JC / Railbird

Questions, Questions

Steve Haskin keeps up the quest for answers:

Speaking of Rachel’s retirement, some fairly reliable tidbits heard through the grapevine include Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen knowing she would not race again as of a week or two ago, and that it was nagging foot problems that prompted her retirement. Another cited suspensory issues. See what happens when you are not forthright in announcing the retirement of a horse such as this.

It is hoped one of these, if true, will be made public in the next day or two to give closure to Rachel’s retirement.

Would it make a difference now to learn there was an injury?

Here’s one question answered: Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has the mount on juvenile graded stakes winner JP’s Gusto, will be able to ride at Keeneland and Churchill (and in the Breeders’ Cup) this fall. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission unanimously granted Valenzuela a license on Thursday.

Gary West asks: Can Switch beat Zenyatta? I think not, but if she were to do so in the Lady’s Secret on Saturday, it would highlight a downside to the big mare’s careful California campaign. Zenyatta has more to lose by losing to weak competition than she would in a race such as the Beldame Stakes.


The Times Union article said she is going to the barn at Churchill Downs next week. Do you think this may mean a farewell event could be in the works before she goes to Stonestreet? Have you heard anything?

Posted by Cindy on October 1, 2010 @ 11:13 am

Any journalist worth their salt needs to find out the reason behind RA’s retirement. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make a difference – it just needs to be reported.

What’s more troubling is what happens if Zenyatta loses this weekend? Is retirement likely then too, as “she doesn’t owe us anything”?

Even if she wins but were to be beaten in the Classic, how could anyone possibly say that her 2010 campaign is worthy of Horse of the Year honors?

Posted by Robin Howlett on October 1, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

Cindy, I hope there are plans to celebrate RA at the scene of one of her most spectacular wins. I haven’t heard anything yet, but maybe there’ll be news in a couple weeks.

That’s the big question, isn’t it? If Zenyatta loses the Breeders’ Cup Classic, she’s not Horse of the Year (and maybe not even champion older mare).

As for RA, I agree that the reason for her retirement, if there is a reason beyond Jackson’s statement, should be reported. But you’ve hit on a tension in racing journalism, Robin. There are turf writers who believe that owners don’t owe the press or fans explanations for such decisions. It’s interesting, what Haskin wrote, because it suggests that he’s fairly confident there is a physical problem, yet he can’t, for whatever reason, report it outright. He’s pressing the connections to come forward.

Posted by Jessica on October 1, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

The whole “we need to know why Rachel Alexandra really retired” argument is ridiculous and shows a bias on some reporter’s/publication’s parts toward Jackson.

Do you think the Blood Horse would publish such articles about a stallion going to one of its top advertising stud farms? I don’t.

Put another way, can you imagine the din if Quality Road went to Gainesway or Lane’s End or Three Chimneys and Haskin wrote ad nauseum about how there must be a physical issue with the future stallion?

In other news, Zenyatta has champion older female locked up even with a loss Saturday. She has four Grade 1 wins this year at four different tracks. No other older female can come close to that resume even if she wins out (assuming a win doesn’t come in the Classic).

Posted by EJXD2 on October 1, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

You’re right. I misspoke re: Zenyatta as champion older female. Even if she loses in the Classic, she’ll have more G1 wins than the winner of the Ladies’ Classic.

“Do you think the Blood Horse would publish such articles about a stallion going to one of its top advertising stud farms? I don’t.”

So advertising affects editorial. There are things that can’t be reported.

Posted by Jessica on October 1, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

@EJXD2 I don’t understand your view at all.

They retired her the day after a bullet workout, four days before she was due to run in her next targeted race. If any other horse retired with such a timeline, everyone would suspect that it was because of an injury, or at least something affecting him/her negatively. You would at least press the connections very hard for an explanation.

Instead, we are treated to reports that publish an empty press release and leave things at that. Haskin asks the only logical question and rightly continues to ask it. I can’t possibly see how this can be deemed ‘ridiculous’.

Posted by Robin Howlett on October 1, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

Jessica, if a horse retired with an announced injury that would of course get reported or even if a reporter had it on the record from a trusted source then it would get reported.

But speculation that a retirement has to be some injury or soundness issue would never happen with a stallion prospect so why is it OK to happen with her?

Posted by EJXD2 on October 2, 2010 @ 9:09 am

I’m revealing my biases here, specifically my beliefs that 1) Jackson and Asmussen are not being forthcoming, and 2) Steve Haskin is a trustworthy reporter, a credible source, whom I do not expect to speculate on any horse’s condition without grounds.

Posted by Jessica on October 2, 2010 @ 9:38 am