Sunday, October 25, 2009

Breeders' Cup loses Indian Blessing

Another major defection has weakened a 2009 Breeders' Cup already bruised by cold shoulders thrown by other major contenders.

The second straight running of the Cup during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita was already suffering from the long-planned absence of likely champion 3-year-old filly and potential Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. Her principal owner, Jess Jackson, says he doesn't want the filly racing "on plastic" -- that is, Santa Anita's Pro-Ride synthetic main track.

Now trainer Bob Baffert has said his dual-champion 4-year-old filly Indian Blessing would not be pre-entered for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Baffert said the Indian Charlie filly -- who was the 2-year-old champion female of 2007 and champion female sprinter in 2008 -- simply has a distaste for the Pro-Ride.

"I think I'm going to pass," Baffert said. "She just doesn't like the track. What can you do?

"She looks good. It's frustrating. I'm not going to pre-enter because I don't want the temptation to change my mind."

Indian Blessing, who has won 10 of 16 lifetime for $2,995,420, was beaten over the Pro-Ride by Ventura (also a Grade 1 winner on turf) in last year's Filly & Mare Sprint, though she still finished second in that race

Rachel Alexandra and Indian Blessing aren't the only top horses whose connections are ducking the Breeders' Cup's encore performance at Santa Anita. It's official that the very fast (for six furlongs) Fabulous Strike will not appear at Santa Anita, either. The horse is 14-for-21 lifetime on dirt, but was beaten sixth lengths in a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Pro-Ride last year. Trainer Todd Beattie is already looking forward to the Breeders' Cup Sprint on real dirt at Churchill Downs.

Changing their minds at the last minute and deciding to ship for the Cup are the connections of Kodiak Kowboy, the horse that has handed two losses to Fabulous Strike this year. Though a stakes winner on synthetic at Woodbine as a juvenile, the colt's four worst lifetime speed figures all have come on synthetic surfaces, and his connections seemed more interested in winning the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 28 to add an exclamation point to his stallion resume by gaining Grade 1 wins at 6, 7 and 8 furlongs.

It's good to see that Kodiak Kowboy, at least, most likely will appear.

I'm a fan of the Breeders' Cup's traveling road-show format. And I think it's no small surprise that the first time the Breeders' Cup decided to leave its tents staked at the same track for two years in a row, troubles commenced. Especially since that track is a synthetic surface.

We almost certainly won't see defections like these from the Cup next year, at Churchill.

And though the sites such as Woodbine and Arlington Park -- past host sites now switched to synthetics -- still are names in the mix for future renewals, I'm wondering how long it will be until the next Breeders' Cup is scheduled over a "plastic" racetrack.

If Breeders' Cup management is wise, I would say it shouldn't be in 2011, either.


  1. Well if you ask Richard Eng, he thinks there will be another synth Breeders Cup shortly.

    We shall see.
    The final verdict will be the handle figures.
    With or without Betfair's handle lumped in to cover up for this inadequate 2009 BC edition.

  2. Fabulous Strike is a terrible loss for the fans. I thought the most compelling story of this BC was going to be Zensational vs. Fabulous Strike.


    -extemporaneousexpressions, who just cant get the authenticator to work!

  3. In Excess was the leading candidate for champion older horse in 1991. He had won the Met Mile, the Suburban H, the Woodward, and the San Fernando S. But his trainer decided that he didn't like the Churchill Downs dirt track and instead put him in the Mile on turf; the Irish-bred had won graded turf races as a 3yo. Unfortunately In Excess tanked in the Mile, while Midwestern star Black Tie Affair won the Classic, the older horse championship, and Horse of the Year.

    Ann Ferland


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