Sitting here in the Del Mar press box, waiting for Zenyatta and the Clement Hirsch, and …
* I’m shaking my head over this gentleman who truly believes Secretariat was not a great race horse. I mean, you can question his standing in history because he didn’t race as a 4-year-old, but actually say he was not a great horse?
The man’s name is Rich Aller. He’s big into horse racing, has more data than you’d believe. You might have even seen him at Dodger Stadium, selling peanuts and such. He is a big fan of Dr. Fager and he says Spectacular Bid was one of the all-time greats, much better than Secretariat.
He said the true test of a champion is when a horse is hooked by another, actually looks him in the eye, and then how he responds to the challenge. He says it happened once to Secretariat, when he lost to Prove Out by 4 1/2 lengths in the 1973 Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park.
My question to him — what if you’re so much better than your competition that you’re seldom hooked, seldom have the opportunity to look another horse in the eye because you’re in front by one, two, three ……. or in one historic instance, 31 lengths?
I never saw Dr. Fager, but Spectacular Bid is higher on my list of all-time great thoroughbreds than Secretariat — who still makes my top five — because he raced as a 4-year-old, carrying more weight and still winning graded stakes.
But to say Secretariat was not a great race horse. I mean, well, there are all sorts of wacky opinions floating around out there.
* Not that it’s a wacky opinion, but I also heard that Bob Baffert believes that Jess Jackson will relent and bring Rachel Alexandra to the Breeders’ Cup. I don’t agree. Bob knows a heck of a lot more than me when it comes to training thoroughbreds, but if he heard the conviction in Jackson’s voice when he says he’s not coming west this year, well, I think he’d believe differently.
* Talk about an unconventional schedule — Global Hunter, who won the Eddie Read Stakes on the turf the first weekend of the Del Mar meet and finished third in Saturday’s Bing Crosby Stakes on Polytrack, is now being pointed toward the Pacific Classic on Sept. 6. Trainer A.C. Avila doesn’t think it’s all that unconventional. “When you get a horse right, you might as well run him,” said Avila, who said the Crosby served as a good six-furlong workout for the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic.
* Trainer Ron Ellis is pleased by the progress of Hollywood Gold Cup winner Rail Trip, who is on target for the Pacific Classic. The 4-year-old gelding worked five furlongs in 1:02 Sunday morning at Del Mar. “He worked great, nice and easy, nice and comfortable,” Ellis said. “He has at least three more works before the Pacific Classic. He’ll work six furlongs next, probably Saturday or Sunday.”
* Fabulous Strike proved he’ll be a formidable foe for Zensational if he comes to the Breeders’ Cup, winning the $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes at Saratoga on Sunday. Ridden by Ramon Dominguez, the 6-year-old Smart Strike gelding won by a length and ran the six furlongs in 1:08.69 on dirt. Zensational ran six furlongs over Del Mar’s Polytrack in 1:08.57 while winning Saturday’s Bing Crosby Stakes.