Saturday, August 22, 2009

Let's see if Zenyatta "Forfeits" This Race- my Prosaic Tryptich About Rachel Alexandra V. Zenyatta

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

Earlier in the month I sounded off about a tweet sent out by the author of the West Coast horse racing website Pick4AndWin. The Tweet alleged that if Rachel Alexandra did not run in the Breeder's Cup against Zenyatta that it should be considered a "forfeit" by Rachel. As my link attests, I disagreed with that viewpoint.

Now the tables have turned. Kind of. TVG and have agreed to add 400k to the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct.3 if both Rachel and Zenyatta participate. With the added 400k, the purse now stands at a cool $1,000,000. This is of course, the inverse of what the Breeder's Cup is offering to Rachel. Rachel, a dirt horse, will not be running in the Breeder's Cup Ladies Classic (formerly known as the Distaff). because that race will be run over a synthetic surface on the other side of the country from where she's based. The cross-country trip isn't much of a deterrent for Rachel's connections, but the surface change certainly is.

The offer is on the table Zenyatta.


Another Reason for Rachel to not Face Zenyatta in the Ladies Classic

While I wrote an allegorical article mentioning why Rachel has no obligation to race Zenyatta on a synthetic surface, I recently thought of another. What makes Zenyatta's connections think that Rachel Alexandra would even race in the Ladies Classic? Why not THE Classic? Afterall, Rachel Alexandra has the highest Beyer Speed Figure of the year, she beat the KY Derby winner (in the Preakness), she won the Preakness, and she beat the Belmont winner (in the Haskell). She also won two Grade 1 filly races by a combined 40 lengths. This year also has a relatively weak crop of older male foes to oppose Rachel in the Classic compared to recent years that featured Curlin, Saint Liam, Flower Alley, Bernardini, Invasor, and Ghostzapper. With the purse for the Classic a $5 mil., and the Ladies Classic at $2 mil, why would Rachel take a 60% pay cut to beat a horse that she is clearly superior to? I don't hear any AA baseball teams telling Albert Pujols that if he were a REAL baseball player he'd leave his contract with the Cardinals and try his hand for their farm team for 40 cents on the dollar- while playing on a new surface.


The East Coast Aint Got No Love for Zenyatta and Jon Shirreffs?

This analogy will probably alienate some of my zero readers, but I'm gonna write it anyway because I think the analogy stands up- there just aren't many people with gangster rap knowledge and horse racing knowledge that will be able to verify its accuracy.

In 1995 the East Coast versus West Coast rap feud started to heat up. It heated up at the Source Awards when Suge Knight took a very thinly veiled dig at Puff Daddy, and was later accelerated when Snoop Dogg (at the :42 mark) sounded off about the he East Coast aint got no love for Snoop Dogg

I saw an interview with Snoop a few years ago where he explained his diatribe. He said that as a West Coast rapper, he always held the East Coast rappers in reverential esteem- rap was invented on the East coast, and they dominated the rap scene for years until NWA came onto the scene on the West Coast. Snoop said that as a burgeoning rapper in a relatively newer rap market, he strove to impress the rap pioneers and their successors- any time an East Coast rapper came out west, they were always shown plenty of respect and appreciation for coming out, but the inverse was not true. When Snoop and others went out East, they were not afforded the same respect and were treated with relative derision. This lack of respect hurt Snoop's feelings and fueled his animosity, manifesting itself in the rant seen above. In short, Snoop felt that those on the East Coast were provincial snobs who looked down their noses at what they considered perversions of a form of entertainment they're credited with inventing.

Sound familiar? I think a lot of that is reflected in the Rachel Alexandra v. Zenyatta debate. West Coasters may feel slighted that Zenyatta isn't as gushed-over as Rachel despite an undefeated record. Fans of east coast (not capitalized since it's not part a rap feud) horse racing take great pleasure in deriding not only the "plastic" running surfaces in California, but also the small fields in so many of their races.

While the coastal feud is nothing new to horse racing, the "racing surface feud" is. I think many Zenyatta supporters (i.e. west coast horse racing fans) feel that Rachel is turning up her nose at an inferior horse, over an inferiors surface, in an inferior race (Ladies Classic v. The Classic) on an inferior coast. It isn't that Rachel's connections don't want her to run on a surface alien unto her, it's that she's being a snob. This provincial upstart has taken away the nation's collective thunder for Zenyatta, who west coasters feel is the superior race horse. Westerners may feel that the snobby old cigar-chomping, pocket-watch-toting east coast guard can't be bothered by Zenyatta- an ok horse but one that runs on a phony surface that wasn't the one THEY invented horses to race upon.

Am I a secretly hoping for the 2009 Eclipse Awards to turn into the 1995 Source Awards? No. I'm publicly hoping they do:

Rachel's connections: If you don't want your horses to be races all on a plastic surface, all in 4-horse fields, and all in front of a martini-drinking crowd that can't read a Racing Form- come to Saratoga and Belmont!

Zenyatta's connections rebuttle (while wearing the colors of Zenyatta's owner on a scarf around their necks): Y'all aint got no love for Zenyatta and Jon Shirreffs??!!! *expletive* *expletive* *expletive*

I'm T.R. Slyder, and that's how you Tangueray.

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