that bad.

To watch the full Churchill Downs Incorporated espisode, visit the Undercover Boss site on CTV.

* * *

Hollinger, the morning line favourite for the Queen's Plate breezed two furlongs in 27.60 on the Payson Park dirt on March 15th. Rank 1/1

Lousiana Derby possible Hotep breezed 6F in 1:15 at the Fair Grounds on March 13th, Rank 2/2. It would take a heckuva race for Hotep to put himself back into the Kentucky Derby picture but until further notice, this horse remains a contender for both the Queen's Plate and the Derby.

A few other Queen's Plate contenders are getting loose as well.

*Abogado worked 4F handily in 51 on the Woodbine dirt training course on March 15th. Rank 26/37

* Kid Canuck breezed 3F in 37.40 on the Woodbine dirt training course on March 15th. Rank 28/61

*Grittani breezed 4F in 52.80 on the Payson Park dirt on March 14th. Rank 28/28

*D's Wando breezed 3F in 39.80 on the Payson Park dirt on March 14th. Rank 11/11

*Doctor Jack breezed 3F in 39.60 on the Payson Park dirt on March 14th. Rank 10/11

*Big Red Mike breezed 4F in 52 on the Palm Meadows dirt on March 13th. Rank 30/30

You can read more about the 2010 Queen's Plate contenders by clicking on this link.

* * *

Jockey Garrett Gomez keeps a blog on ESPN and his latest entry is a great inside look at the trip for Lookin at Lucky while winning the Rebel Stakes on Saturday.

Click here to read the post, Rebel Review:

In case you missed it, we won the Rebel Stakes today at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. If you saw the race you probably thought we were finished at the quarter pole. After we got sawed off and blocked off and clipped heels with Dublin, I did too. I pretty much had a second where I was like, "Great, we're going down!" But I was able to pop up out of the saddle and get him steadied and then the next few strides I just waited on him and gave him a chance to get back up on his feet. He recuperated really well and we were able to go on.

Lookin at Lucky wins the Rebel

You can see all the videos from the weekend, including Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Odysseus, Sydney's Candy and more at the bottom of my Sunday blog post.


Last item for a quiet tuesday - the good folks at Three Chimney's sent along a message regarding an exciting Exchange Rate colt.

Last week was the breeze show for the upcoming OBS March Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale and leading the way with the fastest quarter-mile breeze was Exchange Rate’s Noble Exchange. You may recall that Noble Exchange was a sale topper as a yearling at last year’s OBS Winter Mixed Sale, selling for $87,000. He’s receiving a good amount of attention at this year’s sale, so it will be exciting to see what he brings.

Check out the Noble Exchange video below courtesy of Eisaman Equine. The OBS March Sales start today. Maybe we'll see the guy at Woodbine in the near future.
Hip #291- Exchange Rate colt out of Social Scene working in sale best 21.0
Click here to see video of the colt.

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