The Brock Talk

Friday, October 22, 2010

Zenyatta Not Haunting Away Challengers

Although we are nearing Halloween, the big, bad mare out of Southern California is not scarring anybody away from meeting her in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. 1) Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. With the connections of 2009 Champion Older Male Gio Ponti saying they are keeping their options open for a repeat in the Classic; and Dale Romans, trainer of 3-year-old turf star Paddy O’Prado, more definite about pointing toward the $5 million race, there are as many as 15 possible contenders lining up to take on the undefeated Zenyatta.

Under the conditions of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the field will be restricted to 14 starters. Should more than 14 horses enter, the Breeders’ Cup uses a system to rank the entrants in order of preference based upon (1) performance in Breeders' Cup Challenge Races, (2) a point system, and (3) the judgment of a panel of racing experts. The field selection system will be implemented as necessary following the taking of pre-entries on Oct. 25.

Gio Ponti (right), who is expected to also pre-enter into the $2 Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf, split horses at the top of the stretch and opened up daylight on last year’s Classic field before being run down in the final 110 yards by Zenyatta. Also honored last year as the Champion Turf Male, Gio Ponti has six career grade 1 wins on grass including the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., Oct. 9. But the 5-year-old has never raced on natural dirt. Last year the Breeders’ Cup Classic was run over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita in Southern California while Churchill Downs has a natural dirt surface.

Similarly, Praddy O’Prado has more recently been thought of as a turf specialist winning four graded races including the grade 1T Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park near Chicago. But he also ran a very credible third over the Churchill Downs main track in the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands giving trainer Dale Romans the confidence to return Paddy O’Prado to the main track in Louisville.

There is even a rare invasion from the Land of Rising Sun. Looking to become the first Japanese-based horse to win and only the fifth to start in a Breeders’ Cup race, Espoir City (left) arrived Tuesday at Churchill Downs after a long flight from Tokyo via Chicago. Last year, Espoir City won the prestigious Japan Cup Dirt and is considered to be Japan’s top rated thoroughbred on dirt with career earnings of nearly $6 million. In his last start Oct. 11, he was second in the Nambu Hai Mile in his first race in five months in what has been termed “strictly a preparation for the big race (Classic)” according to his trainer. “We have been training him looking ahead to the next big race,” said his trainer, Akio Adachi, a former jockey, in comments provided by Nobu Furuta, the administrative manager of Japan Racing Association’s New York-area office.

Of course there are the other big contenders being trained for the Breeders’ Cup Classic including multiple grade 1 winners Quality Road, Lookin at Lucky and Blame as well as Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield, Monmouth Cup (gr. 2) winner Etched and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. 2) morning line.

It’s not like a large field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is a rare occurrence. The race has averaged 11.62 starters in the previous 26 runnings with six of those featuring full fields of 14. In the last 20 versions, only the 1997 and 2007 Classics had less than 10 starters and both of those races had nine go to post. Multi-million dollar purses will have that effect on entries.

It will be interesting to see just how many show up at Churchill Downs in a few weeks to take their shot at Zenyatta. It appears the trend towards many may continue.


John Califano said...

It should be an exciting Breeders' Cup Classic. I'm obviously looking forward to it. The Japanese horse is quite intriguing.

Safe trips to all.

lj hearn said...

The Zensational Zenyatta has already proven her Galactical range, and prowess. She can't have more than she'd ever hope to need to use up, and know what to do with what is left in the tank!

We may wanna head over to the Ranch in Peeples, AZ. to pick up drycleanin'. Csll Kris when ya can chat for a few, ko, lj

Well,... today Zee is lookin' to have her way just one more time over the dirt to make just one last point to any of you east coaster snobs!! Lobsters run Miami!!

Lerners with attitude ya'll,... it hip yo. Only she plan on, start here then end the playin' be done here in Louisville! pick a horsey!!

Challenge All Comers!
lj face to face!

Welcome team Shirreff's, and each of your connections! Bless ya one and all, for allowing us to share with ya'll southern style mystery net. Ya'll really brought the magic in making the day perfect for me, and so magical, mysterious is the land of Zen, and Nirvana!

Zenyatta,...Go Girl Power!!!

Zee, rememba doll, 1 gets ya 20!!
Atta boy girl!!

She's the best horse I've ever had the great privilege to race. My good fortune carries over into the uber reg life. We found my sista!!

Get Lots of Sex!

We will wait to see but expect just one more,... Zen Moment!

Perfection,... Classic Zenyatta,...