Rachel vs. Zenyatta - How to Make it Happen

Everyone wants to see a showdown between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Although people do change their minds, as Jess Jackson did last year with Curlin, there are issues involved here that make it improbable it's going to happen.

But there is a way to overcome those issues, which we'll get to later.

Let's first discuss the principals involved. The owners of both horses have proven to be sportsmen and would love to see them square off. But, when it comes to meeting in either New York or California they each have their reasons for going their separate ways.

Jess Jackson, majority owner of Rachel Alexandra, has stated emphatically he does not like "plastics," as he refers to synthetic surfaces, and will not send Rachel to the Breeders' Cup, run for the second year in a row on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface. John Shirreffs, trainer of Zenyatta, does not like detention barns, based on his two previous experiences.

Jackson has bad memories of Curlin's defeat in last year's Classic, which he blames on the surface, whether you agree or not. And Shirreffs has bad memories of Giacomo and Tiago boiling over and losing their composure in the detention prior to their respective appearances in the Belmont Stakes. Even though none of these issues has anything to do with the Rachel (who has already won impressively on a synthetic surface) and Zenyatta (who has never been in a detention barn), you can't blame the parties involved for the way they feel. It's just the way it is. Neither is ducking the other.

As for Jackson, many believe Curlin, who worked brilliantly over the Pro-Ride surface between races before last year's Breeders' Cup, simply was over the top by race day. He made an explosive move around the turn to challenge for the lead, but tired in the stretch. Did he really not care for the track on that day or did his long stay in Dubai and four subsequent starts, three of which were far from strolls in the park, finally catch up with him at the three-sixteenths pole of the Classic? No one can say with certainty whether his two struggles against questionable opponents in the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold were a hint that he was heading in the wrong direction or whether he indeed was compromised by the track at Santa Anita. The one thing few can argue with is that the Curlin of last year's Woodward and JC Gold Cup was not the Curlin of the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic or Dubai World Cup. But bad memories make people apprehensive about repeating the incidents that caused them, and Jackson does not want to experiment with another superstar and risk damaging their reputation after having been burned once already. Whether Jackson is right or wrong in his dismissal of the Breeders' Cup, he is not willing to find out this time. Some will agree with his decision; many will not. All that matters as far as Rachel Alexandra is concerned is what he believes and how strongly he believes it.

In the case of Shirreffs and the Mosses, it is the same principal. They also have bad memories. They saw two placid colts lose their composure in the detention barn, and do not want to risk Zenyatta's undefeated record and jeopardize her chances in the Breeders' Cup, and then regret their decision if she suffers the same fate. We've already witnessed how intense Zenyatta often gets before a race, and the detention barn, following a 3,000-mile trip, could very well prove to be a bad experience for a mare who has basically spent her entire career running out of her own barn and going through the same relaxed routine. Shirreffs may feel it is kind of late now to disrupt that routine in such dramatic fashion and then have another cross-country trip back home.  Once again, whether we agree or not, we have to respect his and the Mosses' decision.

So, we could move on and concentrate on the races in which Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra will run. They are pretty ambitious as it is, with Rachel heading for another date with the boys in either the Haskell or Travers, and Zenyatta looking at the Breeders' Cup Classic. Those races alone should provide us with enough thrills to last for a long time.

Most owners would not have even kept Zenyatta in training at age 5 after all she accomplished last year. Most owners would not have run Rachel in the Preakness. So, although it looks at this point as if we won't be getting the main course we've all been craving for, you can't dismiss all the exquisite dishes we've already been treated to and the ones still to come.

Now, comes the possible solution; one option that hasn't been discussed, but is worth mentioning, just for the heck of it. But if the two parties involved really...I mean really...want a showdown, what if Monmouth Park, which does not require horses to go into a detention barn, moves the date of the Molly Pitcher back a week to Sept. 5, giving Zenyatta four weeks from the Clement Hirsch, instead of three? If the 1 1/16 miles is too short, Monmouth has proven to be one of the more accommodating tracks and can easily move it to 1 1/8 miles. If the $300,000 purse is not lucrative enough, Monmouth, despite not being in the greatest financial situation, has provided enough incentives in the past to raise it to at least $500,000 if that's what it is required to get it done, although the feeling here is that the purse would not be that relative to sportsmen like Jackson and the Mosses. Under normal circumstances, Jackson likely wouldn't think of running Rachel in a grade II race, but this would far transcend the grade of the race.

Monmouth, after suffering horrible luck with the weather in the 2007 Breeder' Cup, brings back good memories for Jackson, who saw Curlin nail down Horse of the Year in the Classic. You can bet track management would go overboard in promoting this race, which would be a rousing close to the summer season at the Jersey Shore. What a way for the thousands of college kids who rent homes in nearby Belmar and other towns to celebrate one last time before heading back to school.

So, you would have Rachel and Zenyatta meeting on the dirt at a neutral track in front of young, enthusiastic fans who are known for giving equine stars a rousing welcome in the Haskell Invitational. Just ask the connections of Big Brown or Point Given or Funny Cide or War Emblem or Curlin.

Now, here's the kicker. If Rachel defeats Zenyatta, she likely would be voted Horse of the Year, and could then prepare for her 4-year-old campaign if Jackson and Asmussen decide to end the year on a high note. She would have nothing more to prove. If, however, Zenyatta defeats Rachel, don't you think there's a good chance that Jackson, despite his feelings for synthetic surfaces, would feel he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeking out Zenyatta for a revenge match in the Breeders' Cup?

As a side note, a meeting between the two fillies in the Ladies Classic would have negative repercussions, but we certainly could live with it. Imagine the number of disgruntled fans and the complaints directed at the Breeders' Cup for having a race of that magnitude on a Friday with 20,000 fewer fans in attendance and one-third the TV audience. Imagine having to settle Horse of the Year on a weekday when people on the West Coast are working and people in the Midwest and East are either coming home from work or eating dinner? It worked out well last year, because a dominant Zenyatta was given her own spotlight, befitting a star of her stature, even if there were fewer people in attendance and watching on TV. But when you have the sport's two biggest superstars clashing for Horse of the Year honors, you want that to be the main attraction on the biggest day of racing. But even if they do meet in a rematch in the Ladies Classic instead of the real Classic, we'll take it.

So, let Monmouth Park start putting the gears in motion. Crazier things have happened. I realize I'm grasping at straws. But what's the alternative?


Leave a Comment:


I've been watching the Breeders Cup (and reading the Blood Horse) since I was 13. Last year was the first year I didn't watch the BC because the "ladies day" is such BS. I want to see the best horses on Saturday, not a bunch of male horses I couldn't care less about. Zenyatta being relegated to weekday viewing while we have the EXCITEMENT of watching things like the juvenile turf on Saturday is so lame, and as a woman, a little patronizing. Just give us the best horses on Saturday, please.

01 Jul 2009 9:51 AM

I really hope Monmouth does SOMETHING/ANYTHING to get them there!!  If a race between them cannot materialize I hope they at least try to get Rachel to the Haskell!!  Woo-hoo Go Monmouth!!

01 Jul 2009 10:06 AM

Steve, I like your idea and I think you've satisfactorily explained the positions taken by both parties. If I'm in the Moss camp I want to make sure I don't get involved in a match race or another paceless race like The Vanity. Moreover, the race must be weight for age. If I'm Jackson, I really don't have that many concerns - save the synthetic issue.   Interesting.

01 Jul 2009 10:08 AM

What a fantastic idea! Send them to Monmouth.  Once the powers that be get wind of your suggestion, I have a feeling they will run with it. I'm a Jersey Shore girl who has travelled to tracks all over the US, and I can tell you that there is NOWHERE ELSE that a horse receives the love and fanfare that they get when they come to Monmouth Park. Here's to hoping for a battle of the fillies September 5th!

01 Jul 2009 10:17 AM

Steve Haskins I must say that is one tantalizing article...the only alternative I see is for the 2 wonderful fillys to go on their own ways racing and allowing the public to watch...I dont like the detention barns either...

Steve what a wonderful article, I just love reading your stories....

01 Jul 2009 10:19 AM

As much as anyone, I like the idea of them meeting, but at this point how do you fill a race with them in it?  

01 Jul 2009 10:24 AM

All good points to ponder. I'd like to see Monmouth Park step up to the plate and create a race for Zenyatta and Rachel. I'd like to watch how this unfolds.

01 Jul 2009 10:38 AM

Curlin put in a damn good effort in his second Classic, but still...travel, Triple Crowns, and the biggest race in the world all in two years will have WAY less effect on a horse than "plastics". I'm no fan of synthetics myself but this is ridiculous.  

01 Jul 2009 10:39 AM

i agree with jane,

 last year first time i purposely did not watch the bc. i work til we are done on fridays, so i miss all of the races. plus i am not able to record the races, due to not enough technology. why waste my time on saturday? most of the races are over with.

if the same thing is done this year, i first off cannot watch, friday i work. second i could care less about boys day.  i do understand with all of the races it is hard to fit all in one day, but please, please, make it easier for us blue collar folk to watch all of the races.

01 Jul 2009 10:39 AM

So how do we get the right people going on your idea, Steve?

01 Jul 2009 10:43 AM

I certainly donot blame them for running their horses where they like but with the polytrak there are some advantages ...i.e. WEATHER ... makes not much difference. Rain can flood out a dirt track and make it very unsafe with most horses not being able to handle it. I like your idea of a race at Monmouth (and hope the weather is okay lol) Probably won't happen but it is a good idea.

01 Jul 2009 10:48 AM

I feel like a broken record to myself each year, but what was wrong with a Saturday and SUNDAY Breeders' Cup, when they added too many races to accomodate a single race day??

Too much of a good thing, IMO.

And Steve, sorry, but I have to take umbrage with you referring to the BC Classic as the "real" Classic, in relation to the Distaff (or, the distasteful "Ladies Classic" as it's now known).

It's (the Distaff) not only a "real" classic race if Zenyatta and Rachel show up, it's the fillies and mares "version", but doesn't make it any less real, no mater WHO is there. ;)

Other than that, I agreed whole-heartedly with the rest of your article..the excuses from both camps are getting crazier by the day...whatever happened to "My horse can beat your horse...and we'll prove it... no matter what!"...??

01 Jul 2009 11:02 AM

Steve I agree to all the points you've made. I LOVE both of these "girls" for different reasons.

I would find it very difficult to cheer one horse on over the other!!

They have such different running styles. Living on the west coast, obviously, I've gotten to see Queen Zenyatta and she is awesome. I love the way she prances and get's into her mind-set before each race. I love the relationship Mike Smith has with ZEN.

On the other hand, Princess Rachel Alexandra is awesome, too!! And, I'm a Calvin Borel fan.

01 Jul 2009 11:10 AM

I agree with Marney.  Even IF the Mosses and Shrrieffs would agree to ship Zenyatta 3000 miles (and I doubt that) a muddy track will cause them to scratch her.  And who would run against them for 3rd money?

01 Jul 2009 11:17 AM
Steve Haskin

Jamesb, that is a good question, and definitely is a problem. Anything under 6 horses would be disadvantageous to Zenyatta. But that's the problem any track will have, and it would be up to the racing secretary to scrape and claw to try to put something together. If not, then it's just not going to happen and it's time to move on.

Rachel, Monmouth will get wind of the idea I promise you.

Marney, you are correct about weather. I would not want to see this happen on a sloppy track. So, if it comes up sloppy on Sept. 5 or whenever I would not hold it against the connections if they scratched. It's just something you have to attempt and hope the weather cooperates. If it doesn't at least you gave it a try.

Lava, how can you take umbrage with me knocking the name of the Ladies Classic and then call it "distasteful?" There is only one Classic (the real Classic as I said). The filly race will always be the Distaff to me, regardless of what name they want to give it. Ladies Classic sounds like a golf tournament. As I have said, the dictionary describes the word lady as a female PERSON. Distaff refers to anything female.

01 Jul 2009 11:18 AM

How about if Monmouth Park created an open invitational similar to the Marlboro Cup that was created for Secretariat and Riva Ridge.  

01 Jul 2009 11:18 AM

1. Zenyatta's goal is the BC races, RA's is not.

2. Monmouth is still 3000 miles out of the way for Zenyatta...advantage RA

3. The weather is far different in Southern California than New Jersey ... New York's is the same...advantage RA

4. The race would be on dirt...RA's been racing all year on dirt...Zenyatta would have to be the one to adjust to a surface she hasn't run on in a long time...advantage RA

I see no advantage to Zenyatta for your proposal. Sorry...

I don't think the BC planners thought folks would actually stay away from the races by forcing them there two years in a row...

01 Jul 2009 11:18 AM

Steve, how do you come up with these ideas?  You had a similar ploy for last year with Big Brown and Curlin, if I remember.  It didn't need to be played out.  I think it is a great idea, and takes in each parties "issue" and looks down the road, in this case to the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic, Distaff, whatever to settle the result or not with a goading for revenge of "what the heck" for Rachel if she should lose (not).  How can we get the necessary parties on board? Is this not a sad state of affairs that 3rd parties, us, must work to get the racing industry to promote its best for the benefit of the industry?  Thanks Steve for all your information and behind the scene updates.    

01 Jul 2009 11:30 AM
Pam S.

Steve, that's a great idea to meet at Monmouth.  I would love to see it happen, and I feel Rachel would be there with bells on, but the Jersey Shore would probably be too far for Zenyatta to travel, plus the fear of rain.  And of course, like jamesb said, who else would run?

MTB Fan:  I did not understand your post.  Did you mean more effect instead of less?

LoveMyLava:  Couldn't agree more with the last paragraph of your post.  But as far as BC on Sunday, it's because of the NFL that it won't happen.

01 Jul 2009 11:35 AM

The people running the Breeders Cup continue to ruin the sport. First it was the stupid Ladies Day. Now it's the stupid idea to run the event on the same unproven synthetic surface two years in a row.

If this was any year up to 2007, the entire horse racing world would just be counting down to the showdown. Bloodhorse would have a countdown clock, ESPN would be building up the matchup, maybe even televising each of their races and by the time the Breeders Cup came along, it would feel like the Super Bowl.

Instead...we have nothing. Thank you Breeders Cup.

01 Jul 2009 11:39 AM
Vincent R.


That idea would be great for racing, unfortunately after Zenyatta's sub-par last race performance there is no way they will be moving her away from California. The will coddle her and make things as easy as possible for her to get through the year. Many times in horse racing we don't really look at a performance because a horse may be undefeated. The bottom line is she came home in just under :37 and struggled to do that against a bunch of sub-par competition. If this was the Zenyatta of last year she would have won that race by 10 going away in a much faster final 3/8ths. This is also interesting that her connections last week said a meeting was possible and now after her race has all but ruled it out. In another bloodhorse article there were comparisons to Personal Ensign and that is a disgrace. Until she wins on multiple tracks or beats the boys in the BC Classic, then at best you can compare her to Sky Beauty, which most would agree she would have won the distaff if it was contested at Belmont, her home track similar to Zenyatta.

01 Jul 2009 11:43 AM

After the display in the Mother Goose, I hope the naysayers are silenced by Rachel Alexandra. She ran darn close to that 44 half, and still set the stakes record, being eased. I hope she gets the chance to meet Zenyatta, who would have the advantage of being more mature. These owners have to figure out a way, because we haven't seen talent like this together since the days of Damascus, Buckpasser and Dr. Fager on the track at one time.

01 Jul 2009 11:46 AM

if they would race at monmouth, there wouldnt be any other horses in the race.  Rachel would have an unfair pace advantage...and unless the Mosses put a rabbit in there, it is a no brainer to no show

01 Jul 2009 11:47 AM

Really good article Steve.

Maybe just maybe it isn't in Gods will to run these two.  Has anyone thought of that?  Mabye there is a reason.  We know that the two gals are beautiful and fast and breathtaking.  They are both champions.  Maybe it needs to just stay the way it is.  I know a lot of people want to see them race each other.  I for one do or did.  Some things in life just aren't meant to happen and the reason becomes clear in hindsight.  

Let's just love both of these horses for who they are and be content that they are both healthy, happy and sound horses.  :)  Cherish their lives for themselves.  Be happy that we have them both.  

01 Jul 2009 11:48 AM
Steve Haskin

I'm just giving an idea on how to make it happen. I'm not saying it's a great idea. It's just an idea. If they meet in the BC then Zenyatta has every advantage. It's one or the other or neither. One of them will be at a disadvantage no matter where you run it. Of course, there are questions to consider, like the weather. It could be 108 degrees in Southern California like in 2003 and one or both of them could wash out badly or get heat stroke. There are always going to be obstacles when you plan something outdoors. You either take a shot or you don't. This is merely a suggestion. If they don't meet so be it. It would be unfortunate, but not the end of the world.

01 Jul 2009 11:54 AM

Ok so they don't want to run Rachel on synthetics but why not take a chance on a course she's already won over. RACHEL A vs ZENYATTA = KEENLAND SPINSTER

01 Jul 2009 11:55 AM

I like your thinking Haskin, but Zenyatta's connections will likely not agree to a track that sometimes has a speed bias, or one that is completely across the country.  Seeing that Rachel doesn't want to go to the BC and Zenyatta's already won the Ladies Classic, wouldn't the horses have more to gain by meeting at Churchill in November????

01 Jul 2009 12:00 PM
Karen in Texas

The idea of both running at Monmouth with a slight adjustment to the calendar for the Molly Pitcher is wonderful! Mr. Moss recently said he didn't want to go to Saratoga because of the tighter turns not suiting Zenyatta's style--what are the turns at Monmouth like? Is that an "issue" for the Zenyatta connections? (The only east coast track I've been to is Belmont.)

I agree with Jane and Amy that the Friday "ladies day" is just ridiculous for the Breeders' Cup to have initiated. It actually lessens the importance of filly and mare racing instead of elevating it. And to broadcast those races on (was it) Oxygen? The really patronizing idea was changing the title of the Distaff to the "Ladies Classic"! Whether Zenyatta and/or Rachel are there or not, the whole Friday version of the BC is essentially a mistake, I think.

01 Jul 2009 12:00 PM

Great idea Steve but I doubt it will happen. I think the fun here is just in the talking about it. Both of the connections have an agenda laid out for their stars and I do not think they want to compromise that. Jackson believes Rachel can win "horse of the year honors" by beating up on the boys and skipping the synthetic issues at Santa Anita. Also the long travel for both may be a concern after a long racing season. Regardless of what happens, I will continue to enjoy each of them. Their styles are so different, and both are a thing of beauty and grace to watch. We, the fans are very blessed to be able to have these two racing.  

01 Jul 2009 12:02 PM

Dear Steve,

Thank you for writing this idea up.  Great minds think alike!! LOL  Not to steal your thunder,I know folks at Monmouth and I floated that idea earlier in the year (I even mentioned the Molly Pitcher and adding money to the race like they did to get Big Brown). Because I am not much more than a fan, I don't know if I was taken very seriously or the person I spoke with didn't think it would happen having heard the owners speak earlier this year. Either way I hope they listen to YOU and get this thing done. Monmouth is a great track, (I am there every weekend and I volunteered for the BC that year). They would do a great job as you already stated and you are right that the fans are great; hopefully they will not charge a big price for the tickets, people are really hurting over here as they are all over.

Please folks at Monmouth, hear Steve Haskin's and Gotcha Gold's (my nickname there) prayer and bring a historic race to good old NJ!

PS I don't have heros other than my husband and my father,but Steve is as close as I get to one and I believe he should be listened to with great respect when he suggests something like this.

01 Jul 2009 12:14 PM
Lady Ruffian

I like your idea Steve. I really hope that the powers that be find a way to have these two amazing athletes meet up. It would be such a big boost to horse racing.

01 Jul 2009 12:14 PM

I agree with all of you who believe the Friday idea stinks. Obviously, the BC folks are understandably reluctant to go up against the NFL on Sunday, but what they may not realize is that they are losing a sizeagble part of their hard core audience by staging part of the BC on Friday.  This year in particular it is particularly galling to have what could have been [or still could] be the marquis event held on Friday!

01 Jul 2009 12:16 PM

Moss also said something about the tight turns a Saragtoga being a problem, as they'd be counter productive to the style of Zenyatta. My point is aren't Monmouths turns also tight? I remember people saying that Curlin didn't like them either in the Haskel when he first ran there, because of his long strides and running style. I don't see why Moss would want to go here either when he just said no to another track because of the same reasons.

01 Jul 2009 12:19 PM

how about the clark at churchill after breeders cup .they both can run with the boys.i think plenty of colts and geldings would line up against them.einstein,brass hat,jonesboro,commentator and mine that bird,musket man.this race could be better than classic.horse of the year type race.

01 Jul 2009 12:22 PM
Karen in Texas

da3hoss---The last sentence of your 11:18 A.M. post is an understatement! They should have noticed, however, that major trainers such as Nick Zito stayed away the first year, thus bolstering the positions of those trainers/owners who were skeptical in the first place. Curlin's loss certainly solidified the synthetics argument in the minds of many. How many American "dirt" horses are going to stay away now? Rachel and who else???

01 Jul 2009 12:26 PM

Steve, you deserve kudos for giving it the old college try and throwing out a hypothetical scenario; however I agree with da hoss that Zenyatta's connections have nothing to gain from this proposed race at Monmouth. Also, IF it happened and Zenyatta won, I cannot believe that Jackson would ever run RA at SA. Heck, if she gets beat on dirt, how could she ever beat Zenyatta on synthetic surface in her own back yard?

"it just ain't going to happen."

Nevrtheless, as you have noted, we can "move on" and enjoy the rest of the year with these two great stars.

01 Jul 2009 12:27 PM

I'm with Carl - bring them both to Churchill for Thanksgiving weekend.  Zenyatta liked the surface when she shipped in earlier this year.

01 Jul 2009 12:34 PM
Fire Slam


Awesome points, very well layed out. And I am a RA fan!

However, do disagree that trainers/owners are staying away for the BC being held the same place two years in a row.

The tracks in Cali are fake. They are made of a product that is not real.

I dont blame trainers for not wanting to run over a fake track. Either dirt or grass. Do away with the plastic.

01 Jul 2009 12:37 PM

I don't always agree with you Mr. Haskin but this time, i couldn't agree more...you can't blame either side for the way they've handled their respective superstars. I just wanna know what happened to great horses being able to run on anything. I don't believe Curlin's defeat in the '08 Classic had anything to do with the surface either. i'm still a firm believer of the Breeders' Cup being the day of champions. no matter where its being held, no matter what surface it's on, it's still the day in which all questions are answered...who is the best.  

01 Jul 2009 12:37 PM

If Monmouth is smart, they'll grab at the chance to make history.

(Reminds me of a certain Pimlico Special back in the thirties.  Although I wouldn't want this one to turn out to be a match race.)

I know it's a while until the end of the year, but I honestly think the HOY will be female this year.    

01 Jul 2009 12:45 PM


I prefer the NAME Distaff to what I consider an absurd name change to the LADIES Classic (thus the distasteful comment; it was regarding the name change only)...they're not ladies, they're horses...if they HAD to change the name, what was wrong with the Filly & Mare Classic? Much more important things to worry about in horse racing, I realize, but it is just one of those things that will grate on me every time I hear it. You know we die-hard fans grip our traditions with an iron fist, big or small! :)

My comment to you was the reference to the BC Classic as the only "real" one. Because they DID change the name to the Ladies CLASSIC, it makes it no less real than the one now run on Saturday's..and it has been there (as the Distaff) since the inception of the Cup.

When it was still referred to as the Distaff, it was in essence the female version of the Classic, as more often than not, the girls don't run with the boys in there, but the Distaff itself brought the best of the best together, of a certain gender. The name change didn't change it's importance, IMO, or it being the  female counterpart race to the BCC.

Hope that makes sense in clearing up what I meant :-)

01 Jul 2009 12:48 PM
Windy City

Could somebody please explain to me what is the "detention barn" and why they are "cooking" horses there?

01 Jul 2009 12:48 PM

To Vincent R:  you seem to forget one thing when you said Zenyatta ran sub par last out.  SHE WAS CARRYING 129 LBS !!  None of her competition was even carrying 119, and she still went in 1:48 and change in only her 2nd race in 7 months.  Give the girl a break.  Even her trainer was quoted as saying NOW she is fit.  IT is scarey to think she was not even 100% in her last 2 races.  Rachel A is awesome and deserves respect.  Believe me the Mosses and Shireffs and even her Jockey Mike Smith know what R.A. is made of.  She is 100% genuine.  Zenyatta would beat Rachel going 2 turns at 1 1/8 miles or longer.  She is bred to run farther and believe it or not...she is bigger than Rachel and I believe would intimidate R.A. once she confronted her.  R.A. will replace Zanyatta next year.  By then we will all be looking for another 3 year old who can challenge R.A.  

01 Jul 2009 1:02 PM

STEVE: Your idea is very imaginative and worth a shot at trying to make it happen.  I personally believe that it is more in the interest of Zenyatta's connection to leave their comfort zone if they care for the HOTY title.  

On evidence so far "Rachel" is NOT LIKELY to be beaten in any race for the remainder of the season and wouldn't need to go to the Breeder's Cup to be HOTY.  Only a bold and successful move by the connections of Zenyatta could cause Jess Jackson to alter his plans for "Rachel" which we known he is capable of doing as a competitive sportsman.

Just as it was clear to me last year that Big Brown was a turf horse masquerading on dirt surfaces so it is clear that Rachel Alexandra will equally revel on the "plastic", so what Jess Jackson should really do is leave the option open for the Breeder's Cup Classic ONLY (not the Distaff), if the Zenyatta folks should go "one-up" on him, as this might lure the Zenyatta people out of their comfort zone (the Ladies Classic and 9 furlongs).  Think about it, even if, like Curlin, "Rachel" should fail to win the "real Classic" and Zenyatta wins the Distaff(so called Ladies' Classic) who do you think gets the HOTY title?  I think that due to her connections timidity Zenyatta would suffer the same fate as last year and the courageous sportsman and his horse would prevail.

Zenyatta could prove to be the champion horse with greater enterprise from Messrs. Moss and Shirreff et al but they need to realize that there is a huge gulf between being a champion Distaffer(even if unbeaten) and being one of the ALL TIME GREATS.

No bias no bull here.  I have no axe to grind for either Rachel Alexandra "the great" or "queen" Zenyatta, just the voice of an ardent race fan craving to see champions prove themselves.

01 Jul 2009 1:07 PM

Vincent R. you HAVE to be kidding. "Sub-par performance"?? she's spotting the part of that field up to 18 lbs! and STILL lengthened her stride in the stretch the way she always does. and as a matter of fact, she went the last 3/8 of the Vanity last year in :37 1/5. and in the Ladies Classic went :34 1/5. it's called being great..and versatile. and when you're already spotting that much weight, why would you even WANT to win by 10 lengths?? so that they'll assign 135 lbs next time?? that's just dumb. I would bet Mike didn't even want to win by as much as he did. But it's not easy to slow down a locomotive. and to compare her to Sky Beauty is a joke. and i loved Sky Beauty. but she was just 'real good'. she fell short of greatness by not being able to win on the days it counted. or to win outside of NY.  Zenyatta has already proved she can win outside of Calif. on dirt. and beat the reigning champion filly. It's people like you that would still doubt Zenyatta's greatness even if she beat the 'boys'. you would question how good those boys were. like i've said in a previous post...the question of who is better is supposed to be answered on the day of Champions. Breeders' Cup Day.

01 Jul 2009 1:09 PM
Linda in Texas

Da3Hoss,Stardustyrose and Deacon, are all right. It may just not be in the cards for those 2 magnificent horses to run against each other. They bring totally different perspectives in training,running,and in environment. There is no law that says we have to have 1 Number 1. We can have 2 Number 1's. And enjoy both of them. I fear any grudge race for the title of number 1. I remember too well Ruffian, and i hate to bring it up, but it is there, it happened and we lost a beautiful talented specimen. I say keep them in their own comfortable surroundings, let them enjoy life, if a race comes up the owners think they are up for,then take on what is comfortable for them. The reasoning is sound on Giacomo and Tiago, I was terribly disappointed in Giacomo and never knew his stress level had been so high due to the detention barns. He was a delight to watch. No Grudge Match Please. Being transported 3,000 miles cooped up in an airline seat drives me nuts, i can only imagine what it does to high spirited racehorses even if their flying stalls are padded. Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra and Peppers Pride are all great in their own accomplishments. We are indeed lucky to have them all come to their fruition at the same time. The traits of all 3 show that good breeding, training and TLC make for a super winner.  

01 Jul 2009 1:11 PM

I think this is a very interesting idea, lets see if anyone takes it and runs with it.

I think its more important for Zenyatta at this point than Rachael considering the fact that RA has had such a stellar year so far winning those two big races and dominating in all her other races, while Ze is just starting out.

I really Like the big girl but i don't know if that conservative path they have her on can take her to horse of the year. I just cant see it. If RA beats the boys again in either the haskel or the Travers, then The Big Ze camp have really got work to do. I dont think a win in the breeders cup classic will be able to win over what Ra Has done so far. Besides have u guys seen the Europeans, they got some good horses, if they come over for the classic , Zenyatta is no Lock

Besides that i think if the meet it will be really good for racing. Shirrefs has  said if am not mistaken that he thinks Zenyata is better on dirt, why not give her a chance to run on her best surface this year.

Am all for making something happen .

01 Jul 2009 1:19 PM

I agree with all who espouse that the measure of a great horse is the ability and will to take on all challenges, surfaces included. Unfortunately. owners, trainers, and some others make the decisions to race or not. In racing, as in life, i feel that an older horse should not traipse out to meet a younger horse. I feel that the older horse is the proven commodity and the challenge is on the upstart. Take note in this case the older horse is undefeated. I made a case for the two horses to meet in a race at Oaklawn Park since they had both raced there. It is a mid-continental compromise for both horses. Who knows, by the time this possible race occurs, another phenom could appear. In any event, Oaklawn this is the second time I have tried to send business your way, write the race and get it on.

01 Jul 2009 1:29 PM

I agree it needs to be a boys race in order to get the race to fill, and I do think Keeneland would be a great compromise geographically and surface-wise. Too bad they'd have to make a race as there is no graded stakes that will suit this situation.

I also agree with Sean that we wouldn't be in this mess if the BC hadn't made such HORRIBLE decisions. Glad at least that the fact is obvious to everyone now.

01 Jul 2009 1:31 PM

Carl and EasyGoer, I had the same thought.  Why not bring them to Churchill?  Apparently Zenny liked it when she was there, and we all saw what Rachel did in the slop there on Derby weekend.  Sounds like a win-win track for both sides.

And LoveMyLava, as for your "whatever happened to 'my horse can beat your horse and we'll proveit'" - a li'l ol' horse named Ruffian happened.  So connections are superstitious about setting up 2 horses to meet, even if it isn't a set-up match race.  That's why you hear a lot of, "if it happens, it happens, if not, we're not going to cry over it" go on.  That's just MY take on it, though.  Steve could probably tell us if it's true or not.

01 Jul 2009 1:32 PM
Pam S.

Must comment on Friday BC races.  If you are opposed to "Filly Friday," I understand.  There is certainly an argument for scheduling the races another way.  But if you are a "hard-core" fan who can't watch on Friday because you work, can't you take a vacation day?  Don't most jobs provide vacation/sick/personal days?  And with all that advance notice??  Now granted, the more casual fan may not be willing to take a day off work, but hard-core?  That's the definition of hard-core, I would think.  

I'm not putting anybody down, just curious.  I used to work but wanted to see the Ky Oaks so I would take a day off.  (I didn't have to do it every year because some years I worked at night.)  So little racing is scheduled for TV anyway, they are never going to go up against pro football.

01 Jul 2009 1:32 PM
The Rock

Ok. Now I agree that seperating BC days by sex is flat out dumb. If I had my choice, I'd go back to the old fashioned way we had things. Now having said that, I attended both BC days and I enjoyed being there. Especially that Friday. Seeing Zenyatta, Stardom Bound & Ventura perform the way they did was spectacular. Oh, and for those that complain about not being able to watch the Friday program b/c they're at work...here's a suggestion, CALL IN SICK! Or tell the truth to your boss. Look, man, there's a monster running on Friday at Santa Anita. I can't make it in. I work as a temp. So I don't have the luxury of sick day's or paid time off and I still went. One day's worth of pay is worth going/watching any BC event. So quit whining. Having said that, I think Oak Tree should take a page from what Churchill Downs did and install temporary light fixtures around the track and showcase ladies day PRIMETIME. Everyone wins in this case and no one has to call in sick (worst case, least leave early from work). Start the card @ 4 or 5pm Pacific, so everyone can get by rush hour traffic in order to be there. As far as you East Coast people, I used to play Los Alamitos while living in Miami until 2am. Drink a couple of Red Bulls and you'll be ok.

As far as the RA vs Z deal....look, so much has been written about it that i've just given up on it. As a fan, i'd love to see it. I thought the Del Cap would've been perfect for both to be quite honest. But i got over the whole Big Brown, Curlin situation last year. I'm sure I'll get over this one when the next best thing comes along next year. What I find amusing is that these owners spend most of their lives looking for the next best thing to come along in racing. And while they finally get it, they can't wait to retire them to cash in their chips, hoping they can duplicate another Smarty Jones or Fu Peg, Point Given, Big Brown, etc. in the breeding shed. Instead of looking ahead to the future, live in the now you dopes! (Moss & Jackson). Want to know what's going to happen with Rachel Alexandra once she's bred to Curlin? Here's what's going to be produced. I've got your crystal ball here JJ...here it is...NOTHING!

You know what kind of unit a champion female pops out when its bred to a champion stallion in most cases.....? A dud. (Check out the Empire Maker - Adoration filly the Amermans ran for Maiden 32k @ Hollywood two Saturdays ago..dead last!) If you're lucky you'll get a My Flag or Sea the Stars. What did Secretariat - Chris Evert produce? Just b/c you breed two champions doesn't mean you'll get a super duper horse JJ.

Nonetheless, I still get a thrill watching these two animals perform. If they run against each other, great. If not, well...at least i saw them. Just like so many others before them. That's why Euro racing is so much more exciting than here. They can give a damn about weights, sex and mostly any kind of condition of surface. They show up at every prestigious race no matter the competition. Not just to run in the race with the most lucrative prize money available.

01 Jul 2009 1:34 PM

A winning race is not a sub-par race. It may not have been a horses' best race, but it was what it took to win. Factoring in competition, each race has its merits along with track surfaces and conditions.

01 Jul 2009 1:38 PM
Karen in Texas

Ranagulzion--- I agree with all the points in your 1:07 P.M. post, especially that Rachel wouldn't need to go to the Breeders' Cup to be considered HOTY.

01 Jul 2009 1:40 PM

Steve seems to forget that Jackson has mentioned the Travers Stakes in Rachel's future.  Run August 29th, it would preclude her running in the Molly Pitcher.

Asking the Jackson's to forgo a $1 million purse for half that or less?  

01 Jul 2009 1:42 PM

Those who advocate calling in sick or taking a vacation day seem to forget that not everyone works for employers who offer these benefits.

I for one, am self employed.  I don't go to work, I don't get paid.  I AM a hard-core racing fan, but living under a roof and eating on a regular basis are still more important.

Segregating the females to a second-class day where the audience is guaranteed to be smaller is just another slap at the female racing viewer, who make up the majority of the audience.

Scared to go against football?  Then put the distaff races on Sunday if the boys are too afraid to have them on the same day.

Another option would be to run them a month earlier on a Saturday.  That way the females would have the chance to win BOTH the distaff and classic races.  Wouldn't that be a slap in the face for the good ol' boys.  ;-)

01 Jul 2009 1:54 PM

I think Zenyatta is going in the Classic, if you go by mike smiths comments about a 4 race commitment for mine that bird he said he could do 3 because hes got zenyatta. I am very happy mine that birds owners finally took a stance and kicked calvin to the curb-this guy wins the derby and while i can understand rachel i dont agree but can understand warriors reward over mine that bird come on. A derby champ is a sacred thing he treats the bird like a claimer kudos to the bird!!

01 Jul 2009 2:15 PM

You're right, Steve, if RA were to go to Cali all my points would be reversed for her;-)

Windy City: A "Detention Barn" is where the horses go for a period of "observation" before a race to make sure no one gives them a banned substance, etc.

They get "cooked", basically because horses are such creatures of habit, many times new surroundings distress them, they hate to leave the familiarity of their stable and stablemates, Thoroughbreds are fairly excitable as a breed and colts and stallions get distraught even more frequently...hence they get so wound up "cooked" and have no time to settle into the new surroundings before the race!

01 Jul 2009 2:17 PM
It aint easy being good!

Pray for thunder and lighting for the breeders cup hope it gets cancelled and moved to the dirt! I liked my arson commment better but it got denied!

01 Jul 2009 2:17 PM

Steve, nice thought but no way. Several posters have already brought up the significant reasons why not. If a meeting is to occur I believe it would have a better chance of happening after the BC.

However, it seems like here we go again. Both camps have stated their reasoning behind not meeting and once again horse racing will suffer. Having been around this game for a long time and seen many of the classic match-ups, it's hard to believe the excuses that are being proffered by both parties. Obviously each side would like the advantage, hardly new, nevertheless understandable. Every horseman would prefer an ideal scenario in every start, training schedule, conditions, distance, weight etc., but as you know, seldom is this the case when two horses of this calibre meet. One side is going to have to give. That being said, it's sad to see two "Sportsmen" depriving a sport in desperate need of a match-up that could garner widespread media attention and expose two of our current superstars to a countless number of potential fans.

Lets recap some of the points:

Zenyatta is already proven on the dirt. Rachel is already proven on synthetic. What's the problem?

From the Sportsman Jackson camp:

We won't run on plastic.

From the Sportsman Moss camp:

We don't want to go where there is a detention barn.

Wow, you wonder why the game of horse racing is in trouble. Somebody needs to grow what geldings are missing and show some caring for the sport they profess to love.

Both Jackson and Moss have in the past done a great deal for the sport. Now it's time for both to step up to the plate for the good of the game.

p.s. LoveMyLava - you hit the nail on the head. Whatever happened to the old school - My horse can beat your horse and I'll prove it.

01 Jul 2009 2:19 PM


I agree with you.....what sub-par performance.  Zen never really runs until she has too, which is usually from the top of the stretch home, and the way she finishes she should go in the Classic because she seems to be a true 1-1/4 horse.

Also, in her SUB-PAR PERFORMANCE, she came home from the 3/4's on faster than Rachel.  True, Rachel was let up the last bit, but like I said, Zen never started to really go until the last little bit. Since when is 1:48 for a mile and an eighth slow?

01 Jul 2009 2:21 PM
Stephi S.

Why not split the difference and run at Arlington Park in Chicago?? That would have both fillies traveling about the same distance to the race, and as far as I know, neither one of them has run there. So it would be a new track for both, and a good track too. I am sure Arlington would write a race to attract both fillies and other runners as well. Perhaps a large purse that pays down well would do the trick. After all, the third and fourth places in the big million dollar races pay well too, not as much as the win and places, obviously, but well enough to allow the owners and trainers to make a couple of dollars over the cost of shipping there to run. Or perhaps Mr. Jackson and Mr. Moss could agree to settle for the trophy for the winner with the rest of the purse being split evenly among the other runners. Bet that would fill the race! Heh.

01 Jul 2009 2:22 PM


The only problem with Churchill is that it closes shortly and won't reopen until November.

The logical place might be Belmont.  I doubt if they'll go against each other in Saratoga or DelMar, so Belmont seems logical, probably in September.

01 Jul 2009 2:30 PM
steve from st. louis

I love the idea of a prime-time nationally televised Friday night race written for Churchill Downs' Fall Meet before Breeders' Cup. Much fairer track than Monmouth, which historically would favor the speedier R.A. over closing Z.Let "Rachel" beat up on the boys again in August, setting up the Distaff Duel at CD.

01 Jul 2009 2:30 PM

Windy City, I’m with you.  The one mystifying thought troubling me is the detention barn.  Steve, have you ever been into one of these?  Why would it traumatize usually professional horses?  Are they left alone in there with no owners/trainers/grooms?  What is the purpose of the detention barn and have you personally heard any clarifying comments on this experience for the horse?

Thanks for the fun article, Steve!  I’ll take a day off for this event - even on a Wednesday - no matter where it takes place.

01 Jul 2009 2:34 PM
Kevin Stafford

I'm in total agreement that this is the best way imaginable to get them together, but as others have mentioned before, doesn't seem likely for numerous reasons.

As for filling out the field - gotta make the race open to older males as well. Doubt you'll get ANY east coast fillies and mares willing to take them on.  

I just keep going back to one simple point...do whatever is right for the horse, not for us. Those same voices calling for the matchup will be the same ones to butcher the connections if something went wrong.  

What's right for Rachel?  She looks ready to thrash older males on the dirt, so keep her back East, closer to the "mystic dirt of home."

What's right for Zenyatta? Well, the BC Classic (Saturday) appears to have fallen into her lap being in her back yard, so clearly that should be her goal...or the "Friday Classic" (trying to find a non-offensive name for the "race formerly known as the Distaff" is something of a challenge, so I've settled on "Friday Classic" for now) if they think the Saturday version would be pushing her too hard.

If their stars are destined to cross, it shall happen...if not, we've always got the BC to blame.    

Destiny is destiny. It can't be forced.

As a humorous aside, can you imagine what Jess Jackson would do if asked at the grocery store by an unsuspecting clerk "paper or plastic?"  :-)

01 Jul 2009 2:37 PM

Steve: I would like to see Rachel entered in a California race on synthetics against the boys in the next couple of months If she wins the Haskell or Travers.  If she takes to the synthetic surface in Cali and wins then Zenyatta has to come looking for her if she wants Horse of the Year.  If Rachel doesn't like the surface and loses I don't believe it really matters because she's not undefeated anyway and it would be against older males.  Then  Zenyatta has to either win the Classic (Ladies Classic not enough) or take on Rachel in the Clark if she wants HOY.  

01 Jul 2009 2:51 PM

Stephi S

Arlington Park is synthetic.

01 Jul 2009 3:12 PM

PAM S  and others,

with it were that easy, with a pickup broke down that needs fixing, 3 horses to feed, a mortgage, 3 cats and numerous other bills, no i cannot just go up to my boss and say, i want this day off.

does not make me less of a fan, with the economy, i survived downsizing from the hospital, i am thankful to have a job that pays the tv bill so i can watch horse racing.  

i would race the girls on sunday vs the nfl.

01 Jul 2009 3:15 PM

Well, we got RA not going, Zenyatta's not leaving and poor MTB still has no jockey!

I lost a lot of respect for CB forcing CW to go to him and ask if the rumors were true, especially the classy way MTB's connections treaded CB during his "decision making process"....

01 Jul 2009 3:24 PM

For those of you wanting to know about the detention barn, it is a system that we use here at the 3 major NY racetracks. At Belmont it is the old receiving barn combined with Scotty Schulhoffers old barn. Its actually pretty nice (unlike Aqueducts). Anyway..Horses have to report to the barn and remain there 6 hours before race time. The Barn has heavy amounts of NYRA security and all pre-race preparations are monitored and all horses leave at the same time. Giacomo and Tiago got hot because frankly....it is usually brutally hot in NY the first couple of weeks of June and the Barn is very active. But Tiago finished 3rd so he didn't run that bad. Every horse entered in a race on race day has to report to the detention barn, get prepared in the detention barn and leave from the detention barn. I will admit...the process is kind of lame. Its much better to leave from your own barn. Quieter and much more comfortable for the horses and workers. But aside from that...I'd love to see Rachel vs. Zenyatta but if I was in Zenyattas camp, I'd let Rachel come to me. Stay at home, beat up on everyone until you get to the Classic.

01 Jul 2009 3:29 PM

Just one quiick question why does 11 for 11 ZENYATTA have switch to a dirt surface, I love RACHEL ALEXANDRA too but I think she should be the one coming out to beat the Champ not the other way around. Lets keep the horses comfortable and not force a matchup and have a injury to eihter one. If ZENYATTTA stays unbeatable and wins a BC race she should be Horse of the year no many what.Thay are both monster great horses who can be legandary even if they never face each either.

01 Jul 2009 3:33 PM

I love the idea... Can you imagine a filly and a mare competing for Horse of the Year?  And Horse of the Year comes out of the Ladies Classic, a race just put together last year!  Love it.

01 Jul 2009 3:36 PM
Windy City

da3hoss - thanks for the explanations, but still, I have trouble understanding the whole idea of "detention barn". Is it really that stressful? Are the horses under any kind of distress in there? What's the difference between shipping horse to a new/different barn few days before race and putting him in a detention barn? Both choices are going to bring new surroundings and change for the horse...Isn't just used as an excuse to avoid particular race?

01 Jul 2009 3:37 PM
Windy City

Stephi S - we have a "plastic" ;-)surface here in Arlington...however I would LOVE to see them live!!!! I, as a fan, would be willing to pay the double admission fee just to see that.

01 Jul 2009 3:42 PM

Racehorses know when it's race day, due to a change in their feeding and watering routine. At most tracks, when they leave their stalls, they are going to the paddock to be saddled and they think it's time to race.  In New York, however, it's time to go to a strange stall in another barn for four hours. I think that's what happened to Big Brown at Belmont last year. He pitched a major fit in the detention barn and just had nothing left for the race. Some horses take things in stride - others don't.

01 Jul 2009 3:45 PM
Twin C Stable

Lets stop the nonsense and get real. these owners have no idea how good they have it.  they are spoiled and should stop worrying about their egos and let it be about racing history, not them.  none of us will live forever but if these two horses meet it will be a very big chapter in the racing book that will live on.  if it doesn't happen all that is left is "what if."  I know what I'm saying because I own two horses and have to worry race to race about paying the bills. These owners don't and aren't going broke if they lose the showdown.  come on Mr. Jackson, get real and show up in California for the sake of racing history.  

01 Jul 2009 3:48 PM

We just had a history lesson in true distaff greatness in the Firenze article. Restore the "distaff" to a classic distance, and we'll find our stamina bloodlines again.

Until the "Ladies Classic" is run at a true classic distance of ten furlongs or longer (as would be my preference), it will remain just another over-paying mile-and-an-eight filly race. Yawn.

01 Jul 2009 3:53 PM

Pam, et al: As has been mentioned, not all of us can take off a day of work. Furthermore, not all of us *are* "hardcore" fans....I once considered myself one, but after dozens of top horses retiring early to be bred, the rose-colored glasses are long gone. Isn't racing trying to attract more casual fans? What casual fan is going to take off work to watch Friday's card? The first BC race I ever saw, as a new fan, was Serena's Song and Flanders's duel in the Juvenile Fillies. That wouldn't happen to me at this point, with how things are scheduled, and I think it might cost racing more than it thinks it will gain by pandering to people who are only attracted to racing because of things like "ladies day." Just my opinion.

01 Jul 2009 4:01 PM
Ca. racing fan

Ok,shouldn't it be a no-brainer they're supposed to face off in the BC?! There is no excuse because RA has already run on and won on a synthetic track! I think Jackson is just afraid of Zenyatta, period. And racing needs the publicity from them meeting!

01 Jul 2009 4:09 PM

Steve, you alway seem to come up with a sensible and logical idea; probably because you think like a race fan.  I agree with so much of your ideas and the comments and opinions of the other bloggers. Monmouth seems like a pretty viable option if all the elements drop into place.   I'd certainly like to see these two settle the questions on the track.  And a one/two finish - in either order won't necessarily relegate one of them to a "pretender" status.  It sounds like some people believe one has to trounce the other to "prove the point."  On the other hand, should RA run away from ZEN like she's done in her last two races against fillies....well, maybe that will make true believers out of the doubters who say RA hasn't beaten anything of quality.    Quite honestly, ZEN's resume so far this year was a bit skimpy on competition.  

Someone made a great point that in the Mother Goose, RA kept pretty close to that wicked pace and still set a record while being eased up. So she was "in" that race from the get-go.

A thought just crossed my mind -- when Secretariat won the Belmont by acres, was there much talk that he really didn't beat anybody...that there must have been weak horses in there for him to have destroyed that field?  I kinda don't recall that being saind - even after all these years.  We still measure THAT performance as the race to end all races.  The definition of a dominating effort by an athlete.  So why are the nay-sayers allover Rachel for her blow-away victories?  Maybe they weren't the most stellar competition assembled but could it be that her seemingly effortless wins were indeed proof of her talent???    (i'm bouncing all over here with thoughts as I'm trying to finish a work deadline!!!)

So, anyway... if these two big girls met on the track, it can only be good for racing.  I just hope that if it happens, we see a race that accomplishes what we hope it will and that we see two superstars evenly matched, but most importantly, that they both come out of it SAFE and SOUND!

Gotta run!  Thanks for all the great stuff!

01 Jul 2009 4:17 PM

Although I don't think it will ever happen under ANY circumstances, I would possibly tweak your idea a tad so it's a little more Neutral for both.

Something like this...

1)  Nothing against Monmouth, but i'd go with Lone Star Park instead (A real Neutral site that's roughly 1500 miles for each instead of 3000 for Z).

2)  Make it a Turf race so again it's a Neutral ground that I don't believe either has ran on yet.

3)  Rainy weather shouldn't be a big concern at Lone Star like it could be at Monmouth.   Possibly a heat factor at Lone Star, but making the event a Prime Time Saturday Night race should help a little with that.

And 4)  You could promote it like the Grand Showdown of the Grand Dame at Grand Prairie.   Or something along those lines.

Just a thought !!!

01 Jul 2009 4:19 PM

Steve, the more I think about it the more I think the person I spoke with at Monmouth was probably right, it aint going to happen here.  We all wish it would, but that person probably knew more than he let on..On the otherhand, the more I read here, the more I feel that we are going to need more than fillies and mares to fill this race (as someone else mentioned) and two; more money (as someone else also mentioned).  Couldn't Belmont make an exception for one time and not mandate the use of the detention barn? For the sake of history? If other tracks don't use it and don't have security problems how about doing it different for a change. We need to take a chance with this one. How 'bout guys?

01 Jul 2009 4:46 PM

I remember several years back Arlington had set up a race as an opportunity for Sunday Silence and Easy Goer to meet that included other horses. Granted, it never happened due to injuries to both horses, but I like the idea for Z and RA...on a neutral (maybe more middle-of-the-country, like an Arlington or a Churchill Downs) track.

I also understand the folks who say "if it's not meant to be, then it's not meant to be," but still I'd find it very disappointing if the connections of these two exciting horses - two of the most exciting that have come around in a LONG while - could not figure out a way for them to meet in a race. Here's to hoping the racing gods ultimately work things out in our favor! :-)

01 Jul 2009 4:51 PM

How many times have we seen new names in the Breeders' Cup-or NTRA-organization who have no connection to or experience with horse racing?  Thus the BC two years in a row at S.A.-and "Ladie's Day."  These guys know racing like Mark Sanford knows marriage.  Steve, thanks for the BH article on Fit to Fight (25 years ago!!!)  I was there for his Brooklyn win, and, I've not forgotten him.

01 Jul 2009 4:57 PM
It aint easy being good!

They should put Ocho cinco on rachael alexander next race and see if she could still beat the fillies it would be good for tv and might give her some kind of challenge.

01 Jul 2009 4:57 PM
Diane J

I think it's a shame the two of them might not race against each other. People always discuss whether a horse racing in this decade is as good as another from a previous decade (Secretariat vs. Man o'War, for example).  Now we have two good racemares in the same year and it's the perfect opportunity to find out which is better.  In my personal opinion, Rachel should come to Zenyatta, just as Zenyatta had to go to Oaklawn last year to meet Ginger Punch. I wouldn't mind seeing them race after the Breeder's Cup, however, before Zen retires.

01 Jul 2009 5:04 PM

Steve Haskin:  Interestingly, Mr. Moss was quoted as saying that the Clark H. would be considered for a meeting between these two greats, since it would be after Zenyatta runs in the BC.  I wonder where he got that idea?  But that was before Rachel's freak show in the Mother Goose.  

Wine...er:  To validate your defense of Zenyatta, jockey Mike Smith said after the 2 1/2 length Vanity win that he actually timed it so that they would win by only 1 length (supposedly, to avoid additional impost in the future).  Queen Zenyatta only wins by as much as she needs to;  she stays in her comfort zone, so we do not know the full extent of her capabilities.  On the other hand, Princess Rachel may be me more at risk of burning out since she seems to need to pour it on.  Claire Novak illustrated this in her description of Rachel during a Churchill workout:  "Let me run, let me run, let me run".  I just viewed the Pacific Classic on youtube between Candy Ride and Medaglia D'oro (Rachel's sire).  Right out of the starting gate you will know which horse is Medaglia... that would be the one that so resembles Rachel.  He even holds his head up high when he runs, like her.  


Sorry to be a party-pooper here, but I don't really want the two girls to meet up.  Some things are better left to the imagination... especially the way racing is going these days.

01 Jul 2009 5:17 PM
Lady Ruffian


I thought that this was interesting and that some on here may enjoy reading this. :)

01 Jul 2009 5:19 PM
Ted from LA

I have the best solution.  Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.  I'll bet half the town would turn out for it.

01 Jul 2009 5:22 PM
susan in wv

I would really love to see these super fillies go up against each other.eventually Racheal is going to have to go against older mares to really prove herself and Zenyatta needs to go on dirt to prove herself.The perfect race would be the Personal Ensign  in New York. It would make the best place.Both girls can be compared to Ruffian so let her spirit decide at Belmont.

01 Jul 2009 5:28 PM
The Phantom

First of all they could run all the races on saturday, its just to make more money for the track and local economy to extend. Just like the Ky Derby hotels require a 3 night stay so its all about money.As for a match race or meeting on a neutral site doubt it.No reason for Zen to accomidate the challenger .Jackson's reason for not running in the Breeders is a excuse, she's the challenger go after the champ if you think RA is better prove it.Wait till you see the europeon horses who many don't know about invade there is a ton of talent as last years top 2 finishers proved.Being at Santa Anita is what it is no reason to complain that won't change anything you have to go with the flow.Even if RA came out would she or Zen run in the classic or the lady's, the classic would obviously have the best competition so who knows.Breeders still 4 months away so much can happen , form\, problems etc .One race wouldn't mean much whether one horse is better then the other the best horse always doesn't win in many big raceswith so many factors happening during a race.Let the chips fall where they may I personally think the Euro's will provide  plenty of competition and some winners.Of course some will opt for the ARC and the best may not show up.

01 Jul 2009 5:36 PM
The Rock

For those who can't make it home to see a Friday BC race... TIVO or DVR. If you can't get that, well then your S.O.L.

01 Jul 2009 5:38 PM
The Rock

You know what, I think I might head out to Hollywood Park this weekend with a poster board requesting a Zenyatta vs Rachel Alexandra matchup. Maybe I can get TVG's attention and I can voice my opinion. A movement has to start somewhere.

01 Jul 2009 5:40 PM

You have a really good idea there, Steve, and I wish it would happen.  If it doesn't I'll still love both the fillies but a race between champions always reves up the interest both inside the sport and outside it.  I had never been to Monmouth before last year.  I went because of Big Brown to see him - but in the process I found a great racetrack, for all the reasons you listed.  The fans were super, it's well arranged and the paddock area is great.  You can get so close to the horses.  For purely selfish reasons I'd love for Rachel and Zen to race there because it's close enough for me to go.  But I can see the wisdom of someplace in the middle of the country that puts both horses on more equal footing.  Monmouth does seem willing to make things happen.  Would any other track be willing to put a race like this together?

01 Jul 2009 5:51 PM

Why can't they just race in the Haskell? It solves the filling the race issue and is already at the proposed track with a million dollar purse and It's a Grade 1. The revamped Breeders Cup is just another example of the cluelessness of the people with power in this industry. I have yet to find anyone who likes it.

There are way too many tracks in the US but somehow the Breeders Cup ends up at an inferior track(synthetic) two years in a row and there is no one to answer for it.

01 Jul 2009 5:54 PM

If the Delaware Hcp wasn't only a 3 week gap, it would have been perfect!

01 Jul 2009 5:55 PM

Is either of the horses capable of winning the Breeders Cup at Classic at 1 1/4 against the field that will be assembled?

01 Jul 2009 5:59 PM

NYRA needs to relax the detention barn rules and get Zenyatta to Belmont or Saratoga for the matchup.  

01 Jul 2009 6:02 PM
Virgil Fox


Please forgive me if anyone mentioned this previously, or, if it is just ridiculous.

This is regarding Zenyatta and the HOY title and not necessarily the ZEN – RA matchup.

Do you think the connections of Zenyatta have/had/might-have/could-have/should-have considered running in the Big Cap, HOL Gold Cup, or the Pacific Classic?

I am aware of the added distance, but there would be a weight allowance, and, obviously, it would be in Zenyatta’s back yard / home track?

No question she would have a pace to close in to.

Didn’t Sherriffs mention something more ‘ambitious’ for her?

Some (probably more than some) think that it is possible for RA to win the HOY title even without participating in the BC.

What IF (big IF) Zenyatta were to go in the Gold Cup (which may already be too late) or the Pacific Classic, runs a ‘good’ race, then lights up the field in the “Ladies Classic”?

With a win or a ‘good’ race against the older male horses, followed by a win in the Ladies Classic make her a lock for HOY beyond a potential Travers victory for RA?

Or, is it all just a popularity contest anyway, and whatever will be – will be?

Thanks Steve.

This might sound like I am partial to ZEN, but I’m really not partial to Z or RA?

Just curious if you had any thoughts.

01 Jul 2009 6:02 PM

Lady Ruffian,  thanks for the link to that article.  Really food for thought there.  Just goes to show that there are many ways to look at things. My opinion - both these fillies are champions whether they ever race each other or not.

01 Jul 2009 6:02 PM

If Mr. Haskin is correct,seems the 2 big problems are Rachael Alexandra doesn't want to travel 3,000 miles to run on plastic and Zenyatta doesn't want to travel 3,000 miles to be held in a detention barn. Maybe they could meet somewhere close to the middle with real dirt. I believe Oaklawn in Arkansas and Hawthorne in Ill. both are realdirt tracks aren't they. I don't know, just a thought.

01 Jul 2009 6:03 PM

Unfortunately as I stated earlier I don't believe that this will ever happen under ANY circumstances.   Which is sad to say because it's a perfect example of how racing in todays world actually works.

Both camps purposely trying to avoid each other so that the Eclipse judges have a harder time deciding who should get Horse Of The Year honors.   Which also leaves room for corruption by way of Favoritism.

This is also a perfect example of WHY Horse racing NEEDS a running point system like NASCAR has to determine it's True Champions.

That way all thru out the year you know where you stand and what you might have to do to move up in the standings, especially After the Breeders Cup.

01 Jul 2009 6:06 PM
Ted from LA

Upon further research, if half the town of Altoona showed up, there would be 6,932 people in attendance.  Ironically, Prairie Meadows by many measures is doing better than Kentucky tracks.  I wonder why that is **he said while scratching his chin**... (with no intention of divulging what those "measures" might be)...

01 Jul 2009 6:22 PM
Saratoga AJ

After watching Zenyatta win again Saturday, and considering her come from behind running style, I am now convinced she's the only distaff runner in the country that may be able to get within 5 lengths of the great Rachel Alexandra. :)

01 Jul 2009 6:34 PM

Love the idea but Shirreffs won't want to ship 3,000 miles for a $500K purse or to run at Monmouth. With a very short field and the pace for her to dictate, RA would win on that speed favoring track. Scheduling the BC two years in a row on plastic is really going to come back to haunt the sport. Maybe, just as well. The Race of the Year shouldn't be on a Friday afternoon.

01 Jul 2009 6:42 PM
Saratoga AJ

Oh, and may I add, I'm all for your suggestion, Steve.

01 Jul 2009 6:48 PM
Ida Lee

First, let me say I understand how Mr. Jackson feels. Mighty Curlin is the equine love of my life. I was so hurt to see him struggle like he did on that ugly looking "stuff". But, I do want to say -- Really, do Zenyatta and Rachel have anything else to prove? These Fillies have given us so much excitement and joy. The races this past weekend were so much fun. Let them race wherever and whenever it is to their best advantage. They've earned it.

01 Jul 2009 7:00 PM

Hello-o-o-o...I am NOT one of the people who would like to see an RA and Z match-up. It would break my heart to think that either of these great horses might have their own hearts and spirits subjected to the defeat. Remember the magnificent COPERNICA? Her heart was broken by RUFFIAN.  It is only RA who could beat Z and only Z who could beat RA.  Let them retire on top, with their hearts intact. THAT is what I would like to see!

01 Jul 2009 7:03 PM

The problem here is simple.  Rachel doesn't need Zenyatta.  Zenyatta is a one state wonder.  Rachel is winning all across the country.  She is winning at the tracks where champions are made.  Zenyatta is 5 years old and has only one win outside of California ?  No wins at Belmont, Saratoga, or Churchill? Why don't you list for me all the great champs in history with no wins at these tracks.  Last point is the most obvious.  Rachel is simply a better, faster horse.  Check the history books and show me a 3 year old filly that ran faster then a 1:46.33 for a 1 1/8th.  Remember she was eased long before the wire and was less then a second away from Secretariat's track record. Not bad first off a layoff huh...

01 Jul 2009 7:17 PM

Great idea Steve, because it seems the most plausible.  Doesn't it kind of remind you of other match-ups in the past, between two great horses.  No one wants to give up any perceived advantage.

To Steve and anyone, what makes the detention barn so reviled by many of the horses?  Is it because it is another strange barn without time to acclimate to it or are the stalls very small?

01 Jul 2009 7:25 PM

I just read DaHoss' comments regarding the detention barn.  Thanks.

As far as the Breeders Cup Classic, can you see Zenyatta and Mine That Bird closing on the European horses?  Now, there's something to get fired up about.

01 Jul 2009 7:41 PM

Sounds like a plan to me but I think with Jackson and the Mosses being the girls owners it's not happening. I want to see them race each other but not a match. It would just be to sad if anything happened to either.Couldn't take it love them both.

01 Jul 2009 7:45 PM
Curlin Rulez

Hey Ida Lee, I'm a huge Curlin fan myself. I'm sorry to say though, he had every chance in that race last year and he lost fair and square. You know, it's not like he dropped to last and stayed there the whole race, then ya, maybe it would of been the track surface. But he just ran out of gas. Now me saying all that, I still don't like the synthetics.

01 Jul 2009 8:17 PM

I personially think that sinthetic surfaces are better on a horse's feet. Its softer and thwy get a better grab with the correct shoes. I do agree to keep the filly safe if she hasen't been on sinthetic before. Curlin lost because a better horse beat him, he had plenty of time to get use to the surface but thats another matter. Zenyatta is getting up there in age(although she dosen't look or act like it!) and this could be her last Breeder's Cup if she dose run in it, I sure hope not, maybe just maybe someone could convince them to do a match race. Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra. I sure hope to see them race one day!

01 Jul 2009 8:22 PM

Edward, the Haskell is for 3year olds only so that wouldn't work.

TerriV, thanks for saying nice things about Monmouth, I love that track too and it never seems to get enough credit for being a top track.

One of the reasons I changed my mind about the girls meeting there is that I believe it is a speed favoring track and not many horses come off the pace to win, never mind from way back. That would not be good for Zenyatta (although Point Given closed for a win in the Haskell his year). Also, Steve do you know if the turns are really tight at Monmouth or is that just an urban myth like the way they say Pimlico is tight corning and that Belmont has a very long stretch. ( I think both things were proven untrue.)

Hell, I just want the girls to face each other; we need something to get the public to remember we are still breathing and not just during the Triple Crown and BC day!

01 Jul 2009 8:29 PM

A match race between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta to determine Horse of the Year?

Is the ONLY criteria for HoY this year is that the horse be a filly or a mare?

To have these two race against each other without a field of other top horses for Horse of the Year honors would make the whole concept of HoY a total fraud.

"Well, filly's and mares need help", they'll say.

Bull, Zarkava didn't need any special advantage to win European Horse of the Year in 08... But then, she was a TRULY great horse and her owners didn't duck challenges or make excuses.

01 Jul 2009 8:37 PM
mike rullo


I have it figured out for you.move the ladies classic to churchill and keep all the other breeders cup races at santa anita.churchill will be open at the time of the breeders cup.you would get big attendance at both tracks.every body will be happy and just hope for good weather.santa anita still gets great racing and so will churchill. why not???

01 Jul 2009 10:01 PM

The Rock, I shall take umbrage with your implication that the mating of Secretariat and Chris Evert produced a dud :)

Six Crowns was a stakes winner, was G1 placed and earned $136,000. More importantly, she produced Chief's Crown and multiple GI winner Classic Crown, and GI placed Tribunal. Wish I'd owned that "dud."

01 Jul 2009 10:01 PM

HOW ABOUT THIS: Each travel in a 2 race series, RA goes west and picks the distance and Zen comes east and picks the distance. That way the advantage is negated out. True sportsmen would accept the challenge. And if each wins one, it will lead to a 3rd race. Dreaming? maybe....but what the hell?

01 Jul 2009 10:05 PM
Matthew W

Steve I'm all for that! I mean, I want to see Zenyatta dirt once more, another plan would be win the BC Classic then ship to Louisville for anither race--the Clark--extended to 1 1/4 to accomodate Zenyatta for her having run in the Classic...either that or go in Ladies Classic/Clark at 1 1/8.... Stave I have a STRONG feeling Shirreffs wants to dirt her and really, by now, this goes "beyond persons"---Racing needs this--racing HISTORY owns this....

01 Jul 2009 10:19 PM
Matthew W

A popular clocker has been gushing over Rachel for months---I advise him and many excited fans: Love her, YES! Remarkable filly! Also know this: Zenyatta has faced some toughies and beaten them with ease, Rachel has never remotely come close to facing off with a horse like Zenyatta, I would be suprised if she could handle that load, that force, if she does, Rachel will be the best ever, THAT is why this HAS to happen--I agree with you Steve, Jess was/is sour grapes aboput Curlin, a horse who simply hung the last 1 1/16...I told everyone listening you need to prep on pro ride--Zenyatta was robbed last year of HOY...Steve I really cannot say she'll be robbed this year, as good as she is, Rachel is all that as well.....I really think they're gonna get it on, I also really think it'l be AFTER the Cup, at Churchill....

01 Jul 2009 10:31 PM

Love the Monmouth idea.  Monmouth is one of my favorite tracks.  What do you think might happen if Rachel does in fact run in (and even win) the Haskell?  Would the Zenyatta camp be less inclined to take on that challenge knowing that Rachel has already has a race over the track?  

01 Jul 2009 10:31 PM
Matthew W

Dray I agree, but why does a horse have to travel if the so called championship race is in their stomping grounds? But I do agree Rachel can win and NOT set foot in Cali....too bad we can't get them together, I hope AFTER the Cup they'll have a go, and no, times mean nothing when you don't face the big guns---Zen has crushed better than Rachel...I remember Easy Goer looked like the best ever--till he faced off with another good horse...so as much as I like Rachel, I'm not gonna go ape over an allowance race (Oaks) , and a Longacres race (Mother Goose), she's the nuts, no doubt, but I'll drop a shilling on Big Z when they hook up in November--that's if The Moss's do what Jess won't do, and I think they will....and, really, Zenyatta "deserves" to test Rachel, and vice-versa....

01 Jul 2009 10:42 PM

The Rock,

The mating of two Triple Crown champions in Secretariat and Chris Evert produced the appropriately named Six Crowns.  Granted, she herself was only a minor stakes winner, but, to the cover of Danzig, she produced the wonderful multiple GI winner and terrific sire Chief's Crown.  He has the distinction of being the winner of the first Breeders Cup race ever run (Juvenile 1984).

Six Crowns also produced another multiple GI winner in Classic Crown (by Mr Prospector).

I don't think the mating of Secretariat and Chris Evert exactly produced "nothing"!

01 Jul 2009 10:51 PM

I don't see the race at Monmouth happening, as I believe both camps are quite firm in their respective positions.  Perhaps a more plausible situation could involve a meeting of the two distaffers against the colts in the Clark at Churchill the last weekend in November.  Perfect distance of 1 1/8th miles; dirt, which neither camp objects to; adequate time between the Breeder's Cup and the race; and, assuming Zenyatta is retiring after this year, the track is little more than an hours van ride from the breeding farms of Central Kentucky.  I suspect Churchill just might up the ante of the purse to get these two together and perhaps the effort could be tied into some percentage of handle/purse to benefit breast cancer or similar charity.  

01 Jul 2009 10:53 PM
Paula Higgins

Nice idea but not gonna happen. I don't think these two will ever meet. Which means Zenyatta has to race agaisnt the boys and win at some point or HOTY is not gonna happen for her either. I love Zenyatta so I hope they have some plans along those lines. Rachel is spectacular as well. Gotta love them both. We are lucky to be able to see such brilliance.

01 Jul 2009 11:26 PM

This is my first time leaving a comment ever, so please forgive me if I ramble.  Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are both quality horses. Their running styles are completely different but equally impressive. Why can't we just enjoy both of them for the shear joy of watching them run.  I think a lot of this discussion is an east vs west coast thing also.  Horses from California and the midwest have always seemed to have to prove themselves which the east coast horses have not had to do. I will enjoy both of them in all their glory whether they race aginst each other or not.  Actually, I think all horses are glorious regardless of what level they are running in.

Most of the discussion on "Horse Of The Year" has only included Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. What about Mine That Bird,Summer Bird, Well Armed?  If any of these horses continue winning this summer/fall and would win the Breeders Cup Classic, wouldn't they deserve horse of the year?

Also, on running the Breeders Cup two years in a row at Santa Anita.  I believe it was decided to do that because New York tracks could not commit because of problems with NYRA, and Church Hill Downs would have had it there but wanted a commitment of it returning there every other year. I could be wrong about this, but I remember reading something along this line. In Santa Anita's defense, it is a beautiful track, you can see the entire race course regardless of where you are sitting/standing, and you very rarely have bad weather in California in the fall.

Thank you for letting me ramble.

01 Jul 2009 11:41 PM

I am still waiting ... anyone come up with a 3 year old filly that ran faster then a 146.33 in the last 50 years ???

How about the last filly to beat a male Derby winner ?

I will wait....

02 Jul 2009 12:08 AM
Cowboy Bobtangobell

Jackson is  in the cat bird seat. RA!s classic Preakness lets him cherry pick races right to HOY. Unless the Birdstone boys do some fancy running in the fall. Mine that Bird in particular. If Zen wants to be HOY she has to change course. Last years program won!t work. She has to win the BC Classic or go get RA.Might be difficult if RA sticks to 3 year old races.If Zen runs in the Ladies Classic and wins she gets the same championship as last year.If RA wns her next 2 or 3 races then Zen has to win the BC Classic to be HOY.The wild card is Mine that Bird. He could upstage both ladies. Jackson is a clever fellow and he won!t do anything to risky if he doesn!t have too.

02 Jul 2009 12:15 AM

I'm sorry, but the Breeders Cup is the place to settle the issue.  Jess Jackson can't always have it his way.  He'll regret hooking Zenyatta on any race a mile and an eighth or further.  You fools who think Rachel could beat this BEAST are dreaming.

02 Jul 2009 12:28 AM

"Even though none of these issues has anything to do with the Rachel (who has already won impressively on a synthetic surface) and Zenyatta (who has never been in a detention barn)." Beautiful common sense logic Steve! Assumptions, hypotheticals and what ifs are what's keeping these great "ladies" apart.

02 Jul 2009 12:55 AM
Lou in TX

Steve, could you tell me how fair it would be to run a young 3 year old filly against a 5 year old? Even tho Zenyatta has 11 wins and is a wonderful horse, isn't that like comparing apples to oranges? It looks like RA would have the advantage(age)from the get go regardless of their different running styles. Maybe a stupid question but one I would just like to have explained to me from someone who knows the business.

I say let them both be winners, A "Queen" and a "Princess" says it all.  I'd hate to see either of them get beat. How could you pick a winner when you love both horses?

Find your dreams elsewhere on some of the other wonderful horses that are out there racing and giving their all. Just my opinion.

02 Jul 2009 1:17 AM

I'm sorry but these owners are making WAY too many excuses not to run at this track or that.  Are these great horses or just horses that can win on one type of surface or track?? The owners are holding them back because the truth is that we don't know how the horses will react to the different surfaces or tighter turns.  As much as these owners are sporting, at least for this day in age, they need to take chances that will prove their horses abilities all across the nation no matter what the conditions.  Jackson: your horse lost in the BC Classic because he was not the best on that day. It wasn't the surface so stop being in denial. Moss/Sherrifs: get some faith and stop giving Zenyatta comfy weak races in her backyard.  That doesn't prove a great horse whatsoever.

02 Jul 2009 3:00 AM

Lots of good ideas here for a championship race between the two.  But if such a race would be for HOTY (not just the filly championship), it should allow all comers, including males, be at the accepted championship distance of 1 1/4 miles and be somewhere neutral in the center of the country like Churchill.  The Breeders Cup Classic would normally fit that bill except that horses that win on the synthetic tracks are still discounted when it comes to deciding who our champions are.

02 Jul 2009 3:21 AM

I floated this idea at PaceAdvantage.com; I'll try it here.

They should meet on grass. Arlington's Beverly D on Million Day would be ideal: purse, geography, distance, media attraction, etc.

02 Jul 2009 6:52 AM

It isn't going to happen give up on this idea, if your looking to blame anyone, blame the BC people for running the BC 2 years in a row over synthetics. Who says if Rachel and Zenyatta both run in the Ladies or regular Classic they can handle the top euro's over that crap. American racing is dirt racing and the statistics are in Synthetic are not safer. if you want to do the industry a real service Mr. Haskin then do some research on break downs on both surfaces and report that.

02 Jul 2009 9:00 AM
Steve Haskin

A few points:

Matthew, I never said Jackson was sour grapes. That is what he believes, whether you agree with him or not. Give him credit for running the horse after saying all year he wouldn't, He did it for one reason: to meet Big Brown and decide who was the better horse. The Classic would have lacked any color, other than the Euros, had Jackson withdrawn him after Big Brown retired. Asmussen believed it was the track as well. I have my doubts about that, but they are entitled to blame the track if that's what they believe.

The Clark Handicap is three weeks after the Breeders' Cup. No way Zenyatta goes there, so let's forget the Clark.

Perhaps there are some who are East Coast biased, but let's give that a rest already. Perhaps some are synthetic biased, which makes it seem like Easterners are biased against California. But true racing fans see the sport as non-provincial. Where was the bias when Azeri was voted Horse of the Year for racing predominantly in California? No matter where you live, how can you not love Zenyatta? I dont care if she races in California or not. Remember, the 3rd, 4th, and 6th betting choices in the Ky. Derby this year were California horses, and the 3rd and 4th had never even run on dirt.

I agree in an odd way with the premise, if the two fillies don't meet at least neither will lose. It would be great to see both fillies go unbeaten the rest of the way, winning the Haskell or Travers and BC Classic along the way.

02 Jul 2009 9:43 AM
Steve Haskin

90proof, the Blood-Horse has already done the research and devoted an entire issue to it last year. I suggest you order a back copy.

02 Jul 2009 9:45 AM

If I never hear or read the word match race, I will be happy. Because, if you have the Queen and the Princess entered in the same race, that is exactly what it would be, who else would show up?

I love both of these horses equally, and I don't want to see them race each other.

A race between the two would favor Rachel's style of running, not Zenyatta's come from behind, pick them off one by one style. And she wouldn't have anyone to pick off, she would have to be right up there with Rachel. Not to mention her having to travel east.

I think the Breeder's Cup was patterned after the Oaks and the Derby, Friday and Saturday. So, I imagine a lot missed the Kentucky Oaks, too.

So, I am with GhostTown, why can't we enjoy their accomplishments. As for HOTY, well, the current NTRA poll has Rachel on top of Zenyatta.

Kind of early in the year to be discussing it, since a lot depends on the fall races.

My husband asked me who I thought was the better horse. I said, I can't pick, that's like asking a mother who her favorite child is. He said, you have to pick one. (why, I don't know).

I said, after a long time, Zenyatta then. I like the way she dances.


02 Jul 2009 9:46 AM

Hey, another comment on Zenyatta. Anytime you pack on 129 pounds in a race, giving up 16-18 lbs, that is quite an accomplishment the way she won that race Saturday. How can anyone say that was weak?

She can't even go into another handicap race, since she would be in the 130+ range.

That is not a subpar or weak performance, in my opinion.


02 Jul 2009 10:01 AM

Esay solution? Run Zenyatta against the world in the BC Classic. If she beats back the Euro's, then no one is going to give a sour squat about Rachel Alexandra when it comes to HoY.

If she loses? Then she clearly isn't that great a horse, so any match race with RA would be pointless.

02 Jul 2009 10:11 AM

One thing not mentioned is the purse money for Show. If the Molly Pitcher is moved back Monmouth would have to increase the prize for Show to attract horses besides RA & Z.  (IMHO)

02 Jul 2009 10:42 AM

I dont think Zenyatta gets enough respect. For 2 years she's perfectly dominated every member of her own sex (INCLUDING THE GREAT GINGER PUNCH ON CONVENTIONAL DIRT AT OAKLAWN). She doesn't really need to beat Rachel Alexandra to be horse of the year. Just maintain her schedule and beat the boys in the classic.

02 Jul 2009 11:01 AM


    Zenyatta gave up 13lbs to the nearest horses, not 16. Also had LIS been entered she'd be giving up 7lbs to the nearsest. You are correct in saying that she gave 18lbs to her farthest rival.

02 Jul 2009 11:14 AM

Where is Alfred Vanderbilt when we really need him?  {I know the answer} If it weren't for him Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral would probably haver never happened.  It is going to take the right person to talk to both of these parties and convince them it is in their interests to do this.  Anybody have any ideas who that person is???

02 Jul 2009 11:21 AM

The alternative? How about the Clark Handicap? Let Zenyatta finally race at Churchill Downs, where she was scratched from the Louisville Stakes this year.

Re: If the scenario went down with Zenyatta defeating Rachel in a race prior to the Breeders' Cup, I do not believe Jackson would send Rachel to Santa Anita to seek revenge. The connections of Rachel are concerned about the welfare of their horses and wouldn't put Rachel through two grueling races back-to-back, especially with Jackson's distaste for synthetics. With Rachel already poised for a 4-year-old campaign, why would they risk tiring her with that sort of year-end battle? I can maybe see them pointing her to a race afterwards, but it wouldn't be in California.

I do like your idea about the Molly Pitcher, Steve. I just wish Monmouth was in my backyard!

02 Jul 2009 11:22 AM

To people who say Curlin was beaten by a better horse or wasn't the best that day, i beg to differ. The reason why is the move that he made on the far turn. It was beautiful to say the least. I believe had RA, curlins jockey, not Rachel, waited until the top of the stretch no horse would have caught him, there is no way. On dirt i believe he would've been able to sustain the move, he did it the year before when beating out SS and HS. This however is a track that plays like turf, and in a turf race how many horses sustain a move like that to win. Normally they wait, and if they don't they are caught by those who did wait. That is what happened in last years Classic. This is also why i think Curlin's connections blame the surface, because on dirt Curlin did that all the time, meaning cirling the field and blowing their doors off. As i said on turf, or on a turf like track you can't do that.

02 Jul 2009 11:24 AM

If they are serious, the Delaware Handicap is a natural for 2 top flight fillies/mares--1 1/4 miles, dirt, handicap conditions, July 19, and, oh, did I mention they've already put up a $1 million purse? Why fool around with a cobbled together race at Monmouth or elsewhere when an established feature is ready and waiting? Besides, if they are true sportsmen, they should race more than once anyway.

02 Jul 2009 11:27 AM

Hey Draynay:  Bug Brush (terrible name, nice horse) ran 1:46 2/5 in 1959 at Santa Anita (when it was dirt).  (She was 4 though)

RE: fillies beating Derby Winners, so far I`ve founf Twilight Tear over Pensive, 1942 (several times - in their 3YO years); Gallorette over Hoop Jr. in 1945 (in their mutual 3YO debuts); Bewitch over Citation (as 2YOs); but I haven`t even checked later years yet.

02 Jul 2009 11:27 AM

No wins vs. males no wins at Saratoga, Belmont, Churchill, or the whole state of Florida and we are still talking about the California Champion ?  She beats weak females in California good for her. Rachel runs the fastest time at 1 1/8th in nearly 20 years for a 3 year old filly and does it geared down and we still think Zenyatta could catch her ?  When was the last time Zenyatta ran a 146.33 ?

02 Jul 2009 11:30 AM

Lou in TX,

    In no way does RA have an age advantage over a fully grown five year old. If Zenyatta were maybe 7 i could see you point, but at five horses finally reach maturity growth wise. Basicly how to compare this in human terms is a 15 year old teen competing with a 25 year old adult. At 15 you still are have growth spurts, still learning your body, and while you may be talented you still are learning. A 25 year old adult on the other hand has just physically come into their own, and they have a gerneral idea of what they are supposed to do and how to accomplish it. Zenyatta hear would be the fully grown adult, just coming into her own, and RA would be the up and coming talented teen who is still learning the ropes and what to do with herself. I hope this clears this issue up for you.

02 Jul 2009 11:32 AM
Junie Wise,Rocky Road Farm

I think the "BEST" place to have a Race for these two would be"The Best" Track....Churchill Downs....The Biggest & Best Breeders Cups are there,All Fans know it well, the MEDIA would give it alot more coverage & I think most Racing Fans would make it one of the Best Days in Racing this Year.....

02 Jul 2009 11:44 AM

Hi Draynay! I posted the final times from last Saturday's races for RA and Zenyatta and got shot down. Apparently, it's an "amateur handicapper" mistake & one cannot compare the times since the Belmont track was considered speed biased and Zenyatta's Pride was on a synthetic track carrying 129 lbs. So let me ask, what in the heck are pp's for?  I am with you definitely on the position that RA is FAR superior to the dancing one state wonder who hasn't even faced a female with the likes of RA!!!!!!

02 Jul 2009 11:49 AM
It aint easy being good!

Draynay who wins in a race between, zenyatta, RA and a healthy Quality Road? Come on I know your obbssed with QR so be honest! They let you out I thought your ban was 7 days away!

02 Jul 2009 11:51 AM
The Rock


Ok, so calling Six Crowns a dud was a LONG Stretch, but my point being is that it is extremely rare to mate two champions in their prime to try to recreate another one like them. The horse they've (Moss & Jackson) is already in there hands! Chief's Crown was a very good horse, but no Secretariat. My point is you've already scored big with these two very very good horses, now make the most of them on the track.


guess you couldn't wait an extra week under the TC Talk huh? lol. Oh yea, Zenyatta has already proved herself. She won the BC over arguably the best East Coast fillies in the BC and the previous years' BC Distaff Champ and Eclipse award winner her first time on dirt. I can care less about track records. I'm talking about quality within a horse. Oh yea, and the Breeders Cup is where Champions are made. No matter what surface. Check the history on that.

02 Jul 2009 12:10 PM
The Rock


Oh yea, who do you think would win between your beloved Quality Road and RA? I'm sure you'll lean towards the latter b/c of 1:46 3/5.

02 Jul 2009 12:11 PM


    Where do you get for two years? What stakes did she ever race in her 3yr old year did she win that was of any importance? Oh thats right none, she won a maiden and an allownece. Also, my calender doesn't indicated that this year is over yet. She dominated last year so far and thats it! This year is half over with and she's raced a meager two times, Big whoop. She dominated one year that is it. Is she good, yes, but i'm not going to bestow the title great until she actually goes outside of the one division, which so far is turning out to be weak. You all wanted to bash Curlin for facing bad competition last year, well i'm looking at the two feilds Zen has raced in this year and all i'm seeing is LIS, the rest are over the hill and weak. Curlin faced better last year.

02 Jul 2009 12:15 PM

RA great?  I think she's good but not great.  Bird gave up 5 lbs and a previous hard race to her and still barely got beat.  Zenyatta is carrying far more weight consistently.  These two gals are both great for the biz but keep 'em separate before one of them humiliates the other!

02 Jul 2009 12:29 PM
Lady Ruffian

LDP I agree with you (weird - haha) Curlin's jockeymoved too early & the track was an excuse. I was screaming 'too soon' when I saw that last year. Culin was a fantastic horse, on dirt & had the BC been over a dirt track, I do not think he would have been caught.

02 Jul 2009 12:46 PM

I disagree that Monmouth is a good choice for a match-up between these two horses.  The traveling distance and speed favoring track both give the advantage to Rachel.  

IMO Oaklawn is a very good option.  It's a dirt surface that they both have wins on.  There's no detention barn.  It's a pretty fair meet in the middle traveling distance, too.

And to those here who think Zenyatta is on a downhill slide or can't beat Rachel because of her final fractions in the Vanity - that was by her connections design.  Short of her losing, the worst thing that could've happened was for her to win by a wide margin or in a very fast time.

Keep in mind it was a handicap race and she was assigned more weight than they wanted.  They strategically needed to keep her Vanity win small & visually unimpressive because they're trying to keep her from getting assigned heavier and heavier weight in handicap races.      

02 Jul 2009 1:13 PM

Hi Rock, ALB, mz... I have a few days left on my sentence at the other blog but I had to say something here because I just can't take it anymore. To be honest I blame Calvin Borel.  If he rides Rachel to the finish she is very close to the track record set by Secretariat and then we can have a real conversation.  The problem is he keeps coasting her home costing valuable time.  You don't see Zenyatta posting 146's do you ?  Remember she set a stakes record coasting home and coming off a layoff ! Think about how much sharper she will be next time out. Rock, Quality Road has no feet...no feet ...no horse. And the Breeders Cup is not the end all be all.  You can have HOY all sewn up long before that race like Curlin did last year. Rachel comes out and beats the boys in the Travers and its all over.  She is HOY hands down.  A filly wins the Oaks, Preakness, and Travers....lol...call it a day and consider yourself lucky that you saw the greatest 3 year old filly ever.

02 Jul 2009 1:23 PM
Pam S.

Of all the suggestions put forth for a mutually acceptable Zen-RA faceoff, I think the Monmouth one, subject of this blog, is the best.  Steve, you are so right, why does anyone think Zen would race in the Clark 3 weeks after the BC??  I don't think so,  regardless of which BC race she runs in and whether she wins or loses.  Yes, it's right on the way to the breeding farms, but still.

It's just a shame it all has to be so complicated.  There is already a race designed just for this situation.  It's called (regrettably!) the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.  I still don't see why they can't both run in it.  Zenyatta is obviously highly accomplished on synthetics, and Rachel has a nice win at Keeneland and was being pointed to the Ladies Classic by her former owner and trainer.  You will never beat the purse, timing, field size, quality of competition, prestige, weather, media attention and fan interest.  That is why they created the BC.  

Yes, one of these great distaffers would lose, unless they finished in a dead heat, or they both might lose.  It's a horse race, the world would not end.  

I would also, as a fan, find it acceptable if one or both ran in the Classic.  If only one did, then they never would meet, but I would be satisfied with that.

I would just like to see all the best horses in training compete in the BC.  I know it is a synthetic surface, I know it is the same track for the second consecutive year. But wasn't it great the way it went last year, health and safety-wise??  To me that was more important than the fact Curlin finished fourth.  I know many won't agree, but I was so glad he participated.

02 Jul 2009 1:25 PM
The Rock

Geez, will everyone get over Curlin already! He lossed. Big deal!

02 Jul 2009 1:35 PM
It aint easy being good!

lady I agree with you about my boy curlin he was amazing, the turn of foot on the plastic was awesome but he moved way too early! The rock all I heard before from Dray was QR 1:35 at GP! I think QR would thump RA that horse was talented and hope his cracks heal any word on how QR is healing lately?

02 Jul 2009 1:37 PM

Mary, you hit the nail on the head: Oaklawn is perfect since they both have wins over that surface! The rest of your argument gets no rebuttals here. Excellent, well thought out post!

02 Jul 2009 1:56 PM
Steve Haskin

Mary, I'm just curious, when would you run this race at Oaklawn, in the Apple Blossom in mid April? When would you then send Zenyatta to the farm, test her and breed her? She is scheduled to be bred next year. Don't you think that's cutting it a little close? And who is to say what kind of condition both fillies will be in nine months from now. They are both at the top of their game now, and now is the time to race them to potentially decide Horse of the Year. This is when people care. This is when they are commanding the headlines. What will a race at Oaklawn next April decide other than who was better on that day? There is nothing at stake.

I mentioned Monmouth simply as a means to make it happen at a time when interest is high. Somebody is always going to have an advantage. If that is unacceptable then it wont happen. This isnt exactly Seabiscuit and War Admiral, where it is going to stop the presses all around the country. It's not like a match race. This is a regular race with other horses. There very rarely are perfect scenarios.

02 Jul 2009 2:08 PM

Steve... I think you hit the nail right on the head ! There are no perfect circumstances.  No matter what race you come up with one would be considered to have an advantage.

Maybe its best just to have two undefeated females this year.  Rachel is blazing a path no 3 year old filly has ever taken and Zenyatta is doing the same thing as last year waiting for one race and hanging out in California. Rachel has another year to set more records and become the greatest filly ever.  Zenyatta... this year is it... so if she wants her place in history she will have to seek out Rachel because the fact of the matter is next year when Rachel is smashing the record books people will all but forget about the California champion.

02 Jul 2009 2:32 PM

Steve, seriously, don't you think that Oaklawn management would make this happen at whatever time of year the parties decided they wanted to meet? How could they resist such a PR opportunity?  I think any racetrack in the country would open its' doors to this idea if at all possible.

02 Jul 2009 2:42 PM

Yes, Steve now is the time for the these two horses to meet.  I just wonder if the owners are going to each give a little because they are surely acutely aware of this fact.

Also, for those who think Zenyatta is too old to beat RA, think of Cigar, who was on a major roll at five years old. I love both these girls and it would be great to see how a race with other horses in it would turn out.

02 Jul 2009 2:51 PM
Steve Haskin

Bill, I tell you what. Call Charles Cella and tell him to make up a race in February for the two fillies, and make sure he's able to get enough fillies based at Oaklawn to fill the field and make it a competitive race. Oaklawn is not horse populated like the Northeast, California, or Kentucky. Where are these horses going to come from? And what if Rachel and Zenyatta get beat in their final starts this year? Will there be the same interest there is now? Try to convince a racetrack owner to plan on having a new race made up seven or eight months from now and see what he says. Do you have any idea what can happen with horses in seven or eight months?

02 Jul 2009 3:04 PM

Why is there all this discussion about Horse of the Year, as if it's all sewn up already and the only two possible candidates are Zenyatta and Rachel?  There is a lot of racing left to do and lots could happen.  Of course, these two fillies are among the top of the list but it's just too early to delete the rest of the list.

02 Jul 2009 3:11 PM

Zenyatta is not too old.  She has reached maturity not old age.  She is fully grown.  RA is still a very young horse and has some more maturing to do.  

02 Jul 2009 3:29 PM

You make good points, Steve, but I think Monmouth would have the same problem of attracting other horses to run with these 2. True enough, the mid-Atlantic is far more horse populated than Arkansas and it certainly would take some doing for Cella to pull this off.  Having grown up in Jersey, I would love to see them stage such a race.  I agree with Mary, however, that Oaklawn has the advantage of having hosted both horses already and both have been successful there.  The logistics of doing this I grant you are monumental.  

02 Jul 2009 4:10 PM
Steve Haskin

Terri, I said "potentially Horse of the Year."

Also, if Rachel or Zenyatta go unbeaten the rest of the year, one of them will be Horse of the Year, especially considering Rachel is likely to run in the Haskell or Travers and Zenyatta is looking seriously at the BC Classic. If Mine That Bird wins the Travers and BC Classic, then he has a great chance.

02 Jul 2009 4:15 PM

The one thing that keeps reappearing as I read through these comments is that Zenyatta's connections will scratch her if Monmouth's track is muddy. Or, they won't even run her at that track because of the size of the turns.  Since when does a 'queen' racehorse, as you refer to, Zenyatta only run on a perfect track? So what if she is undefeated? If she can't run in the mud, or at a track with different sized turns, or  ship to a different track and stay in a detention barn, I don't think we should be calling this horse a 'queen'. Her connections are babying her and I don't think we need an actual race to know that Rachel is better.  

02 Jul 2009 4:16 PM

Man, I'm tired of all the people who don't want the horses' feelings to get hurt or their hearts broken if they lose. They're racehorses and the best are meant to race against the best. A great horse that loses will only be more determined to win next time... it's not going to go back to its stall and cry. Even the great ones lose sometimes.

02 Jul 2009 4:32 PM

Steve, I wasn't directing my comment particularly at you.  There have been lots of comments that want to completely disregard other possibilities, like the one you mentioned, Mine That Bird.  A lot can happen between now and the end of the year - especially when it involves a horse.

02 Jul 2009 4:36 PM


    Is Oaklawn even open? If it is i agree the race should be held there, but i don't think it's open. I know this has absolutely nothing to do with the blog or horses at all but I wish the press would just lay off MJ. The man had a right to be odd, yet in life and now even in death the press won't leave him be. I don't care what the tabloids say about him or other idiot papers, the man was as gentle as they come and was ruined by all the pressure put on him. Why can't these ppl just let him rest in peace!

02 Jul 2009 4:43 PM

Terri may I remind you that Rachel is really 2 races away from the title.  One more warm up before the Travers... a Travers win and Rachel is your HOY no matter what happens.  Zenyatta after the Travers win would be forced to enter BC Classic and facing males for the first time in the Classic would be a disaster for her. Believe me there is a very good reason she is 5 years old and STILL has not taken on the males. Moss won't risk it unless he has to and right now Rachel is in the lead and the only thing he can hope for is for her to slip up or throw a Hail Mary in the Classic if she stays perfect.

02 Jul 2009 4:49 PM

Lady R,

    Are you serious! You and I agree on something at long last! Hurray! Thank you. Like you i feel had the Classic been on dirt he would've won by 5, basicly a repeat of the year before. As i said we knew he could do that move on dirt, but the pro-ride plays like turf and when i saw RA move i wanted to just kick him. On dirt that move would've been just fine, on pro-ride that would've won if the move had waited until the top of the stretch. I also believe RA could've had Curlin much closer up, the race had only one horse that could set a pace and that horse faded to last. Curlin was closer in his first three races, in fact he had the lead the whole way in his maiden, and he also ran closer up in the World Cup. I personaly believe either running more up on the pace or a better timed move would've won him last years Classic.

02 Jul 2009 4:51 PM
Karen in Texas

I believe Oaklawn is open for "gaming", but live racing does not resume there until January, 2010.

02 Jul 2009 5:11 PM
Majella from Ireland

Curlin's loss had nothing to do with the surface IMO. I htink he just was tired. I hope there they do race at Monmouth, if they meet, because then it will be shown on ATR. And I'm really sorry, I havent read all the comments. But how did Michael Jackson, great as he was, come into a discussion about two race horses?

02 Jul 2009 5:16 PM

Bottom line, this race needs to happen--for the good of the sport. It's all the potential matchups that have not materialized that has hurt racing. In the last five years alone we've been cheated out of a Ghostzapper-Smarty Jones race. Or a Smarty-Jones-Afleet Alex or a Curlin-Big Brown. Can anyone recall the last time two Ky. Derby winners faced each other? I'd bet it's close to 20 years--at least.

I understand why Jackson wants no part of SA. Grade I horses do a :50 half-mile and they close on that track from 15 lengths out.

02 Jul 2009 5:46 PM
Midway Sue

While I love the Monmouth idea I just think it won't happen. Here's the thing that bothers me the most. If either camp wants Horse of the Year then quit making excuses and RUN! In this case I have to give the nod to Jackson for being the most flexable. Why should he go to Santa Anita again? He did it last year. Can't anyone else in this business step up? Is there a problem with Zenyatta that she can't travel? Not that we know of. But the excuses keep coming. She doesn't like this, it doesn't suit her running style. The track just wasn't quite right on Oaks day. Really? Rachel didn't have a problem. I'd love to see the matchup but I don't think any situation involving Zenyatta traveling will be to the Moss' liking. This is fine but I don't want to hear anymore reasons why she should be HOY. A HOY should be able to run and win anywhere, wet or dry, no exceptions. It would insult past HOY winners like Cigar, Secretariat, Forgo, etc. that ran their hearts out to award a basiclly regional champion HOY. So I ask the Moss' please give Zenyatta the opportunity to be HOY. Let her Run!

02 Jul 2009 5:54 PM
Steve Haskin

Bill, I'll have to repeat what I said earlier. Oaklawn is 8 months from now. Zenyatta is going to be bred next year. Forget Oaklawn. If they meet it has to be in the next 4 months.

02 Jul 2009 6:33 PM


I think the last time two Derby winners faced each other was the 1987 BC Classic, Ferdinand and Alysheba.  I was there.  Maybe I'm mistaken but has there been a meeting of two Derby winners since then?

02 Jul 2009 6:54 PM

Tracy, do you really need to be reminded of what happened to a great champion in the Monmouth mud in 2007?  People have a huge responsibility when they own a superstar racehorse.  I actually think it is starting to weigh a bit on John Shirreffs.  You don't have to refer to her as a queen Tracy, but she is my queen... and I want her to be babied.  You know, I really think Jess Jackson will come around and we will determine the champion at Breeders's Cup, as it should be.  I'll be waiting to see Zenyatta lengthen her monster stride at the very end to inhale the Princess at the wire!  I could live with that.

02 Jul 2009 6:54 PM

Fair enough, Steve  We all want the same thing.  The devil is in the details as they say.  I don't really care whether they race at Pleasanton or Timonium as long as they meet someplace, sometime.  I'm glad you at least suggested the idea of them racing at some venue other than SA. It certainly has stimulated a lively discussion.


02 Jul 2009 8:11 PM

Weight had nothing to do with Zenyatta's margin of victory, because none of the three races she's aiming for are handicaps.

By the way, I heard a vague rumor that Sea the Stars is considering coming for the Classic - do you guys think it will happen? And if he comes and Zenyatta runs in the Classic, can she beat him? We're all talking about Zenyatta having to run in the Classic for HOTY if Rachel wins the Travers, but, realistically, can Zenyatta beat Sea the Stars and whoever else is considering coming over?

02 Jul 2009 8:25 PM
Matthew W

The onus seems to always be on the Western horse to go East--EVEN when the Breeders Cup is out west!---Could anyone imagine Shug saying he was gonna prep Personal Ensign out West, a 6K round trip, for the Breeders Cup? Yet the sane persons who would've said Shug was nuts to go that route--the SAME persons think it wise for Shirreffs to go that route---Zenyatta IS a Cali horse---The Breeders Cup IS in Cali.....Jess has "prempted" everything with his snub of the Breeders Cup, but Zenyatta is UNDEFEATED, there is a lot at stake here for those connections, Those are the cards that have been dealt, if Rachel is all that, and I really think she is, there would be NO hesitation to ship West---indeed, has Jess even suggested any race OTHER than a match race? The onus of all of this should be on FAIRNESS---It is NOT FAIR to put this on Team Zen---NOT FAIR! They are a California stable, they race in the graded program in California, and that includes the Breeders Cup, They are undefeated, for GOSH sakes, for once, EAST COAST: Man up and do your duty, Don't make that horse do a 6K round tripper to accomodate YOU---as if you won't scurry back to Santa Anita if she beats you at Monmouth!--Man up, Jess!

02 Jul 2009 8:54 PM

It has occured to me that my earlier comment was unclear - I meant that Zenyatta wasn't held back to avoid future higher imposts, because she's not planning on running in a handicap again. (I do think she could have gone faster, though.)

02 Jul 2009 9:21 PM

Matthew your not listening.  Rachel does not need to go west.  She is winning where all the champions have won before her.  You can't call yourself a true champion and have no wins at Belmont, Saratoga, or Churchill.  The horse is 5 years old there is no excuse.  Moss is having his horse hang around California waiting for one race.  The Breeders Cup is NOT the end all be all.  HOY is the measure of an entire year not one race.  Add to the fact that to preserve the record Zenyatta was scratched from the mud and has never faced the boys.  How good is she ? So far she is only good enough to beat the same California horses again and again.  You may not like it but Mr. Jackson has a plan and that plan is to win the Travers. No filly has blazed the path Rachel has taken this year in the history of racing and should she complete her journey like it or not she is the clear winner of HOY.

02 Jul 2009 10:16 PM


    Isn't sea of the stars a filly?

02 Jul 2009 10:17 PM
Matthew W

Zenyatta beat life Is Sweet in her season debut AFTER shipping/schooling/training/scratching at Churchill...and she had a pretty good steady back...ran ok in Vanity, Smith said he waited but to me it did not look like that...she bounced and won, she's 11 for 11, to ask her to ship before Breeders Cup in my opinion is asking way too much--there's nothing wrong with pro ride, most horses like it, moreso than (probably) the old harder dirt tracks...They DO need to ship West for this, Zenyatta is undefeated and that should mean something, come and beat her if you're all that--or stay away, your choice, Jess!

02 Jul 2009 10:36 PM


Go For Wand, in 1990, ran 1:45 and 4 when she won the gr.1 Beldame at Belmont vs. older fillies and mares by almost 5.

Desert Vixen won the same race in 1973 with a time of 1:46 and 1. Desert Vixen won the Beldame with that time the same day Secretariat set his 1:45 and 2 track record in the Marlboro. Desert Vixen won that Beldame by over 8 lengths, then came back as a 4 year old and won it again the next year, by 12 lengths in 1:46 and 3.

02 Jul 2009 11:23 PM

Thanks GunBow seems like only once or twice in the last 50 years a 3 year old has run that fast... the really sad part is if Borel lets her finish instead of coasting home does she equal Secretariat's Record ?

Matthew... you must be from California because the fact is Rachel can have HOY won long before the Breeders Cup even comes around. Zenyatta not racing the boys and unwilling to leave the State leaves her out looking in.

03 Jul 2009 12:13 AM

Draynay, just so you can file this away somewhere...

On June 13, 1959, the wonderful Silver Spoon avenged her Kentucky Derby loss by beating Tommy Lee in the Cinema Handicap.

03 Jul 2009 12:14 AM
Lou in TX

Thanks LDP for explaining the age thing with Zen & RA. That makes perfect sense. I'd still hate to see them race against each other. I want them both to be winners because I love them both, but not as much as Barbaro, Nicanor, Lentenor, Babynor and the new filly on the way. Sorry, couldn't help myself.

This is a great blog. Thanks for letting me voice my opinion.

03 Jul 2009 12:43 AM

Steve: Good insight to the reasoning behind the opinions held/decisions made by the key players. Although I do not completely agree with these opinions/decisions, one can certainly understand how they were drawn. I also believe that if Rachel and Zenyatta never meet, it would not be the fault of just one particular side, if there is anyone to fault at all.

Personally, while I understand  each side for the conclusions they have formed, I disagree with both. I think Zenyatta is perfectly capable of running in New York in a race like the Go For Wand or Personal Ensign at Saratoga(rather than the Clement Hirsch) or the Beldame at Belmont(instead of the Ladys Secret or Goodwood). I also believe Rachel is perfectly capable of running on synthetics in general, and on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride in the Breeders Cup, in particular. While I UNDERSTAND why Sheriffs and Moss would not want to bring Zenyatta to New York and why Jackson does not want to run in the Breeders Cup, I am NOT CONVINCED by their logic.

Ultimately, however, there is no guarantee Rachel or Zen will be healthy 3 or 4 months from now, or that both will be able to remain undefeated on the season until then. Rachel is going to have a tough race coming up against the boys, particularly if Jackson runs her in the Travers. Almost every top male 3 year old is being pointed for the Travers, and at 10 furlongs it would be a sixteenth of a mile longer than the Preakness. While I do not doubt that Rachel has the talent to win such a race, I expect the field for the Travers to be on par with the Preakness and Belmont fields, and I respect some of her potential foes, including Mine That Bird and Summer Bird. Even if Rachel goes in the Haskell, which I think she should, the field is likely to have some quality runners, with Summer Bird and Musket Man pointing for the race. As for Zenyatta, with the Clement Hirsch a handicap, she likely will have to carry 130 lbs+ in the race, and then have to beat not just the best males from the US, but most importantly, some potential heavyweights from Europe in the Breeders Cup Classic. This is not meant as disrespect, but Zenyatta would have struggled to have finished even 5th had she been entered in last year's Classic(just as Lady's Secret would have finished no better than 4th in the 86' Classic). If Europe sends a few runners with comparable ability to Ravens Pass or Henrythenavigator, Well Armed returns from Dubai 100%, Einstein remains in form, and one or two of the 3 year old males really progresses over the next 4 months(Quality Road, Summer Bird, Mine That Bird, Charitable Man, Musket Man, Warriors Reward, etc), the Classic would be far from a cakewalk for Zenyatta. Perhaps Zen should try males in the gr.1 Goodwood, at 9 furlongs, and then point for the Distaff with the hope Jess Jackson changes his mind?

The preceding paragraph was in no way meant to take away from the greatness of either Rachel or Zenyatta. However, in expecting a 3 year old filly to win a 2nd grade 1 race against males, particularly if that 2nd race is the Travers, we are placing truly HISTORIC expectations on Rachel. Given a win already in the Preakness, and record romps in the Oaks and Mother Goose, a Travers victory would place Rachel's 3 year old campaign against the very best 3 year old filly seasons of all time, right up alongside Ruffian, Go For Wand, Busher, Twilight Tear, Gallant Bloom, and Cicada.  As it concerns Zenyatta in the Classic, there is a reason why even such great fillies as Princess Rooney, Ladys Secret, Personal Ensign, Bayakoa, Go For Wand, Dance Smartly, Paseana, Inside Information, Heavenly Prize, Serena's Song, Beautiful Pleasure, Silverbulletday, and Riboletta did not run in a Breeders Cup Classic; even for the very greatest of female racehorses, it is extrmemly difficult for them to beat the best males of their generation(and, of course, the Distaff offered a lucrative, and much easier, alternative). Is Personal Ensign considered less of a champion, or her record less historic just because she won her 13th race in the Distaff and not in the Classic against Alysheba?

In my opinion, if Rachel did not run in the Breeders Cup, but wins all of her remaining races including the Haskell or Travers, she would still go down as one of the great 3 year old fillies of all time. And even if Zenyatta stays in California, and never runs against males, but  wins the Hirsch, Ladys Secret, and Distaff, she too would deserve a place in the Hall of Fame. And, were Zenyatta to win the Classic instead of the Distaff, I think it would be impossible for anyone to deny her a place among the greatest female racehorses ever.  

Of course, I would love to see Zenyatta come East for a race against Rachel and for Rachel to return the favor and run in the Breeders Cup, and if Zenyatta were not to come East I would enjoy seeing her face grade 1 level males in the Goodwood or Classic.  If Rachel were to run against Zenyatta in the Breeders Cup, I would be perfectly content if it were in the Distaff, but wouldn't a matchup in the Classic stir the imagination? Not only would such potentialities make for fascinating races, they would give each horse an opportunity to prove herself as one of the very, very greatest racehorses of all time.

03 Jul 2009 1:08 AM

Oh, and Draynay,

3YO Desert Vixen, 1973 Beldame, 1:46 1/5

03 Jul 2009 1:10 AM

A clash between two titans.  Rachel Alexandra versus Zenyatta.  The event of the year in horse racing. Not going to happen it looks.  Not going to happen at the Breeders Cup.  That is sad.  Its sad that horse racings biggest day, its championship day has to be upstaged by a rivalry generated through press conferences that will never materialize to a rivalry at the racetrack.  I for one call for uniformity in the sport.  This story of clash of two titans has been cooked every year and it rarely comes to fruition.  Since the Breeders Cup was inaugurated, The Cup has attracted some great horses, some even legendary.  Some have triumphed, some have lost.  Some never competed in it because of injury or illness, some didnt compete because of the nomination costs, and some simply because their connections didnt care to show up.  The first year the cup ran without stars like John Henry, Swale, and Devils Bag.  But still featured a enough Star power and drama, that its still one to remember.  The 1985 Cup missed Spend A Buck, as that years HOY was done by the end of the summer.  And its because of Spend a Buck and his connections that made the Triple Crown shape up, or the crown would not be what it is now.  1986 had a Hall of Fame Roster competing in it.  We watched the coronation of the great Ladys Secret, with the losses of the best two older horses that year in racing Turkoman and Precisionist in the classic.  The 1987 cup missed Forty Niner, Personal Ensign, LOst Code, Creme Fraiche, Bet Twice,Manila, Polish Navy and Java Gold.  Woody Stephens, what a character he was, he almost never brought his top horses out west to the Breeders Cup after the first one in Hollywood Park, where his MIss Oceana ran up the track in the distaff.  which to me was a shame, as I was a big fan of Forty Niner, and especially of the old gelding Creme Fraiche, who won his second Jockey club gold cup in arow over who I believed was the best horse in the country that year in Java Gold, and at 1 1/2 miles. Still the cup survived and was one of the bests to date, with Very Subtle dusting off Groovy.  Miesque burning the boys in the mile.  Theatricals heroics on the turf, and the thrilling finish between the two derby winners Alysheba and Ferdinand. Alysheba what a horse, I still remember yelling at TV "McCarron go to the left hand whip!!!, as Alysheba in all his races responded with authority under left handed whipping, otherwise he would just float with the competition. Steve take a look at his races and you will know what I mean.  I met McCarron the following year at the Santa Anita Handicap, great guy, he was great to my family that day. That year 1988 was even better.  The cup was incredible despite the rain, and the Champ triumphed over all his rivals, just like what champs are supposed to do.  1989 had Sunday Silence vs Easy Goer that kept us on our toes all year.   Up to that point, the cup had a hell of a run.  Then 1990 came, Bemonts first cup, from then on I believe things have never been the same.  That years cup lost Sunday Silence, Easy Goer, Criminal Type, Housebuster, Golden Pheasant, Eastern Echo, major stars and potential stars due to injuries.  But it would be the fatalities of Go for Wand and Mr. Nickerson that would overshadow the heroics of the derby winner Unbridled.  The scene of Go For Wand breakdown, with her leg flapping was a scene I will never forget and its so terrifying to have witnessed, that I dont need a TV to replay it, I can replay that race in my head from start to finish.  Go For Wand breaking on the lead, Bayakoa stalking her, breathing down her neck right from the start, They went a half mile in 45 and change.  They were burning up the track, got head and head entering the stretch, then right before the sixteenth pole she stumbled first then broke down.  A very frightening and sad image.  Those types of events can turn off any fan in any sport, accidents have happened in every sport, but its just the way things are.  The Breeders Cup recovered, but it continues to be plagued by breakdowns or unfortunate accidents ever since.  Exogenous comes to mind, as well as the 2002 Breeders Cup MIle, and George Washington.  The issue of safety has become larger than jupiter.  1991, saw the beginning of the AMerican Championship Series.  The idea was great, but it only focused on the Classic Picture.  A series should focus on every category leading to the cup.  At the end of the year none of the participants won a year end award.  1992 was the year of AP INDY, 1993 brought us finally the Paseana-Hollywood Wildcat matchup which was a thriller.  As well as the thrilling race of Kotashaan and Bien Bien.  And who could forget the Shocker Arcangues pulled.  1994 left us without Holy Bull, and that was a shame.  1995 was better because the coronation of Cigar came through.  1996 Cigar was gallant even in defeat, thrilling us in a three horse finish with Alphabet Soup, Louis Quatorze.  It wouldve been nice to see Skip Away in there, but the high nomination fee kept his connections out.  The following year Silver Charm, Formal Gold, Gentlemen and Wills Way missed the cup.  But we still had Skip Away giving us a huge thrill, as well as Favorite Trick culminating a fantastic freshmen season.  But it was 1998, that to me was the last Breeders Cup where we had a clash of the titans come to fruition.  We got to see Da Hoss do the unthinkable.  EScena and Banshee Breeze in a thrilling finish.  But it was the long awaited matchup between Skip Away and Silver Charm, which reminds me of the topic in question.  The connections of both horses took shots at eachother all year long.  That classic was probably the best ever assembled since the 1988 edition of the classic.  That rivalry buzzed through the media all year.  It was unfortunate it didnt transcend as expected at the racetrack, with Skip Away running a dud because he hated Churchill, and Silver Charm finishing second.  Even with the race results not being what we all expected, the race itself is a true classic, one I love watching over and over again.  The first 5 finishers finished within 4 lengths of each other spread out across the track, with Swain, who I still believe shouldve won nearly hitting the outside rail.  Skip Away still took a much deserved HOY despite his loss.  Given that, Sonny Hine had nothing to gain by going to the classic, but he was a proud man, and theres no many like him anymore.  He knew his horse hated that track, but he still went.  Because he believed in his horse, He knew Skippy was a champion win or lose, and he wanted to beat Silver Charm bad, cause champions have to race against champions, sound familiar, no matter the track.  Champions must defend their title on championship day.  Which leads to my next topic.  I respect owners and trainers.  They do what is best for the horse.  I dont blame the connections of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.  I blame the system that leaves them of the hook.  I blame the horse racing industry for not being uniformed.  Theres a lot of politics but no unity in this sport.  I could go on writing on the industrys problem, but Ill continue with the subject on hand.  We need a racing Czar.  We need a racing government.  We need a horse racing league just like every other major sport has.  The whole industry has to come together and make it happen.  That includes the racing media too.  Our championship day cannot continued to be upstaged by a certain rivalry that never materializes.  In all major sports, a champion is crowned at the end, regardless of winning record.  If the team with the best record was crowned champion then the Patriots did not need to play 2 years ago in the Super Bowl.  Now Golf and Tennis each have 4 Majors, and awards are given based on points, wins, earnings, etc.  In the end the top ranked player all year is that years top player.  Nascar has its premier event at the beginning of the year, and championship honors revolve around a point system.  All these sports including the team sports, have uniformity, if your good to go you are supposed to play, and youre supposed to race.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesnt duck Jimmy JOhnson, they face eachother almost all year.  So yes, horse racing needs to develop something that resembles a league, that includes a point system, and a government that can guarantee that the top athletes in each category compete against eachother throughout the year.  We can combine a little tennis and golf system also, as every season of the year has a culmination, or a Major Event.  Like Santa Anita in the winter, Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Week during the Spring, Saratoga and Del MAr staging an event during the summer kind of like a Sunshine Millions theme, but more like an east vs west thing.  ANd the Fall is everything leading to the Breeders Cup. This way the excitement goes around throughout the year.  And barring injury or illness, the top horses and jockeys need to show up on championship day.  The way the breeders cup looks right now, it looks more like the NFL Pro Bowl, I dont say the MLB Allstar game cause that game has a meaning now to be played for.  I say the Pro Bowl, because everybody seems to be giving the awards to Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, without giving benefit that theres other good horses out there too they havent faced.  Lets face it, Mineshaft, skipped the cup, Holy Bull Skipped the cup. If we had a racing czar, those horses if they were good to go should have ran on cup day.  Right now the Breeders Cup  continues to be a good international event.  But its failing to attract the international flavor that the Dubai World Cup attracts.  We need the Breeders Cup to be at that level.  We need our racing stars to go at it against eachother throughout the year.  Steve I miss the the late 1980s.  Nobody seemed to duck anyone during those years.  Like I mentioned before, the generations of Ferdinand, Alysheba, Snows Chief, Broad Brush, Gulch, Cryptoclearance, Waquoit, Java Gold, Creme Fraiche, Cutlass Reality,Polish Navy, Forty Niner, Lost Code, Seeking The Gold, Bet Twice,even Precisionist came back, Manila and Theatrical on the turf.  They went at it from the west coast to the east.  Some races would have 8 of these great horses, and it wasnt a breeders cup race. That was one hell of a collective rivalry between three generations. Racing was very exciting back then, and had a lot of tv coverage.  The only other generations that come close to it in the last 20 years are the 1996-1998 of Skip Away, Wills Way, Louie Quatorze,Formal Gold, Silver CHarm, Behrens, Wild Rush, Awesome Again, Gentlemen, Free House, Touch Gold, Victory Gallop, Real Quiet.  I miss the excitement that those generations brought.  Scores were settled at the racetrack, not the press conference room.  Horse Racing is becoming more like Boxing where their prize fighters dodge themselves more than elementary school kids at the playground.  The big clashes never seem to develop.  Boxing is losin the fight to MMA every year that passes.  Horse Racing is losing out to everybody period.  Interest in our sport seems to only come 5 weeks a year if we are lucky to have a triple crown contender.  Public interest revolves arund the triple crown pretty much.  So why dont we learn from our strengths.  Without the benefit of a league, every year a buzz develops with the triple crown season starting in January.  Culminating wuith having the top 3 year olds facing eachother in the Triple Crown.  I know its called derby fever, but a fever can spread also.  When the Triple Crown ends, the year goes on a remote tailspin.  Horse Racing seems lost.  The Travers, the midsummer derby to me has not had a good edition since 1987.  Steve can you recall a Travers field with that amount of depth.  Two years ago Curlin, Street Sense, Any Given Saturday and Hard Spun resembled those generations of old, but only Curlin went on to race as a 4 year old, leaving the rest of us yearning for more of that rivalry.  I am starting to think great rivalries materialize with years ending in 7 and 8.  In 67 there was Damascus, Dr, Fager and Buckpasser.  In 77 we had Seattle Slew, Exceller, Affirmed, Alydar.  In 87-88 I mentioneabove, as well as 97-98.  Go figure.  Great rivalries create drama, drama creates ratings.  If we want TV coverage, we need to create just that, rivalries and drama.  We have to create great stories, like the great John Nareud said.  Tell the general public a good story, tell them how these horses who compete are the most beautiful and talented in the world. Tell stories about the people behind the horse.  Thats why the people tune in to the Triple Crown, because of the stories.  On TV, we want to see a story, more than a handicapper making a fool of himself speaking racetrack talk.  We want to see build ups during the show, clips of past performances of the contenders, we want the anxiety to kick in, we want excitement.  We also seem to forget about the other great athlete in our sport, The Jockey.  The sport should probably be developed more around them as theyre the one who stay in the sport for the long run.The series Jockeys on Animal Planet is a good start.  The buzz that Calvin Borel during the mainstream media during the triple crown is also good, he just has to stop the Namath predictions.  We need the jockeys to standout in the sport, they put their life and well being on the line everytime they get a leg up on a horse, if you dont believe that ask Rene Douglas.  We need them to be looked on and respected by the general public and the mainstream media as great athletes, and not as anorexic passengers.  We need the MTV public.  We need the little kids to follow the sport.  We need to fill Deoartment store shelves with Horse Racing action figures and toys. Horse Racing is just not mainstream enough.  The Breeders Cup released a Video Game a few years ago, but that industry is revolves around marketing year round, video games are updated every year.  Before the NFL season starts, that years Madden Game has that years upcoming roster before it starts, with a superstar or an up and coming star on the cover.  The Breeders Cup had Ghostzapper.  My choice wouldve been Azeri, or Smarty Jones, or Afleet Alex, they were more popular with the public.  In that industry you also need continuity and be updating every year, filling the game with new stars every year.  If not that, then the game featured a classic greats from the old days, Secretariat on the cover would have been better, or a Breedrs Cup legend like Tiznow, Cigar and Alysheba.  Its marketing.  We need to learn from our mistakes, and get the sport to appeal to younger audiences, not just the betting public.  If the sport doesnt adapt to the times, it will soon be extinct.  Horse racing isnt, the only betting sport now, all major sports have domestic betting, and offshore betting, it just doesnt cater to the young crowd.  Look what the Preakness did this year.  As an industry, we have to shape up, because if we dont, our rivalries will continue to be fought at press conferences, and not at the racetrack.  Oh how I miss the good old days, I hate saying those words.  Our sport should be bigger than Rachel Alexandra vs Zenyatta, its too bad right now it is not.

03 Jul 2009 1:42 AM

If Rachel and Zenyatta do not meet, and each wins her remaining starts(Rachel wins Haskell/Travers, Ruffian?, Beldame? and Zenyatta wins the Hirsch, Ladys Secret, and Distaff) the Horse of the Year decision would be easy; it would be Rachel, and by a wide voting margin. With a win in the Haskel or Travers and one or two other gr.1 victories vs. fillies(including elders in the Ruffian and/or Beldame), Rachel will have put together one of the absolutely best campaigns by a 3 year old filly in history. Although Zenyatta would be 14 for 14 in her career, HER SEASON(5 for 5) would be weaker than Rachel's SEASON(8 for 8 or 9 for 9).

The Horse of the Year is not a reflection of career achievement, but only for what occurred between Jan1st and Dec31st of a given calender year. Thus, Personal Ensign, although retiring an undefeated 13 for 13, lost the 1988 Horse of the Year title to Alysheba, a horse "only" 11 for 26 in his career.  As it concerns the 2009 Horse of Year, Zenyatta's accomplishments last year are basically irrelevant, although it certainly is in the back of voters' minds and does enhance her reputation. Yet this enhancement of reputation can only go so far; she will have to go out and actually produce strong performances the remainder of the year to deserve this year's top honor.

Given the manner in which Eclipse Awards are determined , racing is very different from boxing, in which a champion maintains his belt across calender years until beaten. Thus, it makes little sense to argue that "Zenyatta holds the belt, so it's Rachel's task, as the challenger, to travel out to the champion's home track".  If racing were like this, I guess it would mean that Mine That Bird needs to fly to Dubai and challenge Midshipman, the crop's champion of last year.  Given the way Eclispe Awards are actually determined, Rachel is undoubtedly the current leader, so if there is an impetus on either Rachel or Zenyatta to run against the other, it's really on Zenyatta.

However, if Zenyatta were to win the Classic instead of the Distaff, it would make the Horse of the Year a virtual toss-up. A win by a female racehorse in the Classic would represent a truly historic accomplishment. Of all the great female racehorses to have raced in the 25 years since the Breeders Cup was established in 1984, only a very small number of them challenged males in the Classic. Of those females to have run in the Classic, the best finishes were a 3rd by European import Jolypha in 1992, and Azeri's 5th in 2004. That's it folks. And it wasnt like the 80s and 90s lacked quality fillies and mares; in fact, those two decades could easily be considered a golden age for female racehorses in North America, producing far more Hall of Fame females than males, including some females of truly historic talent and accomplishment.  As good as many of the females over the last 25 years have been, the Classic and its larger purse was repeatedly turned down in favor of the Distaff and its much smaller purse but greater likelihood of victory.

Even if Zenyatta were not to win the Classic, winning the Distaff instead, she still could make the Horse of the Year voting close by substituting the gr.1 Goodwood vs. males for a projected start in the Ladys Secret. A win in the Goodwood and then the Distaff would be a strong 1-2 punch to close the year, and give Zenyatta something Rachel already has, a win over males in a grade 1.

This remains just speculation. Both horses need to stay healthy, and keep winning. Races like the Haskell, Travers, Goodwood, Classic, Distaff, and even Beldame and Clement Hirsch are not walkovers, and present many challenges. It is entirely possible neither Rachel nor Zenyatta wins Horse of the Year. As it stands NOW, Rachel with her 6 for 6 record, 3 grade 1 wins, victory in the Preakness and two 19+ length wins in the Oaks and Mother Goose, is the frontrunner for Horse of the Year. Yet, much racing remains. And even if neither wins the Horse of the Year, both Rachel and Zenyatta are heavy favorites to win at least 1 Eclipse Award each, Rachel for 3 year old filly(is there any way she could not win that now?), and Zenyatta for older filly or mare(with just 2 races, she needs to keep on running well).

03 Jul 2009 2:19 AM

Soldier Course:

Thanks for the specifics on A Huevo's final race. I knew it was not a happy ending. The former ESPN weekly show, Racing Digest, had a camera crew at the West Virginia Breeders Classics that year (and others) because the WV Classics were a key advertiser of the show.


Was Bedouin a gray? I think I remember a very popular claimer running in SoCal in the late 80s/early 90s, right when I was getting into the sport, that was a gray named Bedouin.

Ann in Lexington:

I mentioned Phone Trick, briefly, when discussing Groovy. I know many in California thought alot of Phone Trick, and his name was thrown around as one of the best recent sprinters when I started to get into racing in 1989. I know Dick Mandella thought the world of Phone Trick, and I do think he had a Beyer over 122. Between 1986 and 1993, I think Beyer identified 8 horses to earn a fig over 122, and Phone Trick was one of them.

03 Jul 2009 3:34 AM
Saratoga AJ

Why was Zenyatta scratched from that race at Churchill in May. Because of rain? They fear an off track? If she is so great, why were the connections so opposed to running her then? Lack of confidence?

On the other hand, RA runs and wins easily on any and all tracks, regardless of the weather. Wet dry or in between. Another reason why she will get HOTY if they both run the table without meeting one another.

Zenyatta will be HOTY in California, Rachel everywhere else. Unless Zen comes East to the tracks of champions, and proves she is not just a California wonder.  

03 Jul 2009 7:13 AM

I think Jackson is just scared of Zenyatta. The truth of the matter is that is the two were to compete, Zenyatta would have every chance of winning because of her skill. But also, after watching the Mother Goose, Rachel would also have a very good chance. She was in last until the stretch, where her stride opened up and she won by 20 lengths. Zenyatta has never won by that much, but I think she could if she wanted too.

After Z-Baby's amazing race, I would love to see her at the Breeders Cup, defending her title. It would be truly amazing to see these 2 horses race in the future.

03 Jul 2009 10:25 AM
Matthew W

Dray I am listening--I KNOW she doesn't have to go West--I'm saying she SHOULD if she's all that! Zen is undefeated and that should mean something---shipping 6'k miles for a BCup prep is bogus! What are you so afraid of, Mr super-filly-no-horse-better---yet you're afraid of a Cali horse???!!!!

03 Jul 2009 10:25 AM
Matthew W

Dray the Breeders Cup's at Santa Anita not Longacres! Hey maybe in her next race you can box Rachel with Trooper Seven, Grey Papa and Chinook Pass, but if ya wanna test your filly against the best, come on out to the Cup, come for two ifya want! Either that of stay away/duck her/Zenyatta's going in the Breeders Cup with or without Rachel---Zen has not ducked anybody, she is a Cali horse/runs in the Cali Graded stakes program/runs in the Breeders Cup vs all comers.....

03 Jul 2009 10:33 AM

Saratoga AJ you are 100% correct.

Let me make it simple for everyone Rachel Alexandra is making history as a 3 year old and carving a path no horse in history has ever gone down.  Zenyatta is protecting her perfect record....and by the way its been done.

Tiznowbaby... I have seen a couple of times in the last 50 years better then Rachel's... that's a COUPLE in the last 50 years. And my point remains if Borel lets her finish and she ties Secretariat's track record we are talking about her being the greatest 3 year old filly ever aren't we.....

03 Jul 2009 10:38 AM
Matthew W

Saratoga AJ you're conceding Rachel is unable to beat Zen in Cali????? I thought she was the real champion, real champs can win everywhere, even Cali, THAT'S where the Breeders Cup is--in Cali!! No sir, this time, perhaps for the first time since Ack Ack, the onus is on the East coaster to come West---like I say, if she's all that-- come out West to the BRreeders Cup and PROVE IT!! Otherwise stay home and hide.....

03 Jul 2009 10:39 AM
Matthew W

I guess if these two great fillies win out, and Zenyatta beats males in the Classic, the real vote will be Dirt v Synthetics, and if Zen goes unbeaten and gets zilch for 2nd time, they should strip the Cup from California tracks as it means nothing unless it's on dirt, or mud, or whatever/anything but synthetics....but yes I'm gripping! For more reasons than Zen/Rachel, it seems that it's ALWAYS been that way---West HAS to go East, no matter what, if I'm Moss/Shirreffs I just say stick to the plan, face the boys in Breeders Cup, do everything asked, remain undefeated, and retire California Champ---I'll take that cuz ya can't please everyone anyway.....

03 Jul 2009 11:16 AM

Steve, did  your comment below take into account the fact  that Zenyatta started her racing career at age four. Consequently she has only been on the track for one year.

“Most owners would not have even kept Zenyatta in training at age 5 after all she accomplished last year.”

Zenyatta is an exceptional mare whose undefeated record has a lot to do with her enormous ability and a little with the time she commenced her racing career. When she commenced her racing career she was a mature 4YO. She did not have to race against the best of her age group while still in a developmental phase. It must be noted that she did not face the best colts or fillies from her crop. She did not face Oaks & Belmont winner Rags To Riches or 2YO champion Dreaming of Ann who both defeated colts. RTR defeated eventual HOY Curlin a feat that far supersedes Zenyatta’s 11 wins in a row. To some extent, the career of both Zenyatta & Curlin two exceptionally talented horses, have been aided and abetted by certain eventualities. In the case of Zenyatta, RTR got injured and was retired in the prime of her career. Dreaming of Anna was restricted to Turf. In the case of Curlin his career was helped significantly by the purchase and retirement by Darley of Hard Spun, Street Sense &Any Given Saturday. All three colts had defeated Curlin. In the case of Hard Spun he defeated Curlin twice. He was a May foal that would have been better as 4YO.

On the subject of RA and Zenyatta, it’s a no contest in favor RA on any surface they meet. RA is a maturing & improving champion filly whose high cruising speed and explosive turn of foot is like nothing Zenyatta has ever faced. The question that must be asked and answered is how Zenyatta will defeat RA? If the answer is, Zenyatta will close her usual 8-10 lengths off the pace, she will very little chance of defeating RA. One is a mare that has been managed to protect her undefeated record and the other is a filly that is already rewriting the history books.  It is scary to think that RA is only 3YRS, 5mnts old. She has done in her last six victories what Zenyatta has not done in her 11 victories so far.

03 Jul 2009 11:20 AM
Mattyhew W

Emilio P I love your blog writing! Here's another good year that comes to mind--1993! What a three year old crop! Holy Bull was fantastic! Concern was too! Go For Gin won the Derby....but Tabasco Cat probably should have won the Triple Crown, that's one helluva bunch of three year olds! And it showed in the Classic! And you hit it on the head when you said racing lets people off the hook, I mean, if you want to duck the Breeders Cup, fine, but why reward a horse for that? Otherwise there IS NO championship event!

03 Jul 2009 11:26 AM


    I love your idea of uniformity and leagues. I actually think it be cool to have a set up like the NFL, where you have the NFC and the AFC. If i got the two parts wrong sorry i don't really get into football. I also think it would be real cool to almost divide it into a west coast and east coast thing, that way at where ever the championships may be held it will kind of give them that rivalry spice. Though i don't like synthetics i wouldn't mind if we alternated between dirt and synthetics each year to keep it fair, and interesting. I also think this may promote more stamina and versitility within the breed, meaning by alternating surfaces. This is just my litte rough draft plan of an idea and is open to critique by anyone.

03 Jul 2009 11:27 AM

Draynay, you are just too funny!

Since the BC keeps adding races, why don't they add one more: The Zenya Alexander for fillies and mares who people want to see race each other. But have large cash prizes for horses that finish behind, such as a cash amount for 3 lengths or 10 lengths, equal money and equal weight, this way each horse will have a race scenario that is needed to run their best.  A large field for those who think RA has beaten nobody, and a good pace for Zen to run at RA.

Or, have an unofficial match race, these two horses accidently work out on the same track, the same time of day, under conditions similar to a race, this way, when one loses, no records are blemished.

03 Jul 2009 11:31 AM

Matt W,

    You say that RA is hiding yet she has 6 race this year at five tracks in five different states i believe. Zenyatta has two races against absolutely nobody, the only horse she faced was LIS. Her last race was a more like a ungraded stakes feild. Also her two races have come all in one state at one track this year. Has RA faced better, IMO, yes. Fillies that she beat in the Oaks have come back and done well in other races. In the Preakness not everyone was on their game but she did beat a lightly raced MTB and guttsy MM. In the mother goose Flashing is a graded stakes winner, and Malibu Prayer had won her last two by over 20 lengths total. Zenyattas connections look to be doing the more hiding of the two.

03 Jul 2009 11:35 AM

Also Matt,

   Curlin shipped about double that all year long before the Cup and he still went. Roughly he shipped about 15000 miles before the Cup. If Zenyatta is so great why can't she travel.

03 Jul 2009 11:38 AM

Matthew... Come on now stop it. The Breeders Cup is one race. You can't just hide in California and expect to be anything but a state champion.

You can't avoid running where all the previous champions raced and call yourself a true champion. You can't make it to the age of 5 AND STILL never taken on the boys. A champion is made by rising to the challenges.  Zenyatta will not ship east and race...as a matter of fact she won't even race in the mud !!! Lol... Matthew you can take her blazing 1:48 and enjoy yourself because she is always going to be second fiddle to Rachel unless she steps it up and faces her or males in the BC.

03 Jul 2009 11:42 AM

If I were Zenyatta and deserved to be as persnickety as I wanted to be, I wouldn't tolerate being in a detention barn either.  Freak out!

03 Jul 2009 11:57 AM
Matthew W

I mean Winning Colors was a TOP filly...she beat the boys by TEN in SA Derby/then won The Derby/placed in Preakness--- she had to go East to face off with Personal Ensign in BC Prep/BCup itself....although Alysheba beat them both for HOY---what a year!

03 Jul 2009 12:05 PM
Saratoga AJ

Matthew W:

I am not conceding anything. RA ran and won over a synthetic track last year. But Jackson has it in for SA, no doubt about it. And he's a native Californian! He's in the catbird's seat with RA, and he knows it.

Zen is a wonderful mare who is getting short changed by her connections. Staying in California and beating up on the same horses over one or two tracks will do nothing for her legacy.

If both horses run the table, including RA winning the Travers or Haskell, and even if Zen wins the BC Classic, I guaranty you RA gets HOTY. She's the most popular horse in the country right now. Hell, she just finished a photo shoot for Vogue Magazine's August issue! A horse in a woman's fashion magazine! Will be right on the cover too.

RA has already won in what, 5 different states over 5 different tracks, both fast and sloppy, while Zen just keeps running at one or two tracks on an artificial surface. If you think that's going to endear her to most of the turf writers when HOTY voting takes place, you're dreaming.  

So lets still hold out some hope that Shirreffs realizes he has to take Zen off the "Left Coast",  brings her here to the tracks of champions, and meets RA for all the marbles. And HOTY.

03 Jul 2009 12:14 PM
Lady Ruffian


Everything you said in your: 02 Jul 2009 4:51 PM post I agree with you hands down. I wasn't thrilled when i saw that Curlin was further back then usual and when R.Alberado made the move I pretty much knew from there it was done b/c horses even further off the pace then Curlin  wait to make their move deeper into the  stretch at Santa Anita. My husband was like 'he has it' and I pretty much sat down and shook my head! Didn't change how much I loved watching him run though, I didn't get to go to the BC last year, but I'm pumped to go this time around!

03 Jul 2009 12:14 PM

Can someone tell me why: if RA is so good on a track in any kind of weather - then why can't she run on ProRide in Santa Anita?

OK so she's persnickety about it.  Doesn't Keenland have some kind of track that is in between dirt and ProRide?  Just a compromising thought, and I'm sure Moss and Jackson have thought about it.  I personally think either of them want to ruin their horses records, because one will loose.

As an aside: Churchill having races at night is The Best Way to bring racing back.  More people are able to come then because they are off work and ready to party.  I don't know what it does to the horses' biological clocks though.

03 Jul 2009 12:18 PM

What a great crop last years was and is !!! Count the millionaires ! One of the best crops in many moons.

03 Jul 2009 12:39 PM
Karen in Texas

merrywriter---It is precisely BECAUSE Rachel can run "so good on a track in any kind of weather" that she doesn't NEED to run on Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. Mr. Jackson is making a statement about his disdain for synthetics--Rachel has done/is doing enough to secure her position in racing history without his compromising his stance.(Yes, she has run on a synthetic track before.)

The turf writer at a large newspaper here in the D/FW area has listed "a line on the race for Horse of the Year" in this morning's edition. He does not state the source of the "odds". Rachel Alexandra leads at 5-2; Einstein is second at 5-1; Zenyatta is third at 6-1; and Mine That Bird is fourth at 8-1. I thought it was interesting.

03 Jul 2009 1:09 PM

Emilio P, your perceptions are so clear.  The frustration you expressed with the Racing Industry and its decline over time is most telling and quite dishearting.

The measures you stated seem so obvious as ways to absolutely increase racing's fan base and credibility.

As written on this blog and articles in Bloodhorse, a racing czar must be installed.


1. Ensure the safety and care of unwanted and retired racehorses.  For example, through fees paid for by owners.  A myriad of quality recommendations stand ready to accomplish this endeavor.

2. Regulations that are understood by all trainers for all tracks, regarding drugs, vitamins, and other "supplements".  

3. Strong punishments for those who push the envelope.  The jockeys and horses lives are at stake.

Finally, I just have to say that the horses as most animals always pay the price for human actions.  Its not just racing.  The way I see it, it is the luck of the draw.  There are human beings who are viable, responsible, and caring.  And then, there are the others.

03 Jul 2009 1:22 PM
Mike S

These people who say "You can't just stay in California and expect to be anything but a state champion" would not say that about a horse that stayed in New York.

By the way, guys and gals, Southern California and New York have the best racing in the USA so when you put down either racing center you're putting down the whole industry. And there's no comparing ZENYATTA and Southern California racing to PEPPER'S PRIDE and New Mexico Racing (especially exclusively New Mexico bred races).

Let's at least try to keep it real.

03 Jul 2009 1:23 PM

Dray, if you've seen a couple of times better than Rachel's in the past 50 years, then why did you ask the question? I merely answered your original question, and yes, some 3YO fillies in the past 50 years have run faster than Rachel, and at least one has beaten the Derby winner.

GunBow, I have rarely seen Eclipse awards come down to what a horse has done between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. It usually takes just two or three good races, or sometimes just a good BC race. It does seem odd that BC races alone have in the past awarded championships (cough, Lahudood, Ouija Board, cough), but now that it's on synth, they won't count as much.

Coldfacts, I do not agree with you that Rags' and Rachel's feat of beating colts is necessarily more impressive. Girls beating boys, even in American classics, is more common than going undefeated while running at a high level.

I love Zenyatta, but the decision to put her on the shelf for so long compromised her chances for HOTY. That was their decision for a healthy, happy horse, but they cannot complain if she doesn't win HOTY. I understand not wanting her to run in the mud at Churchill after a 5-month layoff, but again, they have compromised her chances for HOTY. At this point, with their stated goal being the Breeders Cup, it is to late to ship East because that would compromise her BC chances.

I think she has to win the BC Classic to have a shot. If Rachel wins the Haskell, she leaves the door open to Zen, for me, because I don't put as much weight on that race. If Rachel wins the Travers, the door is shut and HOTY is done, even if Mine That Bird runs the table or if Zen wins the Classic. (But if little Bird wins the Travers and the Classic, he should get HOTY).

But hey, I don't get to vote.

03 Jul 2009 1:53 PM
Matthew W

Saratoga AJ so we agree, Jess had a hissy fit and needs to come West so you don't have to concede anything!

03 Jul 2009 2:14 PM
Matthew W

What's lost on all this is if The Breeders Cup is back East--Zenyatta's THERE! The deafening silence of the lack of open criticism of Jess Jackson is palpable---Dubai trumped the Breeders Cup last year in (U.S.) Eclipse voting---this year it seems to be "any race Rachel is it" that will trump Zenyatta---who once again will race in the California graded program, including the Breeders Cup and it seems will be once again punnished thus....

03 Jul 2009 2:25 PM
Matthew W

The thing is, I just love these two, And I want to see them together, it should be out here in the Breeders Cup, or else after, in the Clark/up the purse to a mil/or TWO....but no way should the unbeaten mare do the 6K prep route to the Breeders Cup---RACING needs to stand by THEIR RACES and the horses who run in them....

03 Jul 2009 2:47 PM
Lady Ruffian

Has anyone thought that pehraps theres more important things for the Mosses to wory about then Zenyatta getting horse of the year? Honestly, I think she was given such a long break because she was either burnt out, lame (speculation only guys), or simply deserved a long vacation. I love that mare, I think shes an amazingly beautiful animal who brings alot of excitment to horse racing. I've said many times I think she'd beat Rachel (my opinion everyone is entitled) if that meeting ever happened. I think that the Mosses have done what is right by Zenyatta from the start & that should be applauded not criticised.

Zenyatta has beaten everyone put up against her. Winning one difficult race isn't an easy task. Winning 11 in a row is almost unheard of. Yes, Pepper's Pride went 19-0, but she didn't defeat any upper level horses the way Zenyatta has... but that shouldn't make what she did less of an accomplishment. Zenyatta is a top tier runner. So is Rachel. It would be a great thing for the sport if they met up. If not, IMO, it would be just as great for Zenyatta to have her retire undefeated in 14 starts... esp because most horses are retired after 6 or 7 races. Its sad that longevity now is only 14 races... horses used to run for years before they were retired to the breeding shed. now the real race isn't on the track, its back to the barn.

anyway, there are more important aspects to racing then winning horse of the year, i guess that is my point with this post...

03 Jul 2009 3:09 PM

If Rachel Alexander and Zenyatta raced on "ladies day" in the Breeders Cup, think about race attendance both days.  It would skyrocket.  And, don't you know the Breeders Cup would have major TV coverage on both days?

What's so bad about that?  So, they don't meet the boys, so what.  It would sure add drama to ladies' day.

I bet Jess Jackson would ship Rachel to CA for a race he thinks he could win and yet,at the same time, face another champion.

03 Jul 2009 3:38 PM

Mike S,

    I'm on the east coast and i can tell you if a horse stayed in NY i would call them a state Champion too. I kinda sorta think of Music Note as one because all her wins have come over a track in NY. Then again i can go the other way because she has gone out of state and has run well, more than once. I don't know what your problem is but i can tell you from experience there is no bias. The only thing we don't like from my stand point is your plastic stuff. I hate it, but as i said in my previous post to be even i would alternate each year between synthetics and dirt if they won't be taken away.

03 Jul 2009 3:50 PM

Mike S.  Personal Ensign won at Churchill, Belmont, and Saratoga... like all previous champions.  Zenyatta has ZERO wins on these tracks and will not race outside of California ALL YEAR.  It is hard to consider her anything but a state champion. GunBow I was aware of only one time faster and I think everyone will agree if she was not eased so early in the race she had a chance to get close to Secretariats record but the point is she EASILY ran one of the fastest times for a filly in history... yet few have made the point.  The other point is I am still looking for a filly that beat a male Derby winner like Rachel did and have not found her yet... have you?

03 Jul 2009 4:10 PM

Seabiscuit and War Admiral had a face off. Why cant Zenyatta and Rachel? Add a few other mares and fillys and your set!

03 Jul 2009 4:30 PM
Mike S

What is it with some of you people? Comments like "I don't know what your problem is" are out of place and rude. There is definitely an East Coast bias, and it has existed since I started going to the races, at the age of 9, in 1972, and I imagine it was there prior to that as well. Thank God the East Coast bias is growing less and less powerful over the years. Hallelujah.

ZENYATTA doesn't have to win at Belmont, Saratoga, Aqueduct or Churchill Downs to be great. She has won at Santa Anita, Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Oaklawn Park. She's great already, and there is no way to legitimately dispute that fact.

03 Jul 2009 5:00 PM

I´d like to wish everyone a happy 4th of July tomorrow.  And like to thank everybody for their props.

To Draynay, two fillies that come to my mind are the great My Juliet who defeated Derby winner Bold Forbes.  And Melair who defeated a Preakness winner in Snow Chief in the 1986 Silver Screen Handicap in a spectacular time and fashion.  Those two fillies are two of the most underrated fillies in the last 40 years.  Usually they are never mentioned as one of the greats, which is ridiculous.  Rachel Alexandra is a great filly and should be applauded, shes already on the history books.

03 Jul 2009 5:38 PM
Saratoga AJ

Mike S.

If there is an "east coast bias" there's a reason for that. The classic tracks are all there. The Triple Crown tracks, the oldest track in the country, the largest horse breeding state(Kentucky)...the greatest racing meet in the world (Saratoga)...are all there. Santa Anita has the best history of the California tracks...the first $100,000 race (SA Handicap)..and all. But it's no longer the same track that greats like Seabiscuit ran on. Too bad.

03 Jul 2009 6:55 PM

Great article Steve! I like your idea! I hope they do meet at some point although I have to say I would be hoping for a dead heat as I love them both and would not like to see either of them lose!

Dray - Zenyatta won the Breeders Cup in 146.85 without being extended either.  I also believe she has a track or at least stakes record to her credit-at 1 1/16 I believe although I do not remember which race and have not researched it. Anybody?   It would be a great race by two wonderful horses!

03 Jul 2009 7:08 PM

Mike S. you are right... Zenyatta is a great state champion.  Your list of all time greats would be very very short who didn't have a win at Churchill, Belmont or Saratoga....very short !

03 Jul 2009 7:27 PM

Mike S,

    Your acting like i cursed you out, which i didn't. I said i dont know what your problem is because you seem to have a problem with the east coast, like a chip on your shoulder. So as i said i don't know what your problem is, but it's yours and i'm not going to try and disect it. There is no bias, i live on the coast, and as i said the only thing we don't really like, most of us is the synthetics. You had two horses who'd never raced over a mile, never ran on dirt win the classic in under two minutes. Theres something wierd going on there. No i'm no sujesting foul play, but the track is wierd. It played like the turf did at last years Man o War, like a Dover Downs on NASCAR weekend for turf horses. As i said if a horse stayed in NY, or for any one state of that matter i'd call them a state champion. The tracks you said Zenyatta has raced over are all but one in Cali. Almost half her races/wins have come at one track. She has only left town once, never going out of her comfort zone after. She is a state champion, a very good one with the potential to do more, but still a state champion none the less.

03 Jul 2009 8:07 PM

EmilioP do you know of any 3yr old Filly that has beaten a male Derby winner?  Bold Forbes got beat in a sprint but did any male Derby winner get beat by a 3 year old filly before ?

03 Jul 2009 8:13 PM

Geez, Dray, can you not read?

Silver Spoon beat Tommy Lee six weeks after he won the Derby. She was 3.

03 Jul 2009 9:32 PM
Greg J.


     Zenyatta set the track record at Del Mar last year in the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap, She was the 124-pound high weight in the field of eight, She went 1 1/16 in 1:41.48, She broke the record of 1:41.57(Well Armed).

03 Jul 2009 9:41 PM
Greg J.


     FYI, 1905 Belmont Winner, "Tanya", Who was a filly, Beat 1905 Kentucky Derby Winner, "Agile" Twice in 1905.  So, YES, There has been a 3 year old Filly that beat a Kentucky Derby Winner!, You act like it is a Big Deal, Happens all the time, lol...

03 Jul 2009 9:45 PM

Dray: once again: Twilight Tear over everybody in 1942.  An amazing racing filly - and later, a great producer: A Gleam, A Glitter, etc.  I think she was raced by Calumet, which wasn't afraid to run fillies against colts ever.  That was also back in the 40's, when good horses had to race against other good horses in the few big races and not avoid each other to save undefeated records.  

03 Jul 2009 10:20 PM
Mike S

Geez Louise...for corn's sake...what in the world is going on with some of the people in here? I didn't act like you cursed me out, but you're surely out of line talking about my "problem." I am alive, so I definitely have problems, but I don't have any problems that relate to anything going on in here. But to get back to the topic at hand - The East Coast bias, or at least its power, is dying. Thank heaven.

I have lived much of my life in Southern California but I also lived in New York for 6 years, starting in 1998, and I loved the racing at Belmont and Aqueduct. I have no "problem" with New York's racing, its quality is on par with Southern California quality-wise.

I do have an issue with this presumption that many East-Coasters seem to have that a New York based horse deserves more respect, or even championship honors, because he's based in the East. It's ridiculous. I've pointed out several glaring examples of this bias before. In 1971 COUGAR II should have been Champion Turf Horse, but RUN THE GANTLET got it instead. I think COUGAR II should have been champion handicap horse in 1972, because his overall record was much better than AUTOBIOGRAPHY's. In 1979 EXCELLER should have been champion on turf but MAC DIARMADA got it. And as much as I loved SUSAN'S GIRL (a beautiful mare, and a great champion, and one of my all time favorites) her 1975 Older Female award was unfair since TIZNA had beaten her in almost all their meetings, except one at Belmont. Of course the East Coast crowd gave the award to SUSAN'S GIRL anyway. You know how it goes..."The New York Hoss is Always Better!" ;)

I don't care if New Yorkers hate synthetics, I don't like synthetic tracks either. But synthetic tracks are what we have here in California now, and it's not the horse's fault that the tracks have gone "plastic." COLONEL JOHN just runs on the track that is beneath his feet, he didn't lay it down. WELL ARMED is a very fine horse, and he's not responsible for racetrack management's decisions. And ZENYATTA is clearly a great horse, and to criticize her for the type of footing that she is running on is ridiculous.

Jerry Moss is rich, but he can't lay down a dirt track for ZENYATTA when she runs just to make you happy - he runs on the track that exists, because that's just the way it goes. Mr. Moss doesn't have to leave Southern California (a great place to live) to go to New York and race, this is his home! Many owners and trainers (Bob Baffert, for example) have said they don't like synthetics, but what can they do? I guess they could all make a mad dash to Long Island and live and race there, but why uproot your life to win the approval of biased racing fans? The quality of California racing is on par with New York.

By the way, FOREGO, in my opinion, was Top 10 of all time. He went to Florida one year and ran very well. But I can't fault FOREGO for never coming to California. FOOLISH PLEASURE and ROYAL GLINT came out here. SUSAN'S GIRL went back and forth all the time. Criticizing FOREGO would be absurd and he would still be in the Top 10 even if he had never spent that one winter in Florida, and the fact he never came to California doesn't matter. I am going to apply the same standard to ZENYATTA - great is great, and it's easily recognized, and it doesn't matter that she hasn't gone to New York.

04 Jul 2009 1:42 AM

yeah...gee... I see it happens every 50 to 100 years.  I guess its safe to say Rachel is the only filly to beat a Derby winner in a Triple Crown race unless you can find another filly from 100 years ago....

04 Jul 2009 2:30 AM

Martin and Monica:

I believe the last meeting of Kentucky Derby winners came in the 1991 Breeders Cup Classic, when Unbridled(90') met Strike the Gold(91'). Unbridled ran 3rd with Strike the Gold behind him.

04 Jul 2009 5:00 AM

Emilio: Thanks for the thought and effort you put into your post. Certainly my kind of post. I agree with the strength of  97-98 racing, particularly among the males, as well as racing between 86 and 89.  Your post accurately addresses some of the key weaknesses of the thoroughbred racing industry, and I agree with the need for greater coordination and centralization and better promotion. The fragility of the thoroughbred, combined with the emphasis on breeding over racing and  conservative/cautious training philosophies make it difficult to market our equine stars, so I definitely concur with your suggestion to emphasize our jockeys as much as possible.

04 Jul 2009 5:09 AM

I am not one of those who believe that a horse that races almost exclusively in California cannot be considered great, or is undeserving of an Eclipse/Horse of the Year. Given a horse based in California faces quality competition, wins important grade 1 races, and gives impressive performances(margin of victory, time, weight, trouble, post, etc), the horse need not leave the state to be deserving of a Horse of the Year any more than if the horse was based in New York.  Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar are every bit the "Tracks of Champions" that Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct are;  in my opinion, racing in California is equal to racing in New York.

With this said, I do rank a horse higher the greater its versatility, which includes the ability to run and win at different tracks in different regions. The value of winning outside a particular state, and the critique of Zenyatta for having done so only once, is relevant ONLY because of how strong Rachel Alexandra's Horse of the Year credentials are. If there was no Rachel, the need for Zenyatta to race outside of California in order to win the Horse of the Year would be much less pressing. Without Rachel, Zenyatta likely would be able to win Horse of the Year by simply repeating what she did last year(winning the Hirsch, Ladys Secret, and Breeders Cup), even if her final race was in the Distaff rather than the Classic. However, given that Rachel has put together a truly historic season to date, Zenyatta must respond by accomplishing some historic things herself. Retiring undefeated would certainly place Zenyatta's career among the  best of all time, but her 2009 record(with wins in the Hirsch, Ladys Secret and Distaff), which the Horse of the Year will be based upon(an award for a season not a career), would not be the equal of Rachel's season.

Racing outside of California is not the only option open for the Zenyatta camp to increase their mare's chances for Horse of the Year. A win against grade 1 older males in the Goodwood or BC Classic would accomplish alot as well, with a win in the latter possibly being enough to secure Horse of the Year should Rachel lose one of her remaining races. However, I personally would love Zenyatta to BOTH race outside of California, preferrably against Rachel, and run against males, although I recognize this is asking alot. If I had to choose, I would prefer Zenyatta racing outside of California(vs. females) to running against males in California, because the former would allow for the Zenyatta-Rachel matchup so many of us want to see.  I also hope that if Zenyatta were to meet Rachel on dirt back East, Jess Jackson would be more likely to reciprocate and run Rachel in the Breeders Cup. Lastly, while I do not believe that Zenyatta needs to run in another race outside of California to be considered "great", running and winning a grade 1 in New York or Kentucky would go a long way in elevating her position among the all-time elites.

Thus, to sum, while I do not believe a horse needs to run outside of California to be considered great or win Horse of the Year, in this particular year, given Rachel's amazing season, I do think Zenyatta needs to venture beyond the Golden State(or defeat males in a grade 1) if she is to take racing's top honor. And I would be stressing the need for Zenyatta to win outside of her "home" state if she were based in New York as well. For me, it is not a question of California being an "inferior" circuit, because I believe it is as strong as any circuit in the country. Instead, it is about a wonderful mare, having already established herself as "great", testing her limits and pushing for immortality.  

How much could one more race outside of California affect Zenyatta's place in history?  To assess this, a look back at the horse Zenyatta is chasing, the Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, is illustrative. In many regards, Personal Ensign was the "New York Zenyatta".  Personal Ensign ran the first 8 races of her career at the SAME track, Belmont Park. After breaking her maiden by over 12, Personal Ensign won the gr.1 Frizette by a head before being sidelined with injury. She was only able to return to the races in September of 1987, winning two allowances prior to taking the gr.2 Rare Perfume and gr.1 Beldame against older fillies. Personal Ensign started her Eclipse winning 1988 season with wins in the gr.1 Shuvee and Hempstead to bring her career record to 8 for 8. Again, however, all 8 of these wins came at Belmont. Personal Ensign was able to win her next two starts away from Belmont, but she didnt venture far, running at Monmouth in nearby New Jersey, and then Saratoga. What made that Saratoga race significant, though, is that it was against males in the gr.1 Whitney, as Personal Ensign defeated Gulch and Kings Swan in a 3 horse field. Following these two races at regional tracks, Personal Ensign returned to Belmont yet again, running down Winning Colors in the gr.1 Maskette(Go For Wand), and then winning the gr.1 Beldame easily.

After Personal Ensign's first 12 starts, her record was very similar to what Zenyatta has done to this point of her career.  Personal Ensign had won 10 of her 12 races at one track, Belmont Park, and 11 of her 12 races in one state, New York, with the lone other start coming in neighboring New Jersey. If there was a definition of a "regional phenomenon" or "Horse for course", Personal Ensign appeared to be it. Yet, there was also little doubt that Personal Ensign was a great horse, already having captured 7 grade 1 races with 2 grade 2 victories. In comparison, Zenyatta has 5 grade 1 wins and 4 grade 2 victories through her first 11 starts. Of significance to the above discussion, Personal Ensign had done something Zenyatta has yet to do, run against and defeat males in a grade 1 race. On the other hand, Personal Ensign had not won a Breeders Cup race, having been held out of the 87' Distaff when it was run at Hollywood Park.

Had Personal Ensign been retired after her 12th race, there is little question she would still have made it to the Hall of Fame. However, would she have been the #4 ranked female by the Bloodhorse in its Top 100 of the 20th Century(behind Ruffian, Busher, Gallorette)?  While that win over Gulch in the Whitney was historic, ultimately the race that solidified Personal Ensign's place in history, and legitmized her undefeated record, was the 88' Breeders Cup Distaff. Not only was the 88' Distaff a great race with an exciting finish, but Personal Ensign was finally able to prove herself outside of New York, against that year's Kentucky Derby winner no less. In winning the 88' Distaff, Personal Ensign defeated a truly national field comprised of the very best females, including the aforementioned Derby winner, Winning Colors, as well as 7-time grade 1 winner Goodbye Halo. And she did this all on a track she clearly struggled with for much of the race, something which only added to the legend of the performance.

The 1988 Breeders Cup Distaff was just one race, one of 13 races Personal Ensign won to retire undefeated. Yet, this one race completely changed how we would view Personal Ensign, elevating her from a relatively regional champion to immortality. Zenyatta(or should I say her connections) has the opportunity to race into immortality as well. Unlike Personal Ensign in 1988, Zenyatta is not going to be "pushed" outside her preferred region in search of Breeders Cup glory, given the Breeders Cup is being held at Santa Anita for the second straight year. While there is no Breeders Cup outside of California tempting Zenyatta with immortality, there is Rachel Alexandra and a potential matchup on dirt back East. If Zenyatta were to come out and defeat Rachel in a race like the Beldame and then go on and win the Distaff(or even more ambitiously, win the Classic) and retire 14 for 14, there would be a whole nation(hopefully including Dray and Saratoga AJ) ready to place her alongside Personal Ensign among the very greatest female racehorses of all time.

04 Jul 2009 7:22 AM

Greg J, I agree that fillies beat colts all the time but giving one example from a hundred years ago isn't proving your point very well. xDD

04 Jul 2009 8:15 AM

Greg J,

    You named three fillies. That does not qualify as all the time. While i don't agree with Dray's methods of saying his opinion, i do agree that this filly is great. She has two stakes records to her credit, while do it easily. She almost broke the Oaks stakes record on that disgusting muddy track winning by an easy 20. She has a Classic win to her credit, facing some of the top 3yr old males in the country. She can lead or be rated, and always has one heck of a turn of foot. This is one great filly and if her and Zen met i don't think Zen could close the distance RA opens.

04 Jul 2009 8:22 AM

Gun Bow, yes, Bedoin was a gray.  I got very lucky with him.  Had remembered him from his stakes days with Elmendorf.  SA used to run some low end mile and sixteenth full field races for their get out (9th in those days) - Had gone down to Clocker's Corner to watch their final warm up - There was this gray full of fire.  Dancing and prancing - Pincay aboard - 15 to one - Ran to the window - Sure enough at the quarter pole, he was laying outside and Pincay started getting into him - He roared down the lane - Won going away and paid 33 bucks - Tough after that getting a big price as the public adopted him.

However, this aversion to running on plastic by Jackson - I am reminded of a comment from a friend.  He had kept betting the great Flying Paster to beat the even greater Bid.  Kept losing.  Finally said, "You know, I bet FP on a fast track, I bet him in the slop; I would bet that if they run on concrete or down at the beach, Spectatular Bid would still win".  This is what the greats do - They find ways to win, no matter what the surface.

BTW, Bedoin was out of an Al Hattab mare, but, couldn't run on the turf.

04 Jul 2009 8:24 AM


    Another thing that i believe made Personal Ensign a great mare was coming back in full force after being injured. I forget exacly what the injury was but i know that sometimes horses don't always return to the same level of racing after recovering from an injury. She came back won the Woodward and as you mentioned the Distaff against Winning Colors of all horses. I think this added to her legacy aswell.

04 Jul 2009 10:20 AM


    I wouldn't have a problem with Zen racing in Cali at all if she just beat horses that were actually at there best. The examples you uses IMO aren't legit. The second and third place horses in the Distaff have done nothing this year. CT and Bear Now aren't really anything to get excited about, and Hysterical lady and GP hated the track. There are six horses in that Distaff field that had very valid exuses. Now, i'll let you say she beat GP on dirt because she did and thats a fact and i'm not going to argue it. On synthetics though she hasn't beaten much. I can think of two horses that stand out to me that she has beaten this year and last and those are LIS and TTS, who if she remained sound very well may have been able to upset Zen in the Distaff. If she went in last years Classic and won, or even placed i would have no hesitation at all in calling her one of the greatest to grace the track, because overall it was one heck of a field. She would've face not only Curlin but CJ, the Travers winner, and Europes best, all except for NA, the English Derby winner. To beat all of those horses would be a huge feat by itself. Had she done that i would say RA has to come to Cali a beat her, but she didn't. Your biases seem to come from mainly the 70's. As of recently i don't know of any biases. When you say the east coast you include us all, and i can tell you not me and most of the ppl i know are not bias at all. I like a ton of horse based in Cali, Well Armed, CJ, and now the retired Lava Man, who i do consider great. I consider him great because even though he did not win outside Cali, he was able to do things no others can do. For example winning winning over any surface and his consecutive Gold Cups. If Zenyatta were to pull togeather a feat like that or close i'd have no problem calling her great, but she hasn't. She is doing this others have done. Is she undefeated, yes and i again will take notice. But as we saw last year you can be a very good horse with the right competition and circumstances and go unbeaten. She is potentially a great mare, but until she does something out of the ordinary i'm not going to concede that she is more than a very good horse.

04 Jul 2009 10:44 AM

GunBow let me tell you what Mr. Moss has planned and what his strategy is with Zenyatta.  She is taking the easy path to the Breeders Cup. She will not ship and she will not face males.  Moss will continue to protect the undefeated record.  He is waiting to see if Rachel loses. If she does Moss will take the easy path and run her in the Distaff.  If Rachel wins out he will be forced to run Zenyatta in the Classic.  He is ONLY going to risk losing in the Classic if Rachel is undefeated.  Win or lose in the Classic Zenyatta will never race again.  As Rachel continues to win Moss will hope for a miracle and bet it all on one race if he HAS TO in the Classic.

04 Jul 2009 11:02 AM

Thanks Greg J - I thought she had set a record but couldn't place it.

Dray - did you read that...?

They are both wonderful animals!!!!!

04 Jul 2009 11:06 AM


    As of now RA has two stakes record to her credit aswell.

04 Jul 2009 11:33 AM
Pam S.

Gun Bow,

I and no doubt many others find your arguments regarding Zenyatta, Rachel, their future schedules and legacies to be most persuasive.  You write with fairness and restraint, so no one gets riled up even if they don't agree with you.  I dare say I hope a certain few decision-makers have the opportunity to read your well-presented positions.

04 Jul 2009 11:39 AM

Dray, here's a stupid stat for you. In the last 50 years, how many colts have beaten filly Belmont winners?

04 Jul 2009 12:41 PM

Draynay, although I basically agree with your 7-4 11:33am post, I take issue with the fact that you write it with the authority of someone who is a personal friend of Mr Moss and that he told that info directly to you. How long have you been friends?  If you aren't, then it would be great if you would write showing that your statements are your OPINION only.

LDP-good to know about the two stakes records-I only remembered the one.  They are both wonderful and I cannot pick a favorite.

04 Jul 2009 12:51 PM


For your information, Rachel won the Ooaks on a fast track.

The track didn't turn muddy until the next day.

04 Jul 2009 1:01 PM
Mike S

I just went back and read my last post again and I thought it was brilliant. :)

ZENYATTA is amazing, and she's great, and I don't think it matters that she races primarily in California. I think DEEP IMPACT was a great turf horse, and it doesn't matter that he raced primarily in Japan. And FOREGO was a great horse (Top 10 of all time in my estimation) and it's fine by me that he raced primarily in New York. What about the great horses of Europe? Should we see them as less great because they never came to the USA? RIBOT, BRIGADIER GERARD, ALLEGED, NIJINSKY II, SEA BIRD, ZARKAVA, etc., were great horses that raced primarily in one spot all their lives. I don't see anyone putting them down.

04 Jul 2009 1:25 PM

Mike S. what are you talking about? You realize "Europe" is a continent and Japan is a country. California is a little ole STATE. You still haven't named all the legends of racing with no wins at Belmont, Saratoga, or Churchill. The history of racing is what it is.  The greats have all raced at these tracks to prove their greatness.  Local champions like Peppers Pride and Zenyatta get respect but will not be considered all time greats winning in just one State that excludes all the tracks the greats have performed on in the past.

Greg J... the 1905 Derby winner ? Wasn't the race run with just 3 horses ?  What race did he lose to the filly ?

04 Jul 2009 1:49 PM


    She and Zen were both suppose to run that day, but Zen scratched due to the track being muddy, so honestly it was nasty on Friday too.

04 Jul 2009 1:51 PM
Matthew W

Dray they are taking the easy path to the Breeders Cup? DUH! If easy means a couple of GR I's you're right--but why would you opt for the HARD route to the Cup??...This just in...Zenyatta is a WEST COAST HORSE....Zenyatta runs in the WEST COAST GRADED PROGRAM....everyone's invited to challenge her...she is undefeated......at least Moss said he would be up for a race after the Cup---THAT, and that alone, is the only chance they will meet, That's because the Moss's have not ducked anyone or any track with their mare, they are a Cali stable, the BC's at Cali, if it were back East Zenyatta would be in the starting gate, not ducking anyone....

04 Jul 2009 1:53 PM

Mike S,

   They all ran in their country, like our horses do. They have tracks spread throughout the country, so it is not just one spot. The US unlike others, obviously is divided into states. The horses you mentioned raced in their country like our horses do. Zenyatta is racing in one particular area of our country. She to me is a good horse, and until she does something that is career defining, like winning the Classic or something, that is all she will be. A good horse that is unbeaten due to the fact of being handled with kid gloves and beating up on the same competition again and again. This is MY opinion, your not going to persuade me otherwise, and i don't care if you like it or not.

04 Jul 2009 1:59 PM
Matthew W

GunBow--But Personal Ensign didn't have to go out West to challenge Winning Colors--Nor would she be expected to---Why is the onus on Zen to go East, as a prep for the Cup, go East and challenge Rachel, then go back to So Cal for the Classic??? They should BOTH be in that Classic Starting Gate, Do you think for a minute if the Cup was at Belmont Team Zen would be ducking it like Rachel??? NO WAY!, I love your passion, I want this too, indeed the only way thre'll meet is, I guess, entirely up to Moss as Jackson has hibernated into the "how bout a match race" mode....

04 Jul 2009 2:01 PM


    Since RTR was the first in 102 years, no colts in the last fifty years have beaten a filly Belmont winner, but RTR was later beaten after the Belmont in the Gazzel and later found to have a fracture. I have another stat. How many fillies have won their first start back after winning a TC race? This question can be researched as far back as anyone wants.

04 Jul 2009 2:03 PM

Draynay, the four-year-old filly Sharp Cat ran 1:46.20 in 1998 in the Beldame Stakes, and she won by 11, so your argument suggests that she could have tied Secretariat's record if she was pushed, which is highly unlikely for both her and Rachel Alexandra. I would pick Rachel Alexandra over Zenyatta if they met, to stay on topic.

04 Jul 2009 2:08 PM

Alfred Vanderbilt's Discovery won 10 times carrying 130 pounds or more, Roseben once gave away 60 pounds and still won, and Ta Wee beats males carrying 140 pounds, and Zenyatta winning with 129 pounds is considered great? This seems rather ludicrous.

04 Jul 2009 2:17 PM


    I got my facts a bit mixed up RA does have two stakes records, her first came in the Golden rod when she ran 1 1/16 in 1.43 flat, or 1.43.08. This race was her last race of last season. We all know that this year RA's record came in the Mother Goose.    

04 Jul 2009 2:23 PM
Matthew W

Enough! I've had it up to here with this endless banter!----So I'll take this "time out" to say I'm hoping to perform a huge cashecktomy in the Suburban with my Asiactic Boy/Samhoon exacta box! Think the 20-1 on Samhoon is way too much of a good thing and I'm gonna get some early fireworks!

04 Jul 2009 2:48 PM

Gun Bow:

As much as I don't like to question your knowledge of horse racing, which as far as I am concerned is the greatest, even better than DRAYNAY'S, in fact definitely much better than DRAYNAY'S, I believe Go For Wands' win in the 1990 Beldame was at 1-1/16m, not at 1-1/8M....one of only two years it was ever run at the shorter distance (1939 & 1990)  From 1940 to 1976 and from 1991 to the present it has been at 1-1/8M.

04 Jul 2009 2:59 PM
Matthew W

also love Convocation in the Dwyer, don;t thing I'll get that 5-1 but I'm gonna try to take them down at Belmont today--good card at Belmont today , good card at Holly tom.....

04 Jul 2009 3:01 PM


I think you may have missed the sarcasm ;)

04 Jul 2009 3:46 PM


Zen wasn't supposed to run until the next day.  That is why they scratched.  Look at the Oaks results in the daily racing form.....fast track.  Look at a picture of Rachel winning the Oaks.....fast track.  It might seem a little misleading  because CD had rain earlier in the week and it starting again on Friday night.

04 Jul 2009 3:58 PM

Adding a Friday card to the Breeders Cup was a huge blunder, exceeded only by carding only filly races on Friday, switching coverage to ESPN, changing the name of an established race like the Distaff to "Ladies Classic" and staging the Cup consecutive years on a new, untried, controversial synthetic track.  

No doubt the powers that be at BC Ltd will continue to say all the critics are stuck in the past and not progressive...but isn't it possible that they just came up with five really bad ideas that have marginalized and devalued their Championship Day? Real leadership would be admitting major mistakes were made then correcting them...not lowering ticket prices and blaming the recession.

Oh....to those who mentioned the idea...a Sunday card would go head-to-head with the NFL...historically, not a good idea.

04 Jul 2009 4:04 PM


   No, i got it, lol. I just like finding answers. Especially now. I got injured at work and have nothing to do, so i research and blog. I also get on my horse for a ride. He doesn't pull bad so he doesn't hurt my shoulder bad. My sis asked me to ride her horse, who hates me and will repeatedly yank me. You can imagine my answer to her, lol. So when i'm not riding i go blog and do trivia searches. Wow, i have no life, lol.

04 Jul 2009 4:41 PM


    I thought the scratched the morning of the race. I did go back and look, and found your correct. By the way what's going on with One Caroline. She hasn't raced since that day.

04 Jul 2009 4:43 PM

Oh just saying, and this is not a slight to Zen, but if i were her connections if Sea the Stars shows up for the Classic i'd go to the Distaff. The colt beat Conduit today, and overall is kicking butt in Europe. He also seems to be looking at becoming the 16th English TC winner ever. That is one colt i would not want to face if i would not be wanting to welcome. This is of couse if Zenyatta wants to presserve her record. If she wants to prove greatness she without a doubt would do it by beating a Classic field with him in it.

04 Jul 2009 4:47 PM


Apparently One Caroline worked on 5-29; 5-Furl 1:01 at Keenland and suffered a minor injury (on the shelf for at least 60 days).

You're right about Zen.  She was scratched from the Friday card.  If I recall it was muddy in the morning when they made the decision and then dried out for a good portion of the afternoon card.  It really started to rain again that evening.

04 Jul 2009 5:10 PM


    Thank you for the info. Glad we cleared up the whole track wet dry fast thing, being that you were the correct one. Dont you hate the weather someimes? Sun, Rain, Sun, the rain again.

04 Jul 2009 6:14 PM

Never in my life did i believe a horse could open a 20 length lead run the first quarter of a 1 3/8 race in 19.4 and still win. That is what Precious Passion just did in the United Nations and now i will need surgury to wind my jaw back up off the floore! He set a new course record aswell. Does anyone know of any other horses that run that fast that early other than secratariat and still win. That has got to be the race of the year.

04 Jul 2009 6:32 PM
Greg J.


    Dray had asked when was the last time a filly beat a Kentucky Derby Winner, I answered tongue in cheek(Notice the "lol"), I was joking that I had to go back 104 years to find the last one, lol, But it has happened, that, I guess, was my point...

    I just want to say, Zenyatta and Rachel are "Both" Incredible, No matter what anyone says, But in the History books, Going Undefeated IS the Ultimate Record, There is NO beating that record, Rachel has lost, There is no denying that, Regardless of what happens in Rachel's Career, She will never be Undefeated(She has had 7 horses finish ahead of her, Zenyatta has has "0" finish ahead of her!).  Don't get me wrong, Rachel's wins in the Oaks,Preakness

and The Mother Goose were very impressive!, But, It is still not the same as being Undefeated...

   Zenyatta, If she wins her remaining starts, Will be  Undefeated, Remember people, "Undefeated" is the Ultimate Goal and Highest Achievement...

04 Jul 2009 7:06 PM
Greg J.


   I had the same reaction!, I was watching Presious Passion open up that lead and thought it was insane!, I kept waiting and waiting for his lead to dwindle, But when it did, it was too late, Amazing run!, My Jaw still hurts...

04 Jul 2009 8:12 PM
Matthew W

Citation I believe Sharp Cat was heavily favored in SA Derby, and Free House/Silver Charm paid pretty good as an exacta, believe Free House paid over twenty bucks, but those two guys faced off throughout the year and were quite a pair of classy greys....

04 Jul 2009 9:09 PM

Lazmannick, Gun Bow was right, Go for Wand's Beldame was a mile and an eighth. That race has been at a mile and an eighth every running except the first, run at a mile and a sixteenth and won by Nellie Bly, and the runnings in 1977 to 1989 at ten furlongs.

04 Jul 2009 9:32 PM

I tell you what i think i might start betting. Yesterday i guessed the top three in the Bashford and today i thought Coal Play would win the Salvatore Mile. Man i'm bumbed, that would've been more money in my bank account, lol. Whatever, i will admit i didn't think PP would win the UN, let alone set a track record. Greg J, my jaw still aint off the floore yet, lol.

04 Jul 2009 10:27 PM


I hope you are right about Go For Wand's Beldame for two reasons, one in particular (Draynay) if you know what I mean.  But according to Wikipedia's history of the race it was run at 1-1/16 Miles in 1990.  Their listings for the distances run are as follows:

11/16 miles : 1939, 1990

1 mile & 1 furlong : 1940 - 1976

1⅛ miles : 1991-present

1¼ miles : 1977 - 1989

Go For Wand won in 1990.  Do you think that Wikipedia's inference that the race in 1990 was at 1-1/16 M. was a mistake.  I hope it was (my second reason).

04 Jul 2009 11:55 PM


Sinc you have all the facts, going back over recent history, how many three year old fillies have ever raced against a Kentucky Derby winner?  I don't think that more than a handful have even tried.

05 Jul 2009 12:01 AM


You stand corrected and of course my humble apologies to Gunbow.

I just watched the 1990 Beldame on YouTube and the race was run at 1-1/8 miles in 1.45:4.....two fifths off Secretariat's record.

This is listed wrong in Wikipedia.

That being said, after watching this race for the first time in years, it would be difficult for me to believe Rachel would beat Go For Wand especially from the way that one's race unfolded and the fact that she was up near the front the entire race without a breather or without a set-up.

I don't think Zen would have gotten to her either.  This is not a put down to these two great (filly and mare) of our time, but rather a tribute to how great Go For Wand really was.

05 Jul 2009 12:12 AM


As Citation pointed out, Go For Wand's Beldame was 9 furlongs(mile and an eighth), and her time of 1:45 and 4 was simply a MONSTER effort. Through her first 8 starts, Go For Wand was a very good filly, a 3-time Grade 1 winner and Eclipse champion at 2. However, she became GREAT starting in August of 1990, winning the 7 furlong Test in 1:21 flat(after 6 furlongs in 1:08 and 1), the 10 furlong Alabama nine days later in 2:00 and 4, and then the Beldame, with a "solid" win in the Maskette between the Alabama and Beldame. I think that her Beyers in the Test, Alabama, and Beldame were all in the 114-120 range. We all know that Go For Wand was putting in another great performance in the 1990 Breeders Cup Distaff, maintaining a slim lead over the brilliant 12-time gr.1 winner, Bayakoa, until the fatal end.

05 Jul 2009 1:08 AM

Matthew W:

I am already on record stating my displeasure with Jess Jackson's decision to keep Rachel out of the Breeders Cup.  I believe that Rachel is capable of running on synthetics, and should be at the BC to face Zenyatta. If the two great female racehorses don't meet, I'm going to place blame at the feet of both groups.

Zenyatta does not need to run outside of Cali again, or face males, to get into the Hall of Fame or to be considered great. Like Personal Ensign had she retired after her 12th race, if Zenyatta closes out her career with wins in the Hirsch, Ladys Secret, and BC Distaff, she will be a definite Hall of Famer and I would have no problem labelling her "great".

However, all of this probably wouldnt be good enough to win Horse of the Year, at least if Rachel keeps winning. Should Rachel win the Haskell, Beldame and some other race, Zenyatta would absolutely have to do something out of the norm; Zenyatta simply is not going to win HoY by repeating what she did last year. Zenyatta does not have to race outside of Cali or against males to be deserving of greatness, but she most likely will need to do one of the two if she is to win HoY over Rachel.

And, by defeating Rachel in a dirt race outside of California or defeating males in a grade 1 like the BC Classic or Goodwood, Zenyatta's place in history would be elevated, and she would desserve being compared with the absolute best female racehorses of all time.  For Zenyatta's place in history, and her chances for HoY, a win in a grade 1 dirt race outside of California(hopefully vs. Rachel) or a victory against gr.1 level males would mean the difference between being a  "great" Eclipse champion older filly or mare and an immortal Horse of the Year that is ranked among the top 5 or 10 female racehorses of all time, just as the 1988 Breeders Cup Distaff elevated Personal Ensign from being a Hall of Fame Champion to an all-time great, the 4th best female racehorse of the past 100 years according to the Bloodhorse.

05 Jul 2009 1:52 AM

Yes, the UN was an amazing viewing race; absolutely fascinating. What an effort by Presious Passion, and Elvis Trujillo deserves major props for a bold, but well judged ride.

05 Jul 2009 2:06 AM

Citation, Lazmannick is correct. In 1990, the Beldame was run at 1 1/16th, according to the New York Racing Association.

05 Jul 2009 8:36 AM
mike williams

A race like the 1988 Breeders Cup Distaff between Personal Ensign, Winning Colours and Goodbye Halo, Yes.

A race like the 1990 Breeders Cup Distaff between Bayakoa and Go for Wand,NO.

Both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandria are possessed with the desire and determination to win.Zenyatta is the West coast girl and Rachel is the East girl.If they are not going to be able to race at their best on their preferred surface, then let them go their separate ways.The owners of these two excellent thoroughbreds should do what is best for their horses and ignore the media hype.  

05 Jul 2009 9:31 AM
Saratoga AJ


"Undefeated" didn't get Personal Ensign a HOTY title.

And if it's the most important achievement, Colin (15 for 15, 1907-08) must be the greatest ever.

So I guess they both are on top of your list as best ever, right?

05 Jul 2009 9:47 AM
Matthew W

Steve I was suprised to see how cold the Frankel barn has been in SoCal of late...now I am shocked to hear of his health woes, and I wish him well, I have been critical of "his grumpiness" for just that--his grumpy nature (at times) but never have I criticized his training of race horses, Bobby Frankel is one of the best horsemen because of his patience, he's right up there with The Bald Eagle in my book...

05 Jul 2009 12:22 PM

OK, so I looked up an old NY Times story and Steven Crist has Go for Wand's Beldame at 1 1/8.

She was on fire.

05 Jul 2009 2:29 PM


I guess we both stand to be corrected (as does Wikipedia)  There must also be a clerical error in the NYR records.

The 1990 Beldame was at 1-18/M., which is a tremendous tribute to how great Go For Wand really was.  She is especially impressive when you see how close many of her races were together and how awesome she was in running them.

The Beldame is on YouTube.  If you haven't seen it lately, check it out.  It was an exceptional performance.

05 Jul 2009 3:47 PM
Greg J.

Saratoga AJ,

    Personal Ensign was Undeafeated(13-0), She won the 1988 Eclipse Award as the American Champion Older Female Horse, She

is ranked number 48 out of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, She is in the Hall of Fame, She is in The National Museum of Racing, And, She accomplished all of this after a fracture to her pastern bone as a two year old!, She Finished Second to the Great "Alysheba" in HOTY Voting, And, It is funny you mentioned it, She became the first American champion to retire undefeated after a full career since Colin in 1908.  So, Yes, She is one of the all time greats!

05 Jul 2009 5:36 PM
Matthew W

an aside, I think they're all in trouble, Euros included, in the BC Nile with Montery Jazz, a smart horse who knows the game now--as long as he's feeling good it's gonna be just like Lure--I mean he's no Lure, but he's Lure-like right now--enough said!

05 Jul 2009 6:18 PM

Why are we even talking about HOTY, we can't determine what the next 6 months can do in horseracing. Goodness, a whole lot can happen now til then. and don't count out the colts and geldings here also. They can achieve a whole lot from here to then.It's not just about the fillies and mares.MTB has some more racing to do too. p.s. as much as everyone hates the synthetics don't put down Zenyatta for being perfect on them, if RA or any other horse wants or thinks they can do better on them, then come out to prove they have a better horse then Zen and beat her on her own ground, if they can then they will have a better horse. Thats why the BC is held  at SA to prove that horses are better than one another on the different surface.A good horse can run on syn or dirt. Zen doesn't have to leave her ground,you have to come there to defeat her on her ground.Then you can say, you went to Cali and defeated Zen on her on ground. then you can brag until then, don't put Zenyatta down. she is Great!!!

05 Jul 2009 7:49 PM
Soldier Course

The Thoroughbred Times Racing Almanac (published annually) shows the correct distance - 1 1/8 miles - for Go For Wand's 1990 Beldame Stakes, and recognizes her stakes record.

05 Jul 2009 8:26 PM
Paula Higgins

Gunbow, agree with everything you have said in both your long posts. RA should race on the plastics. ITA with that too. But it's not going to happen.

Draynay, you are also right about their plans for Zenyatta, or what their plan should be since they are not going to match up with RA. It's her only chance to win HOTY and they also have to hope RA loses again.

However, when all is said and done, these are two wonderful horses any way you cut it. Yes, there are horses with more impressive records, but it doesn't diminish what they have accomplished. They have a place in the history books too and their stories aren't finished yet hopefully.

As for leaving the west coast, that doesn't have to happen either. But Zenyatta will have to run against the boys in the BC or it is the end of HOTY for her unless RA has a meltdown.

05 Jul 2009 9:26 PM

I was very lucky to have witnessed Personal Ensign's last race at Churchill Downs in the 1988 Distaff.  It was an incredible race and she nipped Winning Colors at the wire.  What a finish!  She raced with 6 screws in her hind leg. What a horse!!!

06 Jul 2009 7:29 PM
Matthew W

Mole I agree--you can trumpet praise on Rachel, no doubt I do...but don't dis Zenyatta, she just punches her timecard every time, shows up and goes to work--she's a real good mare in her own right--No doubt she'll have to take on males, doesn't take an "Einstein" to figure that out--get it??!! And he got that 1 1/4 on pro-ride....alas, poor Einstein!

06 Jul 2009 10:59 PM
Matthew W

Steve they COULD "make" a race for them--the major sponsors of the Breeders Cup could "strike while the iron is hot", so to speak, and parlay a Zenyatta win in the Classic with an aditional 1 1/4 mile race at Churchill in late Nov...and we can only pray for good weather and good horses! (TWO million purse at least...) I want to see Zen/Rachel cuz THEY deserve to face off--I wanna see if Rachel can hold her off--I would suprised, pleasantly, if she does, if Rachel beats Zenyatta she's best all-time.....in my book at least cuz I think Zenyatta's all that.....

06 Jul 2009 11:10 PM

Matthew W, I have always been a Zenyatta fan, I think she is fablous. I love her dance and the way she pricks them ears. and all Mike has to do is shake her reigns and she takes it from there. I love it, also, I love the way she has her caretakers giving her what she wants, she is a "Ms. Hotstuff" and she knows it. Zenyatta!!! even her name is exciting, just like her!!! A Classy Queen. p.s. she has run all her races (most of them) on them terrible plastics,  Damn she is GoooooooD!!!!!!!

07 Jul 2009 9:45 AM

I was gone for awhile and have really enjoyed reading all the newest comments.  For all those who sing Rachel's praises - I completely agree. Draynay, she is everything you say.  But it isn't necessary to knock Zenyatta to make that point.  Zenyatta is just as incredible, with her own individual set of strengths and characteristics.  Every person who has raved about Zenyatta is absolutely correct.  That's why we all want to see them compete against each other; somehow - someway.  But it makes me very nervous to ever hear (or read) any declarations that a horse can't miss, has it all sewed up, whatever...  It's like a jinx or something.  Remember, Draynay, how positive we all were that nothing could stop Big Brown; that he'd be a Triple Crown winner.  Well, it just goes to prove - never count your chickens.  Poor Calvin sure learned that hard lesson this year.  It may not seem possible, but there are other horses out there who need to be respected too.  But back on subject, Who area the people with the most influence on both Jackson and the Mosses?  That's who needs to step up here.

07 Jul 2009 2:50 PM
Soldier Course

I have found that I tend to develop a passion for a particular horse based upon the totality of circumstances, including my gut instincts about the connections. This is why I never was able to get excited about Big Brown. I didn't want him to win the Triple Crown and have to watch Dutrow, KD, and IEAH become even more arrogant and obnoxious.

For this reason, my heart is with Zenyatta. John Shirreffs, Mr. and Mrs. Moss, and Mike Smith are true exemplars of racing. They don't act like they have something to prove, personally or professionally. Whatever they decide is fine with me.      

07 Jul 2009 8:48 PM

Mr. Haskin, many thanks for all of the wonderful articles on horses. Now, I think I must subscribe to the Bloodhorse Mag....where do find that site to order....

08 Jul 2009 10:20 AM

You know when the owners of rachael ran her in the preakness they said they did it for racing, than why can't they do it for racing again...such hipocrite's! every race they map out is the easiest race for rachael to win. if you have the best horse than prove it!

08 Jul 2009 1:18 PM
J Shore

I have lived on the Jersey Shore nearly all my life (so far). I've been coming to Monmouth Park since I was 2 years old. The folks at Monmouth would always love to have the fans come out and be treated to great performances. For instance, they created the Monmouth Stakes last year to lure Big Brown, which turned out to be a big hit. If they pick up on the idea, I believe Monmouth officials will do what they can to market this event and try and bring both horses to the track. However, owners and trainers are so damn cautious these days that it will take every effort possible to get them here....and that may not even be enough. The problem is, I will be going away to college on Aug. 25 and will not be able to see this race if it does indeed unfold. Steve, while your idea is fabulous in my opinion, the chances of it happening are slim. If the Mosses weren't so hyped up on detention barns, the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 12 would be the most viable option. However, if Rachel Alexandra skips either the Molly Pitcher or the Ruffian for the Travers (which could possibly bring together MTB, SB, and RA among others), then all hope for a showdown is lost. So there are actually two scenarios: either a Zneyatta-RA showdown, or a Triple Crown showdown in the Travers. One thing is for certain, even though I saw her live at the Preakness, I very much hope she comes to Monmouth for the Haskell.

08 Jul 2009 4:24 PM
Bob Z

Based on what I've been seeing with the races run so far by both of them... I look at it this way...

Rachel A has a very high cruising speed meaning she will either be on the lead or... just off of it if there is a speed burner or two in the race...  she also has afterburner acceleration when she's let go...

Zenyatta is usually 8-10 lengths back based on what I've read and seen...

So if both horses are at that race position when the jockeys hit the gas..  I don't see how Zenyatta is going to get close with Rachels acceleration at the end...

This is assuming the distance is 1 1/8 miles...  at 1 1/4 it might be a different situation...

If I was scheduling Rachels races and she was ready to go...

July 19th Delaware Handicap

1 million dollars, for fillies and mares 3yo and up... 1 1/4 miles

This would take care of her not having run against older females and would also get her ready to run the same distance in the Travers against the males...

Depending on how she comes our of it and if she is able to recuperate..

August 2nd The Haskell at Monmouth.

1 million dollars 1 1/8 miles for 3 year year olds... Summer Bird, Musket Man, Papa Clem and Big Drama are either confirmed or expected... another chance against the colts..

If she is able to run in the Haskell she will have 4 weeks to rest before the Travers...

August 29.. The Travers Stakes at Saratoga...  1 million dollars for thoroughbreds and filies at 1 1/4 miles...  The toughest test because of the distance and the quality competition in the race...

I'm wondering if 2 weeks is enough time between the Delaware Handicap and the Haskell...  2 weeks was enough time between the Kentucky Oaks and the Preakness... but that was then...

The issue is would you rather keep demolishing fields in lower purse races like the Coaching Club American Oaks for 3 year old fillies.... $300,000 July 25th ... these 20 length wins look nice but... it might be better to step it up and really see what this horse can do... thats how legends are made...

08 Jul 2009 7:37 PM

24 races,

    Did you see the potential races lined up for RA. Most are races against the boys in the Jim Dandy, Haskel, or Travers. JJ has also said other races against older fillies or even going for todays version of the fillies TC. How are those the easiest possible. Zenyatta is running at her home track all year long, and all the races she's running in i believe are now stakes. The only tough race she now has a possibility of entering in is the Classic, which that plan hasn't even been confirmed. RA has a much more ambitious sheduel than Zenyatta. JJ is trying to make up for not potentially facing Zenyatta by racing RA in harder races, making up what would be a historic campaign by a 3yr old filly if she succeeds. JJ listened to the fans all year last year, letting them pressure him into bring a tired Curlin to CA last year, where he finished a gallant fourth, where honestly on dirt the horse would've won by five. To be frank if i were JJ i wouldn't run down there again either. Oh just to let you in on something, JJ had stated if he had gone to the Cup it would've been the Classic, not the Distaff, which as of now is the race Zenyatta is being pointed most towards. So even if RA had gone to CA the match up would've never happened.

09 Jul 2009 9:16 AM
jd in owensboro

this has happened before- the PRESS has to make it happen-it did- does anyone remember RUFFIAN.Now the PRESS has to make it happen again??? STOP THE INSANITY NOW!!! This 3 yr filly is pretty good but she is not a super horse. i hope it never comes to pass- ZENYATTA is much the best.

09 Jul 2009 4:46 PM

how about a match race for 1 mil dollars, some money,s  put up from the track they run at , some from each owner, or any money,s from fans that want the match race. i dont care what you think , i love the idea.    lol

10 Jul 2009 1:41 PM
Pedigree Shelly

     It's Time now for Zenyatta to face the boys  !!!!!! RA has proved herself ! The only horse she needs to beat now is Zenyatta !! Bring it on !! By the way welcome back DrayNay !! You know how to keep things entertaining on the blogs ! :)

10 Jul 2009 1:56 PM

Rachel has already proven to be an all-time great, partially due to her connections willingness to test her.  I am sure they will cement and strengthen this by running in the biggest races.  Zenyatta continues to run in SoCal on synthetics and in the same races as last year...boring!  Come on Zenyatta (Moss and Shireffs), hike up your skirt and make this thing happen!

10 Jul 2009 10:32 PM


    A match will not happen, i wouldn't mind one, but it won't. For one you'd need more than a 1mil purse. The Derby is worth double that DWC is worth 6mil and the Classic worth 5mil. Also Zens connections would be dumb to say yes to a match race because of Zens running style. RA is a speed horse who doesn't mind running quick early, but Zenyatta is a pure closer and makes only one run. If Zenyatta were to make her run early or  be forced to stay with RA early on you'd take away that closing kick. If you let RA shake loose by five or more, Zen won't catch her, because not only does RA have a high cruising speed she has a burst of acceleration at the top of the stretch. Either way Zen is at a huge disadvantage.

11 Jul 2009 12:33 AM
Bob Z

I just noticed that Rachel Alexandra has been assigned top weight... 123 for the Delaware Handicap July 19th...

Does anybody know if they assign weights only after a horse has committed to run in the race(?) or do they assign the weights to all horses that are invited...and then the decision to run or not is made...(?)

I didn't see any announcement that she was running in it .. only that weight had been assigned..


12 Jul 2009 11:39 AM

Bob Z,

    I think, but am not sure, that you are correct in saying that weights are assigned after commitment. A person on another blog said that a track has put up and offer for both the horses, and that JJ has already accepted with no work from Zenyatta's connections. Could it be that maybe the DE handicapp with a larger purse is the offer?

13 Jul 2009 8:58 AM
Bob Z


I wasn't even thinking about Zenyatta...   that would be great if she would run in the Delaware Handicap... but she is committed to the Clement Hirsch on August 9th...

I would have thought that if she was going to run in the Delaware (July 19th) they would have already announced it... and is 3 weeks enough time in between those races?

I don't know how long Zenyattas handlers typically rest her between starts...

13 Jul 2009 12:18 PM

Bob Z,

   The person said that there had been no word from the Zen connections, but JJ agreed. So obviously they arent running. I though this could've been the offer, since RA could've picked races at a track closer to where she is stabled, like the CCAO or Jim Dandy. I also think they give her about 1 to six weeks rest.

13 Jul 2009 4:17 PM

Bob Z, my last sentence i meant one month to six weeks. sorry.

13 Jul 2009 5:47 PM


So hypothetically you are the owner of Rachel Alexandra...  she is ready to run based on todays workout..

What race do you run her in?

Delaware Handicap July 19th fillies and mares 3y/o and up 1 million 1 1/4 miles

Coaching Club American Oaks July 25th 3y/o fillies $300,000 1 1/4 miles

The Haskell Stakes August 2nd 3 year olds 1 1/8 miles $1 million Papa Clem and Summer Bird committed

I think the least likely is the CC American Oaks... because of the purse and its against 3 y/o fillies..

I'm hoping they run her in the Delaware Handicap and then come back with 2 weeks rest for the Haskell... but thats a long shot..

13 Jul 2009 10:12 PM
Bob Z

Rachel is going to the August 2nd Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park!

Attendance is going to be huge.

I haven't been to Monmouth in 20 years.. can't think of a better reason to go...

If she beats the colts again ... this time at a mile and an eighth they will be crowning the Horse of the Year in the winners circle.

14 Jul 2009 6:04 PM

Recent Posts



Social Media

More Blogs