The Breeders Cup was completed yesterday and by virtually all accounts it was a huge success. After what seems like an eternity of reading negative press on some of the trade websites quoting every Tom, Dick and Harry who did not like the decision to go to Santa Anita again, it was refreshing to let the brown four-legged things, the weather, the crowd, and the racing do the talking.
And the racing, especially a mare in the Classic, spoke loud and clear. From Todd Schrupp of TVG on the BC feed directly after the Zenyatta race:
"This place has seen some phenomenal ones - Seabiscuit, the resurrection of his career - and this grandstand has not shaken like this for a very long time. You have just witnessed one of the greatest moments in Breeders Cup history."
A quote from a racewatcher who was there, when answering what it was like near the wire in the Classic: "Louder than any college football game I have been to."
Another quote from a young fan via Paceadvantage.com who made the trip to Santa Anita: "Thank You Zenyatta, because you made me a true believer in the greatness of the sport of horse racing...... you gave me the greatest feeling I have ever had in my life. I don't care if your fractions were unimpressive as some say, or if RA wasn't there, or if you only ran on dirt one time, or if you only ran out of CA one time. You cemented yourself in the history books for all time, and in the heart and mind of me for the rest of my life."
Take that, Gloomy Gus's.
Breeders Cup day is a day to be proud of. Just because Jess Jackson does not like it and wanted to make a political statement, or just because racing has its share of problems it does not mean we have to follow that opinion into the sun. We are allowed to enjoy this sport on days like this and no one should ever have to apologize for it.
In a nutshell the Breeders Cup at a place like Santa Anita is a good thing. It gives us weather that those of us in the north east only dream about. Some European stars show up and give our North American horses a good tussle. For betting it represents tremendous opportunities to make our whole year. The place is packed, the setting is gorgeous and if you are watching on television and not wishing you were there, I think you might be from another planet.
I sat in my living room and watched the Classic with a friend who is a very big bettor - it is his life and he has been doing it successfully for a living for many years now. He faded Zenyatta badly, thinking she had zero shot. At the head of the lane he said, 'she is done.' But a funny thing happened. She was not done and when she rolled and was looking like a threat, costing him more money than I make in about three months working, there was no yelling for her to get beat. There was only a respect for a mare who overcame: "Holy cow she is going to win! WOW!" he said, with his heart firmly planted on his sleeve.
If a cold hard bettor who displays no emotion ever can get behind an event like this as a pure fan (while getting his livelihood kicked in the can), racing has done its job.
Trade magazines and anyone else who does not like, and never will like this event might dominate the headlines. But what is in the headlines does not matter one bit. If someone took the collective pulse of racing fans at 6:45 eastern time yesterday, whether they be from New York, or San Francisco, or Sao Paulo or Sydney - they would be calling the paramedics.
We are race fans, and for one day the world was just fine. Wearing your heart on your sleeve and yelling from the rooftops about the last two wonderful days at Santa Anita is nothing to be ashamed of.