Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breeder’s Cup 2009 Preview: Classic brings out lady

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Watch out, It’s Billie Jean vs. Bobby Riggs all over again this weekend, except for the fact that this Billie will have to beat TWELVE Bobbie’s. The 5-year old female sensation Zenyatta will race against twelve males in the Breeders Cup Classic, second only to the Kentucky Derby as the biggest race of the year. It will be the mares first time in the Classic and first time running against the boys.

No female has ever won this race and only three have even tried, with Jolyphya’s third place finish in 1992 being the best finish by a female so far. But this is a very un-girl like girl - the mare stands at a massive seventeen hands (for readers who are unfamiliar with horse latitudes and longitudes seventeen hands is freakishly large.)

In addition to running against males for the first time, it will also be her first time running the distance of a mile and a quarter, but apparently both facts are overshadowed by her 13-0 lifetime record, because she is still the betting favourite at odds of 5-2.

Between now and Saturday, I will work on whittling down the field to isolate my play in The Classic and the other races on the card. Handicapping the thoroughbreds is very unlike ‘capping other sports, with your picks changing right up until post time.

My final plays, including head to head match ups, will be sent to team mates via PUB’its at Bet Republic, all throughout the day on Saturday.

To me, ‘capping the nags is more a matter of eliminating also-rans than picking the winner. I haven’t completed all of my work, but I have my identified the first two horses that do not make my cut.

I start by tossing out the Birds – Mine That Bird and Summer Bird.

Mine That Bird won the Derby in a huge upset. His last start? Disappointing 6th in the Good Wood stakes last month. Already beaten by a girl, he gets no respect from me in this one. Summer Bird? Two problems – he doesn’t seem to like the synthetic surface that they have at Santa Anita, and, like Mine That Bird, he has also already been beaten by a girl.

I should mention that the girl that beat them both was Rachel Alexander who some, like her trainer, think is the best female horse today. R.A. won’t be at the Breeder’s Cup this year, just like last year, because her trainer says she doesn’t like the artificial surface, plus, it’s easier to say you’re #1 if you don’t actually ever race the mare who many say is the real #1 – Zenyatta. It is a hotly debated question in horse circles, and if they went head to head I would ride with Zenyatta.

But the most anticipated and desired head to head match will never come off - Rachel’s people announced she is done for the year, and next year when she runs at four-years old, Zenyatta will be an old-for-horses six, and rightfully retired. So, in the hypothetical race I stand by my pick of Zenyatta, since Rachel’s handlers seem to be gelded when it comes to her participating in a contest that would settle the debate once and for all.

For the rest of my eliminations, and final picks for the Classic and all the Breeders Cup races, be sure to join me at bet republic come Saturday. See you there….

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