Monday, 11 May 2009

Enter the Geldings: From MTB to Zayat

At the end of the day, Mine That Bird co-owner Mark Allen took a hiding. Well, not a hiding, but a PR release in which he contradicted everything we already know has happened and still found the time to come across as the stereotypical hillbilly millionaire. He might have been surprised how much harder behind-the-scenes fixing is in the Triple Crown as compared to what he’s accustomed to from Alaska.

Even so, Borderland Mark couldn’t help slipping in a cheap shot, mentioning that he doesn’t believe in running a filly against the boys at this stage. One could go into a lenghty off-the-racing-topic discussion about judging others based on one’s belief rather than reason here, but let’s just say he also is a man who calls Steve Asmussen “a great trainer” and believes that Mike Smith has “got some Cowboy in him”, which he knows because he’s seen Smith’s boots.

Allen thus accomplished the challenging feat to out-dumb Pioneerof The Nile's owner Ahmed Zayat, who earlier in the day had explained to the world his theory that it’s just unfair for someone else to have a better horse, that it’s not okay for a new owner to change the direction of their horse’s campaign, that horses shouldn’t skip the the Derby to run in the Preakness (which of course is precisely what his placeholder horses would have done), repeated the notion that the Triple Crown was for stallion prospects (such as MTB?) and finished it all off by working in the scare card (“Two weeks for a filly? Does our sport need another Eight Belles”). Now that’s true, our sport could use another Eight Belles incident about as much as the one Ahmed Zayat it’s already stuck with.

What’s most stunning about this affair is the chutzpah by which two millionaire owners not only regard a Triple Crown race as somehow belonging to them (“I think this match is between us, it's a rivalry” – Mark Allen according to Ahmed Zayat) but also conspire to keep a horse they both regard as superior out of the race, then defend it with what can only be described as a public relations nightmare at the expense of the sport.

All this chickening-from-the-chick biz is especially remarkable and foolish because if there’s one race Rachel Alexandra looks vulnerable in, it’s the Preakness. The filly has been re-directed to this race a mere less than ten days before post time, her previous owners obviously never entertained the idea, whereas it must have been lingering in the back of any Derby owner’s or trainer’s mind to some degree. Plus she has changed stables in between, adding an extra stress factor that should more than offset any advantage she may have gained by not running the Derby. If you can't see a chance to beat her in Baltimore, where are you gonna hide the rest of the year?

Between Zayat, Allan and Mine That Bird, the gelding is the only one who's got some balls.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent and you're right this is the best time to beat her. As for sportsmanship, it's lacking in both camps, it's hard to think of anybody who associates with Asmussen as a true sportsman. Not to mention that a press release from Jess Jackson would have been proofread!