"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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What if Zenyatta lost?

What if Zenyatta lost? I'm not talking about the Breeders' Cup Classic. I'm talking about any start, any start either this year or last. What if Zenyatta lost?

I wish she had because we'll never know how great or versatile should could have been. When it became apparent that she could threaten Personal Ensign's win streak of thirteen races — notably apparent after Zenyatta won the 2008 Ladies Classic — Zenyatta was handled in such a manner to cater to this win streak.

The obvious evidence of this came when she was scratched from the Grade II Louisville on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs because the track was muddy. (Had she run, it would have given us the closest thing to a Zenyatta-Rachel show down. We could have at least compared their perforances on the same surface.) In this case Zenyatta was her own worst enemy. Had she lost at some point in her 14-race career, perhaps then her connections would have been more willing to ship her out of California and to run her on dirt.

I know Zenyatta won her only start on dirt in her fourth career race in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn. I know that she defeated Ginger Punch, so it was a credible win. This could have been a launching pad to tackle a broader pallate. Could she have run successfully on other dirt tracks? We will never know because after April 5, 2008, she never left California.

If she lost, perhaps we would have seen her take on the boys more than once. Perhaps she would have come to Belmont Park to run against Rachel Alexandra in the Beldame.

So in a number of ways, beating up on inferior fillies and mares out West robbed her of her potential to be a truly transcendent mare. Sure, she won 14-of-14, but I'd take a career that saw her go 11-for-14 while running on the East Coast against some of the best horses in North America.

Another note, Zenyatta's 14-race win streak could be in jeopardy. Dating back to November 2009, Rachel Alexandra has won nine races in a row.

Think Jess Jackson is not aware of that? Cigar may have some company as well. Another 8-for-8 year would lock that up too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brendan,

Please get a clue. I have watched horse racing in New York since the glory days of Buckpasser, Dr. Fager, and Damascus. I cheered when Arts and Letters beat the West's Majestic Prince. I loved it when Chris Evert beat the West's Miss Muskit by 50 lengths in a match race at Hollywood Park. I love it when Easy Goer beat Sunday Silence in the Belmont. I, too, had felt that Rachel Alexander was the second greatest female racehorse since the great Ruffian.
Boy, was I WRONG!
No, Brendan, please give credit where credit is due. I will swallow my New York pride (and it is big) and say that Zenyatta is by far the GREATEST female racehorse of all time. What she did in the Classic was the single greatest race - after Secretariat's Belmont that is - of all time. I still can't get over it. That alone should easily garner her the HOY for 2009. And her career, undefeated over such quality champions as Ginger Punch, Life Is Sweet only augments her resume.
Brendan, as a New York and a hard thing to confess, Zenyatta is the prefect specimen, the perfect racehorse.