06/29/2009 4:31PM

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.

amueller More than 1 year ago
Um. Zenyatta is showing up for the Breeders and Rachel is ducking..er skipping. Kind of tells us what Rachel's handlers think about racing Zenyatta. So what's the debate about? Those 111 and 104 means exactly means what again?
John J. Marshall More than 1 year ago
Dear Steve: The drug issue, both legal and illegal, is of course but one issue that needs to be dealt with as regards what is wrong with horse racing today. It may just be that legalized drugs, such as lasix and bute, are an even bigger source of damage to the sport than are the illegal variety. Nevertheless, let us just say that in all likelihood, the best approach to take would be a "three strikes and you're out" approach, whereby any third infraction relating to the use of banned substances or prohibited practices in general, by a trainer, results in that trainer receiving a lifetime ban from the sport. What the various wrist-slaps, or even floggings, actually amount to, after the first two infractions, is of secondary importance. What really matters is that after the third strike, any such trainer is kicked out, and never invited back. That should definitely straighten out more than a few of these totally undesirable rascals.
mike More than 1 year ago
"Has there has ever been a more impressive trio of achievements by a filly in the first half of a 3-year-old campaign?" YES, Lite Light - she won 6 stakes races before winning the Kentucky Oaks at 1:48.80 - .07 better than Rachel. I am also surprised at the amount of critism that the Zen gets for hardly racing out of California. People seem to forget that the great undefeated champion Personal Ensign stayed at her home base New York for all of her undefeated seasons except for one race. Besides, she is the reigning Eclipse Champion and if you want to try her, you know where she it! Right Jess?
Mickey More than 1 year ago
I am quite surprised by all the knowledgable people on here about the similarities of accomplishments of Rachael Alexander and Zenyatta. Rachael Alexander is a top of the line very good 3 year old filly...Zenyatta is a champion..plain and simple! Who has Rachael really beaten?..a watered down group of her peers (which I believe she hasn't even tested a horse in Watchmakers top 10!!!). Yes she beat Mine that Bird (who has raced light years ahead of what was expected of him)..but lets not forget he was 50-1 in the Derby for a reason. Although she hasn't raced anyone of her peers...she gets credit from me for doing it the right way...dominating. Zenyatta?...well what else more can be said?.....she has faced EVERYONE of her peers and beaten them all handily. Now she is carrying weight too, granted I would love her to race against the boys as well..but if she raced against Rachael now...my opinion is that Zenyatta would win easier then many people here might not be willing to believe. The only thing that can stop her now would be more weight....a very wide trip by Mike Smith (always possible) or a top field of males (Einstein or a Belmont Park Bribon..etc...)
Mary More than 1 year ago
Genuine Risk and Winning Colors had by far the most impressive achievements that I've ever seen by fillies in the first half of their 3yo campaigns. Genuine Risk was the only filly to finish in the money in all three Triple Crown races. Enough said. Personally I was more impressed with Winning Colors. She won the Grade 1 SA Oaks against fillies in March, then beat the colts by daylight in the SA Derby in April. She then wired a stellar KD field including Risen Star, Forty Niner and Seeking The Gold at 10 furlongs in May. Then Woody Stevens admittedly sacrificed Forty Niner to make sure she didn't win the Preakness. Remember his quote: “I may be last, but she'll be next-to-last.” Forty Niner finished 7th of 9 after their rough-and-tumble Preakness duel while Winning Colors finished a respectable third. That to me was just as impressive as her wins. So her Belmont was a bust, but every horse not named Risen Star was a bust in that race. And at least she ran a 12 furlong race to wrap up her spring campaign, which is more than anybody can say for Rachel. Rachel's achievements this spring consisted of slapping around really bad fillies at 9 furlongs and under. She beat questionable colts by one length in the easiest of the Triple Crown races and then was reportedly too tired to even try the Belmont. I really hope her connections point her toward a more difficult campaign for the second half of this year so she can earn the "great" title that has been prematurely bestowed upon her. But so far, her 3yo campaign has been impressive only to those with short memories.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
According to stats on the NYRA website, Kent Desormeaux has THE HIGHEST IN THE MONEY PERCENTAGE AT THE CURRENT BELMONT MEET...56% thru June 28th. And ya'll say he doesn't try.
Walt More than 1 year ago
George: At the time I wrote what I did concerning the Del 'Cap, I had not seen that Zenyatta was pointing for the Hirsch.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
If I were Chip Wooley I would tell Calvin Borel to take a hike. He makes me sick. George in Tampa
FourCats More than 1 year ago
Hi Arcstats, Affirmed was an incredibly talented horse. He won 22 races out of 29, many of them ahead of Alydar. However, brilliance (not talent or ability) is often defined as dominating the field by the number of lengths won. In his article, two of the races that Mr. Crist uses to define Rachel Alexandra's brillance are her pair of 20-length wins. While Affirmed had a number of wins by open lengths, 9 of those 22 wins were by less than 1 length. Against good to great horses, he did what he needed to do (much like Zenyatta). Alydar, on the other hand, never won by less than 1 length (when he won) and only twice by less than 2 lengths. Most people believe that Affirmed was the superior horse, but he was not known for winning way out in front.
Arcstats More than 1 year ago
Hey Fourcats, just exactly when was Alydar ever more brilliant than Affirmed? When he was beating up on a bunch of "tomato cans", similar to what Rachel Alexandra is currently doing? Affirmed was brilliant in a whole lot of races that didn't include Alydar. Just check out the 1978 Jim Dandy for starters.