09/08/2009 10:49AM

Rachel...Unstoppable

Email

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."

***

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

***

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

***

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