"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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rescue Horses Fundraiser

A friend of mine turned me on to this. This, as many of you know, is something I feel strongly about. If you can help, great. If not, think about this in 2010.

Double L Stable Equine Rescue and Sanctuary is holding its annual “Holiday Cards for Rescue Horses” fundraiser. The horse rescue is asking anyone who can to send a holiday card to the rescue horses with a $1 bill in it. The cards will be hung in the barn for visitors to see, and the money goes to the rescue’s work with abused and neglected horses. Cards can be sent to The Horses Double L Stable Equine Rescue, 9 Tilford Road, Argyle, NY 12809. For more information, call 518-638-6929.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lock it up

How can 73 percent of people be wrong? They are wrong when they suggest that the Breeders' Cup should rotate its location, this according to a poll on Paulick Report.

How, exactly, does it serve this sport to have it move? Are more people going to watch the Breeders' Cup because it is in New York? Kentucky? California? I'm sure the numbers don't change and I'm sure attendance is not predicated on location, maybe with the exception of California.

Keeping it in one place serves the legacy of the athletes of the Breeders' Cup well. This way it will be easy to compare one Breeders' Cup from another. Ghostzapper's win was much different than Saint Liam's. Had they run on the same track in consecutive years, we could better slot them into their Breeders' Cup histories. The only consecutive comparison we have is Raven's Pass and Zenyatta.

Who wants to have the Breeders' Cup at Belmont (sorry NYRA) where the Classic starts on the turn? Belmont is a wonderful facility with a less-than-wonderful press box, but unless they stagger the gate, starting a race on a turn is just wrong. A staggered gate? What's next? Women's suffrage? Keep on dreaming!

Reading some of the comments from DRF's Steven Crist's blog post suggesting that Breeders' Cup officials want to lock down Churchill Downs is amusing, but, at times, interesting. While Churchill has some appeal, the best would be for Santa Anita to dig up its main track and put in conventional dirt and have it there every year. The weather is beautiful with a backdrop to match.

Another option is build a Breeders' Cup facility with a turf track, a Polytrack, and a main dirt track. The Polytrack's only function would be to move races from the turf if there is too much rain.

And at the time of this post, if it were to be centralized, Paulick Report voters are in favor of Churchill Downs over a Santa Anita dirt option. This I found quite baffling.

Who does moving it serve? Is racing better off with a floating Breeders' Cup? There probably is no quality answer to this, but some leadership has to be in order. The few fans who follow this game deserve a righted ship, a confident and decisive move. All the tinkering and flirting illustrates a frigate with neither map nor compass.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Halt!

Live racing was canceled today at Aqueduct! Don't go!

So, I'm flirting with the idea of putting The Carryover on hiatus while I write the book. I hate knowing that I should write something here, but put it off because I'm writing something else. Of course my obligation to Horse Race Insider is not threatened, but in order to keep my focus, I may put The Carryover on hold for a few weeks or months while I toil away on the manuscript.

I'll keep you posted.

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.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trainer of the Year

Sixty percent of Carryover voters want Steve Asmussen as Champion Trainer. The other 40 percent went to Tim Ice, trainer of the now-injured Summer Bird.

John Shirreffs got zero percent of the vote.

I'd like to hear your reasoning. I gave you mine, why I think Steve Asmussen should win it. But Tim Ice's presence on the ballot is deserved and if you think he should beat out the handler of Rachel Alexandra, Kensei, and others, I'd love to know why.