BEST OF THE BREED
UPDATE TUESDAY P.M.
FROM THE UNION-TRIBUNE, SAN DIEGO
(Note - Ahmed Zayat has a string of horses at Woodbine with trainer Reade Baker, perhaps he will come to our Polytrack?)
Zayat leaving, taking 25 horses
The argument, in a chance meeting near the backstretch racing office, was over whether the new Polytrack surface, which has produced a perfect safety record through the first two weeks of the meeting, could and should be fine-tuned to better accommodate horses bred for speed and to produce faster times.
“I think the bottom line was that he wanted to hear from me that we would change the racetrack,” said Harper, CEO and general manager of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. “My response was that we won't mess with it until the meet is over. We're certainly not, at this stage, going to go in and do stuff the inventor (Martin Collins) doesn't want us to do.
“We can't do anything to compromise the safety of the horses.”
Zayat, contacted by phone yesterday evening, emphasized that he cares deeply about the horse racing industry and the safety of his and all other horses. He said that, overall, he is a supporter of synthetic surfaces, even the Polytrack brand ones at Keeneland in Kentucky and Arlington Park in Chicago.
But the surface here, Zayat said, has been inconsistent from morning training hours to afternoon races, producing slow times and taking what was the trademark element of thoroughbred racing in California, speed, out of the game.
“No one is against safety. You need a surface that is both safe and maintains the integrity of racing,” Zayat said. “You can't take the speed out.”
Del Mar's change to Polytrack, done over the winter at a cost of $9 million, has left horsemen frustrated and with questions about what they, or track management, should do, Zayat said.
“Trainers are confused. Riders are confused,” Zayat said. “You have to have the honesty to address and work on the issues. I wanted to hear from the source (Harper) what they were going to do and he totally snapped. I don't know him to be like that; he must be under a lot of pressure.”
Among other things, Harper's use of a profanity in his refusal to consider making changes triggered Zayat to walk away saying: “I've heard what I need to hear. I'm not staying here. Goodbye.”
Zayat, 44, is a native of Egypt who is chairman and CEO of Al Ahram Beverages, a major manufacturer and distributor of drinks in his native country. He is Harvard-educated and has a residence in Teaneck, N.J. Zayat has been in thoroughbred racing for about five years and has more than 100 horses in training.
Bob Baffert is Zayat's main West Coast trainer. Zayat has seven caring for horses at various tracks in the East with the major ones at Saratoga, N.Y.
Zayat-owned Point Ashley, trained by Baffert, won last year's Grade I, $250,000 Del Mar Debutante. Zayat horses produced $346,372 in earnings in the 2006 Del Mar meeting, third in the owner standings.
Zayat said he has contracted for two planes to take his horses to Saratoga. Baffert, seven-time training champion of the Del Mar meeting and a fixture here, now expects to divide his time between Del Mar and Saratoga.
“It's a bad situation for me,” Baffert said. “I love Del Mar and as far as the Polytrack goes, I'm all for safety. But I have to protect my owners.
“Most of the horses I purchase for them are basically for the potential brilliance, and while I have some horses that like Polytrack, a lot of them don't.”
Baffert has a 2-year-old colt, Maimonides, purchased by Zayat for $4.6 million from a sale, that has not run because of concerns regarding affinity for the Poly surface. On Sunday, Zayat's E Z Warrior, a winner of the Hollywood Juvenile, undefeated in three lifetime starts, finished next-to-last in the Bing Crosby Handicap, the championship sprint race of the meeting.
The winning time in the Crosby was 1:11.06, nearly three seconds slower than some of the same horses clocked in the same race a year earlier on the dirt.
“This has nothing to do with E Z Warrior,” Baffert said. “There has been a quiet rumbling about this on the backside for two weeks. We're not asking for a souped-up racetrack; we're asking for a fair track that is consistent in the morning and the afternoon.
“Mr. Z is upset with Joe for good reason.”
After the confrontation, Harper said he left a message on the answering machine at the Rancho Santa Fe home Zayat is renting, apologizing “if I have offended him in any way,” but had not received a return call. Zayat said: “I'll have nothing more to do with this man.”
Del Mar has had a high rate of fatal breakdowns in recent years. In 2006 there were 18, with 10 of those on the main track in afternoon racing situations. There have been no fatal breakdowns on the Polytrack the first two weeks.
Said Harper: “He (Zayat) has got a lot invested in the game, he supports his horses and he is a significant owner. Obviously, for business reasons I hate to lose him. But if he feels his horses aren't suited for this track, I wish him well wherever he takes them.“But there are too many other horsemen out there who think this track is good.”
IT’S THE 117th BREEDERS THIS WEEKEND
Okay, so the 3rd jewel of
Four maidens are likely going to be in the field- one, STORM THE CASTLE, is apparently in the race to be a rabbit for Sam-Son Farms, to soften up Alezzandro and perhaps set things up for WALK WITH KINGS.
From a betting standpoint, the race should be intriguing and it’s in the middle of a long weekend that should have some interesting events – as long as the field size holds steady.
Here is a re-cap of the Breeders’ workouts on Sunday..
From the DRF Wednesday
By Bill Tallon
The Breeders', a 1 1/2-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds that concludes the Triple Crown series, will be run here Sunday with a field of 12 expected.
The traffic cones were well out and the turf was firm as Mike Fox breezed five furlongs in 1:04.40 under jockey Emma Wilson and Alezzandro breezed six furlongs in 1:16.60 under Todd Kabel.
Trainer Ian Black, who sent out Mike Fox to win the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate here June 24, said the colt's apparent tardiness in getting under way in his workout was by design.
"I didn't want to break him off until he got past the bleachers," said Black, referring to the backstretch stands where horsemen watch the workouts. "He was on his own, and I didn't want him turning his head to look at the people there."
Black said that while Mike Fox was taking his time, a pair of workers trained by Mike Keogh went past him.
"That gave him something to run at," said Black.
Alezzandro breezed in company with stablemate Sergei, a 3-year-old colt who was clocked in 1:18.60.
Sergei broke off about four lengths in front of him, "to give him something to run at," said Kevin Attard, who sent out Alezzandro to win the 1o3/16-mile Prince of Wales at
"Alezzandro was probably four lengths in front by the time they came by the wire," Attard said. "He handled the turf well."
Keogh's twosome, Golani and Sextet, worked a mile in 1:43.20.
Golani, one of four maidens eyeing the Breeders', had Emile Ramsammy in the irons. Sextet is a stakes-placed 6-year-old gelding.
"They did it nice and easy," said Keogh.
Other Breeders' candidates who worked on the turf Sunday were Marchfield, It's Like This, and Ice Bear.
Marchfield, who finished sixth in the Queen's Plate and fifth in the Prince of Wales for trainer Mark Casse, breezed in 52.60 seconds under jockey Patrick Husbands while going in company with stablemate Martin's Bay, a 3-year-old filly.
"Patrick said he just loved the turf," said Casse.
It's Like This, trained by Mike Doyle, breezed six furlongs in 1:17.80 under jockey Tyler Pizarro, going in company with stablemate Orna, a 3-year-old colt.
Ice Bear, winner of the Charlie Barley at one mile on turf for trainer Mac Benson here July 14, failed to make time in his five-furlong workout under jockey David Clark.
"He didn't put much effort into it," said Benson, who plans to supplement Ice Bear to the Breeders' at a cost of $12,000 that includes the regular $5,000 entry fee. "I couldn't send anybody with him, and he needs somebody to go with."
In other Breeders' workouts:
* Twilight Meteor, trained by Todd Pletcher, breezed four furlongs in 49.67 seconds at
* Walk with Kings and Storm the Castle, a pair of maidens trained by Mark Frostad, had their final tune-ups on the main track here Sunday, going in company. Storm the Castle was clocked in 1:00.40 and Walk with Kings in 1:01.
Jockey Slade Callaghan was aboard Storm the Castle, while Robin Platts, a retired Hall of Fame jockey who is galloping horses for Sam-Son Farm, rode Walk With Kings.
"Storm the Castle will probably be the rabbit," said Frostad. "Somebody's got to go with Alezzandro. We can't let him have it all his own way."
* It's a Danzig breezed four furlongs in 47.40 seconds on the main track at
Rebecca Maker, who trains It's a
Trainer Stacey Cooper won three (3) races at FORT ERIE yesterday for owner Nick Melini.
The day started with Platinum Edge winning the 1st race as the favourite despite stumbling at the start. Fast Approaching won the 3rd race for Mileni and Twifivefive Racing, also as the heavy favourite.
And 7yo MYSTIC HAWK capped the day as he won the 7th as the 2 to 1 second choice.
Jockey CHAD BECKON also won 3 races on the card.
ALL ABOUT BLOGGING
What is the role of a Blog?
The DAILY RACING FORM’S DAN ILLMAN, who has a FORMBLOG (and Steve Crist has a Saratoga blog) received a question on the weekend from TOTE BOARD BRAD, a member of the THOROUGHBRED BLOGGERS ALLIANCE regarding racing blogs…here is Brad’s question and Dan’s response…
Howdy Dan, I was going to ask Crist this, but I think you'll be much more helpful. I agree with Steve that, like some newspapers and some writers, some blogs are dreadful. Every blogger hopes that their's doesn't fall into this catagory, but I certainly recognize lapses in the quality of the content I put out. What do you recomend bloggers do when our writing quality or regularity wans due to our full time jobs and life in general? The common held belief is that it is more important to be regular than good as a blogger. Because folks have a daily routine, if you put out fantastic content once per month, readers (that don't use an rss reader) wont remember to stop by. On the other hand, if you put out crap consistantly, they'll tire of you. I try to balance this by offering quick data dumps, or even equidaily style links with one sentence of commentary, inbetween more well thought out posts. I mean, we can't all be as good as Alan at Left at the Gate....or you, for that matter.
Tote Board Brad
DAN ILLMAN: I disagree with the viewpoint that every blog has to have a journalistic responsibility to its readers. That's what The Washington Post is for. You don't have to be Woodward and Bernstein to have an interesting blog (trust me, I'm not even a Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street News). The point is to have fun, offer up opinions and tidbits of interest, and keep your own personal style. If a certain reader doesn't like it, well, no one is universally-liked...except Todd Pletcher. This blog is about sharing ideas, having a good time, and enjoying an ongoing conversation with everyone.
Horse racing bloggers are passionate about the game, and they're excited to share their viewpoints of the industry. They show their passion by taking time away from their own busy schedules and personal lives to discuss this great game with other fans. It's impossible for any blogger to be brilliant every single day. Life won't allow it. There aren't enough hours in the day for family, work, gambling, blogging, eating, and sleep.
Don't pressure yourself into doing too much as you may run the risk of turning your passion into a job. A blog shouldn't be just a job. Who needs more work? A blogger should create because he's excited about the world, and his specific topics of interest.
If you need a day or two to recharge your batteries, then by all means, take a break. It's hard to keep everyone happy. Some folks want staccato-like blogs. Bang, bang, bang. Everytime you log on, there's another posting. Others want time to think about the content before they make their comments. You'll never make everybody happy so make yourself happy. A blog is deeply-personal. We're allowing people into our minds and hearts, and leaving ourselves open to get burned. My advice when you feel overwhelmed is to take a step back, let in a deep breath, and enjoy. I guarantee you that your readers will go along for the ride, and enjoy with you.
Check out all my friends in the Thoroughbred Blogger's
LEARN ABOUT HOW LAWYER RON’S BEYER FIGURE WAS CALCULATED..
By Dick Jerardi
Randy Moss, who worked the broadcast on ABC, timed it Saturday night off racereplays.com and again Sunday off a tape.
"The time is right,'' Moss said.
The first two fractions matched up. Moss could not be sure about the controversial third quarter of 22.91 seconds because the pole was behind a video board. The final time is definitely good.
What we are not quite as sure about is the Beyer Speed Figure. After considering all the data Saturday night into Sunday, Mark Hopkins, who does the Beyer Figures for
In a sport of cynics,
A cynic like
"This horse has never approached 123,''
There were three 1 1/8-mile races on Saturday's
Which really did not seem possible. Lawyer Ron's career top was 109. On one day, a horse can go completely off on the Beyer scale. That does happen. What should not happen is the horses down the line all getting career tops. If
"Theoretically, if Lawyer Ron exploded, it's a little too much of a coincidence that the other two horses would have run so fast,'' Andrew Beyer said. "There has been some things perplexing about mile-and-an-eighth races at
Beyer and Hopkins both pointed to a similar situation in the 2005 Whitney. The raw data suggested that the winner, Commentator, got a 123. Saint Liam was inches behind.
"And it was probably wrong,'' he said.
Commentator has not been close to that figure since then. And Saint Liam, the 2005 Horse of the Year and a really good runner, was simply not a 123 horse.
"We made the mistake once of going with what it appeared to be, knowing that it's probably wrong,''
If making Beyer Figures were all science, this would be simple. All the races would just fall into line. All figures would make sense.
In the real world, it does not work that way. Making figures, at times, becomes art. You try to arrive at the best possible explanation for something that is not readily explainable. And then you wait for Lawyer Ron to run his next race.