Saturday, August 30, 2008

Garcia, Micallef, Zayat and Alaazo

I think Alan Garcia and, perhaps more accurately his agent, Tony Micallef are making a very poor choice in not standing by their commitment for Garcia to ride Alaazo for Zayat Stables in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Monday. Micallef seems to think that winning the Saratoga riding title is more important for the career of Garcia than nurturing relationships with the owners that give them the mounts. I can understand that a certain amount of status is attached to winning a meet the magnitude of Saratoga, but, in the long run it will not harm or improve his business. His riding abilities are what dictate the mounts he receives and his formidable skills and work ethic have business booming. Jockeys work long and hard, sometimes for many years, for the privilege to be able to ride in million dollar races and when those opportunities are presented to a jockey he would be best advised to take them, especially when they have already been agreed too! He is after all only 22 years old! To say his future is bright would be woefully understating the fact. There will likely be many more riding titles ahead for him at Saratoga and elsewhere. I certainly don't imagine that their reneging on Alaazo will effect their business with their main man, Kiaran McLaughlin, but it may cause others to hesitate in the future, if not out of concern then out of principle and solidarity. The world is a strange place and the world of racing even stranger.
Garcia is named on ten mounts today(Sat.) and ten mounts tomorrow. And while I am far from agreeing with Sobhy Sonbol, Zayat's racing manager, that Garcia has the title wrapped up, it is possible he may have it delivered by Sunday evening. If they don't, that's racing and racing luck. They have a commitment for Monday and they ought to keep it. Let this be an experience that will inform future decision making. The sport does not have a lot of room for selfishness, except if that selfishness is manifest by securing as many quality mounts as possible through persistence and skill. It was not too very long ago when Micallef probably had to do a lot of selling to enable Garcia to get on horses to showcase his skills. As a team Garcia and Micallef have found success, they should not forget how they got there: by receiving commitments and keeping them. It's a very important part of the sport. In the long run it may not be Garcia that pays the dearest price, it may be Micallef. Garcia's skills are not likely to diminish any time in this decade but business can suffer if one's agent is deemed difficult to work with. I wholeheartedly hope they reconsider and Garcia rides Alaazo without it becoming a big issue between the camps. That would be best for all concerned.

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