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The Agony of Defeat

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 11/8/2010 11:01:26 AM

The Breeders’ Cup started with a fight and ended in a brawl as Zenyatta fell a head short of infamy. Blame it on blame, who got first run on the Silky Sullivan type and just held it together. Here’s wishing that the know-it-all pundits that dismissed Zenyatta as one of the greatest because she was basically a synthetic wonder eat their words but that probably won’t happen.

I went to my local track for the race and the collective grown of ‘Ohhhh’ when she failed to get up spoke volumes about how much she has meant to the public.

More on her later in the week, but let’s get to how it all started.

FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS

Back in the 1960s, Gillette sponsored the Friday Night Fight series from Madison Square Garden in New York and some of the great names of the sport, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore and Willie Pep were featured. But none of them were more spontaneous than the newest pugilist on the scene, Calvin Borel.

Borel went absolutely postal after the running of the first Breeders’ Cup race of the year, the Marathon on a cloudy day at Churchill Friday.

He had reason to be mad. Javier Castellano bulled his way under Prince Will I Am between foes, nearly forcing Martin Garcia to fall from his mount while Garcia’s runner; Romp then impeded Borel’s charge, A. U. Minor.

As soon as the riders were on the ground near the weight station, Borel started to tell Castellano exactly how he felt but then started to pummel the New York-based rider before being restrained by a number of men around the circle including his brother Cecil.

Minutes later, the stewards took action disqualifying Prince Will I Am and moving A. U. Minor to third.

It was an unprecedented moment before an international TV audience but things like this happen often when jockeys put their lives on the line.

I’ve seen fights break out in the tunnel between riders for far less of a mishap and in racing, unlike baseball, football and basketball, where teams are in separate locker rooms, competitors have to change and prepare for battle in one big jockeys room.

For years, the great Laffit Pincay Jr. and Frank Olivares did battle in the jocks room and reportedly, neither ever backed down.

The winner of the Marathon, Eldaafer came off a near 2-month layoff to turn the hat trick after winning an allowance race and a Grade 3 at Keeneland. His fledgling 30-year-old trainer, Diane Alvarado recently went out on her on and obviously has done a stellar job with the gelding.

The recap of the other Friday races continues with a Flay-vorful story. The winner of the Juveniles Fillies Turf, More Than Real, is owned by none other than celebrity chef Bobby Flay.

She got a great trip under Garrett Gomez, who was tossed from a mount Thursday, to cash by a cozy 2 lengths and pay a healthy 13-1.

The Filly and Mare Sprint was wide open, as evidenced by the 4-1 favorite Champagne d’Oro, who ran 4th. When the smoke cleared Dubai Majesty came from about a length and a half off the lead to cash by a diminishing 2 and a quarter lengths at 8-1.

Majesty is just a win machine at 12 for 34 career and she jumped to millionaire status Friday.

Speed held up well in the Juvenile Fillies as a pair that pressed the lead all the way, dueled to the end with 4-1 Awesome Feather just holding sway to exacta player R Heat Lightning.

Awesome ran her record to 6 for 6 and got a perfect 3-hole trip to win going away.

Midday tried to successfully defend her title in the Filly and Mare Turf but eventually fell to shocker Shared Account, who paid $94 and won in real game style.

Life at Ten did not warm up well with choppy strides for the Ladies Classic and her rider Johnny Velazquez was miked up and told Jerry Bailey.

When all was said and done Life and Ten walked out of the gate and was never a factor.

Malibu Prayer was setting the splits being chased by 25, 13 and 48-1 shots and it set the table for Unrivaled Belle, who got a great ride from Kent Desormeaux when he made and early move and got first jump on the trifecta players Blind Luck and Harve de Grace.

Fireworks started the action and the consistent Belle, who has never been out of the exacta in 12 outs, put a lid on the festivities with a classic Hall of Fame ride.

The first Cup run under the lights has to be considered a success.

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