A Greatness of Her Own

It is midnight on Sunday. Tomorrow morning, I'm off to Saratoga. I had no blog planned for this week, even if Zenyatta won the Clement Hirsch, due to time restrictions and last-minute packing. But Zenyatta's performance cannot go unmentioned.

Let's face it, there are Rachel Alexandra goosebumps and there are Zenyatta goosebumps. They both send the same chills down your spine, but are triggered by different types of feats that bear little resemblance to each other.

Rachel Alexandra always puts herself in position to win, so it is her dominance over her rivals and amazing displays of brilliance that take your breath away. Zenyatta is just the opposite. Although she has your heart pounding a long way out, it was in the Clement Hirsch that she really had it racing, and proved a head victory can tell as much about a horse's greatness as a 10-length win.

The bottom line is, Zenyatta should not have won the Hirsch. When you're last in a field that is strung out a dozen lengths, and then they wind up going three-quarters in a sloth-like 1:13 3/5, and you're still 4 1/2 lengths back at the eighth pole, and you have to come home in :23 1/5 and then a final sixteenth in about :05 3/5, and you get there, there is no doubt you are something special. And let's remember that the runner-up, Anabaa's Creation, had won her only start on a synthetic surface since coming to America and was a classy filly in France, where she finished in the first four in six group races, including two group Is.

Although the Hirsch is a far cry from the Marlboro Cup, you have to admit that Zenyatta looked an awful lot like Forego when he closed like the proverbial "freight train" out in the middle of the track to beat Honest Pleasure right on the wire in 1976. The great ones know how to win.

Zenyatta is a great champion. Rachel Alexandra is a great champion. It's reached a point where I don't care whether they meet or not. That's just me; I don't want to see either one get beat. Yes, it would be great for the sport, but there's a lot to be said for Rachel running the table the rest of the year and being named Horse of the Year and Zenyatta also running the table and retiring undefeated in 14 or 15 starts.

In 1988, Personal Ensign, despite winning the Breeders' Cup Distaff over Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in one of the most thrilling finishes ever witnessed, lost out to Alysheba for Horse of the Year honors.

In 1983, the outstanding French filly All Along was voted Horse of the Year in the United States. In 2002, the brilliant Azeri also won the coveted Horse of the Year award.

Both All Along and Azeri were magnificent champions, certainly two of the best fillies of modern times. But ask yourself this question: Of the three aforementioned fillies, which one made a larger impact on history and will be remembered as one of the greats of all time?

It is the opinion here that the vast majority of people would answer Personal Ensign. I did not include another Horse of the Year, Lady's Secret, because of all her monumental achievements over a prolonged period of time and racing consistently against the best colts in the country.

The point here is, retiring undefeated, while racing at the upper level of the sport, carries with it an aura of invincibility, the stuff of which legends are born. Yes, everyone in racing has been clamoring for a match-up between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. But, as that seems unlikely to happen, let's look at the plain truth regarding Zenyatta's place in history, excluding the fact that 11 of her 12 races have come on a synthetic surface.

If this mountain of a mare wins the remainder of her races, assuming at least one will be against males, and retires with an unbeaten record of, let's say, 14-for-14 or 15-for-15 and loses out to Rachel Alexandra for Horse of the Year, does anyone really believe that another Eclipse statue, even the granddaddy of them all, is going to add that much to Zenyatta's place in history?

If Alysheba had lost the Breeders' Cup Classic, would Personal Ensign winning Horse of the Year made much of a difference, if any, how she has been perceived over the decades and where she ranks among the sport's greatest fillies? Ruffian, for all intents and purposes, retired undefeated and was never Horse of the Year, and never even defeated males. Has that diminished her stature in the slightest? I didn't say accomplishments, I said stature.

This certainly is not meant to imply that Zenyatta retiring undefeated is going to overshadow Rachel Alexandra in any way. No one is capable of overshadowing a filly who could be one of the truly greats of all time. If she continues her astounding feats, some will call her the greatest ever and it would be hard to argue with them. But that doesn't mean Zenyatta won't have earned her own place in history.

Regardless of whether you're a Rachel fan or a Zenyatta fan, and regardless which one you feel is better, what's important is that we have two great females running this year, moving along on parallel roads with no intersections in sight. You can plead with Jess Jackson and Jerry Moss all you want. Each has his own agenda, and each must be respected for doing what he believes is best for his filly, whether you agree or not. And, please, no sympathy for the Breeders' Cup for reasons that are obvious.

This also is not meant to dissuade those clamoring for a match between the two. Keep on clamoring. The interest it would generate would be unprecedented in modern times. But try to see the bright side if it doesn't happen, which seems more likely at this point.

Remember, this is being written at midnight, only a few hours after the Hirsch, while still in knee-jerk mode, and with Saratoga on my mind. But, through my muddled brain I just have to conclude, thank goodness for Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Racing needs them both, and the fans need them both, so let's just enjoy them both.


Leave a Comment:



No one cold have said this better.

10 Aug 2009 9:00 AM

I am in agreement with you Steve. It's unlikely that they will meet. On one hand I would love to see them race againist each other, but on the other hand, I don't want either of them to get beat. They are amazing animals, and we should just enjoy them.

10 Aug 2009 9:01 AM

Your last sentence says it all.

I was reminded of Alysheba when the Z lady did her little dance. Prior to the Big Cap, he came upon the track, dancing.

Yes, very pedestrian fractions - But, one thing about Del Mar, other than the plastic.  Years ago, there was an article in the LA Times about the unique western turn.  It was more akin to the shape of an egg as it was not rounded evenly.  Sandy Hawley talked about the problems jockies faced if they turned their mounts loose, too early.  Hawley said, if you had a powerful closer, you could end up in the grandstand.  Even the tiny turf course has caused problems with closers.  Toro used to love to close on the rail.  At DM, he would get shut off, have to yank and come wide and, often, would just miss.  Del Mar is in a lovely setting, but, the track is a glorified bull ring.

10 Aug 2009 9:08 AM

Well said...both are great & hopefully, both will continue to stay sound.

10 Aug 2009 9:12 AM
Brian A.

Well said!  I would love to see Rachel vs. Zenyatta but that seems pretty much impossible right now so I have taken the same exact viewpoint.  It's incredible to have a filly and mare like this racing in the same year and is proving very healty for the sport.  I'm just gratefull I'm alive to watch these two titans strut their stuff.

10 Aug 2009 9:22 AM

Loved the shot of the Z Lady standing in front of the Winner's Circle looking towards the tote board.  It was, as though, she was looking at the show pool and saying, "So, the Phantom Plunger can put a hundred thou on the Z Youngin', but,what am I, chump change?"

However, another nice Medaglia D'Oro filly on the rise. The young lady won 3rd out with ease at DM, yesterday.  Plus, that Cajun Eric Guillot can train and that is a fine young lady in Mi Sueno.

10 Aug 2009 9:22 AM

Amen.  Let us just enjoy them both while we can.  They both rock period.

10 Aug 2009 9:23 AM

This is not an honest debate.  Best ever with no wins at Churchill, Belmont, Saratoga, or the whole state of Florida ?  The day they give HOY to a poly specialist is the day horse racing is truly finished. HOY is about THIS YEAR and Rachel is ALSO undefeated this year and not just 3 for 3.  She is 7 for 7. We don't have to fool ourselves.  We all know Zenyatta would not catch Rachel in a race.  It doesn't really matter.  What matters is we have two great fillies on different paths helping create much needed publicity for the sport.  Nipping a 40 to 1 shot at the wire protects a record it doesn't demonstrate greatness.

10 Aug 2009 9:29 AM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

Del Mar's web site had Zenyatta's final quarter mile was :22 2/5,  the head-on shot shows her running oddly? like a little sideways

10 Aug 2009 9:37 AM


Once again, great column.  Immediately after the Hirsch, I must admit I was a little dissapointed with the difficulty in which it took Zenyatta to win.  The second horse was coming out of a fifth place finish in an allowance event and she almost bested the great Zenyatta?  Maybe, I am trying to compare her to Rachel's brilliance too much or maybe I forget sometimes that even the greats are not machines.  I think the Hirsch did not do Zenyatta any favors in the Horse of the Year debate, however; in the long run I think that you are exactly right.  Her legacy is much more tied into her perfect record than it is into whether she can win a HoY eclipse award.  Let me say this, I couldn't be a bigger fan of Rachel Alexandra, but I have ultimate respect for the big mare and I will root for her in every race she runs until it is against Rachel.

10 Aug 2009 9:37 AM

Thank you! My sentiments exactly! If they met up and raced, the best case scenerio would be that one won and one lost and then what? People are better off left wondering, IMHO, and leaving these two great ladies with their stature undiminished.

But the worst case scenerio would be a repeat of Go For Wand vs Bayakoa and I do not want to see that happen. Also, you mentioned Ruffian retired, she did not. She did not finish her last race, but you are writing this article at midnight  :)

Let's just enjoy them in their own fields and let them retire healthily. They've done enough for us already.

10 Aug 2009 9:37 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

      My thoughts echo yours completely!  These two greats are breathtaking and I wish we could leave it at that, Instead of all the bantering back and forth on who would win.  The speculation is fine, Until you get to a point where some feel the need to put down or diminish the others amazing feats.  I agree also, That when history is written, Being undefeated trumps any awards that are garnered during their campaign.  Zenyatta is truely an amazing mare, Her personality is something I have never witnessed before in my lifetime.  One other thing that bothers me, There are some that question Zenyatta's times in her races, I really wish people would realize that times don't mean a thing with Zenyatta due to her come from behind style.  What matters is that she knows where the finish line is and she always gets there first.        

     Thanks once again for putting these two greats in the proper perspective, We should enjoy these two for as long as they are on the track, Zenyatta, Maybe three more races, And Rachel, Race by Race...

10 Aug 2009 9:44 AM

Steve, I feel exactly as you do. Even before the Clement, I had gotten into my head that these two great fillys are never going to meet. But does that mean we shouldn't enjoy them. Hell,no! Zenyatta and Rachel are great in there own ways like many greats atheletes of differnt sports are greats for differnt reasons.Is Farve not great because he doesn't have the same record as Patton Manning?  Was Frasier not great becasue he didn't beat Ali in Manila? Is Forgeo not great because Kelso had more HOY titles. I think not.  They are all great but in differnt ways.  Of course we would love to see the girls stride for stride coming down the wire, but life is full of disappointments that we have no control over. We should just enjoy them, no matter where their paths  lead them; hope they remain sound and go on to lead long happy and productive lives. Maybe some day their sons and daughters will settle the score, but until then we have little control over their destiny.

10 Aug 2009 9:47 AM

BRAVO!!  I could not agree with you more, Steve.  You have said so much in your midnight words and captured precisely what this racing fan has been feeling.  Thank you!  I see no reason why we cannot celebrate both of these horses for the spectacular stars they are and enjoy them while we can.  Once more...thank you.

10 Aug 2009 9:52 AM

Bravo!! You have taken the words out of my mouth.  Horse racing--who would have thought that the feminine side of racing would unite so many fans bringing both men, women, and CHILDREN back to the track with their OMG thrilling victories.  Whether you are a Zenyatta fan or a Rachel fan, just the anticipation of them racing on opposite sides of this great country, makes one clamor for more, realizing you are watching history the likes some of us will never witness again. They are special.  Once more, lightning has been captured in a bottle.  Zenyatta proved herself again yesterday--not the best ride, not the best distance, but the sprint to the finish line showed all of us she's got depth!

10 Aug 2009 10:08 AM

However muddled you claim to be, your writing is quite clear and inciteful: we are all lucky to be able to witness these two great horses. And yeah, what a match race it could be...yet your words echoed what was in my heart...I would hate to see either one of these "she-beasts" beaten by the other. Good article.

10 Aug 2009 10:12 AM

I agree who cares if they meet? I love watching both running styles and just want to see both of them beat the boys....will you be in Saratoga this coming weekend for autographs?  

10 Aug 2009 10:13 AM
Diane J.

Thank you, Steve, for pointing out the merits of both Zenyatta and Rachel.  Maybe this will stop the bashing that each one's zealous fans rant against the other horse.  Both horses are special, and I feel very fortunate to be able to see each one run during my lifetime. It's always perplexed me why some people have to run down one of these fillies to make his/her favorite look better.  Both are wonderful.

10 Aug 2009 10:16 AM

I'm a big "Zen" fan but won't take any credit away from RA.

We are blessed with not one but two extremely talented females.

Zen & RA couldn't have come along to our sposrt at a better time!

10 Aug 2009 10:22 AM
Kelly E.

Steve you are a master wordsmith and our sport is so lucky to have you as it's true "voice."  Amen to your thoughts.  I love both of these horses and think it would be a shame in a way if one of them got beaten by the other.  I wish that these two amazing horses could share HOTY honors!  These are the types of horses I have been waiting to see since I started watching in 1985.  I am so enjoying these moments!!!

10 Aug 2009 10:27 AM


  I don't care if it was past midnight, you expressed your thoughts on paper in a way that very few people can do. Thank you.

  I have already been reading from the anti-Zenyatta crowd saying she should not have won and that she was lucky. They are half right in the sense that she should not have won but they are way off base if they think it was luck. She had no business winning that race but once again she showed what a truly remarkable racehorse that she is. In my humble opinion I think it is time to take on the boys at a mile and a quarter.

10 Aug 2009 10:29 AM

Though my heart is with Zenyatta.. (has been since last year) I totally agree. Well said!  

10 Aug 2009 10:31 AM
Jim C


If Zenyatta runs and wins the Breeder's Cup Classic, is she not Horse of the Year?

Great article.

10 Aug 2009 10:31 AM

I do enjoy both of them and do not want either to lose a race...Zenyatta really looked good in the race..reaching forward with her head to win that race..

Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta two superior horses....

10 Aug 2009 10:33 AM

Hey steve,

That was a really close one yesturday,I was at the edge of my seat for a while. I was happy to see that she got up in time to win that one. I think Zenyatta is a wonderful horse.

To be honest though a part of me was routing for the other horses down the stretch.The reason for this is that i think Zenyatta is so much better than anything she has been allowed to do so far, and having a loss on her record might make her connections a little less uptight about running her in top competition races in order to protect the streak.For me she doesn't Have to run against RA, I would just love to see her in the top grade ones. The pacific classic Looks like a good start and then perhaps the classic.

I know they want to protect her by doing what they think is best for her, but clearly in my opinion a champion is only as good as the competition she beats. Even though she only won by a head yesterday, I wouldn't say the competition was tough, She was just too far back on  really slow fractions. I would love to see in full flight.

10 Aug 2009 10:45 AM
David R

If Curlin had won the BC Classic last year at Santa Anita would Rachel be running there this year? I think so; Mr. Jackson is disgruntled sore loser who blames the synthetic track for Curlin's loss. The three horses that beat him that day all had great kicks; Curlin was more of a grinder who simply got caught.

10 Aug 2009 10:45 AM
joe c.

well said steve! the debate is all good of course but slagging one to prove the other is getting tiresome:) i think for me one race against males (a win) for zenyatta whether its the pacific or the breeder's classic would be the cherry on the cake for me. but do you risk the record for that?  hmmm....

10 Aug 2009 10:48 AM

Hi Steve, I just said the same thing yesterday after Zenyatta won. I love her and Rachel Alexandra both. I don't want to see them race against each other for one simple fact: neither one deserves the loss that would come to either of them, if they ran in the same race, or God forbid another match race (my beloved Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure). I was at Monmouth to watch Rachel win...awesome! I have not seen Zenyatta in person, but only on tv...awesome. Both are shining stars and the sport needs them. Let them continue to shine for their fans, owners and trainers and let's just remember how great two female horses were!! Too soon they will be forgotten once in the breeding shed, so let them shine.....

10 Aug 2009 10:49 AM

I'm with you--I could care less if they ever meet up--it is SO GREAT for the sport to have 2 such talented champions and I love watching them both!!!

10 Aug 2009 10:55 AM
Karen in Texas

Exactly right! Racing needs both of these exceptional females just as they are, whether or not they ever face each other on the track. Zenyatta's personality is particularly endearing!

10 Aug 2009 11:04 AM

A very good article (as always)  As much as the racing world and the everyday public would love to see these two amazons meet, someone would have to lose.  And is horse racing ready for that?  No these two great fillies have brought the limelight back to the races.  Lets just enjoy them as they are.  This has been a pretty good year for the public with MTB these two girls and the class of Nick Zito and Tracy Farmer for doing the right thing by their horse Commentator.  He may not be going out a winner but he is going out with dignity.  May the second half of the year be as good!

10 Aug 2009 11:07 AM

Wow, I feel like your long lost twin. When she came flying around that turn, all I could think of was Forego practically running down the outside rail.

She's amazing, Rachel is amazing and we all are the better for it.

10 Aug 2009 11:08 AM

Thanks for another great essay.  Both these horses take my breath away and I couldn't bear to see one triumph over the other.  I hope they both close out 2009 undefeated and healthy.  Great moments yesterday when Mike Smith bent and hugged Zenyatta.  I think he kissed her too.  And then when he turned and showed her the tote board.  There's a man who gets it.  I don't know which of these girls will be remembered as the greater competitor in twenty years. I just hope I'm still around to say I saw them run.  It's been an honor.      

10 Aug 2009 11:11 AM

Exactly my thoughts... thanks for expressing them so well... I could not care less if they ever raced each other.. they are both great "race" horses

10 Aug 2009 11:12 AM

I agree.  I'm a fan of both horses and don't want to see either of them lose.  And what if they raced each other and BOTH lost?  Of course that's unlikely but as we all know, anything can happen in horse racing.  

10 Aug 2009 11:16 AM


I for one do not want to see one race between them to decide who is "better"...there will be no "rivalry" between them like Fager and Damascus, Affirmed and Alydar, Sunday Silence and Easy Goer...and one race alone does not make the "greater".

Does not winning HOY take away from Rags To Riches and her looking Curlin in the eye when she whupped him and all the other boys in the 3 year old "Test of Champions"? Only to those who feign to love the sport...never, to a real horseman.

The same with Zen and RA..I'm just thrilled to watch them.

10 Aug 2009 11:21 AM
Pam S.


Very nicely written piece with a great overtone of kindness.  

I have just now come to terms with the fact the two great females will never meet on the track and, right or wrong, it was the Hirsch that did it for me.  I'll just say it made me understand the issues involved in a way I didn't before.

Now I can celebrate each horse's accomplishments completely separate from those of the other, as you wisely suggested.  And I am glad that Zenyatta was able to preserve her perfect record; you are right, it will be her legacy as she nears the end of her career.

10 Aug 2009 11:30 AM

David R,

    JJ hated synthetics before, get that, BEFORE, Curlin's loss. He never wanted to go there in the first place. The loss only polarized his distaste for them even more. Basiclly all it did was prove his point, which is not what he wanted. I'll ask you something to, do you think if Moss had won the Belmont over Afleet Alex or Curlin he'd be racing there? I think so, cause it sure as heck wouldn't have bothered his horses enough for them to lose. Does that make him a sore loser?

10 Aug 2009 11:34 AM
sweet terchi

Steve. great article!!  As usual you put everything in perspective. This  race of Zens' was close only because Smith was tracking LIS, and then he realized the rest of the field was getting away. His words, not mine. Greatness is as greatness does, as the saying goes. LA Times had a sentence that summed it up well, Zenyatta #1... Rachel Alexandra #1A. One needs to remember that a race involves many factors, and overcoming huge obstacles IS a sign of greatness as Zen demonstrated, along with all the other greats before her. IMO, she would best RA......... freight train indeed!! :):)

Dray, it's alright that you refuse to acknowledge Zen, after all you are a male, and as always (or 95% of the time) males go for the younger female. And RA is adorable hardbody, especially with her makeup!! :) :)

10 Aug 2009 11:37 AM

Hi Steve,

I am SO happy to read your perspective in this article.  These two great horses are so different in persona and in what they bring to the track that it seems ludicrous to compare them or insist on some kind of match race.  Sometimes it is joy enough, thrilling enough, just to witness the different faces greatness.  This is one of those times.

10 Aug 2009 11:39 AM

Right on the money Steve. These are two of the great fillies to grace the track, undefeated or not.

Let's DO just enjoy them !

10 Aug 2009 11:42 AM
Star Quality

Agreed 100%

I would love to see them race each other, but I also don't want to see either get beat then everyone say this ones better then this one, bescause she beat her.

On Zen's race I think if Mike had moved her a little sooner she would have had more room back to second. Still a good race and in her next I'm sure Mike will make she moves sooner.

10 Aug 2009 11:52 AM

I am so happy to see that their are alot of level headed fans out there. I was getting sick and tired of one camp beating up on the other. Viva, Zanyatta and Rachel; The Duel Queens of Racing!

10 Aug 2009 11:57 AM

Steve, I agree with you completely. Personal Ensign wasn't Horse of the Year, but she's the one we remember the most.

I don't want to see either of these fillies lose. Not to each other, not to anyone else.  I just want to drink it all in, and enjoy this, because we won't see anything like either of them for a very long time.  

10 Aug 2009 12:04 PM
Billy's Empire

Azeri is one of the reason's I got into horse racing. What a great filly she is. Now I have the pleasure to watch Zenyatta and Rachel run, in the same year. The sport has been looking for stories like these for a while now. We have had our triple crown threats the last few years with Smarty Jones, and Funny Cide, and Big Brown, but seeing what these two fillies have done for the sport is unreal. This will be a year to remember, wheter they ever meet or not. The good news, Rachel should be at CD next year for the BC, and I will be waiting.

10 Aug 2009 12:04 PM
John Boudreau

Great Read Steve>>>>When Ya get to The Spa>> Please Give Us a Report on the Derby Winner>>Thanks

10 Aug 2009 12:15 PM
Soldier Course


Just think of how much love went into the knowing of Commentator's right moment to retire, from Nick Zito and the Farmers. We saw this same kind of moment when Funny Cide and The Tin Man retired.

10 Aug 2009 12:19 PM

Rachel= EXCITING      Zenyatta=   BORING

10 Aug 2009 12:26 PM
Soldier Course

There's nothing like perspective, and Steve has found it and shared it. Just a few weeks ago, everyone was clammoring for a meeting between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. Time passed and events showed us that a meeting would not be necessary, or even advisable. In that span, knowledge became wisdom.

10 Aug 2009 12:30 PM
Judy B

Some things are better left to the imagination, I actually prefer that the 2 ladies never meet on the track. They are both awesome and both unique. A race between the 2 could easily push one or both beyond the limit and that is something that this sport does not need at this time, I think their owners know that and that is one reason they are so adamant about their schedules. Lighten up on begging for a match up and just enjoy these 2 great fillies for their individual greatness.

10 Aug 2009 12:38 PM

Thanks Steve for a truly unbiased and inciteful look at two of the nicest fillies to look through a bridle in a long while.

I see "the liar" draynay is back here. I find it somewhat amusing but far more annoying that his biggest rants come when he is almost 100% sure two horses will never meet. Being nearly certain his opinion will never be tested he then proceeds to bash the other horse and all those who back it. That is the ultimate in lack of confidence or self esteem. Pick a subject that most likely will never be proven and try to make others smaller in your mind. He is what he is and that's not much as far as true fans of the sport go.

10 Aug 2009 12:43 PM

I've said all along that both are Hall of Famer's if each never set foot on a race track again.

My only wish is that Zenyatta would just once step out of what I call her "comfort zone".  She's being micromanaged to retire undefeated.  Yes, that's a great legacy, but....

Look at the greats mentioned in the article--PE, All Along, WC, Azeri, and even Ruffian.  Every one of them tried the boys at least once.  PE beat WC on an awful Churchill track in the greatest race of the past quarter century.  Zenyatta scratched when it rained Oaks day.

Perfection is great.  It is even greater when achieved when facing  challenges and adversity.

10 Aug 2009 12:52 PM

It is so nice to read a commentary where the author appreciates things for what they are.

Every year I have my favorite turf horses, handicap horses, 3yos, sprinters, fillies, mares.

This year, a couple of ladies are on my list -- one amazing mare on the West Coast, and one magical filly in the East.

They never need to meet up as far as I'm concerned. I am happy to just stand in awe of their beauty and enormous talent.

Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are both breathtaking horses and I look forward to cheering each of them on to victory down their prospective paths.

10 Aug 2009 12:53 PM

Zenyatta could win the Classic and Still not be Horse of the Year - cause she doesn't face the type of fields that Rachel does.  Anyway, who cares of she's HOY, she's Great and so is Rachel. However, neither could match Ruffian in my mind!

10 Aug 2009 12:59 PM
roger williams

RE.:CBman  10 Aug 2009 10:45 AM

Your comments are just flat out wrong.

Jess Jackson is a consummate sportsman who went to S.A. with Curlin against his better judgement for the good of the game. The fact that he campaigned the horse in all sorts of different scenarios for as long as he did is evidence of his love for horse racing. He could have picked an easier spot than the Haskell for Rachel as well. I'm looking forward to the Woodward even more with her looking likely for that and wish Mr. Jackson well in his quest for two in a row (Curlin last year). The B.C. is a terribly flawed arrangement. Why two years in a row at S.A.? Why Friday "ladies day? I'll be picking up a case of 'Vintage Rachel Alexandra' this fall and I'm happy to make Mr. Jackson even richer buying it!

10 Aug 2009 1:02 PM
Lady Ruffian

Thank you Steve for finally making the comparison Zenyatta to Forego. I couldn't help but thinking of the great gelding when i saw Big Z so far behind around the turn and then at the 8th pole when she came in flying. She's a monster! Zenyatta & Rachel are both exquisite champions - and regardless of who is 'better' they're both great!

10 Aug 2009 1:10 PM


10 Aug 2009 1:30 PM
Bill Daly

I cannot remember a year when the two biggest stars were both females.  Simply amazing.

10 Aug 2009 1:33 PM
All Along

I guess I'm weird, because out of All Along, Azeri, Winning Colors and Personal Ensign, the first three loom larger in my imagination than Personal Ensign does.

10 Aug 2009 1:33 PM
Kathy G.

Perfect!  I don't think I could bear to watch them race against each other!  Love them both!

10 Aug 2009 1:41 PM
Soldier Course

Love this short clip from YouTube of the stretch run of the Clement L. Hirsch. Really has a "you are there" feel:


10 Aug 2009 1:42 PM
Mike S

Some people can put down anything. ZENYATTA won! She won by a head, but she won. And she accomplished this victory by running something like :22-2/5 for her final quarter!

How can you put down ZENYATTA for winning when you don't criticize RACHEL ALEXANDRA for having lost THREE races already? Somehow, in all the unwarranted criticism of ZENYATTA, who is undefeated, there is no criticism of RACHEL ALEXANDRA's three losses.

Don't get me wrong, I won't criticize RACHEL ALEXANDRA or ZENYATTA...I'm just making a point to those who don't seem to get it.

10 Aug 2009 1:57 PM
Janesville Liz

I for one do not want them to meet--as that means one would have to go down to defeat, or possibly both, if there are other horses in the field and it is not a match race, and some unheralded filly pops up out of nowhere. I just want to enjoy Rachel and Zenyatta separately. They each have their own style and presence. To have not one, but two fillies, of this caliber, is something I will never again see in my lifetime. I just want to enjoy them both. Let each do her own thing and let me enjoy. They don't have to meet. They each just have to be enjoyed.  

10 Aug 2009 2:03 PM
s lee

Two glorious roses can bloom in different gardens and be judged on their own beauty.  Let RA and Z play to their strengths at their best distances on their favorite tracks.  If they meet, fine, and if they don't, well, that doesn't diminish their greatness, IMHO.

Just NO match races, please!!!

Enjoy the spa, Steve!

10 Aug 2009 2:13 PM

I am tired of people putting Rachel down. She has achieved what can only be dreamed of. Wins the Oaks,beats the KD and Belmont winners and kicks ass in the Haskell. Zenyatta is fantastic but Rachel Alexandra is out of this world. She wins without any excuses.

10 Aug 2009 2:20 PM
Soldier Course

Putting Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta together in a race to see which one is better is like saying you have to put Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren together in a movie to see which one is better.

10 Aug 2009 2:23 PM

If one were designing a plan on how to keep an undefeated horse from HOY, then Zenyatta's owners would be the ones to ask. I can't imagine having a horse that one claims to be a contender for HOY and having her hide on the poly surfaces in California. Geez, if you wanna be a "legend" then do something legendary. Beating up on a mediocre group of females on a surface that may not even be here 10 years from now certainly doesn't qualify. Z might be one of the greats, unfortunately it looks like we'll never now because of the handling of this horse. Take some risks. Ship her. Run against the boys. Do something different.

Rachel Alexandria on the other hand, is being handled exactly like a great horse should. Should she win her next race, whether it be against older females or the boys, HOY is over. There will be no debate and the vote won't be close.

I'm so sick of these horses being protected against a loss. Let's find out who the best is. Isn't that what racing is about?

10 Aug 2009 2:33 PM

Great story of a great mare Steve. I was at Del Mar yesterday just to see Zenyatta run. I was there to take pictures of her and was so caught up in the moment I missed my photo opporunity. But, the site of Zen rounding the far turn six horse wide and pouring it on gave me goosebumps. She is unreal. Everyone there sensed they were watching something truly great take place.

10 Aug 2009 2:47 PM

Perfectly stated!

10 Aug 2009 2:48 PM

I agree with about 99%.  I guess that I would agree 100% if Zenyatta had at least some of her wins in a different venue: on dirt, against boys, outside CA, etc.  To say that they are travelling on parallel roads would suggest that they are tackling the same challenges--and they are most definitely not.  That in no way suggests that Zenyatta is not brilliant at what she does: runs on synthetic against fillies--mostly younger--that in no way could ever compare.  I think a more honest assessment of her capabilities, not to mention any comparison with RA could only come if her owner and trainer would venture outside the safety of her box.  She is truly a great synthetic, CA champion filly.  Rachel, on the other hand, is a great versatile champion racehorse.  Both are beautiful, great atheletes and wonderful to watch.  My goosebumps just are bigger when I watch Rachel.

10 Aug 2009 3:05 PM

Rachel is Rachel and Zenyatta is Zenyatta ...... champions in their own right. They don't have anything to prove by running against one another. Zenyatta, you have to admit , coming down the stretch , looked like a freight train , nothing was going to stop her.  Now, on the other hand , Rachel is placed towards the front. How do you think Rachel would fare if she was placed in the rear like Zenyatta was ???  

Now, if you read thru all the comments posted here, no one has mentioned a horse from this year's 3 year old crop.  Could it be, perhaps this years 3 year old crop ( fillies / colts )  is not a strong group , giving Rachel the appearance of a " super " horse ?  Personally , I don't think there is a strong enough argument for Rachel to be considered HOY since she is competing against her own age group , whereas Zenyatta is running in older company.

I'm not saying Rachel should step up ... just wanted to present a clear , fair, comparison between the two gals. When you have a contained select group to run against ( 3 yr olds ) , the competition you'll face is limited ( Rachel ) , versus if you run against an older group ( Zenyatta )

10 Aug 2009 3:12 PM

STEVE.....I don't get it!  Why should they have to meet?  Is that not why we all love this game so much?  Who has the fastest horse?  Right?  That's the point!  

Would you have not loved to have seen MAN O' WAR vs. Secretariat......SEATTLE SLEW vs. CIGAR...........GHOSTZAPPER vs. NATIVE DIVER?

We have a rare chance to see two of racing's all time greats meet on the track.  How could you not do everything in your power to insist that it happen.  It would do wonders for a sport that seems to be breathing it's last breath.

The Woodward!  It has to happen in the Woodward on September 5th at glorious Saratoga!  RACHEL has nothing to gain by running in the Travers.  She has already beaten MINE THAT BIRD and SUMMER BIRD.  She would have to face QUALITY ROAD at 1 1/4 miles (probably not her best distance).  Not an easy task......and she would be up against her stable mate KENSEI. The Travers just doesn't make sense.

The Alabama?  RACHEL has already crushed those poor 3yo fillies.  Why do that again?  It would be too easy.  So what to do?

The Woodward against 3yo and up. At her favorite distance of 1 1/8 miles against a very ordinary group of older horses.  But invite big ZENYATTA to the party and you have a horserace.  The race of the decade!  And it's fair and square.  You will have an honest pace and whom ever wins is almost a lock for Horse of the Year.  If "Big Z" beats her.......RACHEL can alsways come west for the Cup and a little revenge. If ZENYATTA gets beaten she can still come home and face males again, in the Classic or bow out a great champion in the Ladies Classic.

This could be our last chance to save a dying game.  The interest and excitment would be unlike anything we have seen in this game in a long time.  We have the chance.  Now it's up to JACKSON and MOSS to get it done!

10 Aug 2009 3:26 PM

Mike S,

You forgot to mention that those races where Rachel Alexandra was beaten were as a two year old.  What was Zenyatta's record during her two year old year?  0-0-0-0 is what I see.  Not a knock against Z, just trying to understand why you are comparing apples to oranges.  It is apparent that both of these females tapped their potential early in their 3-year-old season, only Rachel Alexandra had a stronger foundation.  They are both great horses, regardless.

10 Aug 2009 3:44 PM

LDP:  Mr. Moss as well as Mr. Shirreffs are both on record as not being supportive of synthetic surfaces from the beginning, yet they race over them in CA.  As far as your point that if Giacomo had beaten Afleet Alex in the 05 Belmont, then Moss would be racing at Belmont Park.  Don't you remember that Tiago got third in the 07 Belmont??  So, Mr. Moss is running there, despite losing to Afleet Alex.  

But the main point as I see it is that, sadly, the battle lines have been drawn.  I see clear-headed people with great knowledge of racing not being able to appreciate Zenyatta's amazing victory yesterday, in my opinion because their feelings for Rachel are clouding their judgement.  Also, some people are more impressed with a horse that blows away the competition, like Rachel does;  IMO, that is the reason that a horse like Invasor is underrated, despite losing only one race.  As far as the HOY goes, as Steve Haskin has just said point blank in this article, Rachel will win HOY.  It's a foregone conclusion, no matter what Zenyatta does, just as in my opinion the east-coast was never going to award it to her last year.  I agree with Longwaytomay, Zenyatta would be fantastic at 10 furlongs.  The freight-train momentum that she builds up would take her there.  I think the world of Zenyatta, she is one of God's greatest creations.  And, I am just relieved that she survived that awful track at Del Mar.  Please don't run her in the Pacific Classic.  It's funny, the morning of the Clement Hirsch, a broadcaster said that on some days Zenyatta is so far back rounding the turn that you say to yourself "no, not today... she can't get it done today".... but, somehow she does.  And yesterday was the clearest example of that.  

10 Aug 2009 3:50 PM
Kat in TX

Excellent words of wisdom and opinion...even at that late hour :)

Thanks for bringing up Personal Ensigns' remarkable feat, as retiring undefeated. A funny/interesting note on her pedigree: compare hers www.pedigreequery.com/personal+ensign

to Mango's pedigree: www.pedigreequery.com/allege+proof

...flip flop ...Cool, huh?

10 Aug 2009 3:59 PM


I love them both, but something about Zenyatta just touches me even more - her power, her sheer presence, the way she paws the ground like a warrior before a race. Rachel is as beautiful as she is talented, but Zenyatta is something else again, a veritable monster, more physically impfessive and imposing than almost any other horse I have ever seen, including most stallions. I don't care if they never meet either, becasue each of them is special in her own way.

10 Aug 2009 3:59 PM


I have to tell you that I too had flash-backs of the great Forego when I saw Zenyatta thundering down the stretch like the proverbial runaway train.  I breathed a sigh of relief to see her nail that french-bred filly on the wire.  Its as if she gives her competition a sporting chance to beat her to the line before uncorking those "Forego-esque" power packed strides.  She seems to know exactly where the finish is and I agree with you that she should be appreciated for her uniqueness as winning stretch-running machine rather than by constant comparison with the phenomenon/freak that is Rachel Alexandra.    

10 Aug 2009 4:01 PM

I hope they NEVER meet!  They both mean to much to their particular fanbase and a loss by either would be followed by excuse after excuse.

10 Aug 2009 4:03 PM

Zenyatta was amazing, yet again!  I didn't think she was going to get there in time... but she did.  Isn't it funny how the great horses seem to come in batches!  Zenyatta and Rachel, wow!

10 Aug 2009 4:08 PM
The Rock


If only you could've have been there. The crowd was just electric at the track. And when her number was put up, the crowd went absolutely nuts. The scene of women crying with joy and others embracing each other after watching such an accomplishment made it all very special to witness.

I agree with you in every way. Yes it would be great to see them hookup, but if they don't, i'll go ahead and enjoy them one race at a time while i can. We all forget how quickly these stars come and go these days.

Quick question, when does the breeding season usually start? April? If that's the case, how about training Zenyatta for the Dubai World Cup on the Tapeta surface as her swan song before she heads to the breeding shed? It'd be great to showcase her talents to the rest of the world.

10 Aug 2009 4:23 PM

I loved your article. I really don't want them to meet because  one will lose.  They both are such great horses with complete different styles of running. Yesterday Zenyatta was racing at a shorter distance thn usual, but what a kick.  I love them both and as fans we are so lucky to be blessed with two such talented females.

10 Aug 2009 4:24 PM
Windy City

Another GREAT article :-) I like them both, but my heart belongs to Rachel. I hate to say it, but I'm actualy glad that Mr. Jackson bought RA, we would never get to see the "real" Rachel if she would remind with her old owners. I'm not a big Jackson fan, but I do admire his commitment to the racing. He just gave to all fans one of the greatest gifts we could get - Rachel :-) At this point I'm kind of glad that they won't meet each other...How lucky are we to see them both racing?? We don't even realize, but in few years we'll have such a wonderful memories about these two Great Fillies :-) Go Girls!!!

10 Aug 2009 4:29 PM


    Moss stated earlier in the year that because of both horses he didn't want to race there. I really don't see the point, because Tiago ran a bang up race and was never going to beat Curlin or RTR. Same goes for Giacamo, he wasn't going to beat Alex unless there was a replay of the Derby. I see that Moss is on record with his dislike for synthetics, and honestly if he feels so strongly he shouldn't race there and take his horses elsewhere. When he saw T and G race badly he didn't have a problem not taking Zen to Belmont, he's on record saying that because of his dislike of detention barns he won't race at Belmont with Z, yet because Z does well on synthetics he's just going to turn the other way and not take a stand vs synthetics. IMO that is wrong and hypocritical.

10 Aug 2009 4:39 PM
Brighter Course

For people to say they don't care if these two horses meet, or they don't want them to meet, it's an inexcusable stand for a true race fan.

If you're that afraid to see them face each other and for one of them lose, you're following the wrong sport.

10 Aug 2009 4:40 PM

Once again Steve, YOU ARE A ROCK STAR!

My thoughts on Zen and RA exactly.

Who cares? They're both the best thing for racing in a long time.

Although Zen has the Miss Congenialty all wrapped up, what personality! I love to watch that move she makes. Just blows me away every time. I get the feeling that she is watching the crowd with one eye and her competition with the other. Almost like 'are you all watching, are you all in a panic?'

There she goes, bam, 4 strides, then pass the finish line and show us what she could have done if she felt like it.

She's the mare with the fans, the signs and Ann just loves all that. How special do you all think those people she takes into the winners circle feel? Pretty special and I can tell you that for certain.

Rachel is sensational as well and wins races. She does it with CLASS and style, something not all of her fans can claim.

Zen wins MY heart, not just races.

Just like the Iron Lady, you write about so eloquently. We've discussed her before and you know what I think of your books on all of them.

Have fun at the Spa, you dirty dog you. Still like you though.

10 Aug 2009 4:40 PM

Oh, one thing, my probelm is not with Zenyatta at all, and my judgement is not clouded. I love her, i do think she is a fantastic horse. My problem lies with her owner. Same deal i had with BB last year, except i didn't like his trainer. I love the horse, though i do think RA is the better, but my distaste for her trainer and my admiration for RA does not leave my mind clouded. I can see with ease that Zen is a great horse and deserves a place in history. That, however does not mean i have to like her owner.

10 Aug 2009 4:44 PM

I couldn't agree with the writer more. I love both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. In a time when an exciting colt always goes to the breeding shed and leaves us wondering what might have been, we have these two marvelous females who are both providing us with racing excitement. I don't care if they ever meet. I almost hope they don't. Neither one needs to have the "loser," label come out of it because no matter what else they do or don't do, neither horse could ever be called a loser. Besides, many times when two greats meet in a race, it's not as spectacular as we think it should be. Lets just enjoy them both while they are running and not complain at what they aren't doing. Zenyatta's Clement Hirsch was totally amazing.

10 Aug 2009 4:50 PM

Queen Zenyatta  


Princess Rachel Alexandra

what a pair.....both so amazing...I was so fearful for Zenyatta and I watched those legs and head..

saw her overcome....WOW...

10 Aug 2009 4:53 PM
Junie Wise-Rocky Road Farm


Great reading!!!!Keep up the great stories!!!!maybe the "PRESS" can get these two great Horses together in a Race.

It would be one for the AGES!!!!

Churchill Downs would be the ideal place!!!!!

10 Aug 2009 4:56 PM

There is another scenario that could ruin the "race of the decade."  Suppose they both face each other and both get beat ala Ferdinand and Alysheba (Judge Angelouchi???).  Pack 126 lbs on both and let some hot horse get a 12 pound weight break.  Then what?  Personal Ensign came close to getting beat by a Winning Colors who was winging it ala Rachel.  Run that race 10 times and tell me Personal Ensign would still be undefeated. You could also have Rachel and Zen trading a few wins back and forth.  

10 Aug 2009 5:05 PM

Sweet Terchi what can I say.  Zenyatta is great for the sport and a talented poly specialist.  California is lucky to have her like New Mexico was lucky to have Peppers Pride.  Rachel is more like an all American champion.  I enjoy watching them both and love what they are doing for the sport I love so much.

10 Aug 2009 5:16 PM

Hi Steve!

I hope you got some rest!

I agree with you. It doesn't matter if ZENYATTA and RACHEL ALEXANDDRA ever meet up.

I am thrilled to be a spectator. I love them both!! XoXO

Let's continue to enjoy their incredible beauty and tenacity. Cheer BOTH of them in the Winner's Circle.


10 Aug 2009 5:22 PM
Karen in Indiana

I once heard someone say that when faced with a conflict, people can either pour water on it and douse the flames or gasoline and watch it grow. Thank you, Steve, for the water of perspective. I admire Rachel Alexandra and enjoy watching her, but I love Zenyatta.

10 Aug 2009 5:23 PM

I appreciate your view Steve, but its a sad day for racing when fans start to look at things this way. The point of horse racing is to actually race against each other.

So I guess it would have been fine years ago, if they said let's not race Seabiscuit against War Admiral and let's soak up their greatness individually. PUKE!

This is racing, but in defense of Steve this goes much deeper and its not the owners fault its simply because the horse racing industry can never get their act together.

Years ago it was the blackouts of major races due fighting over simulcasting rights and so the fans suffered. Then, they allow certain tracks to switch surfaces and other not to. Once again, an industry divided and the fans suffer.

Until, horse racing can come together and start making decisions as a whole and for the best of the sport it will never regain an ounce of what this great sport once offered.  

As a fan and author of multiple books on the subject its so sad to see such a great sport continue to make divided and bad decisions driving itself deeper and deeper into a hole that it may not be able to climb out of and ever recover the greatness it once had.

10 Aug 2009 5:25 PM

I am a fan of both. Rachael never runs from the back like Zen does. I think the Hirsch was a magnigicent race ran by Zen, especially coming from so far back. Mike is going to have to better start judging his distances. Zen kicked it in to high gear yesterday when she saw what was going on, Mike showed her the whip but he never had to use it on her. She knew what to do and she did it.  

10 Aug 2009 5:29 PM

Ok I am an RA fan 100%. If Z wins the Classic NO she is still NOT HOY. Yes, she races against older mares...so what they are mediocore at best. She ONLY runs on poly but RA only runs on dirt..so what. Yes the 3 yr olds are not the strongest group ever..but neither are the older mares. They have different styles, who cares they are both champions. But where RA stands out is she HAS beaten the boys, over different tracks and she has ran BOTH the Derby and Belmont champs in the ground. Z has never faced the boys & I doubt she ever will, she's a great mare she is not HOY. What else does RA have to prove? She races with the winds of heaven between her ears. Z gave it her best Sunday, we haven't seen the best of RA yet. Has Z ever set a track or stakes record? Rachael has nothing left to prove and even if she misses the Classic she has proven herself every challange she has been met with so far. She has written her own page in history..Z is yes an amazing animal & should be mentioned with Personal Ensign, Baykoa, Go for Wand..but RA. She stands alone

10 Aug 2009 5:33 PM

When I watched the replay of Zenyatta's race yesterday I thought surely I was witnessing her first loss.  To be trailing that far behind such slow fractions should have meant an unwinnable race.  But Zenyatta came home like freight train and got the job done.  That's what great horses do.  They win races even when they aren't supposed to.  No matter who Zenyatta faces the rest of the year, she has proven her greatness.  She has demonstrated sustained excellence.  She has won under situations where merely good horses would not.  I hope she runs in the Breeder's Cup Classic.  I hope she runs in the Pacific Classic.  I would love to see her meet Rachael Alexander on the track.  But even if those things don't happen, she is still a great racehorse.  There is no need to try to take anything away from her.  Thank you, Steve, for reminding us of her greatness.

10 Aug 2009 5:35 PM

I compleatly agree with you.  I love watching both and though I, like everyone, have my doubts and hypothisis about who is better or worse I am thankfull they are both racing as sound as they are.  Besides I personally believe one race between them would not decide who is better.  They have diffrent surface prefrance, and diffrent distance prefrance. We dont know enough about Rachel Alexandra.  Fact is the top three year olds in the country were out of racing before the Kentucky Derby even kicked off.  She is racing in her age group of non seasoned tough horses rather than seasoned tough horses.  Zenyatta has beaten seasoned tough horses and is now one herself.  Both are the best in their classes Zenyatta doesn't need to beat a group of second class three year olds she needs to beat a group of first class older horses and same goes for Rachel Alexandra.  And if Rachel can't strech out you can't ask Zenyatta to shorten for her.  No point in racing them together there will never be a fully even playing field they are to diffrent lets just enjoy them and hope they go out sound and produce beautiful colts!

10 Aug 2009 5:38 PM

The reason people didn't like BB's trainer and aren't fond of RA's are tied to the drug violations of both and the obnoxious demeanor of the former.

Jerry and Ann are super nice people who are great for the game. If you don't think they (particularly Ann, who is a CO-OWNER) love their horses and want to do what they feel is best for them? Well, you've just proven that you aren't very adult like.

Because they choose to do things the way they think is best for their horses that makes them unlikeable? Not in most peoples minds. When your fancy turns to other things or even other horses, they will still be living with the decisions they're making NOW.

10 Aug 2009 5:38 PM

I did find it odd that a race at a mile and a sixteenth was on Zenyatta's agenda for this year because of her running style.  Yes winning a race in consecutive years is an ok goal.  But is that the best race for her?  Esp. if what they say about a short stretch is true.  I am grateful for both horses to be racing this year.  And in many ways do not care if they ever meet up.

10 Aug 2009 5:54 PM

Don't forget Goldikova as well. Hard to believe that three of this kind could be running at the same time while also being so different than one another. Although unlikely for reasons we all know, we could see Goldikova win the Turf mile again, Zenyatta win the Distaff, and Rachel win the Classic.

Hear them roar.

10 Aug 2009 5:59 PM

Gio Ponti has won 4 G1's in a row, different tracks, different distances, different types of turf. Should he run the table and win whatever BC race he runs in, shouldn't he too receive some consideration for HOY? Especially if he takes on Goldikova in the Mile! Just because he isn't a DIRT horse doesn't mean he isn't worthy!  {no, I don't really think he would win HOY, but if the ladies should falter...........}

10 Aug 2009 6:01 PM

Steve, You have accomplished what no one else has been able to do: unite the Rachel & Zenyatta fans in agreement that these are two incredible champions. And now the question has to be what's up with Mike Smith?  Two major faux pas in one week.  He blew it with MTB & his cavalier attitude with Zenyatta almost cost her the race.  She was clearly the best to win after that fiasco.  Her move was the mark of a true champion. Winning by several lenghts is exciting, but doing it by inches leaves you breathless & in awe of the achievement. Smith offered his mea culpa re: MTB.  He needs to do the same with Zenyatta.

10 Aug 2009 6:02 PM

To watch one of these great ladies defeat the other would break my heart.

Brilliant column!

10 Aug 2009 6:18 PM
Abbie Knowles

Zenyatta was magnificent.  Great writing as always Steve!

I love Zenyatta the best but love Rachel too.  Just think the mature mare would beat the super filly.  But agree with the majority on here perhaps it would be better if they never met!  Our UK Champ Sea The Stars would make them both shift and who knows perhaps could beat them. He is very special too and I love Australia's Mr Clangtastic but he likes 1 1/2miles plus so is more of a B C Turf horse!!  We are so blessed to have such great horses around at the moment.  Lets appreciate them!

Delighted by Cool Coal Man's demolition job but close to tears watching Da' Tara.  Not a happy horse.  Thankfully Alan Garcia looked after him but how sad to see this great horse looking so sickened by racing.  If they really love him and I do believe Mick Zito does, then they could see if maybe Bill Mott can rekindle his enthusiasm  or find him a new home and new career.

10 Aug 2009 6:26 PM

Love both of these fillies... loved Rags to Riches, too, who wasn't too shabby. I would love to see Zenyatta and RA race, but what they are doing is thrilling in their own right. Both are amazing, and any fan of horseracing should cherish these moments, because these types of horses don't come around very often.

10 Aug 2009 6:40 PM

Beautiful article!  I really don't want to these these two greats meet.  Although I have really given my heart to Zenyatta, I couldn't stand to see either one of them lose to the other.

10 Aug 2009 6:47 PM

Good question about extending Zenyatta's training into next year.  I was thinking the same thing but instead of Dubai I would go to the Apple Blossom at Oakmont and hope that R. Alexandra would show up.

10 Aug 2009 6:56 PM

Zenyatta carried 129 pounds in the Vanity...spotting 13-16 pounds to her rivals.  How is this facing the "same old" division?  Very impressive.

10 Aug 2009 7:13 PM

Zenyatta is a great, great mare, even Mike Smith can't get her beat.  IMO, if Zen and RA can't go best two out of three, they should'nt meet at all.  One meeting is not enough.  Both Superstar girlies!

10 Aug 2009 7:22 PM

I love Both Zenyatta and Rachel but dont give Rachel the Horse of the Year crown yet, She has not faced ALL the top 3 year olds nor the older horses. If Another defeats her in a say the Travers then wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders Cup That horse could get Horse of the year.

No horse, no matter how brilliant, that only defeats its own peers should get Horse of The Year. As much as I love Rachel Alexandra she must run against older mares and males. As much as I am love with Zenyatta she must face males. Ultimately history will be the final judge and the final chapter is not yet finished. They are both amazing, glorious horses, Let us marvel in their performances not bicker among ourselves who is better.

10 Aug 2009 7:38 PM
Ida Lee

Thanks for taking the time to write on Zenyatta's race yesterday. Zenyatta has always worried me the way she stays behind the pack only to then take off to win. Yesterday, when she was 13 lengths back and those other fillies appeared to be getting WAY WAY ahead of her, I looked at my husband and he was chewing his nails. I thought OH Boy! It's not just me - she's losing this one. And then I saw a miracle right before my eyes. She just started stretching out that glorious body of hers and we have #12!! What an athlete!! To me, this was her best race and proved what a tremendous Champion this incredible Mare is. And I agree with you 100%. Both Zenyatta and Rachel are obviously incredibly special ladies. If they don't meet, so be it. I'd rather they didn't. Let both be admired (or worshiped) just for being what they are - the two most beautiful, talented and glorious athletes we have today. And how can I not mention Zenyatta's delightful prancing. She always looks like she's the happiest girl in the world. And after watching her yesterday, I was definitely the second happiest!

10 Aug 2009 7:55 PM

Thank you Bradgm for your comment:  Bradgm 10 Aug 2009 5:38 PM.  As for me, after you said Zenyatta has the classier fans, I wasn't going to lower myself to address an absurd comment.  But I am so glad you handled it in a classy manner.  The Mosses are the best owners, and most people recognize that.  How ridiculous to tell a self-made multi-millionaire how he should conduct his business.

10 Aug 2009 8:00 PM

When she struts her Spanish Steps prior to her race, she just gives me the chills.  There is such beauty about her imposing stature.

Her win in the Hirsch was indeed glorious and scary at the same time.

Steve, as you, I would rather not see Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta meet each other in a race.  They are champions who are making history and it will stay that way if they just go their separate ways.

Thank you Steve for your article and love of the sport.  You breathe hope into what it may become someday through a sincere following of fans who love the horses and want racing to achieve greatness for both.

10 Aug 2009 8:05 PM

Zenyatta has had some great races.. i wish her well, but who could be impressed with her perfomance yesterday? A NW of 2x was second? COMON!.. As a gambler I look forward to beating her. She will loose against Males for sure, although they probably wont run her against them. But I would like to see her run against the EUROS i beleive she is a bet against at this point.

10 Aug 2009 8:26 PM

I guess I'm one of the odd ones out there because if I were to rank those other top females, I'd have put All Along's run ... two continents, three countries, four Grade/Group 1s in succession on top.  I'm leaving Zen and Rachel out of it until their careers are over.

I do agree that each should be admired separately and that this one versus the other is just plain silly at this point.  It's not going to happen and who cares.  Let's all just try to get along ... and appreciate them both!

10 Aug 2009 8:28 PM

To me Zenyatta is the better horse.  Rachel is impressive and has won by lengths but she has not encountered any adverstiy.  The races have set up for her. And remember that she is not undefeated.

  In the Haskell Summer Bird should never have been sent to duel on the lead, he is a closer and was taken out of his game.

   Zenyatta's sytle is known by all and several jocks have tried to beat her by making it very difficult for her to close and win.   By your own admission she should never have won the Hirsch but she did.

  And Mike Smith said that she didn't even really fire until in the shadow of the wire and then too off again after the wire.  If you watch closely just past the wire she pulls away from the other fily with incrediable ease and speed.  After the race she isn't even breathing hard.

  Rachel was all out to win the Preakness and if Mine That Bird had gotten just a hint of an easier trip he would have beaten  her.

 In addition after the Preakness and the Haskell I have had several eyewitnesses tell me that Rachel was rubber legged. And she certainly was breathing hard in the Winner's Circle.

  In addition at a Mile and a quarter or longer--Zenyatta will  blow Rachel's doors off.

   I admire both racehhorses.  But Zenyatta is the most impressive horse I have seen since Secretariat.  

  In reality I would like them not to meet and I think it would be better for racing if they did not.  That way the debate will continue and both horses will have their legions of supporters.

10 Aug 2009 8:40 PM

Steve, I agree with you 1000%.  We are so lucky to have two great horses racing at the same time--I have been waiting for a hero, but instead I got TWO heroines!  I am more than satisfied with that.  Both horses give me goosebumps and move me to tears. One such horse would be enough, but having two is truly a blessing.

10 Aug 2009 8:40 PM
Janesville Liz

I think I heard today that the Pacific Classic is not in the cards for Zenyatta, and that the Lady's Secret is most likely next. Zenyatta will not come to Belmont--her people have said they do not like the holding barn at NYRA tracks. Let Rachel do her thing and Zenyatta hers, and enjoy them both. They are each uniquely wonderful.

10 Aug 2009 8:48 PM


Right on the money, as usual. I love the girls, be they filly or mare. I was in heaven during Azeris' prime and now there are two fantastic horses I just love to watch run. I'm into racing purely as a fan, I don't wager much. What a joy it is to be able to watch these two tremendous athletes perform. I could care less about their meeting....I know what the outcome would be. I'm just glad to be around to watch both of them. It's almost as good as Secretariats triple crown run....maybe better. What a time for horse racing fans, it gets no better than this.

10 Aug 2009 8:57 PM

Thank you Steve for your elegant writing on both champions. Also for your fairness and objectivity regarding Rachel and Zenyatta. I agree whole heartedly, both are champions and horse racing needs them both. I used to go to Del Mar every summer as a kid. Let me tell you that this track has one of the most dangerous configurations to it I have ever seen. Someone mentioned it resembles a bull ring, I couldn't agree more. When Bing Crosby built this beautiful, elegant race track I think he just threw in the dirt and turf course as an after thought.

I love your insight Steve, your honor and elequonce when describing these 2 horses. I love both of them and quite frankly I do not care who is better and if they ever meet. I just want them both to stay healthy and thrill us all. One is a 3 year old, and the other is 5, they run in totally different divisions and races. Rachel runs against 3 year olds, Zenyatta against older horses. Rachel has gotten great pace in many of her races, Zenyatta is at the mercy of a fast or slow pace and it almost cost her on Sunday. Wajima was a brilliant 3 year old and he was all that until he faced Forego, an older horse.

Thanks again Steve for your brilliant writing.

P.S. I do not know why one individual on this blog continues to put down Zenyatta every chance he gets. He shows her no respect or appreciation. I certainly get tired of his blogs...........  

10 Aug 2009 9:09 PM

My problem with Zenyatta is that we don't know how good she really is and we aren't likely to find out. She wins but she doesn't destroy the competition. Invasor was like that. Bernardini showed us what Invasor could do. Zenyatta has been most tested by Mike Smith's last ride. She won with a 99 Beyer. It just doesn't carry the same conviction.

What if Jackson hadn't bought Rachel Alexandra? She wouldn't have won the Preakness or the Haskell. She would be an East Coast Zenyatta. I wish Jackson could buy Zenyatta and run her in the BC Classic.

I've read that Zenyatta's connections think she should have got HOTY instead of Curlin. She lost because they played it safe with her, and here we go again.

10 Aug 2009 9:13 PM

Great article, Mr Haskin. I appreciate you speaking about this debate which has gotten quite depressing lately. It seems that many feel that praising one mare requires diminishing the other, and I just don't believe that needs to be the case.

I agree, Wabstat. One race between RA and Zenyatta wouldn't settle it in my mind, because they have such differing styles and there are an infinite number of variables that could sway winning in favor of either mare. (Consider Damascus vs Dr Fager--each one beat the other, had opposing running styles, and it was hard to say definitively which was one "better", but there were circumstances in the race that could predict whether Dr Fager or Damascus had a better chance of winning).

They are both incredible race mares and I wish them the best of luck in continuing their winning form. I am a devoted fan of both.

Would love to see Zenyatta beat the boys and/or go longer than a 1 1/8 miles.

Would also like to remind folks once again, since I saw the misunderstanding repeated in one of the comments above, that Zenyatta HAS raced and won outside of CA and on dirt--At Oaklawn in the Apple Blossom last year.

10 Aug 2009 9:16 PM

Affirmed was a great horse because he beat a great horse - Alydar.

Dr. Fager and Damascus were great because they beat great horses - each other.

Zenyatta and Rachael need to face each other to prove their greatness.  They need to beat the best like Citation, Swaps, etc. not parallel each other.

10 Aug 2009 9:16 PM

hellsbelles, Thanks, I think....

I just see more RA fans trying to trash Z. It bothers me, it isn't necessary.

I don't see the Z fans, using the same tactics.

I think if people love racing it's exciting to watch either of them and they're so different, they both deserve accolades. THOSE differences in, running style and personality are what makes it so fun and exciting, yes?

10 Aug 2009 9:25 PM



10 Aug 2009 9:42 PM
John T.

Personal Ensign [Zenyatta Style]

getting up to beat Winning Colors

[Rachel Alexandra Style]was one of

my favourite races.I think both present day fillies are top class

no matter if we see them race against each other or not.But there

is no question a horse that retires

undefeated at the highest level does indeed have a good aura about

them,for example Colin won the Belmont way back in 1908 but the magic of retiring undefeated running against the best of his generation has secured his place in racing history.

10 Aug 2009 10:05 PM

I have never dreamed of a match race between these two great ladies. America can use two heroes right now. Besides, I know which one would win, and I would hate to see the other's record diminished in any way.

Still, it is the only race I can think of that would put horse racing front and center of every major media outlet in this country like no sporting event in my lifetime. People that have never watched a horse race in their lives would be swept along by the majesty of the sport of kings.

I drove about 8 hours to watch Rachel Alexandra take the Haskell. Got there at 6AM, and waited in line for 4 hours to be among first to run forward to select a vantage point from which to watch the race that was scheduled to go off at 6:15 PM. That's 12 hours in a rubber rain suit to insure that there was no one and nothing but a rail between me and that horse.

I completely understood that I was going see something that few people will ever see, and was still unprepared for the wave of emotion that came over me as that great horse powered down the stretch. I expected the power. I expected her brilliant speed. But I was stunned by the ease with which she delivered while good horses ran their eyeballs out trying to get close. I will never forget it as long as I live.

Although it wasn't exactly goosebumps that I was feeling as the big mare stuck her head out in front in the Clement Hirsch, I was very grateful that she did win it and preserved her perfect record, and breathed a sigh of relief on her behalf. No matter. She has given me goosebumps in the past, and I am confident that she will do so again. I don't even think thatthe Clement Hirsch reflects on Zenyatta as much as it does on Mike Smith.

I am starting to worry that something is not quite right with Mike Smith. I don't say this in a mean way. I am not being sarcastic or facetious, or anything like that. Just worried about him. Isn't that the same mistake he made twice now on Mine That Bird? Misjudged when to go with a late closer? I can think of a string of races now that he himself has said that he wished he had ridden a little differently - all on late closers. I am sure we all agree that his integrity is unquestionable. I am thinking more along the lines of vision problems, blood sugar, and that sort of thing. Does he see as far as he should be seeing with the acuity that is needed?

<>Just as you say, Zenyatta should not have won the Hirsch, and pulled it off anyway. The great ones know how to win.

Those that keep taking shots at Jess Jackson's coming down solidly against synthetic surfaces are very misguided. My anger is a direct hit on the Breeder's Cup board of directors that agreed to run this important event on the same track two years in a row. It doesn't even matter which track it is. Ever hear of horses for courses? No one race track should have that much influence on the sport two years in a row because two years is all most horses ever run. If that course isn't to their liking, they either miss out, or they don't get a fair shake in the Breeder's Cup at any point in their career. If it is never at the same track in consecutive years, every horse that can compete at that level has a halfway decent chance of getting at least one chance at it.

Case in point: Fabulous Strike - the wonderful older sprinter that just took down the Vanderbilt at age 6. He showed up at Santa Anita in '08, but he didn't show up in his race at all. Although he is probably the top older sprinter in the country right now, I wouldn't blame Walter Downey if he isn't the least bit interested in a repeat on '08's track.


<Or should I start signing "The Other Mary?> :-D

10 Aug 2009 10:21 PM
Bill Daly

I think Mike Smith rode the mare the way she ought to be ridden.  She's a one run horse with a tremendous kick.  You cannot alter a horse's running style just because the pace is slow and expect to get the same results.  Horses like Zenyatta will get beat occasionally because they are dependent upon a realistic pace to do their best.  I salute her for being able to overcome a soft pace like we saw in the Hirsch and still run down a loose-on-the-lead speed horse.  That was an incredible effort from one dynamite mare.  But don't blame Mike if she cuts it close sometimes.

10 Aug 2009 10:22 PM
Matthew W

Steve it took me a while to deceminate what it was I saw yesterday---another blog had postings like "she won an allowance race today by a nose"...when I awoke this am...I looked at your blog before scootin off to work....and you're right---the Zenyatta cup wasn't empty yesterday--it was full! Two other races around two turns Sun....maiden claimers and 16k claimers...several seconds faster pace than Gr I fillies.....Big Z went to work--note how she left the other top filly Life Is Sweet to fend for herself amist the dawdlling pace...thanks to that nose she will again make my heart skip two beats at the 1/2 mile pole in her next race-- I mean, 26 sec opening 1/4??? Can't Mike get her to relax a little quicker, does she always have to walk outta there??!!...As far as "letting" Rachel win HOY---If Zenyatta wins the Classic, she has my vote---as well as Gio Ponti! It is neither Team Zen's fault, nor is it team Gio Ponti's fault the Cup is on synthetic again.....I mean, even a close loss by Rachel probably wins hoy but to no show and either of the other two wins the Classic......

10 Aug 2009 10:44 PM

Ok, for one you can be hypocritical and still be a nice person to talk to and be around. Next anyone go and show me where i said they weren't nice ppl or where i said they never cared about their horses. O wait you can't cause i NEVER did. It is my opinion, get the heck over it. I'm sure Moss could care less what i have to say so why should you? I've already said why i thought he, MR.MOSS, i never said anything about his wife, is hypocritical. He says he doesn't like synthetics, yet because he does well on them he's content to not make noise about it, but as in the Belmont with G and T, when things don't go his way then he'll go ahead and take a stand. Where i come from, it doesn't matter if you profit or not, if you don't believe in something you stand up for it. To me, this is, to a lesser extent, like a business man profitting off a business techniuqe his partner is doing that he doesn't approve of, and because he's making a profit he's content to look the other way. As i said in Moss's case, this is to a much lesser extent.

10 Aug 2009 10:55 PM

Skyfire: I respectfully disagree. We do not need these 2 champions to race against one another. We need them to stay healthy and to help make this sport great again. If they did race and one beats the other by a nose, then the one that lost would want a rematch. This is one time in sports where the good of the game outweighs the chance of one of our champions getting beaten. Did you ever anticipate something in life that you wanted  so bad that finally when you got it, it was a tremendous letdown.  Think about it, if these 2 faced each other and neither one wins, then what?  

10 Aug 2009 10:56 PM
Paula Higgins

For those of you that think all the greats  need to race each other, the argument falls flat on its face. Secretariat never raced Man O'War, Seattle Slew never raced Citation, and the list goes on. It's irrelevant to the discussion of their greatness. Let's take this false argument one step further. Upset beat Man O' War. Is anyone going to tell me that Upset was a better horse? Uh, I don't think so.

Steve is right. They are both great horses even though they got there down different roads. We all know greatness in a horse when we see it. Zenyatta should have lost the Hirsch. She had a terrible ride. But she pulled it out anyway. That says it all. 12 for 12. They never need to meet each other as far as I am concerned. The Moss's will do the right thing by their horse and I don't think HOTY is on their radar anymore. They have an unbeaten record they want and that is the path they will take. I hope Zenyatta gets it because she is most deserving. I hope Rachel gets HOTY because she is equally as deserving. By the way, those of us that feel that way are not in the wrong sport. Maybe we are the ones who are the true sportsmen(women).

10 Aug 2009 10:57 PM

I don't agree at all. The Hirsch was an awful race, it proves that Zenyatta is getting worse by the race. This is the eigth time beating the same inferior competition, and every time in a less convincing way.

If I were her owners, I'd retire her immediately, undefeated.

10 Aug 2009 11:02 PM
Matthew W

Brigette Why do you think they "played it safe " last year with Zenyatta? They Shipped her across the country to face off with Ginger Punch in her 2nd start of the season (7 for 7 season) they ran vs Graded fillies all year, won the Breeders Cup---They DIDN'T beat older males at 1 1/4 Classic)...but neither did Azeri or Lady's Secret or any other filly since 1968---is THAT what you really think a filly would have to do for HOY? I thought HOY was for "best season", that's why Kotashan, Favorite Trick, Lady's Secret won HOY!

10 Aug 2009 11:06 PM

Are there any videos out there of Zenyatta's pre-race dance? I would love to see it. I absolutely love her dressage moves post races.

10 Aug 2009 11:37 PM
Bob Z

If Zenyatta lost that race it would not have been her fault...

What was Mike Smith doing?  How long are you going to wait before you step on the gas?  If he waited 2 more seconds to ask her to run Zenyatta would be 11-1 and not 12-0...

What an absolutely gorgeous horse... and she struts like she knows it...

Its probably not going to happen but I would love to see Zenyatta and Rachel go for it at 1 1/4 miles..  how exciting would that last 1/8 of a mile be?

10 Aug 2009 11:58 PM

While the war on words between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta backers continues on the blogsphere, proclaiming each horse as one of the greats, and deservedly they both have earned credentials to be called great, nobody talks about the real enemy.  The enemy will show up on the Breeders Cup.  They will be armed and ready, and it could be a bloodbath. Sea The Stars, Stacelita, Goldikova, Rip Van Winkle,Conduit, Vision dEtat, Tartan Bearer, Mastercraftsman, Masterofthehorse, Ask, Fame and Glory, Paco Boy, Scenic Blast, Delegator, Ghanaati, Gladiatorus,Art Conoisseur and maybe even the great Yeats will make it down to the Cup.  America wake up, the rest of the world does not respect us.  They take our horses as babies every year, adopt them as their own and dont give us any credit for it.  I am very upset because while we waste time trash talking between which horse is better and who should be HOY, to the rest of the world we are nothing but the dirt country of racing.  The Racing Post puts out its international rankings, and there is no 3 year old from America in the Top Ten Worldwide list, there are only two American based horses on any list a side from the ridiculous dirt list, and those horses are Fabulous Strike and Monterrey Jazz, and they dont even hit the top 5,  Every other horse whether from Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia, japan and all Europe are on there.  To them we seem to be cheap competition, as far as I know only Secretariat is the only American Horse considered great and commands respect on any list in Europe or everywhere else thats not America.  I take this shot from the Racing Post very personal.  I think we all should.  Its America against the world, and I think our best should be there to take them on.  The Breeders Cup continues to drop the ball, we all know this, but we also know the competition is coming, and Americas best should be there to run.  I am really mad, because they dont even respect our racing.  Horses like Gio Ponti and Einstein arent on any list.  But thats how it is when, Americans dont go to other countries on a regular basis to compete and win some big international events.  The Dubai World Cup seems to be the only event we go to and have some success, but we havent won much in the past in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, or in Europe.  Props to Wesley Ward for doing what he did at Ascot, but why is it that we dont point horses to the English Guinneas, or Irish Derby.  Or to any other big European Festival.  The Europeans do, they point their horses to the American classics.  I give props to John Mcnair who was one of the few who did take a contingent to be based  in Europe and run there and win there as Peter Brant, Paul Mellon, Nelson Bunker Hunt, and Allen Paulson use to do before.  The last time an American Owned horse won the Epsom Derby it was Dr Devious which was owned by Sid and Jenny Craig over 15 years ago.  Coolmore won it with Thunder Gulch in 1995 and continue to come every year with a contingent based in America with the goal to win the Triple Crown.  The same goes with Darley, Shadwell and Godolphin.  They want to win, they want to win everything, they are worldwide, Jess Jackson thinks hes worldwide, but hes not, hes like we all americans have been, we live in our own close minded world, when in reality our horses still have much to prove to the world.  The Europeans have much to brag. To them the great ones of all time are Nearco, Ribot, Sea-Bird, Mill Reef, Caro, Brigadier Gerard, and can we argue with them, those horses pedigrees dominate American Racing.  Where is Citation in our breeding lines today?, Man O war is hanging by a thread thanks to the progeny of Tiznow and Bertrando.  So I plead to all, stop the trash talk, stop belittleing Rachel Alexandra, or Zenyatta, or Gio Ponti, or Quality Road, they are the best our country has to offer, we should be enjoying these great horses as much as we can because as we know they wont be running as long as our newly retired old boy and what guts of a horse in Commentator.  So with that lets get the connections of our best horses to get their egomaniac heads out of their you know what, and get those horses to the cup, because for once I wish the rest of the world gives American Racing the credit it deserves and not just see it as the country that runs on dirt when racing should be run on turf.  For once I would want to shut the Racing Post up.

11 Aug 2009 12:02 AM

Paula Higgins, Upset may not be the best example to use to support your argument, considering Man O' War beat him 6 times. Prove Out may be a better example, since he and Secretariat met only once as far as I'm aware, and Prove Out won. I, personally, want them to race each other,  although that currently looks unlikely. Quality Road might be better than either of them,  though. I said might be, not is, though, so don't misinterpret that.

11 Aug 2009 12:05 AM
Lil Darlin

Seattle Slew vs. Affirmed in the Marb Cup, Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral in the match race, Personnal Ensign vs. Winning Colors in the Distaff.  Did anyone not care about seeing those races either? The showdowns are the best part of racing.  I will be extremely disappointed if these two never face each other.  They are indeed great racehorses in their own right, but if they never meet I will feel robbed.  The industry needs this matchup to happen - it's the only one that people REALLY want to see, most casual fans will not give a rats you know what about the Breeders Cup without Rachel v Zenyatta. The hype created by a race with the two of them in it could help save the sport.

I've heard a lot of people dismissing Rachel due to her lack of a race vs. older horses.  Do you remember Point Given?  Won the San Felipe, Santa Anita, Preakness, Belmont, Haskell and Travers in 2001, 6 races all against three year olds.  He was voted HOY even after being forced to retire in August.  Rachel has 7 this year, no losses, has won by approximately 20 TWICE, is the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness, DESTROYED grade I and II winning colts in the Haskel, and is still going.  If she does go in the Woodward, even if she doesn't win, what was the last time you saw the connections of a 3 year old filly even consider a start in that race?  This is how a champion is campaigned. HOY is a done deal for 2009.

11 Aug 2009 1:10 AM

Will someone please help me?!!!!I feel that I have to get this off my chest to people who would understand me. I discovered Zenyatta in her 2007 December allowance victory and saw greatness. All last year, I was all about Zenyatta and was obsessed in telling anyone how she was one of the greats. Living in Wisconsin, I educated quite a few people.  I even flew out to Hollywood for her Vanity victory last year and was awestruck. BUT, since I picked Rachel Alexandra to win last year's Golden Rod Stakes, I slowly started to become mesmerized by her. I kept struggling to downplay her this spring to Zenyatta. Especially after the Kentucky Oaks my vision changed and I feel guilty! I LOVE both fillies, but I feel that I have to side with Rachel Alexandra and feel guilty about it. When I saw Rachel in person at the Oaks and Preakness, I felt Rachel's performances and presence was beyond reality! I was more nervous/excited for Rachel's last race in the Haskell than Zenyatta's this past Sunday. Has anyone out there been through the same thing??? Help!

11 Aug 2009 1:42 AM

Zenyatta reminds me of Ruffian - the way she looks.  I just love her dances.  

11 Aug 2009 1:51 AM

It may have been a close call, but Zenyatta's win was every bit as impressive as if she would have won by twenty lengths.  Zenyatta was asked to do a lot in the stretch.  She was forced to circle the field six wide on the turn with a slow pace.  With a lot of ground to make up, she simply kept her head down and took dead aim for that finish line.  Most closers facing those obstacles would not have won, but the great ones always seem to know where the finish line is.  That may be an overused expresson, but it certainly applied to Zenyatta and her performance on Sunday.  I adore Rachel Alexandra and started following her career when I saw her race at Churchill Downs as a 2 year old.  She is a brilliant filly. I hope before the year is out we get the opportunity to see the two in a race together, but against other horses, which I believe would be a fairer than a match race.  Nevertheless, regardless of what happens, both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are amazing athletes who will have a place in racing history with or without of HOY honors.  

11 Aug 2009 3:15 AM

First Smith admits to his ill-timed ride costing Mine That Bird the WV Derby.  Now an ill-timed ride nearly costs Zenyatta her claim to perfection.  What is he, a one-man wrecking crew?  

11 Aug 2009 3:15 AM


I'm sure someone will beat me to this, but to see some examples of Zenyatta's "war dance", go to youtube and search "zenyatta" and find the video that has "She's a Freak" in the title. It's a music video tribute to Zenyatta that has lots of footage of her in the post parades.

I wish I could just give you the link, but youtube is down for maintenance at the moment.

11 Aug 2009 3:54 AM

Ive talked about this topic before, the sprinters division to me  its just like the marathon division, another filler category for the eclipse awards. I said it before, a true class horse beats a sprinter at any time or place.  Dr. Fager proved it, so did Forego, Ancient Title, Precisionist, Gulch, Dancing Spree,Unbridled, Rock Hard Ten, Congaree, Ghostzapper, Hard Spun, etc.  In 2004 they gave the sprinter award to Speightstown knowing well that Pico Central and not to mention HOY Ghostzapper could destroy him on their worst days at any distance. I like Fabulous Strike as well as Benny The Bull and Zensational, but those horses would be dusted of the track be it 5, 6 and 7 furlongs by a Rachel Alexandra or a Quality Road. Big Drama would wipe the track with them.  I dont glorify a sprinter as a legend of a racehorse be it how good horses like Housebuster and Groovy and even Midnight Lute were at certain distances, but you cant tell me they faced the best competition in those races, I mean who did they beat, Curlin wouldve won last years Sprint and Dirt Mile on the same day, and I am not exagerating.  To me a great racehorse to be considered legendary is the one who exemplifies speed and stamina, which is what a great thoroughbred are supposed to do. We got so many awards now, we are starting to look like the europeans awards giving out an award for every category in distances, age and sex.  To this day I dont understand how a horse who finished second in a Group I win in England ends up being Champion Miler or Champion at 10 to 12 Furlongs in France.  Go figure that system out, I just hope we dont adopt it.

11 Aug 2009 6:08 AM

OMG----You people need to stop bringing up RA in the same breath with RUFFIAN!!!!!! there is no comparison, and Ruffian didnt retire, she shattered her leg well on her way to handing Foolish Pleasure his butt!( I loved FP, but there was no way he was going to beat the Greatest One!) And there are plenty better who have come before RA, and She is no way in the same class as the Mighty Zenyatta, plus she suffers with the handicap of having Jess Jacksons name on her papers and I don't care how fast she runs she cant outrun that ugly blight!

Zenyatta Rules and should be HOY just because she will be competing in the BC come fall!

11 Aug 2009 6:48 AM
Don from Delaware

Wonderful piece Steve, we should nickname you "The Night Bird"...I agree and "what will be, will be"...

William James once wrote...."The art of being wise, is the art of knowing what to overlook" and this certainly can apply to horse racing match-up strategy....

11 Aug 2009 6:57 AM
Soldier Course


Thanks for the eyewitness information about Rachel Alexandra after the Haskell. Some of us thought she looked exhausted after that race, but we were basing this opinion on still photos for the most part.


Would love to have a link to a video of Zenyatta's dance. I think someone posted a link a few weeks ago on a previous blog, but I can't find it. Can anyone help?


Does anyone know anything about Da' Tara's condition after the race on Sunday?

11 Aug 2009 7:32 AM

I get tired of people claiming Zen's connections make her take the easy way. wait here, aren't the synthetics the surface everyone hates. It is not Zen's fault that she glides on them better, furthermore, not too many owners want to face off with her because she is so good on them. anyone that can't say her performance in the Hirsch wasn't anything but magnificent is crazy. lets not forget, I love Rachael too, but even Jess Jackson said he won't come to California with RA because Zen has the advantage on RA because of the synthetics that Zen is used too. now that says something, even as good as his filly is, he is scared on the synthetics. RA is a spectacular dirt horse, Zen is a spectacular synthetics horse, they both do wonderful on their own surfaces, RA can't take anything away from Zenyatta's legacy and Zenyatta can't take anything away from Rachael's legacy, two different horses with two different patterns and styles, love them both and let each one sustain their own legacy, we need to talk about them for years to come and remember both of them for their greatness and what each one gave to this sport.  

11 Aug 2009 8:06 AM

On the spur of the moment I drove 428 miles on Sundy to see Zenyatta race, and I wasn't sure I'd get there on time. But I did, and it was worth it. She does take one's breath away. What a gorgeous amazon! When the crowd sees her they go wild, and she responds with her strut and dance as she goes by in the paddock. When I saw the horses barreling down the stretch I was sure Z was going to lose, but NO! The thrill of a lifetime for me.

11 Aug 2009 8:25 AM

Amen! I am just loving the fact that they came along when they did. It makes me feel so good to watch either of them put on a show of brillance. Please lets get off the "who is better" train and just appreciate them for who they are.

Great article.

11 Aug 2009 8:52 AM

I have 4 comments to make on this subject:

    First and most important, as always, this was an excellent article Mr. Haskins.  These are two great females we ALL have the priviledge to watch regardless if you like them or not.  It's absolutely unfair and just plain ridiculous that people who call themselves horse racing fans would choose to dislike a horse.  They either A) lost a bet because the given horse they dislike either won when they bet against them or lost when they bet on them or B) ignorantly identify the horse with the personality and characteristics of their owner and/or trainer.  How many people hated Big Brown because he raced for the "evil" Dutrow and IEAH?  It's just plain absurd.  Instead of choosing sides, we should just cheer for them both unless they somehow happen to meet.  Obviously then people should pick their side or whatever they may want to call it.  With the boys leaving us lacking this year, enjoy the year these 2 great fillies are having and as horse racing fans, simply be thankful we have them.

    Second, I apologize to you Mr. Haskins and all others that this blog also has to be tarnished with the likes of Draynay.  He wishes to refer to these 2 as "great fillies", yet in Jason's BC/TC blog, he refers to Zenyatta as nothing more than the "California state champ"!

    Third, for nina, you mentioned RA wins with no excuses.  Mike Smith says he waited too long to move Zenyatta and somehow that is an excuse.  Okay, but she still won.  She's won 12 out of 12 times.  I wish I owned a race horse who could be undefeated, wins as many GI races as she has and capture an Eclipse award and be left making excuses for why she wins by the smallest of margins.  You think RA wins with no excuses?  Don't forget Calvin's comments just after the Preakness when everyone saw MTB close on RA quickly and just fall yards short of beating her.  He told everyone who was watching on national television that RA just didn't like the surface, but she was a true champion and that's why she won.

    My fourth and final comment is in regards to the poster Brigette.  If Jackson hadn't bought RA, she probably would be heading towards the BC and race in the Ladies' Classic!  Remember, Morrison and Wiggins stressed they wanted to keep her against fillies and mares?  Then, we would all most likely get to watch the Zenyatta vs. RA matchup many want to so desperately see.

      Say whatever you want about these 2 horses.  Heck, I was one of those people who said RA was a  great filly but was racing against average competition.  That was of course until the Haskell.  I was wrong.  RA is a great filly who simply makes her competition look average.  Bottom line is, if we're left to make excuses for why these 2 WIN, not lose mind you, then we have 2 exceptional horses on our hands.  Enjoy them while you can, because who knows what tomorrow may hold for them.

11 Aug 2009 9:14 AM

Steve - for weeks now I have been almost afraid the two would meet!  I think they are both so magnificent, each in her own way.  One defeating the other in one race means nothing.  I always love it when two really good horses meet each other over and over, one taking a race here, the other there.  But just meeting for one race would not prove one is better than the other.  And I really don't want to see either get beaten, although if/when it happens, they are still great.  Secretariat was not unbeaten, and he will always be great.  They both have already proved it and I like that they have owners and handlers that want what is best for their horses while at the same time making sure both are showing up for the fans, ready to race at the top of their game.  You are one of the best sports writers ever - any sport, not just horse racing.  You are thoughtful, insightful, and witty.  Thank you AGAIN.

11 Aug 2009 9:45 AM

Agreed. I couldn't have said it any better (or I'd have a blog here!).  They both give me goose bumps.

11 Aug 2009 9:45 AM

The Match Race ends in a dead heat! Fun to think about, but who cares, they are simply the best.

Stay sound girls.

11 Aug 2009 9:47 AM
Soldier Course

Link to YouTube "She's A Freak" video mentioned above:


This is great, music just fits.

11 Aug 2009 10:04 AM

I think part of the problem is California racing has turned itself into the minor leagues.  This plastic stuff has not proven to be any safer than dirt and is an experiment that needs to end.  Any track that can change so much because of temperature needs to be looked at again.  California horses are turning themselves into State horses and their lack of success east of the Mississippi leads us into a situation with a horse like Zenyatta.  If it weren't for the plastic two all time greats would get together and move the sport in a positive direction.  Lets get rid of the plastic and get all tracks back to dirt where they belong.  This is silly.

11 Aug 2009 10:10 AM
Greg J.

Here are a few incredible videos of the great "Zenyatta", "She's a Freak" is my favorite, at about 1:30 in, She starts to do her "dance", What a personality!!!(Watch in HQ)...


"She's a Freak":


"She remains Unbeaten":


Link to Larry Zapeye's Youtube Page(GREAT Zenyatta's Video's):


Link to John Sheriffs Youtube Page:


Finally, Get on "Zenyatta" and experience the thrill of riding her:


Finally, On a sad note, My thoughts go out to the family of Bill Johnson, R.I.P......

11 Aug 2009 10:15 AM

Another example of two greats that never met and  raced at the same time was Native Dancer a three year old and Tom Fool,who was four at the time. I wasn't born yet when they were around, but Native Dancer is my all time favorite. Do I think Tom Fool wasn't a great horse; of course not. They were both great in their own right and the funny thing is they seem to parallel these two great fillys more than any that I can think of in history. Native Dancer was a come from behind specialist just like Zenyatta. He too knew where the finish line was and very much like Zenyatta got there first every time (except in his, case he missed by a head once). Tom Fool on the other hand destroyed his opposition, just as Rachel does. And an even bigger parallel, is the fact that the country was totally divided on either side with both fans having very similar arguements about the two champions. Unfortunately, Native Dancer and Tom Fool never met but there greatness lives on in history and in the bloodlines of their decendents. (Native Dancer is  in the bloodlines of both these great fillies.)So all these discussions are great,but as long as we keep the fact that you can not take anthing away from either champion, it should all be done in the spirit of respect and admiration for great horses and love of the sport.

ps Steve, you being the historian, can you extapolate anything else that was similar in regards to these fine old champions?

11 Aug 2009 10:17 AM

I don't think Mike Smith could have swung Zeyatta out any wider.I think that ride almost got her beat.He would be my last choice for any horse with that running style.

11 Aug 2009 10:57 AM

I understand that we all love both of these horses. I actually first saw zenyatta in the apple blossom and bet on her just from her sheer beauty and strength. That said when you guys have the nerve to knock rachel, saying her races have set up for her perfectly. I have spoken to the trainer of Big Drama, and he said Rachel is amazing. Also you have trainers, not gamblers, but trainers saying they do not want to race their older males against this filly that is saying something about this filly. Also when you run a 1:47.1 ur legs should be rubber, especially over the mud, and the track was not a super speedy strip that day. She beat the track that day. Also she obviously does not just run against her competition, she runs against the clock. When you break a stakes record , you win by daylight, that shows that it is not just the track that is fast but you are a superior animal. Noone on the west coast is going to dodge Z. There will be dodging on the east coast. She would have smashed the mares in the delaware handicap, by far. This filly is amazing, Zenyatta is an amazing work of art but RA is an amazing runner.

11 Aug 2009 11:23 AM

Jack Stallion...

I was also born and raised in WI.

Yes, I know exactly what you mean

about educating people up there about our sport. Might I ad the TV and sports coverage for our sport was and still is horrid! Sometimes I would venture to my local "pub" w/ the PP's and watch the races before I became an "insider" to the sport of racing.

Try explaining these races to the Cheesheads and Nascar fans ( I'm also a Packer fan..LOL).

These people were very accommodating as I explain "horse racing is my Nascar". Then they got it and wanted to learn more!

As far as the tracks, yes, been there, done that. Found many a favorite horse after working the tracks.

Puts a whole new perspective on the horse and sport doesn't it?

I love both Zen and RA, but after following "Zen" there is just something about her I'm unable to describe.  Could it be her class, the way she "struts", her confidence... Or all the above?

Yes, when you see these tracks and creatures in person it's a whole new "horse race".

11 Aug 2009 11:37 AM

Rachel is a much better filly than Zenyatta and has accomplished more IMO. It seems to me that the connections have protected Zenyatta her entire career by racing exclusively on a surface that favors her running style and facing weaker competition to portect her record.

Rachel on the other hand has taken risks by taking on the Boys and has proven successful. She's met the challenge and is not afraind of being beat. I do believe that Rachel could go to Santa Anita and defeat Zenyatta on her home turf.

Rachel is a very confident horse right now and no way Zenyatta has any shot to defeat her on any surface. Maybe it's time for the Zenyatta Connections to take a risk and try to catch Rachel, but I doubt they will do that.


11 Aug 2009 11:43 AM
sweet terchi

Dray, I think you will always make me laugh! :) :) I saw right through your cheesy self on your post! LOL. But a complement is a complement, backhanded or not!!!  :) :) BTW, how are your furry girls doing?  

nonnonheinous, that video is a blast. Especially when they show her "hip shake"!

11 Aug 2009 11:59 AM

Great article. I found it interesting that Steve, you see greatness in winning by a head while Draynay calls it "nipping a 40-1 shot to protect a record".

Someone mentioned having "co-horses of the year". I recall that it has happened before (at least on one occasion). Remember back in the 60's the 2 year old filly Moccasin went undefeated, and shared the HOY with the older horse, Roman Brother. There should be no ironclad rules on the HOY. Didn't Secretariat win it as a 2 year old? Anyway, we still have some great races ahead. Then we'll see who deserves the accolade.

It is turning out to be a great year for this great sport!

11 Aug 2009 12:02 PM
Abigail from Canada

On a different topic, Alex Brown Racing is saying that someone whose name escapes me at present has put up a bundle for a Zenyatta-Rachel Alexandra Match Race. This really worries me. Out of respect for these two great champions -- and out of respect for Ruffian -- please, NO MATCH RACE!

11 Aug 2009 12:05 PM


thanks for the link, great video!

11 Aug 2009 1:02 PM
Soldier Course

Greg J:

Your second YouTube video link is fabulous:

"Zenyatta Remains Unbeaten (12 for 12)" by Larry Zapeye.

Thanks so much!

11 Aug 2009 1:26 PM
Mike S

It would be more strange or "weird" if ZENYATTA were to lose, than if RACHEL ALEXANDRA were to lose. After all, RACHEL ALEXANDRA has lost three times already. But if ZENYATTA were to lose it surely would not diminish her greatness.

I don't think it matters that ZENYATTA doesn't have a race record at the age of 2, and that RACHEL ALEXANDRA does, the fact remains that RACHEL ALEXANDRA has three losses on her resume. But you never hear the ZENYATTA-bashers criticize RACHEL ALEXANDRA for those losses. But I agree, it's OK to lose, they all lose, don't they? I just think it's odd that people criticize ZENYATTA to no end because she keeps winning, but they don't criticize RACHEL ALEXANDRA for the losses. How come?

Even if RACHEL ALEXANDRA and ZENYATTA are to meet, it may, but it may not, decide who is best. I don't think that one meeting decides that, definitively. When horses meet on several occasions sometimes a pattern of dominance presents itself. ALYDAR beat AFFIRMED twice when they were two years old, and AFFIRMED beat him as well, several times, but it wasn't until their 3 year old season that you could see AFFIRMED establish his dominance.

Some people believe that RACHEL ALEXANDRA would beat ZENYATTA "by 10 lengths or more." LOL! They say that because, according to them, "RACHEL can do 1:08 splits, while ZENYATTA would be trailing that kind of pace by about 30 lengths." Of course there is nothing to prove any of these wild assertions.

Racing has its championship day, its Super Bowl, its World Series, and it's called the Breeders Cup. Jess Jackson has every opportunity in the world to get his horse, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, to that event, which is being held this autumn at Santa Anita. I agree with Jerry Moss, this is racing's championship day, and I think everyone needs to show up. I think Jess Jackson is still upset because CURLIN lost last year, and I know some CURLIN fans think "the Pro-Ride beat him," but I don't think so. CURLIN made a bold, sweeping move from the far turn to the stretch, then he flattened out. He lost, that's all. He had lost 4 times before, so why was loss #5 so hard to take?

You take the good with the bad, the wins with the losses, and try to be a good sport. RACHEL ALEXANDRA needs to come to Santa Anita, she needs to be present and accounted for on racing's biggest day. There's no excuse for her absence...unless her connections are just dodging ZENYATTA, and engaging in subterfuge to justify that.

11 Aug 2009 1:30 PM
sweet terchi

jackstallion26, fortunately you really don't have to pick one over the other!! Love them both! You are not being "disloyal" to either one! :)

11 Aug 2009 1:34 PM
Mike S

I just noticed DRAYNAY's comment "California horses are turning themselves into State horses and their lack of success east of the Mississippi leads us into a situation with a horse like Zenyatta."

Oh man! ROFL! "Lack of success east of the Mississippi"? What in the world? Last year, California's horses did great all over the country. GAYEGO won the Arkansas Derby. COLONEL JOHN won the Travers. TOUGH TIZ'S SIS won the Ruffian Handicap. There are countless other examples.

This year WELL ARMED won the biggest race in the world, in Dubai. I WANT REVENGE stomped the field in two stakes in New York, including the Wood Memorial. BULLSBAY, a former "California horse" won the Whitney.

I don't feel like going back over the last 20 months of racing, but since the beginning of 2008 many California horses have won big races all over the country.

11 Aug 2009 1:38 PM
The Rock

Can everyone get a grip with the whole Match Race safety issue. If you're really worried about a horse breaking down by being in a Match Race, then why run the horses at all? Horses can break down at anytime, whether by training or racing with a full field of horses. And I wouldn't worry anyway for a potential Match Race. That will never happen anyways. So take a chill pill will ya.

11 Aug 2009 1:45 PM

RGGC!  Well done, you actually beat me to the punch...1953 is actually the best example of two hall-of-famers who coulda, shoulda, but never raced against each other.  Tom Fool and Native Dancer were the two titans of racing and had phenomenal years.  Native Dancer won 9 out of 10 races in 1953 with a 2nd by a head in the Kentucky Derby, winning the American Derby, Arlington Classic, Belmont, Preakness, Dwyer, Gotham, Travers, Withers and Wood Memorial.  And guess what...he was not horse of the year!!!  That is how good the older Tom Fool was in winning all ten of his races in 1953.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, they never raced against each other.

11 Aug 2009 2:06 PM

Do racing fans remember last year's lady classic? Ginger Punch, Hysterical Lady, Cocoa Beach, Music Note to say the least. Zenyatta made a joke of these very quality horses.  

11 Aug 2009 2:10 PM

Sometimes we seem to spend to much time comparing and not looking at the big picture.  Look, no one is going to convince me that if Rachel wins the Woodward and Beldame that is not one of or the greatest 3 year old season ever by any horse.  The reason is simple its my opinion.  And whether we agree on that is not important we need to look more and talk more about the sport in general.  Rachel and Zenyatta are both expanding racings fan base and anything that does that is a good thing. I think we can all agree on that.  I hope in the future we can have more discussion on improving our sport and less on who is the best or better.

11 Aug 2009 2:12 PM
Cheryl from Maryland


For a while I thought I must be the only person in America who didn't care whether Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta ever met. Personally, I almost hope they don't. I'm a huge fan of both of them and would hate to see either one beat the other.

There's really nothing left to say about the brilliance of Rachel's races in the Oaks, Preakness, and Haskell. And only a true champion would have been able to get up in time the way Zenyatta did on Sunday.

As you said, they're both champions in their own right. I'd rather just appreciate them for who they are and not worry about which one is "better".

11 Aug 2009 2:14 PM
Paula Higgins

Citation, good point about Upset.

We need to get over the Zenyatta and Rachel meeting issue. Not gonna happen. We need to move on. I for one don't care. I will enjoy watching them both run whenever and wherever they show up.

11 Aug 2009 2:15 PM

Steve: These blogs are insightful, well written and very nostalgic and heart felt. Unfortunately they seem to bring out the ugliness in folks. So many mean spirited bloggers out for blood. What in heck how Zenyatta ever down to any of you to warrant such negativity. She is a beautiful talented mare who has done nothing wrong. Did any of you not read Steve's blog. A RACE BETWEEN THEM IS NOT NECESSARY, just enjoy them both. In a few months both will be retired and who will we have then? All of you make the arguemnet that Zenyatta stays out west (her home), well Rachel stays out east (her home). SO WHAT, it is what it is. The connections are putting their horses in the best possible place to win. A candle loses none of it's own light by lighting another candle. Both are spectacular candles in my book.

Stop all of this nonsense, maybe what is wrong with this sport is the blood thirsty attitudes of everyone.......

11 Aug 2009 2:20 PM
Bill Daly

This idea of a match race is the most ridiculous idea I've heard of in some time. For one thing it will never happen and for good reasons: Zenyatta would be incredibly compromised because as everyone knows speed wins match races. Secondly, a match race puts horses at risk because of the imperative to run flat out from the time the gate opens. These aren't sprinters and they aren't quarter horses. After watching Ruffian break down against Foolish Pleasure the last thing racing needs is to risk another breakdown in a match race.  

11 Aug 2009 2:58 PM

Decent work for Rachel but they appear to be in no hurry.  She will not be racing in 18 days.  Look for her a week later in the Woodward.

11 Aug 2009 3:19 PM

Mike S. I don't know how to tell you this but the Arkansas Derby is not held EAST of the Mississippi. Time to hit the books ! lol.

11 Aug 2009 3:32 PM

Match races stink...and ONE race between two great horses does not the "better horse" make.

11 Aug 2009 3:45 PM


11 Aug 2009 3:56 PM


I'm so proud of your last post.  This is the man I know is who you really are.  Let him show up more often, please!

11 Aug 2009 4:09 PM

I think your article is a perfect example of how so many of us have evolved in our feelings towards these two perfect athletes.  They are too incredible to bear the thought of one of them losing to the other.  I used to want them to meet but, not any more.  Zenyatta had my heart in my throat with her race.  It was soooo exciting and I came away even more thrilled with her.  They are different and they are magnificent.  I feel so blessed to have been a racing fan this year!

11 Aug 2009 4:13 PM

That does it.  

I must see her.

California, here I come.

11 Aug 2009 4:29 PM
sweet terchi

Absolutely right. These two talented horses have expanded the racing base which hopefully boost the sport. As for making it better, on the horse side it was good news to see that DM is switching to the softer whip, and will even provide these whips to jocks who don't already have them or can't afford them.

11 Aug 2009 4:42 PM


I should never read the comments for anything because it gets my blood boiling. But that's just me, wondering what in the world people are reading if they claim to be tired of seeing people put Rachel down. More often than not people are criticizing Zenyatta because her owners elected to keep her in California for the Breeders' Cup, therefore limiting her competition to whoever is either stationed here or ships here.

For the record, Zenyatta is not a synthetics specialist (not poly, because I think only Del Mar has a polytrack). Zenyatta did not start until late in her 3YO season because she's a massive, massive horse. Didn't the great Bold Ruler filly Gamely skip her 2YO season because she was just too big?

And while the Mosses may be on record for disliking synthetic surfaces, they also said they wanted to support California racing. Well I am grateful. I would certainly like to see Zenyatta run on the dirt again - that Apple Blossom was breathtaking and the start of something beautiful - but at the same time I love that she's here, I love that she's performing for those of us who live here on the West Coast. Many of us don't have the luxury of flying east to the big tracks, so to have a superstar amongst our midst is quite something.

And who can deny perfection? Rachel may have lost three times as a 2YO, but only a truly great horse remains undefeated, regardless of competition or circumstances. People knock on Peppers Pride for never leaving New Mexico, but did she have to? She's undefeated and retired healthy and sound, and that's all that matters, doesn't it? Maybe with Zenyatta the clamor is greater for her to fly east because she competes at the highest levels (interpret that as you will, since people seem to enjoy putting down her competition), but honestly, a win is a win and everyone know where she's at. Why won't anybody come out to face her? Is it because the track is on the West Coast? Because the surface isn't dirt?

What happens if Zenyatta does go into the Breeders' Cup Classic and win? Look at last year's field - full of international stars. Wouldn't she make a great case for HOY by defeating horses from around the world? I would think so. But I see that for most people Rachel has already locked that up, so I am just grateful that she's here and performing for the fans who claim her as theirs, as ours. Rachel is a great filly, perhaps the greatest of the modern fillies, but Zenyatta had my heart from the get-go, and nobody is going to persuade me otherwise.

So let's just sit back and enjoy the ride.

11 Aug 2009 5:15 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks all for your comments.

Soldier Course, I like your analogy about the two actresses. Well put.

Del Mar clocked Zenyatta's last quarter in :22 2/5. I just gave the final two fractions, because you cant give a closing quarter in 1 1/16 mile race from the chart. That had to be hand-timed.

I saw Rachel work this morning and she looked terrific. I also spent a good part of the morning with Quality Road. What a beast. His shoulders are unbelievable, and he has to stand 17 hands. Great head and a sweetheart in his stall.

Rumblings on the backstretch about NYRA trying to get Rachel and Zenyatta together ($1 million purse in Beldame and possibly dropping the detention barn). Again, this is just banter. No validity to it, but let's keep an eye on it just in case.

11 Aug 2009 5:15 PM

I don't understand why Zenyatta's owner won't ship her somewhere to race on dirt against Rachel before the Breeders Cup. I can understand Rachel not going to the BC because of the synthetic track, but Zenyatta's people never said they had anything against dirt, and before the Haskell they said they wanted to come east and race against her. I think her Haskell victory scared them off. It's a shame they have to be so afraid of losing and just concerned about preserving Zenyatta's perfect record. It would be so exciting to see them run together and whoever wins or loses they're still both great horses. Horse racing was so much more exciting back in the day when all the top horses would race each other all year long and not be afraid of not keeping perfect records and not winning Horse of the Year. And I think synthetic tracks should be done away with or put in a separate category like turf is. The Breeders Cup should not be run on this surface.

11 Aug 2009 5:31 PM
Mike Relva


I totally agree with you regarding this STUPID IDEA of a match race. You're on point!

11 Aug 2009 5:31 PM

Lol... thank you MonicaV.  Yes, I can be a bit argumentative but you will be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of horse racing than me.  I too sometimes get bogged down discussing who is the greatest but my love for the sport itself trumps any one horse.

11 Aug 2009 5:41 PM
Saratoga AJ

One very important consideration is rarely mentioned when comparing Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. Zen has built her impressive record racing as a MATURE 4&5 yr old mare.

Rachel has run almost half her races (6) as a baby two yr old (hence those 3 early races she didn't win) and as a young 3yr old filly (7). And she already appears to be the superior horse. What will she be like when she reaches Zenyatta's maturity and races as a 4 yr old? Scary.

11 Aug 2009 5:43 PM

why should they not race together? horse racing is a sport, it's competition. the best should face the best. it makes this sport exciting. who wants to see great horses race against not so great  ones just so they can keep winning and be called champions. real champions take on other champions and aren't afraid to lose and if they do lose it doesn't take away their greatness because they faced the best competition out there

11 Aug 2009 5:45 PM
Paula Higgins

Great post Draynay. Monica you are right, this is the man we both know is there. He loves the sport and all horses including the Kentucky Derby winner. I would bet money on it.

Draynay, is so right about expanding the base of the sport and both of these girls are doing that. I also agree that Rachel won't run until the Woodward. She looked extremely tired after the Haskell. I am glad she is starting to bounce back. They will do the right thing by her.

11 Aug 2009 6:01 PM


Well said. Your 2:12 post hit the nail on the head.


I can assure you, you won't be disappointed if you make the trip out to CA to see Zenyatta. Seeing her in person will leave you speechless.  I've been to the last three of her races and I can't get over how gorgeous she is, all 17 hands of her. She starts her  dance in the paddock and stops  right before she loads into the starting gate.  

11 Aug 2009 6:18 PM

Mike S,

    Here is how the Pro ride affected Curlin. We all know Pro Ride plays like turf, if you deni that there is no hope for you at all. Tell me how many times do you see bold sweeping move on the final turn win a grass race. Not many, because on grass the rule is to wait wait wait, count to 3 then go. On dirt however you see more sustained runs, that is why had that run Curlin made been on dirt, which was almost identical to his 07 Classic he would've held on and won. I don't think the Pro Ride was the sole reason he was beat, but it combind with an early move, which hardly wins you turf or turf like races did him in. In an indirect way the Pro Ride did beat him. Also JJ hated synthetics way before Curlin, the loss just made him dislike them less, so all of you who blame JJ's dislike on synthetics to Curlins loss, wrongo. When somebody hated synthetics before there horse even stepped on the track and was pushed by the fans into going to the BC when he didn't want to, that means he NEVER liked them, and it had nothing to do with the loss of Curlin.

11 Aug 2009 6:29 PM
Kathy Kimber


  I agree with you I don't care if they compete in a match race.  Let's leave it alone and not tempt fate.  They are champions and have earned their place in history I love them both.  It really isn't about beating each other it is about coming home safe.

11 Aug 2009 7:17 PM
Judy B

If the 2 girls meet hopefully it will not be a match race-horse racing involves strategy and positioning and none of that would be present in a match race. I have always referred to match races as suicide duels (remember Ruffian)I would be all for these 2 ladies meeting in a real horse race especially since their styles are completely opposite.

We also must not forget when talking about Personal Ensign that she retired undefeated in 13 starts all run with multiple screws on her back ankle. None of the others that are mentioned have had anything even close to that to deal with.

11 Aug 2009 7:32 PM

Deacon, horse racing is about taking risks, face the challenge; if neither won, they aren't the horses we think they are.   That is the same as saying Affirmed should have stayed in Calif. and Alydar on the East Coast, and don't take the risk and meet.  Their meetings defined them and great horse racing.

I don't think preserving a mystery is what racing is about.  Owners race their horses against the best if they want to be called the best- not the best on their coast.

11 Aug 2009 8:12 PM

Devil's Advocate here people:

What does a race that includes both Rachel and Zenyatta do for the industry?

Now even crazier:

What kind of attention would a (dare I say it) Match Race bring to American horse racing?

I know, I know...a match race is a dirty thought after what happened in 1975, but...just think about the coverage it would afford our beloved sport.

But still the most important thing to me is:

May both fillies stay happy and healthy for the rest of their long lives.

11 Aug 2009 8:21 PM
Abbie Knowles

Hi Bill Daly,

I agree with your posts totally.  Especially re that proposed match race.  A horrible idea!  One or other would get hurt or have their heart broken.  

On Facebook Sharla Sanders and i are dead against it.  Have not checked to see if others are too.  Sharla and i usually agree!  

Also Paula Werglas suggested the money be given to Equine rescue instead of for the match race!  A brilliant idea.  Told her to go for it and suggest it.  But she knows the man concerned and did not seem hopeful he would "go for it".  Still, worth a try.  

What do folks on here think?  A match race which could end in death, injury or a broken hearted horse/s or lots of money given to rescue horses fallen on hard times?

I would always favour a 5 year old over a 3 year because they are mature but Bill is so right in saying that in a match race, due to her running style, Zen would be compromised.

It is not Mike Smith's fault.  Anyone who knows anything about horses knows that you cannot make a 5 year old mare do anything!  Zen likes to race like that!  She knows where the winning post is!  If Mike Smith started beating her up with his whip he'd likely get dumped!  Not that he would.  He loves Zen too much just as Calvin Borel loves Rachel too much to get stuck into her!  

At the end of a match race these two, the mare and the filly would be giving their all.  You could even end up with two dead horses worse case scenario!  Neither would want to be beaten and that sort of effort causes huge strain!  Remember Eight Belles?  Ruffian? etc etc etc.

Maybe it is best Zen and Rachel never meet.  Sometimes it is more fun not knowing conclusively who is best.  They are both fantastic anyway!

God Bless

Best wishes


PS Steve please omit Sharla and Paula's names if you think it best.  I know you know them both on Facebook!   Both are Ladies that i do get on with very well which is far from always the case. I generally get on much better with men than women. i always get on with animals and well mannered children. I clash a bit with the badly behaved, undisciplined, disrespectful ones though!!  i know what Sharla looks like.  Paula has been using a photo of Just As Well.  Grand horse!  He'll win a big one before the year's out!  He's all heart!  And still improving.

11 Aug 2009 8:27 PM

I couldn't agree more.  They are both great horses.  It would break my heart to see one lose to the other.  Let's just enjoy the fact that this year we have two Queens of the Track.

11 Aug 2009 8:32 PM

I am most definitely a fan of both Zenyatta and Rachel. I probably have stronger emotions for Rachel because I was able to see her in person for the Kentucky Oaks. There really is something about seeing a horse in person. One of my largest regrets as it concerns racing is that I have not seen Zenyatta race in person. What makes this most frustrating is that I grew up in So California, have family there, and usually make it out there twice a year. However, last summer was the first summer since I moved to Michigan 10 years ago that I did not make it out to Cali, and thus missed races like the Milady and Vanity that I usually attend. Then, I was unable to make it out for the Breeders Cup. Unfortunately, I will not be heading out West again this summer, although I do plan on attending the Breeders Cup early in November. I hope Zenyatta is able to remain healthy so I can finally see this great horse in person.

In my opinion, both Rachel and Zenyatta have already proven their greatness and will be automatic Hall of Fame selections.  Even if Zenyatta runs only against other females in the Ladys Secret and BC Ladies Classic, should she win them and move to 14 for 14 I would not look at it as a "hollow" accomplishment nor would I hesitate to place her AMONG the greatest racehorses of all-time. Of course, her exact place/ranking among the greats would be higher were she to defeat males in a grade 1 or defeat Rachel.

It really is amazing how closely Zenyatta's career to date parallels the career of Personal Ensign. The obvious connection is being undefeated. However, the similarity goes beyond that obvious characteristic. It has been well discussed on this and other blogs that Zenyatta has raced only once outside the state of California.  Well, Personal Ensign ran ALL 8 of her initial races and 10 of her first 12 at ONE track, Belmont Park. In her two races away from her hometrack, Personal Ensign only had to venture across the Hudson into New Jersey(Monmouth) and upstate to Saratoga. Of course, in Personal Ensign's 13th and final start she was able to win in the slop at Churchill, running down the Derby champ Winning Colors(as well as Goodbye Halo). Thus, through 12 races, Zenyatta has basically been the "California Personal Ensign", with only one significant difference; Personal Ensign had been able to defeat males, including Gulch, in the gr.1 Whitney while Zenyatta has only run against females.

Lastly, I am one of those people who would like to see a Rachel-Zenyatta matchup. By defeating the other, the winner would have an undisputed place near the very top of any all-time list of the greatest females. No one, and I mean no one, could EVER claim that the winner never beat anyone of consequence. However, if the meeting never happens, I would be far from devastated. The two do not have to run against each other for me to appreciate and celebrate them.

11 Aug 2009 8:32 PM

I love your articles,you definitely are the best. I am in your corner, I hope they never meet, each one sends chills up my spine, I thought Mike Smith was goofing around with her, and almost got her beat, May they both end up undefeated, both end up sharing horse of the year honors, both win the division honors, 3yr old and aged mare. What a great time for horse racing.

11 Aug 2009 9:03 PM
Mary in VT


The several folks that have said that Rachel was blowing really hard after the Haskell got it wrong. Significantly wrong. I was there and was as close as a fan can get. I do not agree at all.

Her nostrils were moving some, and her flank was moving some, but it was not the typical big deep reflexive breaths that involve the whole chest cavity and can rock the entire body that one usually sees with a superior anaerobic effort, horse or human. There was a light quick rhythmic movement in the immediate flank area. It extended slightly into the thorax for a few minutes but to a much lessor degree. The thorax was never involved in a big way such as Fabulous Strike's was in the Vanderbilt or Bullsbay's in the Whitney this past weekend. She was recovering well as they led her away.

I did read that she staggered on the walk back to the barn after the Preakness. Anyone that doesn't understand the recovery period after an effort like that has probably never run lights out in a foot race.

Listen to yourselves! Does Rachel Alexandra have to come within 1/5 of a second of breaking the stakes record and 2/5 of a second off the track record on an off track without drawing a deep breath to impress you? If so, I think you are being incredibly unreasonable.

Mike Smith said that Zenyatta wouldn't have blown out a candle after the Hirsch. No wonder. By virtue of her amazing size alone she can't help but have a considerably longer stride than her foes. That alone doesn't make her great. That makes her big.

Consider running styles. Zenyatta only kicks in in the stretch. Why would anybody think that how much Zenyatta is breathing at the end of her races is comparable to that of a horse that is flying every inch of the way? Apples and oranges, folks. Apples and oranges. They are both fruit, but so what.

I love Zenyatta as much as anybody here, take nothing away from her, and record every second of her tv time so that I can watch them over and over again forever, just like I do with Rachel Alexandra. I will always be grateful for both of these great horses.

Any computer geeks on this list? Migth be fun to edit each horse out of their best race at a given distance and artificially put them into one race. Of course they won't be responding to each other in an edited version, but you can't tell me it wouldn't be fun. <g>

11 Aug 2009 9:09 PM
Soldier Course

Thanks, Steve. Means a lot, coming from you.

11 Aug 2009 9:44 PM
Paula Higgins

Mary in VT, I saw a pretty long video of Rachel walking back and trust me, she was dead tired. Staggered is the word and exactly right. I am not talking about blowing hard as the race ended or anything else. But the walk back told the whole story. I would have been tired too if I had run like that. She seems to be doing fine now.

Steve, I loved what you said about QR. He's a wonderful horse too and I think we haven't seen the bottom of him by a longshot.

11 Aug 2009 9:48 PM

ABZ, thanks for the props! I would have thought someone else besides us would have come up with the comparison but I feel vindicated that you saw what I saw. Non the less, I too hope they both retire happy and sound whether they meet or don't meet.

11 Aug 2009 10:13 PM
Saratoga AJ

I myself have no problem with a match race between Rachel and Zen. I know, everyone points to the ill fated Ruffian braking down. But in reality, she ran just as hard in some of her previous races..similar early fractions. It was a bad step, not because it was a match race.

And think of all the great match races in the past...Man'o'War-Sir Barton, Seabiscuit-Ligaroti, War Admiral-Seabiscuit, Armed-Assault, Capot-Coaltown, and Swaps-Nashua...all great match races inspiring great interest. Not one injury!

Truth be told...a fatal injury can happen in any race. When Go For Wand broke down, it was in the Belont stretch in the BC Distaff, not a match race. They have gotten a bad rap because of one unfortunate incident.

I say, someone get up $1 million and go for it!

11 Aug 2009 10:35 PM
Matthew W

Steve I KNOW they want to dirt her again....I was hoping to see NYRA make a play, maybe get sone sponsors, like the Marlboro Cup was created for Secretariat, get up at least three million, c'mon! Otherwise, MAYBE (not probably) they come East after the Classic if they LOSE the Classic (I think they will)....I love Rachel--I keyed her on top of my (losing) Preakness tri.....But I have never bet on Big Z--I WILL if they ever get it on back East---too bad Rachel won't be there for the Breeders Cup, though....so many tough and talented Euros....they probably don't get that kind in the Belmont Slop next year, lets be realistic, they love the synthetics/hate the dirt over there.....

11 Aug 2009 10:47 PM
Matthew W

Steve, can Giop Ponti "pull" Team Rachel over there? Why can't Gio Ponti win HOY with the Classic? Rachel's the bomb, but LOTS of three year olds over the years  could go 1:47, it isn't like she's hosing older horses or winning Gr I's at 1 1/2 on turf like Big Red, she's beating up on them---WIPING THEM OUT, mind you, but why wouldn't Gio Ponti's prescence in the Classic make a difference, if NOT--that's too bad, in my opinion....

11 Aug 2009 10:55 PM
Matthew W

"Oh yes they call it the streak...."....Steve THAT is what Team Zen can hang their hat on---the streak! Face it, no way can they win HOY on Synthetics--IRONIC, as Moss was the only one present at that fateful board meeting that DIDN'T cast a "yes" vote for synthetics---But you're right, as usual, Steve! Undefeated is something, isn't it now? Undefeated and closing out in the Classic, I mean, if she does that, years from now, they'll be saying "how could she win all those races, from dead last, every stinkin' time and not win HOY"??!! Tellya how in one word: "synthetics"....

11 Aug 2009 11:32 PM
Matthew W

Steve the reason they WON'T go 1 1/8 one turn v Rachel is THE STREAK....Would YOU go 1 1/8 v Rachel???....I'm a true believer and a lover of Zenyatta but I hardly think she could beat that fine filly at those conditions...I heard Moss interviewed by Roger Stein last Sunday, and he thinks the streak is important, sort of like, he "owes it to Zenyatta" to keep her races at a fair proposition, so to speak....and ya know what? I agree Steve! But for NY to see Big Z....Win or lose, she will leave an impression, that's all i can say about this horse, a once in a lifetime mare to see, really the onle horse I can really say that about--that she is worth the price of admission just to "view", Rachel's all that and a bag of chips---Zenyatta is her OWN experience---and it's all her own....

12 Aug 2009 12:02 AM
cowgirl Sally

I dont see any point in an RA-Zen match-up:  Zen has NO remarkable races this 2009 to say she is a DIRECT competitor to RA for HOTY.

The Huge mare just ran three (3) races, as of august.  And she almost lost the last one, winning only by a head.  

I dont see why this horse CAN be Horse of the Year.  I wont even vote her for best champion older mare (if I was eligible to vote), with the kind of performance she is showing.

I'd rather give my 2bucks bet for an RA-Quality Road match.  Although, it could be quite unfair for QR-- he just got back from the Recovery room, and he's gonna face a monster like RA.  I think these two are a more SATISFYING match, in terms of speed and talent versus that for RA and Zen.

If It hadnt been for RA's Preakness win, I wouldnt be here as a horse-racing fan.  So, you really have to admit that RA did a lot to bring young people like myself to the sport (previously, i just read girl magazines, and i leave horseracing to my dad!!).

In the short time i've known horse-racing, i have to admit that Zen SHOULD have been HOTY last year 2008.  However, winning STRAIGHT back to back races, proved to be NOT a defining characteristic for HOTY, as Curlin proved by winning the HOTY last year.  

Curlin may not have Zen's winning streak, but he does have the PASSION for it-- winning in Dubai, and all across North America.  Not just California, like Zen, though she has shown to be consistent in winning against the same gender group.

As for RA, I think defeating Zen is NOT A PRIORITY for Jess's people.  QR MIGHT pose a more credible challenge to RA, but QR aint gonna be HOTY even if he does win the Travers AND the BC.  

Why?  Nobody gets HOTY by winning 3 races (assuming QR wins the Travers AND BC), even if they are some of the biggest ones in the year.  

If that is the case, then EVERY horse would just stay in the barn all year waiting for the Travers or BC, coz they become HOTY if they win it.

That would be ridiculous.  And also a VERY BAD precedent for future HOTYs.

HOTYs are given to horses who personify the best in the breed -- speed, stamina, competitive will, courage, and most importantly, HEART.  And those qualities you cannot judge by looking at what? two or three races?

IMO, 2009 is RA's year.  Better luck to QR next year... there's ALWAYS a next year anyway... even for Zen.

12 Aug 2009 3:44 AM

Judy B , you hit the nail on the head..."suicide race"...

ONE RACE does not make one or the other the best, only the best that day.

Plus what's the fair surface when one has raced and trained all year on synthetics, the other on dirt...what's the fair weight when one is a 3 year-old and one is five?

12 Aug 2009 6:34 AM
Mike Relva


Here's a possible answer to your question about what RA will be like at Zenyatta's age. My opinion is probably burned out from racing!

12 Aug 2009 8:57 AM

Matthew W,

Not that I am a 'times' freak, but there have not been many 3-year-olds over the years who could run 1:46 1/5 while being geared down in the stretch!

12 Aug 2009 9:08 AM


Yes, 1953 was a huge year for racing and there are parallels to this year's situation.  There was a lot of talk of Native Dancer and Tom Fool meeting in the Fall's Sysonby Mile, but Native Dancer's injuries would not allow it to happen.

12 Aug 2009 9:20 AM

da3hoss you can say it.  It's ok Zenyatta is a California Poly Specialist.  She is never going to race the boys and she is never going to race Rachel.  But she is going to continue to bring people to the Track and hopefully bring girls and women out in droves.  Tickets are going to sell, writers are going to write and gamblers are going to wager.  I was one of those that was quick to compare Rachel and Zenyatta and it took me a while to look at the big picture.

I wish racing and marketing would catch up with the technology of today.  How many people would follow Rachel or Zenyatta at Twitter?  How many would like to get any update hourly ? If Rachel is taking a nap I would like to know that.  If she is getting a bath or whatever.  Am I alone?  Where is the Zenyatta and Rachel Facebook page ?  Think of the fans folks !!!  Who is prettier Meagan Fox or Halle Berry ?  Who is better Rachel or Zenyatta ?   Does it really matter ?  They are what they are.  My bigger wish is for racing to tap into 2009 technology and bring its marketing up to date.

I took my sister wife to school and we were early so I asked 10 kids at random, "Whos is Zenyatta?" only 1 boy knew. Nine of the other kids had no idea.  How do you make new fans if your not reaching out to today's youth?

Some of these tracks need to be in tune to today, most tracks are around 50 years old or older and some of their marketing ideas are just as old.

12 Aug 2009 9:23 AM
Soldier Course

Does anyone know the correct pronunciation of Anabaa's name?

Is is ANN-a-ba



When he was at Castleton Lyons, they used the first. But during coverage of the Clement Hirsch, I heard the second.

12 Aug 2009 9:51 AM

I don't want Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta to race against each other.They are two seperate horses each destined for greatness in their own way,No need to tarnish it.I just want to see the babies they produce should be beautiful like them.

12 Aug 2009 9:57 AM
Big Dreams

I dont quite understand why soo many fans root for Zen as HOTY.

That mountain of a mare ran only THREE (3) races, and won exactly THREE as well.  What's so AMAZING about that????

Tell me, is there ANYthing extraordinary about winning three straight races?

Even GIO PONTI can do that.  He was phenomenal in the Arlington million.. what a horse! Unfortunately he ONLY runs on turf.

QR is better than any Zenyatta, and he is just sensational at the Amsterdam.. Unfortunately, that race is just QR's FIRST race for the year-- and he aint got good feet-- he just had his quarter cracks sewn up.  No use risking his old cracks opening up again just so he can rack up enough wins to be HOTY.

Well Armed is nice, Commentator is retired, Sea the Stars is a maybe..

Actually, if RA is not here, I would choose between Gio or QR for HOTY but not Zenyatta.  She's got no solid achievement this year.  And I read that she aint gonna go in the Pacific Classic against colts, but would go for more of the same stuff in the Lady's Secret.

Thank goodness, though, we have Rachel Alexandra.  She is a filly for the Ages..As for Zen, well, she did have the Eclipse awards of past years, and she has a whole new world of Breeding to look forward to.. in 2010.

12 Aug 2009 10:57 AM

Saratoga AJ...

You took the words right out of my mouth. Match races don't cause "breakdowns" just as much as the 2006 Preakness, or the 2008 Derby.

I would also like to see some form of a "match-up", not necessarily a match race. If it's not in the cards, well then so be it.

We must almost keep in mind the big "Zen" did win on dirt so I don't believe in the "track

surface" issue.

I wouldn't mind seeing more versatility in Zen and see what she can really do, but will not take anything away from her. She is a magnificent creature!

One  thing about Zen and RA, they keep us wanting more, and that is truly indeed great!

12 Aug 2009 11:32 AM

I wrote it far up thread, but, I will repeat the fact that Del Mar, with the tight turns and the egg shaped west turn is a glorified bull ring.  The Great Z Lady is a massive long striding mare.  Her running style does not fit the mile and a sixteenth at DM as it would in a larger track with sweeping turns.  Sandy Hawley said if you turn your horse, even in 6 and a half races, loose too early, you will end up in the grandstand.

Therefore, her final quarter says it all about her greatness.  It reminded me of the great kick of Kotashaan used on DM's even tighter turf course.  The Z Lady overcame, not only a difficult pace, but, a difficult track upon which to accomplish her feat.

12 Aug 2009 12:08 PM

Right ON!!

The only place I want to see a match race between these two is on some fine kentucky farm in the broodmare pasture!!

12 Aug 2009 12:13 PM

The problem is that Zenyatta should have been named Horse of the Year last year, instead of Curlin.  He did not have a HoY year last year, and she did.  Now, without a shot at defeating Rachel, even if Zenyatta retires undefeated, Zenyatta is not going to be given her due.

Sure, she will probably be remembered as a great mare, but it would have been nice for her to have what she deserved.  Taking nothing away from Rachel Alexandra, but Zenyatta deserved it last year.

12 Aug 2009 12:19 PM

Mr. Haskin,

Your insightful article sure got a lot of comments. After reading all 223 of them, my head is reeling but I'm very happy to see that most people are quite content to enjoy both horses for what they are and what they do. They are so different and so exciting in their own special way.

The idea of a match race is absurd to me. Not because of the fear of injuries (I always have those, no matter who's running) but because you might as well hand the trophy over to Rachel without even running the race.

For those who criticize Zenyatta for not racing against Rachel...can you cite a race, that Rachel has run in this year, where Zenyatta could have joined the frey? She is 5. She is not allowed to run in races limited to 3year olds. It is up to Rachel's connections to enter her in a race where Zenyatta can also enter. Until they do that the point is moot. Zenyatta has raced in contests that Rachel could have run in. Rachel has not.

DRAYNAY, is that you in sheep's clothing? Or has Mr. Haskin finally got the point across, that all CIVIL comments are welcome on his blog... I must say I enjoyed your new style a lot better than the other one. You actually made some very good points without irritating me...WOW! :)

12 Aug 2009 12:31 PM

The sport should some how find a way to have these two fillys face each other. A match race makes no sense. A race  between two stars is what horse racing so desperatly needs.

12 Aug 2009 12:48 PM
Mary in VT

A few thoughts regarding the rides Rachel and Zenyatta have been getting ...

If I understood him right, Mike Smith did say that Zenyatta wanted to go sooner in the Hirsch, and that in retrospect he should have let her. To her credit, Zenyatta still overcame his error which is great. To his credit, I don't recall any other errors on Zenyatta, though he has second guessed his timing on both of his rides on late closing Mine That Bird as well. You got to love the man, not just for his ability, but for his humility. He doesn't claim those races were perfectly ridden, nor expect us to.

Calvin Borel, on the other hand, is starting to bug me. When he was so overcome with emotion and really whooped it up after his 2nd Derby victory, he was completely authentic. It was refreshing in a world where adults seem to think that they need to be so reserved and sophisticated that they dare not live out their joy. However, the show boating on RA is getting to me because it seems less and less authentic and a little more put on each time. I hope that I am wrong about all of this, but the ongoing antics could be construed to making it all a little bit more about Calvin. Even if he is not deliberately making it more about Calvin, he needs to be mindful of the potential for it to be viewed that way, and knock it off. No doubt he is having the thrill of a lifetime, of several lifetimes in fact, but I think that even he will someday wish that the historical record of the majority of that great filly's races showed him dedicated to the business at hand well passed the wire, and only letting go with whatever comes natural after he has started to bring her back.

Another point about Calvin's antics at and immediately after the wire; if you watch the head on shots of the ride out after Rachel's Haskell victory you will see his weight shift markedly to one side while he gestures to the crowd, and the horse veer somewhat towards the grandstand. Granted there was no other horse in the immediate vicinity that day, but there could be one of these days. I think the jockey should be focused exclusively on the safety of the horse until there are no longer any horses on the track moving at a speed with which they could hurt one another. I also think that shifting your weight that much toward one side of a horse that has just put in a superior effort on an off track might be a bad idea. If she had strained any part of her legs it might just be enough to make it worse. I know that these horses are not as fragile as they look, despite all the breakdowns we hear of, but after seeing that ride out I can tell you that if she were my horse all that *stuff* would come to a screeching halt.

Yes, I am being picky. I am sure this jockey business is considerably harder than it looks. And after all, who is perfect about anything? Certainly not me.

I quite agree with Draynay about longing for technology to catch up with the sport of kings. Oh, it's coming ... but ever so painfully slow. For example: wouldn't you be willing to pay darn good money to view a webcam in Rachel's or Zenyatta's stall on a daily rate basis? Even if it were Rachel takes a nap nap I would be supremely thrilled and privileged to see it. I would be euphoric over Zenyatta putting away a bag of hay. Even if it were too intrusive to do everyday, and was only offered one day a week they could raise significant dinero for charity. And it would be child's play to set it up.

Anyway, that's my .02. Have grand day everyone.

Mary in VT

12 Aug 2009 1:44 PM

I'm embarrassed that the most recent "match race" talk is coming out of Texas. This proposed race would be run in late September or early October?  Get real!  The whole reason Z is not coming East is to prepare for the BC in California. Why in the world would they throw that plan out to run in Houston just a few weeks before the race they have pointed to all year?  This latest proposal smells like a big attention-grab.  These two fillies have bigger fish to fry - the BC & Jockey Club Gold Cup, hopefully.  The most logical place for a real showdown is the Clark Handicap at Churchill AFTER the BC.  Of course, by then they will both probably be past their best form and neither one will win.  Such is life.

12 Aug 2009 2:37 PM
sweet terchi

Dray, they are kids. Racing is probably the last thing on their minds.

Greg J., thanks for all the links.

12 Aug 2009 4:35 PM
sweet terchi

Dray, sorry, got distracted and didn't complete my thought. They are kids, and unless the parents show them (or even the school), they won't know. One of the semester break classes offered at some schools here in So Cal is horse riding, that is always a start. Now, how many schools offer something like that, and would be willing to do so on all levels?

12 Aug 2009 4:41 PM

No Zookeeper no agenda here I am a huge Rachel fan no doubt but there are also huge Zenyatta fans so sooner or later you have to look at the whole picture and as a fan of the sport I want to see it move forward.  The debate over who is better gets stale and when the paths are so different, ultimately it just really doesn't matter.  What matters is bringing the sport into the present and making it more of a family event.  Technology can play a huge part in that, and its time for the tracks to realize its 2009 and to compete they are going to need to update and appeal to today's youth.

12 Aug 2009 4:52 PM

Thank you once again for a very inciteful article!!  I for another

wish the we could just enjoy watching these TWO GREAT FILLIES without seemingly pitting one against the other-I don't believe it would be any better for racing if the two actually ran against each other!! I do find it interesting though that it is the FEMALES that are generating so much interest in a sport that has traditionally(and still has)such a male bias!!

12 Aug 2009 5:11 PM
Elaine Winter


I was at Del Mar and remember thinking the track might prove to be a problem for big long striding horse like Zenyatta. She actually lost ground when coming around far turn. What a race to see live.

12 Aug 2009 5:11 PM

I love Zenyattas walk when she is parading to post,such personality.

They should just make two awards to accomodate the two horses who have kept horse racing interesting.

12 Aug 2009 5:32 PM

Ok, i'm not sure whether it was someone on here who mentioned it, somebody on another, blog or if i read it in an artical, but they said a possible match up in the Beldame with a purse hike and no detention barns to get RA and Zen to come togeather. Why not take this one step further and go in the JCGC, where you will most likey find MTB, QR, and SB. This way you have all three winners of the TC lined up, along with a Travers winner, assuming one of those three wins the Travers, and the unbeaten defending eclipse award winning older female all in the same race. Who here can say race of the decade?

12 Aug 2009 6:58 PM

They may be just kids but kids love animals!  Particularly horses.  My nephew, when he was 4 loved watching the races on TV.  He loved going to the track and watching them run live.  He is now 18 and goes to the track and is a fan.  At Santa Anita, parents can take their kids on the backside tours and see the horses.  The outriders often have kids around them petting their horses.  How often does a city kid get to be near horses?  It's a thrill for a lot of them and to see them run is an even bigger thrill.

12 Aug 2009 7:12 PM

Mary in Vt...I agree with your comments regarding Calvin Borel. He should ride her to the finish and then celebrate. It reminded me of a story about D Wayne Lukas and Chris Antley. Chris celebrated before the wire on Charismatic by pointing his finger in the air and Lukas said if he'd of got caught at the wire that finger would have been in a jar on his desk. Lol. And I can't help but think that it hurts RA in the sense that she doesn't know where the end of the race is. Zenyatta knew right where the finish line was...she put her ears up for the photo. :)

12 Aug 2009 7:29 PM

Local High Schools should have programs set up with the tracks for kids to volunteer at the tracks for class credit.  There is much to learn and the tracks, community, and most importantly the kids would be the beneficiaries.  The tracks need to step up and offer those types of programs to our youth the benefit would be immediate.

12 Aug 2009 8:09 PM
Soldier Course

A few years back, an unexpected boost to horse racing "came from the clouds", as the saying goes. This was Laura Hillenbrand's book, "Seabiscuit".

The book's phenomenal success was not orchestrated by any special interest groups in the sport. It just happened. If the sport could figure out exactly what captured the public's imagination in this instance, it may be able to fix itself now. The fascination was rooted in something more than an underdog story, because there are plenty of those around.

I'll bet Ms. Hillenbrand could offer insight about this.      

12 Aug 2009 8:28 PM

I have a question with all the RACHEL ALEXANDRA vs ZENYATTA talk ? all the scenarios I have read makes the CHAMP ZENYATTA having to go on a dirt track. I say if everyone thinks RACHEL is really better make her come to neutral synthics surface.after all ZENYATTA is 12 for 12 and won the ladies classic, she shouldnt have to be the one to comprise. I dont think any true horse racing fan wants to she either horse can injured in a forced matchup. I hope RACHEL go to the travers, I wouldnt overlook QUALITY ROAD he is a 3 year old who could beat her.

12 Aug 2009 8:57 PM

Another awesome article Steve!  I agree!  I have been saying that although I would love to see them race, I really don't want to see either of them lose so if they don't meet that's okay by me!  I think they are both awesome in their own way and neither should be put down.  Especially since the things people are holding against Zenyatta are not within her control.  

RGGC and ABZ - 1953 was a great year for racing (wish I was there!) with my all time favorite Native Dancer!! Boy what a horse he was, still can't believe he didn't get HOTY!  A meeting with Tom Fool would have been great - but for that silly foot bruise.  He is probably the reason why I love to watch a closer run so much-what a thrill!  They are often so far back it seems impossible - but the great ones make the impossible happen!

12 Aug 2009 9:54 PM

Mr. Fantasy Update:

Mr. Fantasy was pinfired yesterday. He will be on stall rest for two weeks, but will be hand-walked daily. After two weeks he will begin turnout in a small paddock.

Pinfiring: Every year hundreds of racehorses undergo a procedure called thermo-cauterisation - commonly known as pinfiring. It is a crude, painful leg operation that involves the insertion of red-hot needles through the skin to burn the damaged tendon or ligament. The purpose is to stimulate an inflammatory response around the injury and thereby enable a horse with damaged and bruised limbs to continue taking the knocks and bruises as they perform.


It is also very inhumane and painful to the horse, and I personally think there are more downsides to upsides to this type of treatment. I believe the practice has been banned in Ireland and the UK? That's what I was told when there, anyway, and thankful for it. I wish the US would follow suite. Surely in the modern age, there are better ways of taking care of a horse  

People don't get that it's the recuperation from the pinfiring that "cures" the horse, not the pinfiring itself! It's been proven over and over through research.

If the horse recovered from pinfiring, there's next to no reason why they can't have athletic careers.

12 Aug 2009 10:08 PM

This might seem nuts, but it would certainly inject horse racing with an adrenaline boost for the ages.

A match race between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.

The networks can give both owners a ton of cash, neither filly would be slighted regardless of outcome, and the general public would be whipped into a frenzy by horse racing for the first time in years.

12 Aug 2009 10:22 PM
Matthew W

Zenyatta is a horse to see....If you get the chance, see her in person.....Who knows if she would've been a dirt tiger--probably, but even if you don't see her race---seeing that mare is ione of those "slow-motion" experiences--to look at naked horseflesh, maybe seven or eight, and you just come upon her, you know it right away, she hasn't the tell-tale blaze of Rachel, it's the entire package of an amazing horse, win or lose, viewing Zenyatta is worth it--and she's going away from the track very soon.....

12 Aug 2009 10:37 PM
Matthew W

Neither filly should have to take on older at 1 1/4! They should be running, like Personal Ensign and Winning Colors, in the Distaff! If Rachel's in the Hirsch she beats Zen by six easy lengths, Zen was very beatable the other day--NO EXCUSE for them to shun their DUTY to the sport! Show up and do your duty and run in The Breeders Cup!!!!!

12 Aug 2009 10:43 PM

With all said and done here nothing is going to change. RA and Zen will never face each other in any kind of a race. Zen will remain in SoCal and RA in the East. Neither connection is dying to pair these two up. If JJ wanted some of Zen, he would come West and if Moss wanted some of RA, he would come East. I love both girls and I want to remember each for their places in history that they both have made.Both have given all of us enough since they started racing.I know Zen will be fine after her retirement this year, I am worried about RA, she has gave so much and the world is expecting her to give so much more. I hope she can remain in great health for next year and JJ don't put her thru to many rigorous races. I am worried about her having to go against the colts so much, I know it is going to eventually take a toll on her. I respect JJ, but she is a filly not a colt.I want to see her go in a few easier races. I am afraid she will be exausted by the end of this year.I would like to see her have more than a month off in between races with colts.We all have to remember, she is an animal not a machine.

12 Aug 2009 11:16 PM

You are a brilliant writer.  I have been trying to explain to people all year, these very points you put together so well. I will print out a copy for my 2009 racing memory book. Racing needs these girls, and we need them healthy and stars in their own right. There is, after all room for more than one celebrity in this game.  It makes more sense to me that their owners preserve their horses- than risk everything. Ruffian and Eight Belles should not have perished trying to prove what we already knew about them.  Why does it always have to boil down to one anyway?      

12 Aug 2009 11:46 PM

Hi All,

Been away for awhile.  I had taken my nephew to Colonial Downs for the VA Derby. What great fun! The kid's turning out to be a monster handicaper. And he's only six! We missed Nicanor but still had the time of our lives.  We ended up staying with some family in Richmond for an extra TWO WEEKS! We took in some more racing and ended up at Busch Gardens on the money we won!  Now how can you beat that! (By the way I highly recomend riding the Griffen for all of you roller coster lovers.) The extra money is going toward buying my nephew a TB broodmare, which is what Tristen wants more than anything, and studfee.  He is not a spoiled child but quite sweet and humble so I must not deny him this.  It may come to shape his future in a positive way one day.

Now for this topic. It is horse racing and I, for one, would love to see these two superwomen of horseflesh throw down in a race.  I wouldn't care who wins I'd still love them both the same.  But unfortunatly I just don't see it happening. Oh well, already over it!  They're both wonders of our time and I believe will stay that way so I shall just sit back and enjoy!

13 Aug 2009 3:16 AM
Soldier Course

For those here who want to see RA and Zenyatta meet, saw this on Twitter @PaulSherwen and thought you'd enjoy:

Not everyone who chases the zebra catches it, but he who caught it chased it.

13 Aug 2009 8:46 AM

Welcome back, Horswld!  Sounds like you and your nephew did have a great time after all.  Very exciting that he was winning and now has the TB bug - good work!

13 Aug 2009 8:52 AM
Soldier Course

Let zen take care of the debate about the two girls meeting (no pun intended). The push is getting way out of proportion, and when that happens thing start to go awry. Que sera, sera.

13 Aug 2009 10:00 AM

Soldier Course,

You are absolutely right! The book about Seabiscuit was a huge success and the "Sport of Kings" enjoyed a surge of interest.  The movie was a phenomenal success and right after that came Smarty Jones and I have never seen this country so behind a horse since Secretariat.

13 Aug 2009 10:47 AM

LDP...Yes, or as I mentioned one time, how about taking that thought and make it into and invitational?

One thought about surfaces, RA also did have a win on the poly as well as Zen having that win  on the dirt. So, I don't believe in the "great surface debate".

Have a great day all...

13 Aug 2009 11:03 AM

Soldier Course,

If they don't mess it up, the movie about Secretariat should be another big boost for the sport.

However, the new found fans will quickly vanish if racing itself doesn't solve it's problems.

Breakdowns on the track are an absolute turn off. I haven't been able to watch racing at Del Mar, except for the stakes races, because the level of fatalities at that venue have been shameful. Mr. Haskin is talking about it in the newest edition of "And They're Off". Maybe you've watched it. As usual, he shows great insight and a genuine concern for the sport he loves so much.

So, I'm staying away from what used to be one of my favorite meets. The image of Mi Rey desperately trying to get up after breaking down during a race on opening day has had a devastating effect on me and probably many, many more horse-lovers.

The constant hammering for a showdown between Rachel and Zenyatta or for Zenyatta to race against the boys is getting troublesome. What are we, the modern edition of the Romans at the Coliseum? Whatever they do is never enough?


I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Mr. Jackson cares as much about his filly as Mr.& Mrs. Moss care about Zenyatta. Somehow, I have my doubts...I hope I'm wrong.

13 Aug 2009 11:32 AM
Abbie Knowles

Poor Mr Fantasy!  I too loathe the practise of pinfiring.

Rest, poulticing, cold hosing etc is so much kinder!

God Bless

Best wishes


13 Aug 2009 11:51 AM

Rachel does not give me goose bumps because I've seen greatness and SHE isn't it.  I guess they're looking for another mile and an eith race for her,  GOD KNOWS, anything further and she would lose.  That would certainly explain why she couldn't compete in the Belmont Stakes,  she distance challeneged.

13 Aug 2009 12:10 PM

Zenyatta closed her last 1/4 of a mile in a “scorching” 22:49 with the last sixteenth in 5 an change.

God help Rachel Alexandra if she takes a Tex Sutton flight out to Santa Anita for the Breeders Cup. This filly will not have a chance against this mare on the Pro-Ride. Speed and “tactical” speed is not what you want on this track. It will suck the life right out of you.

Jess Jackson is ducking the Breeders Cup because he learned from Curlin’s mishap (last year). All those speed figures and the best horse in the world faltered at the 1/8th pole, Curlin was absolutely winded. When Curlin, returned to his groom he was exausted (blowing “extremely” hard).

Zenyatta is made for these tracks and this mare will make the filly look like an absolute fool.

The Breeders Cup – “Where Champions Meet”

13 Aug 2009 12:18 PM

Although posting without doing my homework, I'm surprised pinfiring is still practiced at the track.  There are many more "modern" and proven ways of dealing with soft tissue issues.  Stem cell therapy has been very useful, and shockwave therapy is looking to be the best treatment overall for treating these types of injuries.  I had very good success with it on a suspensory tear.  The machine for administering shock wave is banned on the track (because it numbs the leg for a period of time), but if the horse has this type of injury, he has no need to be at the track for a while.  

13 Aug 2009 12:38 PM

I wish they would run the Preakness 3 weeks after the Derby instead of two,we might still have Barbaro and by now his kids would be starting to race,such a shame.I believe there is a way to have the races and keep the horses as safe and healthy as possible,don't ya think?

13 Aug 2009 12:39 PM


That is what horse racing is  about.

Look @ the Triple Crown races and all the "hammering" RA took in facing the "boys". Or look @ the "showdowns" of the Breeders Cup races.

Remember  Big Brown and Curlin? It never happened. Is it different because they are males?

Are these series also a trip to the Coliseum?

I do like your idea on the Secretariat movie. It would be about time!

Have a good one :)

13 Aug 2009 12:41 PM

I agree 100% zookeeper. I also have my fingers crossed. I salute Zens connections for loving her so much that they look out for her and keep her on what she is used to.  I wish the same for Rachael, I'm sorry but JJ to me, is out for more than the Moss's are. I worry about Rachael and her strenuating months to come.

13 Aug 2009 12:46 PM

One last thought...

Working in the industry, one doesn't have the luxury to turn away  when a catastrophic mishap occurs. It's a part of the game when one decides to pursue this career.

I don't need to mention all the great trainers when their champions broke down and had to be euthanized. And how they showed their emotions.

We have that "passion" for the sport and don't want to see any jock, horse, groom, exercise rider, etc, injured.

Nothing wrong in wanting to see two Champions run against each other.

Will it happen, probably not.

Will catastrophic breakdowns stop? Probably not.

It's a way of life in our sport, otherwise...time to find a new career!

13 Aug 2009 1:23 PM

I adore both Rachel and Zenyatta, though the latter holds a special place in my heart since I saw her run at last year's Breeders' Cup. I got some lovely pictures of her strutting her stuff in the paddock, storming down the stretch to victory, and finally being led back to the barn a champion. Her bearing was so dynamic it just gave me goosebumps!

As for having the two meet each other, if it happens, it happens, but I certainly can live without it. The idea of a match race is absurd given Zenyatta's running style - it would never happen. I would like to see her venture East again but then she doesn't just face an unfamiliar surface but the added complication of weather. Remember she was shipped to Pimlico this year, even if she was scratched because of the mud. Can't say I blame the Moss's at all for that.

13 Aug 2009 1:27 PM


So, horse racing is all about what?

People clamering for more? I thought it was about horses racing where and when their owners see fit. I thought it was about owners actually caring about their horses and not asking them for more than they think is reasonable. I thought it was about horses competing at the level that is determined by the owners and trainers, not by the demands of a pestering crowd who has NO intimate knowledge of the horses in question.

Yes, horse racing is about competition. But it is not for us the "fans" to determine the schedule of any given horse and to badger the connections until some of us get what they want.

13 Aug 2009 1:48 PM

Whatever... let me say this as nicely as I can.  Rachel has already won at a distance over 1 1/8th and she did it in a Triple Crown race on 2 weeks rest from a post NO HORSE has ever won the race from.  She is a 3 year old filly and has no reason to go further than 1 1/8th this year again.  The Woodward and Beldame set up perfectly for her and she will finish the season going 1 1/8th in both races and finish 9 for 9.  I hope that is good enough for you.

13 Aug 2009 2:10 PM

Maybe we all should keep Rachel in our thoughts and hope she stays healthy and is appreciated by her owners as much as Zenyatta is.

13 Aug 2009 3:37 PM

Steve, I wish you would have told us where and when Zenyatta learned her dancing moves.  I look forward to that more than her racing.  Why?

Because I am not an adrenalin junkie when the life of that exquisite thoroughbred hangs on skinny little legs.  I just cannot take the suspense and fear so I watch her races on BH AFTER the race, when I know she has won and is OK.  She is the only horse I have ever done that with.

Call me chicken, I don't care.  I want Zenyatta to live so we all can see her produce a Curlatta or Zenlin.

I also don't like the thought of a match-up.  Call me a coward again AND superstitious but a female match race - it reminds me too much of Ruffian.  I get scared - I want that Curlatta, or Zenlin.

As for Rachael WOW! what a go-girl-go. I can watch Rachael race, because that outcome is assured.  Her fast out in front style just could beat a come from behind Zenyatta, if Zen didn't time it right.  The best I would hope for is a nose-to-nose, it's the only outcome I would want.  I want both of these spectacular fillies to win.  

And I want them both to live, to produce the most spectacular offspring that racing has ever seen.

As for racing surfaces: hooey.  Each female has the right to be as persnickety as she wants as to her favored feel beneath her feet.  If Zenyatta doesn't like the feel of dirt, that's her priviledge.  The same for Rachael.  We are dealing with a super intelligent mammals.  They know what they like and don't like, and it is not up to us to decide for them that they are winners or loosers because they are forced onto a surface that is not of their choosing.  Really the idea of 'owning' such superior beings is antiquated.  We are their care-takers, not the enforcers of our will.  They should be able to do as they please, which is run their ever-loving hearts out, on surfaces that please them.  And we all know the results - which are nothing short of perfection.  Spoiled Americans, be satisfied with that.

13 Aug 2009 4:42 PM


Horse racing is not all ribbons and pretty ponies, or Black Beauty, Black Stallion or Seabiscuit. It's a tough grueling sport and not just "fans". It's also people like myself that made a career choice to be here.

I see your point yes, but who are "we" to dictate what is right or wrong?  

If people didn't "clamor" for more then what's the point of having a Breeder's Cup or Derby, or even the Triple Crown series. I think you get the point.

Without the fan support our sport would die and no horse including RA or Zen would have their fans.

Now we don't want that...Do we?

Sorry Zoo but the racing industry isn't what you picture it to be.

In a perfect world yes, but unfortunately it's only in the movies.

Good luck and take care.

13 Aug 2009 5:57 PM

One more comment about Zenyatta and then I'll get off my soapbox (promise!).

Some have called her connections "chicken" because they did not race her at Churchill Downs in May. It had rained quite a bit. The track was sloppy. They scratched her. Zenyatta is a California horse (yes Draynay, she's the California State Champion). It seldom rains here and if it does the synthetic tracks do not turn to mud. Zenyatta's experience in the mud is about as extensive as her experience on the surface of the moon. Sure, they could have gone ahead and raced her to find out whether she could handle it or not, but to experiment, on race day, with a huge mare like Zenyatta seems imprudent to me. So, what would you prefer if you were the horse: your owner declared a "chicken" or his "sportmanship" being lauded as he is risking your life, not his.

13 Aug 2009 6:23 PM

For the record Zoo I am not interested in calling anyone a chicken.  If I were Mr. Moss at this point I would be doing what he is doing.  Zenyatta is never going to race a male horse and Zenyatta is never going to race Rachel Alexandra.

After watching her last race it was hard not to notice the fun and joy in Mr. and Mrs. Moss's faces as Zenyatta posted another win.  I also saw extreme relief.  They want more than anything to get through these next 2 races and retire her a 2 time Distaff Champion and undefeated Champion.  That is the goal, not proving whether she is better than this horse or that horse.  Watching the good times Mr. Moss and his wife were enjoying together was enough for me to reevaluate the whole thing.  How good is Zenyatta really ?  Who can beat her ? I don't care anymore.  As a FAN I would love to see her retire undefeated and take her place as one of the greatest fillies ever.  As a FAN why would I want anything else for Zenyatta, her connections and HER millions of young fans.

13 Aug 2009 7:29 PM
Soldier Course


Yes, I think there's a certain craving in this RA v. Zenyatta obsession that brings the Coliseum to mind. I have had the same feeling that you write about.

13 Aug 2009 7:50 PM

If the track was as sloppy as some say it was on Oaks day then why by the time of the Oaks was it a dry fast track. If it rained that much and was really that sloppy it wouldn't have dried that fast. Also on the day of the 07 BCC i think that was the first time Curlin ever ran in mud, i didn't see him scratch and that track was a swamp. Great horses run in all conditions no matter what, she should've been in that race.

13 Aug 2009 8:17 PM
Mike S

Speaking of "She should have been in that race" there's no legitimate excuse in the world for RACHEL ALEXANDRA to miss the Breeders Cup, racing's championship day. Everyone with championship status/aspirations will be there. RACHEL ALEXANDRA will be most conspicuous in her absence.

13 Aug 2009 9:45 PM

Draynay - WOW! What an impressive comment at 8-13-09 7:29pm!

13 Aug 2009 9:47 PM

The track was not sloppy on Oaks day, they scratched because they feared that it could possibly be sloppy.

13 Aug 2009 10:22 PM

Well, if great horses run in all conditions then send all of the "Great" horses to the Breeders Cup this year!!!  Rain or Shine, Poly or Synthetic !!! Looks like that can go for surfaces as well because it's these 'conditions' that make these surfaces. Wet or Dry. P.S. Would you run RA on a wet poly or synthetic track? Absolutely Not!!, Right?

13 Aug 2009 10:34 PM
Matthew W

LDP C'mon, youngin'! The Classic in the mud is a bit different than a gr 3 in the mud! They went out there to run---give them credit! Scratching in am was prudent--you're not gonna lose the streak over a sloppy small stakes! The Oaks and Derby are different--Indeed, MANY top three year olds were messed up from running on that Derby quagmire! BTW, is your point they would've LOST that race they scratched out of? As far as being critical over missing a GR 3...to miss the BREEDERS CUP, or should I say DUCK the Breeders Cup, well, that must REALLY get under yopr skin...or are you wearing Rachel Glasses??

13 Aug 2009 10:55 PM
Matthew W

I know, I know, they're not afraid of Zenyatta....they're afraid of LOSING to Zenyatta....

13 Aug 2009 11:00 PM
Paula Higgins

Draynay, beautiful post and I agree 100%. Good job/well said.

13 Aug 2009 11:10 PM


    i said all conditions, not surfaces, learn the difference. If you have an exceptional dirt horse they should be able to run on fast, good, muddy, sloppy whatever. If you have a turf horse firm, good, yielding, soft. If you want to say a great horse has to run all surfaces you can eliminate most of the horses that would make up the top twenty in the last 30 years. Also, what do you mean wet synthetic? They are supposed to be all weather which means the condition doesn't ever change. It has been said that Zenyatta likes dirt better, so why duck a muddy track, if she likes dirt and is versitle enough to win a grade one on synthetics and dirt, why should mud be a problem.

Mike S,

     Why get on just RA, she's not the only horse not coming because of synthetics, so obviously JJ is not alone in his opinion. Also since the decided to hold the Cup on synthetics again, it is not the championship day, champions are decided on natural surfaces, dirt and turf, nothing else, that is why you will see no turf champions made, only turf. Why risk your horse on these surfaces with how quirky and unperdictable they can be. If the races were on dirt RA would be there, but CA shot themselves in the foot and now they get to pay the price.

13 Aug 2009 11:15 PM

Wow!(Picking myself up off of the floor)This can't be our Dray!

14 Aug 2009 1:37 AM


Thank you very much! It was a pure pleasure having Tristen with me.  His company, I feel, makes me a better person and I hope sharing this passion for loving horses, horseracing and hopefully soon having his own horses will have as positive an impact on his life as it has had on mine.  I think that the magic of just seeing the beauty of a horse, in itself, makes all of our lives a little  bit richer and even more worth living.

14 Aug 2009 2:04 AM
Abbie Knowles

I totally agree with Pro-Ride and merrywriter.  And to some degree with most comments on here.

draynay you really are so much pleasanter on here.  Hope the new leaf is for real!  Gonna check Jason's blogsite soon to see if you are being consistent!

Time to walk my dog.  It is a gorgeous day in N. Cotswolds.  Hope it is with you!

God Bless

Best wishes


14 Aug 2009 6:13 AM

Horse racing is now, has been, and will always be about the who is the fastest horse. It's called horse RACING. The best horses should matchup. I wonder if all this concern about the safety of these horses is more about not wanting to see your favorite lose. There is no more risk in these horses facing each other than there is for any other horse who races. Are we gonna ban horse racing?

I don't know if anyone noticed but horse racing could use the boost that a race involving these two would bring. There's obviously massive fan interest in it. Racing needs it.

Zenyatta can be campaigned anyway they want. My problem comes when they openly talk about HOY. IMHO, you cannot win HOY by staying in California. You must go to different tracks. Lets win a race east of the Mississippi against some different horses then talk about HOY. You can beat up the same group of mares in California 100 times and it won't prove your greatness.

This is the exact reason why the Breeders Cup should never be run twice on the same track. And they should really think hard about whether it should ever be run on a synthetic surface. Championship Day should be run on only dirt and turf.

14 Aug 2009 7:56 AM

Draynay, I am totally impress and glad to see this side of you. The last couple of post have been so Zen like(excuse the pun), I think I want to know what meds you are taking so I can get on them too! LOL! I now realize that you a true fan with a heart of gold (gold plated?..) whatever. I think I like you, I really do...

14 Aug 2009 9:04 AM

The comment to Steve's lively midnight article on Z and RA that I liked the best was Draynay's about the joy seen on the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Moss after Z's wins.  I just love the exuberant happiness they feel and show - how could one not?  At the 2008 BC, I called out a congratulations to them as they walked thru the tunnel after the Classic - Mrs. Moss turned around to me, and threw up her arms with a big smile and yay!! I snapped a photo of her doing that-so fun a picture.   If I owned Z, I too would have the goal of her retiring a 2-time BC Ladies Classic, undefeated winner, unconcerned over whether or not she beat the boys.  

I am in AWE of RA that she did so in the Preakness and Haskell, but never did understand why it is that for a female to be HOY she has to defeat males.   Alas, racing is kinda sexist.

So, THANK YOU Zenyatta and Rachel for bringing us all such joy, thrills and chills, such strong beauty to behold, and such welcome femininity:)

14 Aug 2009 12:05 PM

Joe, big difference between track condition and track surfaces. How about instead of Rachel running in the Ladies Classic, lets have the Great Z run against the boys and Goldikova on the turf? The difference between synthetic and dirt is huge. I don't blame anyone for not wanting to run a horse on an artificial surface.

14 Aug 2009 12:06 PM
Pam S.

We all want the equine athletes to live rather than to die on the track.  That goes without saying.  I am almost confused, though, by the handful of posters who (for a long time now) stress that they want to see the offspring of Rachel or Zenyatta because these foals would be the most talented racehorses ever.  So what then, would you be afraid to race them in any challenging spots just to be on the safe side??   Then how would anyone know what great racehorses they were??  Just by looking at them?

When you have great horses on the track, I think you should be enjoying them and their racing performances.  Anticipating their "great" foals at this point seems to me like you can hardly wait to get the racing business over with.  But the whole purpose of breeding the foal is for someone to race it (like the future parents are racing now), so I find the comments confusing.  I would just think breeding speculation would come after the horses in question are retired, unless of course you are in the breeding business.

14 Aug 2009 12:12 PM


You have made such a positive impact on this blog!  I am so proud of you for stepping up and showing everyone what kind of person you really are.  Bravo!  Paula and I always knew you were a a nice man.  Keep it up.  I really love these posts!  I'm sure you'll throw a few "ringers" in there just to keep us on our toes!

14 Aug 2009 2:59 PM

Well done LDP and Phil, I agree completely.  First of all, the BC is a bit of a joke this year.  It should NEVER be at the same track two years in succession.  There is absolutely no good sporting reason for this to happen.  We will never see the Super Bowl at the same venue in consecutive seasons.  Secondly, the problem is compounded by having it on a synthetic surface.  America is dirt racing first and turf racing second.  Now that the evidence is becoming clear that they are no safer than our traditional surfaces they shoud go the way of the 8-track.  Much like steroids in baseball, I believe these years will be looked at in the future as the 'synthetic years'.  Shame on the BC for allowing for two straight years on this surface.

14 Aug 2009 3:10 PM

RGGC I love a good argument and I do not always see eye to eye with many.  However, I like many truly do enjoy being at the track and watching beautiful animals run on bright sunny days.  Many times I have been to Santa Anita, ordered the shrimp cocktail and enjoyed a day of racing.  Sometimes when you're posting on boards like this you're so focused on making your points that you fail to talk about the passions or the love of the sport.  Its ok for us to argue and debate but I don't want to focus on one aspect of racing when there are so many other things we can discuss and agree on.  Maybe its my Obama moment I don't know.  What I do know is most of us here have a love for the sport and want nothing more than the sport to prosper and do well.  I think its time we talk more about that and what we can do to make the sport better than spending out time fighting about which horse is the best or which one is better.  What I would like to talk about is Keeneland Race Track because in a few weeks I will be there for opening day and I would like to know from some of you wise people here what I should expect and where I should sit.

14 Aug 2009 3:16 PM
Karen in Indiana

Draynay, wonderful post 13 Aug 2009 7:29 PM . And I agree with every word of it - as a fan, I want to see her retire undefeated also. To see her getting her Game Face (pun) on before the races, to see her acknowledging the people as she prepares to kick butt, and then to see her come bouncing back with her head held high - it's priceless. She knows she's won and I hope she never has to learn otherwise.

14 Aug 2009 3:21 PM


    The track wasn't even sloppy, the scratched way before the race was run, by the time it was the track was fine. They just didn't want to go up against another unbeaten horse. A race is a race you don't just take a champion out of any race just because you think the surface might be bad. I wouldn't be so miffed if they'd actually waited to see what the condition of the track was in, instead of jumping the gun.

14 Aug 2009 3:46 PM
Karen in Indiana

Mary in VT, I think the same thing when I see Calvin wiggling around at the end of the races. RA is still running pretty hard and all it would take is one wrong weight shift on his part. I'm with you - I'd yank his chain up real short. How do you think Jess Jackson would handle her breaking a leg, not to mention all of the very angry fans?

14 Aug 2009 4:07 PM

I have to say something here about one of the bloggers....LDP.  She is a high school girl who has this incredible passion for horse racing and has a tremendous amount of knowledge about it too.  My hat is off to her.  She writes intelligent, well thought out posts and defends her stance against others.  I know she has had some disagreements with some but I think she's just terrific!

14 Aug 2009 7:29 PM

Boy, I had a sh#*@y day today(my husband had his last day of work @ the Guilding Light soap opera, a job he had for thirty years and I am out of work too),but the good vibes I have gotten from reading this blog tonight made me smile.  My life might have gotten alittle harder,no pity needed, but at least I can count on horseracing and this blog to keep me going.  Zenyatta, Rachel, Lookin at Lucky, Gio, Evita Argentina, Presious Passion and the rest are what get me out of bed lately. Thanks gang!

14 Aug 2009 7:43 PM


    Thank you. I too think the BC ppl made a huge mistake and shot themselves in the foot. Not only by keeping the Cup at the same year two years in a row, giving those horses a big time homefield advantage again, but to hold it on synthetics for the second consecutive year. They don't relize how lucky they were to get Curlin, w/o him you wouldn't have had nearly as many ppl come out that day, and the race would've fallen flat with only the Euro's and synthetic specialists to try and grab attention. If some of these three year olds don't take to the surface it will be like that all over again. These tracks are no safer, are in general untested, unperdictable and actually lose competition. We are now seeing many trainers speak up and saying that there is really no difference in the number of injuries, just the types. Some have stated that they wished CA had never gone to synthetics. With all this negative feedback i don't see why the synthetics are still there. The answer to less breakdowns are not synthetics, it's uniform drug policies that don't tolerate any drugs at all, breeding less for speed and more for durability, and maintaining a good dirt track. Three things, all the industry needs is to get into this kind of a habit and we'll be just fine.

14 Aug 2009 10:21 PM
Paula Higgins

You know Phil, it is called horse RACING. You are right about that. But we/you don't own the horses. It is from beginning to end up to the owners to decide how they want to campaign their horses. You are probably right that many of us don't want to see either one lose. They BOTH bring racing fans by the thousands to the stands. If both remain unbeaten, they will continue to come. Either way, they will come to see greatness.  I would be thrilled to see Zenyatta  go 14 for 14 and Rachel to get HOTY.

15 Aug 2009 8:30 PM

I'm kind of late joining in on this but took the time to print all the comments and read them carefully and realized I had nothing new to add.  However, I do have responses to several comments. To Jim C; re: if Z wins the BC Classic is she not HOY?  I don't think so - it may be a case of too little, too late" although it really depends on who show up and on what RA does the rest of the year.  Right now Z is 3 for 3 and RA is 7 for 7 on the year. To UCLinden: RA may be running only against 3yr olds but they are the best of the crop of both sexes.  Z has beaten older fillies and mares running in CA.  It's always hard to compare apples to oranges, but I think RA has faced the tougher competition.  I don't recall who said Z would "blow Rachel's doors off" but I must respectfully disagree.  I think RA has had more starts over distances longer than 1-1/16 mile than Z and Z has never run farther that 1-1/8 mile while Z has been 1-3/16ths.  All appearances are that Z can run forever but she's never been put to the test. I also found sreme19's comment "if Rachel can't stretch out you can't ask Zenyatta to shorten for her" kind of wierd for the same reasons as above.

To jmewill: no offense but I found your comment that RA doesn't to be named in the same breath as Ruffian to be very foolish and blind-sighted. Ruffian was not well on her way to "handing FP his butt" when she broke down.  She was all out and ahead by a neck.  Please don't get me wrong, Ruffian was GREAT and her breakdown as heartbreaking as I've ever seen.  But can you really name ANY 3 yr old fillies who have had a more impressive season thus far than Rachel Alexandra?  Furthermore, how does a horse's ownership have anything at all to do with the horse's abilities or accomplishments?  And last but not least, why should ANY horse be HOY just by virtue of running in the BC?  Do they run all year for nothing?  To Big Dreams: I also love Quality Road.  I think he's the best 3 yr old COLT in the country.  Just want to correct that the Amsterdam is NOT his 1st start of the year.  I believe he is 3 for 4 this year; how could you forget the Florida Derby?  I don't think Z has done enough to be HOY but I don't think it's fair to denegrate what she has accomplished.  She is a great horse in her own right.  It's not her fault her owner's seem to be unwilling to step outside the box.  Finally, to merrywriter.  I think your comment that females have a right to be "persnickety" as to what they run on is a little silly.  Dirt isn't RA's choice anymore than synthetic is Z's.  RA has run 1X on synthetic (and won) and Z has run 1X on dirt (and won).  What they are running on is the owner's and/or trainer's preferences.  The horses don't get a vote!  To Steve Haskins: I've always loved your insightful articles and comments; keep up the good work!

15 Aug 2009 9:47 PM
Mike Relva


As a Zenyatta fan,also RA I'm VERY IMPRESSED with what I've recently read from you. Nice touch!

15 Aug 2009 10:25 PM

In my opinion, Rachel should run in the Breeders Cup and Zenyatta should either face gr.1 males or run in the East/Midwest one more time. By doing so, each will get the opportunity to expand her accomplishments and move up the list of all-time greats.

I recognize, however, that they DO NOT HAVE to do so. If Rachel runs in the Woodward and Beldame/Jockey Club Gold Cup and wins both, she will undoubtedly be rated as one of the 5 greatest 3 year old fillies ever, just as Zenyatta's place in the Hall of Fame would still be there if she finished the year by running in "only" the Lady's Secret and BC Ladies Classic. In such a scenario, Rachel would win Horse of the Year while Zenyatta retires undefeated. It would certainly be great. Yet, I would still like to see Jess Jackson bring Rachel out for the Breeders Cup and for Moss/Sheriffs to run Zenyatta "outside the box" at least once.

16 Aug 2009 1:18 AM

Like I said on the other blog, I want somebody to prove me the synthetic-turf superiority over the synthetic-dirt angle.  I still see the same sires in California who topped the rankings during conventional dirt still top the rankings during synthetics.  I still see Bold Executive dominate Canada.  As for runners I already mentioned on the other blog that American horses won 9 out of the 14 races at last years cup.  I mentioned that horses like Albertus MAximus, Well Armed, Lava Man, Tiago, Heatseeker, Zenyatta, Colonel John, I Want Revenge, Student Council, Pioneerof the nile, Papa Clem, Midnight Lute, Indian Blessing, Idiot Proof, and a number of others have dominated the major races in So CAL, and then went out of town and run well on conventional dirt.  I havent seen the turf horses move up on synthetics that much or at all in So CAl.  In Kentucky we´ve seen Street Sense, Hard Spun, Zanjero, Panty Raid,Monba, General Quarters and others run well on the poly as well as on the dirt, although here maybe that turf to synthetics angle has been more notable as horses like Adriano, Parading and Cowboy Cal have run well on Poly, but then you have a horse like Parading win on turf at Pimlico then goes to Hollywood and bombs on synthetic.  If all it comes down to is that it only causes the gambling side of the sport to be more complicated.  We are upset that our beloved horse Curlin lost our Championship day.  But he lost to two very good horses the top two colts from Europe last year, and as I said before, Curlin lost more because of the ride he got and the taxing year he had, and then sometimes you cant win it all.  This ear, I believe we have just as good a chance to win the classic as both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta can very well take down the Europeans in the distaff or classic.  I like Quality Road, Kensei is coming along well, Colonel John, Tiago if he shows up, late bloomers like Rail Trip and Informed could very well take the euros, and where is Albertus MAximus?  So people I am not happy the BC is running on the same track for two straight years, I dont know why Stronach didnt move it to Gulfstream since its already done and its been 10 years since the cup was held there, or heck what about Pimlico, the Cup would help a track like that.  But it is what it is, and I still believe our best horses should run in it, and I really do believe the Pro-Ride wont make a difference, Rachel Alexandra has a great pedigree for synthetics, better than Zenyatta even, as she comes from the El Prado line, just like Kensei comes from Mr. Greekey, I think they will love the synthetics, so Jess, dont hate the game, just go get your revenge, everybody hates to lose, and in this sport you lose more than you win, so get Rachel on the plastic and let her fly man.  Let her show the world what we already know here in America, and hopefully we can shut the Euros mouth once and for all, and their international rankings that dont include a single american horse in the top ten.  

16 Aug 2009 1:41 AM
Soldier Course

Mary in VT 12 Aug 1:44 -

I agree with you about Borel. His stuff is put on, and anything but sincere. They've got a word for it: "shtick" (also spelled "schtick"), a gimmick or routine that draws attention to oneself.

16 Aug 2009 10:54 AM

Great Points by all, but just a casual observer opinion; Mr Jackson saw Zenyatta run last year at the Breeders Cup. He saw her complete devastation of an extremely quality field; probably at the time the best ladies classic ever put together. Then Mr. Jackson witnessed Curlin's fold up.  In his mind Zenyatta was better than the champion Curlin late last year.  So do you think he really wants to run Rachel against this beast in California? I dont blame him, I would run not against Zenyatta and probably watch his 3 yr filly lose. Rachel's reputation is damaged (thus he would lose millions). JUst a thought

16 Aug 2009 12:34 PM

Did anyone see Gary Steven's comments on Zenyatta's win in the Cl Hirsch?  He compared Z's finish (w/o the whip) to RA's Haskell (w/the whip) and said Mike Smith was saving Zenyatta for a race later in the fall after the BCC (the implication a race against RA).  If this happens, RA will for sure be meeting a much fresher horse.

16 Aug 2009 2:14 PM

Paula, if Z's owners want to keep Z where she's at and race the same mares over and over that is their right. The point is that that is bad for horse racing. It's also bad for Z's legacy. She may truly be one of the greats Unfortunately, I dont think we'll ever know because they have no interest in proving it. And if they don't seek out challenges and/or step outside of the "safety" of Cali, then I don't see how she can be considered for HOY. Especially if you consider the campaign RA has already had.

16 Aug 2009 2:22 PM

Hi Steve,

Thank you for the article and insight!  Both are Great Fillies and I think and would suggest that this year an exception be made by the powers who hand out the Eclipse Awards and Horse of the Year honors - that both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra receive both Horse of the Year honors and Eclipse Awards simultaneously.  I don't like to make this a girls vs. boys thing and I'm not a woman's libber, but the Ladies have outstipped the Men for several years now.  I have noticed that Fillies and Mares do not get the same recognition for their accomplishments - 'the old boys racing network' recognizes and values male accomplishments more.

Even winners prizes for fillies and mares are less than for the colts.  While I'm at it, I'll even mention that I think many geldings are given short shrift too, unless they become an Evening Attire or Commentator - who I think are just great!

Well - that is my two cents worth.

Enjoy Saratoga!!  I just moved to Raleigh, NC and there is no racing here, no HRTV, no OTB on TV, etc.  I don't bet, I just love the horses.  I'll miss Belmont the most, then Saratoga,Aqueduct and Monmouth.  I might start playing the lottery, so I can move back to NY.



16 Aug 2009 3:09 PM
Paula Higgins

Gary Steven's comments are interesting but I do not think that Zenyatta's connections will meet with RA. RA's people are not going to race a tired Rachel at the end of the season against a horse held in reserve (Zenyatta) if that's the intent. They aren't stupid.

Phil, I get your point. But I don't think it's going to happen. Zenyatta's people want her unbeaten.

Karen in Indiana, I feel exactly the same way. Seeing Zenyatta walk to the gate and then after she wins IS priceless. Rachel is also a thing of beauty as she jet propels herself past them all.

16 Aug 2009 7:05 PM

Monica V,

    Wow.... i am at a loss for words, except to give you a huge thank you on your post. It means a lot.

16 Aug 2009 10:34 PM

Great evaluation of the situation of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyetta. I have spent a "Racing Lifetime" pining over a horse that I thought that could have been the best of all. Due to an injury in a race, he never made it to the arena to prove his meddle. He did however sire one of the greatest horses of all time.......Forego. I am speaking of, as Steve will attest to my bugging him to produce an article about.........Forli. Forli was a champion horse from Argentina that liked a front running style. I mention this because I feel if a horse is the fastest and has the most stamina, he should not be beat. If a rabbit was used against Forli, he simply outran the rabbit and as the saying goes, extended his lead. Normally, speed and front running horses are brave on leads and only class catches up with them. Now the other part of the story is when changing racing tactics, tracks, and jockeys become part of the scenarios.  Even in the best of conditions, the best horse do not always win because of those factors. It would be great to see Rachel Alexandra and Zenyetta hook up, but if one beat the other, it would only prove which was best on that day and there is the possibility that neither would win. That's horseracing. In the end, we will all be left to our own opinions.

17 Aug 2009 12:29 AM

Good article on Forli.


Thie doesn't let you off the hook Steve, I just like the way you tell a story.

17 Aug 2009 12:43 AM


I meant every word.  You continually amaze me with your knowledge and your ability to write

so well but most of all your passion for horses.

17 Aug 2009 3:37 PM

Amen!  I really hope that they Rachel and Zenyatta don't match up. There have been dire consequences of match races in the past.  I would hate to see anything happen to either of these great fillies. It doesn't matter,they are both great in their own right and that is the way we should remember them in the future. Afterall, it could be just the right circumstances for one on a particular day and different on another day.

17 Aug 2009 3:42 PM

Geez...Why even bother running the races? The wussification of todays society is reflected in the posters here that don't want to see these two amazing horses compete against each other. With that mentality why bother playing the games in any other sport? The pre-season poll for should decide the NCAA Football Championship. Tiger Woods shouldn't play any more tournaments, he lost this weekend so his record is irreparably harmed. We certainly don't want to see Federer and Nadal compete against each other or the Williams Sisters. Each loss just tarnishes their place in their sports history.

Affirmed - Alydar. Thankfully the Mosses and Jess Jackson didn't own either of those horses.

17 Aug 2009 9:05 PM


    Again a huge thanks, i had no idea anyone on these blogs, except for maybe a couple like Mike Relva, really thought much of me other than that i was some irritating kid. I do LOVE horse, i don't care whether they are racers, jumpers, western or dressage horses, i love them all. I love to write too, a few weeks ago i just wrote a kind of tribute piece on BB. He may not be my fave horse, but he IMO deserves more respect than he gets. It takes one heck of a horse to do the things he did with so little experience. Then after dazzling all of us, he may not have been so dominant but he showed us that pure heart and will to win. If i could have a job writing about horses i would. I'm just glad to see that somebody on these can see through my stubborness and hot headed arguments, to see that i really do love horses, and when you get right down to it, it doesn't matter who i'm rooting for, i just still love the horse. Thank you.

18 Aug 2009 12:01 AM
Matthew W

LDP I ran track all through high school--high hurdles mostly, ran on crushed brick, cinder, then when I got pretty good I got to run on rubber, another natural substance found in mother nature---beat the same persons/was beaten by the same persons on each different track---It's really ok, ya know, if we try to get them together instead of just pretend talking about who would've beaten who...ya know?

18 Aug 2009 12:20 AM
Daina Ryan

Steve, thanks for staying up as late as you did to write this wonderful article.   About the Forego comment - my goodness that is exactly what I was thinking as Zenyatta was barreling down the homestretch in the Hirsch. Glad you saw that too and mentioned it.  I often tell people she reminds me of Forego (I was at Belmont when Forego won the Marlboro and WOW!).  Anyhow, I love Rachel and Zenyatta equally and don't wish to see them run against each other ever.  I'd rather them each bask in their own glory.  They're both phenomenal horses and I am so priveleged that they are here in my lifetime.   We wait a long time for horses like them to come along.  It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out.  Would be cool to see a tie for Horse of The Year.  Has that ever happened?

18 Aug 2009 9:35 AM


Once again, a marvelous and heartfelt column.  Thank you for that.

Zenyatta and Rachel do not have to race against each other.  We get to enjoy both of them and each has their own special way of thrilling us.  How often does that happen?  Not very often.  These types of horses usually come only every so often.  How lucky we have two to enjoy.

18 Aug 2009 10:42 AM
Karen in Indiana

Zookeeper, if people want to know what happens to the California horses experiencing a sloppy track for the first time, all they have to do is look what happened at the Derby. Pioneerof the Nile is the only one that ran decently, the others didn't do so well.

18 Aug 2009 12:17 PM

Diana Ryan,

Any possible tie for HOTY will be featuring Quality Road and Rachel Alexandra, that is, after the former goes on a rampage in the Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders Cup Classic.  Stay tuned folkes.  

18 Aug 2009 12:38 PM
Steve Haskin

Daina, the closest we ever had to a tie was John Henry beating Slew o' Gold by one vote.

18 Aug 2009 7:05 PM

ESPN is reporting that communications are taking place between the owners of Zen and RA for the Beldame at Belmont. I think it's going to happen!!!!!!!!!!!! Why NY? It should be Oaklawn Park, meet halfway>

18 Aug 2009 8:37 PM
Matthew W

My plans if I owned Big Z: Lady's Secret....Ladies Classic (1 1/8) then Clark v males AND Rachel if they're willing...otherwise I close her out in the Classic, but if you're gonna go one more in the Clark at 1 1/8, ya gotta stay at 1 1/8 in the Breeders Cup---no use shortening for the big match up---like they did with Easy Goer, going 1 1/2 in JC Gold Cup then shortening/losing their edge vs the great Sunday Silence...but, yes, they need to talk it out and make it public, what their plans are--I'd love to see her go after Gio Ponti in the Classic Stretch---but I'd also love to see her dirt again, v no less than the great Rachel!

18 Aug 2009 10:27 PM
Matthew W

Steve, if Zenyatta runs down Gio Ponti in the Classic, is there a race Rachel can win/a horse Rachel can defeat that would compare to that?

18 Aug 2009 10:29 PM
Will W

I think I'll keep clamoring. Let the two meet not only this year, possibly in the Clark at Churchill in November, and next year as well if Moss is sporting enough to keep the mare in training and on the track. Who cares about perfect records ? Zenyatta has already proved her greatness, and it would be no knock on her to lose a time or two to a filly who could have won the Triple Crown if she had been in Jess Jackson's hands. How much luster would it add to Zenyatta's renown if she did best Rachel Alexandra on occasion ?  Let the two hook up next year many times, give thoroughbred horse racing an electricity and excitement the sport has rarely seen since the 1970s, and let the racing fans have a year of memorable competition they'll never forget. By all means should Jackson send Alexandra the Great to the Dubai Classic, and what a race it would be if Zenyatta stayed in training and joined her.

19 Aug 2009 12:31 AM

Great article Steve! My mind is blurry from reading all the blogs but liked hearing everyones thoughts. I personally love watching RA's neck break front running wins -she's beautiful! I am brought to tears by watching Zen 'chase butterflies' then decide to come from 13+ lengths behind (ridden hand & irons mid-track) to close like a freight train while building her perfect picket fence of wins. If they ever meet you know I'll be watching, if not so be it. I'm currently overseas punting in Au & next stop is NZ, (still managed to streamline in RA & Zen's races so I could see them live in the wee am hours here), where they also give you the opportunity to wager/watch the Singapore, UK, Hong Kong, & French races - not that I'm a fan of the sport or anything lol!!! Btw Au just opened their 1st cushion track & the horses are loving it. I noticed several bloggers commented on the lack of respect the US gets in the racing world & have found that's not truly the case. Other places breed more for stamina with their 2400m+ (12 furlong+) races, they don't allow Lasix/drugs of any kind, the girls are always mixed with the boys only getting WPA allowance as long as it's not a huge cup race where both are even in weight, (take note RA & hats off to Zen for carrying 129lbs so others would enter), it's just a little different than US racing. The horsemen here respect our stand-outs especially RA & Zen otherwise why would they ship their horses all the way over just to compete in the BC? They do seem to prefer the pro-ride surface at Santa Anita so am hoping we get a good turnout of foreigners again this year to liven things up -bring on the competition! I wish RA were going to be there too so US odds of winning were even better but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. My question for you bloggers is instead of Sea Bisquit vs War Admiral/east vs west arguments shouldn't we be thinking about challenging the world with our best horses? 'For the love of racing' is my motto =D

To the person who said Zen hasn't set any track records did you check your form? She set it last year in the Hirsch.  

19 Aug 2009 9:26 AM
Far Right Wing-Nut

Who's this draynay promoting gambling in the schools? Teach classes for credit on a sport that lives off of the receipts of gamblers? What is this world coming to? Kids could learn just as much about animals and their care by working on a farm. Why expose them further to the sins of gambling?

For the record, both Zenyatta and RA deserve all the accolades being tossed thair way. And yes like many of my peers I do not practice what I preach. I love the challenge of handicapping and the high I get off winning.

19 Aug 2009 2:27 PM


    If Zen comes to NY and RA beats her, she is HOTY no matter what. Also if RA goes and beats the top older horses, SB, MTB, and QR in the JCGC, HOTY is over. If RA does the second option she will have 3 tries against males, beating them at 1 1/4, and beating the derby, belmont, and possible Travers winner. She does this she wins hands down.

19 Aug 2009 3:49 PM

Those few drops of Forli blood in both of their pedigrees is what did it.

20 Aug 2009 2:38 AM

Total agreement, Steve.  We have two greats; let's just enjoy them.

Also, inasmuch as each filly prefers a different surface, what would a match race actually tell us, unless one of the two won over the other's surface?  If they race on poly and Zenyatta wins, Rachel fans can say, 'yeah, but . . .'  Same story vice versa.  So the real test would be a series of match races---which is certainly on no one's cards.

Sure is fun having two heroines.

20 Aug 2009 10:23 AM

Abbie Knowles, I tried facebook but am unable to access it but, thank you for the offer...

God Bless...

20 Aug 2009 12:11 PM

Far Right Wing-Nut,

So are you saying it's wrong for me to take my 6 yr old nephew, Tristen, to the race track? Are you saying that I'm sinning? I'm quite offended by your post. Many people have been introduced to horse racing and all that goes with it, including gambling, at a young age.  I was and I turned out quite alright.  Seeing that my nephew loves horses and horse racing and is learning about handicaping, I intend to teach him the responsibilities of the sport and of horses in general now.  This is a sport to be relished by young and old alike and I will not deny my nephew this.  He is raised in a loving and responsible home.  The more he wants to learn about horse racing the more I will teach him about horse racing in a responsible way. That's just the way it is.

23 Aug 2009 2:50 AM

Horswld so very right...you are..teach that youngster everything you possibly can...love of the horses is so good....

25 Aug 2009 10:31 AM

I'd tell RA to kiss Zen's big butt, but she'd never catch it.

I met Zenyatta a week ago. She was very self aware and I think she knew we thought the same of her. She loved being loved on. She is what legends are made of. I teared up when she rested her head against me. Talk about feeling honoured.

05 Sep 2009 8:31 PM

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