JC / Railbird

Del Mar

Ho-Hum Doesn’t Earn HOTY

Bill Dwyre:

For Zenyatta, racing’s Queen Mother, the campaign to avenge her only defeat continues Saturday at Del Mar.

If that were true, she would start in the August 28 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, or possibly, the August 29 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Instead, she’s entered today in the Clement Hirsch, “a race she has already won 42 times. Yawn.”

Buzz babies updates: Maiden winner Wickedly Perfect took advantage of a hot pace duel between Final Mesa and Dawnie Macho to score the G3 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar on Friday. The pacesetters, who zipped through early fractions of :21.89 and :44.90, finished sixth and seventh.


Rachel Alexandra winning the Haskell
Rachel Alexandra and Calvin Borel win the Haskell. (Uploaded by Rock and Racehorses to Flickr.)

She’s beaten the winners of the Illinois Derby, Arkansas Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Tom Fool Handicap. She’s won eight consecutive races, four of those Grade 1s, one a Classic, at six different tracks, and she’s done so by a combined 69 3/4 lengths. Her winning time of 1:47.21 for nine furlongs in the Haskell Invitational came within one-fifth of a second of the Monmouth stakes record; her preliminary Beyer speed figure for the race is 116, which is the highest yet given this year to any horse of any age at any distance over any surface in North America. The leading contender for Horse of the Year, she’s the best of her generation, male or female, and quite possibly, the best American thoroughbred in training.

She’s Rachel Alexandra, and she’s great.

Superlatively speaking: Her Haskell win was preternaturalawesomesurrealeasily the most scintillating seen this yearspine-tingling. (For more, including photos and the race replay, visit R360.)

Meanwhile: Earlier in the day and across the ocean, Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldikova turned in a flawless front-running performance to win the Fr-1 Prix de Rothschild. Writes Sue Montgomery in the Independent,

Unlike those commercially driven, demeaning occasions now prevalent at feature race meetings, yesterday was a ladies’ day with a degree of dignity attached. At Deauville, the four-year-old filly Goldikova won the European weekend’s most valuable prize because of her deeds, not her looks. Her class as an athlete was being judged, not the style of her plaits or the colour of her saddlecloth.

Sing it, sister.

The brilliant Goldikova is expected to return to Santa Anita this fall to defend her title. “We’ll follow the same plan as last year,” said trainer Freddie Head.

And at Del Mar: Perfect Zenyatta breezed five furlongs in 1:00 in prep for the Clement Hirsch (video). Could the champion beat Rachel Alexandra, if the two meet? That’ll be the question for the rest of the racing year.

Weekend Notes

– Racing has a new Omnisurface Star: Colonel John, winner of the 2008 Santa Anita Derby (Pro-Ride) and Travers Stakes (dirt), made his 2009 debut a winning one, taking the ungraded Wickerr Stakes (turf) at Del Mar by two lengths in a fast 1:32.77 (just missing the track record). Trainer Eoin Harty now has some options for the 4-year-old Tiznow colt: “He can do anything.”

– The lack of TV coverage for this weekend’s fantastic racing “amounts to a blackout,” says Steve Crist. Count it also as a lost opportunity.

– Maybe part of the problem with getting coverage is that apparently even the NTRA doesn’t follow the sport that closely. “The Haskell Invitation is today at 6:15PM … http://bit.ly/grQoo,” reads an official tweet. Dear NTRA tweeter, note: The Haskell Invitational is scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday, August 2.

– Bill Finley sees into the future: “Munnings is going to beat her.” [Oops!]

– Monmouth photos: There’s something in the air, and check out that filly.

– Jess Jackson may have the best 3-year-old running, and his wife, Barbara Banke, the best 2-year-old: Hot Dixie Chick was given a Beyer speed figure of 103 for her visually impressive Schuylerville Stakes win on Wednesday. Backtalk, an undefeated son of Smarty Jones attracting some attention, received a BSF of 82 for his hard-fought Sanford win on Thursday.

– Discreetly Mine, a half-brother to Discreet Cat who made an impression on me in his debut, returns in the sixth at Saratoga this afternoon. The 3-1 morning line favorite in a field of 13, he gets blinkers on and boasts a bullet work for trainer Stanley Hough. Also entered is Krypton, a first-time starter by freshman sire Rock Hard Ten (one of my old favorites) out of Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn. Rock Hard Ten is off to a decent start with his offspring: Of the seven that have run so far, two have won, both in their debuts.

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