Saturday, May 16, 2009

This Year's Triple Crown (horseracing)

I didn't write anything about the Kentucky Derby because there was no dominant horse going into the race. There was no Curlin and no Big Brown. The dominant horse, Rachel Alexandra, ran in the Oaks instead. Luckily, Jess Jackson (owner of Curlin) bought the horse and supplemented her for the Preakness.

I'm mixed in my feelings about this race. If Rachel Alexandra was the wonder filly they proclaimed her to be, she should have won by 6 lengths the way the race went when she lengthened into the straight. The jockey Calvin Borel, however, did admit that the horse struggled on this ground, so it's possible that what we saw today was nowhere near her best. My other problem is that this race was set up for her perfectly. All the Derby runners ran harder races two weeks ago, and noone rests a horse to target the Preakness (while that frequently happens for the Belmont). In fact, I thought Mine That Bird was the most impressive runner, and unless the ground really was a huge factor, I'd rate the runner-up to be a better horse at 10 furlongs for now. It's still impressive for a filly to lead throughout from the outside post against male horses, but I wouldn't start comparing her to Zarkava just yet.

Before the race, there was a lot of talk about the owners of the two other main contenders trying to supplement additional horses to shut Rachel Alexandra out of the field. In the end, one of the other owners said that she'd drop out of the race with her horse just to make sure Rachel Alexandra makes the field. Upon hearing that, the two owners abandoned their plan. This is something that I think Hong Kong does a great job of in ensuring the true sport of racing horses. In other racing jurisdictions, owners can enter multiple horses easily, usually a rabbit to ensure a true pace for their stayer or backmarker. Hong Kong does not allow this, and sometimes smaller fields may result. However, one can be assured that every horse entered is trying to achieve the best possible placing for its connections.

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