09/08/2009 9:49AM

Rachel...Unstoppable

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The boys wanted to dance with The Lady at The Woodward Ball, but she showed them all her heels.  First up was Da' Tara.  He saw Rachel dump her steady, Calvin Borel, in the post parade during an uncharacteristic bit of diva-ish behavior.  Da' Tara got lucky before so why not again, right?  Unfortunately for the 2008 Belmont winner, he asked Rachel her sign, and the awkward pass was immediately rebuffed. 
Up next was Past the Point, last year's Woodward runner-up behind the mighty Curlin.  Ranging up from the outside, he asked Rachel her number, and was given the license plate of a mack truck. 
Finally, the alpha male.  Decked out in a dappled gray suit, Macho Again was oozing confidence.  And why not?  While Rachel was cha-cha-ing and mosh-ing the entire dance, this year's Stephen Foster winner was waltzing along at his own tempo.  Fresh, classy, and ready to roll, Macho Again made his move in midstretch.  For a second, it looked like he was going to score.  But Rachel Alexandra had other plans.  She politely, yet firmly, declined Macho Again's advances, and retired, perhaps for the season, with the spotlight placed solely on her powerful frame. 
It was a jaw-dropping performance that absolutely delighted a huge crowd at Saratoga.  Not only did Rachel thwart a good field of older males, but she laughed in the face of the past champions that couldn't overcome similar adversity at "The Graveyard of Favorites."  To compare her with other superstars, past or present, without time to truly relish and savor this wonderful performance, is blatantly unfair.  For this was an incredible effort from a special thoroughbred.  We knew she was brilliant, and we knew she had class, but who knew the depth of her courage?  In the Preakness, she was tested early by three-year-old males, and still showed an amazing amount of heart to beat back Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the final sixteenth of a mile.  But in the Woodward, there was no breathing room.  She was tested every step of the way through demanding fractions against battle-hardened older males, and still stood tall.  . 
"A lot gets said about the other mare [Zenyatta] and what's next, but I think we ought to focus on exactly what happened today" said winning trainer Steve Asmussen, "She was pretty keyed up," said Borel.  "She went to duck away.  The pony guy did a good job of turning her loose.  When the fans hollered real loud, it just scared her.  I can't blame her.  When a crowd hollers all at one time, it kind of surprised her.  It took me by surprise."
"She was a little aggressive," Borel commented on the race itself.  "Steve had talked to me during the week and said, 'She might be a little fresh.  So, save me some horse for the last 40 or 50 yards, or sixteenth of a mile.'  I'm glad he told me that because I rode her a little bit more confident and sitting chilly until it was time to go...I switched sticks on her twice.  That's more than I have ever done.  Hitting her is not going to make her run faster.  I think when a horse is going to come up to her, I think that's when you will see her run.  She does what she has to do.  She was going fast enough, I never beat her up.  I barely tap her because she gives me everything she's got.  She was a little tired."
Even in defeat, Macho Again's jockey, Robby Albarado, was keyed up about the race.  "She's a champion.  Champions do that.  Champions find ways to win.  I never thought I had her.  You never think you have champions.  She's a great filly."
Jeremy Rose, the rider of third-place finisher Bullsbay, was rightly proud of his horse.  "My horse left everything on the track.  He did everthing he could to get by that [filly].  She just isn't giving up.  She's awesome; there's no two ways about it."

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The Beyer Speed Figures are still trickling in from over the weekend.  Check out the link below for the past week's stakes numbers:

http://www.drf.com/stakeresults/drfStakeResults.jsp

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Congrats to Hairy for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He selects the Palomar Handicap at Del Mar on September 9 for this week's race.  Here are the past performances:

Download HandiGambling

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The last week at Saratoga gave me a tremendous emotional and financial beating so I'm taking some days off to recharge the batteries.  I'll periodically check in to post comments, etc. 

Have fun,

Dan

Mickey More than 1 year ago
C I understand what your saying with Silverbulletday (I didn't hear any crazy things about her back then outside of her being a top horse...)..I give Baffert credit for trying her in the Belmont (I thought she had no shot what so ever)..but give him TONS of credit for trying something different. Will RA go to the HOF?..sure...but to be putting her on a pedestal TODAY is what I have the problem with......how about she retires first before we go that route? or the comments that: "The Best I ever saw"..etc..... Maybe Silverbulletday didn't face the "greatest" competition in the world..but then no one was claiming she was the greatest either.. RA has faced who?...No one of any merit but that is all we hear about her....no? she gets accolades for doing what she has done and for beating SB...but she has yet to face any top 3 year old Filly, older filly or any TOP older male horse..and most people on here think she is Man Of War.
CM More than 1 year ago
Re Rachel and Distance: First, by saying she avoided 1 1/4 miles nobody is downplaying her accomplishments. They are outstanding - she is a great filly, should be horse of the year, and so on. But, like it or not, the big money and most prestige in non-turf races is at 1 1/4 miles. For an american dirt horse the three biggest races are the KY Derby, BC Classic and Dubai World Cup. All are run at 1 1/4 miles. That is our classic distance. I have nothing aganst Jess Jackson. I'm glad he campaigned Curlin and Rachel because they both tried things others would not have had the guts to try. But just because her run in the Woodward was historic and unprecedented it does not mean it was a more difficult race for her than a 1 1/4 race in the Travers would have been. Although the RA camp tried to spin it that their unprecedented attempt was more difficult, I and many others don't agree. It doesn't mean I (and others) don't admire her. I do, and I thought her race in the Woodward was fantastic. But I still want to see her tested at 1 1/4 miles. I think she is good enough to win those races - she did win at 1 3/16... Hopefully next year. I raised another point earlier on with respect to distance and would like to hear everyone's opinion. How many american dirt horses are actually bred to run 1 1/4 miles nowadays? Can anyone give some examples of horses that were at their best at that distance?
Kyri More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, you could be right about the 3 coming over -- I don't think I saw all the angles -- but when GG broke slow, I think Desormeaux should have let her relax and plan to give her the kind of trip the winner got, instead of bull-headedly gunning her up on the inside, where she hip-checked Katara and subsequently got really rank. It was after that that she clipped heels and, well, thank god no harm was done. He knows she can come from out of it, so why not relax and take back? Not sour grapes either: I had the winner. At least no one was hurt. On the Rachel vs. Zenyatta argument... I dunno. I think Zenyatta is one of the best, if not the best, horses I've ever seen. Not because of what she's won on paper (though there's nothing wrong with that), but how she does it. Until her last race, she seemed to have never been tested or tried -- and I'm still not sure if that was an overconfident ride, or what happened; and she did win. (And if she had been where Macho Again was in the Woodward, I think she'd still be perfect. But we'll never know.) Rachel Alexandra is an amazing, wonderful filly, and I think she has beaten some very good horses. Great horses? Probably not, but we don't really know what Summer Bird or some of the other 3YO may develop into, so who knows? She has beaten the ones who showed up. It's not fair to expect her to beat a Preakness or Oaks or Woodward field that didn't exist this year. I think Zenny is a better horse than Rachel, but I think there's no question Rachel has accomplished more, mainly because Zenny's campaign this year has been so cautious. I wonder why that is. Are her connections getting "Pepper's Pride Syndrome", i.e. they just don't want her ever to lose? Or does the fact she had a long layoff after last year's Distaff mean something? Maybe they're being careful because there's something to be careful about? Not trying to be all conspiracy-theory here, just speculating. I'd like to see Rachel run in the Classic, assuming she's doing well at that point and bounced back from the Woodward. I'd like to see Zenny run on real dirt -- the Beldame seems logical -- and then run in the Classic. But, realistically, it will be up to the connections and their convictions whether valid or not, and the two may never meet.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Some of the comments lately trying to downplay RA's accomplishments are some of the most poorly reasoned I have ever seen in the 2 or 3 years I've been posting here. Maybe you don't like JJ, or maybe you just love Z, but whatever the bias is, some of you are just pulling opinions out of thin air and calling it argument. It's not very impressive. At some point, you'd think reason would overcome the bias, but I'm not seeing it, I'm just seeing some of the stupidest commentary I've ever seen. Sorry, but that's my honest reaction, in a reserved manner. You don't want the un-cut version, I promise you. I can barely bring myself to read the blog anymore. Outta here.
Calvin L. Carter More than 1 year ago
Trainer John Oxx is not worried about the potential competition that his brilliant colt Sea The Stars may have to face in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. But, if the ground at Lonchamp comes up too soft, Sea The Stars will be pointed to either the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes or the Breeders’ Cup Classic. http://www.racingpost.com/news/horse-racing/longchamp-longchamp-longchamp-sea-the-stars-john-m-oxx-oxx-arc-trials-produced-nothing-outstanding/631351/top/
C More than 1 year ago
Mickey, First, Dreams Gallore was a nobody and, to the best of my knowledge, Silverbulletday never came close to beating Beautiful Pleasure. My point was, if Silverbulletday is in the HoF, RA will have no problem. PS: Not sure about you, but I heard all kinds of crazy things when Silverbulletday was running. Anyway, the thought that Zenyatta is the better filly is up to the individual, but it's all speculation. I agree that she'd hold the advantage on a synthetic course... so what would that really prove anyway? We disagree on the dirt possibility, but, again, this is all speculation. My feeling on the matchup is that the surface would be the key, so demanding the meeting is not much different than demanding a showdown with Goldikova on grass. ProRide is not dirt, so I don't see what the big deal is. As far as greatness, if RA was owned by Gretchen Jackson instead of Jess Jackson and trained by a Matz or a Mott, would the public be slamming her for not beating anybody (which is really BS anyway)? If Zayat/Baffert refused to run her on a non-dirt track, would the outrage be at this level? I have a hard time believing that.
Calvin L. Carter More than 1 year ago
vicstu, "I believe Hard Spun will be for the Danzig line in North America what El Prado is for the Sadler’s Wells line in here – the “transitional” sire in a line of turf sires that adapts to dirt." -- Jack Werk. That what Jack Werk had to say in his latest blog: http://werk2.werkhorse.com/wordpress/index.php/2009/09/13/the-danzig-dynasty/
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
RE: Rachel and Distance CM, this is in response to your post. Any horse that can run the kind of contested first 1/4 mile in 22.85 seconds over the Saratoga track that day, continue on, repelling Grade 1 winning older horses in getting to the wire of a 1 1/8 mile race in front can "get" the extra furlong under the softer early circumstances that would be expected at that classic distance, in my opinion! Also, not to make too much of this, but nobody got by her on the gallop out... She wasn't going to let that happen... I don't get the pooh poohing of her competition! First of all, she took care of busines in the Preakness and Haskell (fields that represented the top 3 year old boys). Chasing Munnings while going wide was no easy task on that speed favoring strip at Monmouth. The next challenge was not the Travers (yawn, been there done that), it was the best older dirt horses in the world (which is what she faced!) in the Woodward... I'm not saying she's unbeatable, as there has never been an unbeatable horse... Sure, she could be physically regressing while getting caught up in a hot early pace and not get 1 1/4 miles... I thought she was toast in the Woodward after the first 1/4 mile and that's with a high regard for her... Getting a distance has much to do with managing pace (i.e. those horses that ran with her early in the Woodward and then backed up are generally considered to be able to "get" the 1 1/8 mile distance...) I think her biggest weakness is her jockey! I just don't think he's the smartest jock out there and he's prone to ride her with too much confidence... She's ratable and doesn't automatically need to be contesting a hot early pace... To your final question, sadly, there just aren't a lot of "longer" dirt races being written these days which makes it difficult to determine how many are at their best at this distance... Clearly a lot of trainers don't want to enter their horses in these longer races... I do think that horses that can run a triple digit Beyer are clearly "getting" the distance... How they can "get" the distance in the face of pace and adversity issues is another story which is why Rachel's performance in the Woodward was especially remarkable!
Annie More than 1 year ago
Slew, Now now, don't get upset. It's just people's opinions, no more no less. Freedom of speech and all that. Now SMILE. :) Annie
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Kyri I agree that Kent D has had his problems along the rail. Many have discussed this point at one time or another.. I almost wanted to say "if Van Savant can have his school of Higher Math, Kent D can have his own Theory on Physics." But then I looked at the replay, Headon and Pan. I think Don't Forget Gil dropped on to Gozzip Girl from the two path into the one path where GG was comfortable moving up. Kent had to check...which turned Gozzip Girls head, hence putting her into her pin ball action. ...Then it all went Really Bad as she stumbled a few steps later. Thank God horse and rider came out ok. I don't think Gozzip Girl ever recovered for the race. Too bad, I liked her here. ..just my .02 cents. SR Vegas