Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pioneerof the Nile at career terminus: 'Twas a short trip

Ahmed Zayat's Pioneerof The Nile, winner of four straight graded-stakes before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby to Mine That Bird, has been retired due to a "soft tissue injury."

The injury wasn't fully described; only referenced as "a little filling in his leg" discovered by trainer Bob Baffert and staff.

The Blood-Horse -- in another notorious "edited press release" -- apparently is accepting Zayat Sables' labeling of the horse as "one of the top colts of his generation." ... Do they mean "crop?" Because that at least have a chance of being true.

In fact, because The Blood-Horse apparently isn't bothering to temper anyone's editorial commentary in their self-promotional press-releases, there's all sorts of gushing about Pioneerof The Nile in the "story."

It's said that jockey Garrett Gomez chose Pioneerof The Nile over $3.7 million yearling Dunkirk for the Kentucky Derby "as a demonstration of the respect (Pioneerof The Nile) commanded." ... But wouldn't a jockey be an idiot not to take the multiple-graded-stakes winner over a horse that had only cleared the maiden and allowance ranks, Dunkirk's placing in the Florida Derby notwithstanding?

The "story" fawns over the horse's combination of stamina and speed. And Baffert, according to Zayat, was "100 percent convinced that (Pioneerof The Nile) was going to win the Breeders' Cup Classic."

Good for them. I'm not 100 percent convinced of much of anything, including whether any horse will be sound and fit enough to race on Breeders' Cup weekend (theirs won't be), let alone win the biggest race on the card.

I'm not necessarily knocking Pioneerof The Nile, although I won't fawn over him, either. He was a talented horse who won half of his 10 lifetime starts and more than $1.6 million.

But I will go on record that 10 starts doesn't impress me. And his sire, Empire Maker, made all of eight before retiring unsound as a 3-year-old and not making it to the Breeders' Cup Classic. (Though Bobby Frankel called him the "best horse I have ever trained.") And while I hate to point fingers, here's the Unbridled line again, which also includes the aforementioned Dunkirk (by Unbridled's Song) who likewise is presently on the shelf due to injury.

"Thank God I'll get to see his progeny," says Zayat.

Well, for eight or 10 races, anyway.

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