When the California Horse Racing board adopted the rule at its May 2006 meeting that California race tracks had to install synthetic surfaces in order to be granted racing dates, Jerry Moss was the only commissioner present who raised any objection at all. He wanted further study done. Racing executives the likes of El Halpern (CTT), Howard Zucker (trainer/CTT board member), Drew Couto (TOC), Craig Fravel (executive vice president of Del Mar), Ron Charles (Santa Anita president) and Darrell Haire (jockeys guild) all got up and spoke and supported the mandate.
Now, more than three years later, Moss is not only expressing mild concerns, but it appears he’s moved further away from the notion that artificial surfaces are good for the sport. This is pretty astounding too when you consider that Moss’ brilliant, unbeaten mare Zenyatta has won 10 of her 11 races over synthetic surfaces. It seems if anything he’d love the fake stuff and be extolling its virtues all over town. Not so.
Saturday at Hollywood Park, after Zenyatta raised her career mark to 11-0 with another superior come-from-behind performance in the $300,000 Vanity Handicap, Moss was asked if it bothered him that Rachel Alexandra’s co-owner Jess Jackson had alluded that Zenyatta was a synthetics track specialist, i.e. could only win on artificial surfaces. Of course, Jackson has never said anything of the sort, but Moss answered the question nonetheless.
“Is he implying that? I don’t know, I didn’t get that,” he said. “She won at Oaklawn (2008 Apple Blossom Handicap, she beat (Ginger Punch) pretty good, so I think that exonerates her from that premise.”
But Moss made it clear he wasn’t bothered by Jackson’s refusal to send Rachel Alexandra to the Breeders’ Cup in November at Santa Anita because Jackson doesn’t like “plastic tracks.”
“Quite honestly, he can say whatever he likes,” Moss said. “He owns a great filly and she’s doing well. She won very easily today (Mother Goose). I mean, I’m not too crazy about the synthetic tracks either so I don’t mind him talking up about that. Maybe it will serve a purpose, and hopefully we’ll meet somewhere. If it’s not the Breeders’ Cup, maybe it will be somewhere else.”
One Breeders’ Cup official believes Jackson’s assertion that Rachel Alexander will not run in the Breeders’ Cup is not cast in stone, that as the date (Nov. 6-7) draws nearer, he could change his mind. Remember, last year at this time Jackson was throwing out catch phrases like “been there, done that” in regards to whether Curlin would run in the Breeders’ Cup. He showed up and finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.