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Andy Serling has been playing the horses for almost his entire life, and is currently the co-host of NYRA Live. To follow Andy on Twitter, click here.


Before we move forward to the only race that really matters, you know.....the one this site is devoted to, let's take a look back at the Preakness. My biggest thought is that it was as satisfying a race, and result, as any fan could have hoped to have seen. First of all, the best horse won, and also earned the victory by clearly running the best race. Rachel Alexandra vied for the lead on an extremely honest pace, one that doomed all others that dared to sit even close, drew off into the stretch, and still had enough left to hold off the horse that dominated the Kentucky Derby. Secondly, Mine That Bird confirmed his KY Derby win with an equally terrific effort, and in doing so proved that he is a completely different horse when significantly rated in his races and also one that may well have improved at exactly the right time. Plus, his jockey Mike Smith rode him flawlessly, as deep closers are almost always tricky to ride, and frequently victims of race dynamics as well as traffic. This is not to knock Calvin Borel, who has risen to new heights with two completely different and utterly flawless rides in both Triple Crown races, but Mike Smith showed that the real star is Mine That Bird, a horse that is much more than simply a lucky recipient of a brilliant ride in the KY Derby.
 
As for others in the Preakness, Musket Man also proved himself a consistently tough competitor, as unlike his KY Derby counterparts ( save Mine That Bird ) he once again showed up with a strong effort, and even improved to have likely run his best race yet. An argument could be made that if this exact field, minus Rachel Alexandra, had run in the Preakness, Musket Man would have won, as he would have stalked a more modest pace set by Big Drama, and taken over from that one, and further held off Mine That Bird who would have thus been compromised by a slower pace. A lot of ifs, no doubt, but hardly an impossible scenerio. Regardless, Musket Man remains a force to be reckoned with in the future. Big Drama didn't run that badly either, as he still finished 5th after dueling in the rapid pace in just his second start of the year, and ultimately may well be distance challenged. I look forward to seeing him in the King's Bishop on the Travers undercard in three months, a race that has the potential to be every bit as exciting as the main event that day. The 3YO sprinters of 2009 may be as talented and deep a crop as we have seen in many years ( if not ever ).
 
So, where does this leave us going forward? Well, quite obviously, a lot depends on whether or not Rachel Alexandra shows up in the Belmont Stakes. It is an understatement to say that should she run we will be treated to the kind of showdown that is all too rare in racing, one that will generate excitement for racing fans and non-fans throughout the world. If she doesn't run, we will still have a very interesting group, as not only will Mine That Bird be in the starting gate, Charitable Man and Dunkirk, among others, will very possibly be joining him. Whatever your opinion of them for the Belmont, both have shown genuine talent and promise in their short careers, and Dunkirk was too good in his first three races to take his performance in the sloppy KY Derby at face value. As of right now, whether or not Rachel Alexandra is in the gate on June 6th, I believe Dunkirk is the horse to beat. But, I still have 19 days to come to my senses.
 
Good luck to that happening.




Comments :

  • Peter | May 26 2009 08:42 PM

    MTB running style will work against him in the Belmont. He'll be forced to stay close to the pace (6-9 lengths back) like his Dad did. I just don't feel that he will be able to accelerate like he did in the Derby & Preakness being that close to the pace. If he falls 15-20 lengths behind in the Belmont, there is no way he can sustain his rally in a much longer race. The most likely winner will be Dunkirk or Chocolate Candy. They can both stalk the speed and then maintain a steady gain to the front. MTB running style before the derby was to stay close and make one run but that didn't work. See his Santa Anita & Sunland running lines.

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  • Getz | May 26 2009 09:44 AM

    Peter- I find it compelling to think that you are so confident about MTB loosing the Belmont. First, he's the Derby winner. Second, he was a very good second in the Preakness and third, his daddy won the Belmont against the apparent second coming in Smarty Jones. Where's your confidence (or lack thereof) come from? I do like the chance of others in the race as well; namely Summer Bird, Dunkirk and Charitible Man but that doesn't mean I'm going to throw out The Bird so quick. He's probably just hitting his peak, rather then coming off of it.

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  • Peter | May 25 2009 07:45 PM

    Toni - Post 13 was actually an advantage for Rachel. She was able to break from the gate without the boys bullying her around. Then her tactical speed got her to the front and the rest in now history. She is the real deal, she'll prove it with time. Unfortunately, it won't be in the Belmont. She most likely won't go. We'll have to wait for the M. Goose. Which is fine for now, it will give the boys a little time to play with themselves. PS. MTB is a nice colt, he proved that the Derby wasn't a fluke, BUT, he gets beat in the Belmont even without Rachel.

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  • toni tyler | May 25 2009 06:15 PM

    Andy- Oh Yes that 13th Post is relevant at Pimlico... it is one of the most "Narrow" courses in the USA and by-the-by, if what you penned was true, then at least 1 Colt would have won from Post Position #13 in 100 Years, so, don't go against historical truths, just to make it no big deal... anyway MTB was actually 3rd (if we had an inquiry into that 'Bump' he performed against Musket Man, the real 2nd place.) Plus, with an additional 1/16th, Musket Man would have caught RA too....

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  • EJXD2 | May 25 2009 05:22 PM

    LOL at Sara thinking Mine That Bird could ever win a match race against Rachel Alexandra at any distance.

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  • Andy Serling | May 23 2009 10:01 PM

    Hopefully " A Personal Ensign That Would Make It's Namesake Proud. " A NYRA shill can dream.....right?

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  • lonnie lee | May 23 2009 09:13 PM

    Andy whats the headlines going read when RA has to face ZENYATTA she is 10-0.

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  • Andy Serling | May 23 2009 07:25 PM

    There is a 3/16th of a mile from the start of the Preakness to the turn. Having the outside post is not particularly relevent.

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  • toni tyler | May 23 2009 06:42 PM

    SARA- i shall stop calling RA great When You Get A Colt To Win From The 13th Post Position.... (That made the Weight a meaningless point)

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  • Sara | May 23 2009 10:55 AM

    It drives me bonkers how many people are touting RA as "great". When she runs the races against colts carrying the same weight-for-age, and still wins, then let's call her equal to or better than the colts. I just don't see how a 1 length win over a 1 3/16 mile race with a 5-lb difference translates to "great". As many others have pointed out, although Pimlico wasn't her favorite track, she got a much smoother ride than the Bird. Match race between MTB & RA over 1 1/4 miles at the same weight? Mine That Bird every time.

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  • lonnie lee | May 23 2009 09:16 AM

    Some people keep throwing the word GREAT around like its easy to be great.RA has a long way to go before you can call her great.Theres a lot of fillys that has achieve more than her to name one RAGS TO RICHES she won the oaks and won the belmont over 2 times horse of the year and richest race horse ever.I dont here me calling her great. If RA is a SUPERFILLY then why do she needs rest if she so great and better than her generation girls or boys .Then she can come back on 3 weeks rest and crush the boys in belmont thats easy for a SUPERFILLY.But I know we wont see her in the race she needs her rest. Its not exacty easy on the boys to run 3 hard races in 5 weeks so if she equal or better come on RA meet the boys in belmont dont wait to race them when there tired and you are fresh.RA and RTR caught the boys after the tuffest race of there life the derby run in all the legs .THE great fillys won the derby when everybody was fresh cant catch them tired in 2 or 3 leg and be called great or SUPERFILLY. RA is a very good filly not great yet .

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  • Sara | May 23 2009 06:51 AM

    It drives me bonkers how many people are touting RA as "great". When she runs the races against colts carrying the same weight-for-age, and still wins, then let's call her equal to or better than the colts. I just don't see how a 1 length win over a 1 3/16 mile race with a 5-lb difference translates to "great". As many others have pointed out, although Pimlico wasn't her favorite track, she got a much smoother ride than the Bird. Match race between MTB & RA over 1 1/4 miles at the same weight? Mine That Bird every time.

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  • Andy Serling | May 22 2009 11:17 PM

    Peter, I am not going to get into that kind of stuff here. We would certainly like to.

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  • Peter | May 22 2009 09:42 PM

    Andy, now that you have a lot of pull with NYRA, please tell them to put up a live feed on the internet. In order to see races on the NYRA website, we have to wait 10 minutes for the replay. NYRA has the best racing out there but they are so behind the times. Please try to help all the 9-5 workers that can't make it to the track but love to play the game at the office.

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  • Andy Serling | May 21 2009 10:37 PM

    I will be there in person.

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  • Peter | May 21 2009 10:19 PM

    Andy - Are you planning a trip to the teletheater in Albany or are you just sending your plays in to Capital on the 31st?

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  • Peter | May 21 2009 09:17 PM

    lol

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  • Andy Serling | May 21 2009 08:19 PM

    Apparently my decaf advice went unheeded.

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  • toni tyler | May 21 2009 07:05 PM

    All of you need to Watch That Preakness Once More... "Musket Man" Would Have Beat Out Mind That Bird For 2nd Had He Not Been "Bumped In The Last Few Feet!" Now as far as MTB? Let Him Win Where NO COLT HAS WON= The 13th Post! RA will run in either The Travers, The Breeders Cup or Both (i hope Both) Then we can revisit this discourse.

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  • Getz | May 21 2009 04:41 PM

    I guess any time a filly runs against and beats the boys, especially in a high profile race like the triple crown, it should be considered a great performance. I just wonder, IF (great word) she had trouble getting to where she got from the post that she drew and then had to get steadied behind horses, resulting in a loss, whether everyone would have jumped so fast off her bandwagon that it would have felt like an earthquake! I could hear it now, "regardless of the trip, the filly never should have run against the boys, blah, blah, blah". She's a good horse who ran a good race and I give her connections full credit for giving it a try. I'm just not up to the "gushing" like so many others. By the way, do you think MTB's connections should give the mount back to Borel if RA doesn't go to the Belmont? Maybe they should look at Jeremy Rose. He's sure proven that he's gutsy and paitent, as noted when guiding Afleet Alex to his wins in the Preakness and the Belmont. I think there are to many other good jock's chomping at the bit (no pun intended) to give it back to a guy who jumped off when they needed him. I understand his motivation and his logic, I just wouldn't give it back to him.

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  • andy serling | May 21 2009 04:18 PM

    I agree, Getz, any Horse of the Year talk is way too premature.....AND the word " great " is thrown around all too often. The history of this great game includes many wonderful racehorses and, in my opinion, it is a discredit to some of these champions the way people are all to quick to anoint horses as " great " these days. That being said......Rachel Alexandra had a far cry from a perfect trip in the Preakness. Whether or not she is a true great is, thankfully, yet to be decided......but there is no doubt in my mind that she ran a great race at Pimlico.

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  • Getz | May 21 2009 03:27 PM

    Andy, your right that I should have asked about his (Birdstone's) previous beyer(s) before the Belmont, rather then his BEST previous beyer. I also admitted that I didn't recall but that the beyer was much lower then that of Smarty Jones and others in the race at the time, which was the point. Look folks, no one is crying that MTB didn't win the Preakness. I'm just saying lets not crown RA as horse of the year just yet. Especially when we haven't even completed the triple crown series and the Breeder's Cup is over 5 months away. You want to talk about facts, then let's talk facts. RA's win in the Oaks was against a group of substandard horses on a track she loves. Then she wins the Preakness with a perfect trip (yes, a perfect trip on the front end with a bunch of horses that had FADE written all over them, for reasons as stated before), carrying less weight over a distance against a good horse that didn't get the same kind of trip. We shouldn't just give away the Horse of the Year award, just like the Triple Crown, right Peter? RA is a good filly. The word "great" gets tossed around way to much and to quickly in sports these days.

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  • Pam | May 21 2009 01:01 PM

    I'm addressing your comments about Smith's Preakness ride—agree with you and want to take it one step further. Splitting the wall of horses was Great Move #1. The coup de grace—Great Move #2—came when Smith angled the flying Mine That Bird over to Musket Man to challenge, intimidate and duke it out for second. A lessor horse would have hung...not Bird. When he got up close and personal with Musket Man, his stride even looked longer, he showed grit and determination. That little jack russell-of-a-horse just blew me away and it certainly seemed to me that Smith did NOTHING to interfere with the horse's performance and only presented the opportunities on the track to showcase his potential.

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  • andy serling | May 21 2009 12:55 PM

    I side with Peter on this one. Did Spectacular Bid's connections cry when Coastal, who hadn't competed in the other Triple Crown races, beat him in the Belmont? What about Silver Charm's when Touch Gold beat him for the Triple Crown ( OK, I know, Touch Gold should have beaten him in the Preakness as well ). Winning the TC is a great achievement for many reasons and the major one is you overcome ALL the obstacles. And, by the way, if Rachel Alexandra hadn't run in the Preakness, Musket Man would have beaten Mine That Bird. The race would have had a completely different dynamic, with Musket Man sitting close to a more modest pace....one that Mine That Bird would very possibly not have been able to overcome.

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  • Peter | May 21 2009 11:39 AM

    Some of the comments that are being written start out "IF". If an extra furlong, if Rachel didn't run in the Preakness. People please stop crying. The facts are Rachel ran against the boys, from post 13, put away the speed, and held off all closer and won. Plain and simple. stop making excuses and enjoy what we all just witnessed. As for Hayes, it sounds as though you want to give away a triple crown rather than earn it.

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  • Hayes | May 21 2009 11:12 AM

    It is my opinion that to win the triple crown, it takes one horse to run all three races as it was in the past. When you bring in other horses to run in only one race it takes away from the mystique of the triple crown. RA is a fine filly but she could not hold up to any of the great horses that have won the triple crown. When the horses won the triple crown, they did it by racing hard, fast and often. Why do they insist on changing the rules at this late date? MTB is an example of the three year olds of the past. I believe if they had not run RA, we would be looking at a triple crown winner this year. Why do the owners shoot themselves in the foot every year? It just boggles the mind.

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  • andy serling | May 21 2009 10:23 AM

    Getz, when you throw comments out like you seem to remember that Birdstone's top Beyer going into the Belmont was an 82 you really open yourself up criticism. Birdstone got a 99 in his CAREER DEBUT.....as well as a 94 when he won the Champagne two races later.

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  • Getz | May 20 2009 11:41 PM

    Does anyone remember what Birdstone's best beyer was going into the Belmont? Either do I but I seem to recall that it was about 82. Sound similar to a recent derby winner? MTB wasn't even three when he won the derby and is just starting to hit peak form. RA beat this little horse that had to carry five more pounds then her (even though he's smaller) over 1 3/16 and had to try and make his way through a crowd with a rider who had never even been on his back before; not even for a gallop. He only lost by a length; a couple of jumps. Let's not give her horse of the year just yet. A little tiger is going to win two legs of the triple crown with a close second in the third. How do you go away from him for the title if and when he does that? Either way, we all win because he's gelded, so we get to continue to watch him run well into the future as long as he can stay healthy. You gotta love the little horse that could.

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  • Getz | May 20 2009 11:06 PM

    Why should fillies get the 5 pound break? I know the answer is that they are typically smaller but if you want to say that RA is better then the Bird and he is much smaller, then how can you say that she's truly better? If's are a wonderful thing, I know, but IF she carries the same weight, IF she gets into any trouble at all, which she didn't, or IF the Bird gets a clean trip and doesn't have to stop and start twice, then the Bird probably wins the race. Everyone says that RA was part of a hot pace and still won while the others faded. OK, who faded? First Big Drama who ran his last race at 7 furlongs on a rock hard speed favouring track. He had to run over 5 football fields further then his last race and you're surprised that he faded?! How about Pioneer? The absolutely most over rated horse in the triple crown. He has never run over a 96 beyer and yet people kept touting him. Him fading was no surprise at all. OK, how about Friesen Fire. Here's a horse that was never proven over 1 1/16 and didn't run for 7 weeks before the derby, then got bashed around in the mud. Surprised that he faded? Not likely. The only horse she really had to beat was the Bird. Everyone says that her race was amazing; not really. She used the rest of the field to get in the way of the only other competition and it worked.

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  • Peter | May 20 2009 11:06 PM

    Andy, I'm looking to fatten my bankroll for the Belmont stakes starting tomorrow. I'm sure you handicapped the card already so I'm looking for an exacta play. Belmont's race 6. Maidens on the turf. I like a Clement firster (# 5 Picnic Rock ) Does anybody stand out to you in this race?

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  • Bill | May 20 2009 09:36 PM

    Andy, Will you still do the seminar at Ciro's for DRF at Saratoga?

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  • Andy Serling | May 20 2009 07:37 PM

    Toni......would I be out of line to suggest decaf?

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  • Andy Serling | May 20 2009 07:34 PM

    Bill, we announced over the past month that there will be no more Siro's seminars. We have merged our current Talking Horses show with the DRF seminars. The show will take place in the Carousel from 11:45 to 12:30 daily and will feature either Jason Blewitt or Eric Donovan, someone from DRF, and me. Unfortunately, Harvey Pack has retired from the show but we remain hopeful that he will appear for at least a few days.

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  • toni tyler | May 20 2009 05:59 PM

    None of you mentioned it -so- i shall: "No Colt Has Won The Preakness From The Infamous Post #13! Mind That Bird Was In The Winning Post #2.... duh, do you think he would have caught her from Post Position #13? i don't think so... i'm even willing to say that "Give Him The lighter Weight At Post #13 and She would have Handled Him Like a Rag Doll carrying 126 lbs! [sidebar: Calvin "Bo-Rail" is correct, what real champion could like that dirty, ill-kept, narrow, Pimlico Course! She Loves The Smooth Churchill Ride and only needed that time she set in The Oaks To Win by 20+ -now- if she had skipped The Preakness, then, i sure would like to see her run the fine well-tended Belmont Track.]

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  • Ogygian23 | May 20 2009 02:34 PM

    First off, RA was much the best in the Preakness. 2) If the race was a furlong longer, she would've won by more (there is no way they go 46 and 1:11 in a mile and 5/16ths race). 3) If the Preakness were a mile, MTB would have had a better shot at catching RA. 4) MTB will have a difficult task in the Belmont, as deep closers always do, and get's 3rd at best.

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  • Keith Longey | May 20 2009 02:06 PM

    Andy: RA's final time put her in the bottom half of all Preakness winners in the past 30 years; most of the colts that won in the past decade beat that time. Her BSF was 108, 3 points below the par of 111 for the Preakness. She was, however, the best horse on the field that day, that race, that distance. If the race had gone another quarter mile, I think Flying Private would have beat her, not just Mine That Bird. One thing for sure is the Belmont isn't the right race, right time, right distance for her to challenge the colts and geldings again: Rags to Riches did it, and never got back on the track again! What a waste of talent and future excitement watching this filly run thru this season and next if her connections try to stretch her out 1&1/2 miles. Her daddy had trouble winning at the 1&1/4 mile mark, except for the Travers. Who beat him? Pleasantly Perfect (Breeder's Cup and Dubai), Volponi (BC), Sarava (Belmont), and saving the best for last, Candy Ride (Pacific Classic). Candy Ride is the sire of Chocolate Candy, out of a Seattle Slew mare: now, that is breeding that can get the 1&1/2 Test of Champions. It will be interesting to see who Garrett Gomez chooses to ride if the Pioneer isn't showing up 6/6 (its looking doubtfull): he probably still has the call on Dunkirk if he wants it, but he has been seen this week working Chocolate Candy. My money will be on Garrett's choice, over whoever gets on the other, as well as whoever gets to ride Mine That Bird (Borel?) with a saver on Flying Private. Don't overlook the latter horse: he has taken home purse money from Maryland, Arkansas, and Kentucky in the last three months, and his record could just as well be 11: 3-2-0 with two of his 4 placings being by a nose loss. Too, he has the breeding, with Gold Digger the influential mare acounting for Rasmussen factor going for him also. Throw out his Derby performance, he was never asked to run past 6F by Albarado, coming out of the 19th post. Of course, he loses Garcia, but their will be some good jocks lined up give him a try, I'm sure.

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  • Brian Kilmnick | May 20 2009 02:02 PM

    If Smith is stupid enough to not ride Mine That Bird, in the Belmont, I would get either Rafael Bejerano or Robert Migliore. What a world.

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  • Greg D | May 20 2009 12:07 PM

    1} RA IS !!! the best horse!!! She did NOT handle the track that well. All you have to do is watch the prior races she ran and watch her action. If you ever have ridden a horse, then it becomes very clear what Calvin was talking about. And if you have not ever ridden then go to the part of the race where she turns for home. Right there where she is asked to run and she is digging down and trying to go but no grip. none. nada. I thought right there she was beat because of it, but she and her jock found a way to win which is what GREAT horses do !!! 2} MTB is a fine fine horse, peaking at the right time. Probably would have won the triple crown. Hats off to the connections !!

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  • andy serling | May 20 2009 10:21 AM

    Since Paula brought up Calvin Borel's comments about Rachel Alexandra not handling the surface, I felt I would mention, with all due respect to Calvin, that I don't buy that even one iota. She ran a remarkable race, the best she has ever run, which in my opinion would have been nearly impossible if she didn't handle the surface. Perhaps she wasn't going as well as some might have expected ( not me ) late in the race because she was tired from her earlier efforts.

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  • Paula | May 20 2009 08:55 AM

    I was reading the comments posted with interest. I do not believe Mine that Bird (yes I really do like him) would have beaten Rachel on that day never mind who rode her. Calvin stated immediately post race, she did not handle the surface well which is a very big thing and still managed to win. He also went on to say if Mind that Bird and her and met eye to eye she would have just dug deeper to win. True greats do find a way to win. That is what makes them that cup above. Everyone seems focused on Mine That Bird needing only bit of ground to beat her. I think there needs to be a bit of attention paid to the fact Rachel was not handlling that surface well and never got into her true stride. As for the Belmont, I agree with those that say it may be too soon to run her back. I hope Mine that Bird wins it, if Rachel is not entered.

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  • Vince | May 20 2009 08:01 AM

    1) RA had a much tougher trip than MTB in the Preakness , She dueled a top sprinter into a fast pace , put him away , lost ground on both turns and still won 2) Mike Smith's ride on MTB was terrific. He waited , saw the rail didn't open made one big run and lost to a better horse. I think it's fair to say that it was a better ride than the suddenly deified CB gave RA , who as I mentioned was wide both turns . 3)I don't think MTB beats RA at any distance

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  • Malcolm Harris | May 19 2009 10:38 PM

    Andy, I have no doubt about Mine That Bird as my first choice in the Belmont. He demonstrated his stuff in these two races. The beautiful turns at Belmont help his cause. And as you dig into his pedigree, you find lots of reasons to trust he is bred for a mile and a half. One of my favorite entries is Sequence, a mare who pops up in all the best places. Even the horses in the Bird's pedigree that get tagged as "brilliant" are top notch performers who did very nicely in the classics. It will be a great race. I do not think Rachel Alexandra will go a mile and a half. If Quality Road is fit, I would be very worried about Jerkens the Younger pulling off a Jerkens the Elder on his home turf. He and Dunkirk have the two best times at the mile and an eighth, both better than Rachel Alexandra's in the Oaks. Dunkirk may not have liked the mud and there is no guarantee the rain god will strike again. Yes it will be a very interesting race. -Malcolm Harris

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  • Jono | May 19 2009 10:36 PM

    The "if only there was another furlong" angle is mistake #1 in handicapping 101. Borel rode RA to finish at the wire, not after it. Had there been another furlong, he would have done the same. In the jog out, as several people have noted, MTB never passed her. A lot of money has been lost over the years betting on the fast finishing horse in the Wood, or Blue Grass, or Ark Derby, who finished fast again but couldn't catch the winner. The two best horses in training are obviously RA and MTB. That's because they have raced all the other top healthy horses. I Want Revenge may never race again, so to claim he's better off a single 113 Beyer is silly. The competition in that race was minimal. Quality Road has put in two excellent races, one against tough competition in Dunkirk, but he hasn't faced a pacesetter as tough as RA, and until he does, he can't be termed the best horse. He's just a horse with a big fig. By that logic, Bellamy Road is better than any of these. If you don't think RA could have run faster on Oaks day (cruised to a 108), when Borel never asked her for a thing, on a track she loved, then you are not paying attention.

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  • Bill Floyd | May 19 2009 10:35 PM

    I respectfully disagree with your assessment. RA won as I expected, but was not as dominant as I had expected. Were it not for Borel, she would likely NOT HAVE WON. Likewise, I sincerely believe, having watched the replay two dozen times, that Smith got unnecessarily tied up in traffic and that Borel would likely have won on Mine that Bird.

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  • Rich Schrage | May 19 2009 10:04 PM

    I've enjoyed reading all the "blog" comments, and here's my personal "woulda coulda shoulda" (bear with me)...being in Chicago for our grand-daughter's ballet on Derby day, I got in a few quick exotics (no handicapping) and did not notice my favorite horse Birdstone (from my initial fanhood in racing & seeing the Bird's first win by "daylight" at Saratoga) was the sire of Mine That Bird - and I definitely "woulda" included the younger "Bird" in a few bets for the Derby ($1.xx box or wheel winning over $1000) - and did get the Preakness payout (typical low Exacta at Preakness). Birdstone was a proven distance horse, e.g., beating Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes, and his sire record is moving up the ladder. I also did not notice Summer Bird, son of Birdstone, was in the Derby at 50:1 (finished 6th), and lo-and-behold, Summer Bird, hopefully along with Mine That Bird, will run in the Belmont Stakes. Assuredly, I plan to bet any and all "Birds" of "Birdstone" in my exotics and win or lose (uh ah, preferably the former), I'll have some fun. Thanks for your patience and any interest in my personal anecdote.

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  • Andy Serling | May 19 2009 09:58 PM

    A couple of thoughts..... In my opinion, Rachel Alexandra may not have appeared as dominent as some had hoped or expected because she attended an extremely taxing pace. Take a look not only at how every other horse that was even close to the pace ( i.e. Friesan Fire, Pioneer of the Nile, Take the Points and Big Drama ) finished. Every one of them was completely done in by the pace....and three of them were one of the first five betting choices. Then take a look at how well some closers like Flying Private and Luv Gov performed relative to their prior efforts. I believe if you take a good look at the chart, and keep this in mind, you may see that Rachel Alexandra performed much better than the final margin makes it appear. As for Mike Smith's ride.....I am astounded at the number of people that keep insisting that he did not ride the horse well ( and believe me, he is far from my favorite rider ). What I think you should keep in mind is that riding deep closers is very difficult, as more often than not you will encounter traffic difficulties, and all things considered, Smith did an excellent job staying out of trouble. Watch some races, and watch closers, and see how rarely, without circling the field, and losing valuable ground, how rarely horses get smooth trips. Also, let's compare the KY Derby to this Preakness. In the Derby, the field spread considerably, there was not a lot of bunching, which made it easier for Calvin Borel to negotiate Mine That Bird through the field ( which he did an exceptional job of doing ). In the Preakness, it was a far different scenerio, with as many as eight horses within a few lengths of each other, and considering the bunch around the 5/16ths pole, Smith did a superb job of saving ground, maybe two to three wide, and then smoothly splitting horses into the stretch. When you consider my previous paragraph, and realize that Mine That Bird had race dynamics very much in his favor, it also makes the performance of Rachel Alexandra look even better. Regardless, I appreciate the thoughts and comments, and can only hope we continue these conversations through the Belmont Stakes....and into the bigger races throughout the year. I can tell you that, thankfully, I think Horse of the Year is FAR from decided. And, I basically agree with Bill.....compare her to Winning Colors ( a wonderful racehorse ) but not to the true greats of the past ( though I'm not sure a Charismatic comparison isn't fair ). Let's all hope that Rachel Alexandra eventually proves herself a true racing great....but let her do that on the racetrack like Go for Wand did before we decide it in our minds. Thanks again.

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  • Bill Floyd | May 19 2009 06:36 PM

    Geez - she ran a good race, but if the race had been 1 furlong further, she would have lost - - and Borel vs Smith on Mine that Bird was definitely the difference. Also, the best horse, Quality Road and second best horse. I want Revenge didn't get to run. Compare her to Winning Colors, not Secretariat, nor Sunday Silence nor Easy Goer nor Charismatic nor Point Given nor even Overdose - - and I can name 20 others. Seattle Slew, Alydar, Affirmed, .... And if you believe in form and/or dosage, then the Belmont is THE RACE for Mine that Bird. He could have run another half mile in either of the last two races, let alon a quarter more in the Derby.

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  • ASHRA | May 19 2009 04:09 PM

    Well, Toni, if Rachel skips the 3YO stakes and wins either the Jockey Club Gold Cup or the Breeder's Cup Classic, then I will declare my undying loyalty to her as the best horse in the country this year; but she must face older horses. Curlin did it, and so did Holy Bull back when. She has a lot of potential, but she must earn the title of Horse of the Year.

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  • toni tyler | May 19 2009 03:17 PM

    ASHRA- what if she just does the "Breeders Cup?" What if she does another G1 with 3yr. old colts and then The Breeders Cup? If she had skipped that 'Narrow, ill-kept Preakness Track' then i think she could have won the Belmont (Breeding Lines on Sire Side)-but- faced with missing The Esteemed Belmont, is there another path to Horse of The Year?

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  • ASHRA | May 19 2009 01:09 PM

    Andy, your article appears mostly to be fair and balanced, but I wouldn't say that Mike Smith rode the Derby Champion flawlessly in the Preakness; I don't want to beat up Mike too much, considering that this was the first time he rode 'Bird', but when in high profile competition such as this one, you must be on your best game; although the trainer may tell him what to do and when, the thinking jockey must still make his own adjustments to preclude the expected difficulties. Rachel Alexandra has proven herself 3YO filly of the year, but she must either win The Belmont or The Travers to earn my vote for 3YO horse of the year. If she or any of the 3YO contenders expect 'Horse of the Year' honors, then a winning matchup against older horses is necessary, ie: the Breeders Cup World Championships. Just one thing more: If the owners and trainers of these noble animals expect them to compete at their best for the Triple Crown, a gruelling (approx.) month of high stakes competition, then shouldn't they insist that all prep races be completed by the last week in March? This would give the contenders at least one month of rest for the taxing trials that lay ahead. It seems to me, that by the time they begin the Triple Crown series, they are too tired to compete. Consequently, a rested blue-blood like Dunkirk, who skipped The Preakness, may take The Belmont!

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  • joe | May 19 2009 12:02 PM

    RA has nothing to prove so why would they enter in 21 days she is a filly and she needs a rest. T he Alabama would be a good choice. I think she already has won horse of the year.

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  • William | May 19 2009 08:11 AM

    Just a few thoughts. RA won that race in spectacular fashion. She dueled with a sprinter, ran a very honest pace up front and finished as strong as she needed to. Go back and watch the race again, and notice when Calvin looks over both his shoulders. At that point you can see the race is over. I believe RA ran as fast as she had to the last 150 yards, not as fast as she could have. Prior to the race, I looked at every angle I couldprior to the race to see how RA could lose and in the end I couldnt find one. My hope is that she passes on the Belmont, as I think after two big races in 15 days, even a this January foal needs a rest. I would like to see her run at Saratoga in August in the Alabama, then perhaps a race against older horses at the Breeders Cup. Just an opinion.

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  • Peter | May 18 2009 11:17 PM

    In my opinion, Breeding is more relevant in determining the Belmont winner than the other two triple crown races. Not many horses can get the 1 1/2 distance. The horses most likely to get this distance of ground appear to be Chocolate Candy, Hold Me Back & Dunkirk. One of these horses will win(if entered of course). I don't see Rachel running in this one. May want a little time off or run with the filly's (basically the same thing for her).

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  • toni tyler | May 18 2009 07:12 PM

    i don't want Rachel To run the Belmont. Why? The Maryland Tracks are in dire financial (bankruptcy) times making the surfaces ill-kept,the ovals are narrow, the number of horses with troubled trips is high, the stewards are somewhat inattentive, and Rachel Alexandra had a really rough go-of-it. As Calvin Bo-Rail (Borel) said, "...she never handled the track..." To ask her or any horse to go from regularly racing -mile1/16,to-1 1/8,1 3/16, then "The Belmont Stakes', racing 4 times in just a few weeks -well- even Dunkirk took off the Preakness and Original Favored Pioneer is not doing Belmont but resting for later G1-races. Rachel Alexandra is "Horse of the Year" - one of the best Horses i've seen since Secretariat, let her rest, eat, play, then look at where she might be a 'fit' for G1-Stakes left in August.

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