I Wish I Were In Paris

From war to peace and politics to gossip, if we have an opinion on something we'll share it here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And For That They Should Be Banned

I don't know what the rules are in horse racing. But if owners intentionally try to sabotage another owner who wants to enter a horse in a race, I think they should be banned from the competition.

Owners go overboard in effort to foil filly
Instead of enjoying moment, Allen and Zayat take low road

Owners of top thoroughbred racehorses usually know enough to limit themselves to simple acts like walking their horses to the winner’s circle, waving silver cups aloft and mouthing inanities about doing what’s best for the horse. But two members of that elite club forgot themselves this weekend and began acting like a couple backroom chiselers.

Mark Allen, co-owner of Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird, and Ahmed Zayat, who pays the bills for Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, became big Preakness news by concocting a scheme to keep sensational filly Rachel Alexandra out of Saturday’s race. The plan ultimately failed when the two swelled-heads finally heeded some urgently whispered words of advice, but in the process they provided a glimpse into the win-at-all-costs mentality that plagues many of the sport’s high-stakes players and revealed an ugly truth about horse racing.

These two fell into the trap of forgetting that letting Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness would be good for horse racing’s fans, and what’s good for the fans is good for the sport.

Rachel Alexandra, who won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths, was not nominated to the Triple Crown races and was not expected to compete in the Preakness. But after she was purchased by Jess Jackson and a partner last week, they said they would enter the filly in the second leg of the Triple Crown, where she would likely be the heavy favorite.

That led to a phone call that might end up being as notorious in racing circles as Rod Blagojevich’s conversations about Barack Obama’s Senate seat are among aficionados of Illinois politics.

To recap and rebuke, Zayat first revealed the plot Sunday morning in an interview with HRTV in which he claimed that Allen had called him that morning and urged him to overfill the Preakness field, forcing Rachel Alexandra to the sidelines.

As recounted by Zayat, the conversation went like this: “I got a phone call earlier today … and, lo and behold, it was the owner of the Derby winner, Mine That Bird, and he said, ‘Mr. Zayat, you don’t know me, I’m Mark Allen. Listen I have a request for you. I think this race is between me and you. You’d have been the favorite if Rachel Alexandra is not in the field and I’m looking for vindication that my colt was not a fluke, and I’m sure you are looking to beat us also. I think this match is between us, it’s a rivalry. I’m going to be entering a colt … to fill the field. I understand you are the No. 1 owner in number of nominations — 22 colts — can you please help us. It’s good for the game.’ ”

Zayat’s smarts desert him
Zayat, who holds degrees in business and public health from Boston University and Harvard University, is a smart guy, but the rest of his rambling remarks in the HRTV interview and another on TVG left little doubt that Triple Crown fever is galloping around his big brain.

First he claimed that racing blueblood Marylou Whitney also was in on the plot, and planned to enter the marginal contestant Luv Gov. (Whitney’s camp later said they do intend to enter Luv Gov, but not if it would knock Rachel Alexandra out of the field, which is capped at 14 horses.)

Then Zayat ripped the scab off racing’s most painful wound, invoking the death of the filly Eight Belles shortly after crossing the finish line in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

“People are concerned that it would not be for the good of the sport,” he said of a Preakness involving Rachel Alexandra. “Nobody wants a situation like we had last year with Eight Belles."

Allen, meantime, was explaining away his participation in the scheme as a legitimate business move aimed at holding onto Mine That Bird’s jockey, Calvin Borel. Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to a 6 3/4-length victory in the Derby, made clear days earlier that he would ride Rachel Alexandra — who he says is the best horse he has ever piloted — if she was entered in the Preakness.

“I just want my rider back,” said Allen, announcing plans to enter the maiden Indy Express in the race.

Word of the collusion hit Internet news sites and racing blogs, igniting a firestorm of criticism, and Allen and Zayat began to furiously backpedal.

Allen said later he had decided his efforts to retain Borel were misguided, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

“There was a shot I could keep that good filly out by putting that maiden in,” Allen said, the newspaper reported. “(But) that just wouldn’t be right to do. This horse, if he had a couple of allowance wins or was a graded-stakes horse, I’d probably do it. But to put a maiden in there isn’t right.

“You know, I thought other people were putting horses in to keep her out, but that isn’t right, either. After talking to my dad and Dr. (co-owner Leonard) Blach and taking a Harley ride, I kind of come to my senses. .. . It was selfish, definitely selfish. I was getting greedy. It was the wrong thing to do.”

That last remark is particularly ironic, as Allen’s main claim to fame before Mine That Bird won the Derby was as a minor character in Alaska’s ongoing political corruption trial. His father, Bill Allen, testified last year that his son delivered a bribe of several thousand dollars on his behalf to an unnamed state legislator.

‘For the good of the game’
Zayat also had a change of heart, telling the Blood Horse that “after talking to the president of the Maryland Jockey Club, I have decided I don’t want to be viewed as not being a sportsman, so I am happy not to block her for the good of the game. Please understand this is not about me; this is about the industry, and although what is right is not very clear to me I am happy to reconsider my decision for the fans.”

Although it’s nice to hear concepts like sportsmanship creep into this creepy conversation at long last, the words of contrition ring false.

It’s clear that the motivation for keeping Rachel Alexandra out of the race was as simple as the millions of dollars that a Preakness winner can be expected to command in the breeding shed. And it’s even more obvious that both owners know that their chances of beating her Saturday are slimmer than their rationales for trying to exclude her.

This is just asinine!! The apologies are beyond insincere, so much so that they're laughable.

Anyone who conspired here to attempt to keep that horse out of the race should be banned from the Preakness at least. Their horses should be banned from competing as well!!

Oh, and why was the Eight Belles comment necessary? Was that a threat from Zayat? If Rachel Alexandra wins or comes close to beating "the boys," is she going to end up like Eight Belles? Is she going to be put down on a track in front of the whole world too so that she can't come back and repeat the same thing at the Belmont? What exactly does Mr. Zayat know that we don't about what happened with Eight Belles? Did someone mess with that horse and cause injuries prior to the race that were only exacerbated by the race?

Or is he just being a rich little asshole who never learned the concept of sportsmanship? What's the matter? Didn't Mommy and Daddy teach him how to share?

Are these men honestly that afraid of losing that they would intentionally try to keep this horse out of the race? We know it's 100% about money and has absolutely nothing to do with the fans!! Who the hell are these men that they think they have a RIGHT to dictate what horses can race and what horses can't? Who the hell are these men that they think they have a RIGHT to dictate to the fans what the FANS WANT TO SEE?

If they and their horses are not banned from the Preakness, I hope that Rachel Alexandra shows up and shows up big!! I hope that horse wipes the track with their asses and makes the owners look like the jackasses that they are!!


Post a Comment

<< Home

People Who Are Violent to Animals ... Rarely Stop There
Palm Springs Real Estate
Air Filter