06/29/2009 3:31PM

Rachel 111, Zenyatta 104, but...


Zenyatta3Rachelalexandra...of course that's an incomplete comparison between the performances turned in Saturday by Rachel Alexandra in the Mother Goose and Zenyatta in the Vanity. The figs tell us how fast, relative to the speed of the tracks at Belmont and Hollywood Saturday, each ran from point A to point B, but don't incorporate a lot of less-quantifiable factors: the inherent differences between dirt and synthetic racing; the individuals' different running styles, the difference between a developing 3-year-old and a mature 5-year-old; the debatable effect of the higher weight carried by Zenyatta and the ground she always loses with her wide, late move; or the fact that Rachel Alexandra was clearly geared down at the end of her race.

Having said all that, and with all due respect to an undefeated champion, Rachel Alexandra's performance was clearly the more purely brilliant of the two, as is her 2009 campaign to date. In her last three starts, over the three Triple Crown tracks, Rachel Alexandra has won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths, beaten males including the Derby winner in the Preakness, and won the Mother Goose by 19 1/4 lengths. Has there has ever been a more impressive trio of achievements by a filly in the first half of a 3-year-old campaign?

Ruffian won her first five starts as a 3-year-old by a combined 37 lengths, including the Acorn, Mother Goose and CCA Oaks. Rachel Alexandra is 6 for 6 this year, winning by a combined 59 lengths.

Download Ruffian[1]

Download RachelAlexandra063009

--Here were the straight-betting pools for the Mother Goose and Vanity:

There were small minus pools in the win pool at Belmont and the place pool at Hollywood. Someone wrote privately and asked how there could have been a minus win pool in the Mother Goose since Rachel Alexandra attracted "only" 82.6 percent of the betting and the track is required (under a 16 percent takeout) to pay back 84 percent of the pool. The answer is that the track is required to pay back a 5 percent profit ($2.10 for $2) on that 82.6 percent of the pool, raising the payback rate of 86.7 percent. So there was an $18,698.62 shortfall that was made up proportionately by whoever handled the bets -- NYRA's share came to only $1.162, the rest from OTB's and simulcast outlets.

--It has taken way too long, but today the New York State Racing and Wagering Board announced it is writing directives to allow superfecta betting in races with 7 scheduled betting interests, down from 8, and with 6 actual starters arfter scratches, down from 7.


It's a start, but the even sillier rule that needs to be changed is the one prohibiting superfectas in races with coupled entries. The only justification that has ever been offered for this inane regulation is that having both a 1 and a 1a in the top four finishers would "confuse" the public as to the winning combination. Please. The poor old public figures this out all the time with trifecta wagering, where there is no such prohibition.

This came up recently in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day, a wide-open race that would have drawn a huge superfecta pool an hour before the Belmont. But no superfecta was offered because there had been two coupled entries Proudinsky (who was scratched) and Zambesi Sun, and Optimer and Court Vision.