Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Lookin At Perfection and Greatness

Posted by Brian Appleton on October 3, 2010

Zenyatta has literally left me at a complete loss for words. As soon as the great mare streaked to a record 19th straight victory in Saturday’s Lady’s Secret Stakes I was itching to get out my laptop and pour all the joy, excitement and enthrallment I was experiencing, watching Zenyatta, into my writing. Hours later I sat in front of a blank word document, grasping for the words with which to depict what I had witnessed yet again. The task of describing just how great the thing Zenyatta has accomplished in her career in mere words is staggering and very near impossible, but describing the reactions and emotions her amazing journey creates in the hearts of fans around the world is even harder.

There is something spectacular about not being able to find the words to describe greatness. True greatness steals the words right from your lips and stamps them into your heart and mind with such a fervor and passion that you can never fully do those feelings justice in writing or speech. Zenyatta is the kind of horse that will have parents and grandparents saying decades down the road to their children and grandchildren “I was alive when the great Zenyatta ran.”

With her 19 consecutive wins Zenyatta is now headed to the Breeders’ Cup as perfection-in-motion for an attempt at conquering history yet again. She became the first filly or mare to ever win the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2009 and will return to defend her title against what is stacking up to be a very strong field of international male athletes. Victory in the Classic will virtually assure the grand mare Horse of the Year honors as well as a lofty place in history as one of the greatest mares to ever grace the American racing scene.

Not to be outdone by Zenyatta, Goldikova, perhaps the greatest race-mare in modern European history and best mare

in the world, turned in a rousing performance to capture the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp over a fast closing Paco Boy in what was the 11th grade/group 1 win of her stellar career.

After breaking quickly from the inside post, Goldikova and jockey Olivier Peslier went straight to the front while under a tight hold. Still on the lead nearing the halfway point in the 7 furlong race, Regal Parade rushed forward to take command from Goldikova as the classy Dick Turpin raced well back in mid-pack and Paco Boy took up the rear.

As the field flew into the homestretch Dick Turpin and Paco Boy began to charge for the lead, eating up the ground with every stride. Goldikova at the same time began to slowly gear up for her final run, angling away from the rail to swing around Regal Parade and snatch the lead again. Dick Turpin was flying up on the outside, Paco Boy hot on his heels, moving much faster than the brilliant filly and it appeared for a moment that both colts might pass the champion mare. The colts continued to close relentlessly but the moment Goldikova spotted Dick Turpin approaching the game was over. She accelerated with supreme ease and comfortably held off the furious rally of Paco Boy to get the better of that one for the third time this year, winning by half a length.

While she may not be undefeated like Zenyatta, Goldikova’s accomplishments are stunning none the less and in my humble opinion far greater. She has won races in Europe and the United States, defeating the world’s best male runners on a regular basis while making it look easy, as well as destroying fillies and mares when the occasion calls for it. The great Goldikova, back-to-back winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr.1) from 2008-2009, will return to the United States for her next start. An unprecedented third Breeders’ Cup Mile attempt. A win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile a third consecutive year will place Goldikova in an untouchable league all her own.

Lookin At Lucky was just about the only male horse that successfully pulled off the role of race favorite this weekend as the impressive 3-year-old colt splashed to a extraordinary victory in the Indian Derby (gr.2) on Saturday after being obscured behind the field for most of the race.

Sitting dead-last going into the first turn in the field of 8, Lookin At Lucky and jockey Martin Garcia sat patiently behind the pack as Indy Bull, Litigation Risk and Worldly set a hot pace up front. Rounding the far turn Theskyhasnolimit pushed his way through to the lead as Lookin At Lucky came flying from the back. Shooting off the turn 5  wide, the powerful son of Smart Strike literally dashed his opponents off their feet, bolting to the front in a matter of moments to coast under the line, ears pricked in sublime comfort, the winner by 1 ¼ lengths.

In winning the Indiana Derby Lookin At Lucky proved emphatically that he is ready for his planned trip to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The talented colt will no doubt be one of the favorites in a highly contentions and competitive field. He is also very much in the running for Horse of the Year with his latest win. If he conquers the Classic field he should easily get the nod for Horse of the Year and could become the third Preakness champion to win Horse of the Year since 2007, joining half-brother Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. Of course this is all just speculation and hopeful thinking but a good possibility nonetheless.

Havre de Grace has finally turned the tables on Blind Luck after finishing in her shadow twice in photo finishes at the

wire. It was billed as a two horse race and that’s exactly what it turned into in Saturday’s Fitz Dixon Cotillion (gr.2) as the nation’s leading 3-year-old filly, Blind Luck, carrying 10 pounds more than her challengers, and her toughest adversary squared off in an exhilarating stretch run.

Breaking from the gate ahead of only Blind Luck, Havre de Grace settled in nicely behind the two pace setters while Blind Luck fell far back of the field in last. Down the backstretch Havre de Grace moved up to take second while Blind Luck remained far back and running comfortably. Into the far turn Havre de Grace suddenly came alive and bounded to the lead, looking strong as she aimed for the wire. Blind Luck remained at the back of the field as they came off the turn, seeming to take longer than usual to find her stride but not too long. As soon as Havre de Grace hit the homestretch Blind Luck roused with a vengeance, bolting forward, splitting horses and charging hard, the courageous filly gunned for Havre de Grace, now three lengths in the lead. Blazing down the stretch the two fillies battled it out to the wire, Blind Luck tearing away at the lead with every stride, Havre de Grace hanging tough and digging down deep. They flashed under the line, Blind Luck missing by a neck after a gritty and exciting stretch run.

Amazingly both fillies still looked well within themselves galloping out past the finish line, not even the slightest signs of fatigue from the gallant duo.

The amount of ground Blind Luck is able to make up is simply astounding and win or lose, she shone once again in her final performance before a presumed start in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. Havre de Grace has been banging on the door for months now just waiting for her chance to shine and now she has broken the door down and is a bona fide star. She will also be making her next start in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic where the dynamic duo will once again square off.

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3 Responses to “Lookin At Perfection and Greatness”

  1. Jake said

    Brian,

    Real nice article for an exciting time of the year for us horseplayers.

    Jake

  2. Thanks Jake! It was such an incredible weekend for horse racing and us fans!

  3. Very nice, thanks!

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