"Six Weeks in Saratoga" available! Go get it!

"Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year" published July 1, 2011. Keep it locked here, at The Carryover or go to SUNY Press to order your copy ... right now! Or head on down to your favorite bookseller.

Praise for "Six Weeks in Saratoga"

“Going behind the scenes of three-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 triumph … O’Meara makes her story gallop and gleam.” — Chronogram

“The [book] is one of enjoyable promise, and as the author recounts little moments and inside conversations, he provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of the figures he covers. The narrative keeps game pace with outside literary standards and features bursts of brilliance, and I found it a refreshing change from the selection of racing-themed volumes available today. As O’Meara brings his subjects to life, you find yourself thinking this is the kind of guy whose work I want to follow.” — Claire Novak, ESPN.com

“O’Meara … provide[s] a tremendous amount of detail from behind the scenes that the reader would not have otherwise enjoyed … Six Weeks is essentially a Rachel book, but it’s told without neglecting the always rich backdrop of a Saratoga meet. That means there’s history, surprises, characters (human and equine), great racing, foggy mornings and sun-splashed afternoons—plenty of material through which O’Meara could exercise his descriptive abilities.” — Schenectady Daily Gazette

“O’Meara fell for a magical place and magnificent horse, which is a lovely malady that often befalls horse people, and with a great deal of heart he tells us how and why. You’ll never forget his Six Weeks in Saratoga, either.” — Joe Drape, author of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen

“Brendan O’Meara tells the story of this proud horse with verve and great historical insight. Six Weeks in Saratoga marks the debut of an exciting new talent.” — Wil Haygood, author of Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson

“Brendan O’Meara’s Six Weeks in Saratoga is a victory to be savored by those who treasure good writing in general and tales of the track in particular. Horses may win races, but they also win hearts as this impressive book proves beyond doubt. A memorable, sure-footed debut.” — Madeleine Blais, author of In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cast aside

This is something I can relate to, what with any number of essay and book proposals thrown to the slog pile, cast aside, I can sympathize with the other Eclipse categories these days.

The Rachel v. Zenyatta debate is going to inflame up until and then after the Eclipse Awards no matter who wins. While Horse of the Year is the most polarizing of the categories, Champion Trainer is going to be an equally scintillating race, one that is far from the spotlight, let alone the microscope.

For starters, the two most obvious nominees would have to be Steve Asmussen, trainer of Rachel Alexandra, Kensei, Soul Warrior, and 343 others, and John Shirreffs, trainer of Zenyatta, Life Is Sweet, and the unbeatable Tiago (the last horse in training to finish ahead of Curlin). Who fills the other spot?

My front runner is Tim Ice. A no-name guy up till and through the Travers (just look at all the people passing by him to Chip Woolley at the Stakes Barn at Saratoga), this Louisiana-based trainer rides on the wings of his Summer Bird. From Oaklawn, to Kentucky, to New York, to California, to Japan, Ice never dodged, rather sought out the best in his division and beyond. He won three of the most prestigious Grade 1's in New York with the Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was a competitive fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic as a three year old. Worth noting: none of these races are shorter than 10 furlongs.

The careful handling of his chestnut son of Birdstone is worthy of the award alone, but if the handling and management of an elite horse is one of the leading criterion for this award, then Asmussen may have the best shot of them all.

When handed Rachel Alexandra on May 7, 2009, he kept her right and kept her unbeaten in 2009. Asmussen and assistant trainer Scott Blasi cranked her up for a smasing Haskell Invitational and a heart-pounding Woodward Stakes. Since acquiring her they shipped her to Pimlico, Belmont, Monmouth, and Saratoga for a win streak of four Grade 1's (five if you include the Kentucky Oaks).

Shirreffs has the toughest case, but he won two of the most prestigious Grade 1's in North America on back-to-back days with Life Is Sweet in the Ladies Classic and Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

As for other trainers, who can there be? Todd Pletcher had a steady year, but nothing noteworthy. Rick Dutrow, Jr. fell of the face of the planet in 2009. Chip Woolley failed to get Mine That Bird back to the winner's circle after May 2.

Whoever goes to the podium first with this award may forecast who wins Horse of the Year.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

How come when I voted for Ice --the results came back that I voted for Steve ???

Back to my beer.....

BTW, Tom Law had an article about all the 'gifts' sent to the voting members --get anything good ? :-)

Brendan O'Meara said...

Wish I could join you for a frothy cold one ... And no, Tom Law has yet to enroll me, even though I was voted in back in May.

As for your vote, I'm sorry it came back for Steve, despite your Ice vote. Blame Blogger.

Gifts from the NWTA? I'll take plain old enrollment so I can vote on Horse of the Year!

Send me a link to this story, please!

Anonymous said...

Based on facts, not emotion- Steve Asmussen wins again. No one else comes close. Ray Paulick, despite his delusions, does not get to play judge and jury and exclude Asmussen from consideration.