Saturday, August 8, 2009

Monday Mixed Bag

From Arlington Park, to the Meadowlands and the Spa, it was a very big day for horse racing enthusiasts. Muscle Man made winning the Hambletonian look like just another day at the races. His driver, Brian Sears also won the Hambletonian Oaks making him the first driver ever to win both races on the same day. Every time I watch harness racing I find myself really enjoying it. The gaits they must keep, the very orderly way the numbers sit on little tiara-like headpieces. It's a very stylish sport and it was wonderful that NBC covered both the Hambletonian and Oaks races today.

NBC's coverage was happily followed by ESPN's coverage of the Arlington Million races. Gio Ponti looked glorious winning the Million itself and Take the Points, (one of my favorite grays despite his last place finish in The Preakness) loved the turf in the Secretariat. Dynaforce, a talented daughter of prolific sire Dynaformer, took the Beverly D. And last, but certainly not least, was the Whitney Hcp at Saratoga, won in upset fashion by Bullsbay over Commentator who was attempting to win his 3rd Whitney. Commentator is legendary, he's had a brilliant career and as Nick Zito said after the race, he deserves to be retired and given a chance to get a little old and a little fat eating carrots, apples, and peppermints.

Sunday night I nearly forgot to tune in to Zenyatta's race (the Clement L. Hirsch from Del Mar)...but I managed to in the nick of time. What a performance. She was literally loping along at the back of the pack for most of the race, just biding her time. When Mike Smith did ask her (I thought it was a little late, but he's Mike Smith, and well, I'm not) she turned it on and came down the home stretch about 6 wide. She ran a long race but managed to win, but a little more than a nose in a photo finish. There were audible gasps from the crowd as it was absolutely too close to call. As several of the turf writers have noted, the great ones find a way to win and Zenyatta is great. She's 12-0. Undefeated and still absolutely gorgeous. What a treat to watch her run, whether she wins by a nose or a furlong, she's the epitome of grace and power combined. Watch Zenyatta edge out her competitors HERE.

I had a few hiccups in getting this written over the weekend, and now I'm happy to report that Commentator is indeed getting to head down the happy trail to retirement. He's earned it at the ripe old age of 8!

A very disturbing trend, the most recent example brought to my attention by a friend of mine, involving slaughter of horses--though not at an abattoir, right in the pasture. The article from CNN is HERE. While some of it seems to be at least tangentially related to the economy (some of these poor creatures being slaughtered for meat), a good deal of it just appears to be cruelty (just murdered and left in the paddocks). As is noted in the CNN piece, 19 horses have been killed in 2 Florida counties since January. Horse owners are understandably very nervous. Horse meat is (sadly) a delicacy in many cultures, even though horse slaughter is outlawed here in the US. It's important to note that criminals who do horrible things to animals often start there before moving on to doing horrible things to people, so it is imperative that these killers are caught before they commit any more crimes.

So as not to end Monday on such a decidedly sad note, here's a wonderfully written entry from's Steve Haskins on Rachel and Zenyatta. Read the whole piece HERE, and enjoy! Happy Monday, y'all!

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