The Brock Talk

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Queens and Quicksters Will Carry Female Banner in Saturday Breeders' Cup Races

Last year may have been the classic year of the female with Rachel Alexandra named Horse of the Year, the unbeaten Zenyatta winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. 1), and Goldikova taking her second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. 1). But I’m not sure the female dominance is over. At least there is a very good chance that the Friday filly and mare Breeders’ Cup spotlight may continue to have female focus Saturday as well during the Nov. 5-6 championship races.

Races for fillies and mares plus the Breeders' Cup Marathon, make up the Friday, Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup card highlighted by the grade 1 Ladies Classic. The eight Breeders’ Cup races Saturday are either restricted to colts and geldings, like the Juvenile races, or open like the Classic, Mile and others.

Zenyatta will obviously be the large focus for the day as she defends her title in $5 million Classic by attempting to extend her consecutive winning streak to a record 20 races. She is expected to be the betting favorite and will without doubt be the star of ESPN Saturday telecast at least until the running of the Classic. (She is already featured as one of the first five menu items on the Breeders’ Cup home page alongside merchandise, tickets, nominations and Breeders’ Cup 360.) A Zenyatta victory will add historical significance to the 2010 Breeders’ Cup and her legacy. The Classic is also expected to be her final career race before retirement.

What Zenyatta has been to North American horse racing fans through the last three years, Goldikova has been to European fans. While Goldikova does not have the winning streak Zenyatta does, her 12 wins from 17 career starts includes 10 group 1 or grade 1 wins. She has won the last three runnings of the Prix Rothschild (gr. 1), and defeated a field of 16 males in her last start while winning the Prix de la ForĂȘt (gr. 1) at Longchamp Oct. 3. Her next triple attempt comes in the grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile when she tries to surpass Mile legends Miesque, Lure and Da Hoss who are the only two-time winners of the race.

Like Zenyatta, Goldikova will be the favorite and the Breeders’ Cup Mile is also her likely swan song.

Unlike Zenyatta and Goldikova, however, the fillies and mares will rely on a numbered attack in a wide open Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. 1) on the Saturday card. Empressive Lady, Czechers, Melito, Rose Catherine and Unzip Me are the current fillies and mares likely for the Turf Sprint.

Rose Catherine and Unzip Me will have the best chance to topple the colts and gelding in the Turf Sprint which will be modified significantly in distance from the two previous versions of the race at Santa Anita. While defending champion California Flag is back, he will lose a furlong and a-half in distance on the Churchill Downs turf, which of course, also has no downhill start like the race featured over the Santa Anita turf course in 2008-’09. The favorite should be Chamberlain Bridge, recent winner of the Arlington Turf Sprint at Arlington Park, but Rose Catherine and Unzip Me both have had their share of victories this year.

Rose Catherine has won four consecutive races including The Turf Amazon Stakes at Parx Racing at Philadephip Park Sept. 25. The Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-old filly will be making her second Breeders’ Cup appreance after finishing third behind Tapitsfly in the Juvenile Filly Turf last year.

Unzip Me, a 4-year-old filly, has won five turf sprint stakes including the grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sept. 30 in her most recent start.

While both Zenyatta and Goldikova have big challenges ahead before they hit the winners’ circle following their respective Breeders’ Cup races, their victories may be considered likely – but far from certain. The girls in the Turf Sprint will probably have a much bigger job to do to hit the line first as well. But they’ll have the spotlight and the opportunity to make 2010 the year of female again in the thoroughbred world.

No comments: