Subscribe to the Newsletter

TrackNotes: Big Z and the Rule of Three

The Rule of Three is sacred in comedy. But what happens when you get three disparate punchlines?

With the 2010 Triple Crown series now complete, you tend to assess the terrain, glimpse into the months ahead as we wish for Whitney and Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup heroics this summer in the race to the Breeders' Cup.

I can't complain. I did reasonably well in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and last Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

Drosselmeyer ran his tortoise-steady race and "pulled away" down the middle of the track to beat Fly Down by almost a length. Fly Down got in at the last stride or two to nip First Dude, who set the pace but couldn't wire it. It was the slowest Belmont Stakes in 15 years.

Daily Racing Form national handicapper Mike Watchmaker put it in perspective. "Drosselmeyer's final time of 2:31.57 for the 1 1/2 miles was slow. Really slow. This was the slowest Belmont Stakes since Thunder Gulch's (2:32) in 1995, which was the slowest fast-track Belmont since Bounding Home's (2:32.20) in 1944. Drosselmeyer's winning Beyer Speed Figure was only 94, the lowest since Beyers were first published for the Belmont back in 1990, and just the second to fail to reach triple digits."

If you think the Derby is tough to handicap, with 20 horses in the gate, the Belmont is just as tough when you consider the 12-furlongs distance and a middling crop of 3-year olds. The Derby and Preakness winners weren't even watching from the stands.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott won his first Triple Crown race and jockey Mike Smith won his first Belmont. Nice. But perhaps typically, one of the more interesting events was when Uptowncharlybrown lost an 8-pound lead weight from his saddle. Weights are placed in the saddle to equalize with the jockey the required weight for the race. In the Belmont, it was 126 pounds.

Jockey Rajiv Maragh said he felt the saddle move when it happened on the backstretch. No brainer, the horse was disqualified to last. But the kicker was that he finished fifth, just out of the superfecta. If he had finished in the top four, look out. It seemed to me the race became official fairly quickly, so you wonder if payouts would have been made had he finished higher.

Big Z's LIttle Owners
Lord knows racing's got problems. But it doesn't help when the connections of one of the most dazzling horses in the land choose the selfish route of maintaining maintaining her perfect record over taking on the top Thoroughbred competition they can.

Zenyatta runs Sunday in the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park and will be pointed to the August 9 Clement Hirsch at Del Mar. So it's a case of maintaining that old home court advantage against less-than-stellar competition.

Jerry Moss and John Shireffs, why not the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs Saturday against the boys in a Grade I? Plus, that would give you a race over the Churchill dirt, where the Breeders Cup will be run this autumn.

But, do you know how hard it is to ship a horse over the Rocky Mountains? Seriously, Zenyatta's people said that.

And the horse whisperer was mucking his particular brand of BS: ""When they decided to bring Zenyatta back, it was about having fun with her," Shirreffs said. "Sometimes [stakes] don't fit in the schedule, and the most important concern is Zenyatta and the best care possible for her. She comes first. The races don't come first."

Add to that, neither do the fans.

However, the gratification jones Moss and Shireffs chase could get tripped up this week. Zenyatta will face Zardana, who impressively beat Rachel Alexandra earlier this year, and St. Trinians, a talented horse looking to bounce back from a couple of tough outings.

Rachel's Return
Speaking of Rachel Alexandra, she comes back Saturday to run in the Fleur De Lis at Churchill Downs.

It appears to be an easy spot for her and she needs it. She's been beaten twice this year in two starts and whispers about her losing a step after last year's sensational campaign are quite loud.

Don't bet on her ever racing Zenyatta. Racing's honchos are too impotent to get that done. But pull for Rachel to get her form back and put together a successful 2010.

At Arlington
Churchill Downs Inc. seems to lead the way in racing in assembling the typical corporate marketing department. You know, the "team" that thinks it can market its way out of or into anything.

You can't delude yourself into thinking Arlington Park's racing program is top-notch. Not by any means. But they do have this stuff going for them, so that's good. You might even get 3-1 or better on the chalk in the baggo tournament.


Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

More from Beachwood Sports »

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #384: Another McCaskey Mess

But is Ryan Pace pulling the strings behind the curtain? Plus: Red Stars Wreckage; Back-To-Back Bad Bulls; Blackhawks Post Up; White Sox Sign Former Cub; Miguel Amaya Goodbyea; Illinois Upside Down; Chicago's Big Ten Rivalry; and NU's New National Champ.

Continue reading "The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #384: Another McCaskey Mess" »

Posted on Nov 26, 2021