Apple Blossom Time

Oaklawn Park made all the right moves with their big Apple Blossom announcement. They put up the money, they changed the distance, and in short they dangled one heckuva carrot in front of Jess Jackson and Jerry and Ann Moss.

It all makes for great theater and great anticipation. But there are logistics to consider, and at some point the theater will collide with reality. Jackson commented at the Eclipse Awards that Rachel Alexandra was behind in her schedule due to the weather, adding that the Apple Blossom was unlikely. He has tempered that a bit, but still has left Rachel’s status up in the air, and rightly so. Of course, $5 million can turn unlikely into likely in a heartbeat, but Jackson is not one to do anything if it isn’t well calculated and thought out, despite the monetary lure.

The next obvious question is: can Rachel Alexandra be in the shape of her life for the biggest race of her life off a seven-month layoff? It obviously would be difficult for her to get in a prep race, considering Jackson cast doubts about her even making the Apple Blossom. But perhaps Fair Grounds can write an allowance exhibition race for her three or four weeks before the Apple Blossom. Seven months is a long time between races, especially having to come back in a race of this magnitude against an opponent like Zenyatta, who would have an advantage if John Shirreffs gets a prep race in her.

On the other side, Shirreffs mentioned the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I) as a possible first start back for Zenyatta. By running in the Santa Margarita, Zenyatta will have to make her 6-year-old debut carrying at least 130 pounds, unless Santa Anita racing secretary Rick Hammerle feels, because it's her first start of the year, she deserves the same weight she carried in the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) last June when she easily defeated pretty much the same caliber horses she’d be facing now. That’s going to be a tough decision with so much at stake.

If Zenyatta does run in the Santa Margarita and escapes with her unbeaten record intact, she would have to ship to Arkansas and come back in only three weeks, something she has never had to do. Her shortest spacing between races was the 24 days between her career debut and a first-level allowance race. The alternative would be to go straight into the Apple Blossom off a five-month layoff or look for another prep. But Shirreffs said he has no concerns about running her back in three weeks, because of the amount of time between the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Santa Margarita. He added that the Apple Blossom, where she scored her one and only dirt victory, has always been in the plans for Zenyatta, whether or not Rachel shows up.

As exciting as the prospects of the two super fillies meeting at a neutral track for $5 million are, it’s not as cut and dry as one would think. This is not to say it won’t or shouldn’t happen, it’s just a reality check that there are circumstances involved, especially regarding Rachel Alexandra.

But in the theater not all scripts are perfect and it sometimes takes some adlibbing to make it work. All we can do is sit back and let the scriptwriters iron it all out and come up with an opening scene that will knock the audience out of their seats. If they can’t, there are plenty of other scenes that can be played out the remainder of the year.

In discussing both star players, the Mosses have gone all in, so to speak, with their decision to unretire Zenyatta and risk her unbeaten streak, and to some extent her legacy. It is a big gamble, considering all the fanfare, all the accolades, and all the farewell parties. No horse, or any athlete for that matter, could have made a more grandiose exit. The question now is: what lies ahead for Queen Z and how do you keep her unbeaten as she tackles new frontiers and new obstacles?

Of course, her main obstacle will be Rachel Alexandra, who beat her out in the Eclipse voting, not only as the sport’s reigning queen, but Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of all Turfdom. But Zenyatta still has her loyal legions who believe she is the rightful heir to the throne.

In mapping out a schedule for the entire year, which no doubt will be include a number of other out-of-town dirt races, Shirreffs and the Mosses will have to decide how many times they want to ship her back and forth across the country and still have a relatively fresh horse for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The logical move would be to make intermittent raids back east, preferably searching out Rachel Alexandra. In between, she can finally deviate from the same schedule she was on the past two years – she has gone way beyond races like the grade I Vanity and Clement Hirsch. Now her summer sights would have to be set on the grade I Hollywood Gold Cup and/or Pacific Classic and even the Jockey Club Gold Cup in the fall.

If Zenyatta does lose and fails to emulate Personal Ensign, will it hurt her legacy? Let’s just say it will make her mortal and remove the unbeaten aura that surrounds her, but even if she should let’s say split with Rachel Alexandra and also win a couple of additional grade I stakes against the boys and win again on the dirt, she will not lose her status as one of the greatest fillies of all time. She will instead be compared to a different type of filly, such as Gallorette, who constantly ventured outside the box to face the best male horses in the country and was not afraid to get beat. Racing fans and historians love throwbacks, and a successful campaign of taking on the best males and females and traveling across the country would make Zenyatta a throwback, the likes of which we haven’t seen for nearly four decades. And even if she should lose one or two races, it is her victories that will be remembered far more than her defeats.

As for Rachel Alexandra, the sky’s the limit. Racing against the boys is old hat and she has already entered the realm of throwbacks.

Jackson and Asmussen really don’t have many opportunities to race her against colts the first half of the year. The grade I Stephen Foster would be the most logical spot, but the real bold move would be the Met Mile (gr. I). The drawback of running in that race, however, is the possibility of gutting her. That one-turn mile is tough and often knocks out a horse that has a grueling race.

If the Apple Blossom doesn’t happen, there is nothing wrong with starting the year off against fillies in races such as the La Troienne (gr. II), where she could also meet Zenyatta, and the Ogden Phipps (gr. I) before tackling the boys again in such prestigious races as the grade I Whitney and Jockey Club Gold Cup prior to the BC Classic. The traditional pool of stakes Jackson and Asmussen have to choose from include the La Troienne, Met Mile, Stephen Foster, Ogden Phipps, Delaware Handicap, Whitney, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup. A lot of careful thinking and planning are going to have to go into it. That is the price of greatness.

The bottom line is that 2010 should be filled with great drama and high emotion. It’s already started, regardless of what happens with the Apple Blossom. If they do wind up meeting at Oaklawn, you can bet Hot Springs will be hotter than it’s ever been or ever will be.

214 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Maria

If Jackson doesn't think Rachel will be ready, he should give an idea of what race he is pointing for.

Maybe the Met Mile or the S Foster. It doesn't have to be the 1st week in April.

04 Feb 2010 2:31 PM
womanowar

Well put, as always Steve.  Remember Jess Jackson is the master chess player.   He will allow the Moss Team to make their first move then counter, with the entire board in play.   I fully expect Jess to wait to see where the Mosses play the first move prior to him committing his Queen.

04 Feb 2010 2:38 PM
Bill Daly

This is going to be a tough match to pull off. Both parties are not going to be willing to face the other unless they are 100% ready. I doubt whether either one will be ready for the other until at least summer, if not fall.  Granted, that much money can throw a monkey wrench into anybody's thinking, but these guys aren't paupers and the pressure to jump at a big pot of money isn't necessarily the greatest imperative.  I'd love to see it, but I don't think it's going to happen until the BC at Churchill.

04 Feb 2010 2:48 PM
Shamfan49

Upon reading this news, I checked out my ticket order from Oaklawn for that day. Now I feel like a genius - 3 ducats above the finish line! I saw Rachel win over that oval last year, and started attending Apple Blossom weekend when I learned I had missed Zenyatta's victory there 2 years ago.

04 Feb 2010 2:49 PM
Matthew W

Whatever---I'm hoping they give Zenyatta a race at 1 1/4, say, the Classic---don't duck her since they seem willing to go shorter vs Rachel, ya know? If Rachel gets her in Apple Blossom, I hope she's there when the distance gets longer---And I wouldn't be so sure of Rachel beating her at 1 1/8, either, after all, Big Z has been at the top for two seasons, and we have yet to see if Rachel is the same horse she was last year.....

04 Feb 2010 2:57 PM
Tiznowbaby

The biggest factor to me is will the other fillies and mares invited to the Apple Blossom actuall enter the starting gate?

I'm not interested in a match race because their running styles make it pretty much a foregone conclusion.

04 Feb 2010 3:04 PM
carolyn

Tisnowbaby, I agree! I don't think any of the other fillies or mares would even want to enter in the gate,against these two.

04 Feb 2010 3:10 PM
Windy City

I can't wait to see Queen Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra the Great face each other. I'm so on Rachel side, but everytime I see a replay of BC I get this feeling that Zen will beat Rachel...I hope I'm wrong :-) Go Girls and stay safe! I also have a feeling that Mr Jackson will take a lot of time before letting his Girl run, why he wants to wait that long? Didn't Rachel have enough time off?

04 Feb 2010 3:15 PM
Diane J

I bought my Apple Blossom tickets and reserved a hotel room weeks ago when I heard there was a chance of Zenyatta running at Oaklawn. I know it's early in the year, but this race addresses all the concerns either camp has - the surface is right for Jackson, the distance and weights are fair, no detention barn, neutral sight (although Z would be traveling further), and the champions are racing for "millions", not chump change, as Jackson has said in the past.  With a five million dollar purse, I doubt they will have trouble filling the field - there are other quality fillies and mares out there besides the big A and Z!

04 Feb 2010 3:21 PM
Paul P in DC

Let's see $5,000,000 (assuming the standard 60% for first, 20 % for second, 12 % for third, etc.) means that 3rd place would receive $600,000 which is double what they would have received if they had won this race without Rachel and Zenyetta. (Would have been 60% of $500,000 = $300,000). Why wouldn't they still enter this race for the 3rd place money and get the Grade 1 under their belt somewhere else.

04 Feb 2010 3:27 PM
Virgil Fox

Steve,

With Zenyatta kicking off her campaign slightly earlier in 2010 than in 2009, and, given some of the possibilities that you outlined in your recent ATO broadcast (I realize they was purely hypothetical), when do you think might be a reasonable / likely time to expect a break for Zenyatta perhaps to freshen up before the BC?

If it’s a dumb question, just tell me, I can handle it.

- Peace

04 Feb 2010 3:30 PM
Leon

It is not gonna happen at Oaklawn.

Rachel will not run vs Zenyatta off a 7-month layoff, and she simply doen not have enough time to run a prep race.

It'll be more likely to see them at Churchill in May, or another track (Saratoga??) later in the year.

04 Feb 2010 3:30 PM
Dona

My take on the whole thing is by upping the ante for the race, it makes it more attractive for the also rans. The invitees are more likely fillies or mares that have been beaten before so running for a big also ran purse will take the sting out of the "having no chance" mentality. Of course, we all know there is always a chance and so do the also runners. It's no disgrace to lose to either star and a fat payday will help smooth a lot of egos.

04 Feb 2010 3:32 PM
Greg J.

   I think if this race goes off, The rest of the field would be awesome, Even if they think it is a foregone conclusion that Zenyatta and Rachel finish 1,2.  If the purse structure is the same as the classic(Also a 5 million dollar purse), For third place the amount is $495K, fourth place is $300K, fifth place would be $150K, That in itself would be incentive, and the outside chance of beating these two champions...

04 Feb 2010 3:36 PM
War Admiral

Tiznowbaby and Carolyn:

What are you two talking about?

The field will be packed for the 2010 Apple Blossom.

The top five positions pay:

First: $2,700,000

Second:  $900,000

Third:   $495,000

Forth:   $300,000

Fifth:   $150,000

What inferior filly/mare on the North American continent is going to pass up money like this for third through fifth place?

04 Feb 2010 3:38 PM
Assault

Zenyatta will absolutely "C-R-U-S-H" Rachel Alexandra at Oaklawn.

It's all over but the crying for the connections of Rachel Alexandra.

Zenyatta will win about seven Grade I's this year and then they will retire her "Horse of the Year" campaign by September.

The "Breeders Cup" is not important.

04 Feb 2010 3:48 PM
Gene Viti

How much would Jess pay the connections of Careless Jewel(If she's ready for the race) to stay away?  Imagine CJ and Rachel open up 10 on the backside with Flashing, Unusual Heat and Milwaukee Appeal in midpack while Life is Sweet, Stardom Bound and Zenyatta all trail through a 1/2 in 45.1!!!

What would that be like turning for home?

04 Feb 2010 3:58 PM
Somethingroyal

With Rachel behind in her training I can't see the meet up in the Apple Blossom. Keep in mind, should Zenyatta run in the Santa Margarita. She'll have a big advantage before heading to Oaklawn. There are plenty of races between now and the Breeder's Cup for them to meet up in.    

04 Feb 2010 4:02 PM
Secretariat

Leon,

Rachel Alexandra is so good that she should be able to beat Zenyatta anywhere/anytime.

Right?

Zenyatta is coming off a 5 month vacation herself.

If Rachel is a "throwback", then she should be able to conquer the legendary Zenyatta on April 3, 2010, without any hesitant thoughts or excuses from her owner or trainer.

04 Feb 2010 4:11 PM
John

This has all the earmarks of an easy Zenyatta victory. She's in shape and the distance.

I don't even think that Rachel Alexandra will finish second - Life is Sweet will for a 1-2 Moss entry sweep.

Yeah, baby!

04 Feb 2010 4:24 PM
Karen in Indiana

Maybe the reason they made the purse so high is so other horses will have the motivation to enter even if they only get third or fourth. How many races are there that a filly or mare could win that kind of money and not have to run against the boys. But I wouldn't count on the race including both of them. My prediction is that Jess Jackson will do his best to come up with a reason to dodge Zenyatta as long as possible.

04 Feb 2010 4:27 PM
womanowar

Heck, If it was legal I'd enter one of my 1/2 green 2 year olds for those pay outs.  All joking aside, using the terms,"CRUSH Rachel"?   Child Please.

Don't threaten a sleeping giant, this one just woke up from her winter's nap and has never backed down from a threat in her life.

It will be late Spring, probably at Churchill and the distance will be the determining factor.

04 Feb 2010 4:29 PM
MOKEY

I don't think its going to happen. Mr. Jackson already said that race was too soon for Rachel's come back. I do believe both will go to a race where it's a weight per age and not a handicap weights.

I don't think that losing a race for either horse is BAD! I mean these two horses are the kinds people wait their whole lives for. I just want both to race sound, and retire full of health. They both deserve that.

04 Feb 2010 4:30 PM
Emily

Since the race seems to come up too soon for both horses, would it be possible for Oaklawn to move the race's date? It seems like they would do anything possible to attract these two.

04 Feb 2010 4:31 PM
Kelso

>>> Oaklawn Race Records <<<

Zenyatta (Oaklawn: 1-0)

2008 Apple Blossom

Beyer - 104

23.47

47.30

1:11.61

1:36.59

1:42:64 [6.05 closing]

_______________________

Rachel Alexandra (Oaklawn: 2-0)

2009 Martha Washington

Beyer - 100

23.04

47.02

1:11.99

1:24.46

1:36.40

2009 Fantasy

Beyer - 101

23.45

47.42

1:12.57

1:37.28

1:43.35 [6.07 closing]

04 Feb 2010 4:41 PM
Tiznowbaby

War Admiral, it's an invitational. So again, who are they going to invite, and who will actually go into the starting gate. A couple of "inferior fillies" still leaves a match-race scenario.

04 Feb 2010 4:49 PM
Niatross-1980

Gene Viti,

Answer to your question:

It would make Rachel Alexandra look like she just hit a brick wall.

Note:

The trainer and owner of Rachel Alexandra would be heading for the hills.

04 Feb 2010 4:50 PM
Joanna

Unfortunately it is just too soon for Rachel....would love to see them meet at Saratoga...after all at Saratoga you can practically pet them in their stalls...Where is Careless Jewel? Would love to see her comeback too....Haven't heard a peep from her since Breeder's Cup, she looked so promising...

04 Feb 2010 4:54 PM
ThisCatGetsAround

Assualt- i would tread lightly man. Horseracing, is never predictable. 7 G1's in one year?? that would mean winning a grade 1 race every month until september, if you are correct in missing the breeders cup. That is a monstrosity of a campaign you have thought up in your mind, and definitely not having the Horse's health and best interest in mind. As always, Z's fans tend to be boisterous and unrealistic. She is not God, she is queen of the california racing circuit. I don't hate Z, in fact, i give her all the credit. She is a great mare. I just don't really like her fans. They tend to be unsportsmanlike, and bashing another horse without logical or horse-sense reasoning.

04 Feb 2010 4:58 PM
Bill Daly

Steve, you mentioned Gallorette as an example of a mare who took on all comers.  I don't remember who owned or trained her, but they were obviously sportsmen of the highest order.  Messrs. Jackson and Moss could use the example Gallorette's people set and they would be remembered forever with fondness by all racing fans the world over.  Not afraid to get beat! That is the essence of true sportsmanship.

04 Feb 2010 4:59 PM
Ranagulzion

Steve,

I quite fancy your "when theatre collides with reality" remark.  The drama surrounding these two flying fillies is exhillarating and the reality is gonna be even better.  Lets continue to enjoy the theatre.  I hope that the connections of Informed Decision ARE PAYING ATTENTION.  That mare is bred to stretch out and having conquered the sprints last year she could explore new horizons and be numbered among the great ones in 2010.  What do you think Steve?  Certainly she would have nothing to lose or fear from strutting her stuff against the giant ones Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. She possesses the speed, pace and pedigree to challenge going two turns if the connections are enterprising ...and with 5 Million dollars up for grab it would be worth a shot.

04 Feb 2010 5:09 PM
Exterminator

Can you imagine these 2 running on the under card of the Kentucky Derby,,I hope so,because I am gonna be there,and if Zenyatta lays back like she loves to do,and rachel does not get boxed,,Rachel wins by 1 and 1/2 lengths,because she can hold off a late charge,look what she did in the woodward,after a grueling schedule,,she did not race lightly all year,and stay in one state... Rachel is only 4 Zenyatta is 6 she is way ahead in the game as far as I am concerned!

04 Feb 2010 5:15 PM
Horselover

Zenyatta and Rachel don't need a match race. They need some more fillies and mares. Cause Zenyatta's running style won't permit to Rachel's. I hope they consider something. Zenyatta could go for the Dubai World cup for more money and win more money if she wins. So consider wisely other possibilities could be out there. Go Zenyatta!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

04 Feb 2010 5:19 PM
Pam S.

It won't get any better than this for either camp, I think.  For something we the fans have been dreaming of for so long, I say there's no time like the present (meaning April 3).  There is the nagging concern about Rachel not being very far along in her training, but maybe she will show everyone she's ready, even without a prep.  If Rachel runs, the connections will be demonstrating their confidence in her, which they have always done, right?

From what I read, Zenyatta will be there no matter what, barring injury, because the Apple Blossom was in the plans anyway.  I agree that $5 mil will definitely attract some other runners.  The crowd will be enormous, there will be TV coverage (Road to the Derby show already planned for April 3; I think they would want to "tweak" the coverage), and all in all it would be a historic event.  I can't want to see if it all falls into place.

04 Feb 2010 5:21 PM
Sarah

ThisCatGetsAround, I totally agree! I have respect for both horses, but the bashing of RA from Z fans is quite ridiculous! Even on YT.

04 Feb 2010 5:28 PM
Exterminator

And I would like to add that if they race, and I hope they do,that no matter who wins,neither on of those girls are gonna be losers,,either way you look at it,you cannot be ashamed to say you were beaten by either one of them,go ask the hundred plus horses who have fallen,nothing to be ashamed of!!!!

04 Feb 2010 5:41 PM
maryann727

Too bad the Apple Blossom isn't run a bit later because the track is favorable to both Queen Zenyatta and Rachel the Great.  The sensational purse offered may not be enough because of the date.  Re:Sarah's comment "the bashing of RA from Z fans is quite ridiculous!", I do think the bashing went both ways.  I agree it's sad when fans resort to tearing down the other trying to elevate their choice rather than just stating the positives about their favorite.  One thing is sure, these two superstars stoke passion and I look forward to seeing them run in the same race, but not in a match race.

An afterthought about the perception of negative comments toward RA.  Could it be that her human connections are more controversial, less likeable?  I'm a huge fan of Zenyatta and I think I would have been more conflicted if Rachel had stayed with her original trainer.  And I do have the feeling that Mr. Jackson, despite sometimes seeming a publicity hound, is more reluctant to have RA race Z, that the Mosses are more willing to race their beloved mare, to have Zenyatta race Rachel.  Thank you for reading my subjective musings.    

04 Feb 2010 6:49 PM
dr fager01

gene viti, you a wicked piece, you a wiked piece.

04 Feb 2010 6:56 PM
nonnonheinous

This would be very exciting if it happens, though RA will have to train lights out for her to be ready so soon. I'm not too optimistic.

I'm especially happy that they lengthened the race to 1 1/8, since it's fairly universally assumed that RA has the advantage below 1 1/8, and Zen probably has the advantage over 1 1/8. Having it at this distance is ideal. We all want to see a fair match up.

Sarah and ThisCatGetsAround--

To be fair, I've seen equally obnoxious behavior from fans of both great these fillies--it's not limited to the Zenyatta fans by any stretch. And I'm making this observation as a fan, supporter, and admirer of both horses.

04 Feb 2010 6:56 PM
Ida Lee

Both these ladies are Treasures. I adore both of them and would love to see them in the same race. But only if they are physically ready to race at their best. Also, with a $5 million purse, I would think that even 3rd, 4th and even 5th place would pay good money. So I don't thing getting other fillies and mares to compete will be an issue.  Let me apologize for throwing the ice water on everyone but this being horse racing, what if our girls don't win, place or show? Remember one Mine That Bird? The 50-1 little guy? Don't think it will happen BUT ....

04 Feb 2010 7:11 PM
Lmaris

I seriously doubt the Mosses want any part of Rachel, who is unlikely to be ready by Apple Blossom.

Unlike Zenyatta, who has been in training solidly since the BCC, Rachel has been given several weeks off to grow and mature.  Remember she's not even 4 calendar years old yet.   Weather at the Fairgrounds has been horrendous this winter and it has set her training back significantly.

And its not like Zenyatta's going to run on 3 weeks rest. Has she ever done that?  Unlike Rachel, Zenyatta hasn't had 2 races within a month in 2 years.  Last spring at just 3 years old, Rachel won 3 (Fantasy G2, KY Oaks G1, and Preakness G1) within just 6 weeks.

If the purse is $5 million, there will likely be a good field.  Even 3rd place is likely to pay more than the winner of the race at $500,000 purse.

04 Feb 2010 7:49 PM
sidekickflats

Right track but wrong time.  I just think it is too early for them both to be at their best.  But I have tickets so I'm hedging my bets!

It will be interesting to see where each mare goes this year.

04 Feb 2010 7:50 PM
Householder

What we do know is that Zenyatta runs well fresh.  Take a look at what she did to Life is Sweet in the Milady coming off a 7 month layoff.  Life is Sweet had just tore up the Santa Anita winter/spring meet winning the El Encino, La Canada, and Santa Margarita over grade 1 winner Santa Terisita (Winner of the Santa Maria).  

Take a look at what Zenyatta did to Ginger Punch in the Apple Blossom (Thanks for sharing Kelso).  She beat her by 8 lengths.  She humiliated her in just her 4th start.  Amazing...can't wait.  Don't take the 130 lbs Moss.  Let her rest more for her showdown.  

04 Feb 2010 7:56 PM
marktoothaker

This would attract attention we havent seen in years. Making my living in this business I hope and pray this happens. If not OP somewhere please.

04 Feb 2010 8:40 PM
carolyn

I myself, don't care when the two meet up. I just can't wait to see Zenyatta on dirt, she and her connections have had that thrown in their faces long enough, I think most people didn't think Z would ever leave California, I am so glad that she will , I think Z is going to be fabulous on dirt because she loves it, like she loved it when she beat GP in "08". I do believe that Z will be at the Apple Blosson this year, I'm not to sure about Rachel. I don't think that JJ will want to go up against her just yet, maybe after a race or so and then race the two.

04 Feb 2010 8:44 PM
T.J.

Lmaris:

Rachel *is* officially 4 years old now; she was born January 29th, so that's not a factor.

Having said that, I don't see why Oaklawn is trying so hard to get them both in the Apple Blossom. If Rachel's connections don't feel she's ready by then, I seriously doubt any amount of cash is going to temp them to throw her in the race just because that's what people want to see.

04 Feb 2010 9:22 PM
Golden Gate

Wow!!! is all I can say. This is a wonderful idea and I really hope that Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are ready for the Apple Blossom Invitational. I also can't wait to see who is invited and accepts of (for) the other 8 glorious beautiful magnificent creatures.

I live in Arkansas and just want everyone to know that even in December when tickets went on sale that the Apple Blossom seats were getting bought up quickly along with the Arkansas Derby tickets.

Everyone that wants a ticket needs to get on the phone tomorrow early and buy them. The number is 1 800 OAKLAWN and the ticket sales ladies are some of the nicest people you will ever speak with. Saturday tickets cost $4.50 and gate entrance is $2.00. They take Visa or Master Card but not American Express or Discovery.

And no I don't work at Oaklawn(-:

Now here is what the purse distribution will be:

 " Both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta will have to start or the race value will revert to $500,000 guaranteed.  If one of them fails to enter, the field will not be limited to 10 starters and allowances will apply.  With both starting, the $5 million purse will be split with 50% to the winner, 20% to second, 10% to third, 6% to fourth, 4% to fifth and 2% each to the remaining starters. The field will be limited to 10 starters. “If you run last, you get $100,000,” said Pope. "

Also I am going to tell anyone who really wants to come and see the races that Hot Springs is one of the nicest towns in America. If you come be prepared to do a little sight seeing too.

Hope they run and hope ya'll can come to our beautiful state

04 Feb 2010 9:43 PM
90Proof

Steve:

Rachel and the Met Mile! That is a great idea, though I'd agree she could do herself in if the field was strong enough. Imagine Rachel, Musket Man and Quality Road knocking heads at a mile. Wow! Zenyatta never ceases to amaze me, I fully expected her to win the Classic, because on that surface she was the class of the field. She is the greatests synthetc horse to ever live. No matter how short lived that may be. If she races on dirt all year she will have to show a new dimension because you know as I do you can't spot 'em 10 or 12 on the main track in the east. I just hope no matter what they both finish up this year sound, thats the most important thing.

04 Feb 2010 10:08 PM
The King of the Derby

Kelso.. Nice stats on thier oaklawn visits. Both horses with out a doubt will strategies to give thier respective mares the best shot. This years campaign will probably be short for both, but if RA runs the table on her races it will probably culminate at churchill breeders cup. Probably not the same import for the Moss's  Look for Z to run in california first, Apple blossom and then back to california for next move. They will only meet once. It will have to be on dirt and it will come much later than most people think.

04 Feb 2010 10:35 PM
Tom Conway

Careless Jewel.........Music Note.................................Let's invite Goldikova too!!!!!!.........I hope they didn't breed her yet!

04 Feb 2010 10:39 PM
George

ZENYATTA  -  guaranteed!

04 Feb 2010 10:46 PM
snow

Steve,

You should've been a politician with all the ready made excuses and side stepping that you've offered up in this article.  I, for one, am tired of all the excuses as to why these two horses haven't raced against each other.  Your article should extol the benefits of them entering this race instead all you offer up are more ready made excuses as to why they should put  off facing each other to another place and time.

04 Feb 2010 11:16 PM
Leon

Secretariat:

Don't be so bitter. They will run Rachel when she's good & ready.

04 Feb 2010 11:26 PM
John T

I doubt very much that Rachel and

Zenyatta will meet in the Apple Blossom because although 5 million dollars is a lot to most of us it,s

nothing to the people who own these

horses.

I would be surprised if they meet

before the Breeders Cup unless some track comes up with an offer that both can,t refuse.

04 Feb 2010 11:38 PM
Bull Lea

90 Proof,

Watch the 2008 Grade I Apple Blossom before making any further false statements.

Zenyatta is 12 lengths behind Breeders Cup Distaff Champion "Ginger Punch" going into the far turn. At the wire, Zenyatta ends up 12 lenghts in front of "Ginger Punch".

Watch the video in the following BloodHorse article:

"Zenyatta Blows Away Apple Blossom Foes"

www.bloodhorse.com/.../zenyatta-blows-away-apple-blossom-foes

05 Feb 2010 1:44 AM
GunBow

Is there any possibility of moving the Apple Blossom back a week and run it on Arkansas Derby day, April 10th? That would give Rachel an extra week, because it appears that it's Rachel's conditioning that is the key to any Apple Blossom matchup.  It sounds like Sherriffs and Moss are all set to run Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom, Rachel or no Rachel.  So, it boils down to if Rachel can be ready.

I'm not a trainer, but I simply don't see why Rachel CANNOT be ready by April 3rd or the 10th. If Zenyatta had remained retired and Oaklawn would have put up $5  million just to lure Rachel, I truly believe Jess Jackson would give the green light to Asmussen.

Given where Rachel is in her training, it does appear unlikely that Rachel could get a prep in before the Apple Blossom, although I believe it possible.  Let's be honest, Jackson and Asmussen have been extremely conservative with Rachel since the Woodward, giving her more time away from the track than most probably expected, and only beginning training within the past week.

Jackson and Asmussen have the right to make a big deal about running in the Apple Blossom without a prep, but trainers have become so versed in bringing a horse up to a big race off works alone; in fact, the trend is for less racing and more training leading up to most big events.  Just in the recent history of the Apple Blossom, Wayne Lukas brought 2-time defending champ, Azeri, back from a 7 month layoff and a brief retirement in 2004 to beat a very good field and earn a career best 112 Beyer.  I can certainly understand Team Rachel wanting to get a prep in before the Apple Blossom, but ultimately I do not feel the lack of a prep is a 100% valid excuse.  Like I said, if Zenyatta wasn't possible for the race and the purse was $5 million(or maybe just $1 million), I think Jackson would be more inclined to give it a go and that Asmussen could have Rachel ready.  After all, April 3rd is still 2 months away.  

With all this said, if Rachel does not run in the Apple Blossom, as I anticipate, I would certainly be disappointed but I would not be critical.  Rachel is a special living creature, and her health trumps everything else.  If Jackson and Asmussen believe that the Apple Blossom is just to soon for Rachel to be facing Zenyatta and others in such a big race, they have every right to keep her out.  Yet, in the "Rachel-Zenyatta War", which has so far been fought only on paper(or computer screens), a Rachel no-show would definitely be a propaganda coup for Team Zenyatta.  For, Team Zenyatta could rightfully claim that Rachel's absence is an admission by her connections that they do not believe Rachel can beat Zenyatta with Rachel coming off a 7 month layoff and with Zenyatta having had a prep.

05 Feb 2010 1:55 AM
John Boudreau

Steve<<Great Read as Usual>>They should of Moved it Back a week to Ark. Derby Day>>Knowing Both Girls are Comin off Layoff's>>April 3rd is Only>>56 days from Today>> OUCH!!!

05 Feb 2010 6:58 AM
Rachel

The "Iron Lady's" connections weren't afraid to throw her into the mix, either, and what kind of cad would diss her for losing once in a while?

05 Feb 2010 7:25 AM
marktoothaker

Well said Golden Gate, Oaklawn should put you to work for them. I grew up there as well and OP is more than capable of hosting a event of this magnitude.

05 Feb 2010 8:45 AM
CajunCountry

Ah, the drama and anticipation. Ill be on the edge of my seat, waiting with bated breath, to see how this plays out.  Better than theater.

05 Feb 2010 9:08 AM
txhorsefan

Another great article, Steve - what a script, indeed.  Plenty of drama going on, but I'm not sure there is much comedy to be had because the divisiveness of both camps is starting to come out already.  I do hope Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra will race one another in a full field, but in other ways I dread the outcome because it will mean that one of them did not win. That will lead to more name-calling and horse bashing, which is so tiresome.  May both fillies train eagerly, stay sound and healthy and let us enjoy them when ever and where ever they race.  

05 Feb 2010 9:14 AM
Maureen

Hey Steve: Do you think that ESPN has finally figured out that they really blew televising 2009? Let's start the pressure on them now to give horse racing fans real coverage.

05 Feb 2010 9:38 AM
cbiskit

Rachel Alexandra wont be in the gate. Unfortunate but she will not be in prime condition for this race. There is not enough time.

As much as I would love to see this happen, I want them both to be 100% for the race. If only this was happening in May. Perhaps Churchill can offer the same thing for the La Troienne? That would be perfect IMO.

05 Feb 2010 9:51 AM
It Aint Easy being good

RA all the way. Yes zenyatta performance was great at the apple blossom but she wont have enough time to close. The race would shape out just like the woodward were macho zenyatta cant catch her in time. The difference would be da tara wouldnt burn out Rachael. How come there are no "horse of the year" fans on here??

05 Feb 2010 10:21 AM
ruffian316

Ginger Punch was also beaten by an 18-1 shot in the '08 Apple Blossom. She was clearly off form that day, because even if Zen wasn't in that race, Ginger Punch would have lost to an inferior horse.

Also, Zenyatta has never CRUSHED anyone. She doesn't go out and win by 20 lengths. To me, crushing a field is by many open lengths, not 1-3 lengths. I'm not sure why some folks talk about Rachel as if she were a pig. She proved her worth at 7 tracks last year. I could see if she only had one great performance, but she had EIGHT.

She broke or nearly broke records everywhere she went. What evidence are her detractors using to support their notion that she would get crushed?

It's perfectly fine to prefer Zenyatta to Rachel, but I think it's a shame not to recognize the magnitude of Rachel's accomplishments as an immature 3-year old filly. She is phenomenal. Zenyatta is too. I have the deepest respect for her.

I just hope both remain sound, as Ruffian's fateful race lingers in my heart and mind.

05 Feb 2010 10:29 AM
Forbidden Apple

I hope that John Shirreffs announces a prep race and then his plans to enter the Apple Blossom for Zenyatta's 2nd race of the year. With or without the $5 million purse, the entire world wants to see this matchup. The racing world should be grateful for the Mosses deciding to race their champion in 2010. There is nothing more sportsmanlike than choosing to race another day. I would love to see these 2 horses take battle in the Dubai World Cup for $10 million. Rachel has raced on synethetics before, so I am not buying that she skipped the B.Cup because of the surface. She was a tired horse after a series of long grueling races, no more excuses this year. There are 2 months between now and the Apple Blossom. How much time does a trainer need to get a horse ready?

Rachel beat Mine That Bird (winless since the KY Derby) and an injured Friesan Fire in the Preakness. Then she beat Munnings(a sprinter) and Summer Bird(using the Haskell as a prep race) in the Haskell. These 2 races were followed up with a nose victory over Macho Again.

Zenyatta started the year off with very easy races against f&m. Her only true test was in the B. Cup Classic. But this race alone was full of much tougher competition than Rachel has ever seen. Gio Ponti(4 Grade I wins & NO RESPECT) should have been the 3rd option in the horse of the year voting. Of course he would not have won it, but there are always 3 options in the voting. Then we had a primed Summer Bird, Einstein, Colonel John, Girolamo, Richards Kid, and Rip Van Winkle. ZENYATTA made easy work of every horse and looked like a lion doing it.

With Rachel's amazing speed and Zenyatta's devastating closing kick, we are all in for a historic showdown someday. I don't see any of the comments on this blog as bashing one side or the other. Remember that horses are athletes and they look each other in the eye when they prepare for battle. Let's leave the fighting on the racetrack.

05 Feb 2010 11:33 AM
rubyreddress

Sometimes I don't understand the arguments regarding Zenyatta and Rachel.  Pure and simple we all want to see them face each other, several times would be nice, but if Rachel is behind in her training due to the weather then they would be fools to run her against what could be her greatest rival!  I want them both at the top of their game when they meet.  I cringe at the thought of Rachel meeting Zenyatta not 100% and busting a gut (or something else) to win.  Please Lord no!  To the connections of Rachel and her fans, do not push this issue.  She needs more training time and at least one good prep race before she meets Zenyatta.  

05 Feb 2010 11:43 AM
Winnah Pickah

They need to meet on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Make it happen.

05 Feb 2010 11:46 AM
Zookeeper

Golden Gate,

Wonderful post! Very upbeat! Made me want to visit Oaklawn with or without RA & Z. Hope your wish comes true.

For those who already groan over one or the other losing... have you considered the possibility of a dead heat? Wouldn't this be a perfect ending to the controversy?

Thank you Mr. Haskin for firing our imagination!

05 Feb 2010 11:54 AM
Pam S.

I agree with Gun Bow, not just on changing the date if that would help Rachel, but everything else he said.  It seems there are a million potential reasons for this matchup not to happen (even with 5 million reasons to run).  I know RA and Z are living creatures and their fitness and health come first.  But they also are Thoroughbreds that were bred to race, not just be in the news all the time.

05 Feb 2010 11:56 AM
MonicaV

The announcement of the $5 million purse for the Apple Blossom for RA and Zen was great news and a wonderful thing to speculate.  Since Z and RA haven't raced in a while, I find I am bored!  I mean, when they race, it's just exciting and I so look forward to it like a kid at Christmas.  They are both such great gifts!  Thinking about them racing again, whether against each other or not is great news and something to look forward to.

I suppose the Apple Blossom won't happen as the showdown, too soon for Rachel and why put her against Z so soon?  Get a couple of races under her belt before the match up.

With all the criticism Jess Jackson has heaped on him one has to remember that he NEVER makes snap decisions.  He puts a great deal of thought behind every decision.  Remember the 2008 BC?  He didn't announce that Curlin would compete until the last minute.  This is how he does things.  The decisions for Rachel have been the same.  Last minute.  This does not mean he doesn't have confidence in her or that he is ducking anyone.  Same goes for Mr. Moss.  He puts a great deal of thought into his decisions as well.  This is how the two of them have become so successful.  I respect that about the two of them.  Their first concern is their horse as it should be.  The ultimate showdown between these two mares will happen.  I knew that after the BC.  I could feel it in my bones.  Zenyatta would not retire without facing Rachel because it simply had to happen for this sport and for the Mosses to prove once and for all the Zenyatta should be HOY and she is fit and healthy, why not?  I'm just thankful to both owners of both horses.  Let's hope that both horses remain sound.

As for Rachel going to the breeding shed instead of the starting gate, that's pure conjecture with no facts to back it up.  They have waited this long for a reason to get her back to the races and it isn't to go to the breeding shed.

05 Feb 2010 1:19 PM
MRO

I can't wait to see Z settle it once & for all on the track. It's too big an event for the Ky Derby undercard.

05 Feb 2010 1:22 PM
90Proof

Bull Lea!  I've seen the Appleblossom 100 times and each time I see Ginger Punch get ran off her feet(in a small field) on a deep track and Big Z running a great but not extra-ordinary performance. Ginger Punch was a nice horse but the fact she couldn't even hold on to 2nd tells you all you need to know. Yes! Zenyatta is AWESOME, but I guarantee that style will get her beat on dirt a time or two. There is nothing false about that.

05 Feb 2010 1:25 PM
Footlick

It Ain't Easy being good- I'm trying to stay out of it, but you are comparing Zenyatta's closing kick to Macho Again's?  

05 Feb 2010 1:30 PM
SMTDL

Oaklawn Park blew it...planning this race so early to get these two outstanding horses to their venue is problematic esp for Rachel Alexandra who only just started serious training again.The only way will be if both horses go in with out a prep race and the other competition looks reasonable. Neither camp is going to run their horse back  quickly if they had a prep race esp since Zenyatta would have to travel also.

Zenyatta should be in nearly top form since she kept up with the training regimen.Would they put her in another prep race earlier than the Santa Margarita to give enough time for the Apple Blossom?..You bet they will ..IF Jess Jackson commits Rachel to the Apple Blossom real soon.Going for 5 million against Rachel in her 1st start of the year after getting a prep into Zenyatta would be a big edge!!Then Rachel would have to play catch up if Zenyatta won!!Maybe it'll happen but I doubt if Jackson will commit until seeing how the training goes which will put Zenyatta on hold or force them to go with the Santa Margarita and pass on the Apple Blossom.

05 Feb 2010 1:31 PM
Footlick

Once again, people can't post without being negative to one or the other.  It's old people.

05 Feb 2010 1:31 PM
jim

I'm not sure why my earlier blog today was not posted.

I think apple blossom is too early for these two to meet since i would want both to be at the top of their game condition wise for a matchup.

But, since the race is going to be billed as a major race which will have a huge purse, i think the race should be at a classic distance. Also i pose a question as to what should be the weight carried or the difference between two, since RA is already a 4YO.

05 Feb 2010 1:31 PM
Kat

I would guess that RA's connections would like to see her peaking (or in peak form) when she meets Zenyatta.  There are many other horses she could leave behind at 80% efficiency (aka prep races).  To crank her for the Apple Blossom leaves a very long season to the Breeders Cup.  (Perhaps they will take a page from Z's 2009 campaign ;) ). Whether or not she can be ready by the first of April to meet Zenyatta (and have it be in the best interest of the rest of her season) is an entirely sound management question in my opinion.  In addition, different trainers have varying degrees of success with racing horses off a layup.  Everyone wants to see the race, evidently RIGHT NOW, but I hope they are objective enough for it to be in the horse's best interest.  I think JJ may have learned well from his lesson with Curlin, a good thing.

05 Feb 2010 1:32 PM
dave

Steve, I don't understand your comment "Even if Zenyatta fails to emulate Personal Ensign...." Hasn't Zenyatta equaled PE's win streak? Hasn't she defeated over five times as many males as PE, beating the boys in the biggest open race of the year in the US? PE ducked the Woodward and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, let alone the BC Classic. Shouldn't we now say from a historical perspective that PE, brilliant as she was, has failed to emulate Zenyatta?

05 Feb 2010 3:47 PM
carolyn

Well, I can see now that if they race Rachel in the Apple Blossom and she loses to Zenyata, then everyone is going to say that Rachel lost because she raced to early and not enough prep races in between, Well, some horses run better being fresh, maybe she will to. I do want everyone to remember to keep both horse's in their prayers when they do race each other. Both horse's will be under alot of pressure on both sides and I hope and pray that all come out safe and sound....

05 Feb 2010 4:07 PM
It Aint Easy being good

No footlick not at all I think zenyatta is the best closer on this planet besides pyro I am just saying those fractions set at the woodward were eye popping. They did everything they could for rachael not to win. It was probably one of the greatest races I have ever seen. The breeders cup is not that impressive she beat horses that for the most part have never ran on synthetics.....yipee! However I do respect zenyatta and think the outcome would be RA by a head.

05 Feb 2010 4:18 PM
Racing Through The Ages

Let's remember that when and if Zenyatta and Rachel do meet, winning will only prove who was the best horse that day on the track. It would take several races together (unlikely) to more scientifically state which is the better racehorse.

05 Feb 2010 4:37 PM
Bill Rink

April 3rd, eight weeks and one day until the gates open and the speculation stops, is this really possible and is it logical? Maybe I'm totally wrong in saying this, but I would quess that both of these parties are thinking that this meeting has to be their biggest race up to this point. WOW, is it possible to concieve that if Zenyatta should win and then goes on to another perfect season, (including the Breeders Cup Classic) that she has to be considered in the top five of all time. Or what if Rachael wins, and continues to have the same success as last year, where would her place in history be honored. From the outside it would appear that both of these potential icons should have at the very least, one prep. race, (and a very favorable one at that) before anything further could be planned. I just can't see getting to optimistic before hand. There's allot at stake here, and more importantly, far to many questions that need to be answered. I'm really looking forward to the day when these two meet and I'm sure both parties will want to have them sharp and ready when that time arrives. Good luck, and here's to a safe, healthy, and successful 2010 racing season.

05 Feb 2010 4:44 PM
Steve D

"Oaklawn Park made all the right moves with their big Apple Blossom announcement."

I couldn't disagree with this more. They had the right intent, but made all the wrong moves.

1) The race should be on Sunday, Arpil 11. Makes sense business wise for Oaklawn and more importantly, timing wise for the horses.

2) They only needed to put up $2 million. $5 million is a ridiculous number...but two would have made it the most attractive and realistic option.

3) They should have worked with two other tracks - Pimlico & Churchill, to get bonuses for the Pimlico Distaff (Preakness Friday) and the Stephen Foster (mid-June), which would have provided outstanding co-branding with the Triple Crown and added some buzz to the post-Belmont pre-Saratoga racing doldrums.

05 Feb 2010 5:10 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Footlick,

Thanks for your two posts...took the words right out of my..head.

The only thing I would add about Macho Again's closing kick was that he was carrying 8 more pounds than Rachel.  If I read correctly, all those in this year's super duper Apple Blossom would carry 123.  It's not bashing Rachel to say that - at equal weights - she probably wasn't the best runner in two of her races against colts last year.  Yes, I am a broken record, but facts is facts.  Zenyatta blew away champions at 10 furlongs at close to equal weights...even carrying more weight than the 3 YO's.  And on a surface that may not even be her best!

I hope that RA and Zenyatta meet two or more times this year.  I doubt that one of those times will be in The Apple Blossom unfortunately.  And I would be shocked if Rachel's connections ever run her against top fillies or colts at 10 furlongs.  Unless they don't mind losing, which might be more sporting in the long run anyway.  

05 Feb 2010 5:35 PM
Lil Darlin

I haven't seen pictures of Zenyatta lately, but my guess is that she looks much the same as she did when she won the Classic - she's stayed in training and went from 5 to 6, and I don't know that she had a whole lot more filling out to do. If she did, I will stop referring to her as "Z" and start referring to her as "Zena, Amazon Warrior Queen."

Rachel, on the other hand - well, I saw that picture of her first official breeze, and I immediately thought, "Holy Jeez, she grew up!"  I know going from 3 to 4, a horse really matures.  I would think Rachel's camp, after a 7 month layoff, would want to have a prep before any major races, Z or no Z, at least to see how she's handled her growth spurt.

Looking at the two from a physical standpoint, I can't imagine either camp would feel the need to "duck" the other (though, I can already hear the comments if one doesn't show up...makes me cringe).

05 Feb 2010 6:44 PM
Rechelle

I really don't see Zenyatta running March 13 and then turning around and running again on Apr. 3.  I don't believe that the Apple Blossom is in the plans for Zenyatta.  It goes against the conservative handling that the connections have always used with Zenyatta.  I can't see her running in any states outside California & Kentucky.  

However, I *DO* see Rachel in the Apple Blossom.  It's not that far of a trip for her and it'd be a great first race back for her, to start getting her in condition for her harder races this year.  

I don't believe that the match between Rachel & Zenyatta will happen before the Breeders Cup at Churchill.  The Mosses want to keep Zenyatta's undefeated streak going, to try to beat Pepper's Pride, and a race against Rachel early in the season does not bode well for it to continue.  

05 Feb 2010 7:04 PM
Bettys

Since the track lowers the purse unless both show up, can the owners have a "guarantee" that there will be at least 6 horses in the race if they do else entry fees refunded etc.  Many of us never ever want to see another match race.  It might be a given because of the large purse but I wouldn't want to put a horse I cared a lot about in with them just to get the spirit beaten out of them.

05 Feb 2010 8:27 PM
helsbelles

I too am not pleased with the offer made by Oaklawn Park.  They should have put up $1 Million to lure Zenyatta, and higher class competitors, to run in the Apple Blossom.  This game with Rachel is just that, a game.  I believe she will be bred to Curlin this spring.  I could be wrong, but as someone here said I will be shocked if they run her at 10 furlongs against strong competition, and I will be completely floored if they run her in the Met Mile against Quality Road.  I also agree with another concept I have read here, that is better to try and fail.

05 Feb 2010 9:11 PM
robinm

The first meeting of these two will be a monumental event.  Both need to be at 100%.  Rachel won't be at 100% off a 7-month layoff without a prep.  Despite what some obviously non-horseman here think, you can't get a horse ready for a best effort off a long layoff, and nothing is worse than trying to call an audible and get a horse ready to run in early April if they were pointing for late April. Two to three weeks can make a huge difference. Zenyatta won't be at 100% if she runs in the Santa Margarita with only 3 weeks rest to the Apple Blossom.  This has never been her pattern and shortening the period between races that she is accustomed to can't be a good thing.

Whoever said Zenyatta will "crush" Rachel is dreaming and whoever said Zenyatta has never crushed her competition is absolutely correct, and we all know Rachel has done a good bit of "crushing" against females.  But neither has faced the likes of the other and, providing both are at their best, neither is going to get crushed when they meet. Hopefully, we'll see a horse race for the ages.

05 Feb 2010 9:20 PM
carolyn

Rechelle:

This is the purpose of running Z at 6, so she can run on dirt and do different things, I sure don't think the Mosse's would keep her in training just so she could stay in Cali, What would be the need? and not to just beat PP record. Don't you think they know the slack that people have said against her not running on dirt?

Dave:

Great post!! I agree with you 100%.

05 Feb 2010 9:34 PM
Jane

Hey, is the Lady's Secret still going to be called the Zenyatta? That would be nice if Zenyatta's unretirement gives them a chance to reverse that one...

(If this has been posted, whoops; I didn't read every comment...)

05 Feb 2010 10:20 PM
LAZMANNICK

CRUSHING a field doesn’t necessarily mean winning a race by 20-lengths.  Defeating two competitors after they have run their hearts out in the first part of the race isn’t CRUSHING that field.  They simply didn’t have anything left.  And defeating an over matched field of mediocre horses by 20-lengths when not one in that field offered even a remote challenge, isn’t CRUSHING that field.  It simply means that there wasn’t much talent to begin with.  CRUSHING a field is best defined as a horse defeating a field of top quality horses after giving them a head start and every chance to pull away then simply changing gears and running past that field with consummate ease.  Even though you don’t win by twenty you have left no doubt who is the best........that’s CRUSHING a field.  It seems to me that’s what we saw in the BC Classic, total domination.  

05 Feb 2010 10:22 PM
LAZMANNICK

Rechelle:

Read Jackson's comments and tell me that Rachel is going to run in the Apple Blossom.  It looks like they aren't planning to do much other than look for a paid workout during the first part of the season.  From what I understand, Zen's connections have had the Apple Blossom on their schedule all along and the prep race will be at Santa Anita in March........As for the BC, I don't think that Zen is going to bother with the Lady's Classic so I don't see how you figure that her and Rachel will tangle in the Breeders Cup.

05 Feb 2010 10:29 PM
Sharon

I realize my opinion differs from everyone else here, but I just don't want to see these two race.  It would break my heart to see either one of them lose, and I don't want to see a match race, ever.  Ruffian should be a lesson.

05 Feb 2010 10:39 PM
Rottenapple

As much as I would love for this mach up to happen in an open field invitational race, no connections should send either filly into the gate at less than 100%. I truly believe that mares have more heart that colts, they will try till they can't anymore. The loss of either of these filly's could leave a mar as deep as the loss of Ruffian. This goes beyond internet bragging rights, these horses put their lives on the line everytime they step in the gate - and their fans should be mindful of the fact.

05 Feb 2010 11:22 PM
GhostTown

Mr. Haskin, please do not take my comments the wrong way, but I think they need to be said.  If you choose not to post them, I will not be offended.  I have a huge amount of respect for you and your knowledge, and my opinion is that of a race fan and nothing more.  I realize these two are very special, and I have had the privilege of watching Zenyatta's bulldog of a hind end dancing away from me on multiple occasions, but I am no less of a fan of Rachel Alexandra's even though I have not had the pleasure of seeing her in the flesh.  So it is with some trepidation that I write this.  I hate to sound like a party pooper, but am I the only person on the planet that does not have a severe case of tunnel vision in regards to these two?  Are we so obsessed with them that we have forgotten about purse reductions, four day race weeks, revenue loss and shortened race meets?  We are willing to spend millions of dollars on these two horses.  TWO HORSES.  Why do we have to create and manipulate races just to get them together, and how long will other owners and trainers support this?  Unfortunately I am beginning to get the bitter taste of arrogance and greed and loosing the sweetness of sportsmanship.

Respectfully,

GhostTown

05 Feb 2010 11:26 PM
Matthew W

Mestill thinks if it was "all about the horse" she would not have been put through that Woodward furnace of a pace scenario--now when he talks about Rachel, it sounds almost guarded--I mean, the object is to get them both into the Classic at Churchill, right? Thing is, I almost hope Zenyatta wins at Oaklawn, thus "forcing" Jess to face off with them---no way can you say now the Moss's are ducking her---they came to realize "the future is now", they have the horse, she had much trouble yet won the Classic so easy I think they get the $$ again at Churchill---facing off at Oaklawn is a good idea for Team Rachel--she loves the track/and Zenyatta hasn't run on dirt for two years--strike while the iron is hot--I have the feeling they're gonna be trying males at least two more times with Big Z---at Saratoga and the Classic--and all I can say is enjoy/embrace what you so richly deserve: the great Zenyatta, and all her quirks....undefeated or not, the Moss's understand the importance to dirt her once again, to try Rachel Alexandra and all others, in their house, at the big tracks, where she belongs...

06 Feb 2010 12:42 AM
Slew

First...none of the competition these ladies faced was 2nd rate...until Rachel A and Zenyatta beat them.  So stop trying to down play their competition.  Secondly, 2 weeks ago Zenyatta worked 5 furlongs in 1:01 2/5...Rachel breezed 4 furlongs last week in 52.  I hope we do get to see them compete against one another in full fields, and I'm glad Oaklawn has made their offer.  We'll see how that plays out.  I believe the Moss' and the Jacksons will do whatever is best for their mares and probably also for their mares' fans. (yes, I know technically Rachel is still considered a filly at 4).  Gee...I keep thinking what a great promo it would be for the Fair Grounds in New Orleans to walk Rachel Alexandra out on the track Sunday in a Saints' blanket.  Who dat???

06 Feb 2010 3:12 AM
Slew

I meant to add that I doubt that Rachel Alexandra OR Zenyatta will compete more than 5 times this year.

06 Feb 2010 3:14 AM
Susan

Steve,

Great article,as always. But think about this. The Apple Blossom is 8 weeks away. Rachel has had 1 published workout, 2 WEEKS AGO, and how much do you think she got out of a 1/2 mile in 52 and change? That, for a horse like Rachel, is even slower than a 'two-minute lick" Shouldn't she be working at weekly intervals, after the layoff she had? What's up with that? Unless they are working her in the dark, and then one would have to ask WHY? Though Rachel is a star among stars, she still needs to get fit to compete. I don't see that happening. So the only thing I can deduce from that is the Rachel's people have no intention of starting her campaign as soon as we all want. Now the campaign for Zenyatta is starting to come together, with a "maybe" start in the Santa Margerita. Perhaps as you suggest, the La Troienne at Churchill is more feasible for both.  

06 Feb 2010 9:07 AM
LAZMANNICK

GhostTown 05 Feb 2010 11:26 PM

Your post is excellent and I totally agree with you.  I am one of Zen's greatest suporters and in spite of how I come across at times, I also admire and respect Rachel.  However the current economics conditions in the sport are a major concern.  That kind of money would do wonders if allowed to be spread around to give those who really need it a chance to at least race for it.  The fact is that outside of the racing community and die-hard fans who follow the sport, such a race will not attract many new fans and possibly won't even make national TV.  If it takes that amount of money to get these two together, irregardless of how the fans feel, then why bother. At some point the owners really have to give something back and not wait until they get offered mega bucks to do it. Well Said.

06 Feb 2010 9:22 AM
Amalex

Exterminator-

I TOTALLY agree with you on the outcome of the race you proposed at Churchill Downs. I think that the race will play out in exactly that way.

ThisCatGetsAround-

I TOTALLY agree with you about Z's fans.

I went to the KD last year my dad bet on Mine That Bird and I was going to bet on Zenyatta.... but then I find out she's been scratched on Oaks Day when it was perfectly fine out until later that night.

06 Feb 2010 10:48 AM
Footlick

Ghost Town and Laz- I agree with both your posts.  I was a little taken aback at the amount of the purse.  If this is what it will take to get the two to run against each other and insure a field, then it is not worth it because of the reasons both of you have already stated.  Great posts guys!

06 Feb 2010 10:51 AM
jim

ghosttown

these 2 meeting one another doesnot have to do anything to the present situation in horse racing. Horse racing lost its cluster when internet first started for whatever reason. Most of the tracks at that time very seldom had 4, 5 or 6 horses racing. People would goto bet and expect a decent return.

Just look at the lottery when the pool is small less people buy lottery tickets and when it gets huge see the difference.

No matter what when one goes to the track you expect a decent return on your investment for spending time equivalent to a days work and to many that was a living.

Horse racing will not regain its luster till you see more horses in a race PUT SIMPLY.

06 Feb 2010 11:27 AM
Pam S.

Footlick, Ghost Town, Laz --

Like I said earlier, the whole situation with these two ideally should be about racing (just do it), not about being in the news.  So while I would love to see the matchup happen, I agree with you all too.

Slew --

Love the Saints blanket idea.  They should be making a nice big one to fit her right now!

06 Feb 2010 12:22 PM
Rechelle

Carolyn wrote: "Don't you think they know the slack that people have said against her not running on dirt?"

Carolyn, I'm not saying that they won't take her out of California, I know they will.  BUT I don't think they'll do it until later in the spring or the summer and they'll take her straight to Churchill to get her used to that track.  If she runs March 13 like planned, they definitely will not ship her to Arkansas and turn her around in 3 weeks.  That is something that Zenyatta has never done.  Her closest race was 23 days apart and it did not involve being shipped across state lines.  The last time Zenyatta shipped across state lines, her race before the Apple Blossom was in January 2008 (Jan 13, 2008)and the race after it was May 31, 2008 with the Apple Blossom run Apr. 5, 2008.  They have always given her a HUGE rest before and after shipping.  Her average between races is 4 to 8 weeks in state.  They won't ship Zenyatta for the Apple Blossom unless she has a prep race and if they stick to what they've done in the past with her, it's too late for a prep race and for her to ship at the same time.  That's why I honestly don't see Zenyatta at the Apple Blossom.  I see her at Churchill maybe in May or early June and spending the rest of the season in Kentucky, either at Churchill or Keeneland on their synthetic surface.  She may be running as a 6yo, but I don't see her running a lot of races.  Again I'm just looking at past history on the part of her connections.  I'm not taking a thing away from Zenyatta, she is an amazing and talented horse, but her connections are way too conservative with her.

06 Feb 2010 2:11 PM
Linda in Texas

GhostTown, Lazmannick, Footlick and Pam.

Puleeeze cheer up. On the eve of the Super Bowl, when multi milliions of greenbacks are being spent for 1 single football game, it is hard for me to try and have a problem with someone spending money on a little ol' horse race with Miss Rachel and Miss Zenyatta on a beautiful spring Saturday afternoon on the 3rd of April. And may i be so selfish as to add, 2 days prior to my Seventieth Birthday! If they meet or don't meet,or one is there and the other one isn't but either/or is, i am pointing my Suburban to zip code 71901 from Texas for the biggest present in my entire life, which would even rate higher than the red t-bird with a huge gold bow around it that was sitting in the driveway for me at Christmas when i was 18. From that i learned that material things do not make happiness.I am glad i learned that lesson early. I liken the Rachel/Zenyatta saga no different than 2 heavyweight boxers finally getting to duke it out. I also liken it to 2 Olympic Bob Sledders with the same finishing time, i liken it to 2 Nascar champs racing one on one at Daytona. Or 2 no loss small town nondescript highschool basketball teams playing each other. Not that one of them wins, but the sheer excitement and joy of the competition.  Life itself is an ongoing competition of sorts. It is in the blood of our ancestors, and i could go on and on. Dueling was once commonplace. Elephant races in foreign countries, and even Giraffes in others. It is in the competition.

Sadness, misfortune, job losses, poor economics, oil prices, goodness, let's not just dwell on the depressing issues that we all experience, let's be thankful that somewhere someone did something right to produce these 2 magnificent specimens and hundreds more. I won't be watching to cheer one or the other on, i am beyond wanting Zenyatta to be Horse of The Year, that is over and done. But simply to watch Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta race with others would be pretty special. If it is the amount of the money being offered to entice the owners that concerns you, i would imagine that these two owners donate a million here or there to organizations that help many who are in need.

And Pam, you sign your post with Slew and for the other Slew. He is and always will be my all time forever favorite fella not only for his racing prowess but for his extreme big heart and his sheer fortitude to live as long as he did with the obvious health issues. He is on my desktop everytime i turn my computer on,a wonderful close up  picture of his soft eyes looking out of his stall at the kind people who no doubt tended to his needs daily. And now that it will soon be spring, may the games begin and all return safe and sound and the best be duly rewarded for their victory. On to racing, and i like Eightyfiveinafifty, any gray roan, Quality Road, and both horses with Luck in their names for starters.Steve, i wrote this and then thought i better not send it. But just now learning Quality Road ate their lunch so in honor of the fella i have been behind all along, i am sending it. Good for him and those who did not give up on him. A little TLC did the trick.  

06 Feb 2010 6:03 PM
marktoothaker

I have to defend the purse structure set out by Oaklawn or any other track looking to host this mega matchup. The purse structure will all but certain attract a close to full field. Very few people want to see a match race and without a huge purse who would want to risk the drumming most likely awaiting someone who runs against these two champions. The structure pretty much guarantees anyone who starts a min of 100k not a bad payday. Lets face it this race whether ran at OP or CD will attract people that normally wouldnt watch a horse race and we need all the new eyeballs on sport that we can get.

06 Feb 2010 6:33 PM
carolyn

"Congratulations" to Quality Road for another spectacular race win since the BCC, He really outdone himself today! Horses are like people, everyone is entitled to have a bad day, as long as they do like QR has done, he picked himself up and kept on going, and going at a great pace!!!

06 Feb 2010 6:42 PM
John T

By all accounts it looks like the

major race for Rachel and Zenyatta

will be the Breeders Cup.We all know 10 furlongs is no problem for Zenyatta but what about Rachel? I think connections will be looking for a suitable race at that distance and nothing stands out better than the Stephen Foster.Ideal time,nice purse,and the same track and distance as this years Breeders Cup.

06 Feb 2010 7:55 PM
Footlick

Linda in Texas- I'm glad you can make light of it.  I don't make light of any purse being raised to $5 million just so two horses will run when not only horse racing is in the state it's in but everything else that is going on as far as unemployment and the economy of not only the US but also the world.  $5 million dollars can be used in so many better ways, and both of these horses can run for $500,000.  And if neither of them will run for $500,000, then I'd rather not see them run.  I can't believe the Mosses or Mr Jackson would demand this kind of purse, but if they do then I'm disappointed.

marktoothtaker- I don't believe you will get any field of fillies to run against them in a regular race, but looking at what Quality Road just did puts at least one other horse in the mix.  And I'm sure there are more males waiting in the wings who will take them on.

carolyn- Yes.  Congrats to Quality Road.  What a great race!  and they didn't even have to raise the purse!

06 Feb 2010 7:58 PM
Speedball

After seeing what Quality Road can do today in the Donn, regardless if Rachel and Zenyatta meet before the Classic, they'd  both better be in tip top shape if they expect to beat him in the Classic.

06 Feb 2010 8:00 PM
David R

It's a long year, I hope neither will be pushed just to make the Apple Blossom. 8.5 furlongs favors Rachel Alexandra; at 9 and 10 furlongs Zenyatta will beat her handily.

06 Feb 2010 8:16 PM
Ranagulzion

We saw the return of the King today in the Donn Handicapp (Grade 1).  Horses like Quality Road justify the creation of a Distaff division for the top fillies and mares.  Provided that he remains sound, I am prepared to say that as of now the queens of the track;Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta should be allowed to fight their battles in the distaff division. It will border on immorality to ask them to face a male monster like Quality Road at his best in any race from 7 - 10 furlongs.  This QR juggernaut is gonna be unstoppable this year.  I think the connections should think seriously about the trip to Dubai, sending him early like Curlin, to get acclimatised and strut his stuff on the international stage.  Afterall its catch-up time for all that he missed out on last year due to quarter cracks.  

06 Feb 2010 8:36 PM
LAZMANNICK

Linda In Texas:

Hope you have a happy birthday.  For a second I thought you said your 17th birthday then I reread you post.  WOW.  All the best and I really mean that.

06 Feb 2010 8:41 PM
RobertfromSnowyBaltimore

Love the blogs from the readers. Just the type of heat and energy we need here after getting 27 inches of snow. I have gained much respect for Zenyatta and her connections. The Mosses are not ducking Rachel. I don't think the Apple Blossom match up between these two will happen unfortunately but the Stephen Foster Handicap and The Breeders Cup should be targets for both since both of these races will be at Churchill Downs this year and you can get more of a quality field with throwing in older males. The Stephen Foster would give Rachael at least one prep race and Zenyatta possibly two. At worst, I would love to see them match up in the Breeders Cup. Wow what a race!!

06 Feb 2010 8:53 PM
Bet Twice

Who cares about Rachel vs. Zenyatta.  I want to see Rachel vs. Quality Road in the Met Mile.  

06 Feb 2010 9:25 PM
Pete

This just in! According to the NY Post - Zenyatta is in. Now it's up to Rachel Alexandra.

06 Feb 2010 9:43 PM
Saratoga AJ

Quality Road is perhaps the fastest horse in the world right now. If he stays sound, and keeps from acting up, there is no telling what kind of year he will have. He has broken 3 track records in his last 6 races! He is a threat to break more track records every time he steps on the track.

He is the one horse in the country that can beat both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. They want no part of this monster, and he is a monster both in size and ability.

Put him in the Apple Blossom with the two ladies!

06 Feb 2010 9:56 PM
Lil Darlin

I don't know that the $5 million is so much about RA and Z as much as it is to ensure interest in the race from other horses...it is a lot of money I know, but to a certain extent they would have to boost the purse significantly if they want a solid, honest field. I guess my question is, how much does third place have to pay in order to make it worth another female's time?

06 Feb 2010 10:38 PM
Thmsrynlds

The Apple Blossom is going to be by "invitation" only, up to 10 starters, and every horse will get at least $100,000.  Basically this is an appearance fee.  First place is only 2.5 million but what a race it will be.  If both horses show up, I will have a front row seat, seeing as how I work for Teleview.

06 Feb 2010 10:50 PM
H-man

I applaud Oaklawn for making such a grand gesture but would have to agree with many others that the meeting of Rachel and Zenyatta won't likely happen in April. The only other race options for these two to meet are the BC Ladies Classic and another top race where a track dramatically increases the purse as Oaklawn is doing. I'd like to see Churchill perhaps create a special race on Derby day to bring these two together so that our most celebrated race day will be even more memorable. Saratoga could also be a great venue to showcase the two mares. Maybe NYRA could increase the purse of the Go For Wand like they tried to do with the Beldame last fall.

06 Feb 2010 11:26 PM
Rechelle

Ok, I must say one thing.  After seeing the Quality Road race today, I am taking away from my favorite horse (Rachel) on my next comment.  QR is most likely to win the Classic unless both Rachel & Zenyatta are in the best shape of their life!  

For all you doubters on RA being able to do 10 furlongs and Zenyatta being able to .... bear in mind Zenyatta didn't do it until she was 5.  Rachel won't have any trouble with that distance.  Rachel in her short career has already done things that Zenyatta hasn't (which is why RACHEL was HOY and not Zenyatta).  Again, it goes to the overly conservative handling of Zenyatta and the chances that Jackson gave Rachel to show fans what she could do.  She won't have problems with 10 furlongs.  But Zenyatta won't win the BCC twice if QR runs, he is fantastic!  I can hardly wait for Summer Bird to come back on the scene as well!

06 Feb 2010 11:29 PM
Fanlew

RA & Z have been extremely good for our sport,  Publicity breeds new interest and in these tuff  economic times in our country it is good to gain support, new players and pulicity.  This brings new life to our business when lots of people are getting out of the business.  If Oaklawn park can gain from all this hype it is going to help them maybe not be in the red for the meet.  If Rachel & Zenyatta run, I hope both come home safe,  Both are champions in my eyes.  I wouldn't mind taken home 3rd place money from this race if they do run. Only run them if they are ready and for the right reasons, cause even if they don't run that day,  Oaklawn gained alot of good publicity for our sport.  We will see them run another day. I wish the best of luck to all the connections on both sides two winning teams.

07 Feb 2010 12:25 AM
Wavering Monarch 7

The absolute dram match is RA, Z, and QR in the Classic at Churchill.  Blosson comes up to quick to RA.  Irony is the "retired one" has been worked more and it fit.  Doubt those two see each other until Breeder's Cup.  

07 Feb 2010 1:40 AM
Rowner

I hate to say it but I think Quality Road will be this years best horse. His race today was a monster and I don't see RA or Zen defeating him in the BC if he maintain form. The AB match up won't happen its to soon and JJ has already said RA is behind in training.I think We're more likely to see Zen as its already been said that the AB was in there plans. Also No a 5 million dollar prize shouldn't be the only thing that will get these two together.

07 Feb 2010 3:04 AM
Linda in Texas

Thank you Lazmannick, i can remember when i used to call my dad old at 35.

And Footlick, please do not think i was making light of $5 million. Yes, it is a lot of money. But it takes a whole lot of money to keep the big beautiful horses we are all talking about on this blog in good health, in good shape,in good spirits, in nice surroundings, caring trainers and wonderful people and on and on. If i thought that that particular $5 million would cure all ills in the world, i would, of course, have a different opinion. And the entire $5 mil will not only benefit the winner,and who is to say it would be RA or Z, but several owners will participate in higher purses.

And when you compare the high purses in golf tournaments, how much does it cost it's owner to keep a golf ball shiney, healthy, no dings, bruises or chips and rolling right? And i don't hear people knocking Phil Mickelson because he makes 'so much' money. Horse Racing has always been a sport for fortunate, hard working people, whether they inherited the money it takes to support racing or made it the old fashioned way. It is their money to spend and frankly i am thankful to all who do or i would not have met so many great people as i have on Mr. Haskin's  blog. And i really do enjoy everyone's perspective and bet i speak for everyone or they wouldn't be posting. And lastly,I am well aware of hard times working for several companies driving to and from posting foreclosures in 17 counties and then going back 21 days later and selling those homes on courthouse steps. But that is a whole other subject. They bit off more than they could chew and were allowed to borrow more than they could repay.

Footlick, I appreciate your kind heartedness for people everywhere in the world who are suffering hard times. It will get better for most countries but some countries will always struggle.

I certainly respect and thank those fortunate and lucky folks who share their love of horses with the rest of us in my favorite sport, Thoroughbred Horse Racing.

And i'm thinkin' about you Kip Deville and hoping you are nearing the cured status soon.

And Rottenapple, agree with you totally about the heart of mares and somehow, Eight Belles popped right into my thoughts. Ruffian will be there forever. May they all come home safe and sound.

07 Feb 2010 9:21 AM
Old Timer

You can't get a horse ready to run in 7 months? Am I missing something here? As you said, Steve, if they want to, I am sure that Oaklawn would welcome the chance to card a special allowance for Rachel to prep.

Both camps seem to be like two boxers eyeing each other and considering their options. It would be nice to see it happen. As you said that $5 million dollar may make all the difference.

07 Feb 2010 10:17 AM
Tracksideporter

These two super stars,have brought a well deserved attention to racing , something that this sport needed. And I just like everyone else I can't wait for the two to meet in the starting gate!! Rachel & Zenyatta will face each other when both camps feel that they are 100% ready to face each other. And the main objective is Breeders Cup Day!!!! What a tremendous day that will be for the sport of racing & fans!!!!!!!

07 Feb 2010 11:26 AM
carolyn

In response to Z against QR, I don't have any doubt that Z can catch him,I don't think we've seen the best of Zenyatta.

I may be wrong,but

In my opinion, Thoroughbreds are bred to run, thats their purpose, so why take a three year old colt or filly and retire them to a breeding shed, I think they need to let the fillies and the colts run until they show that their speeds are dwindling, then retire them, I am no expert by a long long shot, but I would rather breed a sound colt or filly at 5 or older than a 3 year old, especilally is they are in great shape, I also believe BB and Curlin should still be running, if they have an issue that can be healed and still let them go back to racing, I say give them the time off to get healed then if they still show potential, let them run.  I just think that it is  just wasting a great bred horse to send him out of racing at 3 when they are physically fit.  I'm sorry, but I think all thoroughbreds that are in great shape should run until they  show they are through running.

07 Feb 2010 1:14 PM
Tiznowbaby

Hope everyone enjoyed QR. Turn your attention to the Derby and Preakness, because Pletcher said QR is getting a short vacation then pointing to the Met Mile on May 31.

07 Feb 2010 1:42 PM
Cheri

If I was one of the owners of Rachel Alxenandra or Zenyatha I would ignore the pressure for a match race. They are both great horses, and having a match race between two strong and talented racehorse poises a higher risk for one of the horses having a major break down. Having such a investment in these mares to hopefully pass on their qualities to future race horses is more important then the race itself. Both Rachel and Zen have strong determination, courage and heart and they have given it all to win the races they have been entered in making lots of money for their owners. We as fans need to apperciate what they have contribute to the horse racing sport. How would you feel if Rachel or Zenyatta broke down and had to be destroyed on the track probably on national TV? It is sicking thought. Thats why I am against a match race. Remember Ruffian! Give it a rest, NO MATCH RACE. Retire them and let them rest they deserve it they earned it.

07 Feb 2010 2:13 PM
Footlick

Old Timer- I remember Charlie Whittingham getting Greinton ready for the Big Cap off a layoff with no prep race- but that was Mr Whittingham.  If they want to be cautious with her that's fine.

07 Feb 2010 2:29 PM
kat

Of course you can get a horse ready to run in 7 months, but that's assuming you PLANNED to get the horse ready to run in 7 months. . . . For all we know, they may not have been planning to run Rachel until the Kentucky Oaks undercard (lol), a month later. . . I assume their eyes are on the prize of the BCC at Churchill.

07 Feb 2010 2:45 PM
gary at rough creek

Neither Rachel nor Zenyatta are going to have an easy time of it this year against the 4 YO colts.  I'm more hopeful that Zenyatta can compete and win against them than I am about RA.  With the likes of a sound Quality Road (if he can bring his Gulfstream form to other tracks), a rejuvenated Musket Man and bigger and hopefully stronger Birdstone boys, anywhere from 8 - 12 furlongs is going to be an awfully tough task for these females.  And it seems they will have to take on these colts if they want to build on their reputations.

If QR and MM are sound and cranked up for the Met Mile, they probably both beat RA.  Where can she go and run against quality competition?  

The BC Classic is probably the ultimate goal for all or most of these colts.  Same for Zenyatta.  If the colts and Z make it safe and sound to that race, and in good form, I just can't imagine RA going in that race.  Not at 10 furlongs at Churchill, and especially not at closer to equal weights.  She's up against it this year.

07 Feb 2010 3:19 PM
JCRobinson

Um, what exactly did Quality Road prove? That he can burn up Gulfstream Park again? Away from there what has he done in his races- 1 brilliant sprint but otherwise excuses, excuses. And am I the only one finding it ironic that Pletcher, who complained so loudly about the track on Florida Derby day 2009, isn't saying a word now that he has QR?

07 Feb 2010 3:56 PM
Baj

RA's work yesterday showed her full of energy and spunk, with a good time too. With the Apple Blossom 2 months away, I don't doubt she will be ready. Just my opinion of course.

07 Feb 2010 4:59 PM
Slew

No Linda, I am not Pam.  But Seattle Slew is my all time greatest American athlete, and my personal hero.  What a horse...what a stud. I keep watching for his progeny and their work.   RA worked 1/2 mile Saturday in 50....and she looked absolutely fit and great doing it. Quality Road was devastating at Gulfstream, but I believe the Apple Blossom is a distaff race.  Eightyfiveinafifty went wild yesterday.  Went wide, jumped a few rails, and stunned his jockey.  He is NOT in one of my top picks for the Derby.  I sticking with Ron the Greek and Jackson Bend for now.  She be Wild is nominated for the Derby but wasn't quite up to it in her last race.

07 Feb 2010 5:41 PM
Leon

The "weak" crop of 3-year olds from 2009 have now won the G1 Woodward (Rachel Alexandra), the G1 Jockey Club (Summer Bird), The G2 Clark (Blame), the G2 San Fernando (Papa Clem), The Amsterdam (G2) & Donn (G1) (Quality Road), & The G1 Santa Monica (Gabby's Golden Gal), against older horses.

The group doesn't look too weak to me....

07 Feb 2010 5:42 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

Steve, got a question/bid for your opinion for you.

With the amazing successes of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta (I'm a Z-Girl,myself) this past year,do you think that there will finally be more interest in fillies and mares in racing? Especially with all the fillies being thrown to some of the more-well-known stallions in the past couple of months (my own favorite, Big Brown,among them)? Is the 2012/2013 season going to be The Year of The Filly? Could we see an All-Girl Triple Crown run? I know that seems over-the-top,but reading the Thoroughbred News here on BH,it seems like every other day,there's news of yet another filly or 2 born. You never know which one could turn out to be the next Zenyatta or Rachel..... or they ALL could be the next RA and Zen.....

Just interested in your opinion on this.

07 Feb 2010 7:03 PM
carolyn

If the crop of three year olds don't look weak anymore, then Zenyatta is going to be a cheetah this year, can't wait to see her run.....

07 Feb 2010 7:07 PM
sherpa

Isn't anyone going to mention that Eightfiveinafifty's BIT BROKE early in the Whirlaway???  Good grief, such a thing would cause any horse to panic.  I would call that an extenuating circumstance and certainly not a cause to give up on the horse.  Thank the racing gods 85ina50 and his connections were spared a tragic ending and hopefully no lasting damage done.

07 Feb 2010 7:37 PM
Bill Daly

I'm a big fan of Rachel Alexandra's and totally respect Zenyatta and Quality Road.  Put all 3 of these horses in the same race at distances of one and one-eighth of a mile and upwards and I think I know who the winner is.  Her name begins with Z.  Take Quality Road or Rachel out of the same race and it's a totally different story IMHO.  

07 Feb 2010 7:42 PM
Fire Slam

If it happens, Zenns camp and supporters will say the stretch at Oaklawn was too short, which is why RA won.

Hope this don't happen. Retire both "freaks" and let them be mothers. One will win, which means one loses. Which means people will be yelling for a rematch.

Why risk their safety? They have nothing to prove. Both are awesome. Zen has race for over three years, and RA has beat the boys numerous times, and set track records.

07 Feb 2010 8:37 PM
LDP

Slew,

   From what I've been told 85's bit broke, and that is what caused him to go wacko. Poor horse.

07 Feb 2010 10:04 PM
Mike G.

The Apple Blossom seems like an ideal race - a neutral track, a neutral distance, and two months of time to train.  But like the last Breeders Cup, I don't think Rachel will show.  I would rather see Zenyatta go to Dubai and try to be the first female to win the World Cup.

07 Feb 2010 11:00 PM
ruffian316

To Mike Relva,

In defense of Rechelle, every single post I've ever read of yours has been negative about Rachel and her connections. If you take issue with her, then why not with yourself?

I'm happy about the $5M purse. That's what happens when two gigantic superstars meet up in one of the most anticipated showdowns in the history of the sport, and Oaklawn wants to be the venue that makes that history.

Whether or not it happens is doubtful, but it proves that everyone wants a piece of these two. And if the matchup occurs and draws huge ratings and potentially new eyes to the sport, then it's $5M well spent. There is no better advertisement.

08 Feb 2010 9:12 AM
Footlick

Fire Slam- for once we agree!  I am so tired of the yelling and the arguing.  If they are going to meet, meet at the BCC or even later in the year at Belmont.  If not, try Zenyatta on the turf and then take it from there.  I woukd like to see her win the BC Turf.  Enough of this divisiveness.  We have 3 yr olds to discuss.

08 Feb 2010 9:33 AM
Karen in Indiana

Linda in Texas, you go, girl!!

They are both great horses, there is a lot to be thankful for & you're right about the job they did with Quality Road.

08 Feb 2010 9:43 AM
the_wiz

Any questions about this turning into a match race may be answered by the size of the purse. 10% of 5 million is 500K for finishing only third, 6% is 300k for finishing fourth. That is pretty much the standard breakdown of purses I'f I'm not mistakin. Heck a 5th place fininsh would generate winnings near or above 6 figures as well. They should have no problem finding entries to run for that kind of money.

I say it's high time the two monsters get it on but no matter who wins or loses the excuses will be plentiful once it's over.

08 Feb 2010 11:04 AM
nonnonheinous

Am I missing something?

I don't want to knock the obvious talent that Quality Road has, especially at Gulfsteam Park, but I was not blown away by the Donn, at least not as much as it seems everyone else was. It was certainly visually impressive, but in part it was because that field was so clearly overmatched.

Yes, he broke his own track record, but what was it? 1:47 1/5? Let's not forget that both Rachel and Zenyatta have posted sub 1:47, 1 1/8 mile races. Hell, The Pamplemousse ran the Sham in 1:47 flat and I don't remember anyone saying he was a monster. Just that it was a "solid time".

Yes, I understand that times vary track to track. But we're still not talking about an otherworldly running time. I would be most interested to see how fast he ran the last eighth.

QR has tons of talent, in part due to his size, and probably stands the best chance at beating RA or Z at 1 1/8 or less, out of any of the colts. Past 1 1/8, my money's still on a healthy Zenyatta. I still have NEVER seen that horse look like she's running hard--she's some kind of biomechanical freak.

QR vs RA (no Zen) at 10 furlongs, I give the edge to RA, because she's gutty and game. QR has gone head to head with Summer Bird at 10 furlongs and lost. I think they both would be pretty tired at the end, but RA so far has shown more heart, so I would put my money on her.

QR has shown flashes of brilliance, but just needs to show me some more consistency before I start calling him a monster and start seriously comparing him to RA and Zenyatta. No one can accuse THEM of being inconsistent or needing to have things "their way" to win ;)

08 Feb 2010 11:59 AM
Slew

I know Eightyfiveinafifty's bit broke, and Im so glad he's ok...but isn't it up to the trainer to make certain that doesn't happen?  The horse and the jockey are thankfully ok, but I still am considering that he has a huge psychological gap to now overcome.  On a side note...Who Dat nation rejoices...Saints take the Super Bowl!

08 Feb 2010 4:15 PM
downhomesunset

The only true way to settle this is with a one-on-one match race.In a field of horses (however small it may be) there is the real/imagined idea of another horse getting in the way. A field will simply be possible obstacles that may or may not prevent one or the other from winning. If this happens, there will not be the answer that everyone is looking for. A match race will be the only true way to point at one of these mares and say "She is better!".

It would be great if people would stop saying that a match race between these two will end in the death of one. Ruffian took a bad step-it could of happened anytime-especially considering that Reviewer broke bones every year he raced. A broken leg also ended his life. Was Barbaro in a match race? George Washington? I don't enjoy opening old wounds-but I feel the need to point out that a leg can be broken in a stall, paddock, workout, race, ect. Please stop the doom and gloom so we can concentrateon getting RA and Zen together!

08 Feb 2010 5:04 PM
Forbidden Apple

Someone wrote that Quality Road is possibly the fastest horse in the world, what a joke. I don't even think he is the fastest horse at Gulfstream Park. Big deal, he won the Donn in 1:47 2/5. I look forward to the day where he runs at a classic distance of 1 1/4 miles against Zenyatta. He had very little pace pressure at his favorite race track. With Pletcher training him, I will predict that he does not even make it to the starting gate in the Breeder's Cup Classic.

08 Feb 2010 6:07 PM
Linda in Texas

Sherpa, started to send a post this morning when i read the entire article about Eightyfiveinafifty in Bloodhorse. When Slew mentioned 'he went wild' in the race and jumped 2 rails,' i wondered what had happened. Now i know, and after watching the video, you can see there was something very wrong. When that bit broke i imagine it probably pinched him or hurt like heck. Never had that happen so don't know, article also said he came back without his bridle.I Just like the horse, and the name reminds me of when i really was going 85 in a 50 and got a warning ticket from a DPS Trooper.

Seems like this is going to be a great year for racing and we have so much to look forward to.

Big Brown's Buddy has an interesting point in mentioning all the fillies being foaled. Many more so far than colts or so it seems and i was thinking the same thing a week ago.  

Agree totally with Carolyn. Frankly they send too many too young with lots of racing left to the breeding shed unless if course it is due to a debilitating injury.  

09 Feb 2010 12:08 AM
OldDog

Mr. Jackson and Mr. Moss:

Keep these ladies safe.

09 Feb 2010 8:55 AM
LAZMANNICK

After initially being wowed by Quality Road’s effort in the Don and then sitting back and taking a look at it, I still feel that Quality Road might be the real deal, but I believe he still has to prove it.  And he definitely needs to prove it away from Gulfstream.   I for one have never been impressed with Gulfstream.  I think that there are too many biases on the main track to get an honest feeling for a horse’s effort (for example Dunkirk effected by a bias in last year’s Florida Derby).  We never really see the three year-olds at their best.  Let’s face it, during January and February and even into March the three year-olds are really over grown two year olds.  Their best and fastest races are coming later in the year.......As for class, there always seems to be a lack of top quality older horses at GP because the season is long and there are lots of big pots and prestige races later in the year.  Hence we get the watered down Don, which boasted other than Quality Road, one horse that placed in a G-1 race in 2008 and a horse that showed in a G-1 in 2007.  There were no other G-1 winners.  We also got a claimer, a reformed claimer and a couple that race best on turf......As for the time of the race, I think it is what we could expect.  It was not sub 1.47, but when you consider that the three-year best time for 1-1/4 M (not often ran at GP) is 2.02.3 it is a good time.........Quality now needs to prove himself at least at 9-F and eventually at 10-F against fields with multiple proven G-1 winners.  People can say what they want, but he had chances to do so in the Travers and the JCGC and failed.  I don’t buy the layoff theory or the track condition in either of those races.  Prep races are a thing of the past and many trainers actually train their horses up to a race.  As for the sloppy track conditions, those same people that knock Zenyatta for racing on synthetics and say she can’t race on dirt, conveniently make excuses for Quality Road’s inability to win in the slop......He didn’t win in the slop because he simply wasn’t good enough to win those races.......This should be his year, but he still has to prove it.

09 Feb 2010 3:05 PM
Beverly Donahoo

Well, everyone is wanting Rachel and Zenyatta to run at each other in the Apple Blossom.  Slow down a bit.  Zenyatta really hasn't been out of training and already has 4 works to her credit.  Rachel did have time off, (look at how long she had been in training, her age, her schedule etc, etc,) and has had only her 2 work.  Trained horses (and have been aroung them all my life) would really like to see a solid 90 days training in Rachel and preferably a prep race for both of the ladies.  One would want each of the horses in top condition when and if they ever meet.  Oftentimes, a prep race will tell the trainer if or if not the horse is fit.  One thing, you don't want to run Rachel unless she is in top condition.  A little unfair to pit her agains a horse that's been in training for several months already.  Don't worry, they two ladies will probably meet each other sometime this year.  Both of them just have to stay healthy and sound!!!!!  It could be a long racing season and there are plenty of other good horses out there to watch.

09 Feb 2010 3:56 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

Linda in TX - just saw today - First foal for Zarkava - filly.  First foal for Nobiz Like Shobiz - filly.  It will certainly be interesting come 2012/13! Can't wait!

09 Feb 2010 6:46 PM
John

Forget Quality Road, look at the new monster on the track - Richard's Kid. Wow. Did you see that horse. Man or man!

10 Feb 2010 12:38 AM
Maryl

Would love to see The Girls meet at Oaklawn.  In anticipation I've bought tickets for that day and plan on flying from Northern California to Hot Springs.  What's the best way to keep tabs on the chance of either or both of them running?

10 Feb 2010 12:56 PM
Kate

I feel so vindicated. When I heard Zenyatta wasn't retiring, I picked the Apple Blossom as a potential meetup for the two of them. When I heard that Oaklawn was trying to lure them, I made sure I had tickets. I can't WAIT for April 3. It's going to be great anyway, and if Zenyatta runs, it'll be amazing, and if both run, it's going to be the biggest thing since at least Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure and probably since Seabiscuit and War Admiral.

10 Feb 2010 4:49 PM
Lil Darlin

While initially disappointed at the announcement(though I kind of figured Rachel wasn't going to run)I applaud Mr. Jackson for not playing games and being up front about the situation instead of waiting until the last minute.  We could have been having this discussion for the next month and a half.  Instead, I am now wondering what race names have been thrown around in the discussions with Mr. Waldrop.

10 Feb 2010 7:10 PM
Golden Gate

Well I am disapointed Rachel Alexandra won't be running in the Apple Blossom but I just want whats best for all the horses.

That said I will look forward to who does run in the Apple Blossom. It is one of my favorite races in Arkansas.

For those of you who are coming from other states to Oaklawn on April 3rd I would like to extend an invitation to you.

I can show a few people around at a time on the back side. We can eat at the track kitchen or a fancy restuarant on the track.

If you want to see some of the horse farms in the area while you are here I would be glad to show you a few.

Of course all I have is an extended cab pick up so if you want to ride in anything else we will have to chip in and get a rental (-:

If Mr. Haskin doesn't mind I will put my email on here and people coming in to visit can email me and we can set up a meeting place at the track.

Also just to let you know it is very hard to get into restuarants during the meet so if ya'll want to meet as a group we will need to reserve somewhere.

My email is  sugargate@yahoo.com  and I'm an owner and have references. This would be free except that everyone needs to pay their share of whatever adventures we embark on (-:

10 Feb 2010 8:28 PM
Diane J

It seems like Jess Jackson wants to control everything about the meeting between these horses. A three race series - what do you want to bet not one of the races will be on a synthetic surface, let alone in CA? It's a shame they can't meet at Oaklawn - it's a lovely track and a real horse town.  

11 Feb 2010 9:40 AM
Bob Z

Jess' first blunder....

In what has been a carefully crafted... perfectly executed strategy for Rachel...

Jess just made his first blunder...

.... and it has nothing to do with Rachel not being ready for the Apple Blossom....

How can you go off telling everybody that you want 3 races "that will rival the Triple Crown" ...  and you haven't confirmed the plan with the opposing side...??!!

Jerry Moss, who co-owns Zenyatta with his wife Ann, was surprised by Jackson's announcement, telling The Associated Press: "I have no idea what he's even talking about. Which three races? And where? And when?"

Jackson said Wednesday he's been in discussions with the president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and hopes details can be worked out with the owners of Zenyatta. Moss said he had no idea any talks were going on.

A week ago, Oaklawn Park said it would boost the purse of the Apple Blossom on April 3 to US$5 million from US$500,000 if both horses competed.

While Moss said plans call for Zenyatta to run, Rachel Alexandra won't be there.

"It's a shame they are not going to show up for that race," Moss said in a telephone interview with the AP. "In the meantime, there's some plan here, to run in three races, to which we're supposed to respond to, and we haven't even been consulted about it. So, I don't know what I'm supposed to say."

The last thing you need to do is alienate (insult) the other side by making all these comments about something the other side has not even been consulted on...

That could easily turn in to...

"The hell with you... we'll see you at the Breeders Cup in November"....

Three races .. one early like the La Troienne, one later like the Woodward or the Jockey Club GOld Cup and then finally the Breeders Cup is a great idea ... but it would be nice (smarter) to have the other sides buy in before one goes shooting off their mouth...

Now the whole thing gets off on the wrong foot with hurt feelings on the Zenyatta side for not being consulted....

... Its a case of one person wanting to be the top dog... the conductor.. the band leader .. and not wanting to share the baton...

Pick up the phone ... make nice with Jerry and between the two of you get the 3 races negotiated with the NTRA ... and both take credit ...

Share the baton, Jess....

11 Feb 2010 10:49 AM
MonicaV

It looks to me that Mr. Jackson will have no trouble setting up a series of three races probably ending with the BCC.  Getting these two Amazons together more than once is definitely something that will help racing.  This is the biggest shot in the arm racing will ever get if they do this.  It has me excited already.  Can you imagine the excitement this will generate?  Wow!  This is the best thing to ever happen to racing.

11 Feb 2010 11:31 AM
Bob Z

He better start communicating with the other side or he will have big trouble setting up 3 races...

Zenyatta doesn't need a 3 race run off with Rachel...

The Zenyatta camp is pointed to the Breeders Cup... Sure if a race against Rachel can be worked out.. thats great.. but I don't think they are losing any sleep over it...

Team Zenyatta started saying 2 weeks ago that the probable schedule would be the Santa Margarita on March 13th and the Apple Blossom on April 3rd...

If Zenyatta runs in the Apple Blossom in Arkansas and she is being pointed to the Breeders Cup in Kentucky...

I would think that she would only need one more race in the east... something at Saratoga in New York perhaps to blow away the notion that she hasn't run outside of California...  and she could still run in a race or 2 in California for the home town fans..

Zenyatta doesn't need to beat Rachel prior to the Breeders Cup to get the nod for HOY....

11 Feb 2010 3:08 PM
Somethingroyal

I just read that Rachel and Zenyatta will face off in the Apple Blossom afterall. I think Oaklawn moving the date to April 9th was a wise decision in an effort to bring these two super horses together. I can't wait!!

11 Feb 2010 5:04 PM
Golden Gate

Wow!! Here we go again!!

Alright for you out of staters almost every motel/hotel room is already sold out so you need to call a room reservation tonight!! Remember for tickets 1 800 oaklawn Ticket sellers come in at 9 am.

Here is Hot Springs main tourist hotel/motel/cabin link:

www.hotsprings.org/.../default.aspx

Good luck and if all else fails bring a sleeping bag and a tent there are camping areas around

(-:    

11 Feb 2010 6:02 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

Bob Z - When I heard Jackson say he wanted a 3-race series, I thought he meant 3 races developed just for Rachel and Zenyatta..... kind of like what Big Brown's connections did at Monmouth with the Monmouth Stakes.  

This is just what * I * thought - don't know if anyone else thought the same.....

***********************************

Incidentally, I saw on one of the banners here that Big Brown has had 4 foals born so far this year.... 3 fillies, one colt.  Sounds like 2012/13 is well on the way to being The Year of the Filly!!

11 Feb 2010 7:14 PM
april

well, anyone want any nice seats for the 3rd of April? Section TA Terrace Row A! Right across the finish line...Oh well, I was hoping they would race on the 3rd....I jumped the gun. The ticket says "apple blossom", maybe they will honor it?

Probably not.

11 Feb 2010 8:15 PM
karen2

As I posted on the other blog..this is a serious mix of emotions for me. I'm sick over it and excited at the same time. I don't know that I want these two to meet on the track because I just can't fathom a defeat by either one of them but at the same time....holy moly.....I think I am more excited about this than the derby this year. I LOVE these two horses..... Just keep them safe....

11 Feb 2010 9:02 PM
Karen2

I mean really...am I the only one that can't breath right now??? Steve???

11 Feb 2010 9:02 PM
robinm

I'm very glad to hear that Oaklawn is doing what they can to make the first "Rachel vs Zenyatta" meeting occur at Oaklawn Park.

That being said, I feel compelled to respond to Diane J's comment to the effect "you can bet none of Jackson's proposed 3 races will be on synthetic or in Cal".  I generally don't like to presume what an owner is thinking, but Mr. Jackson has been adament he'll never run another dirt horse on a synthetic surface.  That said, yes Diane, I think you could bet your last dollar none of the 3 proposed races will be on a synthetic track, so unless Santa Anita changes to dirt in a big hurry, probably not in Ca. either.  Since Zenyatta's connections insist dirt is their horse's best surface, I hardly see the problem with that.  My question is, if you're trying to make Mr. Jackson look bad, what's your point?

11 Feb 2010 9:12 PM
Paula Higgins

Karen2 ITA with everything you said. I kind of hope they enter Quality Road and he wins LOL. I can't bear the thought of either girls losing. Just so long as no one is hurt, I will be o.k. with the outcome. Neither of the girls will be diminished no matter what the outcome.

11 Feb 2010 9:43 PM
Matthew W

I have wet palms right now I am so excited---I was thinking about  maybe a Rachel/Zenyatta/Quality Road/Rail Trip Woodward, as sort of a prelim to the Classic---and here we are, in early April, and thse two grand amazons of the turf are going to meet--hopefully near the shadow of the wire!

11 Feb 2010 10:24 PM
Bob Z

I was thinking.... Do you know who the big winner is in all this?

Jerry Moss and team Zenyatta...

Why?

Zenyatta was announced to be going to the Apple Blossom 2 weeks ago... total purse 500,000.

I believe its usually 50% to the winner... so 250,000.... if she wins..

Now with Rachel coming to the party and a purse of 5,000,000 ...

... If Zenyatta comes in 2nd she will make somewhere between 800,000 and 1,000,000 depending on how they pay it out...

If she wins its around 50% or 2.5 million dollars...

So with no change other than a race date a week further in the future if she comes in at least 2nd she will have tripled her earnings for the race...

If she wins she will have increased her earnings payout 10 times!

It can't get any better than that for them... and if she does come in 2nd... they can decide whether to hook up with Rachel again or not before the showdown in November at the Breeders Cup...

12 Feb 2010 12:48 AM
Robyn

This was one of the top stories in the Google News Sports section this morning, which is how I first heard of it. As it SHOULD be! I broke into a huge grin and haven't been able to stop smiling--I'm stoked even though this means that my dream of seeing one or both of the ladies in Louisville at the end of April is now gone. Maybe I'll get lucky and see my boy QR on the Derby undercard!

12 Feb 2010 9:20 AM
Slew

Matthew...Goldikova is an amazon of the turf.  Rachel and Zen run on dirt and synthetics.            I'll watch for April 9, and believe in a meeting when I see both Zen and RA in the starting gate.  It sounds as though Jackson had much bluster about Zen and RA meeting...but no reality.  When they said they wanted a later race..they got it...and are now cornered into entering, trapped by their own words.  They propose a 3 race series...but never talked to Moss???  Lots of words....but April 9 will be the reality check. I wish only the best for both RA and Zen, but I believe the posturing by Jackson (I'm really sorry I feel this way) is just hot air.

12 Feb 2010 9:29 AM
MonicaV

Karen2,

An honest and sweet post.  Sick and excited!  I think there are several of us that  feel the same but I think the sick feeling is just part of the excitement.  Two marvelous animals doing what they do best and we shall see what the outcome is and whatever it is I truly believe that both horses will be fine and no injuries.  They are both true competitors and they both run smoothly but one thing we must remember is that there are other horses in the race that could prove to be factors in the outcome.  Anything can happen and neither horse is invincible but more than likely it will be those two at the finish line.

12 Feb 2010 11:28 AM
Carolyn

WoW, if Zenyatta wins this race with Rachel, then comes back and wins the BCC, my goodness, can we imagine her earnings for her career by then, watchout Curlin??

12 Feb 2010 11:36 AM
Bob Z

Slew,

I was thinking the same thing...

Obviously I don't know how the negotiations went but I had the same feeling that Jess probably said he would run Rachel if the race was a week later... not expecting that it could be done...   and then it was .. so he was locked in...

I don't think its going to matter ... at 1 1/8 I think Rachel wins it pretty handily... handily meaning by more than one length...

Their racing styles are different and the energy expenditure profile is different... at 1 1/8 I don't see Zenyatta being able to get in front of her.. at 1 1/4 miles totally different story...

This is going to be a jockeys race.. If the pace is slow Rachel takes the lead and keeps the pace slow to moderate..  when its time to go she has a faster acceleration then Zenyatta...

so if both horses hit the gas at the same time Rachel pulls away..

if its a fast pace Rachel should hang back 3rd to 4th and wait for the leaders to tire somewhere around the 3/4 pole...

If you are a Rachel fan what you don't want is a replay of the Woodward... where Rachel was on the lead with fast fractions and then had to hold off Macho Again. That would be playing to Zenyattas strength...

So if its a fast pace Calvin needs to have a little patience...

We'll know a lot as a result of these prep races...

If they both run well in their prep races and are in "peak form" for the Apple Blossom... unless something happens like a bad strategy executed by the jockey...

.. Rachel is fast enough to keep out of traffic and not get boxed in and Zenyatta will be out of the traffic because she likes to hang back....so I think the race will shape up as all about them and how they execute their strategy...

This is going to be all about race strategy.... If everybody has a clean trip and the respective strategies are executed according to plan ... I see Rachel winning this one....

12 Feb 2010 4:35 PM
Bob Z

Here is the way they are breaking down the purse share....

"Oaklawn spokesman Terry Wallace said the purse breakdown allocates...

50% ($2.5-million) to the winner,

20% ($1-million) to the runner-up,

10% ($500,000) to third,

6% ($300,000) to fourth,

4% ($200,000) to fifth,

and 2% ($100,000) to the horses who finish six through ten."

Zenyatta could come in fourth and make more than she would have if she won and the purse was at the original 500,000....

12 Feb 2010 7:10 PM
Golden gate

Just heard that all tickets for April 9th and 10th for inside grandstand are sold out as of today. However there are a lot of concrete bleachers oustide so get there early and bring something to sit on...as that concrete gets cold brr. Gates usually open at 11 am so hmm better get there at 8am if you want the best spots.

My favorite stand up food is at the Pony Express grill they have grilled ruebens to die for cost around $7

I can't wait to see who else is invited to run. They will be soo beautiful to see (-:

12 Feb 2010 10:18 PM
Golden Gate

Earlier when I found out that the Apple Blossom for the April 3rd date I posted anyone coming to Arkansas I would show around.

I cannot do this for April 9th and 10th. Parking is at a premium and everyone needs to get there early and stay put.

I would love to meet anyone at the track and have dinner after the races though still. Email me if you have any questions. sugargate@yahoo.com

It is nice so many will be here from so many places and I hope everyone has a great time.

13 Feb 2010 7:51 AM
Slew

Rachel WAS fast.  If you go to the web site of the New Orleans Fair Grounds...all workouts are published....times and position relative to the other horses working out.  At 4 furlongs, 50 of 76 horses worked faster times than RA.  She worked 5 furlongs Friday in the slop (which she's very good at) she ran 1:03.8... slower than a 3 year old filly who worked the same day at 1:02. The 3 year old colts and fillies are burning up the track faster than RA.  I'm starting to think, as fit as she looks, she just might not yet be prepared..I think it will take a while for her to regain her stature.  I'm looking for her top form when she takes on Zenyatta.

13 Feb 2010 9:18 AM
Monica V

I'm thinking Rachel's fitness is not as bad as people may think.  The published times say she's not fit yet but Scott Blasi stated that he wanted the works slower.  Rachel, on the other hand, wants to go faster.  SA has said she is unusual in that she doesn't need a lot of works to run her best and does anyone really think that JJ would risk her not being in top shape?  RA has had a long rest enabling her to recover from a hard campaign and to grow and mature.  She is 150 pounds heavier and is no longer a baby.  She is being brought up to speed slowly but i have no doubt she will be ready and it is purely my opinion, but I think she will be coming back better, stronger and faster.  She will need to be to beat Zen.  Wow!  What a race this promises to be.

13 Feb 2010 11:22 AM
Zookeeper

Monica V,

I agree completely with your latest comment. If anybody can beat Zenyatta it IS Rachel Alexandra. I haven't been this excited since Tiznow defended his title as BC's Classic Champion.

P.S. Hope you don't think I'm stalking you from blog to blog. :)

13 Feb 2010 12:36 PM
Forbidden Apple

The Oaklawn Park Handicap should have been boosted up to $5 million. Then we would have a real dream matchup with colts included! I am very happy to hear that both horses will have a prep race, now no excuses for the loser. This race is what the sport of horse racing needs. I am so tired of my friends and other bloggers saying that a horse beat nobody in their race. I would like to see bigger purses year round instead of counting on the Breeders Cup to produce a good racing product. I love both horses, but I just can not seem to get past how easily Zenyatta wins her races. Heck, I get chills just watching her flex her muscles in the paddock and dancing around in the post parde. Zenyatta's effortless power, brilliant motion, and classic beauty will stay in my heart and mind forever.

13 Feb 2010 1:47 PM
Mike Relva

FORBIDDEN APPLE

I totally agree. Problem is while both horses are great too many want to undermine Zenyatta's accomplishments, some feel that Zenyatta's perfect record means little. Imagine that!

14 Feb 2010 12:05 AM
EasyGoerFan

Has Jackson confirmed that Calvin gets to stay on Rachel?  His Eclipse Award speech where he thanked everybody on the team except Calvin got me very concerned.  I know he quickly corrected himself when he accepted the HOY trophy, but still, I'd like to hear him say Calvin keeps Rachel this year.  Calvin had to beg to stay on her when she was sold and Jackson would only promise that he could ride her in 2009.

14 Feb 2010 8:15 AM
carolyn

I agree Forbiden Apple, Zenyatta is a beauty to behold. I just love her dance moves and yes, she does look like she wins her races so easy because she has never had to put all of what she has into her racing, I believe Zenyata is definitly going to be a one for the ages....

ON the racetracks she looks like she is toying with the competition, then she passes them.

Did you see how she came out of the BCC, she wasn't even blowing hard, my goodness, like she could have ran another one....Lets see what she can do at age six.....I am a diehard Zenyatta fan and have been  since she has been running.

I just love everything about the "Z" girl....

14 Feb 2010 10:11 AM
Matthew W

Yeah, I mean, c'mon! Jackson and Moss are negotiators by nature--very good ones, at that--so why is Jess going rogue, so to speak, that's bush league! Talk to Jerry Moss first, don't try to do this as sort of a populist thing--what is his motive? It SEEMS he's trying to get out in front of things, maybe suggest the tracks, the DISTANCES (methinks)....if I'm Moss, I'm like "we're going in the Apple Blossom, then hopefully we'll go in The Woodward, finally The Classic--hope ta seeya there"!...I am also critical of Team Zen prepping for the 'Blossom---1 1/8, Gr I will take away her edge, her speed--too much, I believe, to defeat a horse like Rachel Alexandra---if they do prep in the Margarita, I will unload on Rachel, to break Big Z's streak--they (Team Z) need to understand their position here---their goal is Rachel--prep accordingly! A prep should be easy, and shorter!...I mean, using a Gr I as a prep, vs the Mitchel filly no less, will remove Big Z's edge--remember her firse race last year, the Milady, vs her 2nd race, the Vanity, where she was slow into her move--no way will she catch Rachel Alexandra if her move is late---her Breeders Cup prep, at 1 1/16, in which she only really ran for 3/8, THAT was the prep!...My call:  NO PREP! Go out there and kick butt! I'm hypervntillating again.....last thought: Team Z needs to be careful--the streak puts them at a tactical disadvantage--methinks it will be snapped, by Rachel in the Apple Blossom, maybe Quality Road in the Woodward---but the Classic--the Classic belongs to Zenyatta (again)...no other horse in the country can spot Gio Ponti 5,6 lengths, and get that back in a matter of a few strides! Best kick ever--I mean ever!

14 Feb 2010 1:13 PM
robinm

Carolyn; Wow, if Rachel wins this race with Zenyatta then comes back & wins the BCC, my goodness, can we imagine her earnings for her career? And, Rachel will be bred to Curlin!

14 Feb 2010 9:49 PM
Monica V

LOL, Zookeeper!  Not at all!  We're always posting to the same blogs.  I love reading the posts and the different opinions.  Your posts are always good and fair-minded and I enjoy them.

14 Feb 2010 11:40 PM
James

If this race happens and it looks like it is going too.  This will be like Oaklawn Park hosting the Kentucky Derby.  The attendance will be close to 150,000 and that is 5 times the population of Hot Springs.  Yes, this will be the greatest sporting event to ever be held in the Spa City.  Traffic on Central Avenue will be horrendous.

15 Feb 2010 12:42 AM
Forbidden Apple

I was thrilled when I heard that Zenyatta was coming back to race at 6. I would have loved to see her in the Breeder's Cup Classic in 2008. But I understand that they did not want to push on her to much. This horse has only had 1 race at a 1 1/4 and she was not even asked to run hard. She is by far the best horse that I have seen in my lifetime to not win horse of the year. Two years of running hard and being undefeated and yet Curlin won horse of the year twice. Now all I can do is keep on cheering for Zenyatta and pray for her to race here in Saratoga Springs this summer!

15 Feb 2010 12:11 PM
Zookeeper

Matthew W,

Someone stated that Mike Mitchell is pointing St Trinians to the Big Cap. Although I was very impressed with ST in the Santa Maria and shuddered at the thought of her presence in Zen's next race, I quickly regained my senses. Z is better than ST. As far as the next race being a Grade I, Zenyatta doesn't know one grade from another. She just runs her race every time and has never looked like she exerted herself too much.

If she ever loses a race, it won't be because of its level, it will be because of her running style. I fear that some day she will run out of real estate and get there too late. A shorter race might increase the chances of this happening no matter who else runs in it.

I know that great horses have tasted defeat before and the possibility of Zen losing is not far fetched... it is simply something I would rather not witness.

15 Feb 2010 12:11 PM
Monica V

Carolyn,

We had no idea you were a diehard Zenyatta fan!  LOL! I'm glad you have that passion for Z.  It makes you a true fan of the sport.  

I loved Sunday Silence.  He and Easy Goer really made 1989 an exciting year.  Easy Goer was a great horse and the pride of the East and seemed unbeatable until he met SS in the Derby.  SS was a superior mud horse and was the surprise winner.  He also won the Preakness then Easy Goer crushed him in the Belmont.  The BCC was won by Sunday Silence.  He beat Easy Goer 3 out of 4 meetings and Easy Goer is still considered to be the better horse so I guess it doesn't matter how many times SS won against him as the OPINION is what prevails.

Zenyatta may very well remain undefeated.  There is no question about her greatness but racing is racing and there is always a chance of defeat due to racing luck, jockey error or maybe the horse didn't have agood day.  There is no shame in this and in no way diminishes the greatness of the horse.  Some say the greatest race Seattle Slew ran was his defeat to Exceller because of his tremendous courage in the race.  Greatness is not always measured by the win but by heart and courage displayed by a competitor.

I'm not saying Zen will lose but there is always the chance of that because any horse can lose.  I've seen lots of predictions that Z will win everything this year.  That may well be but it almost feels like a jinx to keep saying it but then I am superstitious when it comes to the racing gods.  You just never know but then that's racing.  Just as long as the horses remain sound is all that really matters anyway.  

15 Feb 2010 1:57 PM
Monica V

robinm,

You are too funny!

15 Feb 2010 1:58 PM
Pasturelands

I'm SO EXCITED!  I don't think I can sleep on April 8th... go, Rachel, go!  Kick some BUTT!  We love you, baby girl!!

Can't wait for march, and Rachel's prep race at New Orleans.  I hope she runs OK, and then its off to the AB!!  I hope JJ keeps Calvin on Rachel.

16 Feb 2010 8:57 AM
Ragsy

I am going to see the Apple Blossom and if Rachel is unable to attend I will understand, even though, she is the reason I am going to Hot Springs.  BUT, since I love Zenyatta,  man, can I get some really good pictures of a horse that I love....

19 Feb 2010 5:10 PM
Judy ~ Burbank, CA

CAN YOU SAY PHOTO FINISH :-) How cool would that be for our racing history books...

I'm on the same page as the posters who hate to see either one of these incredible girls "lose" to the other.

Whoever doesn't "win", I don't want to start reading nasty remarks about the horse that "didn't win"!! Please... keep your claws in!!!! Please don't stoop to degrading the other! Please, show some class. Thank you!!

STAY HEALTHY ALL HORSES.

20 Feb 2010 3:07 PM
Matthew W

Affirmed/Alydar....Slew/Affirmed....Sunday Silence/Easy Goer....speed dominated those meetings, good speed usually defeats good close---all the more reason to maybe second guess prepping at 1 1/8 for this---Team Z needs every ounce of speed their mare can muster--is 1 1/8 really the right distance prep for a historic meeting with Rachel Alexander?..methinks no...

21 Feb 2010 7:06 PM
Householder

Monica V.  Easy Goer never won outside of New York.  To say that he is just a New York state champion, as some have tried to paint Zenyatta, is silly.

22 Feb 2010 4:44 PM
PMAC14

Matthew W

Me thinks you are underestimating Big Z.  They will prep her to make her move earlier and she will win going away (with her ears pricked). She will have plenty left for the showdown.  Remember,  NO ONE has ever seen the bottom of the monster that is Z

24 Feb 2010 8:47 PM
Realistic

Matthew W,

Rachel has not even raced in 6 months, she may not come back like she was last year, be realistic for a change, Zenyatta has came back for two years so far the same way and better, I just want you to be realistic. Maybe Rachel can give Zenyatta a good race, and maybe she won't .  If both make it to the traack on april 9, we will see, I can tell you this , don't think Mike smith is going to hold her back til the last minute, if you want some updates on how good Zenyatta is go back to youtube and watch her races on Apple Blossom in 08, and the BCC in 09, and then "think about it".

25 Feb 2010 12:04 PM
Footlick

Matthew W- I wouldn't quite say that Affirmed dominated Alydar nor Sunday Silence dominated Easy Goer.  Both Alydar and Easy Goer had to adapt their running styles and ultimately not run their optimal races because of the more versatile adversaries.  But there were many very close finishes, so dominate might be a bit harsh.  As far as Zenyatta is concerned, I think she can move whenever Smith wants her to move and sustain her run, as her last mile split in the BCC will attest.  I don't think 9 furlongs will be a problem as long as she's ready to run.

25 Feb 2010 12:09 PM
Footlick

Monica V- part of the problem with assessing Easy Goer is that he did not like Churchill Downs track at all.  He lost the BC Juvenile there and the Derby.  But the Phipps were sporting enough to go after the Derby even though they knew their horse didn't perform on the track.  He made up for it in the Preakness and the Belmont.  He also had very bad legs, as Shug revealed after Easy Goer was retired.  He loved Belmont, and his performances there showed it.  In the BC Classic, Day made a big move with Easy Goer and then pulled him back, allowing for the quicker Sunday Silence to run by him.  I think the finish would have been different if Day had kept going with Easy Goer, daring Sunday Silence to catch him for a change.  But that's horse racing.  As far as being considered better, many people feel that the horse who has to change their running style and has many close finishes with a more versatile horse is in essence a better horse, but it is just a judgement call really.

25 Feb 2010 12:16 PM
Matthew W

I am not underestimating Big Z--just as I did not underestimate Easy Goer on Breeders Cup Day--I just cashed big, after the Phipp's Great Chestnut had prepped in the 1 1/2 J CGold Cup for their meeting with the great Sunday Silence! I just wish (still!) that they had realized that they were taking away his edge, and they were challenged by Cryptoclearance that day--and it cost them a place in "racing immortality", in my opinion---I don't want that to happen to Zenyatta--she IS all that--I know, but....in a few weeks we're going to see perhaps the two greatest female horses, since, since....and I want both of them to be at their best!

25 Feb 2010 8:35 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

I agree,PMAC 14. Sure, there's always the chance that our Zenny could lose - there's a chance ANY horse can lose.  I think that Zen's biggest weapon is jock Mike Smith.  He knows that big girl so well.  He knows how to ride her, knows when to jingle the reins so she takes flight to the lead.  He reads the rest of the field so well from back there in last,and knows when to give Zen her head and go.  On Zenyatta, Smith makes being a jock look easy!  Well, OK, maybe they (Zen and MS) make each OTHER look good!

But Mike has such a connection with Zenny - great to see, and amazing to watch their chemistry at work.  Were Moss ever to say that there would be another rider on Z - I would worry then! MS knows what she wants and when she wants it. And Zenny?  Well, she's just happy to have someone aboard that knows what she wants and when she wants it!

After the last season of JOCKEYS, I wasn't a "huge" Mike Smith fan (he should have treated C. Sullivan better).  But there's no denying his intelligence and talent when he's riding Zenyatta!  You can train a horse from here to kingdom come for a certain distance, but if you don't have a jock onboard that can read his mount - well,no amount of training is good enough.

I'm  a big fan of BOTH RA and Zen,so an actual meeting is kind of scary for me.  But even though I'm going to be rooting for them both, I'm really hoping Zen runs away with it all, and proves to everyone what the rest of us ZenFans know - Zen rules!!

25 Feb 2010 11:22 PM
Aluminaut

Hey All,

People are talking about a mare from Venz. named Bambera.  Look her up.  She's scheduled to run in the AB.  Scary good.

28 Feb 2010 12:34 AM

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