Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

07 November 2009

Breeders' Cup Trip Report

Arcadia Ca - After driving the limo all night on Thursday I caught the first flight out of Kennedy for Burbank on Friday morning. After pulling an all-nighter and then flying all morning, going to the track was out of the question. With the sleep situation critical I watched the Friday B.C. card from the hotel. After sleeping for 12 hours Friday night, I was roaring and ready to go for the Saturday card.

visually appealing scenery at Santa Anita
photo credit East Of Allen

Santa Anita is a facility with visual appeal. This venue combines natural beauty with the architecture of the early 20th century. Santa Anita is right up there with American top-class racing venues like Arlington and Keeneland. Perhaps the best part about Santa Anita is the weather. The weather is a gift from the heavens-a combination of the warm sun of the desert with a hint of cool salty ocean air- a welcome respite from the brutal cold of New York winter. The only blemish is the smog that obscures the view of the huge mountains that abut the facility.

International Superstar L. Dettori up on Delegator

There was much bemoaning about the Breeders' Cup running in consecutive years at Santa Anita. However after witnessing the spectacle first hand, those grousers are wrong. With Santa Anita you are all but ensured grade I weather, the facility is beautiful and the area has outstanding infrastructure. Santa Anita is an easy place for horses and people like me to travel to. With great weather and fast/firm there is little chance for a washout. Who can forget the disastrous Monmouth Breeders' Cup; sloppy tracks and bog turf courses are not conducive to good racing or safety. That weekend will be remembered more for the ill fated George Washington than any of the winners. Even the last Belmont Breeders' Cup was a cold and nasty day. If the Breeders' Cup ever wanted a permanent home, Santa Anita would be a good choice.

packed grandstand and apron

Comparing a regular Saturday at Aqueduct to Saturday at the Breeders' Cup really exposes the problems of New York racing. Racing in New York seems to be dominated by only one type of fan, the middle aged to elderly urban working class male degenerate. At Santa Anita there was great diversity in the crowd. Everyone from the horseplayer to the tycoon to the rural horselover to the teenage girl with a horse fetish was in attendance. It was a nice mix and people were friendly, the strangers I was sitting with were even nice enough to invite me out to dinner when I told them I was traveling alone.


The races were a nice mixed of longshots and relieable favorites. It was no secret but dirt horses and those stretching out are poor bets on synthetic surfaces. Once again not one horse prepped on dirt won a race at the Breeders' Cup. Horses cutting back in distance with previous turf or synthetic success dominated the races. It seems like the public is yet to master synthetic surface wagering, but the track plays fair. Some of these grousers dont like these new surfaces but this seems like the mindless complaining of people that refuse to adapt to change. For me it was a fair day in the parimutuel department. Goldikova was a short priced wagering highlight and I had a few bucks on longshot Furthest Land.

Furthest Land lands a mini-score

The real highlight of the day was undoubtedly Zenyatta. As a New York guy I never developed a Zenyatta-affection, but my heart softened for her today. She is a big, regal but smart looking mare; something really special. There is something different about her, it looks like she isn't trying but she covers so much ground. Mike Smith "She is sent from God. It is His filly. I think he wanted a horse and sent her down her to race against everybody" Fourteen for Fourteen can not be marginalized, the naysayers have been silenced.

Crowd before the classic

At Santa Anita she has a huge following. Trainer John Sherriffs "She loves the crowd. When people yell at her she does her little prance. I don't know. She has a relationship with her fans" There was this one part in the parade where the crowd erupted in applause, Zenyatta wheeled around, stopped and started to paw the ground and prance, the crowd went absolutely nuts for her- it was like the horse was mugging for the crowd. It was nice to see so much affection for a horse. When she won it was like the home team won a ballgame. It was great validation for a crowd that had largely showed up to see her. It was the kind of win that will mint a few thousand new racing fans.

Thousands of these signs filled Santa Anita
photo credit AP


The_Knight_Sky said...

Excellent report my friend. But I really have to question your timing. We finally get a gorgeous sunny-n-55 degree weekend and you decided to leave the metro area?

There were two players who had Furthest Land in my contest-at-the-blog. They'll be crowned champ and runnerup as a result of their remarkable prognosticating skills.

As for you, that ticket should be enough for a fine Sunday dinner before the sun comes up on Santa Monica Boulevard. :P

G. C. said...

@The Knight Sky
All of us Northeast dwellers have lowered our weather standards. Since when is 55 degrees nice weather? Would you go swimming in 55 degree weather. We had 75 and sunny today, back in Gotham we get this type of day ten times a year and only in April-May or Sept-Oct.

Stephen Alicknovic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Alicknovic said...

When I saw her win the Ladies Classic last year, I had abit of an affection for her. After that I thought to myself, wow. I knew she was the real deal. I will admit I was not that familiar with her before the Ladies Classic. Her stride is unbelievable. I never believed that theory she was beating nothing. She is just a super, great horse. She did what she always does, gobble up that ground like a machine. To think she had no shot to win the classic was not accurate. And the distance issues I thought were unfounded. I thought the longer the race the better for her, how is more distance going to hurt her? It's just more ground to gobble up. I certainly though she could win it. I thought the race was a little tough, but I thought she had a real shot at it.

And I'm happy for Life is Sweet,
she had no luck running behind Zenyatta for some time now, to see her win the Ladies Classic was great. She was able to prove she is Champion as well and have her great moment. It made it a great and special Breeders' Cup for me. Shirreffs is great.

Anonymous said...

To say that questioning the synthetic tracks is mindless complaining is a mindless statement. The statement. Not you.

I feel your pain on the sleepy set up for Friday's fun- amazing that you managed to stay up at all. Zenyatta saved you from missing her performance by running in the Classic on Saturday. Every year I indulge in night before jitters, fun and study= sleeping between the races the next day. And, more than once, waking up for the winner's circle ceremony. When it's all over, planning a better schedule for the next year.
I don't bet. But your explanation of Betfair sounds intriguing, that's the closest anyone has ever come to making me want to actually advance past pedigree handicapping and very basic race stats only assessment. Thank you.