...the horse that actually impressed me the most this weekend with all the big races and Breeders' Cup bids that were up for grabs was... Cowboy Cal. It really seems odd to say that given that Zenyatta ran her lifetime record to 13 for 13 and won quite handily. It really seems odd to say that given that there were eight other Grade 1 races on Saturday with strong Breeders' Cup contenders like Court Vision, Magical Fantasy, and Diamondrella winners of three of them. It really seems odd to say that given that Cowboy Cal's win came in just a Grade 2 event at Santa Anita in the Grade 2 $150,000 Oak Tree Mile, holding off Global Hunter for the score.
Honestly though, the way Cowboy Cal won was very eye-catching. He led all the way in the Oak Tree Mile and never surrendered that lead, even after a relatively quick half of 46.09 seconds. His next start is expected to be in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile over the same racetrack at Santa Anita. By the way, Cowboy Cal has now won three stakes races over the greenery at Santa Anita this year. The "horse for course" angle has worked at the Breeders' Cup before and it certainly could work again with this horse. He is not a slouch in any respect.
Cowboy Cal is one the last horses to wear the familiar white silks with the deep green "V" that symbolized the Stonerside Stable of Robert McNair. McNair sold the majority of his stock and stable to Darley within the last year or so and it might be fitting that McNair might get this classy animal with a lot of evident heart to win one for him before he is out of the sport altogether. McNair has been devoting much of his sporting time lately to his NFL team, the Houston Texans. Since I am fairly acquainted with the Houston sporting scene, I can tell you for a fact that there is no classier sportsman around these days than Robert McNair. For many, it is most unfortunate that he is getting out of the racing game (more or less) to pursue his quest for the Lombardi Trophy in the NFL. It is true in this case that the NFL's gain will also be horse racing's glaring loss.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!