Dogwood ran two horses in the Breeders' Cup. We ran Atoned in the Marathon, and Aikenite in the Dirt Mile. It was a great thrill to be there, but all our two horses got out of it was "hot and dirty."
The truth is, being there, and then coming home and watching what someone recorded for you points up what a marvelous event it is…on television. The coverage is superb. The features are done beautifully, but the race coverage would be better if there were not so many cute angles and cuts. The overhead view from the blimp is wonderful - only after the race is run and is being analyzed. Jerry Bailey, Joe Tessitore and Randy Moss are terrific. Jerry's interviews with the riders are a nice idea, but an out-of-breath, excited Hispanic or Irishman is hard to understand. Too bad John Velazquez was not more difficult to understand when being queried about the lethargy of Life At Ten, inasmuch as that filly was supported with millions of dollars bet on her in a variety of ways. That got a trifle messy for all concerned - trainer, rider, owner, stewards, etc.
If you run a horse in the Breeders' Cup (which is a great privilege) you must be there; but, you really don't see the races well. We were situated on the fifth floor, well beyond the finish line, and you cannot hear the call from there. I follow a race easily with binoculars. Still, the excitement of the announcer's voice adds goose bumps to the event.
At Churchill your host comes up to the table and escorts you down to the paddock for your race. The host is a nice idea-and appreciated - but sometimes you know the ropes better than the host! Once in the paddock, you are inundated with humanity. Invariably, some clown wants to tell you about a weanling he plans to sell next year. About the time the riders come out, the host urges you to leave the paddock so you can find a place to stand in the viewing area. Afterwards it's back to the table. You're almost better off watching it on TV. But, you can't do that. I know.
After Atoned ran in the first race, I scurried down to the tunnel to catch Robby Albarado to get a line on what happened (interpretation: not good enough!). While there talking to Robby, here comes Calvin Borel, his countenance wreathed in rage, being dragged back to the jock's room by two companions, while his wife struggled alongside, remonstrating with him. This was the aftermath of his winner's circle fight with Javier Castellano. The fight was rebroadcast all day long, in case anyone missed it the first time, and Calvin was interrogated about it for the rest of the two-day period, naturally. The Breeders' Cup and the Derby, both loaded with horses, bring out the adventuresome spirit in otherwise steady jockeys. Javier made a dangerous move at the quarter pole, and it almost precipitated a ghastly spill. Calvin was in with a shot, lost five lengths and was on a horse that might have won the race. It infuriated him, and he lost it when got back to weigh in. He should not have.
Both combatants are fine men, and wonderful riders, and have marvelous records. Too bad they had to fight, but it did liven up the proceedings, and they should be quickly and thoroughly forgiven. In his long, admirable career, Calvin has done almost as much for racing as has Zenyatta. We can forgive him his hostile reaction to a dangerous situation. He is one of my favorite people in racing.
Speaking of Zenyatta, she was absolutely magnificent. I hope very much she is Horse of the Year. And she may be. I greatly admire Blame, and his connections are the crème de la crème of racing - people I like very much. And I really do not know the Mosses, or John Shirreffs, of the Zenyatta team. But it would be important to racing that she be recognized in this manner. There does seem to be a groundswell of support for the mare at this moment, but this may diminish as the drama of the day fades.
I just fear that the hard-bitten, no-nonsense professionals that vote on this issue will recoil emphatically from (God forbid) letting a little sentiment and practicality influence their selections. They will be influenced by what they think their peers would do.
In essence: the most important racehorse in America - and one of the most important sports figures in the land is Zenyatta. That is reason enough for her to be Horse of the Year.
Interestingly, Dogwood has done a little survey among our investors, asking their choice between Blame and Zenyatta. Admittedly this is hardly scientifically-structured research, but it is impressive that a staggering 84% voted for the mare.
I had hoped that Zenyatta would run in 2011. I guess she won't. But think what it would have meant to racing.
Easy for me to say though. I know the Mosses and Shirreffs have relished having her, but then, too, they have been under enormous pressure for several years. It is not restful to campaign a great horse. Just think: every move Jerry and Ann Moss make is filled with repetitive answers and comments about Zenyatta. It would be hard for them to go out to dinner without having 15 Zenyatta conversations and photo ops. Nice problem to have perhaps, but nevertheless a pressurized problem.
So, my Breeders' Cup summation. We love it on television, we love Calvin (and Javier), and certainly Zenyatta (also, by the way, Mike Smith).
This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.