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Five Suitors for Rachel Alexandra

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What’s the fun in following the crowd and producing the same group of sires’ progeny? MEH, I can do better! Let’s play bloodstock expert for a second here with Rachel Alexandra, seeing as she’s due to foal her Bernardini filly in the coming weeks.

The tough part about nicking good matches with a horse like Rachel Alexandra is finding proven horses that equate well with her pedigree as well as her natural ability. Her sire Medaglia d’Oro was an accomplished classic horse on dirt, but is by El Prado [IRE], who is synonymous with top grass horses. Being that Rachel has wins going long but could easily pass as a gifted miler to boot further complicates things, as she tosses her head to what her ancestry suggests about her on paper. If you look on TrueNicks, a lot of the “suggested” picks for Rachel that have high ratings are horses that I know would not work with the goals of what Stonestreet has in mind, nor likely what would mesh with Rachel’s own record: grass/classic sire Street Cry [IRE], Street Cry’s speedy son Street Boss, and grass champ Midshipman.

This particular genetic puzzle is probably more soluable from the conformation approach than going by bloodline statistics, so we ought to ignore the grass and try to reinforce the mighty prowess, or complement it further with long-distance genes:

  1. Tizway - One of the most fantastic modern milers, Tizway was untested classic potential with distance-getter Tiznow on top and esteemed sprinter Dayjur on the bottom. He’s similar to Rachel in this regard and also has Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector. I’m a bit of a fan of the Danzig in this largely unproven cross. (Fee: $25,000, No rating)
  2. Eskendereya - Much like Rachel herself, “Esky” was a freakish success at three and looked every bit the champion had he been able to continue on to the Triple Crown. A big, well-built character, it’s hard to nitpick his bloodlines which are largely Euro-influenced: by European champion and prolific sire Giant’s Causeway and out of the Seattle Slew mare Aldebaran Light. Esky would tack on some considerable size, scope, and promise of speed. (Fee: $17,500, Rated B+)
  3. Hard Spun - A throwback to really good classic pedigree, while I don’t consider him a perfect specimen it’s hard to argue that the first few rounds of Hard Spuns racing haven’t been anything less than nice. Heavy on the Native Dancer is probably my biggest complaint, but it would be an interesting gamble. (Fee: $60,000, Rated D)
  4. Speightstown - A sire with some appeal but largely ignored due to the pileup of trendy stallions, Speightstown was a career miler/sprinter but throws a ton of variety in his progeny with G1 winners sprinting and going the classic distance. His conformation is excellent and similar crosses have done very well including Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can (by Gone West son Proud Citizen out of an El Prado [IRE] mare) and Ballerina Stakes (I) winner Hilda’s Passion (by Gone West son Canadian Frontier and out of an El Prado daughter [IRE]). Rachel was always on the cusp of being a phenomenal speed horse and router, so it would be all the more interesting to see this pan out. (Fee: $60,000, Rating A++)
  5. Drosselmeyer - I like what I’ve seen already in Drosselmeyer’s first foals, and the Belmont-Breeders’ Cup Classic double is appealing should the desired result be a foal that can carry speed and last. Nijinsky and Danzig make him an attractive option with two G1 winners as his parents. (Fee: $17,500, Rating: A++)
I had planned on attending the Whitney Invitational since June, largely thanks to the many greats of the past who won it and the splendid showing of last year’s winner Tizway in the race. He became my Breeders’ Cup Classic pick that day, but sadly, he never made it to the gate because of injury. Who would have thought I’d see this year’s Classic winner win the same race? Makes me miss Tizway a bit more, which is saying a lot since I typically get grumpy at horses who beat my heart favorites (Tackleberry in the Met Mile).

I had planned on attending the Whitney Invitational since June, largely thanks to the many greats of the past who won it and the splendid showing of last year’s winner Tizway in the race. He became my Breeders’ Cup Classic pick that day, but sadly, he never made it to the gate because of injury. Who would have thought I’d see this year’s Classic winner win the same race? Makes me miss Tizway a bit more, which is saying a lot since I typically get grumpy at horses who beat my heart favorites (Tackleberry in the Met Mile).

The Best 20 Races from 2011 (#14-#10)

Upsets! Comebacks! They both made it into the Top 20 list for 2011’s most exciting and most memorable Thoroughbred horse races. The list continues with #14 through #10 of the most enthralling and significant events this year all over the world.

Check out #20-#15 here

14) Woodward Stakes: Havre de Grace defeats older males easily to make history - Greeting the boys in one of the most prestigious races in America, Havre de Grace made easy work of the males, becoming only the second mare in its storied past to win it (Rachel Alexandra in 2009 was the first). Watch replay

13) Met Mile: Tizway sails home - Bouncing back from a few bruisers, Tizway silenced all doubters in the “sire making” race, the Metropolitan Handicap. He cruised home first to win easily while clocking the second-fastest time for the race (1996 winner Honour and Glory was a tenth of a second faster). Watch replay

12) Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Hansen holds off Union Rags for an upset - Bringing his patented cruise control, wire-to-wire style to the Downs, the ghostly white Hansen outlasted a late-running and swerving Union Rags to register a 7-1 upset, all while igniting solid hopes for a powerful 2012 Triple Crown. Watch replay

11) Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: Danedream shatters the record and expectations - The 20-1 German filly no one saw coming or ever seriously considered exploded late in Europe’s greatest race to win by an astonishing 5 lengths in race record time. Watch replay

10) Kelso Handicap: Uncle Mo tears down the track for a very big comeback - Second in the King’s Bishop after a long layoff due to a rare illness, the juvenile champion Uncle Mo returned to the races to compete again against older horses in the Kelso Handicap. He blew the doors off the race while scaring away several would-be entries, cruising home in a three-year-old high 118 Beyer speed figure. Watch replay

Retiring this year (set #1): Uncle Mo, Blind Luck, Tizway, Goldikova, Twirling Candy, Big Drama, Gio Ponti, and Drosselmeyer.

Retiring this year (set #1): Uncle Mo, Blind Luck, Tizway, Goldikova, Twirling Candy, Big Drama, Gio Ponti, and Drosselmeyer.

Four Horses That Could Win HOTY

The American Horse of the Year Award is looking as foggy as ever following the conclusion of the Breeders’ Cup. While voters in the States love giving it to a good, classic dirt horse, honestly, the pickings are slim. Many of the year’s finest runners also never made to the championships, and those that did threw in clunkers when it counted the most. 

Let’s take a peek at who’s looking good enough to make one of the three slots for HOTY candidates:

  • Tizway - If there was a miler award, Tizway would get it, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see this horse steal the Older Male Award. Looking past a few blemishes and the injury/illness that sidelined him from deeper competition, Tizway was the most dominating horse in a year that lacked substance and consistency. He swept the Met Mile (I) with fantastic speed and ease before taking the Whitney (I) the same way over multiple G1 winners like Flat Out and Giant Oak. There hangs the question of “what if?” when it comes to whether or not he could beat other horses on this list, but I think the voters will be able to decide on class for themselves.
  • Acclamation [pictured] - A choice many would not (somehow) agree with, dare I say Acclamation was one of the year’s most impressive horses period. Long gone are the days where horses could get a mile and a quarter, but almost unheard of are the horses who can do that on practically any surface in graded competition. He beat up Twirling Candy in the Pacific Classic (I) and Champ Pegasus in the Joe Hirsch (I) to reel off a stunning five graded victories in a row, three of them G1 and two of them Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. He wasn’t able to make it to the Downs due to a minor injury, but really, how can you question such a resume? I know voters prefer “true” classic dirt horses, but Acclamation had one hell of a year and deserves a serious look.
  • Game On Dude - Arguably the west’s best handicap horse, Game On Dude has been through a vigorous campaign this year, his record for 2011 standing at 3-2-1 in 7 starts— all but one graded stakes, 4 of them G1, and two of those G1s were wins. An incredibly quick horse, had he seen Drosselmeyer coming from behind his blinkers in Classic, I don’t sincerely believe he would have let him pass by. Additionally, may I be so bold to say had it not been for Drosselmeyer’s last-minute rush, there would be no serious need for this article.
  • Havre de Grace - She went from a pretty good sort of horse last year with a nomination for best three-year-old filly (losing to Blind Luck) to beating the boys in one of the most important dirt races for older horses, the Woodward. She has the best shot at winning HOTY, which she desperately wants, with a 2011 record of 5-1-0 from 7 all-graded starts, with three wins in G1 races and her only loss outside the Classic was by a nose to Blind Luck. She’s beaten the JCGC winner Flat Out, the eventual Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta, and a whole heap of other great horses. While she finished an honest fifth in the Classic, behind only G1 winners, she’s still one of the best to run this year.

Who gets my personal vote: Havre de Grace. Best campaign, beat who she needed to to get to the award, and let’s face it: the female division was very strong this year compared to the lackluster male.

Tizway Out of Classic, Retired

Tizway had his fair share of troubles last year and seemed to be on the way up this season winning the Met Mile (I) and Whitney (I) in easy fashion. After returning to work following a fever, the son of Tiznow acquired an untimely ligament injury to his left front ankle and is now out of Breeders’ Cup contention.

His connections also announced the five-year-old would not return next year and would be retired to stud as sound as possible. Trainer H. James Bond reported that Tizway will stick around the Saratoga Springs barn another week before heading to Spendthrift in Kentucky where he will join Malibu Moon, Archarcharch, and Paddy O’Prado.

Out of all the contenders bound for the November 5 Classic, I personally felt Tizway had the strongest chance of winning it out of everyone. He was warming up strong following a short rest and a rather remarkable season of winning major races easily. With him out of the Classic picture, it also unfortunately distorts the Horse of the Year picture even more. Had he won the Classic, he would probably be heavily voted as Horse of the Year, but now the only major multi-stakes winner left to feasibly take the title is the filly Havre de Grace.

Tizway was one of the best horses to run this year, a strong product of the Tiznow legacy who will hopefully continue that reputation for greatness.

Horse Racing radio just reported he's out with a leg injury so I guess it's official

Asked by Anonymous

Mhmm that’s all I know too at this point until Bond and the rest of his connections make it official to the press. 

Terrible, terrible news. The Classic just took a major blow.

Tizway May Be Out of the Classic

This is a rumor now but will wait and see and get this updated as soon as I hear more.

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

With around three weeks left before the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, competitors across the board of events are tweaking their gears to peak at the appropriate time, logging works and breezes before the big day arrives. Works are key indicators of who is ready to go and who may still need a tune-up:

  • Drosselmeyer - The surprise late entry to the Classic field, the 2010 Belmont Stakes winner shipped early to Churchill Downs and warmed up nicely to the dirt surface, clocking 4 furlongs in :47 3/5, the fastest ranked at the distance for the day. For a horse who has a history of preferring the longer distances, he seems to be taking to quicker works like a duck to water. He’ll need works like this to pose a challenge to Flat Out, a horse with a higher cruising speed who beat him last time out.
  • Uncle Mo - The Kelso winner continues to flash the same old rocket speed leading up to the big race, turning in faster-than-planned works while still thumping along easily trying to catch other horses. It’s a winning attitude, but one with a possibly dark lining as Mo might be the most eager horse coming out of the gate in the Classic— a horse more practiced at holding back regularly might easily catch him just as Caleb’s Posse nabbed him in the King’s Bishop.
  • Tizway - While Flat Out is working great among others, the Classic horse who wins the gold star is Tizway. He’s coming off the brief fever that kept him out of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (I), and is roaring back a champion with a very easy, fast mile breeze done at Belmont recently. A horse like this who enjoys a little vacation time before a big race is hugely threatening, and at this stage Tizway has the most cred out of any horse in the Classic field.
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