No Banjo on Rachel's Knee

Jess Jackson has made his first decision: No Alabama for Rachel Alexandra. So what, you might say. That wasn't the place to run her anyway. Well, I believe that's just where she should have run.

Yes, I know that race would have proven little, and that she has transcended 3-year-old filly competition (using the word competition very loosely). But where does it say she has to prove herself every race?

My colleague Ed Fountaine of the New York Post wrote a column last week stating all the reasons why the Alabama would be the right race for Rachel. Although, most people would disagree with him, I am in total agreement.

So, the Alabama will not do anything to boost Rachel Alexandra's claim as Horse of the Year. If there is one horse who does not need to boost that claim it is Rachel. The Alabama is one of the most prestigious races in the country and offers a purse of $600,000. And some talented fillies were entered. What's wrong with showcasing Rachel in front of a packed house at Saratoga and let the fans simply enjoy her presence and watch her put on another show? Imagine the cheers as she glides down the Saratoga stretch in all her splendor. This one would have been for the fans. The race would not have taken too much out of her and would have set her up to take on older males in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which would indeed cap off an amazing Horse of the Year campaign - Fair Grounds Oaks, Fantasy Stakes, Kentucky Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell Invitational, Alabama, Jockey Club Gold Cup. No horse has ever had a campaign such as that. And the Alabama would have given her a 1 1/4-mile race under her belt and prevented her from having to go that far for the first time against older males, assuming the Travers and Personal Ensign are not on her agenda.

Let's look at the options with which Jackson has left himself. The Woodward, regardless of how inferior you might think the older horses are this year - and it's far from a stellar group - they still are older horses, and a 3-year-old filly facing older males in early September is not an easy task, even for a horse as special as Rachel. And then she'd have to come back and do it again in the Gold Cup, going 10 panels for the first time. She doesn't need to beat basically the same older males twice. Once is quite sufficient. And as mentioned before, the Alabama would have set her up perfectly for the Gold Cup, giving her the necessary bottom. Also, the Labor Day weekend is not the best time to show off a star like Rachel, especially with it being so late this year. Most people are already home and getting ready to return to work or school.

Jackson won the Woodward last year with Curlin, but the buzz just wasn't there, nor were the numbers, despite an extensive marketing campaign by NYRA. And then Curlin winds up struggling to beat a horse he should have beaten by 10 lengths. This is Saratoga. Nothing is a certainty here.

Regarding the other alternatives, Jackson already has Kensei looking to boost his reputation as a stallion in the Travers, so it would make no sense to run Rachel there, unless he's willing to pass up that opportunity with Kensei and run him in the grade II Pennsylvania Derby, with its $1-million purse. Asmussen already has Soul Warrior set for Philly Park.

Running in the Travers would pit Rachel against Quality Road, who has to make a huge stretch-out from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles. Although that is a daunting task, remember that Quality Road has the same running style as Rachel and would be hounding her the whole way. On top of that, physically, he's a beast. Although a gentle giant in his stall, Quality Road is a ton of horse with shoulders like The Incredible Hulk. He's extremely athletic for such a big horse, he's every bit as fast and brilliant as Rachel, and while we can't say for sure if he's ready to win the Travers, he definitely will be an imposing presence for a filly who is used to being an imposing presence herself and who has never looked a horse like Quality Road in the eye before. No disrespect to Mine That Bird and Summer Bird, who are both exceptional horses, but if f there is a superstar among the 3-year-old colts it is Quality Road.

The Personal Ensign is run this year the day after the Travers, making it anticlimactic, and many people will be heading home by then. Also, that is usually a strangely run race and always produces slow times and for the most part unusual results. Ashado was beaten by longshot Shadow Cast at 2-5. Wild Spirit was beaten by longshot Passing Shot at 1-5. Unbridled Belle was beaten by longshot Miss Shop at 8-5. Azeri was beaten at 3-5. Escena was beaten at 4-5. Beautiful Pleasure was beaten at 2-1. The race is rarely run in under 2:03 and change. In short, this is a dangerous race, which has been a killer on favorites. It's best not to fool around here.

So, that brings the question of which of these races to choose. They all have their gremlins. It could very well be that Rachel is special enough to overcome them, but it wouldn't be wise to go into any of them feeling cocky.

Of course, there is the big NYRA Beldame blitz, complete with unknown sponsor and elimination of the detention barn, to keep in mind, but that's not until Oct. 3, so Rachel would need a race anyway, and that match-up coming to fruition is still a longshot.

What's important is now. By turning in a sharp five-furlong work on Monday, Rachel appears ready to run, and we all know anything can happen between now and the Travers or the Personal Ensign or the Woodward. As the old-time trainers used to say, if they're ready to run, you run them. The Alabama was the perfect spot for her, but to resort to a cliché, that ship has sailed.


Leave a Comment:

Junie Wise-Rocky Road Farm

Your right Steve...The Alabama would be great for the Spa and racing fans....maybe they are afraid of the old saying:Graveyard of Favotites"???? never know

19 Aug 2009 4:38 PM
Pam S.

You really make some good arguments, Steve.  Maybe she should be running in the Alabama, though I didn't think so at first.  Just getting past the mile and a quarter milestone is reason enough, since it would silence some of her critics.  And I agree, she doesn't have to prove something every time she runs.

Out of what's left, I still think the Woodward is worth trying.  I don't see what older horses she would have to fear.  Two that might have pointed to the race, with similar running styles to Rachel, are gone -- Commentator retired and Finallymadeit deceased.  I really think she could win and it would be historic.

Assuming she ran well and everything, I would be very interested in the Beldame if Zenyatta would be coming (long shot, I know).  If not, there's the JCGC, but that is the race that seems to me like "trying to prove something."  If there is to be no Breeders' Cup, I would just rest her up and maybe aim for the Clark. I know she is a phenomenon, but no sense over-racing her.

Curlin ran in the JCGC last year, and I can't say I remember much buzz then either.  I just remember it was pouring down rain.  I do think a Beldame field that included Rachel and Zenyatta would draw the most fans, though I want to stay a little "detached" from the issue since the Zenyatta camp has mentioned the Lady's Secret, and when they mention a race that seems to be the one they go to.

19 Aug 2009 4:41 PM

Replace on your list "Alabama" with "Travers" and wow!  That's the race for her.  Quality Road is not faster than Munnings , and Rachel obliterated him.  Good luck to QR trying to run with this filly.  She's doing great this week, she'll be doing even better next week.  Rachel by 5 in a romp.

19 Aug 2009 4:45 PM

I'm really hoping that Rachel Alexandra goes in the Travers. Just think what would happen if she went in the Alabama or to Philly and got beaten - that would be a much worse mark on her record than getting beaten in the Travers. If she is beaten in the Travers, she is still 2-1 against the colts and at least they made the sporting decision to go for the mid-Summer Derby, since she was denied her shot at the real Derby.

But, since before the Haskell I expected that her next start would be the Woodward and I've not seen anything to change my mind. There is a lot to be said that she has nothing to prove against three-year-olds and time to step up the game. Again, if she is beaten in the Woodward, it will not be as big a black mark.

If they send her to Philly, I'll be steamed. Rachel Alexandra shouldn't be running in any race that's not a Grade 1.

19 Aug 2009 4:46 PM

I still like the idea of the Woodward in which she would get the "beating the older males" out of the way and then set her up for anything.  Woodward and then Zenyatta would be a wonderful combo!

19 Aug 2009 4:52 PM
Cowboy Bob

The tap dance by Jess Jackson is getting annoying. He's looking for a back door into HOY. If he has the best then he needs to run against the best whoever they might be. Tne Travers has the best field, good money and prestige but he pobably won't run there. Quality Road might beat her or set her up so one of those lessor colts can run by. Jackson wants money, glory but no risk. He's painting himself into a corner. After watching Golkikova, Sea of Stars and Mastercraftsman, the whole crowd on this side of the pond looks pretty puny.

19 Aug 2009 4:52 PM

"back door into HOY"?????

She's won the Preakness, beaten the boys a 2nd time in the Haskell, and obliterated the females on the way.

She's taken a tough road to Horse of the year.  While Steve H might prefer an easy romp, Rachel seems to rise to every challenge offered.  IMHO, going in the Alabama would be a step backward.

Shying away from competition is backing into HOY.  Another win over 3 yr old males would be a better demonstration of her superiority, but a win over older females (Personal Ensign, Aug 30) or older males in the Woodward would be a step forward.

Or she could take the Zenyatta route - beating the same horses again and again, but not stepping up to the next level of competition.

Jackson has given his filly the stage and she has shown herself worthy of Horse of the Year.

19 Aug 2009 5:10 PM

Cowboy Bob,

Oaks (I know JJ didn't own her then), Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell isn't looking for a back door.

Racing a 3yo filly against older males is not looking for a back door.

For those of you yearning for a Rachel/Quality Road matchup...the reason they haven't met already is because QR wasn't able to.  Blame it on the track super at Gulfsteam.

She has been dancing all the dances all year long and doesn't need to go looking for him.  Quality Road could certainly bypass the Travers and run in the Woodward if Pletcher et al were so inclined.

I agree with most of your article Steve, but there is a difference between not needing to prove anything and proving nothing.  

Running against 3yo fillies again proves nothing.  Running against older males is ambitious yes, but even an in-the-money finish adds luster to her HOY resume while a loss in the Alabama could potentially de-rail it.  

Although the only things I see derailing her at this point are a loss against 3yo fillies coupled with QR winning the Travers, JCGC, and BCC or Zenyatta winning the BCC.

19 Aug 2009 5:14 PM

So cowboy bob if you think jackson is a "tap dancer" avoiding competition what do you think of the zenyatta crew?

19 Aug 2009 5:22 PM

The Woodward would be extremely challenging as well as allow RA to compete against a new category of horses. That's where I'd like to see her and if Jackson waited til the last minute to decide it's the right race at the right time for the horse, that would be fine with me.

19 Aug 2009 5:34 PM
It aint easy being good!

LS your high if you think Munnings is as fast as QR!!! Steve great article QR is like brandon jacobs on the track just a beast! If Jessie Jaskson was smart he would risk running RA against QR since QR is not in full race form yet! Jessie Jackson is a sportsman and is not scared of anything! Give it 10 minutes and Dray will start talking about how great RA is!

19 Aug 2009 5:48 PM

I agree with Cowboy Bob.  I know it's not the popular way of thinking, but I don't know why everyone seems to feel that Rachel Alexandra has HOTY locked up.  To date, she has been impressive but has been beating up on a very weak group of 3yr olds (of both sexes).  In my opinion, HOTY contenders should be horses who repeatedly take on the best of all ages and sexes and beat them repeatedly.  The last 5 HOTYs have been Curlin (twice), Invasor, Saint Liam and Ghostzapper.  Perhaps there are no horses in the U.S. of their caliber this year, but I can't think of one horse that RA has beaten that would be anywhere near the class of any horse in that group.

19 Aug 2009 5:55 PM
Cowboy Bob

Folks: The Preakness was the only horse race she has been in and almost got beat by one of those lessor colts. There hasn.t been any quality competion. She looks great against sort of an average crowd and if you have already had a gallon of cool aid she looks even better. When she gets hooked by some bad ass at the top of the lane and has to reach down and dig like Sea the Stars did yesterday then some of the questions will be answered.She hasn't defeated a really top horse yet. And yes the Zenyatta connections are on the dance floor, there just not dancing as fast.

19 Aug 2009 6:07 PM


Always love your writing.  You make good points about Rachel being there for the fans in the Alabama.  It's so remarkable and special to see a horse like her run.  I've seen many of the greats and still remember each experience.

While I was watching the Haskell coverage, previous to the actual race, I was a bit worried for Rachel not sure she could beat Summer Bird or that Munnings would make her work too hard.  The commentators were talking about how vulnerable she was.  I started to believe them.  I watched Rachel in the walking ring and saw how very calm and professional she was.  Nothing bothers her.  She loaded in the gate, too off and was just off Munnings going fast fractions.  Turning for home, she left them all behind and made the Belmont winner look like a claimer after all the hoopla about how great SB looked and how he was doing.  This filly is just incredible.  She just gets better and better.  I kept reading on Jason's blog that Rachel looked like a really tired horse after the Haskell but that work at Saratoga was not the work of a tired horse.  That work was the work of a horse that's dead fit.

Wow!  Rachel is such an exciting horse and she and Zenyatta are the greatest gifts we fans have had in quite a while.  It's so fantastic to see them both but Rachel has my heart!

19 Aug 2009 6:15 PM

Cowboy Bob,

I think Rachel's campaign has been very ambitious.  She's done more than any other horse that I can think of.  I don't think Jackson is trying to avoid anything.  He wants to put her where she'll do the best.  What do you think Zen's connections are doing?  They haven't brought her out of her comfort zone yet.  She's a great mare and I think she could beat the boys in the Pacific Classic easily.  Hope they put her there.

19 Aug 2009 6:21 PM

I want to see RA and QR even more than RA and Zen, so I'm hoping for the Travers, an important race for 3-yr old colts, maybe not so much for a filly, so the Woodward would be a "safer" race for her...I've been high on QR since his first race, and was so exited to see I was right and more excited to see he's back on track...

19 Aug 2009 6:28 PM

Steve, I like the way you think.  Makes perfect sense.  It is a shame that Jess doesn't sign you up as his advisor!!  Also, a question: do you know why Jerkens was replaced by Pletcher for Quality Road?  

19 Aug 2009 6:38 PM

Well what is JJ's next move? The  Alabama and Travers would have probaly got the HOY but without the BCC  and IF(big if) she ends up getting hurt or beatten by another horse(of any gender) then HOY is out of her reach. JJ needs to get moving, 2009 is closing down.

19 Aug 2009 6:45 PM
My Juliet

  Steve, I agree with your comments on the Woodward. I also would like to see them race Rachel against 3yo again, before going after older horses. So far I have agreed with all of their decisions for RA, but don't see what the rush is to take on another class just yet. Also the purse is still $500,000. It doesn't look like JJackson is doing this 'for the money'. The PA Derby purse, though Gr 11, is a million.                                   The title for this article is good, didn't get it at first:)

19 Aug 2009 6:56 PM

Steve, I think I get what you are saying here.  If Rachel showed up for the Alabama, the timing would be great for the most race fans to see her in person at the historic Saratoga and would give her a chance to try out the longer distance against her own generation/gender.  She's working great, but might need a race to make sure she can get the distance before she does take on the older horses.  Wherever, whenever, I'm sure I'll be in front of the tv yelling my head off.  Yes, I do yell at the television and it does annoy the cats no end.

19 Aug 2009 6:57 PM


If JJ was intending to run RA in the JCGC your idea of the Alabama would certainly make very good sense.  However it appears that he doesn't want to run her at 10 furlongs against the kind of opposition that she would face in the JCGC ...and he doesn't intend to go to the Breeder's Cup ...this is very risky IMO (although many may disagree at the moment).  Just watch how the tide will begin to turn once Quality Road romps the Travers.  I am not shy to stick my neck out and declare here that Sea The Stars is another freak who could muddy the HOTY waters  for Rachel Alexandra at the end of the season if he shows up in the BCC.  This is not the kind of season where a horse like RA can take the easy road and prevail when her chief competitors are equally freakish.  Zenyatta's forces could also be planning an assault on the HOTY title so there is no REAL room for cavalier decisions by connections of the leading HOTY contender.  

19 Aug 2009 7:15 PM

Avoiding Quality Road would be a good call.

There's just too good a danger that she could fold if Quality Road took it to her, and while she is assured of HoY, a defeat in an important race would take most of the shine off the honor.

Certainly no one in horse racing wants to see that at this point.

Better for Jackson to play it safe as long as HoY is still in the bag.

19 Aug 2009 7:43 PM
Mike Relva


Great points,I agree with you regarding RA. BTW I will be visiting next month one of your favorite horses,Invasor. Can't wait for that!

19 Aug 2009 7:47 PM

The path has been clear and remains the same.  Rachel will not run 1 1/4 this year and there is no reason for her to do so.  The Woodward is 1 1/8th and the Beldame is 1 1/8th.  If Quality Road wants to make a move scratch from the Travers and face Rachel in the will be your last chance to get her this year Quality Road.  Look, Rachel has won 8 races in a row and she will win the Woodward and Beldame ending her year with 10 straight wins.  Next year the countdown will begin to the magic number 17 surpassing Citation and Cigar for consecutive wins.  Can anyone name a great 3 year old campain then Rachels should she win her last 2 races and finish the year 9 for 9?

19 Aug 2009 7:53 PM

It aint easy being good - how about keeping it civil.?  No need for the "high" comment.  Pick your favorite figures - BRIS, Beyer, TG, Ragozin, Performance Figures (steve roman) - Munnings whipped older males at 7f - he is every bit as fast as Quality Road.  Big Drama - Gulfstream track record 7f.  Rachel has already run the 2 fastest 3yo males in the country into the ground...from the outside.  QR may prove to be faster, but he hasn't shown it yet on the track.  

Steve - QR has never looked a horse like RA in the eye.  Rachel has gone eyeball to eyeball with 2 very fast colts in Munnings and Big Drama, so this wouldn't exactly be a new experience for her.

Now, all of that said, Rachel will probably go in the Woodward.  I see Kensei going in the Travers.  I hope I'm wrong.  If that's the case, I hope she goes in the JCGC.

19 Aug 2009 7:54 PM

Steve, when was the last time HOY went to horse who didn't win at a mile and a quarter or beyond? I'll wager its never happened in Europe.  RA looked a tired filly in that last sixteenth in the Preakness.

19 Aug 2009 7:57 PM

I don't really have anything intelligent to say other than "Ah, the Spa. Will it play the role of giant-killer this time?"

19 Aug 2009 7:58 PM


While I agree Stars is a beast, lets not get crazy.  He beat a miler stretching out and two completely over matched foes. Also, if you want to complain about RA not going to cali to run on the "plastics", Oxx is in the same boat refusing to run on soft ground.  All i've heard is if they're great they can run on any surface, shouldn't the same apply to him.

19 Aug 2009 7:58 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

     Great points on running Rachel in the Alabama, But, With that not a possibility, I would have to say there is a zero chance of her going to the Travers as long as Kensei is in there, Forget that race.  The only logical choice would have to be the Woodward, It is the last mountain to climb for her and Mr. Jackson.  I also think Mine that Bird will skip the Travers and also goto the Woodward.  We shall see, Should be interesting regardless of the decision made.

Cowboy Cal,

     Are you O.K.?  Have you been out in the sun all day?  Get inside where there is some air conditioning and drink alot of water and you will be alright....

19 Aug 2009 8:05 PM

I would rather not see Rachel in the Travers, nor Mine That Bird.

Quality Road is just too tough.

19 Aug 2009 8:11 PM
Cowboy Bob

Monica V: If you have the best horse you go where the best horses run. The Breeders Cup. The plastic track excuse is just a dodge. The great horses run on anything. Curlin  was not the horse he was in the 2007 Classic. He got beat by better horses. The races she has run  in this year have great prior runnings but this year the fields have not been very strong. You earn the HOY distinction by beating the best horses not running in big name races with so-so fields. RA's target should be Zenyatta wherever Zenyatta races. The plastic track is an excuse so RA doesn't have to face the really good ones. My opinion! When she runs down some steely eyed killer I'll be the first to sing her praise.

19 Aug 2009 8:16 PM

I have to admit it does not bother me - this waiting game to see where Rachel will run.  I admit to not knowing enough about HOY criteria but I think she ends up in the Woodward.  It just makes the most sense to get a different level of competition, and Jess really is a sportsmen.  The countdown is on to see where she ends up.  ANywhere she lnds - I say GO RACHEL!!

19 Aug 2009 8:33 PM

Running RA in the Alabama would prove nothing. She would win by 18-21 lengths and come close to the track record. However, there would be people who would say Mr Jackson was ducking the 'real' competition by choosing such an 'easy' race. I am amazed at all the people who think they know what is 'best' for Rachel Alexandra. Even though she has run the best races in the US so far this year, people keep expecting more and more for her to get HOY. I personally think she has done enough now to get it.

However, she will need to win either the Travers or the Woodward to silence the nay sayers.

19 Aug 2009 8:45 PM

I say Rachel goes in the Travers, Steve against QR and the bird brothers. Isn't that enough for HOY if she wins it?  Since there is no BC fo her the JCGC is a prep for it and pointless.  If she beats her peer group agsin (the colts) that will make 3 times beating the boys; has any filly ever accomplished that?????  And what is this you say, NYRA with NO

DETENTION BARN?????  It only took 100 years!  Is that permanent or only temporary for that race?  They need to abolish it completely so horse like Tiago, Big Brown, etc. don't freak out as they did.

Could she run in the Monmouth Stakes like Big Brown did; i.e. they could design a race for her if

she doesn't go in Travers, Ala., or

Woodward or JCGC?  I say she shows up in the Travers, prestige is there, $ is there, and timing is right after the Haskell.

19 Aug 2009 8:50 PM
Brian A.

I totally disagree with you this time Steve.  You said this (running in the Alabama) would be one for the fans, but that's not altogether true.  I'm a huge fan of Rachel and will travel anywhere to see her whip the boys again.  We all know she's the greatest three year old filly by miles this year, no others can even run with her.  True, the margin of victory would be thrilling, but did you think the Mother Goose, or the Haskell was a better race for the fans this year?  It's the Haskell hands down, everyone enjoys the battle of the sexes and Rachel has redefined the term this year.  People I talk to about Rachel love most of all the fact that she can "kick the boys butts everytime".  The spot I would most love to see Rachel run is in the Travers, or if not there than in the Woodward.  All the fans I've talked to want more of the "impossible", a filly beating the boys, it's exciting, thrilling and totally satisfying.  If you are the best then you should compete against the best, not find comfortable spots that you are almost garunteed of winning just to put on a show.  It's about the competition, the uncertainty of victory or defeat.  Rachel deserves the chance to run these kind of races, she owns these kind of races.

19 Aug 2009 8:55 PM

I agree with cowboy bob and four cats. RA's competition has really downgraded her chances for Horse of the Year.  When she beat males, she won on the mud which enhanced her performance. Also, the 3 yr old fillies are a terrible crop. In europe they run 3 yr old fillies against the boys all the time. I am sorry but Mine That Bird is average at best. Currently, He could not win an Allowance level race in California. So winning the Preakness was overrated. ESPN has reported that the Beldame is being negotiated with both Jess and Moss. I would be surprised if Zen master would lose this race. As I said before, Jess Jackson witnessed Zen destroy the best ladies classic field ever. The next day he watched Curlin fold up. In his mind, Zen was a better horse late in the year than Curlin.

So why would he run against the beast in California? He will not risk it, so he coped out with "plastic" terminology. If the Beldame doesnt happen for RA and Zen, it will not happen.

19 Aug 2009 9:04 PM

I am disappointed that the connections for Rachel Alexandra did not choose The Alabama.  I agree with you Steve and all the points you mention in your blog.  Rachel needs a mile-and-a-quarter race (and win) added to her resume.  I believe her sire only won once at that distance (Travers), and while it appears that she could run all day, it would be interesting to see if she can handle it.  At this point in time, I would think it would be easier on her to run against 3-year-old fillies at a mile-and-a-quarter than against the colts in the Travers. If the Travers is by-passed, then I hope she is not entered in the Woodward.  I do not wish to see her running this early in the Fall season against older males.  Remember, her connections want to bring her back next year.  I would hate to see her "burned out" before the end of the year.

19 Aug 2009 9:09 PM

"back door into HOY"?????

You must be kidding!

To state that "the whole crowd on this side of the pond looks pretty puny" is crazy. I agree there are exceptional horses across the pond but Why put down a horse that has already accomplished what rachel has.

19 Aug 2009 9:15 PM

I think Rachel should skip Saratoga altogether and rest up for the Beldame in a potential match up with Zenyatta! Rachel Alexandra in my opinion has already done enough and is the Horse of the Year.

19 Aug 2009 9:31 PM
Curlin Rulez

What are you people talking about when you say how Quality Road would "take it to her"?. RA doesn't need the lead and has already proven that by winning the Mother Goose and the Haskell sitting off the pace. She'll sit 3rd on the outside and win any race shes entered in without any competition. RA will treat Quality Road like she treated Munnings; like a red headed step child!.

19 Aug 2009 9:56 PM
Cowboy Bob

Monmouthinvader:  Mastercraftsman looked like a mile and a quarter horse to me. The fact he never ran that far is a mute issue. Goldikova is also a miler but I doubt Mr. Jackson would run RA against her at any distance on any surface. Don't get me wrong, I think RA is terrific but I don't believe Mr. Jackson is a sportsmen and he needs to get out of the horses way.He is the hole in her program. RA is dead fit we know that. She just scorched the Oklahoma training track and she's entered in all the big money races. Jackson is picking his spots. This is a public relations campaign. He waits until the last possible day so he can see who is in the race. If you have the best horse why should you care who's entered. If he commits like everybody else then the track is able to promote the event and have a bigger gate. Do you think they waited to see who was entered before they entered Forego or Damascus or Dr.Fager. RA has earned the right to compete against the best. Mr.Jackson let the horse do the talking.

19 Aug 2009 10:05 PM
Bill Daly

What you and Ed say make sense, Steve.  Still, if you're going to take on QR now is the time to do it.  After running such a huge race after the long layoff I would think there's a good chance he may regress a bit in the Travers. That and the fact that 6 and half furlongs isn't exactly textbook preparation for a mile and quarter race like the Travers.  I fully realize how good QR is - very good - but if she can beat him, now is the time to try it.  If she does win the Travers and QR it would put her so far off the charts it wouldn't matter what happens at the BC.  If she loses, she's still great and still can redeem herself the next time out. Beating up on fillies doesn't prove anything as you have pointed out, nor does beating up on this extremely weak group of older horses in the so-called handicap division. Running in the Pennsylvania Derby means she'll be facing a second or third tier group of 3 yr. olds - which also doesn't prove a whole lot.  But racing against QR would put her off the charts. She may be there already.

19 Aug 2009 10:05 PM

I agree with you Steve-good article! I do not feel like they must look to place her in the toughest spots every time - an easier race would have been fine.  I would love to see her in the Travers or the Woodward but I will be happy wherever she runs.  Mr Jackson has challenged her (and Curlin before her) and shown himself to be a sportsman and I love it-reminds me of the glory days of racing! For the past many years it has looked to me like a lot of trainers/owners have ducked competition and that takes a lot away from racing for me. I like to see the biggest horses in the biggest races - for example, I am quite disappointed when the Derby winner does not run in the Travers....But to each their own I guess and since I have no say, I will just enjoy watching it all!

Draynay: Rachel is having a wonderful year and wherever she runs for the balance of it, it will be an impressive season! But a good many other horses have had such a 3 year old year (or 2 year old year or 4 year old year or a combination of great years).  What is different is that it is not something you see much of now days.  We are lucky to see many of the top horses start 5-6 times per year now with many of the horses retiring with less than 12-15 lifetime starts. But in the not so distant past-a different story!

As for the comments about Sea The Stars - yes he will most likely be England's HOTY and he seems awesome.  However, I still don't believe a horse running ONE race here deserves an Eclipse award ever!  Unless a new category is initiated - "Best Foreign Based Horse to run in the US" or something like that.......

19 Aug 2009 10:16 PM

Steve - Do you not realize that if Rachel were to run in the Alabama, she'd be running back on less than 3 weeks rest???  Its also 1-1/4 miles, a distance which her connections are hesitant to run her at.  Give her 5 weeks rest, run her in the Woodward against older males at her preferred distance of 1-1/8.  Obviously if the fans could choose, they'd choose the Travers, and I'd be happy if they chose it, but the next realistic spot for her would be The Woodward.  When compared to the Travers, she'd get an extra week off, not have to run as far and not have to face QR.

19 Aug 2009 10:31 PM


Loved the article but RA would be expected to win the Alabama by a huge margin. Anything else would look bad, so no upside and some risk (it's a horse race and Milwaukee Appeal, for one, got the distance against males).

The Travers would be good and would show she gets 10 furlongs. If her connections are worried about distance the Woodward gives her a chance to win against older males, very useful in a HOTY campaign that does not include the Breeders Cup.

I think they are worried about distance and she'll only go in the Travers if Kensei doesn't look a winner. The Penn Derby would be a rotten tomatoes situation.

19 Aug 2009 10:43 PM
Vic S


It aint easy being good - how about keeping it civil.?  No need for the "high" comment.  Pick your favorite figures - BRIS, Beyer, TG, Ragozin, Performance Figures (steve roman) - Munnings whipped older males at 7f - he is every bit as fast as Quality Road.  Big Drama - Gulfstream track record 7f.  Rachel has already run the 2 fastest 3yo males in the country into the ground...from the outside.  QR may prove to be faster, but he hasn't shown it yet on the track.  

Steve - QR has never looked a horse like RA in the eye.  Rachel has gone eyeball to eyeball with 2 very fast colts in Munnings and Big Drama, so this wouldn't exactly be a new experience for her.

Now, all of that said, Rachel will probably go in the Woodward.  I see Kensei going in the Travers.  I hope I'm wrong.  If that's the case, I hope she goes in the JCGC.

LS - Replace on your list "Alabama" with "Travers" and wow!  That's the race for her.  Quality Road is not faster than Munnings , and Rachel obliterated him.  Good luck to QR trying to run with this filly.  She's doing great this week, she'll be doing even better next week.  Rachel by 5 in a romp.---

ME __________ The part about Munnings is what I don't get. Lets not forget Quality Road holds two different track records at two very different distances and two very different racetracks both of which are some of America's most coveted racing venues. Road holds the 1 1/8 at Gulfstream Park which I still believe had the toughest three year olds this year and holds the 6 1/2 furlong mark at THE SPA that record was 30 years old it takes guts to go out and win by daylight in track record time at America's oldest track especially after training up to the race since this spring.  If you ask me who the best horse in the country right now Quality Road is my answer.  He was the best before the Kentucky Derby and still is. Rachel was 6+ lengths better than Munning at 1 1/8, I believe Road is 10+ better.  IT AINT EASY is right.  Also, the elders in every MALE division this year are WEAK.  Quality Road has been and still is the best horse this year.  Rachel needs to face him.

19 Aug 2009 10:49 PM
Vic S

DRAYNAY - The path has been clear and remains the same.  Rachel will not run 1 1/4 this year and there is no reason for her to do so.  The Woodward is 1 1/8th and the Beldame is 1 1/8th.  If Quality Road wants to make a move scratch from the Travers and face Rachel in the will be your last chance to get her this year Quality Road.  Look, Rachel has won 8 races in a row and she will win the Woodward and Beldame ending her year with 10 straight wins.  Next year the countdown will begin to the magic number 17 surpassing Citation and Cigar for consecutive wins.  Can anyone name a great 3 year old campain then Rachels should she win her last 2 races and finish the year 9 for 9?

For one she must race 1 1/4 for me to consider her one of the top horses of all-time. Every great horse can run the CLASSIC distance.  Second, it is very easy to find many 3 year olds with greater seasons then her. Ever heard of Damascus beat a HOTY and a future HOTY in the same race, Citation 20 for 19 that year, Seattle Slew's unbeaten TC with only loss in Swaps after rough season, Nashua, and countless others your point is moot, yet she has had a great season but each of the formentioned great horses had a better one all racing 1 1/4 and beyond.

19 Aug 2009 10:54 PM


    I actually wrote a blog on this and said as the owner i would've gone to the the Alabama, then Ruffian to set her up for the JCGC. Two races that should've been relatively easy, one at 1 1/4 would've set her up perfectly, i believe.

19 Aug 2009 11:06 PM
Greg J.

     I have to weigh in here, It is frustrating to me that people now feel the need to diminish Rachel's incredible feats this year by blaming it on her competition?  Honestly, These same people would still find negative thing's to say even if Rachel win's out the rest of the year, Regardless of the races she is in.  In this day and age, Her campaign this year, her results, Her margin of victory, Her times, Well, They are ALL mind boggling.  In the middle of all this, One tends to forget, Is that she also changed owners and trainers.  Mr. Jackson is a very astute and precise man, He is not naive or ignorant.  Regardless if you have the best horse, One must analyze all aspects of her possible races, The competition, Track angles, Distance, Surfaces, Everything.  One would be very naive to say, "If you have the best horse, Who cares who is entered".  That statement is crazy, Owners and Trainers go over every single detail about every possible scenario, That is what makes them and their horses succesful.  Mr. Jackson and Mr. Asmussen will do what is right for Rachel and whatever road they choose for her, True Fans of this great sport should relish every moment that they are graced with Rachel's presence, I know I am...

19 Aug 2009 11:07 PM

Well the ALABAMA would be somewhat


the CONNECTIONS passed up

the chance to SWEEP the NEW

FILLY "Triple Tiara",

that would have been , DESPITE the

fact that Rachel  versus FILLIES


A GREAT threesome of WINS

added to her RESUME

She FITS the MOLD like


that should be a


 Going against males in the

Haskell  could have WAITED

until fall but

you cant blame TEAM RACHEL

for sending her to Monmouth

 (9) NINE FURLONGS . arguably

her BEST ROUTE  on a track,


hard NOT TO LIKE her in THAT


To make her RESUME SPARKLE further

the TRAVERS would be more IDEAL

than the ALABAMA at this point

since the Haskell TOOK HER off the


Or skipping the "Midsummer Derby"

the way ASMUSSEN did with CURLIN

and sending her to the Super DERBY

or wait AN EXTRA week for the

WOODWARD or go in the Ruffian at Belmont to prep her  for a big run

in the Jockey Club GOLD CUP

which in  ESSENCE would be

her BREEDERS CUP wouls seem to be


  But I stilL think THERE

may be a SLIGHT chance we might see

Rachel actually RUN in the


EVERYONE's talking about

RACHEL VS Zenyatta, but

dont forget about

GOLDIKOVA last year's BC Mile

winner that is 2 for 2  this year

and MAY run in THE Classic

instead of the MILE

the Ladies Classic could be





It would be GREAT if Rachel


the dual  EPSOM / Irish Oaks


EITHER way, there will be some


keep in mind these OTHER fillies

like SEVENTH Street and Seattle Smooth are very GOOD HORSES


ON the EAST COAST that could be , \

WITHOUT Zenyatta in the MIX,

very interesting,AND MORE


Im not SURE if ZENYATTA is a

"LOCK" even if she FORGOES the

CLASSIC  to DEFEND her Ladies

Classic title

This is an observation Ive made

PRIPR to Zenyatta'a CLOSE CALL in

the Clement L. HIRSCH

So again I agree with Steve

QUALITY ROAD is the "X" Factor


"TOUGH" task, and my FEELING is

WE WILL see his BEST after the


He should really run WELL

by Gold Cup time

and then WELL SEE if he ships

out West






would LOVE to meet YOU guys

IF NOT BY  BC time

MAYBE NEXT YEAR on the Triple Crown trail / the KENTUCKY Derby

great talking to EVERYONE



WED 8-19- 09


and later on when pect I exPECT him

TO TRY AND repeat IN the Distaff

UNDEFEATED Arc winner)

But if NOT not

Horse Of The Year

MALES in the SUMMER wasnt so


19 Aug 2009 11:10 PM

The "best Ladies Classic field ever". Did I read that right? ROFL!Not the worst ever but nowhere near the best. And I would love to see a quote from JJ where he believed Z was better than Curlin at any point.

19 Aug 2009 11:12 PM

I wonder sometimes why people have such a negative opinion of Jess Jackson.  Is it because he's rich and he can do what he wants with his horses.  Are all of the naysayers jealous of him and his ability to see a horse with great potential, and go buy the horse if he sees fit.  Some of you make statements that would leave even the most amateur of horse racing fans shaking their heads. From the time that they announced the five races that she was eligible to run in there were really only 2 that I saw possible, then there was the announcement that the race against Zen was possible and that changed everything.  The two races that I saw were the Alabama and the Personal Ensign, both would get the 1 ¼ mile classic distance question out of the way.  When they announced the Zenyatta race that changed and only the Alabama was in my sights.  Too bad J.J. didn’t see it the same way but it makes no matter, because he owns the horse.  My thinking was that basically Zenyatta has not run against more than 1 Grade 1 horse this year, which being Life is Sweet, her races are cup cake races served up on a dish and even she struggled in her last race against a bunch of allowance horses.  Right now Rachel is 5 lengths better than Zenyatta on any surface, if the race happens, you can bet that the 3 races that Zenyatta has run in have taken nothing out of her because she is facing absolutely no body.  Rachel on the other hand is a 3 year old filly running against Top Flight Competition.  It’s sad that I sit back and listen or look at the posts here that people make, sometimes when your mouth gets to running you fail to realize that if you speak before u actually think you can make yourself look like an idiot.  Big Drama and Munnings are both high class sprinters and Rachel embarrassed both of them; Q.R. is a route horse, yes he’s fast but he routes, he was all out winning his previous race. one person sounds like his a marketing director for Zenyatta’s crew of scary connections.  Back doors to HOY lead only through Cali, last year they begged for HOY votes after a campaign of 4 Grade 1 and 3 Grade 2 races, these comments make you seem as if you have no understanding of horse racing at all.  She’s run against males 2 out of the last 3 races, how many fillies in the history of horse racing have done that.  Also the term lesser colts, I am not sure I’d call Pioneer of the Nile, Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, Papa Clem, Munnings, Big Drama, Grade 1 winning Take the Points, lesser colts, there are a lot of Grade 1 wins there, and u know something a grade 1 is a grade 1.  If you like the grass racing on that side of the pond so much please take the ignorance that way.  Another says R. A. doesn’t have HOY locked up LOL – Try to follow the simple reasoning, Oaks Grade 1, Preakness Grade 1, Mother Goose Grade 1, Haskell Grade 1, other than Gio Ponti, who else has a resume that’s even close to comparing.  Maybe you should learn the fundamentals of horse racing first.  She’s easily done 3 times what Zenyatta has done, they are focused on 1 race and 1 race only the synthetic breeders cup and she is not the best horse to be running in the classic if she goes. Someone asked if there is 1 ¼ mile criteria for HOY, lol are u serious.  Then someone said that Sea of Stars would win HOY, I mean this message list is hilarious its like some people here have no knowledge at all of horse racing don’t pay attention to anything that has happened before.  Rachel goes in the personal Ensign, wins by 10, then faces Zenyatta in the Beldame and wins by 6 lengths, that’s the end of it and the end of the perfect career for Zen, that is unless her connections are scared.

19 Aug 2009 11:24 PM
Paula Higgins

I don't see Rachel in the Travers against Quality Road. If I was Rachel's connections I wouldn't go near Quality Road. He is the one who can beat her. He has tremendous potential. However, I think Rachel has HOTY wrapped up. She would have to have a tremendous meltdown and another horse would have to win the rest of the board. She will run in the Woodward or Beldame. Monica, I saw that video on Youtube of Rachel walking back to the stable and she looked beat, big time. She must be one very resilient horse to bounce back the way she did. Sometimes I feel like we are watching a chess game instead of horse racing. But i am n ot really complaining. I would do exactly what they are doing if she were my horse.

19 Aug 2009 11:41 PM

You can talk all you want, but RA has beaten nothing this year.  The 3-year old crop is ordinary, and to say that Zenyatta has not beaten anything is foolish..  I'll say this.  At a mile and a quarter, I'll take Zenyatta any day.  She is the better horse.

19 Aug 2009 11:48 PM
John T.

The Alabama is still a great race even without Rachel and so it should be.Being from Canada I am very interested in how Milwaukee Appeal and Careless Jewel will run plus the Bob Baffert Ontario-Bred

Wynning Ride.I too believe that the Alabama should have been the next race for Rachael as there is still lots of time to sort things out for 2009.

20 Aug 2009 12:07 AM


Since we are speculating on the remainder of RA's season, let me put it to you quite emphatically  that if Quality Road wins the Travers, JCGC and BCC he would have eclipsed Rachel Alexandra's magnificent season.  I must warn you that it will take some clear thinking and a honest mind to figure out why this would be the REALITY.  

Furthermore, if Sea The Stars should extend the reach of his all conquering performances across the pond on Breeder's Cup day and manage to defeat Quality Road in the BCC (assuming that QR captures both the Travers and JCGC), I declare to you a second scenario that (with no small controversy due to nationalistic sentiments) would deservedly eclipse Rachel Alexandra's magnificient season (notwithstanding her 9 for 9 statistics).  You've got to take off the emotional/sentimental blinkers here and realise that everything is relative.

20 Aug 2009 12:18 AM

Normally I don't bother to address other posters or their opinions.  Everyone is entitled.  However, I take exception to anyone's comments about RA facing inferior competition.  

Horses don't pick who they run with.  They don't pick to be born in years where there supposedly were no superstars born.

When horses are SO DOMINATING over their competition that they are winning by huge margins AND easing up under the wire in stakes record, or near track record times without "ever being looked in the eye" then THAT is the measure of a great racehorse, regardless of the competition they are with.

20 Aug 2009 12:42 AM
Monica V

Greg J.

I'm with you.  All this talk about Rachel's less than stellar competition is ludicrous.  Where is the tough competition?  She has run in a classic and won.  She won the KY Oaks by 20 and the Mother Goose by 19.  These are grade ones.  Where is she supposed to go to face real competition?  She has faced what's out there.  Could it possibly be that she is that much better than the rest?  I don't believe that Mr. Jackson is afraid of Zenyatta.  That's another thing that is bandied about.  Why are so many people so sure that they know exactly what he thinks?

20 Aug 2009 12:53 AM


Why in the world would/ should QR scratch out of a $1M race for the Woodward?  The goal of prominent 3YO colts are to build a resume for stallion prospects.  Winning the 1 1/4 mile Travers and the $600K that goes with it would do far more for his resume than the Woodward.  If he can post a win at 6 1/2 f and 1 1/4 miles, this would help increase stallion value immensely.  

Rachel would likely have stiffer competition in the Travers than the Woodward as Bullsbay has already said he would not run against her, and Commentator was retired after the Whitney.  Running against older males could add another G1, but would add little to her resume.  However, beating the KY Derby "mud" winner, the Belmont winner, and the KY Derby favorite at their desired distances, she would leave no doubt as to who is the dominant 3YO at all route distances from 8-10 furlongs.

If Jess Jackson's ultimate goal for RA is HOY she should run in the Travers, then the Beldame where (if the NYRA obliges to Zenyatta's connections wishes) she could compete against and embarass Z.  However, if Jess is hoping to increase Kensei's stallion prospects more, then it is obvious he will run him there and RA in the Woodward.  Let's hope she runs in the Travers (a race out of her comfort zone).

20 Aug 2009 1:42 AM
Matthew W

I agree last year was by far the best classic field, top to bottom, I mean the records speak for themselves...still, 1 1/8 one turn.....think Big Z would heave MUCH to thing I think, a :22 sec final 1/4 closes 8-10 lengths....still, Rachel and her nervous looking jockey (??!!) would be all out to beat her....if they go East it would be the ultimate gesture--to bring the undefeated champion to face off on her (awesome) rival's home ground....AWE HECK! That's the way it's always been for the West, SHIP HER, LET'S DO THIS!!

20 Aug 2009 2:12 AM

Quality Road could prove to be a very stiff test for Rachel Alexandra if she runs in the Travers. However, I think she may be due a bounce and it may not even be QR that could win it.

20 Aug 2009 2:57 AM

You have to have faith that the the trainer and owner have Rachel's best interst for well being in mind and run her accordingly!

20 Aug 2009 7:00 AM

Hi Steve, I agree with you. To run her in the Travers against Quality Road, even though he has had a layoff, and even if he is not 100%, a battle between them could set it up for closers like Summer Bird and Mind That Bird to beat them both and especially since neither Rachel nor Quality Road have even been the classic distance and the Bird Brothers have both won at the longer distance. And I don't think Mr. Jackson should pen his HOTY speech for Rachel just yet. If and I say If Zenyatta goes undefeated and wins the Classic, she should be HOTY. I don't care what anybody says she was robbed last year of HOTY. She beat the best fillies in the world at the Breeders Cup and Curlin came in fourth in the Classic. She was undefeated and he lost two of his races. If they are already giving HOTY to Rachel, and she still hasn't met the best horses in the world and will not run in the Breeders Cup, how can anyone give her HOTY? As far as I knew the Breeders Cup Classic Winner has gotten HOTY for the last five years with the exception of Curlin last year, and just  because he ran in the Classic he beat Zenyatta for HOTY. You do the math.    

20 Aug 2009 7:10 AM

Ranagulzion I disagree.  Quality Road only has one path to topping Rachel and that is to take her on in the Woodward.  If he wins the Travers, JGC, and Classic AND she wins the Woodward and Beldame he falls short.  Its still hard for me to believe that Pletcher is going to run QR in the Travers.  The Woodward would make more sense at 1 1/8th unless he wants no part of Rachel at this time.  Who could blame him?

20 Aug 2009 7:51 AM

Beating Quality Road does nothing for her.  He's won one GI race this year.

If his connections want to face her, they'll know where she will be soon enough.

Nor does it improve her standing beating Mine That Bird or Summer Bird again.

Time to take on new competition.  Unlike Zenyatta.

20 Aug 2009 8:02 AM


As much as I love to watch Rachel run and will be proud 25 years from now to say, "I remember when Rachel Alexandra ran," the record to beat is now 19 consecutive races won.  Citation and Cigar's 16 consecutive wins have already been surpassed (by another girl, strangely enough).  By the way, I saw Cigar last month at KHP - he's looking good & acting feisty!

20 Aug 2009 8:08 AM

Dear Bloggers,

Pure silliness!!!  But, I guess that is what commenting on a blog becomes.  In winning the Martha Washington, Fair Grounds Oaks, Fantasy, Kentucky Oaks, Preakness (first filly in 85 years), Mother Goose, and Haskell by an average winning margin of more than nine lengths, Rachel Alexandra has already accomplished more this season than any other 3-year-old filly in at least 60+ years.

I enjoyed how one person attempted to downplay her season by comparing it to Damascus, Citation, and Seattle Slew's 3-year-old campaigns.  LOL, if you need to go back 30, 40 and 60 years and compare her to all-time great colts...well then, you get the idea.  Please tell me the best horse that Seattle Slew beat in his 3-year-old campaign.  And speaking of competition, she is beating the best there is and will continue to seek out opportunities outside of her 3-year-old filly peers.  I promise you, her connections are not ducking Quality Road, Zenyatta or Sea the Stars.  Her people are just doing what they believe is best for the horse, much the way Sea the Star's connections did when they opted out of their home country's derby (Irish) because they felt the ground was too soft for him.

Rachel Alexandra is a true champion.


An Objective Man

20 Aug 2009 8:42 AM

As much as I love Zenyatta, she most certainly did not beat the best fillies in the world in last year's Ladies' Classic.  Goldikova ran in the Mile, and Zarkava stayed home.

20 Aug 2009 8:55 AM

Quality Road is a superb talent, but I questioned whether he'd get 10 panels before the derby and I question it now. Rachel is simply the best 3 year old period and anyone who can't see that needsto seek professional help. Seriously! If she beats older horses the detractors are going to say how weak they are and others are going to proclaim her as a superhorse. Thats why I hope her and Zenyatta never meet who could stand to listen to the excuses from either side when one lost.

20 Aug 2009 8:58 AM

LG  Seattle Slew - undefeated Triple Crown Champion. If you want to make that argument,which is laughable, who exactly has RA beat?

20 Aug 2009 9:16 AM


    Zenyatta was not robbed at all she flat out did not deserve that award over Curlin. The two races he lost were not on his preffered surface, and both he lost by less that three lengths, and both were graded ones. That year he won his prep in Dubai, the World Cup(by alomst eitht lengths), came back to win the Stephen Foster by 4 1/2, then wins the Woodward and JCGC. He was second in his only turf try, i don't see Zenyatta trying turf any time soon, and was fourth beaten less than three lengths to HTN and RA, Europes top two three year olds. In that race, i don't care what you say, he faced much better than Zenyatta, who face a bunch of horses who disliked the surface, weren't in her class to begin with or were flukes. That was not that strong of a field when you put everything into persepctive. Curlin got that award because overall he had the tougher season and still managed to have a very successful winning season. Had he been able to have the easy set up of racing on the east coast all year w/o traveling to Dubai and California in the same year, many experts think he too could've gone on to have an unbeaten year. Your mare lost that award to a worthy opponet, stop being a sore looser and get over it.

20 Aug 2009 9:27 AM

SalemPoe I am aware Peppers Pride won 19 in a row but that was a state thing and not G1 and G2 races facing the worlds best.  Citation and Cigars number of 16 facing the best is the number Rachel and many fans like me are focused on.  With her win in the Woodward she will be more than half way there and the countdown can begin.  This should give racing a real boost next year as the mainstream media starts the countdown for her to surpass the great Cigar and Citation. It is very possible next year her 17th race could be the Breeders Cup.  Can you imagine that ? Wow.

20 Aug 2009 9:32 AM
Will W

Woodward, Jockey Gold Cup, Clark Handicap, and then the Dubai Classic. Extravagantly ambitious in this day and age of lightly raced, early-retired race horses ? Yes, but when RA's exercise rider said recently that the filly showed no signs of fatigue and was energetic and  full of run, already ready to race again weeks before the Travers, that sealed it for me. We are beholding true greatness - an iron filly. As long as RA maintains that form and vigor, let the racing fans see just how good she is. Only lure to the Travers is the presence of Quality Road. Bypass it, beat the older males in the Woodward and Jockey Gold Cup, Zenyatta in the Clark, and then take the richest race in the world. If RA can do that, Jackson can initiate a name change and dub her "Alexandra the Great," and the racing world will truly know  where her bottom is and just how great this horse is. Who cares about Cigar and his 17 race win streak  ? Dr. Fager, Damascus, Buckpasser, Forego, and Kelso's connections never cared about consecutive victories and winning streaks nor did those of Affirmed, Seattle Slew, or Spectacular Bid. All that mattered was facing the best competition at all the classic distances though it meant sometimes being bested by another truly great handicap horse. Longevity against the best competition in the world at all of the classic distances is a truer test of greatness than picking your spots to eclipse an all-time consecutive win streak. Do any of the present day owners have the moxy to do that ? Maybe only Jess Jackson though he showed too much conformity to present day owner habits when he kept Curlin out of the Clark - Asmussen's excuse was that 40 degree weather in Louisville in November was too cold and so did Curlin a disservice - and did not keep him on the track as a 5 year old, sending the horse to the barn and finding the colt, in his words, "depressed" because he could not go to the track any more. Maybe, he'll grow bolder with RA and the outcome will be the discussion about where her bottom really is will no longer be moot as, unlike with Curlin, we'll truly know the measure of her greatness.

20 Aug 2009 9:35 AM
Steve Haskin

The difference between racing today and yesterday is there was no internet yesterday. Which means there was no group of naysayers who love to constantly utter the words "He/she beat nothing."  It seems every year when we get a truly exceptional horse, they beat nothing. Rachel Alexandra has beaten nothing, Zenyatta has beaten nothing, Big Brown beat nothing, Curlin beat nothing, Smarty Jones beat nothing. We get the point. It could be that exceptional horses make other horses look like nothing. I imagine these same people would have said Citation, Whirlaway, and Count Fleet beat nothing. Without looking it up, can anyone name a single horse those three Triple Crown winners beat? Can anyone name three horses Seattle Slew beat in the entire Triple Crown? Who finished send, third, and fourth to Secretariat in the Belmont Stakes? The answer to all those questions obviously is, "they beat nothing." It matters little that Rachel won the Mother Goose totally eased up by 19 1/4 lengths in 1:46 1/5. She beat nothing. It matters little that she trounced the Belmont winner and one of the fastest horses in the country in the Haskell in near track-record time. She beat nothing. It matters little that Zenyatta won a race few horses would have won off such a ridiculously slow pace. She beat nothing. Difference of opinion is great and what makes horseracing so fascinating, but it's time for these people to get a new act. This one is getting tiresome.

20 Aug 2009 9:41 AM

If Rachel wins the Travers, I believe Jackson will send her to Dubai. I don't think he can resist the lure of the $5M, the pride of bringing the star filly and beating the best the Arabs can muster. Curlin did it there and it was an experience he could not forget. I would not be surprised if this happens.

As for me, running her against a monster like QR might take a lot out of her but her greatness almost demands it. She becomes a victim of her own prowess. I think Asmussen has Rachel's best interest in mind and if she is ready she just might beat the monster.

20 Aug 2009 9:54 AM

You guys are touting Quality Road as the next coming. He beat one horse in the florida Derby and that horse finished second in the Belmont but hasnt been spectacular. Listen he does have a high cruising speed but she does it running away from other horses I have not seen him make distance between himself and others. He doesnt have that same turn of foot that she has. Plus he should have stayed with Jerkins not Pletcher.

20 Aug 2009 10:01 AM


There's only one problem with your prediction.....the new track in Dubai is synthetic.....after passing on the BC because of synthetics they couldn't run her there even if they wanted to.

20 Aug 2009 10:09 AM

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But for those who believe last years Distaff/Ladies Classic was the best ever, I would like to point out the field for the 89 running.

BAYAKOA-Multiple Grade 1 winner in US and Aregentina. Won Distaff 2 years in a row. Won 2 Eclipse Awards.

OPEN MIND-Multiple Grade 1 winner, Triple Tiara winner. Won 2 Eclipse Awards.

GOODBYE HALO-Multiple G1 winner including Kentucky Oaks.


And lastly WINNING COLORS-Kentucky Derby Winner, mulitple G1 winner, 1 Eclipse award.

So in this running you had a KY Derby winner, a KY Oaks winner, a Triple Tiara winner, 5 Eclipse awards, and mulitple G1 winners.

It's only my opinion, but you'd have a hard time convincing me that last years field was better than 89's.

20 Aug 2009 10:16 AM

Steve thank you! Its time to drop all this who did she beat stuff.  I agree with you 100%.  Ofelia, Rachel doesn't have to chase anyone and if the connections for Quality Road want her they can find her in the Woodward and are more than welcome to join her.  Kensei has 2 wins at Saratoga and will be in the Travers. Rachel is moving on to older male horses to win a race NO FILLY has ever won. Next will be the Beldame where Zenyatta is welcome to try her luck.  If the connections for Zenyatta are serious and want to face Rachel they know where she will be.

20 Aug 2009 10:21 AM

Bravo Steve!!!

20 Aug 2009 10:29 AM
rich loughrey

Jess(It's all about me) Jackson is marketing himself not this wonderful filly. He marketed a second rate wine into millions and cotinues to get his name in the press as usual.

20 Aug 2009 10:29 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

     Thank You!  Some people just don't get how hard it is to win a race, Period!  Regardless of his/her competition, If winning was so easy then we would have many horses with longer winning streaks.  I also believe that these same "Fans" would keep finding excuses to make regarding Rachel.  They can't see or appreciate history unfolding right before their eyes, I feel sorry for these "Fans"...

20 Aug 2009 10:38 AM

Rachel Alexandra's accomplishments so far cannot be disputed by any reasonable/knowledgable racing fan. We know she is "great" for lack of a better word. The question I have and other racing fans should have is "just how great" is she? How does she rank or will she rank among the all time greats of racing?

True competitors want to beat the best competition. They want to test themselves in new ways.  They want to push the limits to see how they stack up amongst others in various scenarios. Obviously, the horse does not make the decision as to where and who he/she runs against. It is up to the owner(s). Let's find out truly how great Rachel is

by "testing" her to her limits (if there are any). I personally think she is SUPER at 1 and 1/8 or less. When we start getting to the 1 and 1/4 distance, she might not be as invincible. It looked to me that she would have been caught had the Preakness been another 1/16 of a mile.

All that said, I think her connections fear QR at 1 and 1/4 more than they fear the older horses at 1 and 1/8. Add in the fact that Kensei will benefit more down the road for breeding purposes for winning the Travers than Rachel would, I really think she is headed toward the Woodward and I plan to be at Saratoga to see her run.

20 Aug 2009 10:45 AM

No chance Rachel goes to Dubai - they will have a synthetic track next year. If he won't race her on the plastics in California, he certainly won't do it in Dubai either.

20 Aug 2009 10:51 AM

If Jackson has reservations about running RA at a mile and a quarter, it could be because her daddy, although extremely talented himeself, was only one for four (i believe) at the classic distance.

Both the Travers and the JCGC are at the classic distance - this along with some of the competition (especially QR and Kensai) might cross these races off for her.

I'm thinking the Woodward is the the race for her and Jackson is leaning this way.

20 Aug 2009 10:57 AM


You are so right!  Some people just have to belittle what the really good horses accomplish.  Rachel has done more than any horse I can think of in recent years in this single season.  Is the competition so bad?  If it is then Rachel just races against the clock and she's beating that as well.  

Steve, you saw Rachel's work.  What are your comments?

20 Aug 2009 11:01 AM


I get so excited watching Rachel and yelling at the TV that it upsets my dog to the point of his barking at me.  He simply doesn't understand!

20 Aug 2009 11:03 AM

Aleesa, you took the words right out of my mouth.  I will always contend that if the Preakness had been even half a furlong longer, MTB would've won.  Borel even said she was tired.  I think 1 1/8 is her optimal distance and SA and JJ know it.  

20 Aug 2009 11:17 AM

Mr. Haskins,

    Once again, nice article.  I never really thought of the reasoning you mentioned for RA running in the Alabama, but it does make sense.  In addition, although the Woodward is a very prestigious race itself and even though some of the horses are the same, it seems the Jockey Gold Cup tends to draw a better overall field as many horses use it as a final prep for the BC Classic with its time proximity to the Classic.  If RA were to win the JGC, I think many of the naysayers would have to admit, she is simply the best horse in training, 3 year old filly or not.  Since she's not headed towards the BC, I personally would love to see RA run in the JGC and then the Clark Handicap at Churchill on Thanksgiving weekend.  They could turn her out after the Clark and a win in both the JGC & Clark would allow her to compete and defeat just about all of the best older male older horses running today.  We'd almost certainly see Einstein in the Clark and there's a good possibility of Macho Again turning up in that race so she would have definitely knocked heads with the best older dirt horses in my opinion.

    Anyway, I've seen quite a few comments of how RA has looked horses like Munnings and Big Drama in the eye and put them away.  Many people are also saying that Quality Road doesn't have the same speed as those two so why would he be any different.  Well, to me there's a big difference.  Munnings and Big Drama, in my opinion, are best at a distance of a mile or less.  I don't really think they have the pedigree to go 1 1/4.  Big Drama has proven he can go up to 1 1/16 and he almost got the win in the WV Derby at 1 1/8, but there's no way he goes any longer than that and like I just stated above, I think he's best suited for a distance of a mile or less.  I'm not saying he's not a quality horse, but the WV Derby set up just right for him so that definitely aided in his ability to almost stay 1 1/8.  Quality Road on the other hand has proven that he can go 1 1/8 already with his win in the FL Derby.  In addition, his pedigree and even the way he runs suggest that he can definitely stay 1 1/4.  There's a big difference looking a sprinter in the eye and putting them away in a 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 race as opposed to looking a horse like Quality Road in the eye with his speed when he has proven that he's definitely a 2 turn horse.  Could RA beat QR, sure she could, but he would almost certainly be her biggest challenge year-to-date and he's more than capable of knocking her off.  I almost would rather see RA vs. QR than RA vs. Zenyatta.  I think it would be more entertaining to see 2 top class horses with that same running style go at it the whole race versus seeing if a dead closer can track down a speed horse in the final 1/8 of a mile.  

20 Aug 2009 11:23 AM
Cowboy Bob

Mr.Haskin:  Horses quality is evaluated by the media, people like you or racing pundits. If a horse has a nothing handle its because  the plethora of professional racing wizards we have today gave it to the horse. Social poitics seems to play a role in whose favored and who is not. Time dictates who winds up being one of the greats. Horses whose names appear quite often in these blogs earned there reputations on the track competing against great horses. Racing fans want to see the best against the best like in any other sport. Years ago a hundred grander was a big deal. There  wasn't 5 one hundred granders on a weekend so the schedule forced the good horses to face off. Horses can ship around and make millios without facing  a really world class field. 10 Grade 1 type horses in one race changes the complexion of the race. The frustration with RA and Zenyatta situation is the social politics and abundance oe races with alot of money and weak fields. Remember Jess Jackson reportedly spent 10 million for the filly so he needs to not get her beat and recoup his investment. All this lovely banter is fun but the discussion should be settled on the track.

20 Aug 2009 11:29 AM

With apologies, in my post above I meant 2 Kentucky Oaks winners and I completely forgot Gorgeous who was a multiple G1 winner in her own right.

20 Aug 2009 11:30 AM

Steve, AMEN! On your second post.  I have always thought that you can only compare an animals greatness by the distance they won by and the times in which they ran, and the apparent ease not always who they won over.  How many one hit wonders are there?  They just had a brillant day--it was their day to win and no one was going to beat them that day!  Rachel is stupendous!  And she makes every horse she beats look bad, and most are not, they are just running against a true "freak".   When a filly runs in almost record time and 19 lengths in front, come on, she is great!!  No matter the quality of those she bested.  She is filly to be remembered, truly!      

20 Aug 2009 11:39 AM
Karen in Texas

Thanks for your comment and applying proper perspective to the influence of the Internet. Your observations are so true.

20 Aug 2009 11:44 AM
Will W

Well, off the top of my head, Citation beat his stablemate Coal Train and Secretariat dueled with Sham who ran second to the great horse in the Derby and Preakness and then was obliterated in the Belmont when he tried to stay with Secretariat down the backstretch and faded to an oh so distant last. Steve's right though about the naysayers. However, the only way to silence them in the present case is to put Rachel to the test that I outlined above.

20 Aug 2009 12:06 PM
Bill Daly

You know with all this talk about Rachel and QR hooking up in the Travers - which isn't that probable - everyone has seemingly forgotten about the Birds.  I thought Summer Bird ran an exceptional race to get the place in the Haskell.  Kent took him out of his usual running style to keep him close to Rachel as he realized that nobody else could and he still had enough left to hold off everyone for the place.  Nice effort.  He'll need some help to run down QR in the Travers, but speed doesn't hold as well at the Spa as it does at Monmouth.  I think he'll like Saratoga at a mile and a quarter just fine.  Not sure whether QR wants to go that far off of one terrific race at 6 and a half.  If Rachel shows up for the Travers it would only enhance Summer Bird's chances. Don't know what to make of MTB especially after his epiglottal surgery.  I thought he ran well at Mountaineer on a track which he apparently didn't get a hold of. As a fan I would love to see RA in the Travers, but I can understand Jackson taking a different route.  We have a lot to look forward to!

20 Aug 2009 12:11 PM
Bill Daly

Correction to my previous post: I forgot that Munnings was supposed to keep RA honest in the Haskell.  He tried hard, but it didn't seem to matter. Why then did Kent send Summer Bird??

20 Aug 2009 12:15 PM
It aint easy being good!

LS again get your info right big drama and munnings have never ran over a mile when they faced RA and never set 2 track records and comparing those 2 to QR is insulting. QR is a beast but Draynay is right QR is not in top form yet so Jess Jackson should run in the travers because RA can smash the rest of the horses in that field. If you watch QR races once he gets the lead he doesnt give it up and it would be a race for the ages against RA. QR IS THE TRUTH! If they decide to run Kensie in the travers QR will destroy him.

20 Aug 2009 12:53 PM

What is tiresome to me is this recent infatuation with 9 furlongs.

There's a long list of brilliant speedsters who can get 9 furlongs.  We see it every Spring in the Derby preps. The vast majority of 9 furlong type horses, like RA, just can't get that extra furlong which defines a classic racehorse--racehorses like Tiznow, John Henry, Affirmed, etc. All you 9 furlong lovers may want to attend the next D Wayne Lucas sermon.

20 Aug 2009 12:55 PM
Don in Massachusetts

We are all indeed very fortunate to be witnesses to greatness in Rachel Alexandra because she has beaten some, if not all, of the best horses in the country.  Those of us who truly know racing history will not degrade Rachel's accomplishments but be grateful that we here to live them!

I saw Rachel Alexandra's win in the Mother Goose, after driving four hours, and I will never forget that triumph.  I also have made my reservations for the Travers, Woodward, or for any other race she will be entered, because I want to be there when this special and extraordinary filly runs...I want to be part of this mystical journey!!!

20 Aug 2009 1:54 PM

How do we know RA can't get 10 furlongs?  She ran a very tiring race at the Preakness having to go 13 wide from the start, hussling up to take the lead from Big Drama.  She normally stalks the pace although she was awfully close to the lead in the Haskell.   Seems everyone has made up their mind about her distance capabilites when she's never gone that far.  It's all conjecture.  Why don't we wait and see what happens when she goes that distance?  She is a better horse now than she was in May.  She just keeps improving as she matures.

20 Aug 2009 2:06 PM

Would have loved to see her in the Alabama, for all the reason Steve lists.  Second choice = Personal Ensign.  I DON'T want to see her in the Travers especially if Q/Road runs.  I want to see HIM win that race bcaus I liked him for the KY Derby and would love to see a sidelined colt come back rather than sneak off to a stud farm.  As for RA, if she were to run there and (gasp) get beaten, that will only start a fire-storm of the "I told you so" comments about how "greatly overrated she is."  I'm tired of the negativity.   Let's see her test some older females and see how she stacks up against them. She can always beat up on males again later in the year.  Or maybe they will be able to lure both Rachel & Zenyatta for that proposed race with open female company.  Sounds like it will be equal footing for ALL entered: age, running style, etc.

As Steve points out, this filly should NOT have to "prove" anymore. I think there's a trip to Dubai in her future and look how carefully the race choices have been mapped out for previous runners over there.  

20 Aug 2009 3:28 PM
steve s

TODD Pletcher may not have Quality Road ready to go 10 furlongs out of a 6.5 furlong race.this is the time for RA to take him on.

Kensei COULDN't warm up Quality Road

20 Aug 2009 3:52 PM
Mike Relva


I totally agree regarding the naysayers slamming horses. You couldn't have said it better because I'm tired of many that belittle and undermine the racehorse. This is one reason why I don't read as many blogs as earlier. I agree these crybabies need to get a new act,it's way old!

20 Aug 2009 4:33 PM

Will W, I think the point Steve was making with that very welcome statement about all the naysayers, is that you can't silence them.  They are never satisfied.  Thank you, Steve, for that comment.  I think people need to stop any and all criticism of any of these horses.  Out of the thousands and thousands of Thoroughbreds born every year very few ever race at all and even fewer win.  All of these horses we are discussing here are on a level far above criticism.  Their achievements are phenomenal.  They have all won full-ride scholarships to Harvard and earned a PHD at the age of 10 -just to put their success on a human level.

20 Aug 2009 4:40 PM

If Quality Road is not ready for the Travers he can meet Rachel at the Woodward at 1 1/8th.  I will not believe QR is running in the Travers until the gate opens.  I just don't see Pletcher going from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/4.

20 Aug 2009 4:41 PM

If Rachel herself could choose, I wonder which race she would want to run?

20 Aug 2009 4:42 PM


Rachel Alexandra has already won a race further than 9 furlongs. Has Zenyatta? (I'll give you the answer - no.)

20 Aug 2009 4:45 PM
Pam S.

South Filly and others who've mentioned it:  Jess Jackson will not be taking his prize filly to race in Dubai on the "plastic" track.  He will look very foolish if he does, having passed up the Breeders' Cup -- the American championships -- with the most popular horse in America for the same "plastic track" reason.

20 Aug 2009 4:48 PM


I'm not sure what you're trying to debate with me; I was simply responding to Lecylue's claim that Zenyatta beat "the best fillies in the world" in the 08 Ladies' Classic.  Since two of the best weren't even in the race, that's a bogus claim.  It certainly wasn't Zenyatta's fault, and it doesn't make her any less of a champion.  But it's simply not true.

20 Aug 2009 4:59 PM


Thank you for jumping in and giving your two cents regarding our supposedly weak crop of this year's horses, last year's horses, last decade's horses and on and on.

To those who constantly denigrate the accomplishments of RA, Zenyatta, MTB, etc....

What is heaven's name do you want?  They win races.  They  make it look easy.  I'm with Steve, get over it, it is getting boring and tiresome.

20 Aug 2009 5:55 PM

Steve...Twice a Prince, Gallant Man, Private Smiles ;-)

Do I get a prize?

20 Aug 2009 6:00 PM
Karen in Texas

da3hoss---The only name I could come up with off the top of my head was Run Dusty Run, and I wasn't sure about that. I'm pretty sure there's not going to be a prize....

20 Aug 2009 6:42 PM

Rachel is a very, very nice filly.  A machine at 1-1/8.  But I'm one of the ones who wants to see her get at least an extra eighth.

I think the scenario for the Travers, IF MIB, Summer Bird, Rachael and Quality Road were to run, sets up the race for MIB or Summer Bird, as has been mentioned before.  The distance is better for them and Summer Bird was taken out of his game in the Haskel.  Wooley seems to understand now that he has to have MIB at a certain level and not too fired to run.  Would be nice to see a jockey change on MIB, too. MIB, like Rachael, is another horse that needs to have his race play out a certain way.

If MIB has to skip the Travers and Quality Road does too, then you might see those two hook up in the JCGC- and Rachael won't.  But I think if those boys skip the Travers, it's a better bet that they might try to get that extra eighth out of Rachael in the Travers.  More likely to me to see Quality Road in the Woodward, perhaps.  Hate to see either of the Bird's there as I don't think the distance is their best.  

IMHO, and it's only that, Jackson is waiting to see who will be in the Travers.  I think he would run Rachel at 1-1/4, but ONLY if the competition sets up the race for her. If it's just Quality Road, since he's not had quite the prep races to stretch out, I could see them letting Rachael take him on, on the premise that if it's just Quality Road, RA is in better shape to carry it 1-1/4.

The questions out there now for Rachael are MIB and Quality Road with Summer Bird also one to watch for.

The most entertaining game may be watching how long everyone waits to get their horse in a particular race.  If Jackson can't play the "last minute" game to his advantage, would he then scratch Rachael?  I don't blame him for waiting, what I'm wondering is if someone played the game better, would he take Rachael out of the race?

20 Aug 2009 6:46 PM
Steve Haskin

Dahoss, I'm sure you won't want a prize for that answer, unless you believe Gallant Man came off the farm at age 19 to try to protect his track record :). But I'll give you a consolation prize for at least getting the word Gallant right.

20 Aug 2009 6:48 PM
Steve Haskin

And that's with looking it up. I'll tell you what, you can share the consolation prize with Will W, who said Citation beat Coal Train. The trick guys is to get the whole name right, not half the name :).

20 Aug 2009 6:51 PM

Well, I think Smart Aleck came in sixth ;-), and I definitely know who came in fifth, 'cause it took me a looong time to get over that, and I guess that's what I am...

PS My Gallant, it was a TYPO!! I swear it, a, hey at least I was paying attention!

20 Aug 2009 6:57 PM
Ida Lee

Wow Steve!! Way to go. I agree with you 100% regarding the "beat nothing crowd". I could not believe the criticism I would read about Curlin and Big Brown, two of the most beautiful and talented athletes I've ever seen. I don't understand why some people cannot just enjoy the truly great athletes we have, especially Rachel and Zenyatta, and stop trying to find something negative in them or in their competition. This is not brain surgery. It's supposed to be fun. So lighten up.

20 Aug 2009 7:14 PM

I dare say no knowledgeable person would ask the question "Who did she beat?" in reference to Rags To Riches.  She bested Curlin, Tiago, Hard Spun, and 2yo champion Dreaming of Anna.  

I would have loved to see Rachel in the Alabama, an easy spot that would have benefited the Saratoga meet.  Lasts year's battle between Proud Spell and Music Note, where PS proved her mettle by caming back at MN in the stretch, was very memorable and significant in that it clinched 3yo champion filly honors for Proud Spell.  Although I don't believe Rachel will be sent to the 10 furlong Travers, based on her slim margin of victory at 9.5 furlongs in the Preakness, I would hate to see her there.  Last year the Travers was a physical slug-fest, where Colonel John and Macho Again both almost went down.  As others here have noted, a Traver's victory is a major goal for all future stallions, and that coupled with Rachel's current racing style of stalking just off the pace, makes her more vulnerable to being race-ridden against by the other jockeys.  Since most people of significance are in agreement that she has already clinched HOY, there is really no reason to risk it.  She can coast from now on, until next year.  Here's a thought, Mr. Jackson could ship Rachel to Santa Anita at the close of the year to run in the 7 furlong  Malibu Stakes for 3yo's.  Since most believe that she would make any competition that shows up look weak, she should have no trouble picking up an easy G1 at a distance within her comfort zone, even if the surface is not completely to her liking, and in the process the west coast would get a chance to see her.  That way Rachel can be used to transcend the breach between east and west, instead of widening it.

20 Aug 2009 7:44 PM
Steve Haskin

Dahoss, you didnt really believe I thought you actually meant Gallant Man did you? I knew it was typo, just kidding with you.

20 Aug 2009 7:47 PM
Matthew W

How come when an East Coast horse loses out West, it's always "they didn't like the track"---even when it was dirt!....When a West Coast horse loses back East, it's always "they just weren't good enough!!"....

20 Aug 2009 8:34 PM
Paula Higgins

ITA with the "she didn't beat nothing" mantra. It's rubbish. I also think Curlin deserved HOTY over Zenyatta last year. Rachel is HOTY in my opinion. QR would have to win everything he the Travers and BCC and another race to even have a chance.

20 Aug 2009 8:37 PM

Curlez Rulez sez "RA will treat Quality Road like she treated Munnings; like a red headed step child!."

Possibly, but given we haven't seen much of Quality Road, no one knows for sure and it would be criminal to take the chance that QR is the real deal.

What we DO know about Quality Road is that he WILL be a competitor and since RA already has Horse of the Year sewed up (out of a debt the horse racing community still owes Jess Jackson for Curlin if for no other reason)there's no point on taking a chance on tarnishing the crown by even the remote possibly of a defeat.

And we need to remember, expectations are so high for this horse that if she doesn't win by a VERY comfortable margin, alot of fans are going to be VERY disappointed.

Bottom line, the horse racing community owes Jess Jackson HoY but JJ owes the horse racing community an undefeated Rachael Alexandra.

For the good of the industry, let's all pray they BOTH do their jobs.

20 Aug 2009 8:39 PM

THANK YOU Steve for that wonderful rebuttal 8-20 9:41 am!!!!!!  I too am tired of hearing the "beat nothing" comments.  I believe it is true that the great ones make the rest look like nothing!

20 Aug 2009 9:27 PM
Matthew W

Summer Bird.......BIG.....

20 Aug 2009 10:07 PM

I gotta citation takin' the soul train outta of coaltown.

Busted, Will W.  :)  

21 Aug 2009 1:33 AM

Seems I was called on the carpet for suggesting Jess Jackson might consider Dubai for Rachel.  After winning there with Curlin he may have that thought in the back of his mind.  After all, the surface on the Nad al Sheba track is officially listed as "dirt" and while we can debate if "fine sand, silt and clay over three inches of cushion"  is or is not "plastic"  I think there's just enough differential in the naming of same to have Mr Jackson justify any decision to go there.  I personally agree (like others do) that because Curlin got beat in the Classic last year, Mr JJ used the track surface as the scapegoat rather than simply accept that his horse was beaten by others who were a bit better than him on that day.

But again, all the splitting of hairs over this.  I want to enjoy horseracing, period!  

Hey, if anyone truly wants to relive the glory days and has not viewed this gem:  "Jewels of the Triple Crown"  I got it years ago and it truly is my favorite horseracing video.  No injuries, breakdowns, back-biting, etc. Just pure racing history.  The story of the 11 Triple Crown Winners narrated by the late, great Jim McKay. I LOVE this but it came out before dvd players so mine is a VHS copy... I don't know if a newer version has ever been made but I believe I can copy it to the new format. If you want to treat yourself, go find a copy of this -- you will not be sorry and you may get misty-eyed -- I always do!

21 Aug 2009 9:19 AM
Steve Haskin

Nad al Sheba closes this year. The new Meydan track that opens next year will have Tapeta (synthetic) surface.

21 Aug 2009 9:52 AM
It aint easy being good!

You people seem to underestimate QR he broke 2 track records at 2 different tracks and distances! He is a physical specimen, they should call him The hulk instead because thats what he looks.

21 Aug 2009 9:52 AM

Rachel has done the same thing this year. One record, the Martha Washington was at a mile this year and then she broke the record in the Mother Goose. Overall she has three records, at three distances, on at a mile, 1 1/16, and another a 1 1/8. The 1 1/16 record was as a two year old in the Golden Rod.

21 Aug 2009 11:14 AM

Mea culpa!  Thanks for the enlightenment!

21 Aug 2009 11:22 AM

Just so everyone will know to watch - Jockeys is back on starting tonight at 10 on Animal Planet.  I bought the DVD not too long ago and sat down last night to review the whole thing and get ready for the new season ... it was even better viewed all at once.  There are some wonderful shots of Zenyatta.  This was the best of this type of show, I think, and I'm really excited about the new season.

21 Aug 2009 2:03 PM
It aint easy being good!

LDP she did not break the record in the mother goose... I think she was close but didnt make it. QR is the best male in the US right now and I guarantee J jackson pulls RA from the travers and uses his 2nd option to see how good QR really is. Then he will realize that QR is NO JOKE!  If he wasnt scared he would of already commit to the travers!

21 Aug 2009 3:42 PM

It aint easy being good,

    She broke the stakes record. She has gotten close to breaking the Oaks record and the Haskel, but she broke the Golden Rod, Mother Goose, and Martha Washington.

Rachel Alexandra romped to a 19 1/4-length victory Saturday, making a dazzling move on the far turn at Belmont Park and pulling away from Malibu Prayer and Flashing to finish the 1 1/8-mile race in a STAKES RECORD 1:46.33.

This is right from ESPN.

21 Aug 2009 4:53 PM

Also aint easy, JJ has even said though he is considering the Travers that it was not his top choice, so what do you mean pull her from the Travers, when she probably wasn't going in it to begin with. Also JJ seems to love going after history, that is why he went to the Preakness and Haskell, so it's best to guess he'll go and try something new, that no filly has ever done, and win the Wood. Not everyone is scared, and honestly i'm starting to agree with everyone else this whole he/she is scared, or beat nobody is getting old. I could spin this on Zenyatta and say they are scared because they haven't faced boys, or come out east once this year, but i'm not. They want her to retire unbeaten, and guess what they can, so whatever. JJ wants historical significance, so let him have it. Just because he's going after something different then others doesn't mean he's scared.

You know, and this goes for everyone, i just wrote a blog about Rachel. It basicly says that i believe if Rachel had stayed with her old connections, she would've gone on to win the TT, the Acorn, the Beldame, and possibly the Distaff. I think had that road been taken people would be more likely to call her great, than they would now, as a winner of the Haskell and Preakness. My reasoning is because people can't get past the connections. If she was with her old connections, even if she had taken the easier road, people would say she is one of the greatest fillies ever, only seconded to ruffian, just because they find her old connections easier to root for and more likable. That is wrong, because, guess what w/o the horses there would be no horse racing. Why not try to focus more on what the horses do, since they are the ones running the race, not whether we hate one's connections. People who don't are pathetic, and i pity them.

21 Aug 2009 5:05 PM
Pam S.

Well, I said I wasn't going to concern myself with this issue anymore, and then I hear (over and over) on TVG how they (TVG/Betfair) will enhance the Beldame purse to $1M if both Z and RA participate.  They said both camps have been contacted and neither has ruled it out as of yet.

What is your take on this, Steve?  Could it possibly happen?  I guess the Zenyatta connections are the key, because it would be no big whoop for Rachel to be there.  If only the Mosses weren't so focused on the undefeated status, if indeed that's what it is.  

Anyway, do you think they would draw a Belmont Stakes-type crowd?  And what other F&M's might run?  And do you think it might end in a dead heat?? So exciting.

21 Aug 2009 5:46 PM

It ain't easy being good... I think you need to stop and think for a moment.  We all know Rachel is going to run in the Woodward.  The fact is no filly has ever won the Woodward so Jackson can't resist that race. However, he must make sure Kensei is ready to run in the Travers so he is waiting until early next week to announce where they are both running.  If Quality Road wants Rachel he will have to face her at the distance she likes 1 1/8th in the Woodward.  Rachel doesn't have to chase anyone.  She is going to the Woodward and then the Beldame.  QR and Zenyatta can have their chance if they want it.  If not they will be playing second fiddle like it or not.

21 Aug 2009 5:50 PM

Yea Steve! A win is a win is a win! No matter who's racing, who they are racing at what distance or what track.

21 Aug 2009 7:36 PM


I tell again, if Quality road wins the Travers it will be time for you and JJ et al to be afraid, very afraid for Rachel's HOTY bid if the connections insist on skipping the Breeder's Cup Classic.  QR is only going to get better as the season wears on and participation at the Breeder's Cup is going to matter, big time, in the minds of HOTY voters when the best horses from around the world show up.  Remember that Ranagulzion trumpeted the warning.

21 Aug 2009 8:16 PM

Forget the Woodward!  Rachel should await the Beldame and Jackson should reach out to Moss and offer a deal. If Zenyatta travels to NY for the Beldame, then Jackson will ship Rachel west to the BC for a rematch. If the score is 1-1 after the BC, they can settle it on Thanksgiving weekend at Churchill. Best two out of three for Horse of the Year. There is no need for RA or Zen to face the boys (in RAs case, anymore boys) since year end honors are voted by the media and the media is focused on this filly and mare.  I guess I'm dreaming, all I really want is that they both stay sound.

21 Aug 2009 8:34 PM

Reading thru comments.... Seems people think quite a bit about Quality Road.  Running in the Travers after one 6.5 furlong race is a tall order.  I will be impressed if he is in the exacta, but he is a dead bet against.

21 Aug 2009 8:44 PM


   I am not denying that QR is a very good horse, but so far he's only run at two tuns once, over a mile once. The only really good horse in the FL Derby was Dunkirk, who was a victim to a track that plays very well for speed. Was QR impressive that day yes, he was, but to think he can go 1 1/4, after one race at 6.5 furlongs after he was layed off for four months is basicly like asking him to be the next Spectacular Bid. This is by far the hardest race he will go in in his career, and the track is not as kind to speed as Gulfstream was. It would take literally a mythical super horse to do what he is being asked, and to expect him to just blow this field's doors off has a chance of 100-1

22 Aug 2009 6:51 AM

Ranagulzion ... QR has one road to HOY and one road only.  He has to beat Rachel and the ONLY way he can do that is to scratch out of the Travers and run against her in the Woodward.  After that QR would have to win out including the Breeders Cup.  Anything short of that leaves him....short.

22 Aug 2009 11:07 AM

Didn't know about the synthetic track at Dubai. If she does not go to the Breeder's Cup, then where?

Europe runs on turf. I think she will run in the Travers but after that is anyone's guess.

Steve, I agree with your comments on those that say all these great horses beat nothing, however, Affirmed beat the great Alydar and Secretariat had to beat Sham who ran the second fastest KD ever.

As for Rachel, she has beat some good horses this year, male and female. I really don't think she has anything else to prove.

22 Aug 2009 11:58 AM

All this talk about any horse other than Rachael Alexandra winning Horse of the Year this time around is total fantasy.

Regardless of what she does or does not do for the rest of the year, she has it in the bag.

For two reasons.

She's a filly, and she's currently owned by Jess Jackson.

There's just no way that the horse racing community would ever consider a poor little home bred like Quality Road for this title, much less Mine That Bird even were he to destroy RA next time they meet and sweep the Breeders Cup too.

And ofelia sez:

"As for Rachel, she has beat some good horses this year, male and female. I really don't think she has anything else to prove."

Well, it's more accurate to say she won't be ASKED to prove anything more.

Certainly, to cement her place in history, she should do more than beat "some" good horses, she should take them ALL down.

Otherwise, there will always be that nagging doubt.

22 Aug 2009 5:51 PM

How about the Arc? A lot of fillies have won that? Allez France, Urban Sea, All Along, Detroit, Ivanjica,  San San, Zarkava.

22 Aug 2009 8:00 PM
John T.

Careless Jewel,s impressive victories in the Delaware Oaks and

Alabama is living proof how much a young horse can improve as the season goes on.Were this will take her is anyone,s guess.

22 Aug 2009 9:04 PM


I agree that Quality Road's assignment in the Travers, coming off his quarter crack hiatus and track record breaking win in the 6 1/2 furlongs Amsterdam is quite formidable but I believe he will be equal to the task and that if he wins you will still not be convinced that he is in the mould of Spectacular Bid (your comparison, not mine).


The Travers is the biggest obstacle for Quality Road right now because of the short time he has had to reach peak fitness.  Since you have not ben able to figure out why he doesn't need to face Rachel to eclipse her marvellous season let me show you.  A win in the 10 furlongs Travers defeating the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, credits him with the same "scalps" by which Rachel acquired her exalted status plus beating them over the classic distance at which most HOTY champs have campaigned.  Therefore if he wins, the TREMOR/EARTHQUAKE  will be felt in Rachel's camp because he is only going to get better thereafter and there will be no doubts about the quality of the competition that he'll be facing in JCGC, Breeder's Cup Classic (also run at 10 furlongs) and possibly the Clark Handicapp. When all is said and done, perhaps in a desperate last HOTY bid, JJ may send her to face QR in the Clark at her pet trip of 9 furlongs.  Is the scenario now clear to you?  Therefore be afraid Rachel loyalists, be very afraid.  Cometh the hour of the Travers, cometh the HORSE!

By the way I am one of Rachel Alexandra's biggest fans and I agree that she is having a phenomenal season worthy of the HOTY title however the "fat lady" has not yet sung ...not by a long shot, and RA has two equally awesome colts in her peer group in Quality Road and Sea The Stars that will have a lot to say about the HOTY title barring all the sentiments surrounding her victories and winning streak.  Think on these things folks.


22 Aug 2009 9:38 PM

While I agree that the Alabama was a test (in distance) Rachel should've taken, I'm rather glad she didn't because it gave my favorite filly, Careless Jewel, a chance to sparkle. Gosh, she was impressive in that race!  :-)

22 Aug 2009 11:28 PM

Thank You Steve!! for such a wonderful way to learn about stunning race horses...

23 Aug 2009 10:45 AM

Rachel has done plenty in assuring top filly of the year honors, but UNTILL she faces older males, the best young males or Zenyatta she is only a contender for H of Y honors.

It's time for Mr. Jackson to get off his high horse and point Rachel for the race that would end all conjecture, the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Rachel is a great one, but great ones don't dodge anyone. Jackson will not risk her getting beat by Quality Road, eventhough Quality Road still isn't up to top racing form after such a long layoff. Not jumping at a chance to meet Zenyatta - who I think she would beat - is cowardice. Yes, she has dodged opponents but that is Jackson's choosing not hers. The way she runs, you can see she believes she can beat them all. Come on Mr. Jackson, drop your bias of synthetic surfaces and run her in the Classic. Jackson's Curlin won his second H of Y prize despite not doing well at the Classic. Jackson blames the surface, but Curlin tried didn't he?

Zenyatta will be there, the BEST older and younger males will be there. Eliminate all arguments and give Rachel a chance to prove to everyone she in fact is Horse of the Year.

23 Aug 2009 11:52 AM
Cowboy Bob


23 Aug 2009 12:15 PM


    If he wins the Travers and continues his dominance, he's one of the best thoroughbreds ever. I am not saying win win win, but if he continues to do well, meaning top three or barely getting beat, then he could be one of the best horses to set foot on a track. As of now i think he is most certainly the second best three year old by a mile, and even though i think he could be a superhorse, i don't think he can win his first time going 1 1/4 after one 6.5 furlong race in four months.

23 Aug 2009 1:05 PM
Matthew W

Steve that was a whole lotta grey filly that ran yesterday at the Spa...

23 Aug 2009 2:07 PM

Ranagulzion... Quality Road has been a favorite of mine since March and was my choice to win the Derby before the injury.  There is no doubt that he will have a chance to win some very big races but Rachel winning the Woodward and Beldame ends the race no matter what.  Quality Road cannot get back the 4 months he lost.  There are few horses in history the can match what Rachel is two races from achieving.  Winning the Woodward and Beldame will make her 9 for 9 as a 3year old and you will be hard pressed to find another 3 year old male or female with a better season ever.

23 Aug 2009 3:03 PM
Steve Haskin

Matthew, I still think that was the race to run her in. If she had beaten the winner by even 3,4, or 5 lengths, and Careless Jewel was 11 lengths ahead of the third horse, I doubt anyone in their right mind would say Rachel took the easy spot and beat nothing.

23 Aug 2009 5:25 PM
Steve Haskin

Bob, other than the winner, the field was poor. The runner-up ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:05 2/5 and all the CCA Oaks fillies ran horribly. But beating the winner would have been a positive for Rachel.

23 Aug 2009 5:27 PM
Matthew W

Who cares what anybody thinks--they're going against elder males in the Woodward! No use conjecturig about whether she wins Alabama by three, four or five.....the greay filly DID win the 11....

23 Aug 2009 6:29 PM
Matthew W

HOY doesn't change the value of a broodmare one bit--Rachel has my vote, but if Zenyatta beats Gio Ponti and all others in the Classic, well, how can you top that??....THEY don't care about HOY (team Z) as I said HISTORY is more important than anything else! When you get two like these--Racing History "owns" them both---there's little time, HOY is a DISTANT SECOND to going to the Breeders Cup for the Classic, the Euros, Colonel John, Gio Ponti, Einstein, Rail Trip, and Zenyatta! To pass that up would be a loss forever.....

23 Aug 2009 6:47 PM
Abbie Knowles

Rachel, Queen Zen, Jewel, Quality Road, MTB and Summer Bird are all terrific horses and we should feel privileged to be able to watch them.  I love them all and if Zen and Jewel are my favourites that does not make the others any less special or precious! They have given us so much this year as Sea The Stars has in the UK.  Can't we just be grateful to them all.  

Personally do not want Rachel and Zenyatta to meet for reasons already stated.  They are both brilliant.  Let's just appreciate them and stop comparing or denigrating them or the others. It is so unnecessary!

God Bless

best wishes


Hope you and your family are enjoying Saratoga, Steve!

You seem to have inherited draynay - no sign of him on his usual blogsite!

23 Aug 2009 7:46 PM

You make very valid points Steve but I think we can all agree Rachel winning the Woodward is going to be a much bigger deal considering no 3 year old filly has EVER won the race.

Winning against older males at Saratoga is going to be a very big feather in her cap.

23 Aug 2009 8:10 PM

Comments like that of the post time person are what really irk me.  Its as if some people don’t even know what it is that they are saying.  Rachel needs to face older males to win HOY, lol since when, and btw there is a 5 year old mare out in Cali, she is the State Champion of California, let’s call her Zenyatta’s Pride, she has faced the same horses over and over again, has never faced males and has never faced a formidable field on dirt.  Second statement by this amateur is “she needs to face the best young males”, should we remind you that she faced the Ky Derby’s top four horses and beat them in the Preakness, then came back in the Haskell and handed the Belmont Winner and a few others defeat also.  Were you out of the country when these races were run, let me think the Ky winner and Belmont winner, yep those would be the top 3 year old horses.  Now It would seem as if you are saying that she hasn’t beat Quality Road and to you that makes a difference, but he was able to face her in those races If his connections saw fit, and they didn’t so you also said point Rachel to the B.C. she trains on dirt, the race is on synthetics, can you people not get over it and leave it alone, she’s not going to the b.c. and I for one am so happy to see and hear that.  When you look at the horses last year that ran awful on the “Kitty Litter” there is no reason to take chances. Kudos to Mr. Jackson for staying firm on his stance, thumbs down to you whiny people who keep bringing up the same thing over and over again.  Seems like you don’t understand horse racing. Please get a clue.

23 Aug 2009 11:25 PM

Zenyatta  has  never  run  longer  than  1 1/8  miles. A  distance  she  will  not  pass  -  she'll  run  in  the  Ladies  Classic  on  Friday  again. Rachel  has  won  at  1 3/16  in  the  Preakness  where  she  came  from  the  13  hole  and  destroyed  all  five  horses  who  ran  with  her -  she  being  the  only  one  in  the  money - and  she  won.  If  you  see  the  gallop  out  in  that  race  as  soon  as  MTB  came  near  her  she  opened  by  five  instantly.  

QR's  track  record  at  Gulfstream  is  for  the  newly  configured  race-track  -  his  last  3/8  was  37 .12 seconds -  RA  beat  that  being  eased  in  MG  - I  know - one  turn  at  Belmont . But  did  you  ever  see  a  performance  where  the  jockey  is  easing  1/16  out  and  runs  1:46 ?  

QR  should  hope  RA  doesn't  run in  the  Travers - he'd  lose.  He  may  not  win  this  anyway - be  wary. He  never  ran  past  1 1/8  either, especially  after  a  record  breaking  6.5  race.

24 Aug 2009 2:13 AM
Billy's Empire

ready or not, here she comes, she's gonna find you, and take it over. The Woodward is Rachel's to lose. Lil play on the Fugee's. I cant wait until the 5th. A horse we are part of is running the Arlington Lassie as a juvenile, and Rachel is running as well, and we get football. HELL YEAH

24 Aug 2009 9:49 AM

Anyone know who will be running in the Woodward?  Sounded like Zito was planning on Da Tara and Cool Coal Man, Bullsbay was going to duck her, maybe Asiatic Boy, who else is there?

24 Aug 2009 11:17 AM

I have to admit I am very excited to see her take on older males it should be very exciting.  Her Haskell still has me speechless.  It was probably the best performance I have ever seen by a filly.

24 Aug 2009 11:30 AM

SlewStable- Destroyed the field? I dont call winning by a diminishing length destroying the field.Also, coming from a outside post for a horse with natural early speed is not such a big deal.Although MTB had an eventfull trip, I don't think he would have won even if the race was another eighth.She's a great filly but she's not always going to destroy the field and in the Preakness she won impressive but hardly destroyed the field.

24 Aug 2009 11:43 AM
Cowboy Bob


24 Aug 2009 11:43 AM

I can't wait to see how the Woodward field shapes up!

I actually am glad she is not running in the Travers. The line-up of colts in that race is basically all the top 3-year-old colts still in training. This is now their chance to shine and for one of them to step up and stake a claim on the 3-year-old colt championship. Now Rachel won't be overshadowing that battle.

24 Aug 2009 11:46 AM
Tim G

Hmmm, wonder why they still bother to run the races?

All these definitive statements?

Until the race is run the deed isn't done and it's speculation.

Like the trainer said "people have opinions, horses have the facts."

24 Aug 2009 11:53 AM

There's no difference between plastic and dirt? Boy A number of owners and train

- disagree,so too do the breed

-ers keeping an eye out for

which stallions are producing

winners on it!

I suspect the sour grapes over RA and Jess Jackson is

actually a result of losses in-

curred while betting against


I just love watching them run.

Any of them anywhere at any


Oh,and "She runs like a girl,

they can't keep up!"

24 Aug 2009 12:26 PM

Chip do yourself and your horse a favor and move on to the Pennsylvania Derby.  No sense in getting whipped in the Travers.  Be smart and look for a softer spot for your horse !

24 Aug 2009 2:04 PM

Wooleys gelding is the one to beat.JR didn't sound too confident in QR's ability even after the 6 1/2 panel "workout".Feet may be more of an issue than people think. RA in the woodward will be the best play against since Big Brown...the colt who was compared to the best ever by some "experts"![and don't take the ez way out and blame it on "Sleepy"]...all the connections went to the trough and drank the Kool Aid and asked for more. This corner says Rachel gets beat...if she runs! I'll bet Asmussen loses 10 pounds between now and Labor he couldn't do that when he was ridin'!

24 Aug 2009 2:53 PM

  1. Alaazo

  2. Alcomo (BRZ)

  3. Asiatic Boy (ARG)

  4. Bribon (FR)

  5. Bullsbay

  6. Coal Play

  7. Colonel John

  8. Cool Coal Man

  9. Cowboy Cal

 10. Da' Tara

 11. Dr. D.F.C.

 12. Formidable

 13. Hold Me Back

 14. It's a Bird

 15. Jonesboro

 16. Kensei

 17. Le Grand Cru

 18. Lowther Street

 19. Macho Again

 20. Munnings

 21. Nite Light

 22. Past the Point

 23. Quality Road

 24. Rachel Alexandra

 25. Ready's Echo

 26. Researcher

 27. Smooth Air

 28. Take the Points

 29. Timber Reserve

 30. Tizway

These are the horses nominated for the Woodward.  I see many G1 and G2 winning males here.  Who decides to take her on here?  I don't know how many want to try but to suggest the field is weak is just plain nonsense.  There are a lot of very good horses here but I doubt many will want to take on the best in the world.

24 Aug 2009 3:23 PM
Abbie Knowles

Absolutely Cowboy Bob we do need the GREAT STARDOM BOUND back but what are IVEAH doing with her?  Just waiting to send her to Big Brown or planning her comeback?  Who knows?!!  Personally would be very much happier if Stardom Bound was with her previous trainer or Tony Dutrow and not Rick and I was not happy when IVEAH bought her!  But there you go!

They are not doing Laragh much good either which again is a great shame!

Tapit whould be doing even better where all his leading ladies actually racing!

Any news on Freisan Fire?

Watch out for Girolamo - I believe he is the real deal and Rail Trip too! Ditto Goldikova, Informed, Bullsbay, Marchfield, A P Indy's 33/1 winner whose name temporarily escapes my swiss cheesed memory, and others! There are many great horses around so stop knocking them folks just be grateful to them!

God Bless

Best wishes


24 Aug 2009 3:23 PM

As much as I love RA, I knew they wouldn't run her the mile and quarter of the Travers...which is fine, I guess...maybe next year!!!

Rachel A. (for real)

24 Aug 2009 3:58 PM
Mary in VT

The Woodward does it for me just fine. Even with Rachel's embarrassment of riches, you can't righteously minimize a three year old filly taking on older males. It is one more extraordinary challenge checked off the list that will ultimately be compared to Zenyatta's very safe campaign. And no matter who does or doesn't show up, Rachel can always run against the clock, stake and track records, and all the great horses that ever distinguished themselves in whatever venue her people choose to showcase her.  

I do hope that Rachel takes on her own sex and age group at least one more time though, if nothing else, just to underline the difference between her and normal, not that there will be many 3 yr. old fillies who will take her on.

<>I would also like to see Rachel take on Quality Road someday, though I think QR needs more time before he is ready for the likes of her. Am scratching my head over your comment, Steve, that QR is "every bit as fast and brilliant as Rachel" but you "can't say for sure if he's ready to win the Travers" which other than QR is likely to be composed of horses that Rachel has already beaten. Hmmmmmmm.

And I'd love to see her take on the highly thought of Sea The Stars though I guess there is zero chance of that unless it is in next years Classic at CHX, if his people would run him on plain old dirt. I just do not understand all the hype about STS. His final time is never impressive. His winning move is never impressive. His winning margin is never impressive. In the end, he just has a lot of 1s next to his name. To my mind, you have to do some one thing impressively at some point in your career. I think STS is much more vulnerable than people think he is.

<>Another issue with you Steve; you minimize Curlin for "struggling to beat a horse he should have beaten by 10 lengths" in the Woodward, but when Zenyatta just barely sticks her neck in front at the wire in an uncharacteristically poor race for her in the Hirsch, you stay up all night writing poetry about her. How does that work? Curlin made a BIG move around the far turn in the Woodward, and I will never forget it as long as I live. Zenyatta made a big move too when she rescued the Hirsch from Mike Smith's timing error, but it wasn't any bigger, badder, or better than Curlin's move in the Woodward.

I wouldn't put so much store by what the old timers say. These 'new-timers' like Asmussen are writing a brand new book.

24 Aug 2009 4:32 PM

The Woodward is a "weight for age"...what will RA carry, will she have a "filly discount"?;-)

24 Aug 2009 4:43 PM

Makes sense that Rachel goes to the Woodward, as the distance suits her far better than the 10f Travers.  And the Woodward looks to be a softer field.  She almost got run down in the Preakness, and me thinks that 9f might be her limit.  Remember, he sire was one of the greatest 9f horses ever, but only won once at 10, beating a short and soft field in the Travers on a miserable, cold and rainy day.  If she wins the Woodward, she's locked up horse of the year regardless of whether or not she goes to the Breeders Cup.

24 Aug 2009 4:44 PM
It aint easy being good!

All you people bet against  QR on saturday I dare you that will be money spent! lol! QR destroys this field with ease! You have summer bird, mine that turd who just had surgery and kensie a horse who will be bet alot and wont show up! QR is a beast and JJ and the rest of the world will know come saturday!

24 Aug 2009 5:28 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

   Loved your article, "Countdown to the Cup, Classic Confusion", Interesting points made...

   If Mine that Bird goes in the Travers, Then BOTH birds will finish One, Two !!  Too soon for Quality Road to make it at this distance(IMO)...

   Mr. Haskin, Mark this down, If both remain healthy, A stone cold exacta for the 2010 Kentucky Derby, "Lentenor" and "Backtalk", Just remember this in 9 months :)

24 Aug 2009 6:21 PM

I am glad she isn't in Travers and agree the Alabama would have been the best.  Careless Jewel would have given her a run, but not pushed her to to the limit.  If she was in the travers, I couldn't put my money on Quality Road and he is by far my favorite colt.  

Why does she have to make such a statement every time?  I would take her back and not ask so much of her, I want to see her as an old mare one day.  Super Filly or not, she needs an easy, whip free win in my opinion.  Super Fillys don't always turn into old mares.  lay off her I say.

24 Aug 2009 6:42 PM

I'll say it again, every spring the elite three olds impress in 9 furlong preps and flatten out in the classics.  Then they are "turned out" and reappear later in the year for more 9 furlong "tests".  9 furlongs is a nice distance for the Ladies Classic--Derby prep winners should be allowed to run in it.  If not, they can chase RA, who will be restricted to 9 furlongs for the rest of her career.

24 Aug 2009 8:46 PM

I see Mr. Jackson dodging Zenyatta once again, quite sport of him. I would like to see Colonel John shipped out to Saratoga again, and show them what quality California horses can do on the road ie. Travers last year. Colonel John had an excellent comeback at Del Mar. Eoin Harty had him in excellent shape and made a grand appearance.

24 Aug 2009 8:47 PM

What happens when RA loses the Woodward to a "weak" older horse? Then all bets are off for HOTY. Is she retired with that mystery injury that probably caused her to not run her best in the Woodward? Does JJ sit her out and hope that what she has already acccomplished, which has been extraordinary, is enough for HOTY? Do they run her in the BCC? Kitty litter be damned.

Just asking, they do run the races for a reason don't they?

24 Aug 2009 8:50 PM
Matthew W

Dray I  thought her bestest race was her Preakness run, a fast six fur from the far outside post, then opening up when it counted---her Mother Goose was a joke, and even her Haskell was over early, when they tried to do it Rachel's way with Summer Bird--I said at the 7/8 pole it was "bye bye birdie"!! Would've loved to play Summer Bird over Rachel in the Travers (as  I like to lose my $$/have beet against Zenyatta five times as well) But I think this time they'll run his own race and drop off the pace a bit more with him....Still, you can't fault them for going up against elder males in Sept....No real doubt she's HOY--A Big win over Gio Ponti would be huge for Big Z/and the Woodward is no sure thing, Col John going? Is Quality Road going to springboard to 1 1/4 in the Travers?...Don't think any rate, bestest 3yo filly season---but why not that proverbial cherry on top, I dunno, the Classic??!! I'm sure Rachel beats Big Z at 1/8 vs three or four.....I'm NOT CERTAIN she beats her in a twelve horse field at 1 1/4, on ANY surface....Would love ta see her try!!!

24 Aug 2009 9:01 PM

RA stays true to form- 1-1/8 miles in the Woodward.

Too bad they won't try for the extra distance the Travers represents.  Don't particularly care that she would be the first filly to win the Woodward if she does- the Woodward is her distance.

Now, if they would just decide Quality Road needs more time to get the distance and pull him from the Travers and put him in the Woodward.  That could be an interesting race.

24 Aug 2009 9:02 PM
Matthew W

Next year the BCup is back on dirt/back East! West Coast Horses will be shipping throughout the year---I'm looking for Rail Trip to be a real nice dirt guy! Hollywood played like dirt/had lots of dirt fill in it---That's a nice horse who wants to dirt---they'll find out about him next year at Oaklawn and Saratoga! And Rachel's gonna try older males! That's HUGE! And maybe (hopefully) Gio Ponti/Zenyatta/and the Eurofreak from England(??) forgot his name but the point is....Pinch me--there's greatness going on right now/all around in Racing! Please  keep them all healthy and safe--Talk about Female Domination! Even the Derby was a black hole of injury and bad trips/tired horses---its all about the "Streak and the Streaker"---Big Z and Rachel!!!!...this is late-70's all over!!!....Forego and Ruffian on steroids!! Take this all in, as much as you can! Try to see Zen in person---transcends racing/once in a lifetime horse! They should parade her back East if they don't race her there cuz they all need to get a look see....And three year old fillies don't dominate elders---this is stuff you just aren't gonna see twice in a lifetime---Pinch me!

24 Aug 2009 9:24 PM

I have one thing to say about the Travers... Kensei will be a stallion Rachel will not.  For those of you eager to see her go 1 1/4 you will have to wait until next year for that treat.  I would think it would be enough that she is taking on the best older males in a race no filly has EVER won. And she is taking on any and all but take notice few will decide to take her on. It seems there will be those that no matter what she does will always want more.  Matthew, my Grandfather took me to my first race in 1969 and I have seen many great horses but i can't remember any horse performing like that in the slop and running that fast.  I am sure Steve may be able to come up with a horse from the past but a 109,134 in the mud and a 147 finish?  She dominated a good field and made it look easy just missing the stakes record in the SLOP !

24 Aug 2009 11:10 PM
Abbie Knowles

Don't believe that Steve Asmussen ever rode in races.  That was his Brilliant brother CASH who did so in Europe with great success and he got very little praise and much totally unjustified criticism in the UK, but was greatly admired and liked in France where he was Champion Jockey 5 times!   In spite of being tall for a jockey Cash was too disciplined to have weight problems!

Rachel is great but no horse is unbeatable!

Agree that Queen Zen is awesome!  The DANCING QUEEN!

I love Mine that Bird - stop knocking him.  As a gelding he could be delighting us for years to come instead of being rushed off to stud or the paddocks!  Just hope they are not racing him too soon after his op!  Summer Bird stays well.  Quality Road may or may not but is potentially great and Charitable Man looks like he has a big one in him! The Travers will be tremendous!

The mature Bullsbay would be a worthy rival but will he run?  Who will run in the Woodward? Is it a soft option except for the fact Rachel will have to take on mature horses?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If The Colonel runs then it will not be as he is a seriously good horse who loves Saratoga and will battle all the way to the line!  A nemesis?  We will see.  Personally i would give Rachel a break and not race her till October/November but there you go!

God Bless

Best wishes


24 Aug 2009 11:16 PM


Honestly? Are you really that impressed with who may run in the Woodward outside of RA?  Bullsbay's (who I do like) trainer had already stated he is ducking RA.  The best horses on the list won't be running in the race (Cowboy Cal, Bribon, Colonel John, Kensei, Munnings, etc.).  She could have a challenge if the following horses do run: Asiatic Boy, Cool Coal Man, Macho Again, Coal Play, and It's a Bird.  Da Tara will be running to set the pace, but if only two of the above horses are in the race it will be anti-climatic.  I want to see her challenged, running fast times is awe-inspiring, however winning by a neck is more exhilarating and exciting to watch.

24 Aug 2009 11:37 PM
Steve Haskin

I dont understand this knock on a filly for not running 1 1/4 miles. There are three major stakes for fillies at 1 1/4 miles -- 2 for older fillies. The BC Distaff is 1 1/8 miles, so are Eclipse-making stakes Beldame and Spinster and Lady's Secret. Fillies rarely run 1 1/4 miles. Zenyatta has run 12 times and only three have even been as far as 1 1/8 miles. That is our classic filly distance. Rachel has already won at 1 3/16 miles over males on a track Borel said she didnt care for.

25 Aug 2009 12:11 AM

I have to preface this by saying I LOVE Rachel, my comment is just to criticize Dray's comment of "I see many G1 and G2 winning males".  I decided to do some homework.

Take out Bribon, Colonel John, Cowboy Cal, Munnings, Kensei, Hold Me Back, RA, Quality Road, Smooth Air (bruised foot) and Take the Points because they are all pointed to other races and this is what you have left (for '09 G1/G2 wins) in the field:

G1: Macho Again (Stephen Foster)

G2: Asiatic Boy (UAE Maktoum Challenge Spring) Jonesboro (Cornhusker H.), Macho Again (New Orleans H.)

DRAYNAY..... 3 horses with G1 or G2 wins this year out of 19 possible starters.  It's a Bird got DQ for his Oaklawn H. win (drug test) so that doesn't count.

Her connections picked the best race for her to win against older males.  She still has to run to win, but before you tell everyone you see many G1's and G2's please put it in perspective of the horses likely to face her.  The connections are doing the industry a favor by letting the 3YO male division shake itself out with the Travers, but that race is coming up far more competitive than the Woodward.  She still needs to run a big race to win, but it is against far less competition.

25 Aug 2009 12:36 AM
Vic S

Mary in VT why such the hard words against Steve in how he said Quality Road is just as fast and brilliant as Rachel is?  Steve is right QR is just as fast and brilliant as Rachel if not faster and more brilliant, how many times can you name off the top of your head where a horse has won 2 races at two different tracks at two incredibly different distances and both times come back with win and TRACK RECORD. That kind of a thing NEVER happens.  One must remember he did these back to back and also had a 4 month layoff between them. Tell me now when this has happened, happened to a horse who has only started 5 times.  Thats right. NEVER.  Quality Road has only accomplished things that he only has accomplish because no one else is able to.  Back to back track records at two diff tracks, distances, and with a huge layoff to top it off.  IT NEVER HAPPENS.  And when Steve says he may not be ready for the Travers he is right.  QR may very well not have the stamina needed for the Travers due to his layoff and recent freak performance, but you can bet your bottom dollar he'll be right there the whole way.  I have faith and I truly believe that if he is as good as he can be he will win.  Also, Sea the Stars just set a new course record.  If that isn't fast than I guess no horse that ran there before him ever was.  Mastercraftsman is no nag, lets not forget he is the Champion 2 year old and hates to lose, I believe STS beat him a length in the Internaitional.  So please Mary, lay off of Steve he is only pointing out the FACTS for you. STS won the Epsom Derby and 2000 Guinesas, those are PRESTIGE RACES.  He has already beaten older horses.  Anywho, I wouldn't be mad at all if QR was pulled from the Travers and put in the Woodward, it would make everyone happy.  Best male vs. best female, with older males running just so it isn't a match race.  The atmosphere at the place would be so intense the birds would stop flying and watch as the horses ran by.  The next two weekends of racing will be amazing.

25 Aug 2009 1:10 AM

Here's hoping RA continues to be lucky with her post positions (particularly against the boys).

25 Aug 2009 1:46 AM

Abbie Knowles so very right you are..folks need to be happy with the great horses we have...less pernicious...

25 Aug 2009 10:48 AM
Cowboy Bob


25 Aug 2009 10:57 AM

Steve. you bring up a great point...there's not many (1) races at 1 1/4 for 3 year-old fillies....and really not many 3 year-old fillies have ever beaten the boys at 1 1/ I went looking to see what fillies i could find, who, at age 3, beat colts, 3 year olds and also, 3 and up.

I may not have found them all, but in some quick checking (i do have a life somewhere, lol), the only fillies in the "Top 100 or so" who won as Three-year olds against the boys at 1 1/4 miles in Graded Stakes have been Genuine Risk, Winning Colors, Rags To Riches (1 1/2) and all against 3 year-old colts).

Dahlia beat older males at 3 but that was in Europe.

That left just the wonderful Busher, at 3 she beat the boys ages 3 & up twice at 1 1/4: Washington Park HDCP, and on the grass (Arlington).

So, Busher was the only 3 year-old filly I could find who beat older males at 1 1/4 in top races...she beat them in the Hollywood at 1 1/8, too...RA, as a 3 year-old, IF she beats older males in a Grade 1 at 1 1/8 and having already beaten colts at 1 3/16 and 1 1/8 and destroying her peer group puts her right up there in Busher's league..and we're alive to see it!

If anyone finds another 3 year-old filly who beat the boys 3 and up at 1 1/4, please let me know. I never realised what an accomplishment that was.

25 Aug 2009 12:17 PM

Steve Haskin said: "I don't understand this knock on a filly for not running 1 1/4 miles."

I don't consider Rachel's gender, she's just a great racehorse.    And since the all-time greats won at 10 panels and longer, IMO she needs to step up in distance before she can take her place among them.  And I think she'll get 10 furlongs which should silence many of her critics.      

Also, I'd like to see Rachel run at 10 panels (and better) because I'm a big fan of the longer distances so I like to see the very best horses try them.  The longer races are more exciting to me because anything can happen in that last furlong.  Of course, that's true of all races but it's more pronounced at the longer distances.  

25 Aug 2009 12:40 PM

TJLuvs... she will be facing older G1 and G2 winning males in a race no 3 year old filly has ever won and no 3 year old male has won in 15 years!

I don't know what you want from her any horse in the world can show up and take her on but the facts are most trainers will not send their horse to get whipped by a horse that right now cannot be beaten.  She is winning by an average length this year of 9 lengths per race.  No filly has ever dominated racing like this in the last 100 years.  Sit back and enjoy you may never see it again.

25 Aug 2009 1:56 PM

This is must my opinion but I really thought that QR would have been the next TC winner.  But luck would not be on his side. I love MTB just a classy horse and his connections.  Rachel Alexandra is the best 3 yr old filly and I really thought if MTB had a better ride he would have beat RA in the Preakness.  I know her owners want to secure her Horse of the Year without going to the Breeders Cup.  I wouldn't pit her against this group in the Travers nor the Woodward. Not until she is a 4 yr old would I face this type of horses. She is still a filly and she is still 3 yrs old. Regardless of her ability she has yet to met eye to eye with a old tuff stakes winner or a really good group of 3yr old colts.  I would love to see her against Zanyetta.  Now that would be a race of all races.

Don't you agree????

25 Aug 2009 1:58 PM

Pegs said "This is must my opinion but I really thought that QR would have been the next TC winner.  But luck would not be on his side."

Actually, "luck" had nothing to do with it. It was Borel bailing on the Mine That Bird. Even Jess Jackson said said that had Borel been on Mine That Bird, it would have been nose to nose at the wire.

25 Aug 2009 9:12 PM

When people say again and again how great RA is, so much better than the boys, etc., then the issue of running over 1-1/8 is relevant.

I said she is a very, VERY nice filly- but for me, before she's crowned the best three year old of this year or HOY, she needs to prove she can run beyond 1-1/8 and run it against the best of the boys.

Best three year old filly, fine.

Best mare overall, fine.

But not HOY, not with the distance limitations that currently seems to determine in what RA will run.  

25 Aug 2009 9:55 PM
Matthew W

You're right Steve, 1 1/8 IS the classic distance for fillies---They're going two-turns on the greatest dirt track on the planet...v older males....If I own Zenyatta I'm there! Racing deserves this--if you're gonna lose, lose to Rachel Freaking Alexandra---still...two turns...males probably have faster pace to run at....Rachel would have her hands full of that and how bout two fillies running one/two in the Woodward....thing is, 'have a lot better chance than a one turn Beldame---I'm there, Steve--FOR RACING......Dirt her once more, Dirt her v Rachel, I don't care about streaks give that big mare a chance to dirt/a chance to face off with Rachel---THEY'RE going in the freaking Woodward! Go out there and meet her---if I own Big Z I fear no one/ do right by racing---cuz this is big!

25 Aug 2009 10:08 PM
Matthew W

Running in The Woodward is a huge act of concilliation, Jess is showing he WANTED to go in Breeders Cup---He disagrees with Cali and is basically saying "screw them".....At SOME point, I believe, The Moss's have to follow suit! GO OUT THERE AND DO YOUR DUTY! Let that big mare dirt/ and let them get it on....SCREW Cali/ SCREW the Breeders Cup---FOR RACING DO THIS!!!...Those fillies, facing off maybe twice back there...would be as big as the Breeders Cup--BIGGER, for Racing! Cali went their OWN way---Please, Jerry and Ann, go out there!

25 Aug 2009 10:15 PM

MTB would have beat RA in the Preakness with a decent ride. I like Mike Smith, but he does not ride this horse well at all.

I was there and the filly was very tired. I was at the WV Derby and with a ride he would have won that also.

He is a very under rated horse, now that he has had surgery, if he can get a decent ride anything is possible.

RA should have stayed in the Travers. She does not want to hook

QR after he is fully fit. He is the best speed horse I have seen in decades. He is a monster. She will not get a weight break or find him in a weaker position than she will in the Travers. Sooner or later she will need to beat him and she would have been able to stay with him now, but if he stays sound the race to watch will be a healthy MTB and QR. Pace makes race and there will be plenty of that. It will kind of be like watching Rocky movies with the little guy up against the big guy.

Where ever the race will be I will pay to watch it.

Since there are owners who do not wish to race on anything but dirt or turf it would be a perfect time for Laurel to bring back the DC International as a alternate Breeders Cup Race. Instead of two days at one track why not two tracks in one day? One track with a dirt surface and one without.

26 Aug 2009 9:46 PM

There were many horses injured this year and that I have not heard of in ages. Friesan Fire, Midshipman (thanks to that article on Bloodhorse's home however), I Want Revenge, Quality Road (who I now know of), and Stardom Bound. I REALLY want to know about I Want Revenge, in my own opinion he would have turned out he best 3-year-old colt. Is he retired now?

13 Sep 2009 5:36 PM

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