So, What is Their Thinking?

There has been quite an uproar over the announcement that Rachel Alexandra will run in the non-graded Lady’s Secret Stakes instead of the grade I Ruffian Handicap at Saratoga the following week.

Although one can only speculate what their thinking is, here are some possibilities, going so far as to look ahead and coming up with a possible schedule leading up to the Breeders’ Cup.

First off, unlike many people, I was not of the opinion that Rachel Alexandra showed in the Fleur de Lis that she is back, or even close to being back, to the Rachel of last year, and I stated all my reasons in a recent blog – briefly, the head cocking and the drifting in the stretch, and just not appearing as dominant and in control as she was last year. And the filly she defeated by 10 ½ lengths, she had defeated by 13 lengths in her losing effort the race before. Was it a major step in the right direction? Definitely.

Let’s also remember, this is a filly who, for whatever reason, did not have a workout in five months. Who knows what kind of metamorphosis she went through during such a long period of inactivity? It is often difficult getting fillies back to where they once were after a long layoff.

With this decision, Steve Asmussen and Jess Jackson apparently also feel she is not yet back to where she was last year and is not ready for the Ruffian. Rachel lost her first two starts this year against fillies she likely would have annihilated last year. Now that she has gotten back on track and heading in the right direction, do they really want to risk setting her back by jumping into a grade I stakes and having to give weight to some top-class fillies? The Lady’s Secret gives her another chance to move forward, keep her confidence level high, and work out some of the kinks she displayed in the Fleur de Lis. If she should get beat, the thinking would be, if she lost this race she surely would have lost the Ruffian.

Ok, so let’s assume Rachel wins the Lady’s Secret impressively and runs a more professional race and looks as dominant as she did last year. Does that mean she’s back to where she was last year or even close to it? Of course not. One wouldn’t think that is the purpose of running in the Lady’s Secret. It would be to get another impressive victory in her and smooth out the rough edges.

So, what would be the next step after the Lady’s Secret? That depends on which Breeders’ Cup race they are pointing for. Let’s assume it is the Classic. Again, this is all speculation, but here is a possible scenario to reach that goal.

Whether Rachel ran in the Ruffian or waited for another race to make her 2010 grade I debut, there is a fairly good possibility she is going to get beat somewhere along the way because of all the catching up she’s had to do. Somewhere she is going to have to make a big jump in class. The Ruffian isn’t that spot, not under handicap conditions and having lost two of her last three starts. The Personal Ensign conceivably could be that spot. First off, she would have five weeks to that race instead of four had she run in the Ruffian. Second, although it would be a difficult task stretching out to 1 1/4 miles from 1 1/16 miles, the race would at least provide a strong foundation and get a 10-furlong race into her, which she would need in the Classic, having never been that far. So, even if she finished second and ran a big race, similar to the race Azeri ran in the 2004 Personal Ensign, when she set fast fractions and couldn’t hold off Storm Flag Flying, it would help move her forward from a toughness and fitness standpoint.

Forget the Woodward. She’d likely have to face better horses than last year, and look what that gut-wrencher did to her, as well as the two colts – Macho Again and Bullsbay -- who chased her home down the stretch.

With the Personal Ensign under her belt she can head to the Beldame over the same track and distance as the Mother Goose, where she turned in one of the most brilliant performances of her career. Only then would we see the real Rachel Alexandra emerge, and only then could we expect to see a performance like we saw on so many occasions last year.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup would be another possibility, but do they really want to run her against Quality Road before the Breeders’ Cup? The field would be smaller and she would not have as many top-class colts to worry about, but she could hardly be expected to be in championship form off one grade I race. But the option is there, depending on what she did in her previous start.

By Rachel taking so long to come back to her old self, Horse of the Year shouldn’t even be in the thought process. It’s all about getting ready for the Breeders’ Cup and letting the championships sort themselves out.

If we do see the same Rachel as last year in the Beldame, and with a mile and a quarter race under her belt, and having won three of her last four starts, then she can return home to Churchill Downs and have a legitimate shot in the Classic.

Of course, none of this could be running through Asmussen’s and Jackson’s mind. They could have something totally different in mind. But considering they haven’t explained their decision to run in the Lady’s Secret in clear and simple terms, one can only speculate as to what their thinking was and try to come up with possible scenarios for the rest of the year.

This merely has been one of them.

395 Comments

Leave a Comment:

TJLuvsTizs

Steve,

We all hope you are on to something, not on something!  This summer was supposed to be one for the ages, but this coupled with Z going to the CH has taken the wind out of the sails of the horse racing community.

02 Jul 2010 1:42 PM
steve from st louis

Not my call, but it's obvious she's not the same racehorse. She has more to lose, little to gain. Time to light the candles, a little soft music, enter Curlin.

02 Jul 2010 2:16 PM
JerseyBoy

Steve, I think the connections of Rachel Alexandra know more about her limits than people think.

The naked facts are that both times RA ran against colts on a dry track her Speed Figure was an identical 92 on tracks with a Track Variant of 8. That is beyond dispute. It is in the DRF.

That is the level of the colts she can beat on a dry track. It sets the limit of her ability.

Those who keep citing her margin of victory on wet tracks should ask themselves if she is a better horse than Conquistador Cielo who won the Belmont by daylight on a wet track. She is not. The connections are doing the right thing by not running her against the best.

02 Jul 2010 2:19 PM
DB

I agree with you Steve.   If she were truly ready, they would have her in the Grade 1 Ruffian.  She as off a long time.

I do not think she can do 1 1/4 miles well and I do not think we will be seeing her in the Classic or the Distaff.   I think the Dirt Mile would be better suited for her style.

I wish her well !

02 Jul 2010 2:22 PM
Primadex

Thank you for this balanced look at the situation and for emphasizing the horse's needs.  

02 Jul 2010 2:27 PM
Ken

Rachel will never get 10f against real 10f horses.  They should just give up on that pipedream and run her at Saratoga in two 9f races.

02 Jul 2010 2:35 PM
Sam Ludu

I live next door to Saratoga, in Wilton, so I'm obviously disappointed Rachel is passing on the Ruffian for the Lady's Secret at Monmouth. But my disappointment doesn't color my opinion about how I believe Rachel is currently being mismanaged.

What's especially puzzling is Jess Jackson's comment that the Lady's Secret is a good start for another championship season for Rachel.

By August, assuming Zenyatta takes the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar, not a gigantic leap of faith, Zenyatta will have four Grade 1 victories for the year. Even if Rachel takes the ungraded Lady's Secret, she will have a 2010 record, at that point, of  a win in a Grade 2, a win in an ungraded stakes, and two losses.

Rachel's not going to run in the 10-furlong Personal Ensign at Saratoga — not her best distance. She's not going to run in the nine-furlong Woodward — she emptied the tank last year in that race against mild competition. What if Quality Road were to show up in this year's Woodward?

Rachel's not going to run in the 10-furlong Ruffian — again the distance problem. And even if she does and wins, it will only be her first Grade 1 of the year. And it wouldn't be a win over Zenyatta because she won't be at Belmont. She'll stay in California.

Which brings us to the Breeders' Cup in November. Will Zenyatta have five Grade 1 victories by then? Probably. Will Zenyatta and Rachel, assuming their both healthy then, meet at the BC? Very unlikely. Zenyatta will surely go in the Classic, at 10 furlongs. Shireffs and Moss will challenge Rachel's camp, diplomatically, of course. They'll say, without having to say it, that if Rachel wants to have a matchup with Zenyatta, Rachel's going to have to run in the Classic — at a distance she doesn't like, against the kind of competition she's never faced, after inadequate preparation.

So, what division championship for Rachel is Jackson envisioning? If he doesn't have enough confidence in Rachel's ability and temperament after three races this year and a slew of regular workouts, Jackson should simply retire her. This mediocre schedule he has for her will do nothing for her now or for her legacy.

02 Jul 2010 2:50 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

You nailed it. Rachel's path this year has nothing to do with HOY last year or this year. The five months off made it a whole new ball game, and she isn't yet where she was last year or could have been this year. Except for her first race this year, which was too soon to run, her path makes sense for Rachel THIS YEAR. She's actually done quite well considering a five month layoff for a filly. She's not ready for the top Graded races, especially against the top males. Push the envelope and you could ruin her, be patient and take the right path and she could possibly win The Breeder's Cup. So those that are trying to push her into races she's not ready for-take your pick: Ruin her or have a chance for a huge win. Except for exhibiting her tremendous talent at times, she has not shown that she is the same Rachel YET.

02 Jul 2010 2:50 PM
Steve Haskin

Yes, the 10 furlongs is a concern, considering she's never been that far, but her only shot of getting the distance is to have a 10 furlong race before. Perhaps that is why Asmussen has been trying to get her to rate this year, knowing the Classic is the goal, while it wasnt last year.

02 Jul 2010 2:51 PM
Lucy

 I have owned and showed horses for more years than I care to admit.  What many people seem to forget is that horses can change a great deal between three and four. I have known calm three-year-olds that suddenly "woke-up" at four and became real fire-breathers!  Others settled down considerably between three and five.  Some who were very precocious at three looked less exceptional as the others in their cohort matured.  Geldings tend to change the least, fillies the most.  It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months.  This is why Zenyatta's consistency has been so amazing...(and yes, now I think she needs to face the boys again.)

  Good luck to Rachel...hope she rounds into form.

02 Jul 2010 2:54 PM
Robert

I don't buy the theories that Rachel is just rounding into shape.  She has been in full training 5 months and has 3,  two-turn races into her, plus 3 more weeks training since her last race.  She is fit and race ready.  Her issue is she is not getting the weight breaks she got last year, and her competition has caught up to her physically and mentally.  She is a wonderful filly, don't doubt that part.  But she is no Zenyatta or Quality Road, and she will never beat either of them at 1 1/4 miles.  SHe has been dominate on off tracks, which suggests she might be something on the turf.  I see her running in the Distaff (Ladies Classic) and not the Classic.  She won't run in the Personal Ensign either as she simply is beatable at that distance.  Zenyatta is just getting started at 1 1/4 miles.  I still want to see them race against each other, but I honestly don't ever see that happening.  

02 Jul 2010 3:02 PM
brady23

I'll be very surprised if they ever run her in a 1 1/4 miles race.

One thing I don't think anyone mentioned re: running in the Lady's Secret...  the purse!

02 Jul 2010 3:16 PM
CV

I thought it was fine for Rachel to run in the Fleur de Lis to further her condition. However, I admit I was puzzled when I read Rachel's next race would be an ungraded stakes.

It's hard to figure out, but so much of how she has been managed has been kept secret. For example, I don't think we'll ever know why she was taken out of training and basically disappeared for almost six months, unless it leaks out after her retirement sometime in the future.

Also puzzling is the fact that Steve Asmussen, one of horse racing's most prominent trainers, rarely speaks about Rachel. It's usually Jess Jackson, making it appear he makes most of the decisions for her rather than the trainer.

I wonder if Jess Jackson also is sending the message to tracks that they need to increase their purses if they want Rachel to run there? I seem to recall him saying something about increasing purses for horses of her stature earlier this year, prior to Rachel's debut.

02 Jul 2010 3:18 PM
Katherine

Dr Drunkinbum and Mr. Haskin

You both make very sound arguments but my intuition keeps nagging at me that Rachel should be retired. It just is not worth it to me (a fan) to see her pushed for the Breeders Cup which I do not see as a good race for her; maybe for her owners, but not Rachel.

She did a lot last year as a three year old filly. I think it was enough. She does not seem to be the same this year. Hope her connections will reconsider. Just my opinion.

02 Jul 2010 3:19 PM
Reinier

It's very unlikely Zenyatta or Rachel will be in the BC Classic.

I laugh at those who think Zenyatta will be in a Classic field full of horses that prefer dirt.  Team Zenyatta wouldn't dare have her lose.  

02 Jul 2010 3:29 PM
OldDog

As long as they keep the well being of the horse at the forefront of their thinking . . . then I'm happy to be patient and see how the rest of the year progresses.

02 Jul 2010 3:35 PM
Squeaky

No way she should go in the Classic- run her in the Distaff where she has a chance.

02 Jul 2010 3:57 PM
Steve Haskin

Old Dog, that is the most sensible comment I've read yet.

Robert, no one mentioned anything about rounding into shape or fitness. She has other issues she needs to work out. As for being beatable in the Personal Ensign, I said that she was. If they dont feel she is capable of winning the Classic then they should not run her in that race.

CV, you're totally correct. The problem is the lack of communication from Jackson. He puts his own spin on things and says things that often make little sense. He makes this announcement as if it's the perfectly normal thing to do. And Asmussen's tongue is tied even if he wanted to say something.

02 Jul 2010 4:00 PM
Let It Ride Mike

Hall Of Fame Trainer Horatio Luro used to say "You don't squeeze the lemon" and JJ and Asmussen obviously didn't subscribe to Mr. Luro's logic, cuz Rachel got squeezed pretty hard last year, and the results of that grueling campaign are there for all to see this year.

02 Jul 2010 4:08 PM
Nancy

Hi Steve,

What peaks my interest/curiosity the most regarding Rachel's 'off' year is why are Jackson and Asmussen so opaque as to why RA needed a five month lay-off, and why do they continue the charade with race selections that are less than her capabilities given last years marvelous season?  If she is not 'right' then they should stop the games they are playing and let her retire with dignity!  They are only ruining her brilliant 2009 year in the memories of her fans.

Either she suffered a serious injury last year that compromised her, or her hormones are raging and the best place for her is meeting some of those handsome guys she ran against last year.

Jackson needs to check-in his ego at the race track - personally, I think he is the problem in Rachel's life!

02 Jul 2010 4:21 PM
Zookeeper

Finally, we get an article and comments that are trying to solve the puzzle... and it is a puzzlement!!! Whatever the connections have in mind, it is certainly not to repeat last year's exhausting schedule. The result (of that year) should speak for itself but yet, people are still clamoring for more, bigger, better! I'm happy to wait and see... At least Rachel is still running and we can still enjoy her.

It would help a lot if we knew the whole story but since "the keeper of the secret" remains enigmatic on the subject, it will be fun to see all the scenarios bloggers can dream up to solve the mystery. I think Mr. Haskin's makes a lot of sense, but I admit, I'm a bit biased about that. lol!  :)

02 Jul 2010 4:23 PM
sidekickflats

Maybe Rachel will be the Thoroughbred version of Dan Patch. Hauled not to where the races are but to the tracks that put up the most appearance money.  

02 Jul 2010 4:25 PM
ace

Zenyatta's unbeaten streak has become an albatross around her neck, preventing her fom embracing the challenges all the Greats faced.  All of them suffered defeat, none were tarnished by them in the way Z (and all the major contenders these days) reputations are tarnished by ducking tough adversaries.

02 Jul 2010 4:48 PM
bill marshall

All the talk about Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta is understandable.  Either or both will have to ultimately deal with Quality Road as well as the three-year-olds, if any step forward.  I Want Revenge may be a factor, also.  All this notwithstanding, the best horse currently racing, worldwide, is Goldikova.

02 Jul 2010 4:58 PM
Kat

I so totally agree that even if RA's BSFs/times are starting to look like last years, she isn't the same horse.  She was doing it for fun last year, and she very obviously isn't this year.  They seem to be trying to nurture her along and that is a good thing.

As to the purse increases, I don't think JJ needs to increase his own earnings, but I'm sure he doesn't have a problem with the earnings column number in RA's historical record have a big fat juicy sum in it. . .

02 Jul 2010 5:13 PM
howard b

It is time to retire Rachel, last year was last year, This is a very different year, and she is not the same horse that she was.

02 Jul 2010 5:14 PM
Karen in Indiana

Other than 2 times last year when Rachel was blazing fast, the times she's running this year are very consistent with the rest of her 2009 races. Is it possible that she was an early bloomer last year and has stagnated at that level this year? So that it's not so much that she has regressed, but she just hasn't improved off a brilliant 3 year old campaign and now she's racing with older horses?

02 Jul 2010 5:19 PM
Let It Ride Mike

Karen, because a horses value and the value of their babies may be affected by disclosing a physical problem, Jess Jackson is well within his rights to keep any of RA's maladies confidential

02 Jul 2010 5:30 PM
Molly

First off: Steve Haskin is my hero.

Second: I noticed in news coverage that Monmouth:

A) Moved the date of the race, B) Changed the distance and C) Drastically increased the purse.

Have any of you read if Jackson asked NYRA to mess with the particulars (date, distance, purse) of the Ruffian(G1) to suite his needs?

Also, I'm not disrespecting RA, but cannot help but point out to the Z-haters that Zenyatta does not run in races personalized for her strengths. The only time I'm aware of one of her races being moved was this year's Apple Blossom, which was done at the request of Jackson who, it should be mentioned, ultimately did not run his horse.

Sorry. Couldn't help myself.

02 Jul 2010 5:33 PM
carry back

First, let me confess my love of Zenyatta. I would also cheerfully confess that RA had a brilliant 2009 campaign and was a deserving HOY.  

That said, why is it that the Mosses can't catch a break for their handling of Zenyatta, (who seems to be a poor shipper) while tracks in the East go out of their way to accommodate JJ.

And if for some reason RA loses this ungraded race, will JJ still point her on to the BC? I hope for RA's sake that they truly are keeping her well being first and foremost, and not worrying about her legacy which is already secure on the basis of her wonderful 2009 season.

02 Jul 2010 5:35 PM
kathleen o

Karen, well put.  RA was an early bloomer, and the blush is off the rose.  She has to deal with older horses and weight.

Let it ride.  Full disclosure needs to be made when buying or selling a horse, and that also means any problems with sire or dam.  Anything else speaks poorly of Mr Jackson.

02 Jul 2010 5:53 PM
Bob Z

Steve,

Thanks for writing this... This is the topic I was looking for....

I do have a question.

Can you explain the grading system for races?

What makes a Grade I a Grade 1.. etc.?

Is it purse related? past performance of the horse entrants?

With Rachel going to the Lady's Secret... hypothetically what would happen if say Zenyatta and the other top female horses entered that race?

Would it be upgraded to a graded stakes race because the competition just got a lot better?

Thanks....

02 Jul 2010 5:53 PM
Swale

Steve,

She won't have to face Quality Road in the JCGC; Pletcher already mapped out a plan that includes the Whitney and the Woodward for QR, but not the JCGC, giving the horse adequate break until the BC.  Of course if he doesn't make one or the other W race, then perhaps we'll see him on Super Saturday, but they want to keep him fresh for his BC race.

02 Jul 2010 6:08 PM
Runfast159

What is true is that we can only speculate on what long term plans people have for their horses.  As fans, we want what we want and we want it now. I'm sure they have the years races mapped out and these races are a means to an end.  We think we don't like the means, but perhaps we will like the end.

I said on another blog that there are really no graded races for Rachel in July that make sense if you have a late August race in mind, like the PE.  So the Lady's Secret is probably nothing more than a prep for an August start.  Surely they don't want to sit on her the entire month of July because I don't think that is going to move her forward like an actual race is going to.

When the history books are written on Zenyatta and Rachel, I sincerely doubt there is going to be an asterisk by their races saying that the field was predominately filled with claiming horses or paragraphs devoted to describing the "inferior" competition they faced on their way to greatness.  That's not how we choose to remember our equine heros.

02 Jul 2010 6:21 PM
LaurieK

I think we can give the benefit of the doubt to Team Rachel here...if she's not running in a G1, and is opting instead for an ungraded event, there is a reason for it, and their first obligation is to the horse, not the fans.  Is it disappointing?  Sure.  Is it prudent?  I have to think it is.  

02 Jul 2010 6:24 PM
Draynay

It doesn't matter what Rachel does all year.  She is already been HOY and all she has to do is beat Zenyatta in the Classic which she will do.  All the other races don't matter everyone will remember she finished in front of Zenyatta.

02 Jul 2010 6:30 PM
Susan

Hi Steve, Good article.I think it is very obvious that the connections are looking for an easy spot for Rachel. And it is obvious that the reason for this is that they are still waiting for last year's version of Rachel to show up. To my knowledge, no one has actually answered the question of why Rachel had so many months off last year and did not get turned out. She stayed at the track and did very little. When you give a horse a freshening after a hard campaign you turn them out, unless there is a problem and they physically can't be turned out. At the very least she was gutted from her Woodward experience, dehydrated and exhausted and who knows what else. Sure we heard all about the weather and the bad tracks, but as I said in another post, what was the track superintendent doing and what about the other thousand  horses stabled at the track? I think that those that believed all that last year MUST NOW be feeling a little foolish. But at any rate, IF they are listening to the horse as they say they do and IF Rachel is saying that she's not up to the task, then I guess fans shouldn't be too upset. Maybe this year they are doing what's best for her. Last year got her fame and glory, but at what expense?  

02 Jul 2010 6:30 PM
shimatoree

RA is being placed in races where she has a very goo shot to win BUT what if she does not win the Ladys Secret at Monmouth ?

She will be gone to the breeding shed with some sort of excuse.

The fact is that she is done racing at the highest level and IF Jackson is to do the right thing he would just send her to the farm .

She has already done enough.

02 Jul 2010 6:30 PM
Mark

Well obviously she isn't a distance horse. People act like it is a bad thing that she can't go 10 furlongs. What they could do is run her in Gr I sprint races and she can still be a champ. Last, I agree it was one race she won, I wouldn't say she is "back".

02 Jul 2010 6:34 PM
Bill

I saw RA Mother Goose last year.

A Brilliant spectacle !!!

I would have loved to see SEA the STARS in the BCC. What a classy colt. He could run on concrete and still find a way to win!!!

02 Jul 2010 6:57 PM
Steve Haskin

Bob Z, the grading of stakes races is done by a committee, which has received a great deal of criticism in recent years about some of their decisions. It is not purse related. It wouldnt matter who ran in the Lady's Secret, you cant change the grade of a race. It can only be done when the committee has its annual meeting.

Swale, we'll see how that turns out. In my opinion Quality Road needs a 1 1/4-mile race. That probably is his maximum distance, and we dont know if he's as effective going that far. He lost his only attempt at that distance. Going into a 10-furlong race off a nine-week layoff is asking a lot...in my opinion.

Susan, I think it's pretty obvious the Woodward took its toll on her. But it had to be more than just exhaustion to keep her from working for the next five months.

02 Jul 2010 7:15 PM
sodapopkid

Draynay, You need to lay off the 'JacksonExcuse Juice', Man, that stuff is eating your brain up.

I can tell by the way you talk.

02 Jul 2010 7:16 PM
RachelandZenyattaFan

Thank you for posting this blog.  WTH is Jackson thinking?  Rachel's 2009 campaign was beyond ambitious for any horse.  She answered the questions last year, every one.  Every time she was asked she responded.  As I have seen previously it has been mentioned that when a mare decides she's done, that's it.  We may be seeing a little of that here with her.  Do not discount the greatness of what she gave us in 2009, the truth is she should have been retired, not running in puff races against lesser lights!

I for one look forward to seeing the result of a Curlin/Rachel cross.

If the joy has gone out of it for Rachel the great it is time to send her to the breeding shed and let her enjoy her life...she's more than earned it.

Just my opinion.  I am a fan of both great mares, they are both great and it is too bad they didn't meet last year, when they were BOTH at their peaks.

02 Jul 2010 7:18 PM
Cleone

Dray, let me see if I've got this straight - LAST year, it was all about the whole campaign, and no one race mattered.  But THIS year, it's about just the one race, and the rest of the year doesn't matter.

Glad you cleared that up, some of us were silly enough to think we ought to be consistent.

02 Jul 2010 7:19 PM
MonicaV

Steve,

Very well said.  There is so much speculation about Rachel's condition and why and that she's not the same horse.

Last year's campaign was grueling for her and she met ever challenge and prevailed.  She ran a fantastic race at Monmouth and went on to the Woodward and gave everything she had to win that and she paid dearly.  So many point out that she wasn't much because she was all out to be Macho Again by a head.  Does anyone know how many times MA raced last year before the Woodward?  Rachel raced 7 times. That's a lot and she was undefeated.  When she won the Haskell, they should have put her away for a couple of months and started training again in the fall.

Instead, she won the Woodward and lost 100 pounds because of it and was worn out.   She didn't do anything for almost six months.  They tried different things to get her to rate and she didn't take to it.  She is slowly coming back and not being rushed.  Jackson's goal cannot be HOY but it is the BCC.  They are being more cautious and really giving her public workouts for races.  She is not going against better competition for a reason.  They are pointing to the BCC.  I am assuming she will run in a G1 before the BC but I don't see her running more than one or two more times until then.  She may not do well but maybe she will.  We will have to wait and see.  She seems to be a very sound horse, thank goodness.

02 Jul 2010 7:24 PM
Bob Z

If the grading system is not purse related then if I was an owner...

... I would look for races that were the best combination of purse, distance, and timing schedule for the horse and not worry about whether its a graded or not.... just like they are doing...

.. the purse was upped to 400,000, the date (July 24th) fits her schedule, and she ran well at Monmouth last year in the Haskell....

So that tells me that when someone on one of the blogs says (regarding Rachel in the Lady's Secret) .... "and they aren't even running her in a graded race"  ...

... that that has no real relevance to the situation....

02 Jul 2010 7:35 PM
DinkyDiva

You are right Susan.  We've been asking this question for a long time....  What happened to Rach to make her stall bound for 5 months??  Was there an injury?  Illness etc??  What happened!!!!!

I can't believe that I'm going to say this but, it's my gut instinct: retire Rach!!!!  I just have a bad feeling about what is going on with her and I would rather them retire her while they still can.

02 Jul 2010 7:35 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Katherine

   I don't have a problem with retiring her but if they didn't do it when she was off for five months catching up on her crossword puzzles, quilting, and reading, then they won't want to do it now. They will after The Breeder's Cup though, if not before. It depends on how she progresses. They will want her to go out in top form if possible. After five months she still wanted to finish one last quilt but Mr. Jackson said that she'd have plenty of time for quilting after she retires, and said "it's time to get back to work young lady."

Zookeeper !!!! So nice to see you in print again. It's not the same without you.

02 Jul 2010 7:53 PM
Leon

Those asking for RA's retirement have no idea what they are talking about; if they were going to retire her, they would have done so during the breeding season, after one of her losses, not after a graded win by daylight with a better Beyer than older males in the Foster; besides, she has not missed any training, and her breezes are now on time and as expected.

This year they have entered her every 40 days or so (47-43 and now 42 days to be exact), and it will be her 4th race on a different track; I'm sure they just want to make sure that whatever minor or major adjustments they made for the Fleur de Lis will continue to point her in the right direction for tougher challenges.

I understand the complaints, though. She set the bar so high last year, it is expected to feel let down by this conservative campaign. If it is what she needs now, it's ok by me. Knowing JJ, she will take on bigger and better competition soon enough.

02 Jul 2010 7:54 PM
Let It Ride Mike

Kathleen o, JJ is neither buying nor selling right now, so mum's the word as far as any infimities RA might be experiencing, again, IMO, as is his right as owner

02 Jul 2010 7:55 PM
Barry

It's sad to see any owner or trainer race a great horse in a non-graded race. No matter what their game plan is. I'm guessing it is not the money.

02 Jul 2010 8:02 PM
RachelandZenyattaFan

Leon,

It's not that I object to being told I have no idea what I'm talking about.  These cheap fluff races do nothing but cheapen a great mare.  Just the way that running the great Zenyatta against the same old same old does.  Take a risk, run against some decent horses, if your horse cannot do that then retire them, prepare them for life after the track.  

If Rachel isn't what she was or doesn't have the love of running like she did then it is time to retire her.  

Personally, run or retire she will always be one of the greatest 3 year old fillies of all time.  And Zenyatta will be one of the greatest mares.  Just my two pennies :)

02 Jul 2010 8:10 PM
wabstat

Rachel's only target for 2010 is Zenyatta @ CD.  The whole process is getting her there at her peak.  She will not run at Saratoga this year because she struggled over that track last year, she won the Woodward on guts over a track she disliked.  She will run at Monmouth and Belmont before returning home to Churchill to end Zenyatta's streak.

02 Jul 2010 8:12 PM
Jack

Great post Cleone! I couldn't have said it better myself.

02 Jul 2010 8:18 PM
Winston

Bill,

Would you consider a "walkover" better than the Mother Goose?

She beat two horses, Bill.

02 Jul 2010 8:22 PM
shane

I think Rachel can win the personal ensign.....if not, please name a filly who will beat her in that race. they are giving her 5 week increments up to the BC. She will wiin at monmouth....goto saratoga and win the personal ensign...easily. she will set the pace in that race and split a 49 and beat any challengers. Her breeder stated that he bred her to run all day. They are racing her on their own schedule not others schedule, they are being smart with her. They spoiled us last year by taking chances, which is more than can be said for Z's camp. This year they are doing what everyone else is doing and we are condemning them for it. I commend them for what they are doing, they are truly doing it for themselves this year, as they should be. She already got HOY she does not NEED another. She is already a part of history and now they want to get her where she is confident again on the track. I think she will be great on the 24th and will definately go in the Personal Ensign.

02 Jul 2010 8:35 PM
Zookeeper

Rachel doesn't show any indication that something is physically wrong with her. Why should they retire her? I don't understand these kind of comments. Most of us moan and groan when a sound horse is retired to the breeding farm and now some of us moan and groan when a sound horse is still racing???

Some bloggers are as puzzling as Mr. Jackson.

Bob Z,

I agree. Graded or ungraded has nothing to do with preparation. Timing and distance may be far more important to RA's connections to get her to whatever race they're thinking of as the ultimate goal.

Why can't we just be happy that she is still running and that they have chosen a different (and I think better)path for her this year? The BC last year was NOT an option because of Mr. Jackson's aversion to synthetics. This year is a different story.

They have learned something. The tank HAS a bottom. Why drain it before the BC? If they truly intend to run her in the Classic, then they better take it easier with her. AT HER BEST, this courageous filly will try to win, no matter what the cost. We saw this in the '09 Woodward. Some of us enjoyed that race. Some of us didn't. I guess I don't have to specify to which group I belong...

02 Jul 2010 8:36 PM
LDP

Normally it is an entire season that matters. That has been proven before. However in this type of year, where so many talents are so evenly matched, the race that decides it is the Classic. A year to point out is 07. Curlin, SS, HS, LR all had a very relistic shot at horse of the year. HS had been in the hunt in every race that year, then won his last two prior to the Classic, one a win over SS. SS had won the Derby and Travers, the Classic would've won him HOTY. LR, top older male had won the Whitney in record setting fashion and the Woodward by over 8 lengths. He came a close second to Curlin in the Gold Cup. Curlin had a win in the Preakness and JCGC. All in all three out of the four had won 2 major races that year or had come in top three in most.

In 08 Curlin had won the DWC, SF, Woodward, and JCGC. The history he set that year was flat out too much, no matter the brilliance of an unbeaten season by Zenyatta. Last year RA won the Oaks, Preakness, MG, Haskell, and Woodward. A truly historic season. When a horse has so many moments, or makes so much history in one season it will overcome one moments or the same amount at a lesser degree.

02 Jul 2010 8:38 PM
Freetex

Thank you Steve for your very astute perceptions.  I agree it is obvious Jackson is making the decisions for team Rachel.  

If Rachel is progressing and her issues resolved it would be more than fine to see her run in the Ladies Classic.  And for that matter, Zenyatta too.  Why not?  Why not have both girls run in the girls race?  Frankly, I believe the Ladies Classic would draw the attention of Rachel's and Zenyatta's fans in a big, big, way.  

Like others, I must say I just want what's best for Rachel, racing or not.

02 Jul 2010 9:09 PM
Terry

Maybe they just want to enjoy watching their mare run well, and don't care what stakes race it is. Maybe the Lady's Secret has some personal meaning for them.

I think the title What Is Their Thinking would be better for addressing the issue of what Bruno Schickedanz and his trainer did to champion Wake At Noon.

02 Jul 2010 9:22 PM
EarlySpeed

I sure hope we see the old Rachel sometime again this year. I've been around horses all my life and know what can go wrong with them. I cannot venture to say if RA is dealing with any kind of unsoundness, she is dealing with a four-year old filly's body that may have had too much rest last winter. That much rest can make a horse feel lazy just as much as a human taking a five-month long vacation from work. My experience is with show horses. In addition with having worked for Saddle horse trainers, I had a Saddlebred that proved to be a good show horse but sometimes his splint made him sore, and I was constantly treating it with a substance whose name I've forgotten it's been so long ago. Makes me wonder what may have been wrong with RA to not be let out unless they were afraid she would have a pasture accident if she is one that tears around the pasture not bothering to stop when she gets to the fence. A mere splint should not have kept her from being let out if it wasn't fear of a pasture accident. She is a big mare on long skinny legs, bone chip? Osselets? Some horse virus? Who knows?

02 Jul 2010 9:43 PM
Draynay

Let me make it easy for all of you to understand.  Rachel is forever going to be the greatest 3 year old filly.  No filly will ever out do what Rachel did last year.  This year they are facing one of the greats in Quality Road.  This horse has Churchill wondering what they are going to do when the Classic comes to town in November. If they keep the track fast Quality Road will beat Secretariats record at 1 1/4.  The math is the math.  Quality can run 110 splits in his sleep and even if he waltz's home in 49 it still beats Secretariats time.  The best anyone can do is run second and that is what Jackson is aiming for. Beat Zenyatta and his year is a success.  Just think if she were able to beat Quality Road and Zenyatta she would be considered one of the greatest ever.  Jackson can't lose as long as he beats Zenyatta and believe me he will.

02 Jul 2010 9:44 PM
lovetheggs

whatever dray is on give me some,Poor old Rachel has had her day the fact she is not in the ruffian speaks for its self dray changes like the weather whatever happened to nobles and who was it that said something about dogs running in horse races no doubt RA on her day was sensational sadly those days are now gone,but that doesnt stop drays logic of keeping the current horse of the year going so she can come second which in his logic is win win

02 Jul 2010 10:38 PM
aleesa4

It sickens me to watch the overly cautious handling of Zenyatta this year.  Looks like she will face zero competition until the Breeder's Cup, if she even goes in it.  Compare her campaign of racing almost exclusively in California against the girls and Goldikova racing against males in Group 1 company and then making the trip to Churchill Downs.

  RA does not run like a mile and quarter type horse and I would be  shocked if she is entered in the Classic.

02 Jul 2010 10:38 PM
Matthew W

Steve in the old days, August and September were the proving months--nowadays, a race as champion-defing as the Woodward (once the biggest race of the year for older horses) is a prep for November! Maybe (probably) the Breeders Cup is too late in the year--I know it's to acommodate Europe--but if they want to be stoggy in their ways--let'em! Pull the Breeders Cup back a few weeks--make it "our" championships-- As for Rachel, I think Jess can see how Rail Trip and Zenyatta are taking things out West--easy! He wants to dance in the Classic so he's taking it easy--I can dig it, just as long as the big foursome all show up at Churchill--it's a chess game--as far as three roadies would be disadvantageous to Zenyatta, I just wish they'd make Saratoga their "Breeders Cup"--but 1 1/8 v Quality Road, when you can get him at 1 1/4 in Kentucky--over a track BOTH fillies love--I can see why they stay away from the harder Summer races--I think both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra have more stamina than Quality Road--I can wait for the Fall Firewowks! Both of those fine fillies can run big v males--just keep winning/looking good--then show them all at Churchill--I would not be a bit suprised to see them run one/two....

02 Jul 2010 10:42 PM
natalie

5 month layoff?  They sent her to NO to keep her away from the main media while she recovered from her

grueling 2009 campaign.  All alone; she lost her family in her old trainer Hal Wiggins. No one to love her and cheer her on equals a

sad girl.

Z has had a stable family/trainer with her every step of the way. Her trainer is so imprinted on Z she could run her races with out a

jockey! Rachel never had that advantage.She ran her hoofs off gave her all.  Now the fun is over.

She looked like she had lost her best friend when she started her 2010 campaign. They sent her to NO

left her there and she thought she

was being punished.

She wants to catch up on her quilting and go steady with Curlin.

My biggest concern is that Rachel

could get injured while JJ is playing silly games with the fans

and the media.  Rachel is star; now

she wants to be a little girl horse. JJ should respect her whishes like he promised!

02 Jul 2010 10:47 PM
gammyp6

As I have said before RA will never race against Z and will never go to the BC because she will be retired. Z will go on once again to win the BC Classic and like Tiznow secure yet another berth in racing history. DRAYNAY GO AWAY AND DO NOT COME BACK ANOTHER DAY.

02 Jul 2010 10:47 PM
Matthew W

Draynay Zenyatta practically dwelt at the start of the Classic last year--pencilling Rachel Alexandra as a shoe in over her at 1 1/4 is like hearing terrier as a guard dog--I hearya--we all do (!!!!)...just that it's kinda hard to take ya seriously!...no, at 1 1/8 v fillies--I love Rachel Alexandra v Zenyatta...1 1/4 with the interior fractions of the Classic--that looks like it's right up Big Z's alley, and I think they're gonna give'en all something to remember in November!

02 Jul 2010 10:50 PM
moodygirl

I don't understand why they are still racing Rachel. Does S. Asmussen really think another race or two will bring her back to brillance? I'm not being sarcastic, that's a serious question. If not what the heck are they doing?

02 Jul 2010 10:53 PM
goodwin

Jersey Boy, I couldn't agree more. Rachel was a great three year old - the best last year, but against older horses, she did not beat the best: she beat a second tier field. She should run in the Distaff (I REFUSE to call it the "ladies' classic), where she belongs. Don't get me wrong, I think she's a great horse, but I think she might have been even better had she not been sold to the current connections...

02 Jul 2010 10:55 PM
John

Why does an article about Rachel Alexandra always, and I mean always, draws Zenyatta haters like flies on garbage.

If it's not the dirt versus synthetics angle, it's the flying to New York to run against the so-called "greats" diatribe.

People, give it a rest. It's getting really old.

02 Jul 2010 11:05 PM
Dawn

I'm flummoxed at Rachel's schedule. Why ship her to the Spa and then enter her in a race at Monmouth?

I'm not surprised that she's been racing against her own sex this year--I kind of figured that would be the case.

Like many others, I'm just wondering what the heck's going on?

I think this post reflects my confusion. ;)

02 Jul 2010 11:09 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

Hi! I've been here, reading all the comments. Just didn't have much to say. It happens once in a great while...(wink)

Can you tell me if RA's quilts are for sale? Sure would love one of them! With all the time she devoted to them, they must be priceless! :)

02 Jul 2010 11:25 PM
Barbara

Haven't red all the posts here to see if this had been pointed out already, but the Ruffian and the Ladies Secret (as of the change to accommodate Rachel) are 1 1/8 mile races, not 1 1/16th miles and while I don't think she will go in JCCG regardless over the Beldame, neither will QR go in JCGC per Pletcher, he is pointing to the Whitney and Woodward, then straight to BC.  Even if he missed one of those two, can't see him racing in JCGC 4 weeks before main target, BCC.

02 Jul 2010 11:28 PM
ainabella

I wonder if Rachel would like a small race here in Hawaii. I might be the only fan in the stands, but for sure she would be appreciated. The purse would be small, but it would be filled with all that I have got.

The track is dirt with knee high weeds, but I can get out the weed whip and groom it. There is a bit of an ocean view, tropical flowers for her hair and fresh papaya in the mornings.

Have you ever seen a horse dripping mango juice and spitting the seed?

I love this horse and would love to be given a chance to make her happy and whole again.

Steve, thank you for your work. If there is anyone who is good for thoroughbred racing I'd say that it is you. Lenny is up there too. Wish your videos were more frequent, I get tired of checking to see if the last one is a new one. Be well, you do good work and keep in touch.

02 Jul 2010 11:28 PM
TBOwner

Graded stakes DO depend upon purse amounts along with other criteria.

www.toba.org/.../criteria-for-consideration.aspx

Graded stakes are of great consideration in determining breeding value.

Getting her ready for the Breeders Cup? Not one person in the game actually believes that. You don't get horses ready for graded stakes at the level of a Breeders Cup by running against patsies who are willing to settle for the crumbs in a glorified allowance race.

Jess Jackson is powerful and wealthy enough that he holds these tracks hostage. I'm assuming he's the type that someone broadly mentioned on another blog.

Soon the dog and pony show won't be drawing the crowds and the mare who deserves better will be the lesser for the human actions.

I really wish the people who want to drag other horses into this would keep their negativity and assumptions on the other blog. I'm personally tired of hearing about these negative opinions by a certain few who are full of speculation and b.s.

Trust me Draynay, you know NOTHING about what Churchill Downs is thinking or worrying about.

02 Jul 2010 11:33 PM
TBOwner

Horse racing is about what have you done for me lately, right or wrong. She hasn't done anything lately that would separate her from the decent fillies this year, but nothing special and nothing on the horizon.

These statements about her being the greatest 3 year old filly ever? Ludicrous and uninformed words from a, to put it kindly, person who really knows nothing about racing and loves the sound of his own voice.

Top 5 best 3 year old filly? Maybe.

02 Jul 2010 11:38 PM
Cris

Her last race was a step in the right direction. She ran with nice loose reins, and did most of the work herself. It was not against the type of horses she ran against last year, but she has not run as well as last year either. So now we have a good first step. Time to take step number two. A $400,000 race is not a non winners of two, or alternate claiming. She will see some nice horses in that race. Not world beaters to be sure, but she is not a world beater this year either. JJ did exactly what her first trainer did not want to do with her. She is a very big filly and people forget she was just a baby and they pushed her too hard. Has anyone watched her after these races or her way back to the barn? I have. After the Preakness they walked her by me and she looked like she had just been mugged. Remember, that was the first race Calvin got into her with the whip a little bit. She was learning she was not a princess anymore. Later at Saratoga

they got into her more, she did her job but the joy was gone. This year may rebuild her for next year. Cause this year won't be long enough to give her what she lost. Bob Baffert once said that some horses decide that they don't want to run anymore. She is not showing that. She is just learning to like it again. Her times are good, she is showing improvement. As long as she is going forward they should take their time and everyone should just chill. It is what it is.

02 Jul 2010 11:41 PM
Really?

They shipped her to the Spa and then ran at Monmouth last year, in the Haskell. Then they brought her to the Woodward.

Whatever, at least Lady's Secret should have a graded stakes in her name next year, God knows she earned it.

02 Jul 2010 11:55 PM
Paula Higgins

I think they are trying to get Rachel to the BCC. But I am doubting that will or should happen for a couple of reasons, but that is their plan. I would bet on it. If this was my horse, I wouldn't do it because of the distance, the level of competition and the fact that she may not be where she was last year at any point this year. Why put her through it? After the Lady's Secret, they need to put her in a race with some REAL competition and then decide where she truly stands. If she loses, they should retire her. It would be unfair to Zenyatta to push her past that point if she loses. If she wins, then they can think about the BCC more seriously.

03 Jul 2010 12:10 AM
Mary in VT

To the contrary, I think it is very very shrewd to have Rachel make her next move at Monmouth. JJ is nothing if not shrewd.

Anybody that saw her Haskel knows that she loved that track. She glided over the Monmouth surface so effortlessly delivering her best lifetime Beyer of 116. I don't care if it is an allowance race, if it is on the right track at the right distance and right interval between races to set her up for her next couple moves before the BC. Whereas, the Saratoga surface is different. I have heard it described as deep and testing, and Borel said she didn't care for either Pimlico or Saratoga's main track. I wouldn't blame them if they didn't race her at Saratoga at all, even if she does summer there and train on the Oklahoma Training Track which they say really builds muscle. There is just no reason to run her on a track she doesn't like.

They have obviously realized that it will take some time to get her back to where she was, if she can get there at all. She has already raced nearly as many times as Zenyatta with much harder challenges being the norm. I agree with whoever said this year has become all about being fresh and right on BC day. Regardless of whether she went in the Classic or the Ladies Classic, it would be nice to add a BC jewel to her already storied legacy.

I don't know whether she will return to last year's history making form, or not. Nor does it matter to me. Oh sure, I'd love to see it, but if it doesn't happen, I won't be disappointed in her. Nothing will ever tarnish the legacy of her unprecedented 3 YO season. I will still be talking about it the day I die.

John, I highly doubt anyone on planet earth hates Zenyatta. In truth, she has done everything her connections asked her to do, and did it superbly. It's just that they don't ask her to do enough. For instance, we won't see her in the Big Cap taking on Rail Trip, now will we?

03 Jul 2010 12:23 AM
Heidi G - Sag Harbor

Haskin interestingly mentions Rachel's head cocking, and I can say from pretty good experience that the reason this mare runs the way she does as of late is because of the way she is ridden in the mornings. Her exercise rider may be a useful however he ultimately does not suit this mare because when he gallops her and all his other mounts he cranks their heads to the rail. It's a style most riders have when they ultimately have no control over a strong horse. Unfortunately there is no sense of feel and the horse becomes tougher and hits the ground harder and it gets worse and worse. I have see first hand days when he had no control and it was not pretty. He was see-sawing on her mouth to such an extent it was obvious she was almost running off with him. No disrespect is meant here just the facts as they are seen from the rail in the mornings. This mare is not really a happy camper. I hope she continues to win but I wont be surprised if she doesn't. There is a lot of stress in the Assmussen shedrow all the time and it is reflected upon the horses.

03 Jul 2010 12:24 AM
Heidi G

Goodwin hit the nail on the head when he stated that RA would still be a great mare had she not been sold.

Glad to see I am not the only one who feels this way

03 Jul 2010 12:31 AM
Susie

I am astonished at how many people are suggesting Rachel just be retired already.  I guess all the owners who retired their colts to the breeding shed after their 3 year old years (who these same posters probably raked over the coals for doing so) are feeling validated now.  

03 Jul 2010 12:36 AM
Jodie

Rachel does not know or care that she was Hoy last year.   But Jackson does and that is what makes me so angry.  It makes me  angry that he ran the heck out of her just to get Hoy.  And I am angry at those who cheered him and  are still cheering him for doing it.  Ruining a great horse just for your ego is not what I call a Great Sportsman.  Gees, I sure wish she was still in the Wiggins Stable and she was still a happy horse winning races.

03 Jul 2010 12:42 AM
true race fan

MonicaV  

Your were right that Rachel lost weight, but it was stated that is was more than 150 pounds.  Traveling takes it toll on horses.  They gave her the long lay off to get her weight back and for her to matureand deleope.

For the rest of the unhappy people that feel they need to bash champion racehorses, owners, and each other, you need to research the statistics on horses before spouting off about how good or not good they are.  All I read about Rachel and Zentatta sometimes gets to the point of riduclous.  For example last year Rachel did run a total of 8 races, but from 10/17/08 to 9/5/09 (12 days short of a 12 month span) she ran a total of 11, yes 11 races.  Four of thoses races were ran less than a month apart - 3/14, 4/5, 5/1, 5/15 - 22 days, 26 days, and 15 days. That for ANY horse is a grueling, grueling campaign and along the way she set 4 stakes records for time, 2 for winning marigans, not to mention winning the Preakness from position 13 - first time by any male or female, highest Beyer Speed for any horse running in America, and the first female to win the Woodward. By the time she ran the Woodward she was dead tired.  They gave her the much rest she deserved and needed. I'm not suprised that it is taking her time to return to the form of last year.  But it is interesting that her Beyer Speed for the Fleur di Lis was 109, higher than she ran in last years Kentucky Oakes win.  One other note, she was hand ridden all the way in dangerous heat (index was over 100 - high hudmity).  After each race this year she has galloped out extermly well (she carried high weight all year).  She has ran 1 3/16.  I think that Jess Jackson learned his lesson when they tried to run her too early, with very few works after the long layoff and that's why they slowed down her come back campigan.  If you look at her works they are getting each time.  They showed a newsclip of her the day after she arrived in NY.  The jockey had her nose buried in her chest to restain her....that dosen't say she no longer wants to run.....please.  Horses are not machines and all of them have flaws.  Quality Road has tremendous speed but the starting gate is not his best friend, and he doesn't seem to do well on a sloppy track (lost 2 of his races on an off track).  I hope that he is not peaking too early in the year.  Zenyatta is a great, great, racehorse, one of the best, but her flaw is traveling Mosss have given every indication that she does not travel wee).  If she can drop 150 by just being shipped once, what would happen if she traveled for a whole season like the majority of racehorses do for the Quality Grade 1's?  Would she be able withstand the campigan and win and can she run on an off (sloppy) track?  If she could, then I blame the Moss's for selling her short.  If they are worried about shipping her and she is unbeatable, why don't they run her against the boys instead of the mares?  If they did and she wins, it would add to her legacy.  The only bad spot I see that will show in record books is that she ran in the same races each year (excluding the Breeders Cup Classic) and didn't travel.  Like it or not those are facts....not alot of silly babbling.  

03 Jul 2010 1:02 AM
John C.

There is something very wrong with anybody who is calling for the retirement of Rachel, one of the greatest fillies in history, de facto- just look at her unprecedented and rarely achieved accomplishments. I cannot even imagine the motivation behind such statements! Great horses should race for as long as they are sound. Racing horses is not cruel. Great horses like Rachel are born to race and compete; they "want" to win, which is why they are such champions.

I, for one, could not care less about Rachel's future offspring- whoever they are, they will not be able to hold a candle to her (okay, I will eventually be somewhat interested in seeing how much they look like Rachel or Medaglia). I want to see her on the racetrack, win or lose. That's right!-great horses actually lose. It's not the end of the world and there is no shame in losing either. The greatest horses in history lost repeatedly.

What is shameful is the overly conservative, unsportsmanlike, schedules that are mapped out for the sport's "best" horses. The modern treatment of horses as if they were made of porcelain, drained of their life's blood unless they're given months of rest, is disheartening, even sickening. Equine evolution does not and cannot occur so quickly. Today's horses can be raced as frequently as those from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. How pathetic it is that people are sanguine seeing the alleged best horses in racing just a handful of times per year.

How pathetic that phrases like "nothing left to prove" have entered this once great sport for the likes of the infrequently tested See The Stars and Zarkava. How pathetic that people insist on a Horse of the Year to be forever flawless when nothing, absolutely nothing, can take away her greatness.

03 Jul 2010 3:19 AM
Richard

Draynay: Calling Rachel the best 3- year-old filly ever is a flat out silly comment. You obviously have not seen many fillies in your 20-some years.

03 Jul 2010 6:25 AM
Richard

JJ has a knack for screwing up the final year of a horse's career. Think not? One word: Curlin.

03 Jul 2010 6:34 AM
Whatever

What is wrong with everyone here?  Rachel is her old self--the rest of the bunch has caught up with her AND she'll now have to face horses who are FULLY matured--not STILL growing and learning, like last year.   SHE is the reigning Horse of the Year--SHE is the one with something to prove and she simply has not proved one thing this year except that she raced a group of 2nd rate bums last year and its not going to happen again this year.  She is NO RUFFIAN---Get over it everybody!  She's a sprinter true and true...the truth hurts....

03 Jul 2010 6:51 AM
karen

I live in Saratoga and I can tell you all of the fans cant wait to get another glimpse of her. Regardless of what race they are putting her in she continues to dazzle her fans. She deserves it , she was beyond amazing and fans were crying in the stands when she won the Wood. JJ and Asmussen should take all the precautionary measures to insure that she stays sound. They for sure do not want to see her come up lame, GOD forbid. I for one am delighted to her once again back at Saratoga . If even to just get to see her  workout one more time at the Oklahoma I am so grateful she has bounced back this far. When she breezes the sound of her on the track is like no other. It is like no other ,  She is like no other filly. SHE is RACHEL. One for the AGES for sure.

03 Jul 2010 7:25 AM
Twila

I saw a video of rachel after her last race at churchill. The video was her standing post race outside of her barn. She was having her legs washed. If you look at the shape of her front ankles and have any understanding of equine anatomy you can see there are distinct changes in the ankles from last year. From my own history of working with racehorses for forty years i would bet my good leg that that she had surgery to remove a chip from her ankle. Look at videos of her around her oaks win and notice shape of front ankles and the next time a video of her comes about make a comparison and judge for yourself.

03 Jul 2010 8:02 AM
Dawn in MN

Love your writing Mr. Haskin.  I too wonder why Rachael Alexandra's connections didn't turn her out to a pasture for freshening.  Her time off was puzzling.  I'm sure she needed it.  It broke my heart to watch her race in the Woodward.  That performance was painful to watch.  I prefer to remember her other races, and the Rachael that ran earlier in the season last year.  Thanks for explaining possible scenarios for Rachael.  It will be interesting to watch this year's summer season play out.  I live in Minnesota, and just read about a bad spill here in the 6th race Friday.  Every time horses race there is danger and risk.  That is part of the thrill of Thoroughbred racing.  I have to trust Rachael's value will prevent her owners from doing anything that will compromise that.  

03 Jul 2010 8:03 AM
Dawn in MN

P.S.  Within the past year I had to start posting as Dawn in MN because I finally noticed there is another Dawn here.  That's a good thing, the world can use more Dawns!  I just wanted to say that I found Natalie's observation interesting.  Does anyone want to comment on the change in ownership/trainer angle?  I am curious about whether or not people think this is a factor.

03 Jul 2010 8:13 AM
jeff

Though I respect Z more than RA at longer distances, I truly respect the special ability that RA has up to a mile. Based on how she has won in the past and what she done so far this year her best distance is the 1 mile to 1&1/16 distance. You would think that Jess jackson and Steve are fully aware of this as they manage her reputation and star status this year. Her past accomplishments need to be recognized and respected as well. I tend to think the owner takes this position ( which he should ) considering the conservative choice they have taken for RA. If someone really wants to take on RA then they simply can enter at Monmouth and run against her. RA's schedule is being managed appropriately by the owner/trainer. IMO At this point in time she is definitely not a threat to Zen at 1 1/8 miles or 1 1/4 miles. I doubt that we will ever see that matchup take place ( poly or dirt ). Although RA appears to have her limitations with distance she is still a great horse with incredible and manageable speed.Forget the Zenyatta match-up! Oh, how I would like to see her run and make a statement at 1 MILE winning against the likes of Goldikova and Paco Boy on the TURF this fall! That would be a great way to Retire!    

03 Jul 2010 8:16 AM
EasyGoerFan

I'd like to know why so many people think Rachel cannot get 10 furlongs.  Two weeks after her Oaks victory, and a few days after being sold and getting a whole new world to deal with, she shipped to Pimlico and won the 9.5 furlong Preakness with the outside post and a pretty robust pace.  She probably galloped out the full 10 furlongs.  It didn't knock her out because she ran a month later.

She's a year older, bigger and stronger now.  Why is 10 furlongs out of the question?  Many of us fail to pick the Derby winner because we think too much about distance limitations.  CD can be surprising.

Best of luck to all as we begin the countdown to the BC.

03 Jul 2010 8:25 AM
bg

why has there been equipment changes this year last year she ran in a snaffle no nose band or figure eight. this year she runs in a prong bit and figure eight. is she sore? does she have a breathing problem which is what a figure eight is designed to help with. we have to remember when asmussen bought her she had been turned down by ieah because of a chip in her ankle.

03 Jul 2010 10:03 AM
true race fan

Twila

Rachel did suffer a chip in her ankle, and had surgery to remove it but that happened when DM owned her.  I don't know which ankle.  It's not an uncommon injury.  Just like the throat surgery Mind That Bird had to correct his breathing problem after the Belmont last year.

Easy Goer Fan

03 Jul 2010 10:09 AM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, Dawn (From Minn), I have no way of knowing for sure why they didnt send her to a farm, but sometimes if a horse has an injury you dont want to turn them out in a paddock because they can do more damage to it. I dont know that Rachel had an injury, but I dont know why else they wouldnt send her to a farm, at least for 3 or 4 weeks to freshen up and get away from the racetrack. Then again, sometimes when you do that you never know what they'll be like when they come back.

03 Jul 2010 10:12 AM
RachelAlex

Dear Mr. Haskins,

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful article--you are one of my favorite turf writers.

I am a HUGE Rachel fan (could you guess from my display name??) and also live near Saratoga.  In fact, I was planning my summer weekend schedule around Rachel's potential racing schedule.  So much for that!

I do not know what they (JJ and SA) are up to with her, but can only hope and pray that she remains healthy and hopefully wins all her future races.  I too think that she had too much time off and I too hope that JJ's ego is not trumping the well being and reputation of this great horse.  She deserves far better than that.  

03 Jul 2010 10:13 AM
Steve Haskin

You know the expression trainers love to use -- "We'll let (the horse) tell us what (he or she) wants to do." Well, before we vilify Jess Jackson (and I have issues with him as much as anyone), isn't it possible this is what Rachel is telling them she wants to do?" Asmussen is around the horse every day, we are not. So, do we really know for sure what race Rachel should run in? I sure don't, sitting here in my office every day.

03 Jul 2010 10:23 AM
Giddyup

I share the same sentiments as Terry. Keep Rachel at the track and turn people like Schickendanz out to pasture.

03 Jul 2010 10:33 AM
RachelAlex

Steve,

Sorry I misspelled your last name.  Yes, you are right and I hope that Rachel is telling them what she wants and that they are listening.  I just love her so much that I don't want her legacy sullied by mishandling.  I want her to make the Hall of Fame after all.

03 Jul 2010 10:38 AM
Tim G

Steve, Asmussen is NOT around the horse every day. Fact is he's RARELY around her.

Steve Blasi is with her at Saratoga and is around her every day.

Nonetheless, the trainer in this case is a puppet and the owner who definitely isn't around her is pulling all the strings.

As far as telling a trainer what they want to do? Well I don't think the conversations get that specific, LOL. I don't think any of them know how to read a condition book.

I've come to the conclusion that this horse and Curlin were both vehicles to get people talking about him and off the subject of QR, Blame, Zenyatta, Mine That Bird (maybe that one bothers him the most?)or any other horse or subject in racing.

03 Jul 2010 10:40 AM
Tim G

MINE That Bird also had a chip removed.

Steve, well I know that they can get hurt when turned out. Lots of horses stay at the track to 'recover', but 5 months?

Not working her and saying it was the weather?

Back then a lot of us were saying that all was not well. You know how rumors fly at the track.

03 Jul 2010 10:45 AM
Martha Jane Corcoran

I don't know how else to complain about this.  This problem happens frequently.  It is:  the Daily Racing Form is NOT always delivered to our newpaper delivery company, and so it is NOT delivered to my store and the other store in our town that sells it.  Why this Problem?  The town is Amherst, Ma., the supplier is Holyoke News, in Holyoke, Ma.  Thank you for your attention to this problem.

03 Jul 2010 10:52 AM
Draynay

Rachel blazes 1 1/8th faster then the boys and wins by 10 and you can't imagine her running and winning going another 200 yards ? Silly.

03 Jul 2010 10:57 AM
Steve Haskin

Tim G, you're right about that. He's not around her every day. I should have said Scott Blasi. But he's still around her a lot more than we are and gets daily reports when he's not.

03 Jul 2010 11:00 AM
Bob Z

So... I'm looking at the calendar and the schedules for the different tracks...

Somebody mentioned that Rachel's time between races is around 44 days.

She is racing on July 24th.  So going out 40+ days from then takes us to around the first week in September...

Monmouth Park

Molly Pitcher Stakes 300,000 1 1/16

8/29 ... 35 days after last race.

Personal Ensign 8/29(35 days) 1 1/4

The Woodward 9/4 (41 Days) 1 1/8

Saratoga closes 9/6

Belmont

Jockey Club Gold Cup 10/02 1 1/4

- 33 days before the Breeders Cup

The Beldame.. 1 1/16 not yet scheduled (?)

If Rachel gets 40+ days before the Breeders Cup that would take us back to the weekends of September 12, September 19 or September 26.

September 12  (56 days to BC)

September 19  (49 days to BC)

September 26  (42 days to BC)

So long story short...

After the Ladys Secret on July 24th ... from the calendar perspective ... The Woodward on 9/4 (41 days rest) or the Beldame in mid September would be the only 2 races that make sense...

... and its one or the other...

Maybe that is why the Beldame is not scheduled yet... it gives the track negotiating room with Team Rachel...

The Woodward would work... defending her title at Saratoga ...

... but somebody suggested she didn't like the track...

So it looks like after the Lady's Secret that Rachel will only be racing once more before the Breeders Cup....

If she was in form I would probably run her in the Woodward because its Saratoga and she would be defending last years Woodward win...

But her form is still a question... I would love to know what Team Rachel is thinking as to which Breeders Cup race to run in...

03 Jul 2010 11:02 AM
Affirmed

First of all - from the standpoint of a trainer the following are clearly obvious- The purchase of RA by Stonestreet (J. Jackson et al) clearly had a dramatic effect on the management of RA in 2009.  The feats that she was able to produce and overcome during the year were something in racing that we have never seen-  I witnessed her Preakness and observed every other race she competed in since.  She simply did things that no other 3 year old filly has done at every racetrack and by margins that are just incomprehensible.  She was correctly adorned HOY 2009.  Not withstanding a campaign of this magnitude obviously took its toll and she was given rest- wherever it may have been for whatever the reason as she was due the break.  Most horses move forward from age 3 to age 4-  but most horses due not endure the physical campaign RA did in 2009.  It would be very understandable that she would not regain the superlative form of 2009 as she is now 4 and the rest of the f/m population has moved forward is now at level weights in her races.  The management of her return to the races in late winter early spring seemed rather hasty- but lets assume for a minute that her trainer being the expert conditioner that he is, understands how much he can accomplish in the am with her and when plain and simply she needs to run - and as any trainer will tell you a race is worth 3 works provided a horse goes into and comes out of it in good order.  The fact that she lost her first two races of the year should be clear that she in fact is not the same 3yo that she was last year - and that she took a major step forward in the third start of her cycle is also indicative of the way she has been managed.  Now enter the facts for 2010.  An operation the size of Stonestreet also must maximize revenue streams from its athletes and hence the decision to run in non graded lady secret - Assuming that Zenyatta continues her winning ways despite remaining on synthetic surfaces and not moving around the country RA could run and win nothing but G1's for the remainder of the year and she would still not topple Zenyatta in HOY or older FM balloting- the only way this could happen would be a head to head match up and subsequent loss by Zenyatta-  and the likelihood is that simply will not happen-  Do not condemn the ownership or trainer for the management of this great filly - her accomplishments can never be stripped from her - instead hope for her to continue to move forward- remain safe and sound and provide all with the enjoyment of her brilliant talent.  Most of us would dream to have an opportunity to have a horse half as good as her in the shedrow, do not tarnish her or her connections in speculation.  I can assure you there are 1 million ways to lose a race - and only 1 way to win-  which makes the facts even more clear - you will wait a very long time to find another 3yo filly accomplish what RA did, let alone even try it- as well as find a mare with the tenacity class will and heart of Zenyatta - enjoy what you are witnessing and go to sleep at night hoping you are fortunate enough to have witnessed history in a sport with longstanding rich heritage that makes Thoroughbred Racing a business like no other in professional sports. I hope each and every one of you experience the thrill of your own horse or one you have raised competing and maybe even winning a race at any racetrack - that horse then will become your personal champion.  May you all visit the backstretch and winners circle soon - Salute the champions - they are truly special.

03 Jul 2010 11:34 AM
Joe

I'm from New Jersey and am thrilled that Rachel Alexandra is coming to Monmouth.Look forward to seeing how big of a crowd Rachel can draw on a non Haskell day.Just my opinion but at Monmouth at 1 1/8 Zenyatta would have zero chance of catching Rachel.

03 Jul 2010 11:49 AM
true race fan

All of you that think Rachel can't run a 1 1/4.....please.....in my earlier post she ran 3 races in less than a month apart with the last being 1 3/6 with a BSF of 108, same speed she posted 15 days earlier..... unless there is an underlying problem that we don't know about....and if so she could be mended (one reason for the extended layoff and could be why it is taking so long for her to regain her form).

As far as injuries, or flaws go:

Secretariat had crooked hind legs, Azari also has crooked legs (both have been mentioned during their race career).  Seabiscuit had huge knees and his legs were crooked as well, he also suffered an injury and was sidelined for an extended period of time, but came back to the track with success.  My grandfather used to see Seabiscuit train and he talked about how he walked funny(gimpy is how he put it).

Horses are athleties and All athletics

suffer injuries.  Some minor - some devestating.......let just hope that these great horses running stay safe and sound.  I worry about Zenyatta  because of her size, she is not as agile and if she gets caught in the middle of the pack or something happen to close to her, she could get hurt.  I think MS learned that lesson and will keep her to the outside.  Lets all hope.

03 Jul 2010 11:51 AM
mike rullo

steve

obviously rachel is not the same filly, the connections are trying to protect her.they should retire her before she has a major problem.

the horse of the year is running away from a grI in her backward???

03 Jul 2010 11:52 AM
miller

EasyGoerFan. Rachel is a miler and yes Sunday Silence was better than Easy Goer. End of Story.

03 Jul 2010 12:08 PM
drfager01

Wow! Quality Road i now a great, a horse that got beat twice at a 1 1/4 and never won at the distance. That statement mist have been said with a chuckle and a smirk. Reasons being thats delusional as a statement Borel made whe he said he was going to win the tripple crown on Super Saver after his Derby win sheesh!.

03 Jul 2010 12:10 PM
Tara

they are totally mismanaging Rachel she should have never been given off that much time to begin with yes she deserved a break but to keep her where she was last year well 5 months was way too long.She is totally out of the picture for champion mare let alone a repeat of horse of the year. It's a shame her and Zenyatta could have done so much for racing this year but both mares are being put on the backburner by running in weak competition and in the same races they both beat the boys last year and Zenyatta should have been in better races in my opinion even if they kept her in california why not the passific classic or anything other the the same races she has  won the last two years this year has been a big disappointment other then Zen hitting that 17 mark which is phenominal i'm looking forward to seeing quality road run again and mine that bird and i want revenge

03 Jul 2010 12:18 PM
JerseyBoy

Shakespeare was right when he wrote

"some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them" like the Horse of the Year award thrust upon Rachael Alexandra. That is why this discussion will never end.

03 Jul 2010 12:48 PM
EileenG

It was very interesting to learn how a race becomes a "Graded Race"(Thanks Mr. Haskin). What I still don't understand is, what are the requirements/reasons the Committee considers in making these decisions. Since the distance,the purse,the number of horses actually running and even the race history of the horses competing doesn't seem to effect the graded status of a race, what does? What makes a Graded Race any better or more important than a race like the Lady's Secret? I'd also like to know WHO decided that 1 1/4 miles is the Classic distance? The Preakness has been run for many, many years, long before the Breeder's Cup was ever even thought of and I think most of the world considers the Preakness a Classic race, a Triple Crown Race!! Just because the word Classic or Graded is used it seems to me that those are just words,what is different. A race is still a race, the same dangers exist, the same training and time goes into the prep.

How can anyone consider it demeaning for Rachel to run in The Lady's Secret? It it still a horse race and everytime a horse steps onto the track and is asked to run like their life depended on it, IT DOES !!!!!    

03 Jul 2010 1:15 PM
Leon

Natalie:

RA runs every 40 days or so, and when you have a dream horse like her, she is afforded the best care available. RA gave no signs of being spent last year before the Woodward. It was only after that race that it was realized she needed the time off.

She just won by 12 in a much improved speed figure and overall performance, in one of the most recognizable tracks in the country, and yet, they are taking the easier path because they want to make sure she does not rebound and is not a one-race improvement.

If that's not being careful and thoughful about the path you want for the star in your stable, I don't know what is.

03 Jul 2010 1:22 PM
helsbelles

What could Mr. Jackson be thinking?  It might be very basic.  Just as he avoided Santa Anita, which was the site of his painful BC loss with Curlin, he is embracing Monmouth Park - the site of his greatest victory in the sloppy BC Classic.  He made it clear that, in his mind, he holds the SA track responsible for Curlin's defeat, so why wouldn't we see the flip side of this with regards to Monmouth Park?  Just a thought.  

03 Jul 2010 1:31 PM
Paula Higgins

Some people need to take a chill pill. "Shameful" and "pathetic" shouldn't be used to describe people who think Rachel needs to be retired if they can't get her back to form. They need to do what's best for the horse and not do it for those that want a horse to run because they think "they love to race" and they aren't running an intensive enough campaign. The horse will tell them what they can do in their own little way, I am sure of that.

As for her getting the distance of the BCC. I am sure she can get it, but I don't think it is her best distance like it is Zenyatta's and probably Quality Road's. I would not enter her in the BCC if she were mine.

As for Zenyatta not being agile that is just nonsense. I suggest that the poster who wrote that go back and watch a her races one more time. She has moved from the inside, through traffic, and then to the outside and more. She most certainly is agile. She can do it all.

03 Jul 2010 1:33 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Rachel may never be up to the task of doing anything comparable to what she did last year. The Preakness and Woodward were taxing races for her. She may NOT WANT to put forth that type of effort again. She can win races on her talent alone but I have serious doubts as to whether she can dig down deep to win a race again against top Grade One competition. The Lady's Secret is a good race for her from what we've seen so far from her THIS YEAR. You can't live in the past when it comes to racing now as some want to do. Proper placement is everything for wins and a horse's safety and well being. What Rachel does this year takes nothing away from her amazing 2009, that was worthy of HOY, and she is still a tremendous talent. They are taking the correct approach with her that still could culminate in a peak, masterful Grade One performance in November. She may be able to dig down deep one more time against the greatest competition in the world if she is ready physically and mentally at that point. Zookeeper-I think the quilts are going to her future sons and daughters.

03 Jul 2010 1:36 PM
Leon

Heidi G:

Without JJ, RA never would have had a historic 3-year old campaign. Her previous connections had already announced she was not going to face the boys, and needed money more than her, and that's why she was sold. It is not as if she was taken away from them.

We don't need more owners that prefer the cupcake campaigns

and an easy buck, in an industry filled with people who retire their stars after a very minor injury, looking for the quick return in the breeding shed.

Say what you want about JJ, but he is one the very few who keeps his stars in training as older horses, which is why we saw Curlin's HOTY campaign, and his victory in Dubai.

There is a reason why he has had the HOTY 3 years in a row...

03 Jul 2010 1:39 PM
Jane K

No one would dispute that Rachel Alexandra was brilliant last year, as a three-year-old. However, modern racing practices usually reward those horses that mature more quickly than others born the same year. Even at her best, it appeared that if the Preakness had been a few yards longer, she would have been overtaken. She seemed to lack the stamina or conditioning to race the classic distance. For whatever reason, she hasn't had the training this year that is required for a horse to maintain a competitive advantage. On top of that, some of her later-maturing peers have closed the gap or have even caught up with her. Unless her training schedule this year has been influenced by some illness or injury of which we are unaware, it may be time to retire her to the breed shed. I have no wish to discount what she accomplished last year, but my own preference is for horses who can race long distances for at least several years. It is reasonable to expect a Thoroughbred to be at his or her best at age five or even older, barring injury or illness, though top-level horses seldom race that long anymore--unless they're geldings.

03 Jul 2010 2:19 PM
Zaskar113

Team Rachel is taking the Zenyatts approach - run against inferior competition and peak on BC day. RA vs Quality Road in the BC Classic - will Zenyatts show up?

03 Jul 2010 2:28 PM
Zen's Auntie

The “Ruffian” was too scary. I mean that in more than one way.  Have you ever done something wrong and get hurt or embarrassed and then err on the side of caution even too look foolish in the next few outings of the same activity?  I have. That’s what’s happening here. And you know what? BRAVO!!!

To me It’s a lot more about a truly special blessed horse and the Future of a possibly epic female family line, than whether she runs in the Ruffian or not. This incredibly talented filly, who earned enough respect to be HOY, against all comers (in the same year as Zen winning the classic no less) and nearly got used up has NOTHING left to prove.

She is better than many of the recent candidates I have seen sent to stud after making a good attempt at greatness only to be injured (ie not sound) who still are sought in the breeding shed.  She is greatness. She didn’t just make an attempt she IS.

It would be awful to never see that greatness passed along . Can you imagine what Pine Island, Go for Wand, Ruffian, and Eight Bells (and I know so many other fillies and mares) may have been able to bring to the future of  The Thoroughbred Bloodstock?

I have been praying they would take better care of her care. It seems my prayers may be answered. Lets hope we see them taking care of her and making the conservative decisions that we see the Mosses and Sherriff’s criticized for. Perhaps, Good Horsemanship is making a return to fashion, wouldnt that be great!!! It seems at least lately the RA connections know their horse better than we do. And you are right Steve she looks to me like she isn’t quite the same.  So if for the horses sake alone and for the potential she holds for the future of the breed, Im so pleased to see RA taking the easier road.  

03 Jul 2010 2:47 PM
Bob Z

Eileen G,

"It was very interesting to learn how a race becomes a "Graded Race"(Thanks Mr. Haskin). What I still don't understand is, what are the requirements/reasons the Committee considers in making these decisions."

Thanks for asking this.. I forgot to ask what the criteria were for race grades...

This sounds a little fishy to me...

So a committee gets together ...

(I'm envisioning that scene from Titanic where the Astors, Hockleys and the Guggenheims are  sitting around with their cigars and brandy and congratulating themselves on being "masters of the universe".)

Mr. Hockley, I hope you will consider making my race a Grade 1 next year ... and here is 20,000 for your favorite charity...

03 Jul 2010 2:51 PM
true race fan

Dear Mr Haskin:

Last year a sportscaster made the comment that the reason Zenyatta started her campigan so late was that they had bred her but it didn't take.  Do you know if that is true or was he just babbling (sadly sometimes they do)?  Also if Rachel Alexandra did suffer injuiry, wuld they have been able to keep it secert?  I would think the press would be all over that.

03 Jul 2010 3:09 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

Once again, I see that we think alike. (No surprise there!)

Your serious posts always make sense to me and your humorous ones make me smile or laugh my head off depending on "how out there" you get!  :)

03 Jul 2010 3:10 PM
BobbyMcC

Whatever the motive to run in the LS, it clearly shows a lack of confidence in RA's ability to face top competition at this point.  I thought she'd go to Delaware for a big purse, Gr 1 status, and a speed favoring track - it was like cement last year.  

03 Jul 2010 3:31 PM
CharlieCigar

Zenyatta is a better horse on dirt.  She cant help it if she is based in California and all the tracks are mandated to be synthetic.  If she runs at Del Mar she will lose because the race will be too short and she hates the surface there.  No worries because she will win the Breeders Cup Classic at Churchill and she NEEDS 10 furlongs to hit top gear..

03 Jul 2010 3:35 PM
WWSTP

Thanks Steve for seeing and stating the big picture...because there is a big picture well worth looking at.  RA's 2010 year is tenuous, that is for sure.  And the care and caution her connections are taking deserves respect.  The self-proclaimed clairvoyants here, who say RA will never do this or that, simply don't want her to, and/or might be just looking at logic and numbers vs. the heart of this horse.  To underestimate this horse’s heart is to grievously underestimate her.    IF she is prepped and conditioned well, IF her races are chosen carefully, and IF the strategy to get her to the BC is on target AND makes her happy, then we will see if ALL they can do to help her actually gets her attention and propels her forward over the next 4 months..  I for one am not giving up on her.  She was such a dynamo last year; and after running herself into probable exhaustion, as well as taking 5 to 6 months off just being a horse, she may have simply changed her mind about what makes her happy.  I do believe her connections need to start thinking way out of the box.  I think they should have Calvin visiting her on a regular basis.  Really, I mean it.  He has such a great connection with her and that alone could make the difference as to whether or not she makes the switch to enjoying this game again and stepping up to her 4 year old abilities, which we have yet to fully witness.  I remember Hal Wiggins saying RA needed to be happy!!  I hope her connections have figured out what that specifically means for RA…not just a generalized “across all horses” idea of what that is.  I really don't believe any of this is about "she can't".  I believe it's about "does she want to" and "is it fun".  Calvin, talk horse with her!!

03 Jul 2010 3:42 PM
Freetex

I have read every single post on this blog.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the horses could talk?  I wonder how many opinions would be changed after reading what the horses had to say, especially Rachel Alexandra.

03 Jul 2010 4:00 PM
true race fan

Paula,

I am the poster using the word agil....the point I was trying to make is you can't fit a size 10 foot in a size 5 shoe....even M Smith said he shouldn't have put her in that tight of a spot....maybe agil was the wrong use of word but smaller horses can move through smaller spaces easier, once Zenyatta gets going you have to give her room to move freely....and it was out of concern not bashing as some of you seem to take pleasure in....one other thing, you made the statement if "she can do it all" why don't they run her against the boys on the polly.  Read all my posts, it would add to her legacey.

03 Jul 2010 4:10 PM
jayjay

Thanks for the great article Steve.  Finally a writer that understands what most people were thinking, Rachel is not back to what she was last year.  I don't believe they know what to do to get it back, I don't even know if they can get her back.  She certainly has earned the right to retire, enjoy a good life.

But I'm a horse racing fan and as much as I blocked it out of my head in the past months, I can't help but think about the Rachel/Zenyatta race.  I'm hoping JJ's plan is what you speculated, a public workout with prize money and then on to PE to test her at 10F.  I would love to see her run in the Classic against Zenyatta, yes, it's very very unlikely but I'm hoping.  Actually, you and Jason both stated that JJ's goal is the Classic.  Is that something that he stated somewhere in the past this year ?  I've never seen JJ specifically mention the "Classic" as their target, he only says "BC", so it could also be the Ladies Classic or the Sprint :)  Maybe you can clarify it once and for all, gives us a little bit more insight as to what their ultimate goal is.

I'm hoping for all the contenders to be in great health, top shape come Classic time.  I'm looking forward to seeing all the contenders run against Zenyatta so that we can determine who the best horse is this year.

03 Jul 2010 4:18 PM
mueller

I can tell those who were taken by the Rachel hype. For example. TRUERACEFAN is new to racing and a Rachel bandwagon jumper. These are the new fans that JJ cast the net on and JJ should be given kudos for it.

These are also the fans that have no clue as far as Zenyatta. They are confused why Zenyatta is mentioned everytime Rachel is mentioned. "Zenyatta is not agile" "Zenyatta might get hurt"

First off any horse can get hurt anytime anywhere at any track. Second, Zenyatta is more agile than Rachel. And if anybody is going to get hurt, it's the small horses who has to run against the massive mare.

03 Jul 2010 4:30 PM
kathleen o

Dray, don't know where Zen will be any more than you know where RA will be.  Your predictions, however, generally don't pan out.

03 Jul 2010 4:39 PM
Brigitte

Regardless of her fast time in the Fleur de Lys her connections cannot think she is back in form or they wouldn't run her in the Lady's Secret.

There may be physical issues. we don't know.

But there are racing issues we can see. She wouldn't rate even with equipment changes. Her speed figs are not worse than early last year but now that she is four one would hope for better. Those things make it look like winning a 10f race against 10f older horses is asking too much.

Do they hope she'll relax against weak competition? Have they considered Baffert-think? She might react better to a different jockey or excercise rider. Well, I'm just a fan hoping to see Rachel train on. She is improving for her top rated trainer and there is time.

03 Jul 2010 4:49 PM
ainabella

I am impressed with the quality of information here, but am finding it draining to wade through posts that are repetitive and combative. I'm good with a combination of combative and imaginative, or repetitive and generous, but would like to point out to the interested repeating a negative statement is not going to strengthen a position. Further information, new point of view, reflection, and humor are all good ways to further a conversation and thanks to all who use them.

These blogs would be improved 100% for the readers if names were to appear above their post. This would allow us to ignore certain posters who repeat themselves and who (for whatever reason) we would prefer not to read.

03 Jul 2010 5:06 PM
jim

wow not a gr. 2/3 but a non graded race race worth $400,000 thats highway robbery for running against Gr.3 or Alw. horses.

I guess the purses its time to get the stake races purses in order. There has to be range i.e.; minimum & maximum purse range for these races except for grade 1.

03 Jul 2010 5:14 PM
true race fan

Mueller,

I corrected my post, would you whether I use the word quick?????  Fact is she is BIG horse and once she gets going she needs the room to move properly....why do you people love to bash and talk trash...and am not new, I've read this posts many, many time and for some reason it all comes down to the same thing lets see who can insult each other more......why does it always come down to Zenyatta vs Rachel.....there are several great racehorses running why can't you people enjoy them all and acknowledge their accomplishments.  And I'm not new to horseracing (my grandfathr trained racehorses for years) or on the Rachel bandwagon ( bandwagon jumper-whatever that means), just defending the atheltics and what they've done.  No one wants to see a great racehorse get hurt, and yes it does happen.  Would it make you feel better if they ran Zen in tight quarters and she came up injured (MS kept looking down at herfront foot on the gallop out - why take unecessary chances when she can close from the outside?  Hasn't she done that successfully?  Sorry I expressd concern for your Zenyatta.

03 Jul 2010 6:16 PM
Tim G

Steve, true but at least I was in the same zip code and I did see her more than Steve A, recently. Maybe not one on one but you know, we see what we see. Also all the other trainers are watching closely.

true race fan, yes you can keep an injury a secret. Just not as easily at the track as you can on the farm. i.e. Mine That Bird and the recent news that he had a chip removed after the BC.

If they bred her and she 'didn't take'? It dang sure doesn't take 5 months to figure it out even if they bred her more than once the whole process of breeding, checking and re-breeding doesn't take all that long.

kathleen you are so right, Dray doesn't know where any of these horses will be. He doesn't know what any of the plans for ANY of them are until it's announced. He doesn't even have the advantage of being at the track and hearing the talk that inevitably goes on or maybe even owning one or having one in the same barn and knowing that way.

Last, he's a lousy handicapper and has issues with his ego. Thinks by putting down an innocent animal and her wealthy connections (Jerrry) that it makes him important or somehow 'in the know'.

03 Jul 2010 6:36 PM
The Deacon

Well written and insightful blog Steve. You sure have a classy way with words. Rachel's connections didn't duck any races last year, she went out and pretty much dominated her competition. This year is a whole different animal. Why? We the public may never know. She obviously is not the same horse as 2009 but most great horses never duplicate a championship year.  Hard to match or come close to what she accomplished last year. Nonetheless, all of this makes for interesting discussion. I do appreciate most bloggers keeping this about Rachel and not turning it into a Rachel/Zenyatta arguement and comparison.

Steve:  On another note, I read where the great jockey Johhny Sellers died today. Watched him ride many times, he was so gifted and patient. Maybe you could write a blog about his life and racing career. It would be fascinating reading. Just a thought......

Thanks again, happy 4th of July to you and your family.

03 Jul 2010 6:42 PM
true race fan

Cleone,

HOY is about the WHOLE Year.

Meueller,

One other comment for you, I have seen several good, good, horses "put down" (I refuse to use the other word).  They say that it doesn't hurt the horse, but they sense it, you can see it in their eyes.....it is a sickening, sickening sight to whitness.

03 Jul 2010 6:46 PM
ron h

I just read a bunch of the comments from the fans of horse racing. and most of them were about ra.i like z my problem is with her people,not her.but you can't possibly think z will run in breeders cup.it's in ky this year,and z will not be there.she only runs on her home tracks in ca.

03 Jul 2010 7:00 PM
LauraS

Hal Wiggins said last year that Rachel wouldn't run in the TRIPLE CROWN races, because RA's then owner said that the TC was for "future stallions".  IIRC, Wiggins said that RA would "probaby" race colts later in the year. In the end, she was sold, as we all know.  If that had not happened, she may have still faced, and defeated, the boys later last year.  AND, in my opinion, would be a happier horse today.

03 Jul 2010 7:18 PM
Slew

2009 was a spectacular year for R/A and Zen.  They re-wrote the TB history books.  They broke records.  They amazed us time after time with jaw-dropping performances.  Rachel was bought to be bred to Curlin.  Zenyatta was retired.   And then...and then...the owners brought them back to the track for another year, much to our delight.  As far as I am concerned, anything they do in 2010 is fine with me.  It's like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae.  RA/Zen have nothing to prove to me...I just enjoy watching them because they move with sublime economy and grace.  I have to add that I felt sorry for I Want Revenge who seemed to tire after 6f.  I hope he can improve.  I always thought he was awesome.

03 Jul 2010 7:18 PM
LDP

Brigitte,

RA is not a free wheeling horse. She relaxes when she is able to find a rythem and is left alone in the early stages of a race. Calvin has actually said his secret with her was by letting her do her own thing the first furlong or so. It is when she is forced out of the rythem by going too fast or too slow, that she becomes vulnerable. The close calls in the Woodward and Preakness are good examples of the former, while her first two races this year are examples of the latter.

03 Jul 2010 7:42 PM
jayjay

Wishing all the best and full recovery to Scott Stevens and his family.

03 Jul 2010 7:47 PM
Rose

Steve,

As usual, you put opinions out there, and allow everyone to go for it -- and I love it.  It allows us the opportunity to give our two cents. I really like where your ideas went and they seem plausible/ I read most every post and I hear one camp saying retire her and another camp saying to just hang in there with her.  I also read frustration and  bewilderment because noone really knows the entire picture of her 5 month layoff.  Dang it -I wish I was a fly on the wall for that conversation .. I know nothing of racing other than all race horses are athletes and I adore watching them perform.  I raise and show QH horses and therein lies my love of the animal and seeing a great athlete put it out there -hoefully each and every time.  I appreciate them for what they give us and how hard they try .. It appears on the surface, that the training of RA has kept her mentally balanced and a happy camper, which is good.  It also seems to me, that her fitness levels are slowly coming back.  And I am in your corner as she is still not quit there yet. But that takes time as you dont want to loose the animal to injury during a training sesson.  Some people have eluded to her not being the same animal as she was last year. She isnt. She was extremely precocious and had tons of God given running ability.  But, she has matured- and her trainer is trying to find the spot where she was last year.  Its hard-but not impossible, and just requires tweaking and finesse.  As good a trainer as SA and SB are, I am sure they can get the job done, or at least I hope they can. In any event- I will watch her race and not loose hope that the plan they are formulating is a sucessful one.  I really dont care what path they take to get her there, as I will watch her in whatever they decide to race her in.  And I will be there each step of the way to root her on.  And hope she ends her career safe and on a high note.

03 Jul 2010 8:04 PM
James

Steve,

Help me out.

Your article consists of approximately 14 paragraphs and over 1000 words.

(nice job, by the way.)

I looked the sentences over and over again.

Couldn't find the word Zenyatta mentioned even once.

Then why in the world does people constantly bring up Zenyatta in about every fourth or fifth blog and the majority are not expressed in positive terms.

Folks, do I have to remind you that Zenyatta just beat Citation and Cigar's 16 race winning streak in unrestricked (in-bred) races...has won 17 straight races -the last 15 races being either Grade 1 or 2, has won 7 Grade 1 races in a row, has defeated five divisional champions, four Eclipse Award Champions, two Breeders' Cup Ladies Champions, is the defending Breeders' Cup Classic Champion and has won 3 straight Grade 1 races already this year carrying 128 and 129 lbs., respectively.

I think she is doing very well, thank you very much.

That said, please follow what Dr. Haskins has prescribed and help find Rachel Alexandra some answers.

03 Jul 2010 8:24 PM
John T

While I have great respect for Rachel Alexandra as a racehorse never at anytime did I think she was in the same class as Zenyatta.

Very few fillies or mares throughout the history of thoroughbred racing have been as her record shows and I have always

been of the opinion she is even better on dirt through her efforts

at Oaklawn Park.It,s only months now to the Breeders Cup Classic and with Rachel never having run a race at 10 furlongs their is definitely something wrong with this picture.

03 Jul 2010 9:05 PM
steve from st louis

Steve: You say Steve A.is listening to his horse. Does he hear his horse saying "I'm not the same racemare I was. I'm through with this racing, send me to the shed"?

03 Jul 2010 9:35 PM
txhorsefan

Steve, you've written another very interesting article with intriguing questions to ponder.  I've been reading the responses everyone else has written, but it seems that none of us are going to be able to come up with a definitive answer to the questions because we are not there, not in the barn, not at the training track so we are able to gain only the information that we are told second hand in one way or another.  I do find it very surprising to be going into a non graded race for a wonderful horse of Rachel Alexandra's caliber, but one of the strangest things is Mr. Jackson announcing it so far in advance since he usually waits until the last minute to let us know where we can see her next.  The flip side of that is simply that I am grateful she is still racing and we are given the opportunity to follow her for little while more.  She may or may not eventually get back to the terrific form she exhibited last year, but if she does not, as long as she stays sound and healthy, I'll just hang on to those memories and cherish the thrills she gave us last year.  She has already accomplished a great deal and given us many thrilling victories and I'm glad I was able to witness her triumphs in my lifetime....well, at least on my tv - ha.  Thanks to all of you for interesting comments and thought provoking questions - it's been fun reading.

03 Jul 2010 10:07 PM
Marilyn

It seems to me that there are very few, if no other, human athletes, but myself.  I have been a marathon runner for 20 years, a grueling sport, and there have been times that I have had to take up to a year off to let my muscles heal and re-build themselves.  So why is everyone questioning why Rachel was out for 5 months?

And PLEASE, stop all the nonsense about retirement!!! There is absolutely no need for retirement!  Even with her two losses, she ran BSF's similar to last years, so she is just warming up.  She started later in the season then she did last year, so we're not seeing the 116 BSF like in the Haskell just yet, but give her time, she only has 3 races under her belt.  And I believe the reason she looked so unhappy when she ran was because Steve A. put that horrible figure 8 bridle on her, to control her, and she hated it!  That's where all the head bobbing was coming from, she was fighting the figure 8 bridle.  And why they tried to rate her is beyond me!  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!  I'm so glad they gave up on that idea, if they didn't try it, maybe they wouldn't have wasted so much time and really got some good training in. So she did NOT regress, she  just hasn't progressed since last year, and some other fillies filled out and caught up, but that in now way means that she's washed up.

Now, for the Lady's Secret Stakes, the way I heard it is that Monmouth Park was trying to do the same thing that Oaklawn did, and bring Rachel and Zenyatta together by taking the race off the Haskell undercard to make it the big race of the day, and increase the purse.  Rachel's camp said yes, but now Zenyatta's camp said no, but yet I hear no words of Zenyatta ducking Rachel?  Hmmm, weird. So now Zenyatta gets a repeat showdown with St. Trinians who hopefully will keep all her shoes and we'll see who really should have won the Vanity.  If Zenyatta wins, hats off to her, if she loses, well I guess she's not the horse she used to be either.

Finally a request to Mr. Haskin, who I thoroughly respect so much.  I know I'm asking too much, but please no more articles on Rachel OR Zenyatta, because if you mention either of them, the Zenyatta fans (the mean ones anyway) all crawl out from underneath the woodwork to bash Rachel anyway they can.  It's getting harder and harder to read very well written articles, when I know the comments are all going to be trash talking about Rachel, who is NOT washed up!  NOT ready for retirement!  Just a overtrained runner like I've been many times in my life, trying to get back into shape and doing a damn good job! But to say she needs to go to the breeding shed!  Those people obviously must be threatened by her for some reason!!!

03 Jul 2010 10:31 PM
Paula Higgins

Charlie Cigar, ITA. Zenyatta at 10 furlongs will be tought to beat in the BCC if she stays healthy and in shape. I also agree she likes dirt better. As much or more than every other horse out there. To race on dirt is not to her disadvantage.

03 Jul 2010 10:33 PM
Derby132

Affirmed - your post rivals the writings of our good Mr. Haskin.  Bravo for summing up Rachel Alexandra, how special the feats are that she has accomplished, how the past now shapes the current campaign, and how fortunate we are to have witnessed history.

03 Jul 2010 10:39 PM
Michelle

I will reiterate what James said above (thanks James):  Zenyatta just beat Citation and Cigar's 16 race winning streak in unrestricted (in-bred) races...has won 17 straight races -the last 15 races being either Grade 1 or 2, has won 7 Grade 1 races in a row, has defeated five divisional champions, four Eclipse Award Champions, two Breeders' Cup Ladies Champions, is the defending Breeders' Cup Classic Champion and has won 3 straight Grade 1 races already this year carrying 128 and 129 lbs., respectively.  SO TELL ME WHO IS SHE DODGING???????????

03 Jul 2010 10:41 PM
mueller

TRUE RACING FAN:

Not only is Zenyatta AGILE, she is also very quick. As far as her being bottled up in the middle, um don't worry about it. It has already happened. The worse one was at a start of the race where a couple of horses went into her but it's her size that protects her from injuries because those horses just bounce of her like ping pongs.

03 Jul 2010 11:00 PM
Mary in VT

Someone mentioned that Zenyatta just beat Citation and Cigar's 16 race winning streak. I was happy for her, but saddened by the way she did it because the way she did it just does not compare to the campaigns of those great horses. She raced outside of CA, what, twice? They doubled entered her in the Ladies Classic and the Classic, and only called it for the Classic after seeing how the competition handled the ProRide. This years campaign is every bit as boring as last year's lead up to the BC. And she isn't scheduled to face the likes of Rail Trip, Richard's Kid, Awesome Gem, Brushburn, Cigar Man, Compari, Sangaree, Slew's Tiznow, Tap It Light, Tres Borrachos, and don't let me forget Victory Pete in the Gold Cup .. because why exactly?

Rachel may be struggling to round back into form this year, but at least she has the excuse of recovering from having delivered an unprecedented season the likes of which we are not likely to see again. That filly went where no 3 YO filly has ever gone before. Bar none. She doesn't owe us a thing. JJ doesn't owe us a thing. I am sooooo grateful for any glimpse I can get of her, that I will be glued to the rail at the Monmouth finish line, and any where else I can possibly get where she is scheduled to run.

03 Jul 2010 11:29 PM
MDC in CA

Hello,

I am not sure what part of the year RA disappeared, but I believe at some point she had a fever or something from what I remembered reading (I could be wrong).  Could it be that since she was off at the beginning of this year that they did breed her?  I know some mares have been bred and then raced.  Sweet Catomine had an injury or something and wasn't the same and they bred her at three.  I am more into pedigrees than racing so yes, my facts or confusing or wrong :)

03 Jul 2010 11:58 PM
Let It Ride Mike

Steve, here is what they are thinking: Our filly has been hampered by a physical problem, let's say a breathing problem, that only evidences itself under the stress in the later part of the race. We tried something new last time to alleviate it, and we think it worked, but frankly we ran in such a weak race we can't be sure. We sure as heck don't want to lose another race before the BC, but at the same time we do want to push her enough to feel confident we've gotten this problem behind her, so Jersey Shore here we come!  

04 Jul 2010 12:24 AM
natalie

With all due respect since what I know about horse racing you could put in a flea's navel; but I did read in this very magazine that Rachel had bone chip and was scoped

and vetted by IEAH per Rick Dutrow.

Dutrow was quoted as passing on Rachel because of the bone chip. JJ stepped in a bought Rachel after

Dutrow anc oompany passed.  I assumed that Rachel ALREADY had surgery before her 2009 season!!!

Surely she did not acheive HOTY

without surgery for a bone chip!

Further, this talk about reports is

THE problme with RA.  It is no substitute for Hal Wiggins ( GO AGGIES).  He loved her. Hands on

sincere appreciation and care go along way with animal and people.

I think did Rachel have surgery before 2009 is a legitmate question

along with the morning rider/breezer.  This is a huge issue to. Rachel behaves like a very sensitive girl and Calvin said

she has a personality.  What I saw on TV when she lost at the beginning of 2009 was not a horse

who wanted to race or thought it was fun.

Racing them and racing them because

they are bred to be racehorses is

one thing, but it sure is wrong if

the horse gets injured in the process.

I want Rachel to retire for safety reasons and for her well being.

Have AMX card ready to buy quilt!!!

04 Jul 2010 2:00 AM
Danylson

John C, I agree these horses are baby sat and thats why they get hurt, run them more!! Miller, Easy Goer was the better race horse just human error prevented his immortality. I think we are PRIVILEGED to have Rachel,ZenyAttA and Quality Road running all in the same year!!!! Rachel will go down as one of the greatest fillies of all time, Zenyatta may be the best Female race horse of all time and Quality Road May conclude his career with tremendous record efforts!!!and he may even race as a 5 year old.I have witnessed many great horses, but these three are VERY VERY SPECIAL. Obiously Quality Road needs to prove more which I think he will. All three can go 1 1/2mile alll day and I put that instead of 1 1/4 mile because I truly believe they can. Ultimately I think they will run on BC day but in three diferent Races and your guess is mind but I think Quality Road Has to run in the BC classic to get HOY And for his legacy, the other dont have to

04 Jul 2010 2:05 AM
CV

"I looked the sentences over and over again.

Couldn't find the word Zenyatta mentioned even once.

Then why in the world does people constantly bring up Zenyatta in about every fourth or fifth blog and the majority are not expressed in positive terms."

James  03 Jul 2010 8:24 PM

James,

There is a vocal segment of people who follow horse racing who think they must denigrate Zenyatta to pump up their favorite, whether it's Quality Road or Rachel Alexandra. I don't call them horse racing "fans" because I don't think real fans attack racehorses.

Factor in the hatred many of these people hold for synthetic racetracks and California racing in general and you get the bitter soup of debate that you often see in blogs.

04 Jul 2010 2:47 AM
natalie

Could it be that reason everyone compares RA and Z to each other is because the Race of the Ages never

happened??  

JJ advises Rachel will tell him.  Then comes up with this *she will be

ready in one week* option and commmits Rachel to the Appleblossom

thereby causing the Biggest Stimulus Package in Horse racing history for the Travel Induatry in the state of Arkansas and all contiguous states to Arkansas.  Not to memtion the airline reservations.  It is a wonder the state did not need a bale out after JJ advises Rachel will have to decline her invitation.

This is where the RED FLAG and all the questioning by concerned and disappointed racing fans started; and rightly so.  

They lost their credibility on that one.  I am just sayin......

04 Jul 2010 3:08 AM
Slew

Overheard conversation:

Zen:  Oh..come off it folks.  Yes I am A BIG girl, but I enjoy being a girl, and totally resent being called “massive”.  My Uncle Rock is bigger than I am!  And I can run, and I can win.  Wasn’t that Twice over who won the Coral Eclipse yesterday?  I do believe I already  passed him by last year.  I’m getting older but I’m still loving my star power, and I really don’t feel I have to run over crushed glass up Mount Everest to please you.  All I want to do is dance..dance…dance!

RA:  AS for me…been there…done that.  I’m running as well as ever; it’s just that some of the other girls started catching up.   Please just let me run my races.  I’ve got one heck of hunky chestnut waiting for me after this year.  I’d just like to make it to my first date in one piece…if you don’t mind!

Zen:   Hey Rach…what do you think of these folks?

RA:  I’d rather not think about them at all.  Some of them seem to be very mean.

Zen:  I agree…do you think we should challenge them to a race?

RA:  I don’t know…there seems to be very little challenge there…but why not?  I wonder if their little legs can move as fast as their flapping gums.

Zen: We could just run over them.  I think we’re bigger than they are.

RA:  It’s a thought.  Hey folks, who’s ready to get up at 4am and meet us on our tracks?  Bring your laptops…it’s a handicap.

Zen:  How are they going to carry their jockeys?

RA: Well..that’s up to them.   You can’t win without a jockey.  

Zen:  Sometimes, I just wish they would learn to spell.

RA:  Oh Zen, we just can’t have it all.

04 Jul 2010 5:50 AM
Cris

Hey Steve,

I also read about John Sellers, when I was a kid he was my hero. He was a tall jockey 5'7" and strong. That was why he was picked to ride Carry Back. A come from behind wonder horse. He was almost too small to race at all, he was just legal under 15 hands. When they retired him to Stallion Station they had to put electric fence on top of his paddock because he would climb or jump over the fence to attack any other stallion. John Sellers used to point him at horses and he would chase them to attack them. When he would reach that horse he would point him to the next horse. That is the only reason they made him come from behind. Once he caught all the horses he would stop running. His groom showed me a beautiful lighter the owner purchased for him after suffering a nasty injury when Carry Back caught him in his stall. He stayed with the horse when he retired. Maybe he was the only one who would take care of him.

Freetex, when you see mares in the field together they are even worse than us. They single out a mare and make her the outcast sometimes two mares. They have their favorites too. I think they gossip as much as we do. Anyhow, a story on John Sellers would be great. Thanks for the blog.

04 Jul 2010 8:55 AM
The Wiz

Rachel Alexandra stayed here all last Summer, shipped and raced at Monmouth, then raced here near the end of the Meet. She then stayed here until October…also a very similar path that Curlin took in 2007 and 2008.

Asmussen says Saratoga is the best facility for horses in the country. He loves it here, claiming his horses flourish in this perfect equine atmosphere.

And of course, there’s the famous Oklahoma Training track.

Jackson/Asmussen are basically following the same schedule now four years in a row for their Horses of the Years. Expect to see RA race at Saratoga late in the Meet.

04 Jul 2010 9:31 AM
Giddyup

@Freetex...could you imagine Rachel and Zen debating whether Steve Haskin is better suited for 1 1/8 on dirt or poly? LOL.

04 Jul 2010 11:05 AM
Amazing

Sea the Stars was retired after his 3 year old campaign last year.  Jackson brought Rachel Alexandra back to racing after the best campaign ever by a 3 year old filly! Please appreciate the fact that she is still racing!

04 Jul 2010 11:21 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

MIne That Bird had a chip removed, then had a Chip removed. Now he is returning after 239 days off to run for Lukas, in Bird's first turf race. Good luck and be safe.

Elite Alex moves to the top of The List after his impressive debut win at Delaware Saturday. He won the duel with Volcker and did it looking like he was cruising. I'm expecting big things from Elite Alex, son of Afleet Alex. Broodmare sire is Unbridled.

Zookeeper-I hope you don't mind when I borrow your brain for my posts.

04 Jul 2010 11:44 AM
sherpa

Slew, I adore your "conversations" between RA & Zen!  Keep 'em coming! :D

04 Jul 2010 11:57 AM
THANK YOU

Very well said Mariyn.  If you post anything to this website, the Zenyatta/Rachel fans go over it with a find tooth comb. If they find anything, anything, they don't like (even after some of the silly statements they have made) the "trashing" begins. This isn't sharing comments or thoughts on the article...instead it reminds me of a day time sopa opera....same thing...never ending.  The few people who ask question or try to stay bais are lost in it all,  I personally won't visit this blog again.  

04 Jul 2010 12:32 PM
Rachel

Great, great commentary, Steve.

04 Jul 2010 12:34 PM
Dakota

There are some who have posted that graded status means nothing. I mean no disrespect, but these folks must be fairly new to horse racing. Like any sport, horses work their way through level of competition. Simplified: they start with maiden races, then allowance, then ungraded stakes, then graded. It is unusual for a multiple grade one winner to run in an ungraded stakes as the fourth start after a layoff. It would be like a major league baseball player going to the minor leagues after an MVP year. And to those who say Rachel's connections are following the example of Zenyatta's camp, that is just plain wrong. Regardless of whether you think Zenyatta should be traveling or racing against colts, she is running in Grade One races. She can only compete against the horses that actually enter the gate against her. The fact that so few trainers choose to run against her speaks volumes. They realize how dominant and brilliant she is. (Bob Baffert went to Hollywood Park to watch her 17th race, even though he didn't have any horses running that day. Steve Asmussen stood next to John Shirreffs at the rail after the Apple Blossom and said "Wow". These people know horses and racing.  Perhaps those of us who are on the outside looking in should give them some credit.) Rachel does seem to be moving forward and maybe this race will help her continue. But it remains to be seen if her form from last year will be as dominant in the handicap division against bigger, stronger, more experienced competition than she previously faced.

04 Jul 2010 12:48 PM
Bob Z

Chris,

"Expect to see RA race at Saratoga late in the Meet."

So you expect Rachel to run in the Woodward on Sept. 4th...?  

That would be 41 days after she runs in the Lady's Secret at Monmouth...

To my thinking the Woodward is the only race for her at Saratoga as Saratoga closes I believe on Sept. 6th...  

She has been racing with averaging 43 days between races...

04 Jul 2010 12:59 PM
Kat

Affirmed - Thank you for a very nice read.

It's also useful to remember that the question isn't just whether or not Zenyatta "likes" dirt, the question is whether or not any particular dirt track sets up as well for closers(unlike Santa Anita, for instance). . . unless you want to make the argument that there is no horse running today that at any particular distance Zenyatta can not beat regardless of "track bias".

04 Jul 2010 1:11 PM
CV

"Someone mentioned that Zenyatta just beat Citation and Cigar's 16 race winning streak. I was happy for her, but saddened by the way she did it because the way she did it just does not compare to the campaigns of those great horses. She raced outside of CA, what, twice? They doubled entered her in the Ladies Classic and the Classic, and only called it for the Classic after seeing how the competition handled the ProRide...."

Mary in VT 03 Jul 2010 11:29 PM

I see the snow has melted in VT and someone there has emerged from winter's cold to attack Zenyatta...even if the thread has nothing to do with her.

In regard to Cigar, you may have forgotten one of his wins actually was a "walkover." You also clearly did not watch the Vanity, because St Trinians was pumped and ready, while Zenyatta was running just a bit below par...yet Zenyatta still won.

As far as this bizarre idea, "They doubled entered her in the Ladies Classic and the Classic, and only called it for the Classic after seeing how the competition handled the ProRide...," the facts show this statement is ridiculous.

Pre-entries for the Breeders Cup races were made Oct. 28, ONE WEEK before Nov. 3 when final entries were made. There were no prep races to show Z's connections "how the competition handled the Pro-Ride" in that week before the event, Mary.

As for the idea that you were "happy for her, but saddened by the way she did it....." Really? It makes you sad that a champion horse claimed a modern racing milestone by beating another horse that gave her stiff competition?

Maybe you should start following greyhounds, because that feeling isn't present in any real horse racing fan I know.

04 Jul 2010 5:06 PM
jayjay

Marilyn : Athletes don't rely just on physical abilities to become athletes.  If you're really an athlete you would know this.  If you don't have the mindset to be an athlete, it doesn't matter how hard you train, you won't get 100% results.  This is the issue with Rachel, it's not a physical issue, it's that she doesn't seem to want to race anymore.  It's as simple as that.  If they can't get her "will to win" back, then she should be retired, rather than risk injury running her in low level stakes races in hopes that she'll get that win attitude.  Seriously, how will you know that she's back to her old self without trying her against tougher opponents ?  Another "smashing" win against this field will only make them think again whether it's the weak field or her that made the win happen.  Instead of complaining about Zenyatta, you should complain about Jess Jackson, tell him to leave Rachel alone and let Steve Asmussen train her.

04 Jul 2010 6:01 PM
Lmaris

It is very unlikely that either Rachel or Zenyatta will be in the classic this year.  Zenyatta has only run on one dirt track in her life, and it wasn't at Churchill.  Against true dirt horses?  She'll not be facing horses unfamiliar with synthetics like she did last year.

If Zenyatta wouldn't be able to get past Quality Road today or any other day.

Rachel did no worse than Zenyatta in her last start, in fact was more impressive.  If we are going to discuss retiring any mare because she's not the same as last year, we must mention Zenyatta. It is as simple as that.    

04 Jul 2010 6:11 PM
jimf

If you think we're disappointed now, wait until she opts to run back in the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth on Traver's weekend!!!

04 Jul 2010 8:53 PM
Zookeeper

Today is my birthday! Where do you think I spent the afternoon? Hollywood Park, of course! Gorgeous, perfect weather, beautiful horses... What else does a horseracing fan need?

I see that this blog meant to discuss Rachel Alexandra and her future races has also degenerated into another "bash Zen or RA fest". Oh well! Today is my birthday and I refuse to let the lunatics spoil my perfect day. I'll just be my happy self and delight in the fact that both are still in training and getting ready for more racing... and leave the "experts" to discuss at lenght what's wrong with one or the other.

Slew,

Love, love your barn conversations. If only humans were as wise as the horses they fight over!!!

Dr Drunkinbum,

What brain? You mean these weak, short moments of dubious clarity? Believe me, you are better off without the general confusion that is the normal state of affair inside my head. Especially after certain bloggers have chosen to land on here and sucked the joy right out of Haskin's Haven!  :)

04 Jul 2010 9:59 PM
LAZMANNICK

CV

Very good post.  One correction regarding the walkover.  it was Citation that had it......the Pimlico Special (13th win).  The 14th and the 16th were allowance races and oddly enough the horse that finished second in each was Bold Gallant.  I say oddly because the two allowance races were 13 months apart.  Also, in Citation's last four races he faced a total of 13 horses (an average of just over four per race.  Could you imagin how good ol' Mary would play that up if it was Zenyatta?  Speaking of Mary, I sure hope her face doesn't get stuck on the Monmouth race watching Rachel.

04 Jul 2010 10:02 PM
Mike

I suspected Rachel would run a powder-puff schedule this year, but this is pretty pathetic.  I'm sure her connections are looking for a soft Grade I with a small field on the East Coast for her to go out as a winner.  But you can forget about seeing Rachel trying the Jockey Club Gold Cup or any Breeders Cup race since a blowout loss would further hurt her credibility as last year's HOY.    

04 Jul 2010 10:42 PM
jayjay

Happy Birthday Zoo!  Mine was yesterday.  It must be good to feel that the whole country celebrates your birthday with fireworks and a day off work.

04 Jul 2010 10:43 PM
Katherine

Zookeeper

Happy Birthday. Hope you enjoyed your day. Did you visit Runflatout?

04 Jul 2010 10:56 PM
ezevans

Man, it does tend to become a rock throwing contest when the two gals are discussed.  I am a fan of both. Saw Zenyatta score number 17 which was a thrill beyond words and hope to catch Rachael at Monmouth.   Regardless of which camp you sit, how much you love or hate current owners and race strategies, the problem that exist is not whether or not these two make it to Breeders Cup, the problem is no one outside of our small racing community knows or cares.   Zenyatta has broken the record of some of our greats..and is a girl (and as I always plug, the record was broken first by Peppers Pride, another girl..but thats another discussion).   Racing missed another chance at casting itself in the spot light.  Thats my frustration.   Mr. Jackson and Mr. Moss, you keep your gals healthy and sound and run them where you and your trainers feel is the best fit, meantime the promotors of the sport will continue to sleep through the whole thing.

04 Jul 2010 11:00 PM
LDP

Bob Z,

According to an artical on TB Times, JJ wants RA to race about every five weeks from here on to the BC. Basically once about every 35 days, meaning the PE would be the most likely target, if she were to race at Saratoga.

04 Jul 2010 11:01 PM
sherpa

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ZOOKEEPER!!!!!

04 Jul 2010 11:19 PM
Mary in VT

CV,

Perhaps it was you that missed the Vanity because you appear to be unaware of St. Trinians throwing a shoe. No matter. She still tried hard, and that was still one of Zen's better races; one of exactly 3 races out of her 17 race career that I did find exciting.

And you forgot to mention the weight Zen gave St. Trinians. THAT was your argument, and you missed it entirely. (thought I'd toss you a bone)

Again it is you that is blissfully unaware. Zenyatta *was* entered in both the Ladies Classic and the Classic Classic, and they did not commit either way until they had to. How many people do that? The double entry can only be read one way; her connections wanted to see all contenders over the ProRide before committing. Nor did they, or you, or I, or any of us need to see prep races to know how contenders handled the ProRide, speaking of ridiculous. All any of us had to do was watch them work over the track. Just a smidgen of an eye for horses and you knew all you needed to know. Even if you didn't have an eye for horses, you could watch the experts review the works on television and pick up a few things.

As it turned out, the BC could not have set up any more beautifully for Zenyatta: her favorite track, Rachel not coming, Sea The Stars not coming, Summer Bird and Mine That Bird obviously not the same horses on the ProRide. Summer Bird had been shipped out of Santa Anita as a 2 yr. old because he wasn't handling the ProRide, so there was never any reason to fear the the top male 3 yr. old despite his considerable achievements on dirt. Rip van Winkle's connections were concerned. Though he proved game, Twice Over looked like a child's pony compared to the gargantuan Zenyatta. Gio Ponti had a long long year, lost his last race, and looked noble but tired. Everybody was talking about Quality Road's gimpy trot the day after his last fast work at Belmont.

You've heard of analyzing the works, haven't you? Or noticed the notes on recent works in the PPs? Any PPs? If not, I highly recommend it. They really help to demystify form, and you can make a lot of money by including them in your thought process.

Still, I will agree with you this far, Zenyatta's Classic was a pretty race in that it was visually impressive even if you did know the story behind the rest of the field.

Here's a question for you, or anyone .. if Zenyatta could have turned in more races against males, or at the distance, why didn't she do it at 3, or 4, or 5, or to date this year? Hmmm? There was and still is plenty of opportunity for her to do just that even staying in CA. Instead of turning in more ho hummers?

But of course, going for "perfect" in your own backyard is always a cheap substitute for "tested" and "proven" hither and yon.

Debate Class 101: I don't mind at all if you disagree with me, CV, particularly if you can reasonably defend another point of view ... but let's try to keep it civil, shall we? No more of this biker bar meanness with denigrating references to where I live, when I woke up, or what I should do? Please? I thought this was supposed to be the nice moderated list.

Besides ..denigrating me personally makes it appear that you are all too well aware that you are unable to support your position regarding the horses, and therefore must distract others before they take note of it. And last, but not least, perpetuating such uncivilized discussions is just plain bad for racing.

04 Jul 2010 11:29 PM
Footlick

Zookeeper- Happy Birthday!!!!

04 Jul 2010 11:33 PM
sodapopkid

To all who complain about Zen running on dirt. 'STOP IT' I got news for you,  and pictures to prove it...John S.  says they have a dirt track at HP that they train on and they train Zen on it when she is going to race on dirt.

NOw, I like some others questioned this, until recently when J.Sherriffs uploaded new pictures to his website titled "NewBabies" I saw the horses on dirt tracks. They sure didnt look like synthetics, and you could see this track was not HP main track.  

I had read it over on another blog that someone else questioned it awhile back so I went looking myself and saw what they were talking about.

04 Jul 2010 11:39 PM
Moe

Man, this is really getting out of hand.

I thought this article was about Rachel Alexandra.

Why do people constantly have to bring up Zenyatta in a negative light in these comments.

It might be called Zenyatta Derangement Syndrome.

04 Jul 2010 11:43 PM
merlinmerry

Any word on Global Hunter?  He broke down (dislocated fetlock?) after winning the American Handicap at Hollywood.  He really laid it all on the line.

04 Jul 2010 11:50 PM
sodapopkid

****EBAY UPDATE******

ZEN HALTER- 1 DAY TO GO - $5200.00

RACHEL A.HALTER- 2 DAYS TO GO-$1533.00

'LOOKIN GOOD FOR THE CHARITY'

04 Jul 2010 11:55 PM
Matthew W

Tizdejavu the bestest turf miler in US----paid me (again)...love a front running miler, ya gotta beat him/not gonna give it away---Tizdejavu, when right, bestest turf miler....almost fainted when I saw Rail Trip got 123--where have you gone, Ack Ack/Kilroe/integrity?

05 Jul 2010 12:09 AM
John

Lazmannick,

I ran across an interesting take on the comparisons of the streaks by Jon White.

www.equination.net/.../showthread.php(-17)

Based upon a simple 5-3-1 point spread it came out 24 for Cigar, 20 for Zenyatta, and 18 Citation.

But looking at the catergories I was surprised and impressed at how Zenyatta's streak does actually measure up with both Cigar's and Citation's, respectively.

05 Jul 2010 1:07 AM
CV

Lazmannick,

You're right. My bad. Got my winning streaks mixed up.

05 Jul 2010 2:27 AM
pas

Lmaris, I totally agree!!! Yes, let's retire a mare who is not only at the top of her game, but one who continues to win everything she enters. That makes perfect sense!

What makes you think it is 'unlikely' that Z won't run in the Classic this year? While she has only raced on dirt at OP, she had trained at CD last year. It was then that Dave Johnson, who has been known to visit these blogs and repeat his observations, said that she was training so well that neither RA nor QR would ever be able to catch her. Call me crazy, but I tend to value the opinion of a guy who has called the races, and has witnessed the careers of, as many greats as he has.

And what 'true' dirt horses are you refering to? Ginger Punch? I think she was a pretty good dirt horse, and Z just happened to beat her on dirt in only her third start.

If you looked at both Z's and RA's last races, yes, RA's did appear more visually impressive. That's if, and ONLY IF, you knew nothing else about the races or who was running. Otherwise you would know that RA was running in a G2 against former claimers, while Z was running for her third straight G1 Vanity (which is a record) for her 17th straight win (which is also a record) and running her mark to seven consective G1 wins all while carrying 129 lbs, giving 7 lbs to the runner-up. I think RA carried 123.

So, yes. If you don't know the pertinent facts of the horses racing or anything about the circumstances of the races themselves, RA did LOOK like a more impressive winner. But any informed racing enthusiast knows better than that.

05 Jul 2010 4:04 AM
jayjay

Steve : You mentioned the Beldame as possible last race for RA before the BCC when speculating what JJ's plan are.  I just checked the NTRA page and I don't see the race listed there in September or October.  Do you know if they're running the Beldame this year ?  

http://www.ntra.com/schedule#

05 Jul 2010 5:42 AM
Slew

Zookeeper:  My gosh...you're a Yankee Doodle Dandy!  Happy Birthday!  Washington, New York, and Boston celebrated you in fine style...and in New Orleans, my kid got drunk for you. And thanks..

...I've just gotten so exhausted by the bashing of either athlete, I like new perspectives.

DR. D....give that brain back to ZK so you don't seem like a zombie...hmmm...yum...brains!

And to anyone else who is wondering, Breeders' Cup ads have been running for over a month on HRTV, and they all state Zenyatta will be back to defend her title in the Classic.

And the original Slew says, "Cigar is my grandson; don't start bashing him now!"

05 Jul 2010 7:43 AM
BEEN THERE!!

Steve, can not wait until you have to eat some big time CROW about this article. Will you have enough guts to do that?? See, none of you know what is really going on so you are all speculating and the sad part about it is none of you are even close and it is right under your nose if you would go back and really study the situation. See who will come up with the real reason for what has taken place.

05 Jul 2010 8:25 AM
Bob Z

If I was Team Zenyatta here is what I would do.

Run in the Woodward on September 4th.

Why?

It takes care of a lot of issues.

Zenyatta hasn't run in the East so by running at Saratoga that issue is put to bed...

The date is Sept. 4th... so thats plenty of time between the Woodward and the BC whether she races again before the BC or not... 8 weeks if she doesn't race or 4 weeks if she does...

Other than the Breeders Cup.. the issue of running against males is put to bed.

The fans at Saratoga "the cradle of racing" historically speaking would get a chance to see her perform... which would increase her fan base... its easier to be a fan when there is a connection between fan and horse... by racing at Saratoga she increases her fan base in the east...

Its puts to bed (again- Apple Blossom) the issue of Zenyatta not having run on dirt.

It puts a little pressure for Rachel to be there... she is the defending champ in the Woodward and the timing (41 days) is doable after the Ladys Secret...

The distance is the right distance for Rachel 1 1/8... that leaves her 2 months to get ready for the BC as well... as she probably wouldn't race again before it ..

To me there are 3 races for Zenyatta to race here in the east... the Woodward, the Beldame (not yet scheduled but usually in mid September) and the Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 2nd...

It seems that Zenyatta is ok with a 4 week recuperation period so to finish with a flourish...

she should run in the Woodward Sept.4th, the JCGC October 2nd, and then the BCC on November 6th...

Nobody could say that she only ran in easy races... and she could meet Rachel possibly in two of them...

05 Jul 2010 10:41 AM
berttheclock

Interesting, Mr Haskins writes of RA without one word about Z and the blog descends into an equine version of the Battle of the Somme.  May I suggest the two camps of fans, meet, halfway, perhaps, in the infield of Arlington, square off with riding whips in hand and settle this, once and for all.

This constant bickering by both sides is becoming very tiresome.

05 Jul 2010 10:43 AM
Mike Relva

MARY IN VT

I see with you nothing changes. Your slamming of Zenyatta sounds the same as always,a broken record! Did you know that trainer,Mike Mitchell calls Zenyatta the best mare he's seen in his lifetime! I have no problem with RA's softer schedule this year,but don't try and deflect the fact she's raced against weaker fields and slam Zenyatta's latest win. Give me a break!

05 Jul 2010 10:47 AM
Mike Relva

DRAYNAY

It's funny when you suggest that Zenyatta should ship to meet up with RA. As always you leave out the fact Zenyatta was there in the Apple Blossom to meet RA. It's not her fault that RA's connections foolishly entered her in a race she wasn't ready for and had to be pulled out at the last minute! BTW,I'm beating you to the punch cause you stated that if Zenyatta wins the Classic you will say she's"the greatest since GhostZapper", You and I both know you don't keep promises,so don't promise something that we know you won't do.

05 Jul 2010 10:58 AM
Mike Relva

DRAYNAY

Thanks for the laugh regarding your latest silly comment that Zenyatta won't win another race this yr. lol

05 Jul 2010 11:10 AM
shuvee

Until Citation was hurt by running over a rock hard track in Cali at the end of his 3-year-old season, he had won 19 of 20 starts at 3 and 27 of 29 overall. The two defeats were questionable at best...As a 2-year-old he was not pushed when beaten by a female stablemate, in his only loss at 3, Eddie Arcaro blamed himself for a bad ride. It's interesting to think what he might have accomplished if he Warren Wright at Calumet had not pushed Jimmy Jones to run him in those two Tanforan races.

The horse missed his entire 4-year-old season with an assortment of injuries and when he came back at 5 he was still a very good horse but not in the same league. He didn't really regain anything close to his championship form until his last couple of races as a 6-year-old, which included a final race when in the Hollywood Gold Cup that made him racing's first millionaire.

Here's a horse who at 3 years old won the Sysonby Mile on Sept. 29, 1948 against a brilliant miler in his stablemate, Coaltown, then came back on Oct. 2 and beat the previous year's Belmont Stakes winner, Phalanx, by 7 lengths in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 2 miles! No one was running against Citation in his last few races because he had beaten them all repeatedly, over and over. He won 19 of 20 starts at 3 in what is arguably the best 3 year old campaign ever.

The game has certainly changed in terms of what great horses are asked to do these days. And no, this is not meant as a knock on Zenyatta or Rachel, but just to show how much the game has changed.

05 Jul 2010 11:25 AM
LuckySon

Why is it that every blog meant to be about Rachel Alexandra turns out to be a slug-fest about Rachel and Zen.  When was Zenyatta even mentioned in this column?  It amazes me what people can do with any article and always turn it around to be about what they want it to be.  Stop the hating.  Karma isn't nice.

05 Jul 2010 11:27 AM
Edward

184 comments and two point out the obvious: The Lady's Secret has a $ 400,000 purse while the Ruffian has a $250,000. RA does not need Grade 1's anymore to increase her off track value so why race in a race with a pathetic purse for a grade 1? Saratoga rakes in money hand over fist yet like the KDrby, the purses don't match the handle. All Grade 1's should be required to have a $400K purse or higher, Grade 2 $250,00 Grade 3 100k.

05 Jul 2010 12:19 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

   Happy Birthday. Sounds like a perfect way to celebrate it to me. The low odds on Mine That Bird were strange for a new surface and a shorter distance than he likes. I thought a win would be amazing but I still expected a little better from him. The good news is that he looked good physically and seemed happy. I still expect him to run very well on the dirt the rest of the year. I expect Rachel to run her best race of the year so far in her next race. I have serious doubts about Zenyatta being able to win at a mile and a sixteenth at Del Mar but still think she will win The Classic. That distance and surface will suit her perfectly. It will be a big upset if Rail Trip loses the Hollywood Gold Cup. I wish Zenyatta would have been entered in that one.

Slew-The conversation brings out some funny visuals and your pet peeves !!! Fun stuff.

05 Jul 2010 12:32 PM
Horsefirst

Three great horses, all supposedly pointed to the BC.

The greater game may be in who plays and who folds.  Suppose each horse is entered in two BC races each?  What if both Z and RA are entered in the Ladies Classic and BC Classic? Would JJ then take RA out completely because he can't guess which race Z will be in?  Would he stay in the Ladies Classic if Z is there, because the distance is better for RA?  What if QR is entered in the Mile and Classic and RA is entered in the Mile and Classic?  What if the weather forecast for the BC indicates a sloppy track?  Does QR race then?

If I were in Z's camp, I'd be tempted to enter her in both, wait to the last minute to declare, and see what happens.  

These are all great horses.  It's the humans playing the card game in the background that makes this "speculative entertainment" for most.

05 Jul 2010 12:52 PM
Steve Haskin

Although I have given up responding to comments on here, I will address Been There only because of his real last name and the assumption he knows something everyone else doesnt.

Eat crow for what? For speculating where she might run this year? For giving my opinion that she is not yet back to where she was last year? What could possibly happen for me to eat crow? She runs in the Molly Pitcher? I was gtiving the schedule "I" would come up with. I am talking in the present, not the future. Did I say she will never return to her form of last year? Have I made any statements that are factually untrue? I merely gave my opinion that at this point, I dont believe she is back to where she was last year.

Please dont come on here telling me I'm going to eat crow and then throw all this cloak and dagger nonsense like you know something we don't. Let's have some real information from the people who do know, so we dont have to speculate any longer.

If you have no connection to Rachel and are just spouting off, then kindly ignore this.

It has reached a point where all my future writings about Rachel and Zenyatta will be confined to the racing pages and no longer will be put in a blog an open to comments.

05 Jul 2010 1:17 PM
Max E

She is not as good as she was last year. I read somewhere where the trainer was quoted as saying that she was 'not as fast as she was last year.'They asked too much of her last year and I doubt she will ever be back to where  she was last year.I think the connections suspect that Zenyatta is the better horse. The international classification had her below Zenyatta  at wt. for age last year and they will continue to race against lesser  competition for most of this year. Does anyone remember Genuine Risk or Rags to Riches.Some people will say it is done frequently in Europe but they are trained differently

05 Jul 2010 1:32 PM
newbie

I see RA's 2010 season as being slow and steady. No she isn't showing the domination she had last year. I also wonder why she was not turned out during her time off, that has to play games with a high strung horse to be confined for that long with out a break. I also look at STARDOM BOUND. Look at what her heavy 2yo, beginning of 3yo campaign did to her... SHe never came back. I loved watching that filly run, but they ruined her. Now it looks like she's been tossed out because she didn't come back, with her latest 'private' sale. Thank Goodness they haven't ruined RA yet.

05 Jul 2010 1:57 PM
CV

"It has reached a point where all my future writings about Rachel and Zenyatta will be confined to the racing pages and no longer will be put in a blog an open to comments."

Steve Haskin 05 Jul 2010 1:17 PM

If only others would do the same. This horse bashing with the same tired comments trotted out for one-thousandth time is depressing.

I disagree with those who say it's good for the sport. It's one thing to cheer for "your team." It's quite another to hate on a racehorse. That's just mean.

05 Jul 2010 2:13 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Been There!!

   What are you talking about? Your post makes zero sense. Maybe if you clarify and give some specifics you could have some credibilty. Otherwise it's just a nonsensical rant solely meant to degrade. "Cloak and dagger nonsense," was a perfect description of that post. There is no eating crow here. This is a fine dining establishment. You might want to try down the street.

05 Jul 2010 2:41 PM
Mary in VT

Steve Haskin wrote;

"It has reached a point where all my future writings about Rachel and Zenyatta will be confined to the racing pages and no longer will be put in a blog an open to comments."

Steve,

Rather than refraining from open blogs on either of these two great horses, please consider altering the open forum to make it a more peaceable place.

The American Kennel Club adopted a standard of conduct at it's events that would serve racing well in this type of forum. It goes like this; any communication that would tend to turn off or offend a family visiting with children is unacceptable. Violators are removed. If they are participants in the event they are subject to sanction as well, but that doesn't really apply here. Violators are removed would do the job just fine.

It is already a moderated list. Just hold each submitted comment up to the bright light of whether it would offend a family with children. After all, who knows how many horse loving young folk or potential adult fans have checked into to these blogs only to be repelled by how impolite the discussions often are.

Or apply some other filter to submitted remarks that might better meet your objectives.

The truth is, I learn a lot here, not just from you, but from many of these people. Sometimes I learn the most from people I disagreed with, even if it takes a while. <g>

Anyway, sleep on it, will you? Please?

05 Jul 2010 2:47 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Jayjay

   Happy Birthday to you too. Looking forward to your picks and comments here through the year. Hopefully Steve will still have blogs !!!! He's a real trooper so I suspect he will. I was surprised that he did have another one related to either Rachel or Zenyatta. I have no idea why two great horses have been pitted against each other in blogs, except that they were both up for HOY last year, but why should that carry on. Either one would have been deserving. I would have voted for Zenyatta but I realized that Rachel was the right choice. I'm a fan of both, but a giant fan of Zenyatta.

05 Jul 2010 3:01 PM
Zookeeper

Thank you all for the Birthday wishes! I always have a ball pretending that the whole country celebrates my day in conjunction with the birth of the nation. Slightly delusional but great fun!

jayjay, Happy belated Birthday to you! Wishing you the best!

Katherine, Runflatout is stabled at Santa Anita, so I didn't get to see him (at HP) yesterday. Carla Gaines had a few horses racing and I got a chance to talk to her for a bit. He is progressing nicely. If all continues to go well, his first start may be at Del Mar. How nice of you to remember his name!

Mike Relva, Good luck talking with the likes of Dray and the Vermonite. I gave that up a long time ago. For some strange reason, I don't get along with broken records. lol! August 1st is fast approaching...

Dr Drunkinbum (last, but not least) I didn't see Mine That Bird's race live but watched the BH replay after I got home. His low odds prove that you and I aren't his only fans. I was hoping that he would do a little better, but I wouldn't have bet on him, considering the surface and the long time off. Borel's comments after the race told it all. Looking forward to his next race on dirt...

Keeping my fingers crossed that the connections can save Global Hunter. It was so sad to see him gravely injured right after his valiant effort to cross the finish line first. I was rooting for Temple City (trained by Carla Gaines) but, in a turf race, any decent horse ridden by Brice Blanc is a threat. It did not surprise me to see Global Hunter pass my pick in the last couple of strides. Very sad to witness his being pulled up abruptly and vanned off instead of strutting towards the winner's circle. I really hope that they can save his life. His racing career is over, but he is not gelded and is by Jade Hunter (Azeri's sire). Let's hope he has a chance at a second career as a stallion.    

05 Jul 2010 3:06 PM
CV

Mary,

In Debate Class 101 they teach students about "straw man" arguments; in which one competitor sets up a false statement as "fact," then puts forth arguments to defeat the "straw man." Political operatives do this all the time.

I notice you are fond of this technique as well. One can see it in this false statement, which you present as fact..."The double entry can only be read one way; her connections wanted to see all contenders over the ProRide before committing."

Actually, they waited to see how she did in her last work and closely evaluated her condition before making a final decision. Double entries are not that uncommon in racing. Most recently, D. Wayne Lukas did that with Mine That Bird.

The "straw man" argument also can be seen in your setup of the Classic in which you call Twice Over "a child's pony" in comparison to Z, as if only her size made her run faster than him. (NOTE: Your "pony's" size didn't appear to matter when he won the Coral-Eclipse Stakes). The "straw man" also is obvious in your diminishing of Summer Bird even though his jockey was quoted after the Classic as saying "My colt was running!" Especially funny is your statement that Gio Ponti "looked noble but tired" when the truth is he would have won the Classic had Zenyatta not raced in it!

You finish up this "straw man" demonstration by mentioning "Quality Road's gimpy trot" although you can easily find articles that state John Shirreffs was concerned AFTER QR scratched because that removed the main speed from the race. Zen is a closer, remember, so she benefits from a fast pace.

You know about running styles, don't you? I recommend you read up on them because it can really help you understand why a quick pace benefits closers.

I celebrate Rachel and Zenyatta as outstanding competitors and ambassadors for horse racing.

People who feel the need to diminish their accomplishments simply cannot comprehend greatness in Thoroughbreds or refuse to let it interfere with their close-minded attacks.

It's all about the horses! No matter how many PPs you study, if you bash ANY horse it is mean-spirited and you missed the point of this great sport.

Just my 2 cents.

05 Jul 2010 3:10 PM
kathleen o

Edward, JJ set the purse, the date, and the distance for the LS.  Evidently, he couldn't bully the people at Saratoga to customize the race for RA.

05 Jul 2010 3:18 PM
Slew

Steve, I've got say you write superb articles but you just have to be ready for bombastic claims whenever you mention either RA or Zen.  You don't ever want to eat crow (no reason you should)..it's a carrion....eats dead squirrels on the road  oh yuck!  Try grouse...twice as good as pheasant and the best bird I've ever had....almost as good as squirrel, but it just takes so many of those darn critters to make a meal.  (Hunters in the family).  You and Jason seem to have hit upon a surefire formula for dredging up a thousand comments that simply become terribly repetitive without really ever saying anything new.  If you stick to your plan of not posting an RA or Zen blog, I'd have to thank you for the peace and quiet. (maybe with a plateful of frogs' legs...yummmm).  

At least RA and Zen would thank you and gladly share their oats and Guinness with you.

05 Jul 2010 3:27 PM
LAZMANNICK

John

Nothing against Citation......he is after all in the top five all-time in N/A and deservedly so.  However, when examining the streaks, Cigar’s is definitely the most impressive.  Two of his first three were allowances sandwiched around a G-1, then it was 9 G-1’s, two unlisted Mass Caps, the Dubai World Cup and a $1M Citation Challenge.

Zen’s obviously had some holes but you can’t argue against 11 G-1’s including a Distaff and a BCC that included 11 male challengers (and the trouble she had in the race).  The other thing that was remarkable is that in every race she was at the mercy of the pace and when she looked defeated she dug down and found a way to win.

Citation’s streak also had holes, three allowance races, the walkover, 5 of the races only had 3 challengers and another 3 had 4 challengers.  However, in many ways it was also the toughest……the TC series with the Preakness and the Belmont sandwiched around the Jersey Derby (and when you include the Derby Trial 5 races in 46 days).  He also raced 10 different distances during the streak from 6-F to 2-M.  

Personally as much as I like Zen, I would put her streak 3rd behind Cigar and Citation (they would be close), but in terms of talent I would put her right up there with both of them.

05 Jul 2010 3:33 PM
Matthew W

Jess wasn't ready for Arkansas--having seen Big Z do her thing last year, after an easy year--Jess ain't no dummy! He's mapping out the easy way--so what?! Good thinking, Jess! Gotta be ready for Zenyatta, Rail Trip, Quality Road--wait for it--the Classic, if Zenyatta comes in undefeated 19 for 19, and Rachel Alexandra the great goes....the other big two guys will be 2nd fiddle players, and it will be the most widely anticipated race in US since '67 Woodward--and maybe even bigger than that---we're livin it/bloggin it! Hang in there, Steve Haskin the great--keep on bloggin'/don;t let the cloak's and dagger's get to you--their blog posts are just that--theirs! I don't read all of the blog posts, if ya know what I mean....

05 Jul 2010 3:43 PM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

I don't blame you one bit for losing patience with some of the comments on here. I've been disgusted for a long time now and can appreciate your own dismay at the way your well-crafted article has been used for another never ending slugfest. I always look forward to your columns and your blog is usually a very nice place to dwell.

It's not your fault that some people cannot follow your lead and have a sensible discussion on the subject when it comes to either of these horses. The topic goes viral very quickly and one has to become adept at shuffling through the garbage to find the valuable, informative comments the best bloggers have to offer.

Looking forward to the next (less toxic) subject you bring to the table...

05 Jul 2010 3:46 PM
LAZMANNICK

Edward

When you pay $10Mill for a horse what does a token 150K mean (purse differential between the two races)?  You're saying that-that amount of money means more to her connections than a G-1 win.....dream on.  They want the G-1 win and if they could get one, even for a $150K purse, they would take it.  Right now they're saving face and hoping that people who make lame excuses for her buy in.  Rachel happens to be our reigning HOY.  N/A is struggling to keeps its identity as a racing power.  It's a laugh to many people outside the US that our HOY isn't racing in, much less winning, G-1 races.

05 Jul 2010 3:46 PM
Zookeeper

CV,

Loved your "2 cents"!!!

05 Jul 2010 4:01 PM
LuckySon

Steve, I'd like to start off with a giant THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for choosing not to make this a blog anymore when you mention RA or Zen.  God knows the world will be a better place without having to read all the nasty things written about two beautiful horses, that we should be grateful to be alive to witness them both in our lifetime, it's unlikely we will witness such greatness again anytime soon.  Rather than the crude, mean-spirited ugly comments that seem to be the only thing the bloggers on this wonderful website know how to do. Again, THANK YOU!!!

05 Jul 2010 4:40 PM
Ida Lee

Mr. Haskin, I don't blame you for not blogging about the Girls anymore. I wasn't going to comment this time because I am just sick of so much BS about these two incredible Mares. We should be thankful that we were able to witness their greatness. Let's just appreciate these animals while we have them. I'm struggling with possibly losing my little dog due to old age illnesses and it's breaking my heart. If anything happens to Z or R, and it can happen at any time (look at the beautiful Global Hunter now fighting for his life), all this pettiness will seem so silly and ridiculous. Let's just love these Treasures like they deserve and enjoy them while we still have them. P.S. I read Been There's comment and I have no idea what he was saying. But LuckySon, right on.

05 Jul 2010 5:43 PM
Pam S.

Steve,

I wasn't gonna weigh in on this blog (I did on the other one and thought that was enough for one week), but I'm dismayed that there won't be any more from you about our two favorite females.  It's too bad that the strange comment from "Been There" had to be the straw that broke the camel's back, especially since no one knows what he/she was talking about.

I echo those who say they've learned stuff and had fun on your blogs.  And I know this isn't the point, but I've read far, far worse!!

Must wish Zookeeper and jayjay belated happy birthday.  Mine was June 29.  We are all Cancers.  We are very sensitive and creative, and we value romance highly.  We are also homebodies.  We like to sit at our computers blogging on Thoroughbred racing sites.  

05 Jul 2010 5:47 PM
Mike Relva

ZOOKEEPER,JAYJAY

Hello! Happy b. day

05 Jul 2010 6:24 PM
merlinmerry

Steve, this acrimony and bickering is just a fact of human nature.  No matter if the horses being discussed are RA vs Zen or Butter Buns vs Eazy Cheezy, people will always argue and trash talk for their favorites. That is why horse racing started, the old "mine is better/faster/stronger than yours."  At least it shows how close this sport and its players are to people's hearts. If no one cared, there would be no discussion.

Years ago, my grandmother and I were doing the same back and forth arguing.  When we said good-bye on the phone, I'd say something like, "Ruffian's hair turns white when Secretariat blasts by her," and she'd respond with, "Ruffian blows Secretariat's blinkers off passing him."  We got a little testy but we both realized that our opinions were just that, our opinions.  (I did, eventually, win the argument.  Unfortunately, my win didn't come until I referenced it while delivering her eulogy.  She'll get me back someday.)

As far as these 2 wonder mares, show me someone who didn't get a lump in his throat when Zen ran down the field in the Classic or when RA left everything she had on the track when she won the Woodward and I'll show you someone who just isn't invested in the sport or the horses.  (Also show me someone who doesn't want to slap Frankie Dettori upside the head for stealing Angel's flying dismount and I'll...slap that person upside the head.)

Glad to hear that Scott Stevens has been moved out of intensive care.  Fingers crossed that he continues to improve.

05 Jul 2010 6:31 PM
jayjay

Thanks Dr!  Yeah, this summer doldrums is taking its toll on me but we're almost there hehe.  Looking forward the most to the Whitney, I'm a little more nervous with the Hirsch because of the distance than I was with the Vanity but it should be a good rematch.

Thanks Mike!  Good to see you around the blogs.

05 Jul 2010 7:06 PM
jayjay

Thanks for that Pam!  Go Crabs! :)

05 Jul 2010 7:11 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I love Rachel, Zenyatta, Mine That Bird and many, many others, and I'll have the special-The filet mignon, medium to medium rare. The salad with blue cheese dressing. The clam chowder. The baked potato with onion butter. The asparagus with hollandiase sauce. A martini with two olives. The baked alaska with vanilla ice cream. "Will that be all sir?" Uh, let me see. Well, I guess you'd better make that three olives.

05 Jul 2010 7:16 PM
John

Lazmannick,

Good analysis on the three streaks.

I was just thinking, as Zenyatta was restricted by gender in all, I believe, but one race, the BCC, wasn't Citation restricted by age (only three year olds) in a number of his races, like the Derby, Preakness, Belmont, etc.  during his three year old campaign?

Also, I would like to see where Zenyatta's record of defeating the winners of 45 Grade 1 races and 87 stakes overall stacks up against Cigar's and Citation's.

Something tells me it's right up there with these two...

05 Jul 2010 8:53 PM
John

I just read the entries for the Hollywood Gold Cup - Richard's Kid, Awesome Gem, Gio Ponti...

If Zenyatta was to enter in this race - wouldn't people called the 'same ole, same ole' for her?

05 Jul 2010 9:28 PM
Mike Relva

STEVE

Hope you had a great holiday. Returned last nite from CA. Part of my trip was spent in Palm Springs. I also managed to visit The Tin Man @River Edge Farm couple of hrs. from Reseda. He looks great. Almost everytime I'm in CA I attempt to see him.

05 Jul 2010 9:50 PM
Draynay

Mr. Haskin I think you are looking at this the wrong way.  Horse racing has been in decline because of the lack of passion over the last 30 years.  The debate between Rachel and Zenyatta may be a tired story for you but when was the last time you saw such vim and vigor from fans?

The fact that California has anything to talk about at all should be welcomed.  When will it ever happen again ?  If the heat of a Rachel vs. Zenyatta discussion is too much let me suggest you don't take up watching the World Cup anytime soon.

05 Jul 2010 9:54 PM
TBOwner

There's a huge difference between passion and trash talking by people who like to pretend they know what they're talking about.

This kind of talk that goes on about Rachel and Zenyatta is NOT productive. It's not passionate and it's NOT good for the game. It's petty, mean and vindictive. It's coming from people who have no vested interest and will ditch the game as soon as something more interesting comes along.

True fans don't trash the people that are trying to bring SOMETHING to the game, whether that's an owner, a trainer, a jockey, a breeder, a writer or whomever.

Everyone who has read your drivel Draynay, knows just exactly what your comments really mean.

I think there is something sick about someone who calls horses flukes, poly queens, trashes owners and calls them out when they're running their horse in Graded stakes races. That also shows the ignorance of what running a horse in a graded race ANYWHERE means and running one in an ungraded stakes, particularly for a past HOY means to the game.

People who call out trainers and secondguess them constantly aren't trying to do anything but puff up their chests and say look at me. It's not a once in a while thing, it's constant by a small minority.

Personally I applaud you Steve. Enough is enough with this nonsense. It's not passion to tell a writer how he should react, or that he will have to eat crow. This stuff has gone on to a point that it is becoming very destructive to the game that SOME of us love and love actually being a part of.

05 Jul 2010 10:38 PM
Zookeeper

Now I've seen it ALL. The chief troll has the unmitigated gall to come on here and lecture Mr. Haskin. Good grief!!!!

05 Jul 2010 10:54 PM
LAZMANNICK

John:

Regarding Citation’s streak.......the first 6 (9 in total) were against 3 y-o’s, 6 were against 3 y-o and up and 1 was against 4 y-o and up.

It is difficult to measure the number of Black Type stakes winners Citation faced during his streak, but many of the horses he faced were top class.  Here are a few examples:

• He defeated Vulcan’s Forge who won 3 Black Type races before and during the streak and another 3 after including the Santa Anita Handicap when he defeated Citation’s stable-mate and future champion and HOY Coaltown.

• Phalanx won only 1 Black Type race before or during the streak and 7 after including the Jockey Club Gold Cup when he defeated future HOY Stymie.

• I believe Coaltown himself was undefeated when Citation beat him in the Derby.  He had won 3 Black Type races before and during the streak and something like 13 after and was versatile enough to be champion sprinter in 1948 and champion older horse and HOY in 1949.

• My Request won 6 Black Type races before and during the streak and 6 after.

• Delegate, primarily a sprinter who Citation defeated at 7-F, had no Black Type winners before or during the streak, but 11 after.

These are just a few and the numbers might be off a bit, but it gives you an idea just how tough Citation was and as another blogger, SHUVEE mentioned earlier, he was so awesome he scared off much of the opposition (Zen does that too).

To be honest, there’s a reason why the old timers voted Citation #3 overall in the top 100 race horses in the last century and why he received a mythical 142 Time Form Rating (tied for 4th all time).  He was that good.

05 Jul 2010 11:58 PM
Bob Z

Steve,

Don't let the [people] on here bother you.

Just start weeding out the trouble makers that have nothing to discuss and just want to bash others...and say the same repetitive stuff...

You know who they are... Tell everybody to clean it up or you will start dropping people...

Start with the worst offender and axe them...

Everybody else should get the message... and if they don't based on their posts ... then axe them too...

06 Jul 2010 12:38 AM
joe

I think we should all just be happy Rachel Alexandra is still running.Besides Rachel and Curlin it seems every big name Triple Crown race winner the last ten years has been retired after 3.Who knows if Point Given,Smart Jones,Afleet Alex etc. would have come back as good as a 4yo.At least whoever shows up July 24 at Monmouth Park will get to see one of the greatest fillies to ever run put on a show.

06 Jul 2010 12:52 AM
Ranagulzion

MIKE RELVA,

Welcome back to blogworld.  The racing realm virtually stood still in your absence ...there has been no moving on from speculation and debate over Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta so a little stirrring of the pot on your part wouldn't do any harm.  It was Todd Pletcher's breakthrough Derby victory with Super Saver that sent you on a three months break therefore you should follow that one for the remainder/reminder of the season (LOL) ...he's a sure shot for the Haskell.

06 Jul 2010 12:54 AM
DinkyDiva

Mr. Haskin....  Please continue your coverage of both Champs!!!  These bloggs are nothing like the others out there: it's all about how much venom one can spew.  At least your blogs are somewhat regulated.  Perhaps, certain people, characters, should be removed?!!  Just because of these few, we should not be reading what you think??  What your opinion is??  You're observation?  Don't let these fools take you from what you do very well: write!!!!!

P.S. Your daughter too.. Maggy..  

06 Jul 2010 2:26 AM
DinkyDiva

Mr. Haskin... I can understand you're putting your foot down in regards to the posts etc..  They can get pretty nasty, to say the least!!!!!  However.without people like you and Jason and Bob over on NTRA, we (as fans and public) would not know where these Champs will be going and what/whom they will be facing!!

06 Jul 2010 2:35 AM
Jim C.

Steve,

Your columns are always very insightful.  By the way, my wife, who got into horse racing about a year ago because of Zenyatta, just finished your biography of John Henry.  She was laughing out loud about all the story you recount of John Henry biting his stable goat.  She now says that he is her second favorite horse, after Zenyatta (of course).

That said, it's too bad the comments section of your columns have become a vehicle for the draynays of the world to spew their bile and vitriol toward Zenyatta.  I appreciate strong opinions and robust debate, but all he does is name call.  I wish The Blood Horse would do a better job moderating the comments.  Draynay should start his own twitter feed or blog, where he can carry out his hate speech without polluting this site.

06 Jul 2010 3:35 AM
EasyGoerFan

Ida Lee, my thoughts are with you. I was told one of my little dogs had cancer in April 2006.  I was a huge Barbaro fan from his 2yo year so watching his Derby win with my little dog on my lap is one of my most cherished memories.  It  was all downhill from there and my dog and Barbaro left around the same time.  

It's heartbreaking.

Poor Rachel can't escape the heat from Mother Nature or the bloggers!  Next year we'll all be searching for a horse to get excited about, much less two who are already in the history books.  We are so lucky but some of us can't appreciate it.

Mr. Haskin, you rise above the fray each and every time.  Please continue to share your insight on these two great runners and whatever you decide to do with allowing comments is fine by me.

06 Jul 2010 7:59 AM
sodapopkid

Steve, Here is an EBAY UPDATE ON THE GIRLS HALTERS..

ZENYATTA HALTER-$5800.00  5 HRS REMAINING.

RACHEL A. HALTER- $2025.00  1 DAY REMAINING.

THANKYOU TRAINERS, FOR DONATING SUCH WORTHY GIFTS FOR SUCH A WORTHY CAUSE....

06 Jul 2010 8:09 AM
txhorsefan

Well, I tried.  I really tried to wade through some of these recent comments, but since it has fallen into the same old routine of horse bashing, I just have to give it up.  My last couple of days has been hard to get through because we had to euthanize our fourteen year old doggie yesterday, so I was trying to come here for a change of pace, to enjoy reading about the horses I love.  I give up.  

Happy Birthday, Zookeeper!!  I hope you had a wonderful day.  Being at the track, I'm sure helped a lot - good for you!!!  Hope you got to see your horse.  JayJay, Happy Birthday to you as well.  I quit reading comments so don't know if you made it to the track or not, but still hope you had a great day, too.

Slew, thank you for your enlightening conversation creations - the bright spot of the comments.

06 Jul 2010 8:35 AM
Susan

Steve,

Please don't give up writing about the girls. At least there is one topic that continually shows the passion we all have for racing. Of course there are always a few who are nasty, it comes with the territory. But what other topic gets 200-300 comments all the time?  This year, the girls ARE HORSERACING !!! Should they both make the Breeder's Cup races, well after that, do  you realize what a letdown that will be, to not be able to discus them anymore???? I know its exasperating but hang in there,we cannot survive without your professional insight and input.

06 Jul 2010 9:37 AM
UCLinden

Mr Haskin ... Hopefully you'll change your mind and continue writing your columns ... there are those of us who really do appreciate your insight / opinions.

PLEASE , don't allow ONE bad apple to spoil it for everyone.

Take a good look at all the people who DO follow and enjoy your columns and add their comments. You MUST be doing something GOOD otherwise you'd never see any posters respond.

Please reconsider your thoughts ...

The racing world NEEDS good people as yourself ... keep on doing what you're doing ... for the good of

your followers !!!!

When your clothes get stained , you put them in the wash to get rid of the stain and wear them again...you don't throw away your clothes. MR. Haskin, just wash away the stain, and put your talents back to work !!!

06 Jul 2010 9:50 AM
the_wiz

Steve,

A Puzzling schedule to say the least. I believe if Rachael goes to the Breeders Cup they have only one choice in mind and that's to run in the Classic. I don't think she's good enough this year to win the other option (Fillies and Mares) and a loss in the Classic which at this point seems probable would be less of a mark against her record. As far as getting her there I believe they will look for the path of least resistance in an effort to keep her from losing again before the Breeders Cup. This year may have come down to a one shot attempt to regain some of the luster she's lost. 2010 HOY is out of reach for her this year in my book whether or not she wins a Classic. I just don't see them risking enough before then for her to have a chance to repeat. She's not going to go search out Zenyatta and the Older Horses are much tougher this year than the ones she faced last year.

Welcome back Mike Relva. Good to see you here again.


06 Jul 2010 9:56 AM
Zookeeper

txhorsefan,

Sorry to hear about your old doggie. Being with you, I'm sure he had a very good life. It's very hard to lose a pet, my thoughts are with you.

06 Jul 2010 10:05 AM
Steve Haskin

Susan, this is beyond passion. It's not about Draynay, who does go overboard about the horses he likes and knows how to get under people's skin. I hate to say it but it's more about the responses to Draynay that's more disturbing than his comments. People just are not capable of ignoring him. He can speak his mind, but that doesnt mean people have to fuel the fire by constantly bringing him up and retaliating. People seem obsessed with him. He certainly is not the problem. And it's not the disagreements. I welcome disagreements. I wont write about these fillies again on a blog because too many people refuse to stay on topic and start up the same tiresome song and dance ad nauseam.

As far as the Blood-Horse regulating the blog better, you have no idea how well the blogs are moderated. Do you expect the moderators to delete every comment that disagrees with others? If it gets personal it is deleted.

UC linden, I'm not giving up my columns. And there isnt one bad apple. It's just not worth writing about the two fillies any longer. No matter what I write it becomes nothing more than an excuse for others to start the same old stale diatribes.

Txhorsefan, very sorry about your dog.

06 Jul 2010 11:16 AM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin didn't say that he would stop writing about Zen and RA. He said that he will no longer allow comments on the articles he writes about these two horses.

You guys think it's easy for him to read all the comments and delete the most outrageous ones? People go on and on repeating the same things over and over again. He has better things to do with his precious time, like writing columns who make sense and delight his many fans.

Some people contribute a lot to the discussion but their comments are burried in a sea of garbage that he has to shift through in order to post the acceptable ones.

I bet you he deletes a lot of them. We don't get to see on his blog the outrageous utterances posted to the other blog on this site.

Sure, the topic gets a lot of postings but many of them are very repetitious and are generally disrespectful towards horses and/or their connections.

As always, the bad apples are spoiling the fun for the rest of the basket. It won't kill me to not comment on this subject. If it's unbearable for you, go post on another blog. Many of them allow just about anything. Peace!

06 Jul 2010 11:30 AM
TB Owner

Steve, I've seen you comment on Jason's blog so I know you read it.

You must realize that the writing of Draynay and a few others is allowed to run rampant on there, yet the people he dismisses and cuts down aren't allowed to respond.

I think it carries over to this blog unfortunately. It's dificult to ignore him when he calls people names and trashes their character in addition to making openly disparaging remarks about the horses he doesn't like and then thinly veiling it over here. We all know what he means.

It doesn't work to ignore him, he just gets more outrageous on the other blog.

Me? I'm just passing time until the sales and Saratoga. I do it for the enjoyment of speaking to the fans. But the few like him, a couple of others and the one who challenged you? Well I'd just like to see them confined to the other blog where they are free to insult all of the rest of us.

I think that's where people are coming from when they challenge him on here, they can't defend themselves on the other blog.

Sorry for that because I enjoy reading your blogs and the kinder gentler people who normally respond. Any arguments the majority of us have on here, other than those with the irritants, are mild in comparison.

Are you going to be making the trip up to Saratoga for opening day?

06 Jul 2010 12:43 PM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

A certain individual's posts on your blog are but a mere shadow of his comments to another blog on this site. But you are correct in saying that he should be ignored. It isn't easy... I succeed most of the time but not always. (sigh)

06 Jul 2010 1:01 PM
Tim G

Well it was a fun 4th of July. Things didn't all go like we hoped but that's racing.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the summer and fall and watching it all unfold. Hopefully everyone will round into shape and racing can have something positive to talk about.

I hope a lot of you get the chance to go to Del Mar if you're in the West and/or Saratoga. Both are the best of the boutique racing along with Keeneland.

It's a shame that these two horses along with a couple others bring out the worst in people. But, as someone told me it isn't necessarily this blog that causes the issues and the replies. it's grudges and battles on other blogs. That is true I believe.

Any way keep up the good work Steve, are you and Lenny going to be broadcasting live from the Spa?

Hope to see you there!

Along with all the rest of the supporters of racing who aren't all talk, come visit and BRING MONEY! LOL

Zookeeper, when does your colt start or do you know yet? NOW is the really fun time for the 2 year olds and those of us who own them.

06 Jul 2010 1:15 PM
Steve Haskin

Zookeeper, you said it all just about perfectly. Blood-Horse is the only blog I've seen where you get 200 and 300 comments. I think that's great, but it's not easy to read everything and determine which ones are not appropriate. It is very time consuming. I hope people realize that and be diligent and responsible in what they write. The moderators have many other blogs to monitor and still perform their regular job of loading stories on the website, getting photos, and organizing all the material among the various channels.

TB owner, who says they're not allowed to respond. Draynay loves making brazen comments, and trust me, not all his posts get printed. But he is harmless compared to some others and should be treated as such. I dont read all his comments, but if he ever "calls people names" and "trashes people's character" and it gets posted, please let me and I will personally delete them and ask him to stop posting on this blog. See, you got me mentioning him again.

As for Jason's blog, I may have commented on there once, but that's about it. I will look at it from time to time and read some of the comments if I find the subject matter interesting.

06 Jul 2010 1:18 PM
Fran Loszynski

Zookeeper:

Happy Birthday. Mine was on the 1st. What you say has alot of truth to it but Steve has read it all and he knows when to nip in the bud-I for one know I rattle on sometimes. Look at it this way we are learning what people feel and think about certain aspects of horseracing. You gave me a nice compliment at one time about a blog I had and I've had remarks that have been disagreeable, but we learn what people feel and think about the sport. One thing about horseracing this time next year Rachel and Zen will be old news. An actual horserace is only two minutes and headlines last about that long too-so sit back and see what fans are thinking. Between the rhetoric may be a comment you agree on-you never know. That's what makes Steve a great editor. (No brown-nosing intended just the facts)  

06 Jul 2010 1:23 PM
TB Owner

Steve, it happens on the other blog, frequently. I guess it boosts the hits?

Human nature says the people he does it to, including me won't just sit back and take it but you rarely see the response.

Not that I'm whining about it, well maybe I am,  just an explanation as to why he draws such negativism. In particular, he and a couple others just love to dog people in the industry.

He is mild on here but what I said is it carries over to here because I'm sure several feel as I do that he does have free rein and some want to make a point to him. I have done so, trying to be less unkind, but it's difficult as Zookeeper said. This seemed like a refuge/respite from it. But enough about that.

As I said, I'm looking forward to Saratoga. Do you think the 50 mil purses at Monmouth will have a negative affect on the meet? Some of my brethren have voiced that concern but I just think the history of Saratoga will win out, not to mention the ambience.

Like Tim G said, one of the premier meets in the country. It seems like a vacation for almost every horseman out here. Something we all enjoy and look forward to each year!

06 Jul 2010 1:37 PM
CV

"Zookeeper, you said it all just about perfectly. Blood-Horse is the only blog I've seen where you get 200 and 300 comments. I think that's great, but it's not easy to read everything and determine which ones are not appropriate. It is very time consuming..."

Steve Haskin  06 Jul 2010 1:18 PM

Steve,

In light of all that you've had to put up with here, I think we can agree you're the REAL zookeeper!

06 Jul 2010 1:40 PM
Laura P

Thanks, Steve, for your thoughtful posting.  The path you plot for Rachel makes sense, but there's no indication so far this year that her camp is inclined to put her in a challenging race.  The ungraded Ladies Secret certainly seems beneath her, terrific though Monmouth is as a racetrack and facility, and Jackson is surely wealthy enough that the boosted $400K purse shouldn't influence where she next races.

Is it worth the risk of injury to a wonderful champion whose best racing days seem to be in the past to keep her training and racing  when she could live out her days happily and far more safely -- and quite possibly contribute more to the sport -- as a broodmare?  I rather doubt it, and hope very much that Rachel will be retired while she's safe and sound.  

06 Jul 2010 1:44 PM
Zookeeper

Tim G,

Carla Gaines said that he MAY be ready to start sometime in the middle of the Del Mar meet. She is taking her time with him which suits me just fine.

Thank you for asking and I wish you great success with yours at Saratoga or wherever they're running. Very exciting times!!!

06 Jul 2010 1:47 PM
sodapopkid

*******EBAY UPDATE******

ZENYATTA'S HALTER ENDED WITH A HIGH BID OF $6,600.00. GOOD LORD HAVE MERCY....

RACHLE BID ENDS IN 13 HRS. 'KEEP BIDDING'   THIS IS SO GREAT.

THE GIRL'S STAR STATUS IS SURELY GREAT FOR THIS CHARITY...

06 Jul 2010 2:03 PM
WWSTP

Steve, I get why you would not open up a RA or Zen story again to the blogs.  The trashing is embarrassing and unbearably tedious, especially when we are talking about two "greats" who have surely made their marks on history and will land in the Hall of Fame.  I would love to find a horseracing blog where real discussions, opinions, and speculation can go on in a civil and intelligent manner.  I am in total agreement that "Passion" is not the word to use to excuse or validate this back and forth trashing.  It's simply rude, and it’s a perfect reflection of the inane gall of a rage filled driver hiding behind the fortress of a steering wheel and horn of a moving car.

06 Jul 2010 2:07 PM
jayjay

txhorsefan : Sorry to hear about your dog, I didn't make it to the track.  I told my lil girl I'll stay with her for my bday.  She thinks everyone's bday is hers because of the party lol so she loves bday parties, anyones.  Hope you and everyone else had a safe and wonderful 4th.

06 Jul 2010 2:07 PM
Zookeeper

Fran L.,

Happy belated Birthday to you!  You must be in heaven right now with all the Alex's babies strutting their stuff all over!

As far as wanting to know what others are thinking... I'm all for it and I enjoy many of the posts on here. But you must admit there are others who's "thoughts" we all can do without. Opposing views are fine as long as they are positive. As easy going and joyful as you are, I doubt that you would stay cool if someone had the bad taste to disrespect Afleet Alex the way Rachel, Zen and their connections are being treated in some of the comments.

CV,

That was a funny post regarding the master zookeeper! Priceless!  

06 Jul 2010 3:16 PM
Mike Relva

THE_WIZ

Thanks! I'm waiting for Aug 1. lol

06 Jul 2010 4:15 PM
ezevans

I belong to another forum in which politics are rather strongly debated and on occassion result in the slinging of the mud.  There are a couple of individuals that tend to get folks fired and they know they are pushing buttons.  We have a term for such situations.."Please do not feed the animals"

06 Jul 2010 4:35 PM
jayjay

ZK : I envy you, not only because you have a 2 yr old (didn't know that) but that you have Carla Gaines as a trainer!  I love Carla, if I wasn't married, I would love to be trained by her! ;)  She's awesome with maidens, nice choice!

06 Jul 2010 4:42 PM
Karen in Indiana

A thought on why Jess Jackson would choose an ungraded race for Rachel - since the chances of her beating Zenyatta's win streak record are pretty slim at this point (won't count it out totally, you never know), maybe he's shooting for the highest dollar amount in winnings for a filly or mare. Zenyatta has the North American record, I believe. So maybe that's the deal with him and the money. Then he'd have a pair of bookends with Curlin for the males and Rachel for the females.

06 Jul 2010 4:50 PM
LAZMANNICK

Karen in Indiana

Great thought though at that rate sooner or later she would have to enter and win $1M races and that would mean entering high end G-1's open to males and/or the BCC or the BC Distaff.  Either way she would have to win and if she did enter those types of races and won them then her credability would be back and her connection's concerns would be answered.

06 Jul 2010 4:58 PM
jayjay

Steve : It's easy to say to ignore Draynay's comments but you have a lot of audience that are passionate about horses, this is one of the places they can express their feelings and love for the horses.  I don't necessarily agree that they should be faulted for not being able to ignore his antics and behaviour.  In fact, you mentioning that he is not the issue just made him think he's untouchable.  You may be able to ignore it but it's a lot harder for many of your audience to just ignore it because he gets offensive.

I would bet the farm that from here on out, any blog you put out there, Draynay will be there to rile your audience and yes, it will come back to the same bashing that you see here.  He requires attention, I give it to him deservingly.  I don't think you changing the topic will stop him from doing this because this is what he lives for in the blogworld.  If you look at other Jason's blogs, regardless of the topic, he would put up anything to get a response.  In fact, others have posted that he does this in other blogs besides BH.  So if you feel that it's your audience that is the issue and not Draynay, then I guess we'll agree to disagree.  I'll catch him on the other blog instead :)

Thanks for the great articles, one of my favorites is Stalemate, I personally thought it was one of your best...the saratoga dream was a very close 2nd lol.

06 Jul 2010 5:01 PM
Zookeeper

jayjay,

I have a small percentage in a partnership. I'm nowhere rich enough nor brave enough to be the sole owner of a racehorse. This was an opportunity to participate on a different level without risking bankruptcy. The fact that Carla Gaines is the trainer is what prompted me to dip my toe in the pond. She is exactly the kind of trainer that I admire the most, plus she's an absolute sweetheart. I'll tell her what you said. She'll get a kick out of it.  :)

06 Jul 2010 5:10 PM
jayjay

Karen : It will soon be Zenyatta's but not yet, it's currently owned by the great Ouija Board but by less than 300K.  Zenyatta is up almost 3M on Rachel at this time so I don't think that's the case.  As Steve speculated, the race is most likely a prep for the Personal Ensign.  I doubt he was able to get Saratoga to move up Ruffian one week earlier so he went to Monmouth instead.  It looks like they want to stay with 5 weeks in between races for her so maybe this is their plan.

06 Jul 2010 5:16 PM
racefan_wannabe

Steve, Thank you for allowing this discussion to occur regarding blog ettiquit and its failures.

I would like to defend draynay as his posts almost without fail cause me to laugh, not at him, but rather at the direct, fresh, no-nonsense, unapologetic character of them.

While his posts often deal with similar themes, he doesn't remind me of my calculus instructor who when he didn't have us understanding him the first time he explained a new concept would then use the same words to enlighten our foggy brains. If the repetition of the words didn't work, the third time he would then speak faster and louder, but would again use the same words. The fourth time round the words would be fast and furious but there would be no further information and no chink would be made in our understanding. At that point we would pretend to understand rather than watch this man have a stroke in front of the blackboard. It was all an unpleasant experience for us as students who wanted to understand the material and for him as he became increasingly shrill in order to impress the material into us.

The nature of a blog leaves a blogger with the impression that he/she is not understood (in large part because people do not stay on-topic). People who do not feel heard tend to become shrill, which of course, feeds the cycle.

Last year you advocated that Rachel A and Zenyatta share HOY. I wish that you, and most of the rest of us, had been heard. Much of the bashing, is in my opinion, due to not making this generous gesture. As has been pointed out frequently, HOY does not have any bearing for the horse, but it has a world of bearing on our perception of the horse and the horse's connections. It is not looking like Zenyatta will be a good candidate this year either, and more is the pity that last year's opportunity was lost.

Aloha, Emily

06 Jul 2010 5:25 PM
Steve Haskin

Well, here we are talking about you know who again. Jayjay, did it ever occur to you that because he feeds on all this, if everyone ignored him, and I mean totally ignored him, he would get bored and go away. Everyone has given him legendary status. The whole world knows his name because public response has made him a larger than life figure.

Why cant people express their feelings and share their passions with each other and not get stirred up by one person who is sitting back and relishing every minute of his "fame." Do you really think he believes most of what he says? Just laugh it off. If he comes on and makes a good rational point without offending someone personally then respond to him if you wish.

As far as him getting offensive, if you agree to ignore him I will make sure all his offensive remarks are deleted...at least on my blog. I'm sure the moderators will be more diligent posting his stuff on other blogs.

I hope this is the last time I have to address the subject of Draynay. There, I did it, I mentioned his name...for the last time. I hope others will follow.

06 Jul 2010 5:52 PM
kathleen o

Ok, Steve.  If you're going to ignore him, so can I.  DEAL!!

06 Jul 2010 6:11 PM
Steve Haskin

Kathleen, make the deal with your fellow posters, not with me. I have never responded to him ever.

06 Jul 2010 6:19 PM
Kit J

I think you did once, to tell him you wouldn't tolerate it, he has made some comments about you deleting his posts.

The sad thing is a lot of the people with their negativity are dead serious. Not just him but others too.

I love every horse as I've said before. I used to ride every single day before my old football injuries started acting up (joke of course, the football part).

I am just trying to figure out what they feel Rachel Alexandra will gain. Maybe conditioning or some confidence?

I don't profess to know what any of these owners of any of these horses have planned or are trying to accomplish and I would never presume to question them. They might ask me to help pay the bills. hee hee :-)

06 Jul 2010 6:35 PM
Kit J

Also not to be a tattletale but I think he called you a dinosaur once. :-)

06 Jul 2010 6:37 PM
kathleen o

Sadly, I can only control my own behavior.

06 Jul 2010 6:44 PM
John

Lazmannick,

Thanks for the info on Citation.

He was indeed an awesome horse.

My father used to rave about him.

Said he came from the most powerful stable in the land.

He also said just the appearance of Citation in those "devil red silks" was known to make opposing jockeys shake in their boots - I don't know about that one, though.

My father also said Citation was the best name for a racehorse, especially with those "devil red silks", followed by Whirlaway.

My grandfather said no so fast.

He said it starts with Man O' War and ends with Man O' War.

My favorite name for a male racehorse was Buckpasser.

Just the sound of it instilled fear in you - until I actually found out that Ol' Buck was rather 'princely' in his disposition.

He was more a gentleman.

But you got to love the name Zenyatta.

Man, is that name California cool or what.

06 Jul 2010 6:52 PM
Mike Relva

RANAGULZION

I get what you're saying. I haven't commented on the other blog in over two months,but I'll be back on Aug.1

06 Jul 2010 6:55 PM
Steve Haskin

Kit, ah, but you are a tattletale :). As a vegetarian, I hope he at least had the decency to make me a brontosaurus. I must have become a  dinosaur after I stopped responding to his e-mails.

I never told him I wouldnt tolerate his posts, unless it was a long time ago, and any posts of his that were deleted were done by the moderators. Please dont inform me of the things he's said about me. I truly truly couldn't care.

This subject is officially closed. Please no more comments about him on this blog. Go back to Rachel and Zenyatta.

06 Jul 2010 7:03 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Steve,

The truth hurts, at least for some.  I think Rachel is running as fast as she did last year - she just isn't getting the breaks that she did last year (weight, weak fields, wet tracks with a decent field, etc.).  I also agree with you...she didn't look quite as relaxed in a couple of her races this year.  But consistency and tractability over time are measures of class and greatness too, not just victories over suspect competition.

RA would have to improve rather dramatically to run a 1:47 and change 9 furlongs at Churchill with added weight.  I never saw it as possible.  She showed amazing consistency in her races last year, with a few exceptions on tracks that I would call anomalous.    

I think Steve at least sees this reality.  If the ultimate goal is to run RA in the BCC - a goal that I think is unfair and potentially dangerous to her - AND prep for it in such a way as to make others think RA had a fighting chance at 10 furlongs, then it makes sense to go to the track where she ran her "best" race last year.  If she wins convincingly with a high Beyer, then some will pump her up again and the RA marketing machine will be back in full swing.

Can she do enough with such a campaign to win HOY again?  I'd say emphatically "no."  Can she do enough with such a campaign to even beat out Zenyatta for Champion Older Filly or Mare?  Again, I'd say emphatically "no."

So the only rational interpretation of running RA in a such a race - in my opinion - is that they are charting a course that tries to get her to Churchill in the best mental and physical shape possible...whatever race they eventually choose for her.   I'm sure JJ wants that to be the BCC, but honestly, that's a stretch.  

But what else do they have to shoot for, it being so late in the year and them being so far behind Z already?

Oh, and btw, I for one would love to see the one who shall not be named barred for life from blogs all together.  C'mon, trolls are so passe.  

06 Jul 2010 7:03 PM
Kit J

Of course that's as one dinosaur to another! LOL.

I'm like you in that I love all the oldtimers, John Henry, Dr Fager etc that's why I read your books and your articles! I think that's what makes us dinosaurs to some people?

Ah to see Secretariat run once more, or John Henry or Lady's Secret. Well sooner than later is my thought for me anyway.

06 Jul 2010 7:11 PM
lobieb

This may be a stupid question and hypathical at that.  Could there be a possibility that when Rachael went to the farm that she did have a date with Curlin and in foul.  I know that mares do race when in foul.  Just a question........

06 Jul 2010 7:17 PM
berttheclock

Thank you, John, for your favorite name list.  I trust several posters will follow with theirs, as well.  However, the way discord can work its way into threads, it reminds me of the great joke told so splendidly by Theordore Bikel.  Only he could provide the proper inflections of the various participants.  However, the story was set in a Swiss Chalet.  Four Europeans were sitting out a snow storm.  Finally, the Englishman suggested the word butterfly was the most beautiful word in language.  He spoke of the beauty of a butterfly on a summer's day.  The Frenchman agreed about the beauty, but he preferred papillon as being far more beautiful.  The Italian became agititated and waxed poetically about the colorful flitting about of falfalla.  Finally, the German could take no more and smashed his fist upon the table and roared, "Und was is wrong mit SCHMETTERLING?"

Will we have a Schmetterling moment from anyone as to their favorite name of a horse?

06 Jul 2010 7:27 PM
Slew

Hold on everyone!

Merrymerlin....exactly where are Butter Buns and Eazy Cheezy running and what are their odds???  You have inside info?Gotcha! ;).

Go back about 42 years.  Think what the blogs would have been like about Affirmed and Alydar...Easy Goer and Sunday Silence...Seattle Slew and Affirmed.  Oh wait...they all met each other on the track.  Until our girls do, if they do, it makes no sense to speculate or bash such spectacular athletes.  I believe the hardest thing to accept is that we came so close to the dream meet in Oaklawn...but it never happened.  I've been awe-struck by both RA and Zenyatta, and have rarely been this excited about any one horse in a long time. Imagine my fortune to have 2 in the same year.  Wow!  The horse I really missed in the BCC last year was Sea The Stars, but after watching the big Z take home the prize, I found I lacked for nothing....and my blood pressure went off the scale.  RA in the Woodward...unsurpassed.

I believe in NA, Curlin bypassed Cigar in earnings by about $501,000.00 and topped the chart at $10,500,000.00+.  Cigar was at

$9,999,000.00+. They both won at Dubai.  Ouija Board earned $5,787,390.00.

At least Steve will still give us his impression of these Grande Dames, even though it might not be in a blog format.  Still absolutely loved your dream at Saratoga, Steve.  Thank you for that.

06 Jul 2010 7:31 PM
LAZMANNICK

Heey John

Sounds like your grandfather and father had some great stories to tell.  That's what I like, the stories.  My favorite horse and name all-time was Northern Dancer  He was small and as tenacious as they come.  Besides Buckpasser, I also loved the names Damascus and Native Dancer.  Of course, Zenyatta is now right up there, and not because of her record.  Her name has a certain mystique about it, something special, and she probably has an all time great personality for a horse.  Talk to you again sometime.

06 Jul 2010 7:57 PM
jayjay

Steve : Who ? What ?  Done!  

ZK : Part ownership is still ownership and I congratulate you for dipping your toe into the sport.  I can only imagine the excitement and the exhiliration that awaits you when your stead steps onto the track.  Seeing your horse in the post parade with a cocktail in one hand and a bunch of napkins on the other wiping off the spills because you're shaking from excitement.  It's what I dream of, and I will fulfill that dream someday, I will spill drinks from excitement someday!!

Back to Rachel, it's probably just not listed yet but I posted a comment saying that the Beldame is not listed in the NTRA list of stakes so I was wondering if it's running this year.  I know that Belmont didn't run some races this year like the Go Fo Wand (it was replaced by the Ruffian which was moved to Saratoga).  If the Beldame is not running, that would put a kink in "our" speculation with regards to her last race.  I seriously doubt they would point her to JCGC after the Personal Ensign and two months is a long time to just "train up" to the Classic.

I have to remind myself that this is just speculation, no real information out there that they are pointing Rachel to the BC Classic, in fact, they haven't mentioned any race specifically for her, just that they're trying to make it to the BC.

06 Jul 2010 9:15 PM
Paula Higgins

txhorsefan, I am so sorry about your dog. I have been there as well and it is heartbreaking. I am very sorry for your loss.

I think Rachel's connections want to get her to the BCC and their plan is to get there by reserving her and putting her in easier races. Plus she would be up against tougher competition this year and in some cases higher weight if they chose more competitive races. I get it. But I do not think the BCC is where they should point her. I don't think it's her best distance and she will be up against Zenny who loves the distance and the beastie boys, Quality Road and Blame, and possibly other late bloomers. In my opinion, she is out of contention for HOTY. To add to her reputation I would have put her in tougher races now. If she really is on her way back, we would know it by putting her in more challenging races. Then she could continue to add to her legacy. I just think the BCC isn't the place for her and they are wasting opportunities in the meantime.

I know some people will say "Well, that is exactly what Zenyatta's connections are doing." I would say yes and no. Zenyatta is running in all graded stakes and Rachel's people should do the same for the sake of her reputation. However, I do agree that Zenyatta's connections are carefully picking races where they feel like they will get the best result. But in fairness, she is facing tougher horses than Rachel at this point. If St. Trinians shows up at Del Mar, Zenyatta will have her hands full. The BCC is a good goal for her because of her running style and the distance. It makes sense.

These are tough calls for the connections of both horses. They are trying to keep their horses viable for the BCC. But again, I think Jackson and Asmussen should skip the BCC. Rachel will not win HOTY even if she wins it. Add to her legacy with more wins in tougher races at distances she likes.

06 Jul 2010 9:25 PM
Paula Higgins

The name Man O' War trumps them all. It reeks of an indomnitable toughness and majesty. Secretariat second. Phar Lap third and Zenyatta fourth for best names.

06 Jul 2010 9:31 PM
Steve Haskin

The most clever name I've ever seen was Bed Pan. He was by Ring For Nurse out of Beware Below.

Jayjay, they are pointing Rachel for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

06 Jul 2010 9:47 PM
sodapopkid

Steve, I don't think HOTY for 2010 is even on Jackson's radar for Rachel A.

They have her on 40 to 43 race days, considering she is going in an ungraded stakes next, she don't have enough time to get in a couple grade 1's and still enter the BCC on Nov. 6th... I may be wrong ,I just think it's 'Too Little Too Late'.   What do you think at this point now in the season, Steve??

06 Jul 2010 10:22 PM
Draynay

Susan and TBowner I am sorry if my comments have upset you.  That is not my intention.  I have respect for all my fans and feel bad that I have upset you.  At my cost I will send a free Draynay T Shirt and Hat and will waive the fee to the Draynay fan club as well.  We are all racing fans here and the most important thing is we stick together for the sport we all love.

06 Jul 2010 10:25 PM
LAZMANNICK

I remember a horse that was named Bub Bub Bub Bold to tongue tie the announcer.  Could you image screaming this guys's name out in a three horse dash to the wire?

06 Jul 2010 10:32 PM
LDP

Soda,

If my math is correct, JJ and SA want to race her every 5 weeks from LS to Classic. That's every 35 days if I'm not mistaken, so she should have time for the PE, then the Gold Cup or Beldame.

06 Jul 2010 11:11 PM
jayjay

LOL Laz, I still think the funniest one I've heard is Hoof Hearted.  The last time I saw that horse ran was in Los Alamitos.

It's a race I didn't mind losing as I laughed so hard the whole time.  I can't get past the announcer in an excited tone saying that name.  It was hilarious.

06 Jul 2010 11:11 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, OMG I am laughing my head off over "Bed Pan' out of Ring for Nurse and Beware Below. I am a R.N. and it hits close home. Bub Bub Bub Bold is a close second. I heard on t.v. tonite on Bill O'Reilly that someone in California named their horse after his book "Bold Fresh." Pretty funny. Some people are very creative.

Nice post above Draynay.

06 Jul 2010 11:15 PM
Bob Z

The Beldame is listed ... just not scheduled yet... maybe they wanted to keep the date open to give them time to draw the 2 stars....

How about the idea of Zenyatta running in the Woodward on September 4th?

06 Jul 2010 11:19 PM
Cris

What we need here is a blog just for the girls. They can set up a new subject, mostly about the most recent race that was run by one horse or the other and so on. The fact is people care about these horses and want to read what other people think. They may get upset with some posts, but as long as nothing dirty goes on we all have a right to express our thoughts.

By the way, I am very happy to know the Tin Man is doing well. I have thought of him often and wondered how he was doing.

As the owner of two happy healthy 14 year old dogs and their 11 year old son and daughter, my heart goes out to you on the death of your dog. I love my dogs, they are family, just like Peetie the bird, and all my horses. Really we are all here because we love the horses.

Thanks for the space Bloodhorse.

06 Jul 2010 11:31 PM
Liv

For Rachel to be off for 5 months with no training had to mean something happened to her...she either just blew herself out or she got a slight injury. I love Rachel and Zenyatta but I think Zenyatta is so much better. Why did he want them to change everything for the race for Rachel? When Zenyatta goes into races and everything stays the same.

I agree 110% that Rachel is not who she was last year. If she was she would have blown us away again. I think she'll win or place in her next start. If she doesn't win I don't see her racing anymore. Rachel gave everything last year and I think it's just taken everything from her. Maybe she thinks she can still win that easily who knows. I do not see her going on to the BCC. Not into any of those races. However, I think Zenyatta will go on to the Ladies Classic or The Classic. I love Zenyatta and her dancing. I watch her races hoping she remains undefeated. The Mosses really care for her. That you don't find often in racing. Especially with Jackson having everything changed for Rachel. My best for both these horses as they race in the next few months.

07 Jul 2010 12:03 AM
Aluminaut

Dr. Drunkinbum--When is your birthday?  Miss you on that other blog.

Steve H--When is you birthday?

Happy birthday to Slew & jayjay.

07 Jul 2010 1:05 AM
Aluminaut

I meant happy b-day to Zoo and jayjay.  Slew, happy birthday to you also whenever it happens!

Rachel is taking a tour for her fans and New Jersey is accomodating with the purse and hospitality???

07 Jul 2010 1:07 AM
CV

Steve,

Not to hijack this blog topic, but I read elsewhere that Dottie Shirreffs was on the Roger Stein radio show recently and that she mentioned the Beldame could be a possibility for Zenyatta this year. Has NYRA set a date for the Beldame this year?

07 Jul 2010 1:17 AM
Lindsey

This is the first time that I've really looked at the comments and must say that I'm impressed by the discussions taking place as well as Steve's commitment to making comments/replies.

07 Jul 2010 1:29 AM
merlinmerry

Slew, Eazy Cheezy and Butter Buns are actually open names!  They have not been used yet - hard to imagine.  So, if anyone wants to name their horse something special...(Oh, and speaking of names, you have mine backwards. Its merlinmerry, not merrymerlin.  The "Merlin" part is in honor of one of the finest dogs that ever lived, the "Merry" part is my real last name.  So - I named myself for my dog.)

I always gravitated toward the serious, noble sounding names like Majestic Prince and My Gallant. Given his running style, Whirlaway was a perfect name.  The name Red Scamper was funny because Red Scamper was almost white. And to this day, I believe that Forego's REAL name was "The Mighty Forego," the track announcers just shortened it.

07 Jul 2010 2:06 AM
Bellwether

THAT WILL BEE OXBLOOD RED SILKS ON #12...ty...

07 Jul 2010 4:54 AM
Rachel

Steve I agree with your entire post...I know...boring ♥

Favorite race horse name? My fave filly: Xtra Heat...she's on fire!

Second favorite...well, Rachel, of course ☺

txhorsefan: I am so sorry for your loss of your dear old pal...

07 Jul 2010 6:58 AM
the_wiz

sodapopkid,

You don't run in Ungraded Races, get beat in Listed Races and G2's and win HOY very often if at all. This year has been a bust so far for RA. After what she did last year she hasn't come close to meeting anyones expectations. I think that has more to do with who she beat last year than anything. When I look at the Males she beat last year I come to the conclusion that winning those races made her look better than she really was. She's not going to win HOY again. The only way I see she can would be to run out a string of G1's including a Classic win and she's simply not good enough to do that unless horses like Quality Road, Zenyatta, and others don't make it to the Classic.

07 Jul 2010 8:57 AM
Slew

Laz, as Tom Durkin could handle Aargh so well, don't think there would be a problem with Bub Bub, though I've heard other tongue twisters that gave callers a rough time.  The best was Michael Wrona who had 2 horses in one race, with similar names (both involved some form of Kalookan Princess). Wrona paused during the call to say,  "Now you know why race callers drink."

Highest earning horse in the world Makybe Diva at $12 million+.

Too many horse names I love to pick out only one so I have to go with my favorite horse, and that's my tag too. (Though I find Vindication and I Want Revenge appealing.)

07 Jul 2010 9:27 AM
LuckySon

JayJay - you are correct, Belmont did cancel the Beldame this year due to NY's economy.  

And yes, Zenyatta is an extremely cool name, but wasn't she named after the Police album Zenyatta Mondatta?

Steve - This is just a thought and I may be way off, but given the fact that RA is not yet in top form and should be running in G-1's by now, and they seem to be taking their time with her, is it possible that they are just pampering her and putting her in easy races, while still training her, to get her fitness back for some serious racing next year?  It has already been announced that CD has the 2011 BC, so maybe they're just drawing a line through this whole year, getting her back in peak form while taking their time, and working towards the 2011 BCC.  Just a thought.

07 Jul 2010 9:57 AM
Steve Haskin

My second most clever name is colt from the first crop of the stallion Judge Smells. His name was Odor in the Court.

Nightmare names for racecallers, and I mean real nightmare names all came within the Caesar Kimmel era of suggestive names. Imagine being a racecaller having to blurt these names out: Cunning Stunt, Pheasant Plucker, Runt's Cash, Liquor Wrecked Em, Liquor in  Excess (I think that was caught by the JC), and then there was Cold as a Witch's (whose first foal was named Titular Feast) and Bodacious Tatas.

Aluminaut -- it's April 4

 

 

07 Jul 2010 10:18 AM
steve from st louis

Steve: In your opinion, are the top echelon of trainers today (Asmussen, Dutrow, Pletcher, Baffert, Zito, etc..) as good as horsemen as a Marion Van Berg was or a Woody Stephens or a Charlie Whittingham? Or are they just busines managers capable of reading condition books from around the country coupled with improved equine sciences?  If you could give one of them the "Preston Burch Award", for top hands-on horseman, who would it be? Maybe fuel for another blog?

07 Jul 2010 10:24 AM
Dawn

txhorsefan, I am so sorry about your dog. I have been there as well and it is heartbreaking. I am very sorry for your loss.

^^^ What Paula said. I hate going down that road! The downside of having a pet. :(

I really don't know what to think about the latest episode in As the Horse Runs. OK, we know Rachel will run at Monmouth next, and from there who knows? I think where she runs will depend on how she does in the Lady's Secret. This year it seems to be one race at a time, and only after much deliberation. Whatta weird year as far as Rachel goes!

As for Zen? She just keeps plugging along, mowin' 'em all down.

I wonder if a reluctance to travel east is because she cannot handle the high humidity out here? Just a thought--I have trouble with it myself and I live here!  

07 Jul 2010 10:43 AM
EasyGoerFan

I knew there was a Judge Smells runner who made me laugh every time I saw his name.  I couldn't find anything online so thank you for remembering Odor in the Court.  So, so clever!!  :)

07 Jul 2010 11:38 AM
jayjay

Thanks LuckySon.  This means Rachel will be pointed to the JCGC, that would make it 3 10F race for Rachel including the Classic.  Is that asking too much out of Rachel ??  She won't have the usual 5 weeks between the races either.

07 Jul 2010 11:42 AM
Mike in SB

Before I am dismissed as some old guy that thinks everything was  better in the old days, I will admit that I am an old guy that thinks racing was better in the 1970's and 80's. There have been several trends that I think are not good for either racing or the horses such as less starts, more time between races and shorter distances. Remember when the Jockey Club Gold Cup was 2 miles? One other change to racing is the diminishing importance of the old traditional races, especially the fall races in New York, as a result of the creation of the Breeders Cup. Today what is important is being fresh and in the best condition for the Breeders Cup. Look at the schedule of recent winners of the Breeders Cup Classic such as Tiznow (4 year old), Ghostzapper, Invasor and Zenyatta. I think Rachel still has a chance to be Horse of the Year with a win in races like the Personal Ensign and Beldame then a victory in the Breeders Cup Classic over Quality Road, Zenyatta, Blame, Lookin at Lucky and the rest. This year the Breeders Cup Classic is going to determine Horse of the Year.

07 Jul 2010 11:52 AM
Steve Haskin

Contrary to what's been posted on here, the Beldame will be run on its usual day, JC Gold Cup day on October 2.

07 Jul 2010 11:53 AM
Steve Haskin

Steve from St. Louis, Back in those days trainers basically had 40 horse stables. Steve Asmussen has 400. The top trainers today have so many more horses they have to be business managers as well. also, owners were much better back then and let the trainers do what they wanted and didnt interfere the way owners today do. But as far as being horsemen, guys like Pletcher, Baffert, Lukas, and Zito rank right up there with the oldtimers. The real old fashioned trainer that still is going strong is Allen Jerkens, who unfortunately doesnt get the stock he deserves...because he is an old fashioned type of trainers. Most owners today are clueless and feel compelled to give their horses to the same two or three trainers.

Jerkens still gets the Preston Burch Award. As for the younger generation, in my opinion no one knows his horses more or gets more out of them than Baffert.

07 Jul 2010 12:03 PM
Firethorn

I had a retired 17.2 hand thoroughbred named Bronze Button (he was a goldfish colored chestnut) His sire was Bronze Babu and his dam was Buster Buttons.

I've always loved the Phipps' names as they are very clever.

I enjoy this blog very much and get a kick out of Draynay, he's just over the top! He does know how to really jerk on some people's chains and get a major rise out of them!

I do find that when someone states an opinion about the Zenyatta/Rachel camps that it is immediately seen as bashing. I don't think that is true, I think people are just stating their understanding of what is going on.  Lighten Up!  I question what both camps are doing but it is certainly not condemning either horse or her connections.  

07 Jul 2010 12:30 PM
LuckySon

Oops, my bad.  I read the calendar wrong.  Sorry Steve.

07 Jul 2010 12:40 PM
YYZGUY

Ouch that hurt. As an owner your comment at 12:03 was to put it mildly, insulting.

Although sometimes I do feel clueless....when the bills come in.

Steve, I respect your knowledge and your writing immensely. Your blanket statements about owners, disappoints me.

07 Jul 2010 12:43 PM
Steve Haskin

YYZGUY, if I had said owners today are clueless, that would be a blanket statement. I said most owners, and the comment was in reference to giving their horses to the same few trainers and ignoring proven Hall of Famers and Triple Crown trainers like Allen Jerkens and Billy Turner etc. I admit I should have said many owners instead of most owners, so I wil l stand corrected on that. But as a whole, and I repeat as a whole, today's owners are more meddlesome and demanding than yesterday's owners. Perhaps it's because of economics and their need for a quick fix of success. Many of today's big owners are businessmen who, instead of using racing as an escape from their businesses, use it as an extension of their businesses. They do not understand the nature of the sport and dictate where their horses are to run. Many of today's owners with big money would have been rejected by guys like Woody Stephens and Charlie Whittingham, who would want nothing to do with them. They would never tolerate being told where to run their horses.

07 Jul 2010 12:56 PM
jayjay

Steve / LuckySon : Which calendar are you guys looking at ?

07 Jul 2010 1:34 PM
Steve Haskin

I'm not looking at a calendar. Dan Silver, the head of communications at NYRA, told me it was Oct. 2.

07 Jul 2010 1:45 PM
LuckySon

I'm looking at the TwinSpires Calendar.  I guess they're off quite a bit.  Sorry for the wrong info.

07 Jul 2010 1:57 PM
sodapopkid

Steve Haskins, I want to read up more on John Henry, I have been watching some old videos of him on Youtube and want to really get into some in depth knowledge and reading of him, I have heard so many different things about him and his ornaryness , He cracks me  up thats why I am dying to get into his life and times.....where do you suggest I start???

07 Jul 2010 2:08 PM
Zookeeper

With the Beldame on Oct.2, I doubt that Zenyatta will run in it. Unless they plan on not bringing her back to California and go straight to CD from NY to prepare for the BC. If her connections do not intend to do that, it would be too much traveling for a mare who does not handle it well.

If Del Mar turns out quirky there is a chance that she could go east instead of staying in California until the Oak Tree meet.

If Del Mar is ok, you can forget about Zen traveling before the BC. It will be Del Mar, Oak Tree and than the BC in KY.

Whatever Team Z decides is allright with me. They haven't screwed up so far so I'm not going to second-guess them now. Not that I ever did. lol!

07 Jul 2010 2:08 PM
YYZGUY

Steve thanks for responding to my post.  Like I said I do respect your knowledge and writing. My writing on the other hand is not so good, and I apologize for the tone of my comment.

I admit that I’m a bit sensitive to the picture you paint of owners today, in your 12:03 post and your 12:56 post/response. I’m not really sure I understand why you took a swipe at owners in response to the Steve from St. Louis question, regarding trainers.  

There are plenty of problems in the racing industry today and each group, trainers, breeders, jockey, bettors, etc., feels the pain. Your publication recently ran an article wondering where the owners are going. It seems the pool of owners has been shrinking and of course this economy certainly hasn’t helped the situation.  

I think it would be interesting for some industry group to really do an in depth study of owners of racehorses. Who are they, why are they involved, how do they feel about their experience, why did they leave the game, if they left. The diversity of this group might be surprising.

Woodbine this past Sunday might be an interesting place to start. Owners included a former Star Hockey Player, an inventor of the board game trivial pursuit, Industrialists, Breeders, and what appear to be ordinary people in partnerships. And that’s just in one race.

Plus there was this very classy lady there, who they seemed to making a big fuss about. Apparently she owns the odd horse across the pond.

In retrospect, I wouldn’t have said blanket statements; instead I would call them generalizations.  

In general I find that generalizations are generally difficult to prove and are, in general a generally weak way to make a point, generally.

I would have got back to you sooner, except I was busy running my real business plus downloading and reviewing condition books. Just in case my trainers need a little advice. ;)

07 Jul 2010 2:37 PM
Steve Haskin

sodapopkid, first off, for future reference, as you can see from the name of this blog there is no "s" at the end of my name.

My suggestion for you is to start with the book "John Henry." You can purchase it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from Eclipse Press. There also is a new full-length documentary on him based on that book.

07 Jul 2010 2:37 PM
sodapopkid

Steve , Thanks a bunch, Going to check it out now, I heard someone on TVG say one time, that he was so ornery, when he didnt win a race he still dragged them up to the winners circle...  Amazing, that seems hard to fathom, but hey anything is possible...he seems like a funny horse to read up on..........not funny, but his quircks and antics seem interesting to read about...

07 Jul 2010 2:55 PM
Zookeeper

And... that book happens to have been written by our own Steve Haskin (with no "s"). On top of that, the documentary is based on that book! How's that for a coincidence?

07 Jul 2010 3:00 PM
Steve Haskin

YYZYGUY, I took a swipe at "many" owners, because "many" owners dont allow trainers to be horsemen like we had in the past. I'm sure you are not one of them.

And your sarcasm is well taken :).

07 Jul 2010 3:04 PM
Jimmy

Sodapopkid,

I've heard some stories about John Henry as well, like, when a horse was coming up to him down the stretch he would turn he sideways and just stare down at his competitor, or worse, even try to bite him.

I believe because of his dispostion they had to geld him.

07 Jul 2010 3:56 PM
afleetalexforever

Wonderful to see Hollendorfer ship his 3 year old filly into Delaware to run in the Oaks.  Apparently he found that the Rockies were not too tall, a mountain range to fly over, or maybe he has a pilot who will be able to find a spot around that range where he can stay at low altitudes and keep Blind Luck calm and settled.  Thank you Mr. Hollendorfer for not trying to hide your wonderful filly in California, stepping out of the normal comfort zone and testing some good fillies in the East on a Dirt Surface where champions have been crowned for hundreds of years. Kudos to the Connections of Blind Luck.  Not so much for the rest of the owners in Cali who have buried and hid their proverbial heads in the synthetic surface.

07 Jul 2010 4:12 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

That would be part of the joy of being an owner would be interacting with the trainer and making decisions with him. Bob Baffert would be my first choice but if he did whatever he wanted without discussing it with me, then I would bee moving the horse to my second choice. I'm sure that 95% of the time I'd be agreeing with what he said and be saying,  "That sounds good to me Bafferts. Go ahead." But I'd want to be involved, and be buying him dinner whenever I could. In general I agree with YYZGUYS(not his real name) analysis of generalizations except when it comes to lawyers and politicians.

07 Jul 2010 4:29 PM
Kit J

Yes lets just hope there's no repeat of the horrible storm they had in Denver and Eastern Colorado a couple days ago. Softball size hail, more storms predicted per my family member who said it was scarier than the tornadoes they've been having.

07 Jul 2010 4:42 PM
Draynay

If Rachel wins her remaining races including the Classic who wouldn't vote for her for HOY again ?  I think they are doing their best to have her ready when the real racing begins.

07 Jul 2010 5:32 PM
jayjay

Zookeeper : I agree, I really hope it works out to what is best for Z.  I'm not only worried about how the track is playing but more of not wanting to injure the Queen.  I know Shireffs will do the right thing.  I can't help but be nervous, this will be the toughest race yet for her this year simply because of the shorter distance.

I don't really want them to travel east just yet because if they do, they will have to stay there for longer than they need to.  Zenyatta might not like being there for the rest of the summer and fall.  Team Z has done very very well with her this year, let's see what's in store for us for the rest of the year.

07 Jul 2010 6:40 PM
Aluminaut

Well then, happy birthday last April 4th.  Thanks for the reply.

Dr. Drunkinbum?

07 Jul 2010 7:06 PM
Paula Higgins

Draynay, if Rachel wins all of her remaining races and the rest are Graded stakes and THEN she wins the Classic, ITA, she would win HOTY again. I just don't see her in the Classic this year. I am hoping she sets the tracks on fire. She is a great horse and it bothers me alot that people don't get how great she truly is (it's all about what have you done for me lately). What she did last year was exceptional. Her competition was tough enough any way you cut it. This is from a diehard Zenny fan as we all know.

07 Jul 2010 7:12 PM
LDP

Paula,

I think, and I know i'm in the minority, that RA will do just fine at 10 furlongs. I think the close calls in the Preakness and Woodward were less to do with the distance and more with her being forced out of a rhythem she has. In all of the races where she was allowed to cruise last year, which was all except the Woodward and Preakness, where she was allowed to get into a rhythem and not be pushed out of it, she was untouchable. In both the Preakness and Woodward, Calvin said he felt the others would gain up on RA if he let her rate off the lead, by most likely bumping or boxing. So he chose the option to send her to the lead and avoid the others. In the Haskell and RA's other races he didn't feel that pressure and let RA go as she pleased, which meant she could be on the pace if the leader was too slow, or just off the pace if the leader was set on running. In her two narrowest victories, he forced her out of her normal rhythem, having her run faster than normal, which may have taken some of the starch out of her by the final sixteenth.

IMO, if Calvin lets her do her own thing, she'll relax off the lead and be just fine.

07 Jul 2010 8:35 PM
Draynay

LDP, It is obvious Rachel is the 2nd best horse running right now.  Her last race was explosive and very fast under a hand ride.  She is clearly getting better and better and the race at Monmouth will let everyone know Rachel is back.  No matter who shows they are running for 2nd.

07 Jul 2010 9:26 PM
jayjay

Steve : I can't imagine an owner not getting involved with the planning of their horses races but maybe the owners in the past had a different mindset and looks at their horses as more like a hobby as compared to business nowadays ?  What do you think is the percentage of the new owners who have been around horses a long time (10 years or more) vs business venture type owners who are not as exposed to horse racing as much.  I would guess maybe 30% to 70%.

As long as they are not making stupid decisions that affects the horses health, I don't have any problems whatever their backgrounds are.  We need more new owners in the game.

07 Jul 2010 9:44 PM
Zookeeper

What does ITA mean? I can't figure it out for the life of me. It took me weeks to decipher BTW so I figure I better put my pride in my pocket and ask...

07 Jul 2010 10:02 PM
jayjay

LDP : I think that's the reason that most and that includes me thinks that Rachel can't handle the 10F distance.  Most if not all of the 10F distance races are major G1 races, it means that top contenders will show up in those races.  If RA goes with QR say in the Woodward, she will most likely get forced out of rythm, they will cook each other up front.  Both horses style of racing is get the lead and see if anyone can go with them.  I just feel like neither one will rate off of the other specially if there are other speed horses in the race.  Once QR heads RA, she will fight back to try and get the lead or at least stay within a head of him.  That is the scenario I can see when she races against the good speed horses.  It will set up for the stalkers and the closers.  I don't know maybe QR is a monster, but I didn't see the same dominating QR from the Donn in the Met Mile, and this is his best distance I believe.  I was expecting him to win by at least 5 in hand in that Met Mile race not by a diminishing length.

Paula : It would depend on what the remaining races are.  Unless they are all G1s, I doubt that she would win the HOTY even if she wins the Classic.  If she goes to G2/G3 the remainder of the year then goes to the Classic, I doubt they would give it to her.

08 Jul 2010 12:28 AM
Steve Haskin

Jayjay, there is a difference between getting involved and telling your trainer where to run the horse. A lot of owners these days have racing managers, so the trainer often has to deal with two people telling what him what to do. And believe me, there are some racing managers who know little about the sport. Some owners want to be contacted constantly. Yes, it's their horse and they often spend a lot of money for them, but when you hire a trainer you have to have faith he or she knows what's best for the horses. You can question a trainer why he's doing something, but overruling him on a regular basis is more often than not a mistake. Trainers are far from perfect, but you are hiring them and paying them for doing what's best for the horse, as he is the one who is around them every day and charts their course. And a good deal of owners today have to learn how to lose better. They do not take losing well, and horses lose a lot more than they win. I dont know about percentages, but yours could be about right. I'm certainly not saying this applies to all owners or most owners, but to many of today's business-oriented owners with little knowledge of the sport.

08 Jul 2010 1:20 AM
sodapopkid

Steve Haskin(no 's'), I know you dont have time to go into detail and I am not asking you too, I just have a question for you?  I am hearing these stories about John Henry's ornaryness,  and laughing all the way,  You wrote a book on him and I just have to ask you this , All of these stories I have heard about him, Is it true he was that ornary, Steve?    I'm ordering the book,  But is there one single most ornary thing that sets out from the rest that you remmeber in your book that he did?  

08 Jul 2010 7:16 AM
LDP

jayjay,

That's where me and you differ. I think Calvin, not the other horses, pushed her out of rhythem. In the Preakness, I don't really think he needed to send her, since BD was set on the lead, and he had the outside position, but what he did worked, so I'm not going to sniff at it. The Woodward, I can see why he did that. Many others, not just me were sure that if he took RA back the older males would bump her around and try and box her. With pp3, that could've easily happened.

This year, I think, in the Classic they will lay off of her and won't want to just test her. If I'm right, Calvin can just let her clip along as she want. We saw in the MG, she won't be sucked into a speed duel, which tells me that if QR wants to wing it, she may press him, but won't try and stick with him.

08 Jul 2010 7:36 AM
Slew

Laz: regarding your 11:48 post.... my, my, my...you are a little devilish!  I pity the race caller who would have to deal not only with the horse's name, but also with being the first caller to get bleeped while broadcasting.

Just my opinion but, if I had the $$ to buy an awesome horse, and was then paying big $$ for a trainer, why would I waste my time trying to do the trainer's job for him?  Why pay him if I think I'm so right.  Some owners just seem to defeat the whole process of hiring a trainer by trying to control the trainer.  It simply doesn't make any sense...or good business sense for that matter.

I'm not certain RA can get 10f, maybe she can, but there is so much power to her burst of speed, it's difficult to maintain that spent energy for that long.  Before the Woodward, RA was very rank.  I keep wondering if she might have been in season for the Preakness and Woodward.  That would have been enervating in itself...and yet she persevered in both.  Had either race been 10f, she may not have won....MM and MTB were that close.  

08 Jul 2010 8:06 AM
Steve Haskin

SPK, there are too many to mention. I wont spoil it for you. But yes, he was as ornery as everyone says.

08 Jul 2010 9:42 AM
steve from st louis

John McEvoy, Jim Sheehan and myself, who ran the DRF's Chicago office in the 1970s and 1980s, had a sideline business, "Tag a Nag", where we would name young horses for owners after researching The Jockey Club's records. We didn't make any money but we marinated quite a few ice cubes with Jack Daniels in the process. A colt by The Irish Lord out of L'azze Faire was "Reaganomics" and so forth. "Europe Rick" was thankfully rejected.

08 Jul 2010 10:01 AM
MonicaV

Zookeeper,

I believe ITA means I totally agree.

08 Jul 2010 10:45 AM
Footlick

Zookeeper- it means I totally agree

08 Jul 2010 11:14 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

   Wow, an official workout for Runflatout. How exciting !!!!!

08 Jul 2010 11:15 AM
LAZMANNICK

Draynay

Only if she won the Classic, not the Lady's Classic.  If she did win the Classic there would also have to be a few of the major contenders participating.  If she did that, believe it or not, I would vote for her.

08 Jul 2010 11:29 AM
Ted from LA

Hello,

I am a long-time observer, first-time poster.  While you are on the subject of banning posters for indiscretions, I think Dr. Drunkinbum should be banned for a week and sent back to Steak School for the following statement, "The filet mignon, medium to medium rare."  A filet mignon should only be prepared medium rare or rare.  Otherwise, the doctor should just get a burger.

I am also fascinated by this riveting discussion as to which horse is better, Zenyatta or Rachel Alexander.  Perhaps we should turn our attention to something we can all agree upon, like religion or politics.  

08 Jul 2010 11:29 AM
LAZMANNICK

Slew

Could you imagine if they would have given Sunday's Queen's Plate winner at Woodbine that last name, especially with the Queen present?

08 Jul 2010 11:45 AM
Zookeeper

Thank you guys! ITA was driving me bunkers! Nothing I came up with made any sense... BTW if you think it doesn't take much to derail me, ITA. lol!

Ted from LA,

Welcome to Haskin's Haven! I see that not only are you a comedian, a philosopher and a linguist but also an epicurian (another big word to amuse you). :)  Is there no limit to your talents?

Dr Drunkinbum,

I'm with you. I prefer to eat things that are NOT still alive. Maybe that's just us...

Regarding Runflatout's official work, it IS really exciting. He had been breezing (unofficially) 3 furlongs for a few weeks. It's nice to see him progress to 4 furlongs. Keeping my fingers crossed... and my toes.  

08 Jul 2010 12:57 PM
SMTDL

This is a lot of hype over very little.Rachel has worked 9 days after each race this year.Who else has done that!?I think they know she is ready for a race and can't wait for Saratoga.Its a 400K race at the right distance,so why not give her the action!?She still has time to race at Saratoga and Belmont before the BC.As to Rachel handling the distance,I don't see the concern.She won the Preakness in a better time than this year's race and she did it on 2 weeks rest just like the colts that ran in the Derby.When has Zenyatta ,Quality Road,Rail Trip or others run on 2 weeks rest?On 4 or 5 weeks rest, I bet she has no trouble with another 1/16 mile!!!

As to graded races,the horseS don't know tHE politics of that system ..they just run ...like First Dude who's never won a stakes race.IT is very misleading to just gage the level of competition on graded status alone.

08 Jul 2010 1:25 PM
jayjay

LDP : I think when it comes to the fillies, Rachel doesn't have to worry about being pushed at all, she's too good for any fillies running today.  My point is when she runs against the likes of QR and Battle Plan, I don't think she or Calvin will have any choice but to push her, she has speed but I believe she is able to carry that speed because she hasn't really run against the likes of QR and Battle Plan.  If Battle Plan wasn't injured in the Foster, the outcome would've been a very very win and I won't even predict who would've won.  I don't look at the times, split times of the races because it is affected by the jockey's tactics so saying the splits are faster in RA's race is deceiving.  QR and RT and some other rabbits will not give RA an inch in the Classic, she will not be able to relax and I doubt we'll see the perf she showed in last year's Preakness.  Remember, she will have to extend that speed an exta 8th in the Classic.  I just don't see her lasting against the potential Classic field.  I do hope that QR and RT shows up, Zenyatta needs that pace.

08 Jul 2010 4:40 PM
LDP

I think I understand, why you don't think she will last Jayjay, you think she'll get hooked or try to keep up with QR and RT. Personally, I don't see her getting hooked or sent, unless she draws the one post, god forbid that happen in a 14 horse field. If she draws outside, I see Calvin letting her get into her own rhythem, undisturbed, sitting off the speed. Of course this is all speculation, by either one of us, so who knows, lol.

08 Jul 2010 5:26 PM
Jim C.

To afleetalexforever:

You say: "Not so much for the rest of the owners in Cali who have buried and hid their proverbial heads in the synthetic surface."

Really?  Don't let the facts get in the way of your parochial invective.  Seems to me there have been plenty of SoCal shippers who have done just fine this year on the dirt.

What about Zardana, who went to the Fair Grounds in March and defeated the Horse of the Year?

What about Zenyatta, who showed up at Oaklawn for the Apple Blossom (where the Horse of the Year was nowhere to be found)?

What about Lookin at Lucky, who won the Rebel and the Preakness?  

What about American Lion, who won the Illinois Derby?  

What about Line of David, who won the Arkansas Derby?  

What about Game on Dude, who won the Lone Star Derby?

Other than Forever Together (a turf horse, who lost to Tuscan Evening), I cannot think of any top Eastern horses that have shipped West so far this year.  

08 Jul 2010 5:52 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Woohoo !!!!  Ted from LA is here. Ted from LA is here. That's what I like to see. Now we're talking. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

08 Jul 2010 7:31 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Ted from LA

   Medium rare but I'm afraid the medium rare would actually be a rare or a raw so I say medium rare toward the medium side. I'd like to be a vegetarian like Steve but my body revolts against it and I feel like milk toast. Stick around. I don't know what took you so long. We'll have some fun.

Zookeeper

    Did you feed him yet? Did you watch him work?

08 Jul 2010 7:45 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

I saw him gallop but not work. I tried to feed him but all he wanted was more and more petting. I guess he knows an animal lover when he sees one.

08 Jul 2010 9:18 PM
Ted from LA

Dr., If God wanted us to be vegetarians, she would not have made cows taste so good.

09 Jul 2010 6:25 AM
jayjay

I'm not a vegetarian but I try not to eat cows. I stick with McDonalds.

Steve : I agree that owners should give full control to the trainers as far as how the horse gets to the race and what race they go to.  One thing though, with the likes of Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen and Bob Baffert who have hundreds of horses and I don't see them slowing down, do you think that contributes to how owners now act as far as wanting to get more involved.  I take it that in the past, trainers probably have less then 50 horses in their stable and they can put more attention to each horses.

LDP : I just think Rachel is one dimensional when it comes to her running style.  Even with the Woodward last year, with Da Tara there to set the pace, Rachel still went for the lead.  I don't think they can get her to rate and be just off the pace.  She'll always be on or very near the lead.  She wouldn't know what to do if she has to come off the pace specially against the likes of QR and RT.  It's too late in the game to change her style if they want her to go to the Classic.  The races after this public workout will have to be top level if they are going to get her in the Classic, not a race to experiment if she can rate or not.

09 Jul 2010 3:21 PM
caliboy28

OMG, I can't believe I actually sat here and read half of the nonsense responses posted here...

First of all, anyone clamoring for RA's retirement is out of their gourd!  Even the two races she LOST this year would have been considered pretty good efforts if run by any other horse NOT named Rachel Alexandra.  By all accounts (including independent ones), she continues to train superbly and she did win her last race in a time that was even faster than the one put in by Blame in the Foster (in spite of all her "problems" which Steve pointed to in that race) - so what exactly is it that indicates she needs to be sent to the breeding shed?  Secondly, I think that Team Rachel have been very clear about the BCC being the ultimate goal for her and that they'd like to keep her on roughly an every 5 week schedule - so why is everyone pretending that everything is such a mystery?  I've seen it quoted over and over again, so I understand how the "ungraded" Lady's Secret simply fits better into the schedule they currently have her on.  I guess all I'm saying is that the horse racing community could do with a few less Madame Cleo's...  you'd think half of you were there every day watching her train, eat and sleep when all you've REALLY seen is what 99% of the rest of have seen - two decent races (albeit, 2nd place finishes) and one really good win.

Peace out and good luck to Team Rachel!  I am looking forward to the rest of the year!

09 Jul 2010 3:39 PM
Woodswoman

This is my first time posting although I've been reading the blogs here for a long time. I want to start with an enthusiastic thank you to you, Mr. Haskin. Your thoughtful, engaging posts are wonderful and informative. I always gain new insights and look forward to your posts.

One question--for the life of me I can't find out when the Zenyatta Stakes is being run this year. I've looked online everywhere I can think of but clearly I'm missing something. Can you share the 2010 date of the race?

One last thing--I haven't posted before for the very reason you have mentioned: the unfortunate tendency that some people stray from horse racing topics and into comments about the character of other people posting. I'm all for debating my-horse-is-better-than-your-horse, but I confess I'm mystified by the widespread pattern on the web of personal attacks. So I just want to applaud you for your decision to remove the comments function in your future articles about Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

Thank you again for your positivity and all the great stories you share. Cheers.

09 Jul 2010 4:59 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, Woodswoman. They havent scheduled their  stakes yet, because they only recently found out that there would be an Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting this year. I imagine it will be either Oct. 2 or 3.

I didnt say I was removing the comments function on my blogs. I only said I would not write blogs anymore about Rachel or Zenyatta. Anything I write about them will be straight stories on the website, which are never open to comments. All my blogs, like my latest one on Awesome Gem, will be open to comments as usual.

09 Jul 2010 5:35 PM
Mike Relva

AFLEETALEXFOREVER

Wow! No usual swipe at Zenyatta?

09 Jul 2010 7:23 PM
kathleen o

cali, the only thing the team RA has said is that they're pointing to the BC.  They've never said the Classic

10 Jul 2010 11:08 AM
LAZMANNICK

Mike Relva

Hey bud.  Does a leopard ever change its spots.  Afleetalexforever was taking his ususal shot at Cali racing and we all know that Zen is the face of the sport on that TOUGH CIRCUIT.

10 Jul 2010 11:51 AM
LDP

jayjay,

Calvin said he was sending her in that race. A race he didn't send her and we saw RA actually sit was the MG. Yes only two other horses, but they were speed crazed and RA sat, what maybe 3 off of them. She sat in the Oaks. I agree she will never be far off the lead but that is because of her high cruising speed.

10 Jul 2010 6:28 PM
Joe Wa.

Steve and racing fans, here's a possible line of logic concerning JJ and SA decision to sent RA to Long Branch for the Lady's Secret, albeit a long shot- but just the same would shake up the racing world, (something so desperately needed), and give us all what we've been waiting for.

When and where else this season would connections get a crack at Z at a preferable eight and a half furlong distance, in a Grade1? And what better way to have R sharp as a tack than a two week bounce off an afternoon drill, returning from five in between, (they could nearly walk her into the race),? Yes JJ has sworn he would never race over a synthetic surface, but considering Z's apparent dislike of the Dmr. strip last season, (something conditioner commented on and complained about), one might reconsider.  Could this possibly be what they have up their sleeve? Sure hope so but probably wishful thinking.

12 Jul 2010 3:50 PM
MonicaV

kathleen o,

Jackson said last year before the Preakness that he would point her to the Classic at Churchill.

12 Jul 2010 8:03 PM
jayjay

Joe Wa : As much as I would love to see Rachel travel over the rockies and race in the Hirsch, I think JJ is pretty much stuck with the LS, Monmouth moved that race just for him so I don't think he can pull out of it.  Also, he had the race moved I believe so that it fits his schedule for Rachel and hopefully, he'll put her in the Personal Ensign race after this public workout.

13 Jul 2010 3:44 PM
Joe Wa.

jayjay, thanks for the response it being my first posted comment. But I wasn't suggesting that RA forego the LS as it is reported to be contested on the 24th of this month and the CH the 7th of next. Therefore if RA were to park and come back without any red cell issues she may be blowing fire on the quick turnaround, (only fifteen days between Oaks and Preakness), giving her the best shot I think she'll ever get at defeating Z.

13 Jul 2010 11:03 PM
jayjay

Ahh, my bad.  Being the LS is pretty much a workout, that is interesting.  I would love to see that.  She can try and deal with 2 things in one, travel to Zenyatta and (try to) beat Zenyatta :)

It's been hot here in California and will be hotter come August I'm guessing so I really don't have that much confidence that Zenyatta will actually run in the Hirsch.  I think the problem with the poly in Delmar is when it's hot (it's looser and I don't think JS likes to run on it in that condition.)  I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that around the 24th of July, Zenyatta will actually travel to Saratoga to run in the Ruffian assuming of course that she travels well.  It's a light field except for Unrivaled Belle but it will give them time to fly back and still have time to recover or stay in Belmont (I just read that Belmont has eliminated the detention barn) for the duration of the campaign and come back to face Rachel in the PE or Beldame before winning the Classic :) .

15 Jul 2010 2:53 AM
txhorsefan

I don't know if this is appropriate or not, but I wanted to come back to this blog and say thank you to all of you who were so kind to send such sweet expressions of sympathy and understanding to me after the loss of my dog.  It's taking time to get back up to speed because she was such a big part of my time with all her special needs of her old age.  We are coping and coming to terms with it, but of course, still miss her.  Thank you all so much.

Celeste

txhorsefan

18 Jul 2010 9:46 PM
jayjay

Celeste : Just remember, she's now running around and probably having a great time with the great horses like Secretariat, Man O War and alot more.    Chasin' them around a big perfect green grassy knolls with blue skies and lots of bacon strips (not sure if you let her have those but it's all I can think of lol). :)

21 Jul 2010 5:27 PM
Tai5

Why is it okay for team Zen to stay out in california, (with two exceptions)and to pick and choose their races. Even if she has already run in them in previous years.  While team RA is critized for doing the same this year?  Because last year RA did something no other three year old filly has never done and we are expecting her to top that.  RTR couldn't even run two races against the colts.  One spectatular race in the Belmont and she was done: she only had another race in her and she was a big,stout filly.  It is pretty obvious nobody likes JJ.  Who cares!  "He plays games... What about "retiring" Zen (Hollywood Park had her retirement event. She was even paraded between races.  Now she is racing this year 2010.  Good. the Mosses changed their minds.  Are they the only ones entitled to do that. I would love to see her race outside of California and face males. Or why not have run in the Dubai World  Cup?  Look at past performances.  She has faced a lot of the same fillies over and over.  When she ran at Oaklawn in 09 Gingerpunch was pretty much done.  As in ovet the top.  Bring Zen to the East coast.  Show her brillance to the rest of us. Do it before the BC where it might be another sloppy track and her owners keep her safely in the barn---as is THEIR choice.  Safe from what is the question?  For her health.  Does she not do well on an off track?  Or her unblemished record safe?  Let her run.  Show us....

22 Jul 2010 2:16 AM
EasyGoerFan

Celeste, as far I'm concerned, losing a beloved pet is one of the hardest things to deal with in life.  I have lost a few that I still cry over despite the fact that I have seven dogs and four cats to keep my busy.  You can't get over the loss right away so give yourself time.

A few days ago, Mr. Haskin posted on Facebook that the forecast high for Monmouth on Saturday will be 97 degrees.  I don't know the city to check for updates but I looked at Jersey City yesterday and the NWS had lowered the Saturday forecast to 93 degrees.  However, as of this morning, the NWS has raised the high temp to be 101 degrees!!!  If the same is true of Monmouth, they may have to cancel the card.  In high humidity, that is simply too hot.  Horses and jockeys would be in danger.  :(

22 Jul 2010 7:51 AM
txhorsefan

jayjay and Easy Goer Fan, thank you so much for your kind words.  It means a lot and I appreciate it.  I understand what you mean about still missing the ones who are gone even when we still have fuzzy friends around us.  Thanks.

In total agreement about the heat and humidity, EGF, I worry about the horses as well.  Here in TX,  last weekend was the final week of racing and I felt it was way too hot to keep going.  It's blistering hot here and I really feel for the horses having to work so hard.  It drains me to have to get out and do errands - lol!

Thanks,

Celeste

txhorsefan

23 Jul 2010 6:48 PM
KB

I say give RA back to Hal Wiggins.  Her impressive wins last year were off of his training.  Is she the same horse as last year?  No.  She is now reflecting the outcome of the SA training team.  I think they should have retired her last year.  She had nothing to prove and I did not want to see her get hurt.  As for Z, that is like a professional football team, winning the championship after playing all year at their home field, playing the same mediocre teams over again.  I am not saying that Z is not a fun horse to watch, she just has not been tested to compete against the riggors of shipping across the country to meet new competion at different tracks.  That proves a real champion horse, and they don't have to win every race.

25 Jul 2010 8:43 AM
SawItComing

So - here we are - RA has been retired.  

I've tried to post my comments here *multiple* times this year that RA *was not* and *would not ever be* the same horse again.

But my comments never got approved and posted to this site.  Why, I do not know.  Maybe no one really wanted to hear it from someone on the backstretch every day at 5am.

I am hoping now, perhaps, this comment will go through.  

Assmussen piggybacked off Wiggins' training to get those two wins over males, and once his own training started to take effect on the filly, she was doomed.  

I just wish my earlier comments - ALL YEAR ABOUT THIS - had been posted.  That she would never be as good as she was when Wiggins trained her.

Either way, everyone knows the truth now.  See you in the receiving barn.

29 Sep 2010 2:36 PM

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