May 12, 2009

Girls Against Boys

And what is this bullshit? I'm sorry, but this is one of the more annoying articles (actually there is another that I'll post on in a bit) that has been published in the wake of Mine That Bird's Derby upset.

Firstly, let me just get this out of the way: Mine That Bird did a super job in the Derby. He came prepared, his jockey was clever and courageous, his trainer had all the pieces in place just right that day. Kudos! Seriously.

BUT. Maybe I will regret saying this, but he is not a Triple Crown horse. Frankly, I don't really think much of him at all. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, Calvin Borel, who could have swayed me in the little horse's direction, didn't persuade me to change my mind on that point.

Rachel Alexandra is the far better horse and could have had a solid chance of breaking our Triple Crown dry spell. That being said, I don't necessarily disagree with her then-owner's decision to run her in the Oaks versus the Derby. I don't know that I would have the heart to put one of my horses in the Derby. 20 young, unruly colts banging up against each other? I'll pass, please. And not because she's a filly, but just because she's a good horse. Why ruin her in a jostling free-for-all to the finish line? No other of the well-known Grade I stakes seem so reckless to me. Maybe I'm just a bit biased, but the Derby has ALWAYS struck me as rodeo-ish.

But there is absolutely nothing wrong with Jess Jackson's decision to run the filly in the Preakness. I think it's awesome! I want to see her prove herself to any remaining doubters. (Are there really any?) So, this post by Jim Squires is absurd. In short, he is saying that there is no doubt she can beat the field, but why should she? It doesn't increase her value; she has already made piles of money, so need to up her winnings. He says, "Her presence would undoubtedly increase fan interest and television ratings, and maybe the handle, too, although the opposite effect is possible as well. There we go talking about those in it for the money again, but while we’re at it, imagine the outcry against racing if she got hurt running against the colts. The game is in bad enough shape already."

Seriously, WTF?! Firstly, her being a filly should really have nothing to do with it. She's loads bigger and tougher than our Derby winner colt. Secondly, who the eff cares why she runs the Preakness (and/or the Belmont)?! It's for a myriad of reasons - the money, the fame, the fans, the legacy, the breeding shed value, the potential value of her babies, and so on...

His premise is basically that running in this race could be dangerous to her, so she shouldn't. And what he isn't saying is pretty obvious -- that he thinks running Eight Belles in the Derby last year was the reason for her breakdown. That running Ruffian against Foolish Pleasure was the cause of her breakdown. I'm sorry, but that's patently absurd. Racing, in general, was the cause of both of those fillies' deaths. And numerous other colts over the years, too, I might add. No, Rachel Alexandra doesn't have to run in the Preakness. But neither do any of the other horses. I don't see him making a fuss over whether we know what Mine That Bird's true desires are. Please don't anthropomorphize my animals for me. I do that plenty on my own. If you have a problem with racing, please by all means, exit the sport and campaign against it. But don't churn out ridiculously flawed arguments as to whether a great horse should enter a race. I, for one, want her there. I DESPERATELY WANT to have a great horse to believe in. Isn't that what sports are supposed to be about? Giving the fans a hero to believe in when life is a little too grim.

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