08/25/2010 9:02AM

Big Start For Rachel Alexandra

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Sunday's Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga will be Rachel Alexandra's first ever start at a distance as far as 1 1-4 miles. It will be her first start in almost a year in a Grade 1 event. And it will be Rachel Alexandra's first start this season against an opponent as good as Life At Ten.

Despite all of that, and the fact that she has had an even more uninspiring campaign this year than Zenyatta (which says a lot), Rachel Alexandra will be heavily favored to win the Personal Ensign. And that is true not just because reigning Horses of the Year like her have reputations that manifest themselves in severely depressed odds at the windows. Regarding the 10 furlong distance, it should be remembered that Rachel Alexandra handled 1 3-16 miles comfortably last year when she won the Preakness after disputing a strong early pace, holding off a Kentucky Derby winner in Mine That Bird who was at his very best at that time. As for Grade 1 competition, that certainly shouldn't throw Rachel Alexandra. After all, she has won five such races.

And as far as Life At Ten goes, as big a run as she is on - she has won six straight, the last five in stakes, the last three of which were graded - the reality is eight of the last nine Beyer Figures Rachel Alexandra earned are superior to the career-best Beyer of 101 that Life At Ten earned when she won the Sixty Sails Handicap three starts back. As an aside, you also have to wonder if folks shouldn't be a little gun shy when it comes to Life At Ten, who is trained by Todd Pletcher. Although Pletcher is having his typically strong Saratoga meeting - he is leading the trainer standings there by a big eight wins going into Wednesday's racing - Pletcher also burned a lot of money in major Saratoga stakes the last two weekends when the heavily favored pair of Quality Road and Devil May Care went down in the Whitney and Alabama, respectively.

But for Rachel Alexandra fans, and for those who would like to see her maintain a winning streak for what it might mean when it comes to whatever stakes match ups she might find herself in this fall, the Personal Ensign, going in, still seems like the biggest nail biter Rachel Alexandra has been involved in in a long time. After all the soft spots so far this year that had the feel of mere preliminaries, the Personal Ensign for Rachel Alexandra now seems like the race that could make or break her season. It's odd having that sense with a horse who will be such a heavy favorite and whose virtues are obvious. But that's how it feels.

Tom More than 1 year ago
I agree that Racheal Alexandra will go down in history as one of the greatest three year old fillies of all time. But guys get real that is what she was a great three year old. She is an excellent race horse and as I have been saying since the end of last summer, if she continues to race she will win some and lose some as excellent horses do. But there is no way that she can put together a string of wins in big races without being protected by a three year old status. The writing was on the wall by the number of grade 1 winners she actually beat. I must admit her preformance this year is less than I expected. It is very disappointing and I do feel sorry for her connections and her fans. On to Zenyatta. I think she has faced weaker foes this year than last. But she still runs and still wins and her times still seem to be very good. The thing is she has an amazing heart and stride to die for, still when I watch her run I think her age is catching up to her a little. That said, her age is going to have catch up to her a lot more before someone beats her. I keep reading about how this horse is better and how she is going to get beat and all this other stuff. I really hope those folks keep betting on the other horses, you think they would be tired of losing their money by now. Instead of trying to justify why Racheal got horse of the year, or trying to prove that Zenyatta will lose. Why not just sit back and enjoy the opportunity that has been afforded you. You have a chance to watch a living legend run and see horse racing history being made.
markinsac More than 1 year ago
Rachel does not belong in a mile and a quarter race. Rachel fans will hand out the excuses as usual, they've been doing that all year long. Hope Rachel will go in the BC Ladies Classic against Blind Luck. Oh how I'd like to get 5-2 on Blind Luck in this one! If Rachel even shows up.
John More than 1 year ago
Kauto Star, I have already documented what each horse has defeated in terms of the winners of Grade 1 races. You state that Rachel Alexandra defeated 11 Grade 1 winners last year, and Zenyatta 16. Please break this down for me and try to explain how you got to your totals.
John More than 1 year ago
Kauto Star, Your're counting the Grade 1 races horses won AFTER they faced either Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra. It's like saying Rachel Alexandra is credited with 3 from Summer Bird when in fact he won two of those Grade 1 races after the Haskell.
kram More than 1 year ago
Hey Kauto I could not have said it better myself. Zen has been racing against the same hand picked, weak fields her whole career. Her hamdlers have been more concerned with keeping her undefeated than running her against the best. All you Zen fans; if she is the second coming why hasn't she faced the boys more often? For that matter, why isn't she at Saratoga this weekend?
keith nordling More than 1 year ago
kram; last year zen and RA ran respectively against mares and 3 year olds all but once for the same reason: because they were eligible to do so. the difference is zens win outside the distaff ranks was the breeders cup classic, and RA's win outside the 3 year old division was vs. the immortal bulls bay and macho uno in the haskell. game, set, match bro. and as for why she isn't in new york this summer, she just ran at del mar. some people like upstate new york in the summer better than the beach in so cal, but apparently zenyatta's connections don't. go figure kram. it's not tuff
KautoStar More than 1 year ago
It's a process I've done for many top class horses in Europe, thought I would do it for Zenyatta and Rachel as well. Basically I only look at their Grade 1 victories, then record horses who are Grade 1 winners in each one, whether before or after. For these two, I also recorded which surface they won on as there are several over there. This is taken from the Racing Post website. RACHEL ALEXANDRA- 11 Grade 1 winners Kentucky Oaks (2009)-dirt Gabby’s Golden Gal- Acorn Stakes (2009)-dirt, Santa Monica Handicap (2010)- Pro ride Preakness Stakes (2009)- dirt Mine That Bird- Kentucky Derby (2009)-dirt General Quarters- Blue Grass Stakes (2009)-polytrack, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (2010)- turf Pioneerof The Nile- Hollywood Futurity (2008)- cushion track, Santa Anita Derby (2009)- pro ride Take The Points- Secretariat Stakes (2009)-turf, Jamaica Handicap (2009)-turf, Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (2010)-turf Mother Goose Stakes (2009)-dirt Malibu Prayer- Ruffian Invitational Handicap (2010)-dirt Flashing- Test Stakes (2009)-dirt, Gazelle Stakes (2009)-dirt Haskell Invitational (2009)-dirt Summer Bird- Belmont Stakes (2009)-dirt, Travers Stakes (2009)-dirt, Jockey Club Gold Cup (2009)-dirt Woodward Stakes (2009)-dirt Macho Again- Stephen Foster Handicap (2009)-dirt Bullsbay- Whitney Handicap (2009)-dirt Da’Tara- Belmonst Stakes (2008)-dirt ZENYATTA 16 Grade 1 winners of 43 Grade 1 races 2.6 per race Apple Blossom Handicap (2008)- dirt Ginger Punch- Go For Wand Handicap (2007)- dirt, Ruffian Handicap (2007)- dirt, Breeders Cup Distaff (2007)- dirt, Ogden Phipps Handicap (2008)- dirt, Go For Wand Handicap (2008)- dirt, Personal Ensign Stakes (2008)- dirt Vanity Handicap (2008)- cushion track Tough Tiz’s Sis- Lady’s Secret Stakes (2007)-cushion track, Ruffian Handicap (2008)-dirt Lady’s Secret Stakes (2008)- pro ride Hystericalady- Humana Distaff (2007)-dirt Santa Teresita- Santa Maria Handicap (2009)-pro ride Breeders Cup Ladies Classic (2008)-pro ride Cocoa Beach- Beldame Stakes (2008)-dirt, Matriach Stakes (2008)-turf Music Note- Mother Goose Stakes (2008)-dirt, American Oaks (2008)-dirt, Gazelle Stakes (2008)-dirt, Ballerina Stakes (2009)-dirt, Beldame Stakes (2009)-dirt Carriage Trail- Spinster Stakes (2008)-polytrack Hystericalady- Humana Distaff (2007)-dirt Ginger Punch- Go For Wand Handicap (2007)- dirt, Ruffian Handicap (2007)- dirt, Breeders Cup Distaff (2007)- dirt, Ogden Phipps Handicap (2008)- dirt, Go For Wand Handicap (2008)- dirt, Personal Ensign Stakes (2008)- dirt Santa Teresita- Santa Maria Handicap (2009)-pro ride Vanity Handicap (2009)-cushion track Clement Hirsch Stakes (2009)- polytrack Life Is Sweet- Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (2009)- pro ride, Breeders Cup Ladies Classic (2009)-pro ride Lady’s Secret Stakes (2009)- pro ride Cocoa Beach- Beldame Stakes (2008)-dirt, Matriach Stakes (2008)-turf Life Is Sweet- Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (2009)- pro ride, Breeders Cup Ladies Classic (2009)-pro ride Breeders Cup Classic (2009)-pro ride Gio Ponti- Frank E Kilroe Mile (2009)-turf, Manhattan Handicap (2009)-turf, Man O’War Stakes (2009)-turf, Arlington Million (2009)-turf, Man O’War Stakes (2010)-turf Twice Over- Champion Stakes (2009)-turf, Eclipse Stakes (2009)-turf Summer Bird- Belmont Stakes (2009)-dirt, Travers Stakes (2009)-dirt, Jockey Club Gold Cup (2009)-dirt Colonel John- Santa Anita Derby (2008)- cushion track, Travers Stakes (2008)-dirt Richard’s Kid- Pacific Classic (2009)- Polytrack Awesome Gem- Hollywood Gold Cup (2010)- cushion track Mine That Bird- Kentucky Derby (2009)-dirt Rip Van Winkle- Sussex Stakes (2009)-turf, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (2009)-turf, Juddmonte International Stakes (2010)-turf Einstein- Breeders Cup (2006)-turf, Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (2008)-turf, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (2008)-turf, Santa Anita Handicap (2009)- pro ride, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (2009)-turf Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (2010)- oro ride Apple Blossom Invitational Handicap (2010)- dirt Vanity Handicap (2010)- cushion track Clement Hirsch Stakes (2010)- polytrack Feel free to count and check that I totaled it correctly. To be honest, both of them have pretty weak form when compared to some European mares such as Zarkava and Goldikova. I admire Zenyatta for being undefeated but make no mistake, she has not faced the strongest opposition, especially this year. Truthfully, its appalling that such a good mare is not taking on decent competition, either males at home or females in other states. Likewise, Rachel Alexandra raced in historic and unusual races, but didn't face the best competition either. However, her owners seem to take more daring choices with her, which I admire.
monty More than 1 year ago
I think their desire to keep her "undefeated" is the key element to remember here. What a day for the sport of horseracing "if" Zenyatta were to meet up with Rachel in the Breeders Cup and the rest of the "boys" ? You could not ask for a better script, or scenario, ever, and what it would do for this sport ! Zenyatta is the "real deal" you will see Nov. 6th, just hope it does'nt "rain", and the track is decent !
Susan More than 1 year ago
So the "Champion" Zenyatta can't run on a wet track? Maybe they can bring all that allowance company she been running against in CA with her. No rain for a possible HOY? Tell that to Cigar, Skip Away, etc.!
keith More than 1 year ago
zenyatta ran in a MSW, 1 allowance race, 4 grade 2's and 12 grade 1's. her last 8 races were G1's, and included the breeders cup classic and the apple blossom @ OP last april. and oh yeah, the apple blossom is run on dirt, and she won another time too, the first time against the reigning eclipse award older female horse of the year, ginger punch. she won 7 races on dirt altogether out of 18. Zenyatta has beat every horse entered against her over the last 32 months. just think about that for goodness sakes before you put "champion" in quotes in front of zenyattas name, or whine about her competition. and then get a grip.
markinsac More than 1 year ago
Kram, If you're comparing Gabby's Golden Girl and Malibu Prayer to Gio Ponti (male champion) and Ginger Punch (female champion), go ahead. Your horses came back to win a grade 1 race. Those mentioned by me won eclipse awards. You Rachel fans still can't come up with anything so you continusly bag Zenyatta, who all she does is win. You say that Rachel raced in all the tough races? The Preakness and Haskell are important races FOR 3 YEAR OLDS. She didn't race in the BC or the Apple Blossom. Kinda of forgot about those two. And Rachel fans say Zenyatta is hiding out in Cali. While Rachel hasn't raced in a grade 1 race yet this year. But if Rachel does somehow get it together and win the BC Classic, you all will be claiming another Horse of the Year title. Even though winning the BC Classic wasn't good enough for Zenyatta, this year it will be good enough for Rachel, despite her cream puff schedule.
John More than 1 year ago
Why is some calling the Personal Ensign a "marquee race" or the race of the year? Is it another attempt to over-hype east coast horses? At last check, there is only ONE Grade 1 race winning horse (Life At Ten) this year in this race. Zenyatta, on the other hand, has won FOUR Grade 1 races already this year, has carried 129 and 127 lbs., respectively, spotted her closest rivals 15, 6, 9, and 8 lbs., has broken Citation and Cigar's non in-bred consecutive winning streak, has tied the great Eclipse at 18 major races, has tied Bayakoa for her 12th Grade 1 win, and has broken Rock Of Gibralter's record of 7 straight Grade 1 wins. And we're suppose to get excited about this race?
KautoStar More than 1 year ago
Ok, AGAIN with the misconceptions surrounding the European horses in the BCC. Twice Over is NOT a great horse, let alone the 'Champion of England'. He won the Champion Stakes against a weak field and over the top horses. He also won the Eclipse Stakes against the weakest field ever. He was DESTROYED by Sea The Stars and New Approach, and was racing in ungraded stakes and Listed races before his Champion Stakes win. Rip Van Winkle on the other hand, is a very good horse on TURF. He does however, have severe foot problems that plagued him throughout 2009. He was over the top by the time the BC rolled around and even had foot problems in the week before the BCC. I did a form analysis of Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra's Grade 1 victories and found a few things. RA defeated 11, Grade 1 winners last year of 19 Grade 1 races, most of them on dirt. Zenyatta has defeated 16 Grade 1 winners of 43 Grade 1 races, many of them on a different surface i.e. grass or dirt not synthetic. She also hasn't faced a single Grade 1 winner in all 4 of her Grade 1 races this year. So despite racing in 'stronger' races, she has not faced stronger competition.
johnnie More than 1 year ago
What is the big deal if Rachel loses this Sunday? She has lost 5 times to non grade 1 winner. Rachel was never that good to begin with. First 3 year old filly to win the Woodward. Yeah sure against the weakest ever field put together. No big deal if Rachel loses in the PE. She was mostly hype considering it took her a year just to enter a gr 1 race. Is that really a super filly? NO! that was pure hype.