Don't Take Woodward Too Lightly

As soon as Jess Jackson announced his plans to run Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward Stakes, the historical significance of such an attempt was made known in various publications, as were comments that Jackson is taking the easy way out, running against inferior older horses instead of much more accomplished 3-year-olds in the Travers.

We have learned that no filly, of any age, has ever won the Woodward. The last filly to attempt it was Lady's Secret in 1986, finishing second to Precisionist. Summer Guest was last of five starters behind Prove Out and Secretariat in 1973. The year before, the Rokeby Stable filly finished second to stablemate Key to the Mint (as a 3-year-old), only to be disqualified to third for ducking out in the stretch. Those last two races, however, were at a mile and a half at Belmont at the end of September, not a mile and an eighth at Saratoga in the beginning of September. In fact, the Woodward, until recently, has always been run at Belmont or Aqueduct at the end of September, regardless of its many distance changes. In its early days, it normally proved to be THE race to determine Horse of the Year.

So, does Rachel's attempt to win the Woodward have any historical perspective, or would it make more sense to compare it to running in the Whitney, which for most of its history has been run in early August and at the same track and distance as the Woodward is now? Only three fillies have won the Whitney: Gallorette as a 6-year-old, and Lady's Secret and Personal Ensign as 4-year-olds. The last time the Whitney had the kind of fanfare this year's Woodward likely will have was when the track opened the infield to the public to accommodate the large crowd that was expected to see Secretariat take on older horses. The vast majority of them left disappointed after Big Red was upset by Onion.

This year's Woodward is sort of a cross between the old Woodward and the Whitney and falls right in between those two races on the calendar. The bottom line is that there is no way to put any real historical significance to what Rachel will be attempting.

As for the comments that this is the easier race of the two, that may very well prove to be true, but let's not forget just how uncommon it is for a 3-year-old filly, no matter how brilliant, to take on older horses in early Spetember. There is a reason for that. Picture an exciting young boxer, who captures the public's imagination by winning his first 20 fights, all by knockout, most of them in the first round. It all seems so easy. Then, for the first time, he takes on some hard-nosed veteran with a rather ordinary record, but who has been through the wars and knows his way around the ring. The young fighter doesn't have it quite so easy, even though his raw talent and knockout punch are far superior to that of his opponent.

I'm not implying by any means that Bullsbay or Asiatic Boy or It's a Bird or Cool Coal Man or Da' Tara or whoever shows up in the Woodward is going to beat Rachel. I'm just saying don't go by what appears obvious. This is a lot more than being about speed figures and raw talent. Running a 3-year-old filly against older males is not the same as running against fellow 3-year-olds - male or female. As I said, there is a reason it's never attempted. Of course, we haven't seen a filly as brilliant and powerful as Rachel in many years, perhaps never, and she could very well dominate these older horses as she has her other opponents. But no one should go into this race feeling too cocky and believing that this is the far easier spot. Bullsbay does have his explosive victory in the Whitney in him. Asiatic Boy does have a sweep of the UAE Triple Crown and a second to Curlin in the Dubai World Cup in him, and has raced with distinction on three continents. It's a Bird does have his impressive Oaklawn Handicap win in him. Even Da' Tara, who has been a big disappointment, has his runaway Belmont Stakes victory in him. Any of those performances can emerge at any time.

Proceed with caution and if Rachel puts on another show, then you can savor the victory even more and not feel as if she took the easy way out.

*******

In 1975, NYRA put on the ill-fated match race between Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure, but what many don't realize is that the original concept was to have a three-horse race among the three classic winners - Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure, Preakness winner Master Derby, and Belmont winner Avatar. That didn't materialize, as Avatar had already returned to California to prepare for the rich Swaps Stakes, which was only two years old and had almost doubled its purse that year. NYRA wanted to substitute Ruffian, but Foolish Pleasure's trainer LeRoy Jolley wanted no part of that scenario. If he was going to train Foolish Pleasure for speed he did not want to kill his horse running with Ruffian and possibly setting it up for Master Derby. So, NYRA eliminated Master Derby from the mix and that's how the match race came to be.

All that leads to the following scenario. Imagine a three-horse field with Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and Careless Jewel. Although that will never happen, it's at least interesting to look at what could be a perfect three-horse race scenario. Careless Jewel on the lead, Rachel Alexandra in second, and Zenyatta in third. All three would have the opportunity to run their race, even Zenyatta, as Rachel and Careless Jewel would have to hook up at some point. Anyway, it's fun to just imagine it.

226 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Diane J

Steve, has Zenyatta had any works since her last race?  Her camp has been very quiet since then.  Thank you!

26 Aug 2009 10:22 AM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

I see No problem for RA in Woodward.

26 Aug 2009 10:26 AM
TJLuvsTizs

I am glad that Bullsbay will be running, that will help keep the race difficulty up as Asiatic Boy may be heading west for the Pacific Classic.  Bullsbay and Rachel have the same running style and could prove to be an excellent stretch run!  I can't wait!

26 Aug 2009 10:27 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

    I loved the analogy of comparing this race with boxing, Kinda like the young explosive Mike Tyson, Taking on a relative unknown in Buster Douglas, That NO one gave a chance, Then Mr. Douglas shocked the world by going toe to toe with the better, younger fighter, and pulled off the biggest upset in the history of the sport!  Could "The Graveyard of Champions claim another ? Secretariat, Man O'War, Rachel Alexandra? Will this happen in the Woodward?, Highly unlikely, But, That is why they run the race...

     Careless Jewel, Rachel, And Zenyatta, Wow, Now that would be an incredibly fun race to watch, Like you said, One can only Imagine...

Last thought, Could Bullsbay be Rachel's Onion ?...

26 Aug 2009 10:38 AM
draynay

I find it interesting that some feel rachel is going to a softer spot facing g1 winning older horses.  the clock today is greatly overlooked in racing today.  I have watced rachels last few races many times. its hard not to notice the ease that she runs a 133 or 134 mile. horses in the present and the past struggle to run that fast and rachel does it like a jog in the park.  steve, I hope after her woodward win we will all be able to appreciate the true greatness we are all witness to this year with rachel alexandra. I have seen many 3 year old horses over the years but never have I seen one dominate every race and do it with such ease. we are all very lucky to watch the greatest 3 year old ever.

26 Aug 2009 10:41 AM
Steve

Not to nitpick but Lady's Secret finished second in the Woodward in 1986.  She was a 4YO and the race was 9 furlongs at Belmont that year.  The superfecta was 1) Precisionist; 2) Lady's Secret; 3) Personal Flag and 4) Roo Art.  

So I agree, don't take this race too lightly.  I'm very excited to see Rachel run it.  If she can do what 4YO Lady's Secret couldn't it will be yet another measure of how outstanding this filly is proving to be.    

26 Aug 2009 10:42 AM
mike rullo

steve,

jess didn't want to run rachel at 1 1/4 against quality road.that would have knocked her out for the year.she can be lose at that classic distance.the woodward sets up beautiful for her.

26 Aug 2009 10:43 AM
Tizway

Steve,

Well said, again!  I think if we can get a few more owners and trainers to commit to the race and show their sportsmanship, this could be the race of the year.  How great would it be if Asiatic Boy stayed and Colonel John showed up? Any chance you can convince my connections to run?  With my last effort I proved I belong in the upper ranks.  This could shape up to be the race of the year.  I don’t believe this is going to be a cake walk for RA, especially if Zito enters his rabbit Da’ Tara.  Hats off to all connections who take on this challenge.  

26 Aug 2009 10:48 AM
MtBFan (STILL)

So I heard, but the older horses still also have more experience. Even if they don't have more class, per se, they still have more "knowledge" about how to run, if that makes sense. Rachel's run against a lot of 3 y/o colts anyway, and it would be interesting to see her against something different. I just have to research older horses (lol). Besides, I think I'd feel sad if Rachel ran in the Travers now that MtB is out. Poor thing...I'm glad his connections are thinking about him but I so wanted to see him run! Who's Horse of the Year? Well, this horse is dark bay, has an "unfinished" blaze and is scaring horses away. Yup. SHE's a class act. Know who I mean? :P

26 Aug 2009 11:01 AM
MonicaV

The Woodward will be an interesting race.  I'm very excited about it as I always am when Rachel runs.  This will be a wonderful test for her.  It would seem that nobody thinks Rachel has faced anyone but "weak" competition.  My question is, where does she have to go to face good competitio?  It is also been said that she has to run 1 1/2 miles, she didn't run the Belmont so she's  nothing, she hasn't run 1 1/4 miles, the classic distance so she still has to do that to be considered good.  According to some, this filly has accomplished nothing and she needs to win the BC classic to be considered HOY!  This horse has to win every major race there is at every distance in order to be considered a really good filly.  That's a pretty monumental task!  How many fillies in the history of horse racing have done that?  The animosity directed at her connections is unbelievable.  I don't understand it.  This horse is hated by many just because of her connections.  They don't want her to succeed to make these hateful people feel better.  Here is this magnificent horse, who runs with such ease and such grace and won every race she has been entered in this year so far and it still isn't enough.  Rachel Alexandra is one of those horses who only comes along every so often.  We are so lucky to be here to witness this amazing creature who does what she was born to do and does it with such ease and beauty that it looks as though she must be beating "nothing".

As for the distances, I truly think that 1 1/4 is not beyond her ability.  I think she will have no problem with that and we will see eventually if that is true.  As for Mr. Jackson, I think he has provided us with some of the best moments in racing this year because he put this filly where she could shine and was not "afraid" to do so.  He's not ducking anyone, he's just following his own agenda.

26 Aug 2009 11:10 AM
90Proof

Steve:  Great point! Too many are just wanting to hand her The Woodward, older horses are going to test her much more and at "The Graveyard of Champions" to boot. Don't get me wrong! I've never seen a filly as talented as she is, but Bullsbay's Lawyer Ron'esque performance in the WHitney makes me believe he's one of those Saratoga horses who can upset the apple cart. Asiatic Boy ducking her is the ultimate sign of respect from his trainer though.

26 Aug 2009 11:15 AM
nickie

I know it's may not be good copy Steve, but I agree. This game has a way of jumping up and bite you. Anecdotally, one only have to look at the outcomes of recent Belmonts. And it has only been recently that fillies connections even thought about running vs. colts. Dating myself[you brought up Leroy Jolley]...he took a lot of flack and derisive conversation abound when he chose to run Genuine Risk. I am from the ilk that thinks the "ink" has got to the "Wine Baron" and he needs to pull in the reins, enjoy her success and know that her legacy has allready been written.

26 Aug 2009 11:18 AM
ABZ

Interesting and fair, as always Steve!

26 Aug 2009 11:25 AM
Mokey

I'm glad somebody has finally seen this a chance to show Rachel Alexandra against "somebody". I will be there to see her, WIN or lose and think this is a good spot for her. I feel she should win this race, but stranger things have happen at Saratoga - Runaway Groom! She is still young, and by horse stanards very young. You go girl!

26 Aug 2009 11:27 AM
Marcia

Thanks Steve.  It is so interesting the many takes on

Rachel and where she races next.  If she had run in the Alabama, as you had suggested, we would have known how she would handle the upcoming sensation of Careless Jewel.  Watching her run with the older males will be interesting.  I personally think that she will power home, but in horse racing there is never a sure bet!

26 Aug 2009 11:33 AM
Bill Daly

As you say, the Woodward used to be the definitive race for HOY - at least in the east.  I'm sure left coasters never bought into that idea, but it was a more important race than it was prior to the Marlboro Cup and prior to the BC [which has rendered a lot of formerly important in-their-own-right races to simply preps for the BC Championship race.]  That being said, you're right insofar as saying that nobody with a 3 yr. old filly should feel smug about their chances - even one like Rachel.  I'm sure Asmussen and Jackson are confident, but not overly so.  What scares me [as an avowed Rachel fan] is that Graham Motion originally wanted no part of Rachel, but after weighing his options and seeing how huge Bullsbay ran in the Whitney he changed his mind. Now, he seems to relish the idea of taking her on.  Graham is not a wild risk taker by nature, so to see him change his mind like this makes me wonder how easy this will be for Rachel....

26 Aug 2009 11:47 AM
LDP

Hey Steve,

    I agree with everything you just said. The three horse race w/ CJ, RA, and Zen. Can we add MTB, SB, and QR to the mix though? This way we get front runners, stalkers and closers, and quality ones, fun fun fun. I can't wait until the Wood, it should be a good race, but with 8 less lbs, Rachel is the horse to beat. Lets hope these next two week provide the excitment they are billed to produce.

26 Aug 2009 11:50 AM
da3hoss

I think it's GREAT plan, if she beats the older males easily at 1 1/8, well, then what's to say she doesn't go on to the JGC? If she has a hard time or loses, there's the Beldame, among others.

I went looking for 3 year-old fillies who have beaten older males and there are hardly any...actually, for 1 1/4 miles I only found Busher, who did it twice, once on dirt, once on grass, and once at 1 1/8. Do you know of any?

The last time a 3 year-old of either sex won the Woodward was 15 years ago...Holy Bull, in it's storied history not many 3 year-olds have beaten the older horses.

26 Aug 2009 11:54 AM
Bill W

All good points as usual Steve.

Always enjoy reading your comments.

Thanks and have a good day.

26 Aug 2009 11:55 AM
WorksopLad

It may not be common in the USA for a 3yo filly to take on older males in September, but it has always been common in Europe.

26 Aug 2009 11:58 AM
da3hoss

I'd love to see Zen, RA, CJ and SB if all 4 were on their game...match races leave me cold...I only saw one match race in my life and it soured me forever...guess I was too young and too impressionable...not only did we lose a great filly, but a great colt was forever linked to her demise...poor Foolish Pleasure..loved that horse, what a sad, painful end to his life, too.

26 Aug 2009 11:59 AM
OLD TIMER

Steve, As always, you have put the best spin on the upcoming Woodward and pointed out why it may be an exciting race.

Nevertheless, 3 year olds or not, IMO the majority of your readers, if a poll were taken, would consider the Woodward field weaker and would prefer to see Rachel take on Quality Road and Summer Bird. Plus it is also quite likely that Jackson is opting for the Woodward because the 1 1/8 mile distance will suit Rachel better than the 1 1/4 miles of the Travers.  All of which makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that they are taking the

"easy way out".

26 Aug 2009 12:09 PM
Debbie K

Add Goldikova to that filly/mare dream matchup - what a dream race!

26 Aug 2009 12:10 PM
It aint easy being good!

Nice article but RA is not on steriods and gets an 8 pound break against the older males. 8 Pounds! lol! This one is going to be a laugher, none of these horses have a chance....ta dara yeah right! Put the mortgage on RA and win  back 20 bucks!

26 Aug 2009 12:12 PM
ThePixiePoet

I agree. Competing with the older males is a completely different ballpark. I wonder if these horses can sense what age other horses are and then get intimidated? I hope Rachel romps.

26 Aug 2009 12:17 PM
Annie S

Maybe Mine That Bird should enter the Woodward since he's not going in the Travers!  

26 Aug 2009 12:21 PM
Lisa Achilli

Jess Jackson professes to have the horseracing industrys'and his horses' best interests at the forefront of any racing decisions made, but I can't see how running Rachel Alexandra, a 3 year old filly, albeit a truly great one, against older males in a Grade 1 stake race is serving her best interests. What more does she have to prove? How much more does she need to be worth as a broodmare before her connections deem it to be a sufficient amount? Will her greatness only be confirmed by a career or life-ending (God forbid) injury before all is said and done? The risks are so much more than the possible payoffs. Mr. Jackson says that it's good for the future of the horse racing industry to have these types of match-ups. I, in my humble opinion, don't believe that Rachel Alexandras' appearance in the Woodward serves any purpose other than swelling what to me is Mr. Jacksons' already overlarge ego if Rachel Alexandra is successful. Any other outcome could be truly devastating for all involved, especially this magnificent filly whose life and future are in the hands of her connections, and the nail in the coffin for the Thoroughbred racing industry.

26 Aug 2009 12:21 PM
adcook102

Steve~  I called this three weeks ago!  I said Rachel would run here and it would be the perfect spot for Zenyatta to come east for the clash of the titans.  It looks like that may have to wait until October 3rd and the Beldame,  although the Zenyatta camp has not made any plans to come to New York, the million dollar purse and a chance to beat Rachel should prove irresistable.  You might also get the "Grey Ghost" Careless Jewel to show up for that.  Why not have someone pony up an extra $500,000 to get all three of them to come to the party!  Now that would even things out.  Rachel has the advantage in a one turn 1 1/8 match race getting weight.  If as you suggest Careless Jewel is in the mix to insure a decent pace..... everything is "Even Steven."  Let's pressure the powers that be for a three horse match race in the Beldame.  It would be one for the ages!

26 Aug 2009 12:24 PM
LAZMANNICK

It amazes me how many people think that Rachel is going to win the Woodward simply because she is running in it..... It is so difficult for a distaffer to defeat the top older males…..For a 3 y-o filly to defeat older horses in a G-1 route race on dirt is almost unheard of and rarely ever tried.....Surfside was amazing in defeating males in the 2000, G-2 Clark at 1-1/8M, an extraordinary feat that not many people talk about…..Busher defeated older males in a G-1 equivalent at 1-1/4M dirt twice in 1945 (Arlington Hdcp. & Washington Park Hdcp.).....I believe it's been 41 years since an older filly-mare has defeated older males in a G-1 or equivalent dirt race at 1-1/4M (Princessnesian-1968 Hollywood Gold Cup).....It has been roughly that time since Shuvee defeated older males back to back in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at two miles.....

For Rachel to participate is special, if she wins it will be an achievement of historical value…..Good luck to her.  I will be cheering and I hope she does well, but the fact is, she is going to have her work cut out for her.

26 Aug 2009 12:49 PM
Ghostzapper

Unfortunately, RAs connections are taking the easy way out. There's is no way they will take on Quality Road because I'm sure they know he's the one who can run with her. Even though the Travers may be the best time to catch QR because he may not be at his peak yet. No one cares about the "race" Woodward. They changed it too many times to care about the history of it.

26 Aug 2009 12:57 PM
Kay

In all honesty, Rachel running in the Woodward comes as a bit of a disappoint me. There were better races to send her to, but  I feel that Jess Jackson might possibly be afraid of QR. He's the fastest, most muscular colt in America right now hands down IMO. I think he's waiting to see how he runs in the Travers and then deciding if RA should take him on.

However, i wonder just how good QR, RA, Kensi, I want Revenger and out other 'top' 3 year olds measure up to Goldikova, Mastercraftsman and SEA THE STARS. STS would demolish Rachel...imo.

26 Aug 2009 1:04 PM
LavasLegend

Thank you Steve, for being the voice of reason! While "on paper" I am having a hard time finding a way for Rachel to lose, this is in no way an "easy" spot, for all the reasons you've listed.

26 Aug 2009 1:07 PM
Blue Blue Sea

Hear, hear! Was getting sick of those comments about the "easy way out". I see there are a few more here. Often the uniformed have the biggest mouths. Go ahead, jump on me fellow posters. I couldn't care less.

26 Aug 2009 1:15 PM
JudyLovesJohnHenry

Steve~

Nicely written ~ as usual! I just LOVE the "girls" :-)

26 Aug 2009 1:22 PM
Wondering

She hasn't won the Woodward yet peeps. Let's get her in the gate and off before we keep heaping accolades on her. Yes she's great, but she's 3, she's a filly and she's also a horse that could fall victim to having a bad day or others such things.

26 Aug 2009 1:22 PM
MikeM

The Woodward sets up much better than the Travers for RA. 1 1/8 mile vs. 1 1/4, 8 lb weight advantage and mediocre field. If she wins she's the greatest horse ever and if she loses well she ran against older horses in a (watered down) grade I. I think the reason fillys have rarely entered the Woodward is because running them against colts is rarely done  in this country.What would Rags TO Riches do against this field. She looked Curlin in the eye and beat him.

26 Aug 2009 1:26 PM
Pam S.

First off, I believe the Woodward is a great spot for Rachel, taking the "older male" challenge now and the "distance" challenge later.  She could have done it the other way around in the Travers, but the connections had Kensei.  She can't run in everything and I have no problem with the choice that was made.  The race should be competitive and fun to watch.

I would also like to point out (again) that if top horses challenging themselves against other top horses makes you uncomfortable, horse racing probably isn't the sport for you.  I believe Rachel's career has been well managed.  They could cross the line into over-racing her, but so far they have not.

Rachel is a racehorse, the best one we've seen in a while.  I believe her broodmare career is secondary to all concerned with her, and that is as it should be.  Most all fillies get to be broodmares but few become Horse of the Year.  Yes, Mr. Jackson has a big ego, but I imagine many other billionaires do too.   All I know is, $10M so he can get the racing career over with quickly and easily and then have Rachel go stand in a field with the other mares -- I don't see much sense in that.

I am no breeding expert, but I do know that top racemares frequently are not successful broodmares.  I have read that many times the best ones are unraced close relatives to successful racehorses, or, as in the case of Rachel's dam Lotta Kim, fillies that showed early talent but suffered a career-ending injury.

Finally, has anyone else noticed that broodmares in their prime are sometimes lost to ruptured uterine arteries and other foaling complications?  Or accidents in the field, or even lightning strikes?  Or kicking their stall wall?  It's pretty much impossible to guarantee the safety of these magnificent animals.  So I, for one, sure don't feel guilty cheering for Rachel or waiting to see what her next challenge will be.

26 Aug 2009 1:33 PM
EasyGoerFan

I agree with MonicaV.  I can't believe the animosity toward Rachel's connections.  Even TVG's Ken Rudulph went on and on about how Rachel was taking the easy route because the Woodward would be such a walk in the park type of race.  Since when?!  Why is Holy Bull the last 3yo to win it?  And remember, that was his last race of the year because Croll didn't want to send him back to CD for the BC Classic.  Rachel is still expected to run again after the Woodward.  She's been running at different tracks from the south to the north and many places in between.

And not to pick on Zenyatta, who I dearly love and greatly admire, but she has made three starts this year and all of them have been in California.  C'mon!!  Is she that fragile?  Talk about picking spots carefully to keep a perfect record intact...yet that is not up for public debate because it's good management.

(per what I've been reading)

Only Rachel's "easy" campaign is to be criticized.  Unbelievable.

Go Rachel!!

PS:  I hope Calvin doesn't have to reduce too much to make the Woodward weight!!

26 Aug 2009 1:41 PM
Lisa Achilli

I have not heard or read of any comments made by Steve Asmussen regarding his feelings on Rachel Alexandra running in the Woodward, but I suppose if he isn't as gung ho about it as Mr. Jackson, he'd be best served to keep his mouth shut. I'm reminded of a time when another trainer was paid to let the owner call the shots and ruin what was a very promising race horse and career. Anyone remember Toccet?? His owner, Daniel Borislew, made all the decisions and totally mismanaged his racing career after his 2 year old season. If at any point Mr. Asmussen disagrees with the direction that Rachel Alexandras' career is going, I hope that he will intervene in her best interests and not be the token paid trainer with no input. There are, as we all know, definitely worse case scenarios in the history of this wonderful sport that resulted from greedy, egotistical owners that thought they had something to do with why their horses were so great (Ruffian?). Here's my thinking... if you pay a trainer to train your horses, shut up and let him or her do their job, unless you think you can do it better.

26 Aug 2009 1:51 PM
Lawduck07

Lisa - RA risks no more injury running in G1 races against older males than she does running in races against her own sex.  By your logic all race horses should retire after one good performance because in doing such they would have proven enough.

These animals exist because they are bred to run and compete in horse races.  Yes, it is tragic when something bad happens to a race horse, but this is a sport after all.  I've owned horses my whole life, including many off-track thoroughbred, and I dearly love them.  In fact, I've bawled like a baby after having to euthanize more than one horse thirty plus years in age due to the infirmities of old age.  However, these animals aren't big dogs or even horses that are meant to be kept as pets.  In fact, if a thoroughbreds is not properly exercised and given "work" or "job" to do on a consistent basis, it will often become unruly in its stall or paddock and hurt itself trying to be active.  It's the nature of the breed.  Most are twenty plus years old before they lose this desire to be active and some and I'd even dare to say most never do.  

This is not about broodmare value.  If RA were a seven year-old mare who had never hit the board in a graded stakes event and her owners were racing in a graded event despite nagging injuries, then you could justifiably say they were looking for black type and that the choice was about broodmare value, but otherwise, no way.  

26 Aug 2009 1:53 PM
fleetfoot

I believe Rachel is an exceptional horse and I have nothing but respect for her and her connections.  That being said, I fell in love with Quality Road the first time I saw him.  I literally said "God d@@@mit!"  I mean my jaw just dropped after I watched his races at Gulfstream.  I don't think Rachel can beat him at any distance.  The only way I see her winning a race against QR is if he were too inexperienced and would not pass her because she is a female.  I mean no wonder Pletcher is working QR with Unbridled Belle.  They are both outstanding horses, but the decision to run her in the Woodward is just silly in my opinion and doesn't give her a chance to really show what's she's got.  Cool Coal Man and Da'Tara?  C'mon!  Well, hopefully QR and RA will hook up in the Jockey Club God Cup, but I'm not gonna hold my breath.  Hey, can QR enter the Beldame:)?  If RA ever beats QR and Zenyatta in a race then I will consider her the greatest horse of all time period.

26 Aug 2009 1:53 PM
Lmaris

Kay, I think Quality Road's connections breathed a sigh of relief to see Rachel facing the older males.  He's still got to face the up and coming Kensei too.  Not going to be a walk in the park.

As for Mine That Bird, he'll be leading the post parade at the All American Derby at Ruidoso on Woodward Day.  I doubt his connections want to face her again anytime soon.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him stay out west after his PR event.

26 Aug 2009 2:00 PM
da3hoss

LAZMANNICK, Shuvee beat the boys as a 4 year-old in the JGC (and 5)...but thanks for the "Surfside" note, the RA discusiion started me looking for 3 year-old fillies who beat older males 1 1/8 or more and they are few and far between!

Is it for sure RA's going to the Beldame? The JGC isn't even a possibility? (thereby tossing my awesome theory of Woodward at 9 and then the JGC at 10!)

26 Aug 2009 2:08 PM
draynay

now we are calling a field of g1 winning older males mediocre ? macho again is mediocre ? please stop this nonsense.

26 Aug 2009 2:14 PM
Lisa Achilli

Why do you think the connections are racing her in the premier races? For black type... for her future career as a broodmare, so they can get top dollar for her foals! Believe me, that IS the agenda! I'm not anxious to see her retire and go to the breeding shed. I think that it truly is wonderful to watch these great horses continue on racing, and I hope that us true racing fans get to watch her run for several more years, but I doubt that this will be the case, but I'm also not anxious to see great horses mismanaged and subsequently have their racing careers ended prematurely due to an injury or a sub-par race that then justifies, in the owners' mind, retiring them. I've been an owner in the horseracing industry for 3 decades, and I've seen more than my share of horses ruined or break down because of greed and ego. The owners pay the bills... that's all. It's all about the latest accomplishment of THEIR horse. Why do you think there are so many unwanted ex-racehorses out there? Because it's all about production and ego. Don't kid yourself.

26 Aug 2009 2:14 PM
Lisa Achilli

Curlin wasn't the racehorse at 3 that he was at 4, so the fact that Rags To Riches eyeballed him and beat him in the Belmont only means she may have been better than him at 3. And by the way, I do believe she raced one more time after that and was retired due to breaking down. Is that what we want for Rachel Alexandra? Is it worth taking the risk? Than you can be assured of an early retirement.

26 Aug 2009 2:44 PM
Mary

It's somewhat amusing that many of the same people claiming Rachel's connections are taking the easy way in the Woodward are the same people who trashed the 3-year-old colts when she met them in the Preakness and Haskell.  "Mediocre crop" and "weak crop" were the words I heard most often to describe them then.  Now they've suddenly become so formidable that she's ducking them?  It's silly.  

Sometimes I think the only way Rachel can appease her detractors is if Jackson brings Curlin out of retirement to race her.  But even then they'd probably say Curlin is past his prime and she's taking the easy road again.

26 Aug 2009 2:45 PM
shane

When it is said that sea the stars would demolish RA.....

How much faster than 1:46.1 can he run? on Monmouth track..1:47.1 2 ticks from Spend a Buck...

Demolish her? on dirt?

come on

26 Aug 2009 2:45 PM
da3hoss

RA isn't going to get beat because she's a filly...it will only be a really bad trip or a better horse, and maybe only a better horse on that day...

All the greats had their "Upset"...or perhaps a day clouded by a Dark Star and yes, Onions will make you cry.

26 Aug 2009 2:49 PM
LAZMANNICK

da3hoss:

I know Shuvee was an older mare and what a mare.

I have a feeling that if Rachel wins the Woodward they'll shut her down for the year.....why not?  HOY would be in the bag.....what else does she have to prove?.....However, if she loses and if either Summer Bird or Quality Road win the Travers, go on and win the JCGC and go further and take a shot and win the BC Classic, Rachel has no shot at HOY, and that's not even considering Gio Ponti, right now her biggest threat....And if she loses and the other's don't win through then there is Zen.....If she should win her races leading into the BC and enter and win the Classic, an an impossible race for a filly-mare to win, guess what.....She would be HOY......In any event, the Woodward is it for Rachel.....I believe she has to win or its back to the drawing board (if these other scenarios happen) and the only chance she has to recoup will be at 1-1/4M (JCGC).

26 Aug 2009 3:08 PM
nickie

can anyone explain the "black type" arguement to me...what the heck has she done thru her 3yo. campaign if not black type. MTB's jock said he didn't give his mount the best chance in the Preakness, yet I get the sense we don't appreciate the class of this 3yo. gelding, who absolutely is the real deal, and don't be surprised to see this guy around for a long time[the "PR" for being the lead hose in New Mexico I think is great for racing[being inclusive is not a bad thing]...nothing but luck for RA from this corner, but if you're going to the "deep end", you better wear a life jacket, cause the "waves" can be unforgiving!

26 Aug 2009 3:19 PM
Mary

Lisa Achilli:  You've entered "preaching" territory with your multiple posts basically saying the same thing over and over.  Most people tune out when you get to the preaching level.

As for black type - Rachel is a black type winner.  Is Jackson supposed to put her in allowance races now?  Or just leave her to lounge in a pasture for the rest of her life?

My neighbors have horses who spend their days lounging in a big green pasture.  It may sound pleasant, but in reality it is a sad, sad situation to actually see in person.  

The once happy and productive horses have become fat, unruly nightmares who won't even behave long enough to get their feet trimmed.  And they're so obviously trying to communicate that they want a "job", but their misguided owners think they're doing them a favor by leaving them to do nothing all day.  

There's a reason the saying "put out to pasture" has negative connotations and I see that reason every time I step outside.  

26 Aug 2009 3:22 PM
Lisa Achilli

Lawduck07- I can't imagine where in my statement you got the idea that I want to see her or any other great horse retired. I can't fathom your statement that it's not about her value as a broodmare. Granted, she already has won black-type races, but the more black-type she obtains, the more valuable she is as a broodmare. Do you really think it's all about the purse money? If that were the case, these horses would be kept in training. By your own admission, race horses are BRED to race. Why do you think so many valuable thoroughbreds are retired after their 3 year old season? Take Zenyatta, for example. She has been managed impeccably, she is sound and will probably remain so for that reason, and is undefeated. The Moss' and John Sherriffs don't feel that she has anything to prove, which has served her well. I don't think that in the future anyone will question her greatness because she didn't race out of the box, at least to this point in her career. And as much as I appreciate your lesson on the equine breed, it's quite unnecessary. I've owned and worked with thoroughbreds and standardbreds for the majority of my 47 years, and I'm quite aware of the danger they are to themselves and others around them if they are not exercised on a regular basis. That's why they are walked, galloped, ponied or 2 minute licked on a daily basis. Anyway, I digress. I just believe that Rachel Alexandra will have a longer career if she is NOT forced to run against older horses in her 3 year old season. As a thoroughbred owner, you should know that she is not even fully matured and developed at this stage of her life. It's one thing to race against fellow 3 year olds, but older horses, male or female, is a different story. As I like to say, horse sense is what a horse has that keeps them from betting on people. Have a nice day.

26 Aug 2009 3:30 PM
Valerie

For historical accuracy, note that there have been 6 (not 3) fillies/mares to win the Whitney. In addition to Personal Ensign, Lady’s Secret and Gallorette, there was Esposa (at 5, 1935), Bateau (at 4, 1929) and, in its inaugural running, at 10 furlongs, Black Maria (at 5, 1928).

26 Aug 2009 3:39 PM
Tracy

Say Mary, I like that, Curlin vs Rachael!!!!!! Still wouldn't quite anyone.

26 Aug 2009 3:40 PM
Lisa Achilli

Mary- Totally agree with you.

26 Aug 2009 3:44 PM
Pam S.

The thought that Rachel's connections are racing her for black type so her foals will sell for top dollar is extremely hard for me to believe.

Rachel is an elite horse and belongs in Grade 1 races.  If she has no competition in her division, why not test the waters outside of it?  So far, so good.  I know Rags to Riches never won again after beating Curlin.  She raced once more, but due to a nagging injury she was retired.  Should this happen to Rachel, she would be retired as well.  Not really sure what the point of comparison is.

I don't personally know Mr. Jackson or understand what's behind some of his decisions, such as skipping the Breeders' Cup.  But I truly believe Rachel is racing to excite the fans and her owner as well, because she is a sight to behold on the racetrack.  People will remember and talk about seeing her for years to come.  I don't think she is racing to enhance the value of the foals she may have someday.  

And don't forget, those future foals of which we speak?  They'll be RACEHORSES if they're good enough.

26 Aug 2009 3:46 PM
Sophie

A brilliantly run campaign for Rachel. Mr. Jackson made a bold move when he entered RA in the Preakness and it paid off. Since then she has run in marquee races, all the while facing horses that are not very good. Munnings, maybe as a sprinter and Summer Bird as a long distance plodder. As for the Woodward, say what you want, but other than RA this is a weak field that includes older males that have been one race wonders who will be conceding 8 lbs. Then we go on to the Beldame where RA will be facing a small group of mediocre older filly/mares. Guaranteed, Zenyatta won't be at the Beldame. So what do we have here? RA winning her last two races against outmatched fields without having to face Quality Road and Mr. Jackson refusing to run her against Zenyatta in the BC. And why did Mr. Jackson say he wasn't bringing RA to the BC? After her win in the Haskell he was interviewed and gave three reasons: synthetics, a more well rested Zenyatta, and Santa Anita was Zenyatta's home court advantage. At least this time Mr. Jackson has been totally up front about his decision. He is ducking Zenyatta on racing's biggest day in either a $2mil or $5mil race which would be a race for the ages.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm also unhappy about Zenyatta's campaign or lack thereof as well. It's sad when we can't see superstars hook up like Zen and RA.

26 Aug 2009 3:50 PM
sweet terchi

Steve, great article as always. In my mind, the fantasy race winner is Zenyatta. However I agree with da3hoss, no more match races in reality. (That same race broke my heart). I read that Sam Houston Race Park was offering a $2 mil match race of Zen and RA, sponsered by horse owner James McIngvale. I truly hope that gets blown out of the water and that both connections don't respond.

26 Aug 2009 3:55 PM
draynot

I agree with draynay about one thing. Macho Again is no longer mediocre or less like he was last year for the classics. He's improved light years from where he was then. Still nothing special but he's much better than average now. The rest of the field?

None of them will be remembered in the years to come unless they beat RA. This race sets up perfectly for her, not much to beat. She's spotted very well.

26 Aug 2009 4:03 PM
MikeM

   Lisa, maybe not but he was still TONS better than any colt RA has or will face this year.

26 Aug 2009 4:04 PM
GreyK

shane, I agree with you.  Sea the Stars is a top class horse, best in the world, some say, and he might win the Arc or the BCC should they choose to bring him here.  But on dirt, he might be looking like Curlin on synthetic, not his best trip ever.  And our Rachel girl is one fast filly.  I could be persuaded to fear Quality Road, but not turf horses.

PamS, and Lawduck07, I absolutely agree with you too.  Well said.  Just read about the sad death of Onaga, in foal to Ravens Pass.  And think about Nashoba's Key, fatally injured at her own barn.  It's horse racing.  Live with the inevitable bad days or give it up.

26 Aug 2009 4:05 PM
Connie

I truly wish everyone would stop talking about a possible match race between Zenyatta and Rachel

Alexandra.  Why can't people just enjoy the magnificense of these two horses and go on with life.

Being able to watch both girls on different days at different tracks

doing their thing has made me one happy lady. They are both truly unbelievable and I hope it remains this way.

26 Aug 2009 4:14 PM
Cgriff

I don't think Rachel is in a softer spot so much as in her comfort zone.  

But Saratoga is a freaky upset palace - and it is a horse race - anything can happen!

Oh, and Draynay - I'm in total agreement that Rachel has moved to the "great category" - but she's never been nor will ever be equal to Secretariat.  

She may - MAY - equal Ruffian, but The Tremendous Machine would have still handed her a defeat.  As you said - you can't fight the times - and until she sets records that stand almost 40 years later or runs 2:24 flat in a mile and a half - she'll be the King's handmaiden.

And even Secretariat lost at Saratoga.  You just never know - but I think it will be her race to lose at a mile and 1/8.  The weights are too much in her favor.

26 Aug 2009 4:20 PM
Lil Darlin

Rachel has defeated 3yo males. So, she hasn't beaten Quality Road, but really, who has he beat so far this year?  This One's for Phil, Theregoesjojo, Cpt. Candyman Can, Dunkirk (who was making only his second start of his career).  Why is it that he can make so few starts against such "weak" competition and he's one of the greatest in the country, yet Rachel wins 8, in record times against males and females by gargantuan margians and she still has something to prove?  The Woodward was the right choice, she's ready to try older males. Quality Road is still in catch up mode.  In fact, if she ran in the Travers and beat Quality Road, her critics would say that he wasn't 100% and would beat her if they met again.  Mr. Jackson - you don't become a billionaire by making stupid decisions, so keep doing what you're doing and bring that big beauty back next year to claim her SECOND Horse of the Year title!  Only thing is, how will you top this year's campaign?  Spooky...

26 Aug 2009 4:28 PM
It aint easy being good!

Sea of the stars is the real deal and will crush in the BC. Again none of this would matter if this was on dirt. Cant wait till next year so we can stop arguing about the same crap. RA is good, QR is good. The rest of the field has no chance! NONE! If you  bet another horse have them to place and show or use in exotics!

26 Aug 2009 4:30 PM
My Juliet

   I like the title of this article, proving that the Woodward is not a 'nothing' race.

   It has become a bit frustrating to read some comments on Zenyatta- her racing Rachel in the Beldame, or racing in the BCC and Jess Jackson 'ducking' her in that race. I think it would be shocking to hear of Zenyatta's connections shipping her East at this point, especially to race RA, a horse even some colts are afraid of now. Also, it would be shocking to hear of them running Zen. in the Classic. I think there is No Way she is put against males for the first time at the end of a 5yo year, she would be in the Ladies Classic(such a strange title). If the BC was not wrongly at SA again, RA would be in the Classic, with males. He is not in any way 'ducking' Zenyatta.

26 Aug 2009 4:42 PM
Lisa Achilli

Where did anyone get the idea that I said I'd like to see RA retired? And as far as preaching, I'm sorry you feel that's what I'm doing. Not my intent. I'm saying race her... just in her own age group. It seems to me that some people are being obtuse about what I'm trying to say, but so be it. It's a shame that we can't have, what I consider at least, a healthy debate about a topic that is obviously so near and dear to so many of our hearts. And if trying to impart my 30 years knowledge of the horseracing industry on all levels (and I'm sure this statement will be spun to sound like I'm bragging!)is to be considered by some to be preaching, than maybe some should chose to discuss a topic more well-suited to the thinner-skinned among us.

26 Aug 2009 4:45 PM
LanceS

I agree that this race will be a good test for RA - moving out of one's division is always tough.  While none of these older horses may be great, it's indisputable that great older horses almost always beat great 3yos, so even good older horses should give her a real test.  

At the same time, I think NYRA has ruined the Woodward by moving it to SAR and leaving it at 9f.  Why run the same race twice?  It's ridiculous that SAR has 10f races for 3yoc, 3yof, and older distaffers, but not for older males.  Running both the Whitney and the Woodward at the same track and the same distance makes no more sense than doing the same for the Jim Dandy and Travers or the Go For Wand and Personal Ensign.  I hope NYRA moves the Woodward back to Belmont or increases it to 10f.  The current situation just makes no sense.

26 Aug 2009 4:58 PM
Docarl

I don't think any of you have watched any of her races. Calvin

Borel has ridden Rachel Alexandra out in every race I've seen. She's never raced less than a mile and a quarter in her last four races.  

26 Aug 2009 5:03 PM
Pam S.

Lisa A.,

I'm all for a healthy debate.  In your 4:03 p.m. post, you wrote that you didn't think anyone would question Zenyatta's greatness just because she never raced "outside of the box."

You must not follow this particular blog, because to date about 7,146,887 posters have done just that, and repeatedly!  They say they regret that we will never know just how great Zenyatta might have been, because she just kept beating up on the same bunch of overmatched females again and again.  Personally, I agree with them (though I love Zenyatta).

Judging from the postings of the knowledgeable racing fans on this blog, I'm concluding that many others also will question Zenyatta's greatness because of how her campaigns were handled, especially in 2009.  In fact, I think it is likely to come up whenever her name is mentioned in the future.

26 Aug 2009 5:15 PM
Rhoward

I am tired of hearing that people are upset the BC is held at santa anita 2 years in a row.  Trainers have had ample time to prepare their horses for such an undertaking. I am tired of the BC running on MUD every other year that the east coast holds the event. That is not only more dangerous for the horses, but also what a dumb way of choosing champions. If the trainers can not prepare horses for synthetics in 2 years time, they are really should be out of the business. As for Mr. Jackson, he is flat out ducking RA from Zenyatta in California, there is no way but to look it that way.  RA has won on synthetics previously. This is just ridiculous, and Asmussen should have a back bone and say something

26 Aug 2009 5:16 PM
WWSTP

Interesting article and comments.  I believe Rachel Alexandra has done everything needed to be seen as the great filly she is.  From here on it's about "what else can she do".  I don't believe Jackson is full of ego - rather a very passionate love of the game, and love of talent.  He certainly did not take the easy way out!  Jackson doesn't do that, and his history with Curlin shows that.  Many comments here detail the rigor and unique challenge of taking on older experienced males.  It's not a walk in the park.  Jackson looks at and goes for the legacy when he has a great one!!  It's just what he does!!  And that doesn't happen without taking the risks that he takes.  He gives himself and the fans the joy of potential history making.  RA has already beaten 3 yr old colts, twice.  She far surpasses the filly talent, so what is the next logical hurdle for RA to attempt??  Older males.  If she wins the Woodward, even though the change in distances over the years may deprive her of pure history making, she has taken the next logical step in her career, and in seeing what else she can really do.  I love Quality Road, and if he shows up and does well in the Travers, he could be her primary, and possibly only, real competition.  Let's see where that goes.  I love them both, but I'll be rooting for the shocker/history maker - the filly that outruns them all!!

26 Aug 2009 5:29 PM
Eilise

How many of the Travers-entered colts have raced against older horses?  How many times has Zenyatta raced against older males or even males her own age?  I'm sure most people here already know the answer to both questions is NONE.

So think about it.  To downplay RA racing with older males makes you look like you're stretching for an excuse to criticize the horse and her people.

Older males aren't usually the best of their crop.  That's just the nature of the horse racing beast -- the "mediocre" stay on the track while the "best" go to the breeding shed early.  Despite this fact, 3-year-old fillies very rarely challenge older males in G1 races.  

Accolades to Mr. Jackson for taking this interesting and unusual path.  

26 Aug 2009 5:32 PM
draynay

cgriff I saw everyone of secretariats races at 3 and I have seen all of rachels and in my opinion rachel is a better horse at 3.  rachel shows up big every time and secretariat did not. secretariat along with citation had the best triple crown series but you cannot ignore secretariats 3 loses at 3.

26 Aug 2009 5:40 PM
fleetfoot

Lil Darlin:

QR has beaten some very good horses already.  This One's for Phil had posted the highest Beyer by any horse at that time.  It's not QR's fault Phil is a sprinter.  Captain Candyman is an excellent sprinter and would have won the Amsterdam had it not been for QR.  The only other 3 yr old sprinters who could compete with him that I know of are Phil and Munnings.  Dunkirk is a very good colt who had only lost to QR and Summer Bird in the Belmont.  Dunkirk actually dug down in the Belmont and held off MTB.  He is a very good horse.  The only one I could give you is Theregoessoso who turned out to be not that great, but might not have the best trainer in the world so don't know if you can fault him for that as he may have been a tad mismanaged during his brief career.  QR still has something to prove, as does RA.  However QR has done just as much, i.e., broken two track records, as RA.  If he had not been sidelined I firmly believe he would have won the Triple Crown.  RA is absolutely wonderful but she does still have some questions to answer.  They both do.  Hopefully we will see them race each other soon so we can argue about something else.  That's the beauty of horseracing and if you don't love it, find another game.

26 Aug 2009 5:43 PM
Ron S

I would really like to see RA win a G1 at 1 1\4 miles.  It would just about end this discussion.  Unfortunately, it likely will not happen, or they would have ran her there by now.

26 Aug 2009 6:33 PM
VP

I don't believe the race is a walk over and if she wins it, "it will be a hestoric event ". I think everyone was spoiled with the Curlin, Street Sense, Hard Spun crop. Take a look back at horses we called great, their fields were not always so stellar. Take a look at what they faced in the Triple Crown races (field sizes included). Her crop is better than Big Browns (I am not comparing the 2 horses just the crops). "Every year" there are horses that show talent before the Triple Crown races and get injured. Why is it even being brought up (in the last artical) that RA didn't race them it happens "every year". Like Jackson or not whenever he gets a real good horse he elevates them to rock star status. The casual fan knows who RA is, they knew who Curlin was, ask the casual fan outside of C.A. who Zen is. Most of them don't know. Which is a shame. Is the Sheiek who buys up everything and retires them to stud at 3 a better sportsmen? The Moss's are any bettter? Zen ships to Churchill and can't run in the mud against weaker horses? I don't buy the excuse, it was a speed favoring track & thats why she scratched (given a chance I think she could have won that race even with the bias). The next 2 weeks there were plenty of races for her to run in on the East Coast but she high-tailed it back home to the West Coast. She has beat up on most of the same horses the last 3 races. The owners should have just retired her rather than to degrade her like that. Everyone knows she will not run in the BC Classic, she has a chance to be defeated there & they want to retire her undefeated. She will run in the Ladies Classic where she has all the advantage. She will never race colts/horses either. Who knows maybe Macho Again can pull an upset, he likes the track.    

26 Aug 2009 6:35 PM
Runfast159

Yawn.  Same old comments, different day.  But I am glad to hear today that Macho Again is in the Woodward field.  He's a quality horse that brings a solid resume with him, and he happens to be one whose races I follow.  That gives us a couple Grade I winners in the field.  Nice.

26 Aug 2009 7:13 PM
Rechelle

It should be a good, maybe great, race.  Macho Again and Bullsbay have added a depth to it I didn't expect to see.  I don't think either of them can beat Rachel, but it might be a harder race for her to win, since they are both coming off an explosive Whitney and are both talented horses.  I don't expect Da'Tara to present much of a challenge to those three.  Should be good, and I am disappointed that Asiatic Boy is possibly pulling out of the Woodward to run in the Pacific Classic instead.  

26 Aug 2009 7:35 PM
Saratoga AJ

All you like Old Timer and Ghostzapper who keep barking that Rachel is taking the easy way out racing older males in the Woodward (that in itself sounds ridiculous)  are forgeting one very important fact...Jackson also owns the very talented colt and probable co-favorite in the Travers in Kensei. If you were the owner, would you run your best two horses against each other? Wouldn't you go for BOTH purses? Wouldn't you want to get your colt a Travers win for stud purposes?

And an outside chance at 3 yr old colt champ with wins in the Travers and the big races coming in the Fall?

So please, let's quit with the nonsense that RA's connections looking for the "easy way out".

Jackson never takes the easy way out. He's a true sportsman and campaigns his horses by constantly raising the bar...like he did with Curlin and now Rachel.

26 Aug 2009 7:47 PM
Freetex

Interesting scenario, Steve.  It sure makes sense.  The older boys will not be easy.

The very fact RA is racing males again is just so unreal.  Who knew this would be happening?

What a season.  RA, MTB, QR, and of course, Zenyatta.  There are many more I could name.  

There is a lot of heat on the blog, but I must say some interesting points of view from those in the know.

And, oh yes, let's not forget Macho Again in the Woodward.  He is one of my favorites, just like him.

Cheers to Chip Wooley and company for taking MTB to the state fair parade, in New Mexico.  

26 Aug 2009 8:23 PM
Don from Delaware

Interesting kicker at end of this column Steve....I think RA is the best, but I must admit I saw CJ win at DP @ 14-1, so seeing and expecting her to win at Saratoga on Saturday to me was as sure a win as I could imagine, and it gave me the lock to the pick 3 and pick 4...watching her explode in the stretch at DP, this daughter of Tapit was so impressive, I do think that she is the only filly who can possibly compete with RA...the jury will be out probably forever with Zen...as she is being forced to stick to her synthetic security track blanket..something that CJ has already overcome...Don

26 Aug 2009 8:29 PM
Mary in VT

Oh brother, another attempt to diminish what Rachel does before she even does it.

And it is complete hogwash. Couldn't disagree more that the historical significance of the Woodward is in any way diminished by the fact that it has been held at various NY tracks and at various distances over the years. So what? Other races get adjusted to meet market demands and I don't' recall anyone diminishing them or their winners. If anything, holding it at Saratoga elevates it, in my opinion. Have you been there, Steve? Saratoga is absolute magic.

Further, to diminish the Woodward is to diminish all the great horses who triumphed in it, and they are nothing less than a Who's who" of racing legends. I think it's perfect. Just perfect. And no matter who shows up to run with her, Rachel Alexandra can run against the storied history of that race and all the remarkable horses who have won it. I will be there, and in my mind's eye I will be seeing Rachel run with Forego, Spectacular Bid, Alysheba, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Damascus, Cigar, Skip Away, Kelso, Precisionist, Mineshaft and Curlin.

26 Aug 2009 8:30 PM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

What happens should RA win easy? Will her connections then try to do something stupid?

26 Aug 2009 8:46 PM
Lawduck07

Hmm, Zenyatta's career impeccably managed?  Almost everyday on this blog her achievements are belittled.  So yes, I definitely do think that in the future people will continue to question the reluctance of her owners to think outside the box.  

Yes, I agree three years old is not mature, but all race horses race at this immature age.  Whether race horses in general should begin their path to the track as yearlings is a whole other argument.  However, if RA were a colt/gelding the fall would be the time to step up and face older horses. The fall is the time for three year olds of either sex to step up and face older horses, so I'm not sure what you mean when you say your point is she should be raced against her own age group.  However, I must be "obtuse." RA's stepping up and facing older males rather than older females is no more likely to get her hurt than stepping up and racing against older of her own sex.  RA could have also just as easily raced in the Alambama, have taken a bad step, and ... end of story.  I suppose that's ultimately my argument.  Racing is dangerous period, but racing fillies against colts or three year old fillies against four year colts or older horses isn't any more inherently dangerous.  

RTR hardly "broke down."  What was it a hairline fracture?  Had her owners been so inclined she could have raced again.

Also, funny you say Curlin wasn't the horse he was four when he was three.  Most of the people who professed Zenyatta for horse of the year last year said the exact opposite, that the Curlin of four wasn't as good as the Curlin at three, which btw I've never bought.  

I don't mean to prolong this debate.  You do what you want with your horses and I'll do the same.  

26 Aug 2009 8:47 PM
Phil Rynn

Smart move on the part of RA's connections; it's a win-win for them to run in the Woodward.  For starters, they saw something in the Preakness to put some concern in them about her ability to handle a mile and a quarter, and we may never see her contest that distance against colts.  For all her incredible cruising speed, it does appear that unless she has no pressure, she is going to come undone in that last sixteenth.  

On a one-turn mile and a eighth she should go off at 2/5....unless someone sends out a rabbit to run with her for 6 furlongs or so, her lead will be uncontested, and she will simply run them into to ground.  Then, Jackson can claim that she beat older male horses at the Grade 1 level, and she really has little else to do to win Horse of the Year...where else is she going to go?...especially if the Travers' results come out topsy-turvy (which is very likely)...no one will have time to develop a big enough list of achievements in 2009 to surpass her for Horse of The Year.  

So, the Woodward could very likely be the last that we see of her on the track this year...unless Zenyatta connections agree to a race at Belmont Park before the Breeder's Cup (I wouldn't do it, for the same reason that Jackson won't ship his filly to Santa Anita).

26 Aug 2009 8:47 PM
Ranagulzion

STEVE,

I agree 100% that this race is not to be taken lightly.  Indeed Rachel comes into it with the conditions of weight, pace scenario and distance significantly in her favour but Macho Again and Bullsbay are tough and genuine Grade 1 horses that are bang in form.  Also, the wily trainer Nick Zito who sends out Da'Tara and Cool Coal Man relishes a giant killing challenge.  

Rachel Alexandra should score again with another impressive performance, however that doesn't necessarily translate into a 5 lengths romp...I think not.  I think that Macho Again could cause some anxious moments late in the race because he is an improving 4YO colt with a potent closing kick.

26 Aug 2009 9:29 PM
ctgreyhound

IT AIN'T EASY BEING GOOD: I've  got news for you. The arguing, as you put it, will go on in 2010. It will just be over different crap. This is all just like politics - everyone takes sides & nobody ever wants to meet in the middle or give any credence to another point of view.

26 Aug 2009 9:56 PM
Matthew W

Dray Rachel is the best three year old filly I have ever seen---I mean, more accomplished that Ruffian, but Ruffian was really special.....better than Winning Colors, I think....better than Turkish Trousers, the black filly of Charlie's who kept on beating Convenience....Best ever, including males? EH???...Many are the 3yo males who've dominated (good) older males...Best ever males run in the Travers, Rachel is at all-time status as a filly---I don't need to see her beat Precisionist! Unbelievably good racehorse, Rachel is all that....

26 Aug 2009 10:24 PM
Matthew W

Steve people may think Jess is avoiding The Travers cuz his other guy is the nuts---I think Jess is GOING in The Woodward to show everyone he meant business by boycotting the pro ride---while willing to lay out with anyone, hint, hint, Jerry and Ann, .....Cali went their OWN WAY----Come dirt with Rachel/...Do it for Racing, The True Sport Of Kings!!....

26 Aug 2009 10:37 PM
Mike Relva

IT AINT EASY BEING GOOD

No doubt RA is a very gifted "superhorse",but to discount the others' in the race as if they are nothing is absurd!

26 Aug 2009 10:55 PM
RCW

Rachel mania has achieved absurdity.  She couldn't warm up Precisionist.  Further, she is good, very good, but may not even be the best 3 year old filly - let's see if Stacelita wins the Arc.  And how would Rachel fair against Goldikova, even 9 furlongs on the dirt.  Now what about the Big Z???  Rachel has a lot to prove to live up to the hype.

Watch a replay of the 2008 Apple Blossom.  Z (4th lifetime start) ran past Ginger Punch without taking a breath.  And GP was all the hype that Rachel is now.  

26 Aug 2009 11:29 PM
John T.

The Woodward Stakes is no walk in the park for any filly.I can remember Rokeby Stable running their top class Summer Guest in 1972 carrying 116 pounds but still found stablemate Key To The Mint and that grand old warrior Autobiography too good.Win or loose

I think the connections of Rachel are making the right decision here in trying to make racing history and become the first filly to win this important race.

26 Aug 2009 11:47 PM
Rechelle

Lawduck07, Rags To Riches was put back in training after her injury healed and she reinjured herself.  It was at that time that it was decided to retire her, rather than risk a more serious injury, or catastrophic breakdown during a race.  It was the right decision for RTR.  If you doubt me, here's the article at NTRA.com www.ntra.com/content.aspx

Don't belittle RTR's connections, because they did what was best for her.  Horse racing couldn't (and still can't) take a high profile horse breaking down on the final stretch.  It took a very serious hit when Eight Belles broke down and she wasn't well known.  Can you imagine what would have happened to racing if Rags To Riches, a Belmont winner, a horse that beat Curlin, broke down on the final stretch?  I don't think it would have survived.

27 Aug 2009 12:02 AM
Rechelle

RCW, Zenyatta is great, I won't deny her that.  But she isn't better than Rachel is.  NYRA has eliminated the detention barn for the Beldame.  They are increasing the purse if Rachel & Zenyatta both show up.  The Mosses have stated that the reason they won't go to Belmont is because of the dentention barn.  What reason will they come up with now that the detention barn is gone for why they won't come to the Beldame?  Because really & truly, they are doing nothing more with Zenyatta than ducking Rachel.  She has her 12 win streak because they have so carefully mapped her races into ones where there is NO competition for her and she is all but guaranteed a win.  She barely pulled it off in her last race. Her jockey is so over confident that he will cause her to be beaten.  Her final kick is good, but she is aging fast (she's 5 now) and that kick isn't going to be enough to come from 12 lengths from the leader in the Breeders Cup races.  Her race performances are declining, while Rachel's are improving each time out.  Rachel is better at 3 than Zenyatta was at 4 (which is why Zenyatta never faced the boys).  At this point, in my opinion, there is no comparision between the two horses.

27 Aug 2009 12:07 AM
adcook102

Just a heads up on all the Sea The Stars talk.  John Oxx is not going to risk running the big fellow in the Classic on a synthetic track.  If he comes he will run against Conduit, Fame and Glory and Gio Ponti in the BC Turf.  If he runs in and wins The Arc he won't come.  The real horse to fear in the Classic is Rip Van Winkle.  O'Brian will have him in top shape and he has a devastating turn of foot.  If Rip runs................ he will win.  Again..........you heard it hear first!

27 Aug 2009 12:10 AM
Runfast159

Oh I simply cannot resist: RCW, Ginger Punch was NEVER EVER the "hype" that Rachel is.  Ever.  Never. Ever.  She was a very good filly, yes.  But not in the same class as Rachel.  Not.

27 Aug 2009 12:19 AM
merlinmerry

The "Big Z" has NEVER run further than 1 1/8 mile in a race.  And she is a five year old. It is very unlikely that Zenyatta will ever go longer, especially in the BC Classic.  

At 3 years old, RA has already run and won at 1 3/16. If she doesn't run in the JCGC, RA has another year to train up to the "classic" distance.

27 Aug 2009 12:25 AM
The Peacock

Seems like we've found your Achille's heal, Lisa....you braggert, you! Bet you picture yourself that 'old boxer' don't you Steve? One word - Secretariat.

27 Aug 2009 3:24 AM
jamesb

RCW,

Rachel has nothing left to prove.  She could retire right now and go down as possibly the best 3yo filly of all time.  KY Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell leaves no holes in her resume.

Ginger Punch was receiving the same type of hype RA is getting now?  LOL

Stacelita isn't winning the Arc my friend.

Funny that you would ask how RA would fare against Goldikova at 9f on dirt since Goldikova has hardly ever gone over 8f and they've all been on turf.

You might be right about Precisionist though.  One of the most underrated horses of all time.

27 Aug 2009 7:16 AM
MRO

I think Macho Again will prove his mettle. Can't wait to see the race!

27 Aug 2009 7:56 AM
nickie

Rynn brings up an interesting thought[albeit the race will be a 2 turner]...the "rabbit" scenario[we all recall Pletcher discussion with Dunkirk earlier this year]...let's ask a member of the racing "family" say...Andel Cordero on what he might consider in riding vs RA...he would be the trainer/coach I would want in my corner...we all know Alydar won the '78 Travers, but some may not recall the "race riding" in that race. I hope we have not outgrown this important part of the game. Adversity is what makes a thoroughbred great...we shall see what the racing gods shall provide...an aside working a horse 10 panels, or blowing her out an extra furlong is not the same as racing.

27 Aug 2009 8:17 AM
AMY ROONEY

wow, i am away for a little while and lookie what all i was missing!

i think the woodward is a great spot for RA.  mind you, i am not a great RA fan. but i makes sense to check things off a list for a horse to deserve hoy. i hope mtb runs in the woodward, yes she has already beaten him, but it would be good for him. he has nothing to lose by going.

 i would also like to see the big "z" go to the woodward.  this would be the best race for a match up, plus anyone else to step up and run with her and RA.not beating a dead horse, or clamoring for a match up. just think it is a nice spot.

 lastly, my good barrel horse has been retired due to injury. she was kicked by another horse. she is "out to pasture". however, she is still just as sweet as ever. plus the old mare i brought in from pasture after 3 years(16yrs) i was able to ride that very day.

rude horses are rude horses, whether they have a job or not. most simply need proper handling, others that is just how they are.

did they not have to flip a coin at the khp to see which one had to help walk john henry?

27 Aug 2009 9:28 AM
da3hoss

Mary in VT, Thank-you.

Eilise, you mean "lesser" colts keep racing after 3 like Tiznow, Silver Charm, Skip Away, Holy Bull, Foolish Pleasure, Spectacular Bid, Alysheba, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Alydar, Cigar,  et al? ;-

27 Aug 2009 10:05 AM
Jim S

Mary

How can you say that horses in a pasture is sad> We have 4 horses and they are never in a stall, they are never forced to go out and train when they are sore...they are happier and have a better life than ANY horse at the track and that includes Rachel Alexandra...23 hours in a stall is a life? I spent many years in racing and I can assure you this is fact...and our horses can pick up their feet, have no bad habits because they have been properly broke. Sorry to burst your bubble Mary but racehorses do NOT have a good life.

27 Aug 2009 10:07 AM
Draynay

I am trying to stay on the sidelines here but the nonsense has got to stop somewhere.  Steve, I know you have seen thousands of races and have seen many of the all time greats and I believe it is your voice on many of the Youtube video's talking about amazing races and times they were run in.  I think many of you need to go back and take a look at the Mother Goose again.  Rachel ran a 133 mile split.  Is there ANY doubt in your mind that if she were asked at the 6 furlong pole she would have run a 132 ?  Had she been allowed to finish is there any doubt in your mind she would have tied Secretariats track record ?  I am sure many of you are taking notice of her splits but do you understand they are simply faster than any filly has ever run with such little effort. She runs a 146 being eased 150 yards before the wire?  Its never been done before.  Horses don't do that and I know you can all see the same things as me.  Did you see her just miss the track record in the mud at the Haskell ?  What horse have you seen set or come close to setting a track record in the mud ?  Matthew I know many like you love Ruffian and that is great but watch every one of her races and you will see she is not a fast as Rachel.  Rachel runs splits Ruffian never dreamed of but Ruffian was the greatest of her time.  I am not going to argue over who is the greatest because that often involves emotions of who your favorite horse is.  But to read some of this nonsense that there is a better faster European horse than Rachel is just plain nonsense.  Trainers with G1 winning older horses want nothing to do with Rachel and when she beats Macho Again by 8 she will have a hard time finding a race with anyone.  Like I said before the clock does not lie and Rachel can run a 145 any time she wants. There are no horses running today that can match that.  Unless the ghost of Citation or Secretariat can show up on the track she is not beatable right now.  I will defer to Steve to tell us what horse in his memory at 3 won every race and dominated top competition every race in the past.  I can't think of a single colt I am sure Steve can come up with a name or two.  I am starting my Countdown to 17 in a row for Rachel...number 9 here we come.

27 Aug 2009 11:03 AM
mz

I didn't even have to finish Draynay's 11:03 post to know it was Draynay.

He's more wrapped up in TIME than the last Star Trek movie*

Fergawdsakes, TIME ain't everything.**

* for those who haven't seen it: they fiddle with time and create an altnerate time line universe.

** except, of course, when you  remember Woodstock and the Moon Landing and Flaming Page*** first hand and you start complaining  like an old codger on blogs. Then, maybe time matters.

***before she was Nijinsky's, Minsky's and Fleur's dam and The Minstrel's granddam.  BTW, Dray and others: SHE won the 1 1/4 mile Queens Plate against the boys when she was three - great filly, wonderful mare, shut up.

27 Aug 2009 12:17 PM
It aint easy being good!

You guys are so funny thinking that macho man has a chance. He is an improving colt with a closing kick! Give me a break. You guys keep forgetting RA is getting 8 pounds thats why Asastic Boy pulled out! This is going to be a beat down! 7 length romp!

27 Aug 2009 12:29 PM
Ghostzapper

"Now they've suddenly become so formidable that she's ducking them?  It's silly."

No, they're ducking Quality Road and a mile and a quarter. I think they're afraid of extra distance because Mine That Bird was catching her in the Preakness. I personally would like to see what she can do at a mile and a quarter. I wont hold my breath.

27 Aug 2009 12:44 PM
The Rock

Dray,

There's no way of telling who's better between RA & horses that have run in Europe because they run on different surfaces. All you can do is judge them by their accomplishments. Granted RA has accomplished a lot and not to take anything away from her, but in my eyes I hold Zarkava from last year above her. Zarkava won the ARC', where all the top horses show up, young and old, male & female and she trounced them with ease. For me, RA would have to win a BC Classic in somewhat of the same manner to be in that league. Just my opinion.

27 Aug 2009 12:46 PM
Nancyb

Well said Dray - a voice of reason.

27 Aug 2009 12:58 PM
Janesville Liz

I for one am actually nervous about the Woodward. As Steve says, these are accomplished older colts. They may not have the dominance of a Secretariat or the toughness of a Forego, but they are not chopped meat, either. They are all accomplished runners, older and more experienced. I feel this may be her sternest test. I actually think the Travers may have been an easier spot. But her connections are sending her out to try and accomplish something no filly or mare has ever done, win the Woodward over older males. I will be rooting for her, but I am nervous, because this will be a toughie for her, and definitely not a cakewalk.

27 Aug 2009 1:56 PM
rjb

ra doesn't need to risk getting beat 2x by the same horse. i.e. summer bird. it would be less tarnish on ra if she's defeated by older males. also qr will be defeated by summer bird and by turf to dirt hold me back. qr's only chance to win is to ride the rail after passing our edge. the rail will finally be a good place to be on travers day. the rail has been dead up until this week.

27 Aug 2009 2:28 PM
AMY ROONEY

Draynay,

I believe you made a mistake in your last post.  you rail against secretariat that ra is better, then you wrote that for ra to be beaten the ghost of citation or secretariat would have to show up. secretariats spectacular races were at a distance further than what ra has gone, with the exception of the preakness. her splits may beat of equal secretariats, but he went the full distance. for me to compare ra's splits to secretariats, she would have to travel the exact same distance. not just compare her splits to his in the kentucky derby or the belmont, when her splits occured in races where she did not travel the overall same distance as big red.

she is good, but not enough to hang with secretariat.

curiously, the great horsemen you claim to be.  what about the ghost of affirmed with lafitt aboard.

27 Aug 2009 2:34 PM
draynay

Rock.. I understand 100%.  I could care less what some horse does in the Queens Plate or in some other soft going turf race against a bunch of other turfers.  To suggest ANY horse is better than Rachel right now is just plain silly.  Let them run a 133 split and THEN get back to me.  I dare anyone one them to step on a dirt track against Rachel.  Can someone please tell me why we are trying to compare Euro turfers to Rachel Alexandra ? Are we that desperate to find a better horse past or present ?  Look all you want but you can't top perfection and domination.  I wish people would stop trying to dream up better horses because even The Bid and Secretariat were not perfect like Rachel has been at 3.

27 Aug 2009 2:41 PM
LAZMANNICK

John T

The Key To the Mint of 1972 would have dominated the handicap division on dirt today.  He was even voted Champion 3 y-o that year and won a number of handicap stakes.....Summer Guest was a great mare, but losing to KTTM was probably expected.

27 Aug 2009 2:44 PM
LAZMANNICK

MZ

Sitting on the sidelines.....

The way our little friend goes on about Rachel you would think he owned her.....If she should lose and another horse comes along and wins two or three in a row I wonder how long it would take him to jump on the next bandwagon.....all he does is put pressure on her with the naysayers.

27 Aug 2009 2:47 PM
draynay

Amy I did not make a mistake. I don't go back as far as Mr. Haskin but I have seen 3 of the all time greats perform in person.  Secretariat, Seattle Slew and The Bid and I can honestly say Rachel at 3 is better than all 3 of them.  She shows up EVERY time and DOMINATES.  You can't say that about Slew, The Bid, or Secretariat.  I am also not crazy enough to state as a fact that at their best like Secretariat in the Belmont that Rachel would win.  However, any way you want to slice it Rachel has had a better YEAR at 3 than any of the above 3.  Better because she has been PERFECT, Flawless, and Dominating every time.  You don't have to share my opinion or agree with it but in my judgement Rachel is the best 3 year old I have ever seen. Secretariat losing 3 times to average horses just doesn't compare to Rachel's perfection.

27 Aug 2009 3:11 PM
It aint easy being good!

rjb are you serious? Ride the rail, i love summer bird but QR is a freak of nature he is lebron james out there a beast! They should change his name is Quality the beast james! QR wont romp and should be an exciting race but in the end no one ever passes QR. Look at all of his races just when you think the horse will pass him they never do becuase they are too tired!

27 Aug 2009 3:37 PM
rjb

good point! "it aint easy being good" however qr will have to post a sub 201 to beat sb i don't think qr has a free pass to the winners circle based on his speed alone sb has the better breeding for stamina and his connections are training him to lay somewhat closer in his races. his last race will prove to be a valuable tune-up. also watch out for hmb mott has a great average on turf to dirt and this raw boned horse will get his chance to stretch his legs fully in this short field.i believe qr will try to blow this field away my doubts are his ability to get the distance. i wont get exited about qr until breeders cup day

27 Aug 2009 4:58 PM
shane

Ducking QR? are you serious? why? why exactly would she duck QR? who says QR can go 1 1/4? He only beat Dunkirk because Dunkirk sat off 12 lengths and made an early run. But QR wasnt pulling away from him in the end. You guys are overhyping that horse before he proves it. Rachel has already proven herself. End of story

27 Aug 2009 5:08 PM
shane

Also Ginger Punchs Trainer even stated that the longer it goes the more she backed up. You guys will see RA and learn to respect her. She is in good hands; they will not put her out there to fail, and they will not duck horses. When she runs, you BETTER beleive, she is in there to win. Her trainer wins with claimers at a high 20 percent rating, imagine how he does with a great one.

27 Aug 2009 5:13 PM
snow

Draynay,

You may be the only person on planet earth that believes that Rachel is a better 3 yr. old than Secretariat.  Perfection does not equate to greatness.

27 Aug 2009 5:14 PM
Kat

This one's for you, Dray.  Not only to correct some of your assumptions about Prove Out, but also to confirm that good (or great) races can emerge from capable horses at any time (as Mr. Haskin has stated about the Woodward) and the Woodward will not be a walk in the park.  Enjoy, as usual, it is a pleasure to read and very informative to boot!!

cs.bloodhorse.com/.../The-Unbeatable-Horse.aspx

27 Aug 2009 5:19 PM
Rechelle

AMY ROONEY, Mine That Bird is out until most likely October, it's already been stated, which is why he's out of the Travers & the Pennsylvania Derby.  He has not recovered from surgery as well as they expected (gee I could've told them 2 weeks would not be long enough, no matter how minor the surgery).  He's out of training for now.  He's on his way back to New Mexico.  He also was never nominated to the Woodward.  Zenyatta also will not ship east.  The Mosses want to retire her in a safe manner, with her win streak in tact (that won't happen.  As great as Zenyatta is, she will be beaten at the Breeders Cup).

27 Aug 2009 5:19 PM
Rechelle

rjb wrote "ra doesn't need to risk getting beat 2x by the same horse. i.e. summer bird. it would be less tarnish on ra if she's defeated by older males"

Ok I'm confused.  Who in the Travers field has even beaten Rachel ONCE?!?!?  Summer Bird lost to her by 6 or 7 lengths in the Haskell.  Did you watch the same race the rest of us did?  There is NO ONE in the Travers field who has beaten Rachel or come close to beating her.  Quality Road needs to prove himself before Rachel worries about facing him. She's proven her talent.  Quality Road proved his in the spring, but has been off for 4 months, he has to prove it now, has to prove he can come back from a layoff and go the distance. He shouldn't have any problems, but he's never faced nor beaten Rachel either.  So exactly who are you talking about, rjb?  A mystery ghost phantom horse who no one has seen?  Who has invisibly raced and beaten Rachel without anyone knowing it?  The last horse to beat Rachel was Sara Louise, who is running in a different race on Saturday, not in the Travers.  

27 Aug 2009 5:25 PM
Saratoga AJ

Ghostzapper:

They are not ducking Quality Road. And believe me, I have seen QR in person and he's a monster. He was my pick in the TC. He would certainly give her a good, tough race, and I feel beat anything else in this country (sorry, Zenyatta fans).

That being said, I suggest you go back and reread my 7:47PM comment yesterday. It's about Kensei too.

27 Aug 2009 5:25 PM
Saratoga AJ

Lamannick:

I saw Key to the Mint run...was a very nice horse. Was better at 3 than 4. But he was certainly not a horse to tout in any way. Would not be much or maybe any better than the field Rachel is facing in the Woodward.  

27 Aug 2009 5:35 PM
Zia

It is becoming so boring now to read any blog comments as it seems that everyone must reiterate the same arg-

uments over and over every  where as to who RA has  or will beat  and who is best Zen or Rachel.  I sure hope a

phenom shows up some where

and a new topic is introduced.

27 Aug 2009 5:43 PM
Vincent

To all you Quality Road lovers and the guy that refers to him as a "BEAST"...LOL...

Let me get this straight, you claim RA is ducking a horse that's claim to fame up until this point is beating Dunkirk...

As for the Woodward, she is in the race because she can become the ONLY filly ever to win it. Somehow that seems like more of an achievement, than defeating a horse (Quality Road) that has never even defeated a grade 1 winner.

27 Aug 2009 6:04 PM
The Rock

Dray,

You want a 133 split? Go down to South America where they have rock hard turf/dirt courses or to the country fairs in Nor Cal. It's an internal fraction aided by two horses killing each other on the front end. And Dray, Any horse that wins the Triple Crown, trumps any other 3 year old campaign. Hands down. Its only been done 11 times. Check that degree of difficulty.

27 Aug 2009 6:10 PM
da3hoss

Dray...ain't it grand to be alive while she's running and to see it?

We should all cherish it...this really could be one of the greatest horses of all time.

Tim Ice said this about RA "I always thought she would run in the Woodward because they (owner Jess Jackson) are out to prove to the world what she is and I believe what they think she is and everyone else thinks she is.”(TimesUnion)

27 Aug 2009 6:36 PM
Lil Darlin

Fleetfoot,

I think Quality Road CAN turn out to be a great horse (I just hope they don't retire him at the end of this season so we can find out). All I am saying is that everyone keeps knocking Rachel's competition, but Quality Road has only beaten 4 fields this year, has not faced a classic winner, and as you have pointed out, has proven himself against mainly sprinters (I reiterate - Dunkirk was only making his second start of his career). He was unfortunately injured so we really don't know at this point if he's very nice, top for the year, or "great".  I think, personally, that he has A LOT more to prove than Rachel, being that Rachel is 8-0 on the year, has beaten the KD winner, Belmont winner, a very good sprinter in Munnings (even though it was not at his best distance), and is herself a classic winner. It's not to knock Quality Road, but I don't believe he is in the same category as Rachel at this point in time.  She continues to excel and is putting together probably the greatest campaign by a three year old filly ever (yeah, my mom would jump in and scream Ruffian right now, too). Love the game, would never find another, and always up for a friendly debate.  When Quality Road has shown that he's back 100%, so there are no excuses, then maybe the two can hook up.

27 Aug 2009 6:39 PM
ace

Rachel is as close to unbeatable at a 1 1/8 as you can get.  If you add the 8 lbs weight allowance vs. older horses, you are talking about winning by daylight.  There is not a horse around that has the natural speed to keep up with her now that Commentator is retired and Monterey Jazz has switched to the turf.  ( I would have loved to see those three in a match race, imagine the splits!)

At a mile and a quarter, I think several horses could take her, including MTB (if ridden properly), QR, Einstein, Zenyatta and Dunkirk (were he not injured).  

All that separates her from joining the absolute elite (Secretariat, Bid, etc,) is a win at 1 1/4.  Here's hoping she can stay sound enough to get a chance to do it.  

27 Aug 2009 7:20 PM
Ranagulzion

IT AINT EASY BEING GOOD!

I hope that you'll be courageous enough to come back here and eat your crow when Macho Uno closes to finish within four lengths of Rachel in the Woodward.  She is awesome but I dont see her being 5 lengths better than Macho Uno or Bullsbay at this point even with the weight allowance.

27 Aug 2009 7:22 PM
John T.

I,for one do not think that Rachel is in the same class as Secretariat or Spectacular Bid and a whole bunch of other colts down through the years.She has never won at the classic distance of 10 furlongs or beyond and probably will never be asked to give weight away.She is a remarkable filly but just were she will fit in won,t be determined till her racing career is over.  

27 Aug 2009 7:24 PM
rhoward

Draynay, you are clueless or blinded by love;either way you are way over the top on your opinion about Rachel.  Lets review her accomplishments, UH she beat 3 yr old fillies, no champions, no older mare, never been eye balled and she is better than Seattle Slew That is a ridiculous statement and you should be embarrassed.  She might not even be the best 3 year old out there. Seattle Slew left no doubt. I promise you this, if RA ever races against Zenyatta,  Zenyatta will win. People are bashing Zens last effort, folks that was one of the most amazing run downs in a long time.  If people knew that the Del Mar race course plays to have close finishes, people would understand this. She ran the last quarter in less than 23 seconds. WOW. Also, I would take Sheriffs over Asmussen any day for a 1 race runoff.

27 Aug 2009 7:26 PM
C Money

There has been some people trying to figure out why Jess is skipping the BC. He said that he's afraid that RA may get injured with the switch. He might be on to something here. I've seen three horses break down on surface switches this year and yes I had money on them, and there is

probably been more than that.

Anyway, I really like Summer Bird in the Travers. It seems that every horse that finishes behind RA

wins next out. Its happened the last three weekends. I need more than 3 to 1 but I'm going to hit him hard.

27 Aug 2009 7:32 PM
HardSpun'sBigFan

Rachel's awesome athletic ability made her a candidate for either race, Travers or Woodward.  They chose the latter, fine.  I think she can beat the older males.  Remember, Rachel has one thing that no contestant of either race has ---- continual "momentum" which has not been broken.  She virtually did a male/female Triple Crown and beyond from Oaks to Haskell. I would much rather see her face the colts again but I am trusting her connections choice of the Woodward and doing right by her.  I think she could have beaten Quality Road and Summer Bird again easily.  I hope she wins the Woodward easily and we see her again at Belmont.  

27 Aug 2009 7:46 PM
Matthew W

Dray why compare Rachel  to The Bid and Secretariat? Is she breaking records at 1 1/4 v everyone???...And get over The Mother Goose allready, it was on downhill asphalt/why they have to make it like Longacres I don't know---But she was hardly beating anything--two fillies that went 1:08???...I LOVE that horse, but not at the tune of knocking down Big Red and Bid, C'mon! She ain't THERE--yet! Maybe, though.....Big Red...Bid....Big Brown....Snow Chief.....Smarty Jones....Bernardini.....Rachel.....Who's Preakness was best?

27 Aug 2009 8:10 PM
Ida Lee

Let me take a wild guess as to who will win the Woodward .. Ah RACHEL. Now, I wonder what her next race will be after she chews up this new group of puny males who dare to challenge the Queen.

27 Aug 2009 8:16 PM
Ilsa

GZ, I have to agree with you there. I think the mile and 1/4 would be testing RA's limits.

Dray, you make me chuckle from time to time, comparing Rachel and Secretariat with each other is retarded. They are both great, but Rachel has yet to show she can run on the turf or a mile and 1/4, 1/2.......

I love Rachel, but she's no Secretariat.

27 Aug 2009 8:53 PM
tvnewsbadge

Good move putting Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward Stakes rather than taking a chance on Quality Road before anyone knows if he's for real or not.

If Jackson gets Rachael beaten, the horse racing community will never forgive him.

Jess Jackson is like a good lawyer, never ask a question of a witness that you don't already know the answer to.

27 Aug 2009 8:58 PM
Racingfan

Thanks Steve for another well written thought provoking article.  I am not at all unhappy about the choice of races and I agree that it is not the cakewalk that some are saying.  If it were such an easy thing to accomplish it would happen regularly.  

Lisa Achilli - though I don't completely disagree with your posts, I do wonder how long you (and others) have known Jess Jackson.  You must be good friends to know "how big" his ego is. Also, I wonder why you speculate that Rachel is in more "danger" running in this race than any other....?

27 Aug 2009 10:25 PM
Tim G

I'm not too sure someone seeing Secretariat run when they are a kid of age 8 or 9 is TOO good at analyzing him.

As for the splits? All we hear now is how we are breeding for speed, not for stamina nor longevity and how we're diluting the breed and making it more fragile.

That explains the super fast splits now days to a lot of people. That and the fact that track maintenance on the dirt is so superior, the makeup of the surfaces, even the dirt, is so improved and just faster.

The comment about 17 races, going for #9. Wow, talk about thumbing your nose at the racing Gods.

Hey Steve, how was the paddock this afternoon?

27 Aug 2009 10:54 PM
nickie

just a thought for some posters...there is a reason they have racing secretaries and ultimately condition books...there are races for fillies, for colts, sprinters, routers, etc. etc...comparing competition from one generation to the next makes for good discussion, but is fruitless. By the same reasoning one would have a tough time comparing a 2 yo. campaign to campaigns for 3 yo. or 4 yos. and up. Sorta like having the club champ at your local country club entering and winning the PGA. Because you are successful on one level does not make you the best until you defeat "all" classes.

28 Aug 2009 8:13 AM
AMY ROONEY

I am not disagreeing with you Draynay,about who had the better 3yr old season. just with the quoting of splits. unless they are running the same distance I do not care how fast her split was. so to educate me, perhaps when you quotes splits where she beat secretariat, you could also include the distance they were both running at. since I was 2 when secretariat ran.

28 Aug 2009 8:32 AM
LAZMANNICK

Saratoga AJ

What Key To The Mint did you see run…..the one I’m talking about won:

• Remson…1-M…@ 2

• Withers…1-M…@3

• Derby trial…1-M…@3

• Whitney…1-1/8M…@3

• Travers….1-1/4M…@3

• Woodward….1-1/2M back then…@3

• Brooklyn…..1-3/16M…@3

• Suburban….1/1/4M…@4

• Excelsior…1-1/8M…@4…ETR

I’m not so sure the field (other than Rachel) running in this year’s Woodward would have won all these races.

AJ…I’m not tying to knock Rachel, but the fact is the Woodward field this year is mediocre when compared to almost any other Woodward previously run.

28 Aug 2009 12:32 PM
It aint easy being good!

Ragulation I will be back my friend I am always on here listening to  Dray talk about the clock every post. He was talking 135 when QR was going to run in the derby thats why he doesnt bash QR like he does with Mine that third. Shane I love how people make excuses for horses being far back like Dunkirk, how is that QR fault? Everyone else 2 track records isnt enough huh. IF he faced the best of the best they would of have to beat his track record to win! Just sit back on saturday and get your popcorn ready. Also I got 300 on QR to win at even money by post time......LOCK! LOCK! LOCK!

28 Aug 2009 12:49 PM
gregg

Rachel should run the Travers but there is Quality Road. I think this horse will be the AP Indy of the new millenium. He had bad luck being hurt but returned to set a track record in a sprint. He is faster than Rachel at every call and Jess Jackson doesnt want him to spoil her record. Also, I dont think that Rachel can get HOY eclipse as long as Zenyatta keeps winning. Besides if you dont at least try the best horses at the Breeders Cup that award should not even be on the table. At least Jess tried Curlin last year. Summer Bird and Mine that Bird were just lucky with lesser competition.

28 Aug 2009 1:28 PM
Saratoga AJ

Vincent,

While I am not saying he could beat Rachel, your take on Quality Road is way off. I believe he would have been  a real threat to win any or all of the Triple Crown races. His Beyers  this year are as good or better than any horse not named RA. 113, 111 and 110 in his last 3 starts. Two track records in a row. A horse so huge that it almost looks like ponies running alongside him in his races. I saw him run three weeks ago and he is truly a monster of a horse.

IF he stays healthy, he's going to be very tough to beat.

28 Aug 2009 1:40 PM
Irish

Thank you Mr. Haskin for your thoughtful blog.  Most turf writer's seem to be having a competition to see who can come up with the most frivolous and whiny criticisms of Jess Jackson.  It's gotten annoying.  It's nice to read a writer with a mature adult outlook.

As for the Rachel v. Secretariat debate:  Rachel was all out in the Preakness to get a final time of 1:55.08.  Secretariat wasn't even asked and finished that race either one or two seconds faster (depending on whose clock you trust).  Either way, his run beats hers by open lengths.  Keep in mind he ran his Preakness after setting a Derby record that still stands.      

His 2:24 Belmont will still be standing long after I'm dead.  I would bet my house Rachel's connections never even try her at 12 furlongs.  

I am a huge fan of Rachel but to say she's better than Secretariat makes you look silly and ignorant.  The person making that claim obviously never saw Big Red race in person.  I have seen both horses race in person.  Rachel is extremely impressive but Big Red was breathtaking beyond belief.  It may sound silly but he had an almost supernatural quality that Rachel does not have.  

28 Aug 2009 2:17 PM
Saratoga AJ

Lazmannick,

But that fact is KTM lost 5 of his last 8 races very badly. Including a 15 length loss to Autobiography in the JCGC; the Met Mile to Tentam; the Brooklyn by 5+ to Riva Ridge; The Malboro Cup by a whopping 17 lengths to Secretariat; Riva Ridge, and a bunch of others; and finally an embarrassing 10 length loss to Tentam  again when he finished 11th in the United Nations.

He just was not the same horse at 4 than he was at 3.

28 Aug 2009 2:48 PM
My Juliet

  Draynay, I love your enthusiasm for Rachel. Those on here who recognize her geatness already, should not have to defend her,  before or after every race. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinion, but some it seems refuse to acknowledge what she has already done on the racetrack. Whatever the reason it's  especially wrong to actually diminish her accomplishments.                       I personally wouldn't say RA is equal to the great Secretariat; I think too soon. For Ruffian...there is a legacy there for her many fans that has only grown in the last 34 years. I understand there is too much emotion connected to her (maybe to both) for comparison, also 1970's racing to today, maybe not easily compared.  

28 Aug 2009 3:05 PM
Vincent

Saratoga AJ,

How did I misspeak of Quality Road? I addressed the people who said that RA was ducking him and everything said about him is a fact.

Everything you say maybe true and he may go on to win on Saturday, but I assure you RA is not ducking him. RA may run against him in the future, but let the horse accomplish a formidable resume first.

I’ve seen this so many times and hang around the backstretch long enough and the term “freak or beast” are the most over used words in horse racing. If Quality Road goes on to be as special as everyone talks in this blog then they will meet don’t worry about that.  If she continues to win, she will be in Dubai in March and he will have his shot.

As for the people comparing RA to Secretariat, please be quiet. Compare horses to each other until both of their careers are over is useless. I suspect many of the same people comparing them in this blog were also comparing Big Brown to Secretariat last year. Make an educated argument when their careers are over. Until then, silence please.

28 Aug 2009 3:17 PM
Draynay

Snow ? "Perfection does not equal greatness"  Lol. perfection defines greatness Snow.  Matthew I think you and rhoward need to be reminded that Rachel beat a G1 winning Flashing in the Mother Goose.  Irish you bring up the Belmont but do you think Secretariat would have beat her in the Wood, Woodward, or Whitney ? Amy Rooney this is what I can tell you as fact.  Rachel has never lost racing over a mile.  Secretariat lost half of his attempts at 1 1/8th and Rachel has completely dominated at that distance.  If they were to race at that distance today I would take the horse that has dominated not the one who lost half his races at the distance. Da3hoss I am so happy you have no idea.  I never thought I would see another 3 year old as good as The Bid and up pops Rachel Alexandra. We are all so lucky to see the greatest filly ever and thanks to Youtube we can watch the races again and again. For those of you eager to see Rachel race at 1 1/4 you will get your chance if Zenyatta passes on the Beldame.  Rachel will run in the Jockey Gold if Zenyatta will not commit.  By the way Rachel racing another 200 yards just means she she will win by even more.  Has ANYONE been catching her at 1 1/8th ?  Stop with the 1 1/4 stuff it makes no sense.

28 Aug 2009 4:25 PM
Cowboy Bob

MY ROOTING LIST STARTS WITH MIND THAT BIRD, INCLUDES STARDOM BOUND, CARELESS JEWEL GOLDIKOVA AND SEA THE STARS.  RA IS A MARVEL BUT I JUST CAN'T MAKE A CONNECTION.  I WAS A NY BACKSIDE LAD IN THE SEVENTIES AND SAW RUFFIAN QUITE A BIT. RA IS BETTER. MORE VERSATILE HORSE. SHE WOULD BE ABLE TO HANDLE THE FOOLISH PLEASURE PRESSURE.

28 Aug 2009 6:02 PM
Saratoga AJ

To all:

You want to see what on paper appears to be a great race, with a terrific field, Check out the Kings Bishop, race #11 tomorrow at the SPA.

www.bloodhorse.com/.../seven-furlongs-suits-many-in-kings-bishop

28 Aug 2009 6:20 PM
LAZMANNICK

Saratoga

Yeah, you're right.  KTTM seemed to hit a period in his career when he was awesome, but when he wound down out of it he was very ordinary.  What I'm tring to say is that when he was in his prime (when he raced in the Woodward), he would have made short work of the males in this year's Woodward. LOL

28 Aug 2009 8:22 PM
snow

Draynay,

The word is "equate" not "equal."  There is a big difference between the two words... And, rest assured perfection does not define greatness.

28 Aug 2009 8:37 PM
julie o

I thought the point of horse racing was to prove who has the best horse.  Before there was so much money to be had, the best horses met up in weight for age races in the fall to prove who was best.  Fillies and mares like Busher, Twilight Tear, Real Delight, Two Lea, Gallorette, Searching, and Shuvee raced against males often, beating Hall of Famers.  I think Mr. Jackson is being an old time horseman, running a great filly in an historic race for the love of the sport.  We really need a hero, and Rachel Alexandra is drawing positive attention to racing.  I feel so fortunate to see her race.  Everyone who enters a horse in a race is taking a chance on something bad happening; I hope nothing does and that she just adds to her growing legend.

 I would love to see the Woodward returned to its glory days, and not keep getting degraded as a Breeders Cup prep.  Put the Whitney back where it was and keep it at its distance, run the Woodward 3 weeks later at 1 3/16 and then the Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles.  I wuld really rather the Woodward and Gold Cup go back to their historic distances, but with the Breeders Cup at 1 1/4 miles it'll never happen.

28 Aug 2009 10:05 PM
Matthew W

Dray you're preaching to the choir about that wonderful Rachel, with the missing spot....she always misses that spot when she "puts on" her blaze in the (early) am....ha ha! I love her! She's gonna beat those guys at 1 1/4?...Even 1 1/8 is a stretch...lets see her in Woodward---But Oh, the brass tacks of Jess! And I cannot believe all the criticism, for going two turns vs OLDER MALES......but gotta check yourself, Lord Drayness--I mean, you TALKED about Big Red's LOSSES....I dunno....maybe I'll just ask you.....Of his wins, which of them does Rachel WIN???....Thank you for participating, here's some lovely parting gifts!...I'm givin' ya that Rachel's best ever three year old filly...But yes, Mr Statman, she WILL need to step up to reach Secretariat and Bid....If she gets the Classic next year I believe she can reach that top tier, I believe she can be that good....

28 Aug 2009 10:57 PM
afleetalexforever

I feel sorry for people like u Cowboy Bob, I know you might love horse racing, but I am not sure how anyone cannot make a connection with this beautiful filly, she is truly a marvel and a sight for all lovers of horses and lovers of true champions.  We all are going to have favorites, as you can see Afleet Alex was one of my favorites no matter what you say, Curlin is at the top of the list, Barbaro and Eight Belles whom I was able to see run at Oaklawn Park will always have my heart, but Rachel has stepped in and there arent words, she is amazing, and no matter what she is a champion of champions.   The only difference between the two horses is that Rachel doesnt have to have the lead and is able to rate and relax now so the races are not as taxing on her. If Ruffian had been able to do that there is a chance or a possiblity that she may still be alive, but you have to admire how she gave 100% everytime out, horses have to learn to relax nowadays and be able to not over exert themselves.  Thats why you have to love the way Curlin ran, he was all out in the early part of his career but then as he matured he realized that he didnt have to try so hard all of the time.  My point is though we can all find it in our heart to be able to enjoy the presence of greatness when we see it, people will be asking us about Rachel for many years. Many, many years, and we'll be able to say we witnessed such greatness as has never been seen before in our generation.

28 Aug 2009 11:28 PM
Michelle

I believe Mr. Jackson is going for Horse of the Year honors and what better way to do that (if not going to the Breeder's Cup) than to beat fillies, colts and then take on older horses.  Personally, I would love to see Rachel run against Quality Road but who knows if that will ever happen.  Also, I would like to see Rachel face Zenyatta in the Clark Handicap at Churchill after the Breeder's Cup.  With the progression of Rachel up the ladder, is it possible that Mr. Jackson is thinking Dubai for Rachel?  I think he should try her on grass too, she has the pedigree for it.  She might be his Arc horse.

28 Aug 2009 11:45 PM
Draynay

Snow, believe me yes it does.  Matthew if I had to pick a race Rachel would win I would say the race following the Belmont.  147 would not cut it against Rachel. Look, as great as Secretariat was he did not show it every race.  His Longest win streak at 3 was 4 wins Rachel has doubled that.  Secretariat lost 2 or his last 3 races on dirt and one was a GradeII.  When Secretariat showed his best stuff he was great but when he was off he got beat by average horses.  You can't change history those are the facts.  If you believe Secretariat had a better 3 year old run with 3 loses its your right.  But Rachel dominating every race and going undefeated is more impressive to me and that's without mentioning she is a FILLY.  After she crushes G1 winning older MALES come back here and be honest about her legacy.

29 Aug 2009 2:22 AM
Saratoga AJ

LAZMANNICK...

OK, in his prime at 3 he was overall better than this year's Woodward field, but they still aren't pushovers. I think Bullsbay is going to be real tough. He ran the 6th fastest over one mile  Beyer figure (107) for this year in his last race, the 1 1/8 mile Whitney over the same Saratoga track 8/8. And the hard knocking Macho Again finished only 1 1/2 lengths behind him going 4 wide. It won't be all that easy, but Rachel just may be a super horse, and super horses don't lose very often. It will be a tough test for her though. Remember, this is like a teenage girl running against adult men.

29 Aug 2009 7:46 AM
LAZMANNICK

Saratoga

Bullsbay is developing.  I still think we'll see even more from him.....If he beats Rachel, he's well on his way to the older horse championship.....Macho Again has the same running style, which I think suits both of them in the Woodward.....They could be running as a team throughout the stretch and pushing each other on.  If that is the case it does not bode well for Rachel or any other in the race.....However, as far as the handicap division, so far this has proven to be one of the weaker years.  Some horses jump up, but they are inconsistent.....Too many different surfaces do not help either.....This is the kind of race that can change that perspective and gain the division the kind of respect it should have.....That being said, if Rachel should lose, based on history, I don't really think it should be considered a major upset, just a pot hole in the road on her journey.

29 Aug 2009 11:42 AM
snow

Draynay,

Again, you may be the only person on planet earth that believes Rachel is a better 3 yr. old than Secretariat.  I appreciate the vibrant debate with you.  Good luck my friend.

29 Aug 2009 12:23 PM
Pam S.

Several posters have again mentioned Dubai for Rachel.  The new Meydan track on which the World Cup will be run in 2010 has a synthetic "plastic" surface, so it's not gonna happen.

29 Aug 2009 12:26 PM
Mokey

I'm so glad Summer Bird just won the Travers and where was the "great" Quality Road ? This shows how good Rachel is and that she needed to move on!!!

29 Aug 2009 6:06 PM
Saratoga AJ

It sure does make Rachel look that much better with Summer Bird's impressive Travers victory.

As far as Quality Road's performance, I blame the owner of Quality Road who was hellbent on getting him into the Travers. That horse was not ready for 10 furlongs, and got third on class alone. Maybe now we know why Evans switched QR from Jimmy Jerken's barn to Pletcher. It was Jimmy who nursed QR back to health, and he knew he did not have enough time to get him fit for the 10 furlongs. Hmmmm.  

29 Aug 2009 6:25 PM
shesfast

im going to laugh if datara beats her. hopefully that wont happen though.

29 Aug 2009 6:28 PM
afleetalexforever

Yeah Yeah, Quality Road who, Fundamentals people its just fundamentals, there is a progression in horse racing that takes place, sprinting to route races is not the way to go, but the ignorance of Todd Pletcher would cause an owner to put a horse in a race he should have never been in the starting gate for.  Quality Road showed true class in running a impressive third in this race. Most other horses would have run dead last coming back from an injury like that. The horse was very very short, and he could have hurt himself, who's ever heard of putting a horse in a classic distance horse after a 6 1/2 furlong sprint.  Outrageous is being nice.  As for how much Summer Bird flattered Rachel in this race, well what can you say, she looks like the Princess that is taking the Queen's HOY award, and how much did Summer Bird flatter the Arkansas Derby, there is no way that the Arkansas Derby should not be upgraded to Grade 1 this year.  This race has been the corner stone of championship 3 year old racing for the past 6 years.  All those who say that they were dodging Quality Road, what do you have to say now, wow i am anticipating your responses, or will you all tuck tail and run lol.  

29 Aug 2009 6:41 PM
Wiseguy

Quality Road has become the epitome of a very nice horse who's career is/could be completely derailed by goofy human connections (owner). Why wasn't he in the Kings Bishop, where he would have been the favorite and was fit enough for the 7 furlongs?

Nice to bet against him in the Travers. Geez

29 Aug 2009 7:07 PM
rjb

to RECHELLE i sit here corrected. i thought sb beat ra in the belmont but she wasn't in that one. i hope sb and ra can "hook-up" someday BOTH ON AND OFF THE RACETRACK.

29 Aug 2009 7:22 PM
rhoward

If Travers race showed how good RA is by running in the MUD again, then with Music Note winning the Ballerina stake shows how good Zenyatta is. Zenyatta destroyed this multiple grade 1 winner in the BC. Like i said before champions do not dodge any race like RA has. Owners look for the perfect distance and perfect pace scenario. SHe has beaten 3 yr fillies that is probably the worst class of horses on the grounds anywhere. She has beaten a week 3 yr old male crop (once in the MUD).  She has not beaten a thing.

29 Aug 2009 7:44 PM
Draynay

Snow I don't know what more she has to do.  When she wins the Woodward and dominates older horses maybe you will change your mind.  No 3 year old has dominated every race like she has that I can remeber....can you?

29 Aug 2009 8:15 PM
MikeM

Quality Road looked beat every step of the way. Too bad MTB didn't make the race as it would have been the birds battling it out. MTB's secound in the preakness is looking better every day. Beat less than a length to the great Rachel with a troubled trip.

29 Aug 2009 9:14 PM
Mary in VT

So ... what do the cynics say now that Quality Road either couldn't do 1.25 M in the Travers, or couldn't do slop, and wasn't the better of Summer Bird today? That would be the same Summer Bird that Rachel Alexandra left for dead in the Haskell when she came within .2 of the track record in the slop. Today's Travers Stakes flattered Rachel and advanced her case for HOTY as much or more than it flattered the victor Summer Bird and his eventual year end status because he couldn't defeat her. Nothing against Summer Bird here. I saw him at Monmouth and that horse is to die for.

It is amazing to me how many of the 3 yr. old races have aided her cause whether she ran in them, or not, because they define the generation over which she stands. I think that Jess Jackson has taken the game to a whole new level. He is one wise old owl. This way, both the Travers and the Woodward advance Rachel's career, but she only has to run in one of them.

Checkmate.

29 Aug 2009 9:30 PM
ZIA

Well,Let's see,Summer Bird romping in the slop,nothing new there.  I'm

very sure that HE's glad there was no RA.  Lots of credit to Quality

Road who managed to hang in for third,despite what may have been a not

so good ride.  I hope he came out of it sound,I hope all of them did.Most

of them were not happy campers.

29 Aug 2009 11:39 PM
Jim

Let's face it, Rachel is a top notch filly. And she's obviously a freak in the slop but I don't think she's that much better than the rest on a dry track. Mine that Bird was getting to her in the Preakness and with a better trip he probably wins it....At least the hype is good for racing...I guess we'll see eh?

30 Aug 2009 9:07 AM
Louie Louie

I love Pletecher. Always an excuse. If a horse doesn't win the classic "He didn't like the track". He put his foot in his mouth Sat. Pletcher on QR  "special horses do special things" Thats why RA is special. If she didn't like a track, ala Pimlico in the Preakness,she still goes out to win. I have a lot of respect for John V. but he had QR in postition to win but the colt couldn't. Yeah I'm not the owner but I feel QR would be better off with Jerkens.

30 Aug 2009 9:07 AM
rrxr

If Da'tara beats Rachel someone needs to name a race after him ala Jim Dandy (who won two big races as huge upsets).

30 Aug 2009 9:33 AM
Ragsy

Quality Road ( to a beginner) was placed in the wrong race, he was not ready to me so " whats wrong with his connections".  I knew a bird would win and the "other bird" did...Summer Bird was awesome both in looks and action...he sure makes Rachel Alexandra look good.....

30 Aug 2009 11:14 AM
Pam S.

I agree with Mary in VT, the Travers surely did advance Rachel's already exalted status without her having to participate in it.  Good deal.  

It is remarkable how many horses Rachel has stomped that go on and win nice races.  I read about Ruffian breaking other fillies' hearts, but that doesn't seem to be happening with this girl.  I think when she wins, in her benevolence she sprinkles a little fairy dust on ths losers. (Top THAT, fellow Rachel lovers!)

30 Aug 2009 11:15 AM
shane

Well do we still have to worry about QR diminishing RA's greatness?Pletcher is not Jimmy Jerkins....Jerkins made that horse get 1 1/8 not pletcher. Pletcher has a string of stakes horses but when has he consistently won a classic or breeders cup race without him having 5 horses in the race and that is usually because the owners switch horses that are already stakes horses to him and they dont do any better actually they usually even off or go down in my opinion. which aint worth much lol.

30 Aug 2009 11:30 AM
LDP

rbj,

    They did hook up on an off track, the Haskell. RA freaked in that race winning it by six, over SB.

30 Aug 2009 11:42 AM
Vincent

Draynay,

Once again, until the year is over you cant compare her three-year-old season to horses of the past. I'm a Rachael supporter, but at this point you don't have to look any further than Holy Bull's three-year-old campaign as he accomplished more and defeated much, much better. Relax. Let her continue to win and then when its all over if she goes on to be one of the great ones then let the debates begin. Until then, just enjoy!

30 Aug 2009 12:08 PM
Soldier Course

Does anyone here have any information about national television coverage of next weekend's Woodward and the Pacific Classic? I don't get TVG or HRTV, so I hope the races are televised on ESPN or another national channel.

30 Aug 2009 2:07 PM
Cindi

I must admit I enjoy the horses developing in waves - it makes it very interesting.

Rachel, however, is in a different class.  She is so consistent (and continues to get better) it is amazing.  The horse simply rocks.  I love hearing all of the comparisons of who beat who when but frankly, she just keeps winning regardless.  She sets herself apart by continuing to win.

30 Aug 2009 2:29 PM
Draynay

Vincent ? Holy Bull ?  Didn't win a Triple Crown race and never showed up in the Derby.  Finished very strong but the year was not perfect.

The POINT is Rachel has been flawless, perfect, and dominating. You must admit The Bid, Secretariat, and Holy Bull were great but not perfect.  Showing up every race and dominating at 3 like Rachel has been doing each and every race has never really been done before in modern raceing.

30 Aug 2009 6:51 PM
Mike A

RA not running in the Travers is just Jess Jackson playing the percentages. RA's already beaten the 3 yr. old colts and if you think they were worried about QR after a 6 1/2f prep you're mistaken. No they wanted the race for Kensai, winning the Travers would have help solidify Kensai's stake at the 3 yr. old Championship, and with Mr. Jackson it's about awards and reknown. I like that Mr. Jackson runs his horses, he generates interest in the sport, but if anyone thinks he's doing it for me and you you're mistaken. They see the Woodward as a winnable race for RA given the competition, it was the smart play. I didn't think Kensaui had a prayer in the Travers, but obviously they did. So much for best laid plans. Ra's a big athletic filly, she'll do fine. Mike A

30 Aug 2009 9:03 PM
Rechelle

rjb 29 Aug 2009 7:22 PM wrote: "to RECHELLE i sit here corrected. i thought sb beat ra in the belmont but she wasn't in that one. i hope sb and ra can "hook-up" someday BOTH ON AND OFF THE RACETRACK."

Rachel and Summer Bird have met up, they ran the Haskell together.  Rachel beat SB by 6 lengths.  Summer Bird is a fantastic colt and improving tremendously each race, but he has never beaten Rachel.  The last horse that beat Rachel was Sara Louise, and I think that was a two-fold problem : 1 - the jockey rode a terrible ride and 2 - I think the distance at 8 furlongs was too short.  They switched jockeys at the next race and Rachel & Calvin have done NOTHING wrong since.  

31 Aug 2009 12:44 AM
Zia

Since when have trainers NOT

placed their horses in advanta-

gious races?  Being very good at picking the right races is a

valuable art that not all train

ers have.  More power to JJ &

SA for careful placement of

Rachel.

31 Aug 2009 3:12 AM
Vincent

Draynay,

Perfect is overrated...I will take this resume with one loss over anything right now from RA. Once again, I'm a big supporter of RA and I don't think you should compare until the season is completed, but right now this is better....

Holy Bull's three-year-old season...

Of the horses he defeated in 1994, Devil His Due, Colonial Affair, Cherokee Run, Concern, Go for Gin, and Tinners Way all came back to win grade I stakes, while Tabasco Cat, Bertrando, and Meadow Flight won grade II stakes in their next start. In all, Holy Bull defeated the winners of the grade I Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont (twice), Breeders' Cup Classic, Breeders' Cup Sprint, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Whitney, Woodward, Pacific Classic (twice), and Suburban. Not many horses have shown the versatility to defeat a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and a Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, and in the same year.

In his eight victories that year, his average Beyer Speed Figure was over 115, which is remarkable for a 3-year-old. Here was a Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male who, during his career, defeated a champion older horse, champion sprinter, and champion 2-year-old male, not to mention three classic winners and two Breeders' Cup winners.

Nuff said...

31 Aug 2009 3:44 AM
da3hoss

OT, but let's add Spring House to our list of grand older runners we tend to forget.;-) We can ALL love THEM!

31 Aug 2009 6:43 AM
LAZMANNICK

Draynay:

Compare Rachel’s 3 y-o year to Buckpasser’s (he won the Woodward at 3) and then tell me that she has had a better year.

In 1966 Buckpasser’s year was fragmented by a quarter crack that would force him out of training and as a result miss the Triple Crown races (he was the winter book favorite for the Kentucky derby)….He started his year by running second to stable mate Impressive in an allowance race, then ran the table.  He won:

• Everglades (1-1/8M)

• Flamingo (1-1/8M)

• Allowance (stakes quality) defeating Buffle (Suburban winner)

• Arlington Classic World Record 1.32.3 (1-M)

• American Derby NTR (1-1/8M)

• Chicago Stakes (1-1/8M)

• Leonard Richard (1-1/8M)

• Woodward (1-1/4M)

• Travers (1-1/4M)

• Malibu (7-F)

• Brooklyn Hdcp. (1-1/4M)

• Lawrence Ralization (1-5/8M)

• Jockey Club Gold Cup (2-Miles)

• Starts 14 – 13 Win; 1-second

• 3 yo Champ & HOY

Rachel is great, but her 3 y-o year is not the greatest.  And in spite of Mr. Haskin saying “who did many of the great horses beat”, Buckpasser defeated all comers including the winners of all three Triple Crown races that year and many other accomplished stakes winners…..His times weren’t exactly stellar, but that just shows that times are often over-rated (claimers set track records).  However when he had to go he did (1.32.3 mile then world record)…..As great as Buckpasser’s 3 y-o year and career were, when Secretariat raced at three, in spite of his loses, the great majority of the experts had no qualms in saying he was better than Buckpasser.

31 Aug 2009 9:39 AM
Brian

Besides Draynay there is two people out there that believe Rachel is better than Big Red.  ME...

31 Aug 2009 9:49 AM
Draynay

Vincent ? Have you not noticed how many horses have come back to win G1 races or G2 after racing Rachel ? Flashing and Summer Bird both won G1 races after being whipped by Rachel. Holy Bull had a great year but no Triple Crown wins and just held on in the Travers.  My point is Rachel has dominated EVERY race and has been perfect ! Being perfect is overrated when a filly is running against males ? Rachel has taken on the best males and females and has shown herself to be much the best.  However, I can't stress enough the point that she has dominated EVERY race.  People talk about Seattle Slew, The Bid, and Secretariat as the all time greats and rightfully so but they didn't show EVERY race at 3.  Rachels current win streak doubles anything Secretariat did at 3. Being perfect and winning every race against the best doesn't matter ?  Since when ?

31 Aug 2009 9:59 AM
tvnewsbadge

While the Woodward is clearly a  a "gimme" for RA, there's still a bit of danger for her and JJ.

If she loses this cakewalk, it's goign to look bad, very very bad, for her.

As they say, there's no such thing as a free lucnh.

31 Aug 2009 10:18 AM
Tiz the best...

Bullsbay all the way...  He is a rapidly developing colt...

31 Aug 2009 10:33 AM
BigWIll

I don't think people realize whats happening here. Rachel Alexandra is not your average 3yo filly champion. Think about this: THE WORSE RACE OF HER CAMPAIGN WAS THE GRADE 1 PREAKNESS, IN WHICH SHE ONLY WON BY 3/4 OF A LENGTH, BEATING MALES AFTER ANNIHILATING FILLIES 2 WEEKS EARLIER IN THE GRADE 1 KENTUCKY OAKS.  Beats Fillies casually by 20 lengths and beats colts casually by 6. Running in the Woodward is a great move. Great spacing between races and running against glorified allowance horses(aka lucky graded stakes winners) in a $750K Grade 1 at Saratoga is a perfect prep for her Beldame battle with Zenyatta (who is great in her own right). To be fair I only expect an 11 length win for Rachel in the Woodward.

And on to the Quality Road doubters. He ran 3rd in the Travers. Summer Bird is the top 3yo male. No shame in losing to him. Don't knock Quality Road, he'll get another major Grade 1 win under his belt between now and November 4th. And I think thats awesome being the 2nd best 3yo in your barn.

Back to a statement I touched on earlier about glorified allowance horses in the Woodward. When was the last time the handicap division was good? Aside from an aging Einstein, Who else is really a championship caliber horse ON DIRT? Well Armed?...Dubai World Cup was a joke, Still won by 14, but ran last in his return. Macho Again?...runs one drop-jaw ace a year. Bullsbay?...lol seriously??? Dry Martini, It's a Bird, Cool Coal Man, Da'Tara, Mast Track, Rail Trip, Colonel John, Tiago? None of these horses have superstar quality that can carry the division. Maybe I just got spoiled by Curlins handicap campaign, but I thought the Handicap division was supposed to be better. I know the Breeding game plays a major role and thats why I look forward to next year when there will actually be a stellar handicap division: Dunkirk(My front runner for horse of the year), Mine That Bird, I WANT REVENGE, The Pamplemousse, Kensei, Munnings, Misremembered, Charitable Man, Rachel Alexandra and if we're lucky Summer Bird and Quality Road will be back as well. Next year will be an amazing year for racing!

31 Aug 2009 10:40 AM
Draynay

BigWill are we going to knock Bullsbay and Macho Again ?  They are G1 winners.  I don't see people knocking Prove Out who didn't even hit the BOARD in half his races.  Why do we knock current G1 winners? There are some very very good 4 year old horses running right now and Gio Ponti, Macho Again, Bullsbay, and Colonel John deserve some respect compared to last years 4 year old crop.  To diminish in any way Rachel taking on older G1 winning males just seems silly to me and does no one any good.

31 Aug 2009 11:06 AM
Tiz the best...

Hey Big WII...  You do remember that Well Armed got hurt in the San Diego and had to have surgery, correct?...

31 Aug 2009 11:34 AM
Draynay

Lazmannick, my grandfather took me to my first Derby in 1969.  We went to many races together and he was a big Citation and Buckpasser fan.  In 1973 when Secretariat was all the rage my grandfather would scoff and say, If Buck and Citation were around Red would never catch them. Bucks record is one to marvel at for sure but two things stick out.  No Triple Crown wins and it was not a perfect year.

I think the other thing to remember Rachel is a FILLY.  Not only is she doing things no filly has done she is doing things no colt has EVER done.

31 Aug 2009 11:46 AM
Vincent

Draynay,

Once again, let it all play out and you will have a better argument.

As for your statement of Holy Bull just hanging on in the Travers...I'll quote Steve Haskin, "Although the Travers was Holy Bull's narrowest margin of victory, it was the race that stamped his true greatness. No Travers winner other than Man o' War had run three-quarters faster than Holy Bull, as he had to put away Tabasco Cat's rabbit."

In addition, I'll an even better source when jockey Jerry Bailey (rider of Concern) said after the race, "We could have gone around again and I wasn't going to pass him."

Once again, let it all play out and then you can measure true greatness. Comparing before that futile and foolish.  

31 Aug 2009 12:39 PM
Ranagulzion

PAM S,

Enjoyed your "fairy dust" comment about Rachel ...funny but true.  The vanquished are certainly paying tribute to "Alexandra The Great"

I sincerely hope that she comes out of the Woodward successful and well so that we can have the JCGC become the dirt race of the year (presumably on a dry Belmont surface).  If she can top a JCGC field at 10 furlongs that includes a fit and ready Quality Road and Summer Bird (still improving), I wouldn't hesitate to classify her as one of the GREATEST thoroughbreds of all time.

31 Aug 2009 1:07 PM
da3hoss

Vincent, you're right about HB...I remember after the KD, I looked at my husband and told him "it wasn't his today but this is going to be a great horse"....I'm always right about that stuff, you know ;-)

Dray, Rags almost had a perfect year, too, 'cept she hairline fractured a leg...we'll never know about her...

31 Aug 2009 6:08 PM
Draynay

Vincent, I am not sure what you are talking about the Bull got passed right after the wire.

31 Aug 2009 6:11 PM
Ranagulzion

VINCENT,

I endorse your defence of Holy Bull's outstanding 3YO campaign 100% (his is second only to Secretariat IMO).  It is funny how DRAYNAY has often defended Rachel's narrow victory in the Preakness using the fractions prompted by Big Drama but scoffs at the wicked splits that Holy Bull ran in the '94 Travers to put away the "rabbit" and still had enough to repel the stoutest stretch runner of that crop, Concern, in a 10 FURLONGS race.  This is worth repeating, Holy Bull has done it at 10 FURLONGS! but our beloved Rachel Alexandra still has accomplish it on the track.  We sincerely wish her the best racing luck and will be rooting for her.  Just keeping DRAY honest.  

31 Aug 2009 7:31 PM
LAZMANNICK

Draynay:

I know Rachel is a filly and I applaud what she has accomplished so far.

Buckpasser didn't win the triple crown because he didn't compete (quarter crack).....He was, however, the winter book favorite and defeated the triple crown winners handily that same year.....His season started with a second in an allowance race to his stablemate (not pushed), then he realed off 13 consecutive stakes wins against the TOUGHEST horses in all the divisions, possible the greatest or at least top five greatest 3 y-o campaighns ever.....and as far as knowledgeable horsemen were concerned, Secretariat was the better horse and had a better 3 year-old campaign.

31 Aug 2009 7:43 PM
Ranagulzion

VINCENT,

I endorse your defence of Holy Bull's outstanding 3YO campaign 100% (his is 2nd only to Secretariat IMO).  It is funny how Draynay has often defended Rachel's narrow victory over MTB in the Preakness pointing to the fast fractions prompted by Big Drama in that race but scoffs at Holy Bull's herculean feat of running wicked splits to demolish Tabasco Cat's "rabbit" while sustaining his effort to withstand the stoutest stretch runner of that '94 crop, Concern, at 10Furlongs in the Travers.  This is worth repeating: Holy Bull pulled it off at 10 FURLONGS.

Rachel has yet to accomplish that, and while I am not one of those who doubt her stamina, she has to DO IT in order to be ranked above Holy Bull as a 3YO.  Her consistent authoritative performances are a huge asset on her resume' however, not scoring in top Grade 1 company at 10 FURLONGS has to be admitted as a liability, sticking out like a sore thumb when comparing her with the all time great 3YOs.  Just keeping Draynay et al honest.    

31 Aug 2009 8:14 PM
shane

Guys, I will agree with Draynay on one point ....this filly is freakish and we dont know yet how good she will be. I think she is in the realm of a Secretariat and Ruffian. She just runs horses into the ground and if you watch the haskell and see how loose the reins were on her while laying right off munnings. you can see she is special. So we need to stop trying to knock her and enjoy racing.

01 Sep 2009 9:24 AM
shane

Oh...and when she does run 1 1/4....she will know their socks off. Just for the fact that she has a high cruising speed; if they let her go a 48 for the half or a 1:11 like they did on Saturday....please she will run them into the ground in the strech.....watch and see

01 Sep 2009 9:27 AM
BigWill

Draynay - Yes Bullsbay and Macho Again are grade 1 winners but you know what? So are horses like Dominican, Da'Tara, Frost Giant, Black Seventeen, Telling, and my personal favorite..MONBA. My point? There are Grade 1 Winners(Curlin, Big Brown, Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird, Zenyatta, Gio Ponti) And then there are horses that cross the wire first in a grade 1 race. Not trying to diminish Rachel Alexandra in any way at all. She's just superior every horse in training (except for maybe 1) and this field of "grade 1 winners" won't be much of a test for her.

And Tiz the Best...I was unaware of the situation with Well Armed but thank you for bringing it to my attention.

02 Sep 2009 2:54 PM
Bob Z

I am a huge Rachel Alexandra fan and I think Jess is the shrewdest mudder for how he has chosen Rachels career... but in reading between the lines this is what I've come up with..

Here are Jess' recent comments with translation...

Jess:  "I look at the long term picture," said co-owner Jess Jackson about running in the Woodward. "I felt Rachel could have handled the Travers.

Me:  Really? the 1 1/4 miles had nothing to do with it?

Jess:  We had already defeated (Travers winner) Summer Bird and I felt Quality Road wasn't quite ready for her yet.

Me:  Yes you defeated Summer Bird at your preferred distance of 1 1/8 not the 1 1/4 of the Travers... So you based your decision on one of the competitors (Quality Road) not being ready..?

Jess:  But taking on older horses was the next defining factor. We're not discounting any of the horses in this race. These horses are the best of their age group."

Me:  Yes. Its also at your preferred distance of 1 1/8 with no superstars  entered in it...

Jess:  'Rachel' is working on an eight race winning streak, including all seven starts this year. Lifetime she has won 10 of 13 races for nearly $2.5 million.

"As we did with Curlin, history is always on our mind," Jackson noted about winning a second straight Woodward. "Every time she passes one of the hurdles we've given her we go on to the next. It's all about defining her greatness."

Jackson has strongly emphasized that his filly will not run on the artificial surface at Santa Anita Park, where the Breeders' Cup will again take place. During Tuesday's teleconference he left open 'Rachel's next start.

"We have several options, including the Beldame Stakes if Zenyatta should show up for that," Jackson said.

Me:  So if I understand you would be ok with running another race like the Beldame at 1 1/8?

Jess:  "But if she should win the Woodward, there would be no necessity to run her again.

Me:  Well, if she was good to go in the Travers at 1 1/4 but she didn't because she already beat Summer Bird and Quality Road wouldn't be quality competition then why not do the obvious and run her in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4... You can meet Zenyatta there as the JCGC and the Beldame are on the same day..

Yes you beat Summer Bird at 1 1/8 at the Haskell but you haven't beaten him at 1 1/4 and didn't want to try at the Travers.. You beat a true 1 1/4 mile horse at your preferred distance of 1 1/8... so now kindly put this thing to bed and run in the Jockey Gold... Oh and that nice horse Quality Road that "wasn't ready" at the Travers will have had 5 weeks to rest up and get ready for the 1 1/4 at the Jockey Club..

Jess:  She's a tired horse in a way, which is why we've been giving her long periods of time between races. We plan on racing her in 2010. It's going to be her decision whether she's ready to race after the Woodward. If Zenyatta should come to the Beldame that would certainly direct us to that race."

Me:  If she wins the Woodward Jess only wants to run her at 1 1/8.  If by some outside chance she doesn't win the Woodward then she must be a tired horse which sort of goes against what he just said that she has been getting plenty of rest time...

Also,  Rachel is a tired horse but for a million bucks Rache can always catch up on her sleep after the Beldame.. so for a million dollars they are directed to the Beldame.. no Zenyatta, no million dollars then Rachel must be tired and the Woodard could be her last race as they duck the 1 1/4 until next year...

Okay so Rachel wins the Woodward handily... and wants to convey that she wants to run at 1 1/4... what is she going to do knock on the stall with her hoof 4 times?

I'm not getting something...

Here are the scenarios that I see...

Best Case.. Zenyatta enters the JCGC at 1 1/4 and Rachel accepts the challenge.. that would be the race of the year because of the 1 1/4.. If Rachel could beat Zenyatta and other older horses at 1 1/4 that would put her in some very rarified air...

Next Best.. Zenyatta stays in Cali and Rachel enters the JCGC and tries the older horses at 1 1/4.. If Rachel wins.. she is in the same rarified air.. and Zenyatta loses some prestige..

Third Best: Zenyatta enters the  Beldame and Rachel and her duke it out for 1,000,000 at 1 1/8... Beating Zenyatta would be nice and it would be an "event" type of race but the 1 1/4 puts Rachel in the Stratosphere if she can win...

I personally think Jess is ducking the 1 1/4 as long as possible.. and now he can use the excuse of having a tired horse whether she wins the Woodward or not.. he is already setting the stage.. to be tired...

Maybe somebody could bump up the purse of the Jockey Club Gold Cup to the same as the Beldame... Zenyatta would have more advantage running down Rachel at the 1 1/4 than the 1 1/4... all the other logistics would be the same... travel, track, etc...

Like I said Jess is a very shrewd mudder!  

Good Luck in the Woodward Rache!

02 Sep 2009 3:18 PM
LAZMANNICK

Bob Z

Enjoyed your post.....I personally believe that if Rachel wins the Woodward we won't see her until next year even if Zenyatta comes east.....Zenyatta coming east at this time would only mean one thing.....they aren't afraid of Rachel.....in theory Rachel should win this weekend, but there is something to consider and that's history.  No filly or mare ever won this race and few rarely tried.   The difficulty for 3 y-o fillies when competing against G-1 older males is huge....lol

02 Sep 2009 7:42 PM
Bob Z

LAZMANNICK,

Mind you, I am a fan of Rachel but objectively I don't see her losing at 1 1/8.  I look for it to be similar to the Haskell..

One thing that always confused me is this concept of older horses.. once a horse is schooled and knows how to run... they run .. period.  

So assuming nothing crazy happens like a bad stumble coming out of the gate, I will assume that Rachel is either on the lead going into the first turn or just off of it conceding it to a horse going too fast like a 21 quarter pace.  

In the Mother Goose she was actually 4 lengths behind Flashing and Malibu Prayer when they both went out and did the 1st quarter in 22.57 and the half in 44.66... Calvin was content to back Rachel off at the first quarter pole and drop back 4-5 lengths.  The 3/4 was done at 1:08.86 and she finished the 1 1/8 at 146.33.  My point is I don't see any of the other horses in the Woodward doing a 1:08.86 3/4 and then being able to match the acceleration that Rachel puts out when Calvin steps on the gas.

If there is no pace she will go to the front and cruise.. if the pace is too fast she drops back until just before the 3/4 and then overtakes the early speed horse...

Regarding getting bounced around by the older bigger horses... its tough to get bounced around when you are first out of the gate and able to rate your own pace.. if she gets out clean she is either gone or rating just behind the leader.. The only chance I see for the others would be to come right up alongside Rachel and go 3 wide and try to psyche her out.

About Zenyatta... If Rachel wins the Woodward and comes out healthy there is no way she doesn't go to the Beldame if Zenyatta goes to it.

After the purse was raised to entice them both and Jess just saying   "If Zenyatta should come to the Beldame that would certainly direct us to that race."  

Why would she not go?  

The distance is her preferred distance of 1 1/8.  Jess would have absolutely no case to make for not going...

A purse raised to a million bucks just to entice Rachel and Zenyatta at a distance you like,  against the other female champion,... in New York, when you are already in New York and Zenyatta would have to travel...

That doesn't make any sense.  He would have to go and I think he would want to.  Just beat Zenyatta in the Beldame and call it a year.

If Zenyatta doesn't come east it comes down to either running in the Jockey Club or if Jess doesn't want to take on the 1 1/4 this year and save it for next year then she could be done after the Woodward.

Does it make any sense to go against the older mares in the Beldame if Zenyatta is not there if she just beat older males in the Woodward?

Other than beating Zenyatta if she went I would think that the Beldame would be a step down... why take the risk of an injury when the race doesn't prove anything.. unless you just want to show case her ...

Its going to be interesting.  

I say Rachel by more than 3 lengths in the Woodward.

02 Sep 2009 11:13 PM
LAZMANNICK

Bob Z

Good points.

First, in racing 3 y-o fillies against older horses, in this case Rachel, I think it goes beyond mere ability.  In my opinion, there seems to be something psychological going on that we will probably never understand, only the horses do.  There are also maturity and strength issues.  These are tangibles that have obviously played a part in the past…..otherwise given the years when the handicap division has been weak and there have been some strong fillies-mares out there, they would have tried to win a route G-1 race against older males more often.

As far as Rachel racing in the Beldame…..think about it.  First off, I don’t think we will see Zenyatta come east, at least not at this point.  However, if she did, it truly would mean that the Moss’s are tired of hearing that they are second best and really do think that they would win, even at 1-1/8M.  And don’t forget about the other possibilities in that race…..Careless Jewel, Sara Louis, Icon Project, Musical Note and Game Face just to name a few.

Why, if Rachel  should win the Woodward, would they run in this race and risk a loss when they wouldn’t have to?  Jackson has already indicated that if she wins the Woodward she might shut down for the year and I can see that happening.

Anyway, just a thought…..lol

03 Sep 2009 5:15 AM
Jockeykid

what's wrong with running a 3 year old filly with the older horses? I don't see anything in the rule books stating that 3 year olds shouldn't be running against older horses, especially fillies. I believe Jess Jackson is trying his best to prepare this filly to run races, for the fans of the racing industry. I don't see no easy way out. they are race horses that are competing against each other, and I certainly don't think that there is any easy way out. A horse could lose a horse at the starting gate, no matter what their competition is.

03 Sep 2009 11:16 AM
jockeykid

go, rachel alexandra

03 Sep 2009 11:17 AM
Bob Z

LAZMANNICK,

You wrote:  There are also maturity and strength issues.

This is what I don't understand.  Regarding strength, they aren't pulling weight other than their own and the jockey... its about speed and how long can that speed be maintained over distance.. which I guess is defined as stamina..

If Rachel has the stamina to go very fast for a distance of 1 1/8 which she obviously does because that is her preferred distance, I don't see where "strength" comes into play...

It doesn't matter that Summer Bird could possibly pull a cart with more weight in it thus being "stronger".

Its a test of speed over distance.  That's why I don't think Rachel will be running at a 1 1/4 this year... because she has not been trained to go at speed at a distance of 1 1/4.

Any bumping that goes on during a race to me is more a mental or as you say a psychological issue than a strength issue which could possibly be enhanced through more maturity.

I agree with you in that there is probably horse psychology going on that we will never be privy to...

Thats what I meant when I said "what would happen if 2-3 horses come up along side Rachel during the first half mile and started eyeballing  her...

I think that would be more of an issue after the 3/4 pole if there are 2-3 horses still with her ...  as the gas tank gets used up there may be some horse psychology that says... "damn I'm running the same fast way I always do and now I have 2 horses right with me...  

If you think about it.. Rachel has not had that happen to her.. early in the race.. yes like in the Haskell when they were 3 wide up to the 3/4 pole but after that there are only 2 possibilities ...

Either the other 2 ... Munnings and Summer Bird reached their stamina maximum of speed over distance and began slowing down with Rachel able to maintain it... or and this is scary.. the other horses were maintaining their speed and Rachel was accelerating.  Or its also possible that Munnngs and Summer Bird were accelerating slightly.

If thats the case that means that Rachels rate of acceleration was much greater as she was able to open up to a 6 length lead.  That means that Munnings and Summer Bird were not "psyched out" but gave it their physical all and still got dusted by 6 lengths.. that's even more scary..

Strength and power are not quite the same thing as power is force times speed... but based on what I have seen so far I believe it is safe to say that at 1 1/8 Rachel is the more powerful..because of her ability to accelerate... up to that distance..

At 1 1/4, possibly a different story.

We don't know yet...

If you think about Zenyatta she is usually 10 lengths behind meaning she is producing less output, less strength and power are being exerted.

Then when its time to run the strength and power are called on.

So hypothetically if Rachel and Zenyatta were to finish in a dead heat who would you say is the stronger or more powerful?

I would say Rachel because she maintained a higher output over a longer time... at 1 1/8..

Thats why its in Zenyattas best interest to try and get Rachel to run in a 1 1/4 race. Zenyattas power curve peaks at the end of the race.  So at 1 1/8 I don't see Zenyatta beating Rachel.  At the 1 1/4 we don't know about the depth of Rachels gas tank... but at the 1 1/8 I don't think anybody is going to beat her...

Good conversation,  thanks.

03 Sep 2009 12:06 PM
LAZMANNICK

Bob Z

Whatever.....I guess my kind of thinking doesn't cut it although it would be really nice to know, Rachel or no Rachel, why don't 3 y-o fillies not only don't beat, but shy away from racing older males in a top grade dirt route race.  And why do you have to go all the way back to Princessnesian in 1968 to see even an older filly defeat older males in a G-1 or equivalent at 1-1/4M on dirt?  There must be something to it.

03 Sep 2009 2:39 PM
Bob Z

LAZMANNICK,

Of course your thinking cuts it.

You wrote: Why don't 3 y-o fillies not only don't beat, but shy away from racing older males in a top grade dirt route race.

I don't know.  Why did the owners of Rachel at the time Dolphus Morrison and Mike Lauffer and the trainer Hal Wiggins say that the girls should only compete against girls?

Thats my point I don't understand why its not more common for the girls to compete against the boys when the physical aspects like speed and stamina should dictate what happens.

Jess rolls in and depending on who you believe spends as much as 10 million for her and 2 weeks later has her running in the Preakness.

Why?  Because he believes that she can win..

Why?  Because at 1 3/16 he felt that that Rachels physical ability... speed and stamina for that distance was superior to the males..

So why don't more females take on the males?  

Because they don't have the same physical attributes like a Rachel.

That's why as an uneducated outsider I believe we are witnessing greatness here.. But they have to run the race ... and anything can happen..  cheers..

03 Sep 2009 4:55 PM
LAZMANNICK

Bob Z

Good talking to you.....Let's hope Rachel wins by ten this weekend.....that would really be something.

03 Sep 2009 5:22 PM

Recent Posts

Recommended

Video

Social Media

More Blogs

Archives