Before I jump around the nation with news and notes, congrats to Rachel Alexandra for winning Horse of the Year honors over Zenyatta. She had the better overall season and deserved the nod.
It is great that Zenyatta will race again this year, and we can only hope that the two fabulous ladies hook up in 2010. After all, it is horse racing, and battles should be settled on the track.
The weather is the story in SoCal. Multiple storms are pounding California, and with the Pro-Ride surface not draining properly, Santa Anita cancelled live racing on Monday (Jan 18th) and Thursday (Jan 21st).
The word is that officials want to abandon synthetic footing in favor of conventional dirt. From the beginning, I stated that Tapeta was the synthetic way to go. The Michael Dickinson footing (Presque Isle Downs, Golden Gate Fields) has held up through a variety of weather conditions, and the former top notch mad genius trainer has always been thorough. He used to walk the turf course before his horses ran in races to make sure everything was perfect, and his synthetic track will be on full display at the new Meydan racetrack in Dubai.
As I am writing this, Barbaro’s baby brother Lentenor graduated smartly in a special weight turf route at the Gulf. Would not be surprised if connections gave the main track a whirl to see if they have a Derby contender on their hands.
Gulfstream hosts the Grade 3 Holy Bull for 3yo’s traveling a flat mile on Jan 23rd. The early season Kentucky Derby prep is expected to include Todd Pletcher’s Aikenite, Champagne winner Homeboykris, and Jackson Bend, now under the care of Nick Zito.
A big day is on tap at Fair Grounds. The New Orleans oval runs their Road to the Derby program on January 23rd. Six stakes races on tap including the Grade 3 Lecomte for 3yo’s running a mile and forty yards on the main track. Sugar Bowl winner Cool Bullet heads the expected field of eleven.
’09 Triple Crown series also-rans Friesan Fire and General Quarters try to get back on the right track in the Louisiana Handicap.
3yo fillies face off in the Tiffany Lass, and impressive local allowance winner Quiet Temper figures to take plenty of action.
Thanksgiving Handicap winner Euroears returns in the Gaudin Memorial, and he should get a challenge from Cash Refund, who recently returned with a sharp local optional claiming tally.
A pair of stakes races will be run on the grass course. Coy Cat is the tepid 7-2 choice in the Dr. A. B. Leggio Memorial at 5.5f, and El Caballo is the one to beat in the Grade 3 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap.