My initial reaction upon hearing the news that Rachel Alexandra had been retired was not one of surprise. I think most of us that have followed her bizarre campaign were half expecting her not to make it to the Breeders' Cup anyway.
No, my initial instinct was not surprise. It was disappointment--disappointment of no longer being able to watch her race, and that her connections took much of the fun out of her 2010 campaign. I'm guessing many of you feel the same way.
Truth be told, I was expecting the announcement to come a week or so after she lost the Personal Ensign. It was after that loss that most of us knew she would no longer be pointing to the Breeders' Cup Classic.
On the surface, the timing of this announcement may seem a little strange. On Monday the filly turns in a bullet four-furlong work. On Tuesday she is retired.
But if you look back over the past nine months, it was par for the course. Unexpected. Odd. Issued via press release.
I am anxious to see what everyone has to say, not only about her retirement but her season and her career overall. Here are a few things that I think:
I think Rachel's 2010 campaign was mismanaged from Day 1.
I think she sat on the sidelines for too long and was rushed back into training to try to make the Apple Blossom. I think the New Orleans Ladies Stakes--an ungraded race Jess Jackson had Fair Grounds write specifically for him--was a poor choice and one she was not trained adequately for. Steve Asmussen admitted so himself. I don't think a reigning Horse of the Year should be making her season debut in that kind of race either.
I think Jackson disappointed sports fans everywhere when he backed out of a showdown with Zenyatta. I think that race that would have done wonders for racing at a time when the sport desperately needed it. I think it was devastating for racing fans--especially those in Arkansas.
I think Rachel ran a terrific race in the La Troienne and was beaten by a filly that ran the race of her life.
I think she should have run in the Stephen Foster, not the Fleur de Lis--and would have won. I don't think her connections showed enough faith in her in that situation.
I think the Lady's Secret--another race rewritten for Jackson--was absolutely the wrong choice. I think it made no sense at all.
I think Rachel ran very well in the Personal Ensign and would have won easily if not compromised by a poor ride.
I think 1 1/8 miles was her best distance but she was very capable of winning at 1 1/4 miles.
I think she is fine physically and with a more carefully managed campaign could have had a phenomenal 4-year-old season; maybe not as spectacular as last year, but still very good.
I think Rachel Alexandra accomplished more than any 3-year-old filly ever and her 2009 season will go down as one of the best by any modern day racehorse.
I think I commend Jackson and Asmussen for testing her against males last year and giving fans the opportunity to see her run against the best of her generation.
I think the Preakness was her best race.
I think Hal Wiggins would have run Rachel in the Kentucky Derby if the decision was his.
I think Wiggins deserves more credit for Rachel's success than he has gotten.
I think Jackson had every right to change trainers, but I think it was the wrong decision and he disappointed a lot of people when he did.
I think Jackson and Asmussen took a lot of the fun out of her season by the way they dealt with the media.
I think being unable to see the two best fillies of our generation race against each other is a travesty and was a major opportunity lost.
I think I will miss watching Rachel race. She was brilliant.
I think the way her career ended was ridiculous.