The W.L. McKnight Handicap was supposed to be a match up of the old warriors, a match up between two gallant tough luck Breeders Cup runner-ups. On one side you had the courageous Presious Passion, who runs unlike any other major turf horse of the modern era. In a time where turf runners give meaning to the saying patience is a virtue, Presious Passion routinely will sprint to the front, leading by as much as twenty lengths, and then with a grim determination and will of steel fight off any horse who dares to try and stick his nose in front.
2009 has been this fiery chestnut's best year at the races. He burst onto the scene with a record shattering performance in the United Nations Handicap, where he spurted away from the field by 20 lengths, running his first quarter in a blistering 22 1/5 seconds. His half mile split made his daunting task of winning look all the more impossible as the numbers, 45 1/5 seconds, lit up the tote board. Presious Passion would continue to run fractions that would spell a death sentence for any other horse in an 11 furlong event, but as they turned for home Presious Passion was still in front, and he would stay there as they swept under the wire. In this race he broke the previous course, held by 2007 Turf Champion English Channel, by nearly two seconds. With this performance he ran himself right to the top of the turf division.
The race that really set the stage for the showdown between himself and Cloudy's Knight was the Breeders Cup Turf. In this race we not only Presious Passion's raw, brilliant speed, but every ounce of courage and will that the gritty gelding possessed. After running fractions almost identical to his United Nations win, Presious Passion would enter the stretch with the defending Breeders Cup Turf Champion, Conduit, breathing down his neck along with many of Europes other top competitors. In one of the most stirring and heart wrenching stretch duels of the decade, Presious Passion would fall short by just half a length as they hit the wire.
Before they loaded into the gate I was a firm believer that it would be Presious Passion alone at the wire. However, that prediction was far from a reality, as Presious Passion would not be alone at any point of the race. Livingston Street would break with Presious Passion and hound him through the first six furlongs of the race, making sure to make his rival fight for every step of his lead.
Normally I do not mind the use of rabbits, I think that they are tool for strategy, and though I'm not all in favor for them, I do not mind the use of them. However, what happened in the McKnight was wrong. No sane jockey would dare to follow Presious Passion since it would mean certain loss for their horse, but it would seem that the sole purpose for Livingston Street was to make the race as hard as possible for Presious Passion, seeing that at one point the 80-1 shot was at one point even whipped to get into contention with his speed ball opponent.
As they turned for home Cloudy's Night and four others would run by the gutsy gelding, who still refused to give in, trying to fight back along the rail. The damage had been done though, as it was apparent to anybody with even a novice eye for racing that Presious Passion had nothing left to give. It was only his grit and class that would help him cross the wire in fifth, still in front of five others, including Livingston Street who finished second to last.
Not only am I upset at what was done to Precious Passion, but at what could potentially happen to Livingston Street. No horse should be pushed to the extent that he was pushed just to ruin the race for another. To whip a horse when there is not need to be whipped, except to wear out another should be viewed as cruelty and I personally would not allow that jockey to ever again ride in another race for as long as they live. Luis Saez does not deserve to ride another race, for he could have very well have ruined not just one but two horses with such aggressive tactics. What happened in that race was wrong, and should not go unpunished.