03/10/2010 12:49PM

Reigning Monarchs


When Rachel Alexandra runs Saturday at the Fair Grounds, she will try to become the 10th straight returning Horse of the Year to win first time out the following season. No reigning Horse of the Year has lost his or her debut the next year since Ferdinand in 1988, but such horses are only 19 for 31 over the last 50 years:

Since Ferdinand, beaten by Judge Angelucci in the 1988 San Antonio, the nine Horses of the Year who returned to the races have all won first time back, most recently Curlin in the 2008 Jaguar Cup at Nad al-Sheba, his prep for that year's Dubai Cup.

Many of the 12 losses came early in this span including four straight by Kelso: He won his first start of 1961 after winning his first HOTY title in 1960, but lost his first start of the year following his next four Horse of the Year seasons.

It's also interesting to note the change from bringing champions back in allowance races -- which is where 8 of the 16 returning HOTY's ran between 1959 and 1978 -- to returning only in stakes races, which every returning HOTY since Seattle Slew has done.

And just for the record, three of the four fillies or mares who have been named HOTY during this time lost first time back after their coronations. Azeri prevailed in the 2003 Apple Blossom, but Lady's Secret (1986), All Along (1983) and Moccassin (1965) ran 6th, 4th and 4th respectively. 

Robert More than 1 year ago
Steve, If I might add something to your fine Personal Ensign tribute. Did you notice her granddaughter won the Fair Ground Oaks recently, Seeking The Title? She's a filly out of Title Seeker(PE/Monarchos), who Mr. Phipps sold in foal to Seeking The Gold. I think Title Seeker was the only PE mare able to go full term with Seeking The Gold. PE herself slipped her STG foal. I wish he kept Title Seeker, but I guess he can't keep them all.
Beckron More than 1 year ago
Pretty sure that was Charlie Whittingham that said that about strawberries and not DWL. Which makes the statement more realistic.
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
JT, Zenyatta had about 18 weeks off. RA had about 25 weeks. Both long breaks. I think RA ran her race it just wasn't good enough.
Diceman More than 1 year ago
Saturday was a Tough Nite for the RA Crowd! She ran an Empty Race, No Punch and no Desire to Win! Bottom Line: RA definately has Gene Limitations. She will never beat RA going two turns!
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Boy am I glad Zardana showed up at the FG yesterday.If she'd stayed home I'd have to hear about another of RA's famous double-digit beaten length records.I guess LIL'Z holds the record for the NO ladies.What was that 3/4? It is probably etched in history because as it was the 1st NO ladies it shall be likely the last.
Unitas More than 1 year ago
How can some of you(rhoward) still say that Rachel shouldn't have been HOY last year after her loss THIS year? That makes no sense. That's like saying the Steelers shouldn't have been Super Bowl Champs in 2008 because they didn't make the playoffs in 2009. You can't compare 2009 to 2010, as far as HOY voting goes.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
Wayne Lukas said it best, "Horses are like strawberries, they go bad overnight" He said it just like that. One of the greatest quotes in sports. Not to say that Rachel Alexandra went sour over the winter. I just hope the connections of great ones learn their lesson. Another D. Wayne Lukas quote. "Run them when their good and sit them when their not" Who can argue with D. Wayne. He has trained a few good and bad huh Steve? George in Tampa
raidrock10 More than 1 year ago
i don't care what you'all say ra should'nt have been hoy over z, getting beat sat should have shown you that. why i say that, if you remember mine that bird would have beat her in the preakness had the race been longe at the finish mtb was on her hip after comming from the very back. had it been the belmont she would have been beeten and thats why jackson wouldn'nt run her in the breeders cup against zen.
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Unitas, Comparing Rachel being HOY to the Steelers winning the super bowl is a horrible argument. The Steelers actually won their championship whereas RA was voted there. Remember when all of the Z fans were saying that RA has not beaten anyone good? And because she beat no one she shouldnt be HOY? Well this is what we were talking about. She goes up against the an average Cali horse and loses. Someone else made a great point. If Zardana didnt make the trip we would have had to hear about RA's fantastic triumph by a record setting margin.
JT More than 1 year ago
Holy Moly, it was her first race back after a SIX MONTH layoff. Zeny had only a month off. RA didn't look like herself, I thought she looked kind of washed out. But folks, it was just one race. RA comes back, Zeny keeps winning as long as she stays on that rubber road. When they do meet, probably at Saratoga I would guess, RA takes the lead and never looks back. Zenyatta comes running late but misses catching RA by 1/2 length. What a great race that will be. Now, my advice to John and the Mosses, keep Zeny working but make those tough races far between...she's gonna need everything she's got when she faces the DESERVING HOY later this summer.