The Brock Talk

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The NTRA Is Going To Create The Race? Really?

When I first heard that Rachel Alexandra's owner decided not to run her in the $5 million Apple Blossom Invitational against the undefeated Zenyatta, I was saddened. But I can't say I was really that disappointed. Expecting trainer Steve Asmussen to ready Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra from first work to race of the millennium in less than seven weeks seemed a bit of a stretch of even his Eclipse Award-winning talents.

I am very dissapointed, however, in owner Jess Jackson's next move to discuss "with Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of National Thoroughbred Racing Association, ...the hope of coordinating training schedules, racing schedules, purses and all ancillary factors, so that we can all agree upon three dates and three venues for what will be a racing series to rival the Triple Crown.”


The NTRA is going to coordinate training schedules? Really?

Forgive my sarcasm and lack of confidence in Alex Waldrop's horsemanship and backside experience, but I just don't see John Sherriffs nor Steve Asmussen listening to a thing Alex Waldrop has to say about the training schedules. Outside of spouses and mothers, trainers listen only to two things - horses and owners. I just don't think Waldrop's experience with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs is going to carry as much weight in a tack room as it did in a court room.

If Mr. Jackson really wants to coordinate training schedules, I suggest he talks with Zenyatta owners Jerry and Ann Moss. They're on Sherriffs' "listen to" list.

The NTRA is going to coordinate racing schedules? Really?

This is not to criticize Mr. Waldrop nor the NTRA, but the reality is they don't have an ounce of influence or power over the racing department's that are responsible for these racing schedules and conditions. If Mr. Jackson thinks that tweeking the conditions of say the La Troienne Breeders' Cup Stakes at Churchill for instance, will bring the dream race to reality, he should talk with Churchill Downs.

The NTRA is going to coordinate purses? Really?

If Mr. Jackson requires a multi-million dollar minimum purse for the dream race - and it sounds to me like he does - the NTRA certainly doesn't have that kind of money in their coffers and they haven't shown me they are capable of raising that kind of money from sponsorship any faster than anybody else. Little ol' Sam Houston Race Park and "Matress Mac" Jim McIngvale in Houston have been ahead of the NTRA on that level for months.

This series of races is going to rival the Triple Crown? Really?

I love Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. I really, really do. I get all Irish and start tearing up when I see either of them just walk into the paddock. I get choked up in the post parade and I'm usually saying goodbye to any notion of emotional stability at some point just before or during one of their races.

But I'm afraid the dream race or races will not rival the Triple Crown. Rachel and Zenyatta are the giants of the racing world right now, but the sports world is a much different place. It's a world in which the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont have to fight for air time, print space and the attentions of the American sports fans. It's an attention that the Breeders' Cup has failed to garner on a regular basis and attention it took years for even the great Cigar to muster without the benefit of the Triple Crown.

As much as you and I and every horse racing fan in North America would like to think that Rachel Alexandra and Zeyatta are household names that could rival the Triple Crown in terms of excitement and attention, I'm afraid they are just not. If you doubt it, count their appearances on Sports Center.

So the next time we want to hear about this dream race between Rachel and Zenyatta; we want to see Mr. Jackson and Mr. and Mrs. Jerry and Ann Moss, and Steve Asmussen, and John Sherriffs all in the same room at the same press conference making the announcement. This way you can avoid the embarrassment of the other party saying "I have no idea what he's even talking about. Which three races? And where? And when?" as Moss recently told the Associated Press in reaction to Jackson's statements with the NTRA.

While Waldrop also told the associated press that he supports any effort to put together a race featuring the sport's biggest stars, it is not support we are looking for here.

It is not press releases and promises we're looking for either.

It the race between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta that we're looking for. Really!

1 comment:

Celeste said...

Beautiful! Very well said, Brock.