Rachel Explanation Needed

I guess it was too much to hope for to have Rachel Alexandra retire in a normal manner. Nothing about her retirement makes any sense, with only another rhetoric-filled and oddly timed press release from Jess Jackson to go by.

It looks, at least on the surface, as if Rachel started the year running when she shouldn’t have and ended the year not running when she should have.  In short, her entire 4-year-old campaign was backwards. That is, assuming she came out of her last work in good shape, which she supposedly did. So, why, after two bullet six-furlong works following arguably her best race of the year, do you retire her the day after her work and four days before the Beldame?

Yes, she was beaten in the final jumps in the Personal Ensign, but going a mile and a quarter for the first time, being hounded by Life At Ten, one of the top older females in the country, every step of the way and leaving her 10 lengths in her wake, how can anyone feel this wasn’t a step in the right direction and wasn’t going to set her up for a huge performance in the Beldame?

So, what happens? One day after turning in a work that observers felt was nothing short of breathtaking, she is retired.

Why? Because, according to Jackson, she “did not return to her 2009 form,” adding that, “It’s time to retire our champion and reward her with a less stressful life.”

That sounds good, but what does it mean? Did we learn anything at all about why she was retired a day after turning in perhaps her best work of the year?

This is not about the fact that Rachel was retired, it’s about the bizarre circumstances surrounding the announcement. If she showed signs in the work that she wasn’t up to the task of running in the Beldame, fine, say so. Her retirement, although sad, would be understandable.

Jackson stated in the release, “Rachel Alexandra owes us nothing.” He’s certainly right about that. But what about the public? Isn’t the public owed a believable explanation, or any explanation for that matter, why her career ended on such an abrupt note?

Who even knows when trainer Steve Asmussen and assistant Scott Blasi learned of Rachel’s retirement? They certainly weren’t training her like a horse who was never going to race again.

OK, enough of what we don’t know. It is time to discuss what we do know, and that is the fact that Rachel Alexandra is one of the great fillies, certainly one of the greatest 3-year-old fillies, of all time.

In 2009, she:

-- Defeated eight Derby winners (Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby, Louisiana Derby, Illinois Derby, Tampa Bay Derby, Iowa Derby, and UAE Derby), plus the runner-up in the West Virginia Derby.

-- Defeated eight grade I-winning males, including the winners of the Belmont Stakes (2), Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Whitney, Stephen Foster, Blue Grass, and Secretariat Stakes, in addition to the winners of the Oaklawn Handicap, New Orleans Handicap, Jim Dandy Stakes, Tom Fool Handicap. Woody Stephens Stakes, and Lone Star Handicap.

-- Became the first filly to defeat three classic-winning males, and defeated the 1-2-3 finishers of the Kentucky Derby, the 1-2 finishers of the Whitney , the 1-2 finishers of the Stephen Foster, and the 1-3 finishers of the Belmont Stakes.

Her last six victories all had historical significance.

* Fantasy Stakes -- biggest margin in the history of the race.
 
* Kentucky Oaks -- biggest margin in the history of the race.
 
* Preakness -- first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years…first horse in history to win from post 13.
 
* Mother Goose -- biggest margin in the history of the race, previously held by Ruffian... fastest time in the history of the race.
 
* Haskell -- second biggest margin in the history of the race…second fastest time in the history of the race by one fifth of a second, and two fifths of a second off the track record set by Spend a Buck 24 years ago.
 
* Woodward -- first filly in history to win the Woodward.
 
Even winning the Woodward by a head and the Preakness by one length, her average margin of victory in 2009 was more than eight lengths.
 
The following horses were demolished by Rachel Alexandra in 2009:
 
Gabby’s Gold Gal, beaten 29 1/4 lengths by Rachel in the Kentucky Oaks  came right back and won the grade I Acorn Stakes in 1:34 3/5.
 
Flashing, beaten 31 1/2 lengths in the Mother Goose (gr. I), went on to win two grade I stakes – the Test and Gazelle Stakes.
 
Summer Bird, beaten six lengths in the Haskell (gr. I), went on to win the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup.
 
Take the Points, beaten 32 3/4 lengths in the Preakness, came back to win two grade I stakes – the Secretariat Stakes and Jamaica Handicap.
 
Just Jenda, beaten 11 3/4 lengths in the grade II Fantasy Stakes, went on to win the Monmouth Oaks by 4 1/4 lengths and the Serena’s Song Stakes by 8 1/4 lengths.
 
Bon Jovi Girl, beaten 14 3/4 lengths in the Fantasy Stakes, came back to win the Susan’s Girl Stakes by eight lengths and place in the then grade II Cotillion Stakes and the grade I Gazelle Stakes.
 
Malibu Prayer, beaten 19 1/4 lengths in the Mother Goose, went on to win the Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs, an overnight stakes at Belmont by 6 3/4 lengths, and finish second in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) and Monmouth Oaks. This year, she won the grade I Ruffian Handicap.
 
Past the Point, beaten 17 3/4 lengths in the Woodward, came right back to finish second, beaten a half-length, in the grade III Bold Ruler Stakes.
 
Although Munnings, beaten seven lengths in the Haskell, did not win a subsequent stakes, he did finish third in the grade I King’s Bishop and Vosburgh over sloppy tracks.
 
On the other hand, Macho Again, and Bullsbay, both grade I winners, were gutted trying Rachel in that epic Woodward stretch run and were never close to being the same again. And who knows what effect that race had on Rachel the rest of her career? No one can remember a horse giving of them themselves more than Rachel gave of herself that day.

Rachel’s 2010 campaign has been a mess from day one. But it was getting better. Was she even close to the Rachel of 2009? Obviously not, but coming off three strong races, in which she moved forward each time, and her series of brilliant works, wouldn’t it have been logical to see how she ran in the Beldame before making a decision regarding her immediate future. Again, that is assuming she came out of her work in good shape and was sound and acting like a happy horse. If she wasn’t, shouldn’t that have been in the press release? If she was, then didn’t we deserve a more lucid explanation for her retirement than what was given? All we were asking for was closure. And we didn’t get it.

548 Comments

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Kuro

Damn, i agree. It will remain a mystery why she was retired despite fantastic workout times and just a few days before the Beldame, where everything looked right for her and a possible big performance.

That aside, she was one of the greats.

29 Sep 2010 1:08 PM
David

Pretty simple, she can’t run and win at a classic distance now and beat the likes she did last year at a mile and an eighth.  A BC win otherwise (than The Classic) gets her little except the 60%.  No puzzle here, she has nowhere to go.

29 Sep 2010 1:15 PM
Criminal Type

Im not surprised at anything Jess Jackson does. It's bizarre behavior to say the least. Any time now I expect JJ to clarify once again by telling us all Rachel told him it was time to retire. Personally I think Rachel has been trying to tell them she didn't want to race for some time. I think a lot of mistakes were made in her management and Jess is retiring her to basically save face. Clearly Rachel was not the same horse this year. Everyone knows she has a prearranged date with Curlin, which I also think is a mistake. I think she deserves better.

29 Sep 2010 1:24 PM
ruffianruns

Thank you Steve.  Thank you for discussing Rachel Alexandra's greatness.  I hope the questions you directed at her connections can be answered someday.

It's so weird to be so heartbroken about one horse and be so full of butterflies over another.

29 Sep 2010 1:24 PM
Slew

You sound angry, Steve, and I understand it because I feel the same.  We all knew retirement was near, but couldn't they at least have had the courtesy of allowing Rachel at least one more win before retiring.  Didn't they owe that much to her?  The entire mismanagement of 2010 looks more like a CIA chronicle than a horse racing sequence.  Nothing adds up...and that's just too sad.

29 Sep 2010 1:24 PM
Giddyup

This is a sad day for racing. Thank you Rachel for giving us such great memories to cherish.

29 Sep 2010 1:25 PM
MITZIE DIVA

SO WHAT HAVE WE GOT NOW. ANOTHER DARK MOMENT FOR RACING.  RACHAEL IS A BRIGHT STAR AND EVENIF SHE DIDN'T RACE WITH ZENYATTA THEY ARE STARSW IN THEIR OWN RIGHT. BUT AS OWNER OF RACHAEL MR. JACKSON IS NOT THE STAR HIS FILLY IS. OUT TOO LONG BACK TO FAST  WHAT ELSE COULD SHE HAVE DONE BUT WHAT SHE DID. MR. ASSMUSON MAY BE A BLUE RIBBON TRAINER BE HER FIRST TRAINER HAD RACHAEL PULSE AND SHE SHOULD HAVE STAYED WITH HIM  TOO BAD FOR RACING AND FOR RACHAEL.

29 Sep 2010 1:28 PM
bad omen

I have a bad premonition, Rachel Alexandra retires and Zenyatta loses on hollywood park's plastic track this saturday. A bad week for american thoroughbred horse racing.  

29 Sep 2010 1:29 PM
pinto66

Steve- perfectly said, once again. I too am amazed that she put in a bullet on Monday, and was retired the next day.  I will miss her, and will keep an eye on all her foals.

29 Sep 2010 1:31 PM
sharjil

another and the most bizarre move made by jackson. what a heartbreaking way to retire her. its just playing with the emotions of fans who follow her like crazy. everybody was just ready and excited that here's our champion ALMOST bck, to take her position. and here comes this press release. what a bizarre move is it. MOST credit goes to wiggins, even for all her 2009 campaign to what he had made her capable of. now when it was time for jackson and asmussen crew to prove smthing, they completely failed in this season. she was never a happy horse after she moved to asmussen. what a shame is it to play with fans' emotions by retiring at this time, and in this manner

29 Sep 2010 1:33 PM
Redraven46

The owners owe the racing public and RA's fans much more than their 'explanation'. RA helped give horseracing a shot in the arm and her owners would have helped it that much more by agreeing to a match race between RA and Z before both went into retirement. I think their pride and pocketbooks got in the way of true sportsmanship & horsemanship.

29 Sep 2010 1:37 PM
no1holme

With Mr. JJ it is never about the horse it is always about JJ. Also have heard rumors of JJ's health declining and physically not doing well.

29 Sep 2010 1:38 PM
GreybirdK

Lucidity and transparency have never marked Jess Jackson's remarks about this filly.  Why break a perfect record?  Thanks for reminding us of her brilliant 2009 campaign.  And thanks for suggesting that Asmussen might not have known this was in the works.  I had not thought of that, just figured he didn't like something about her after the work and thought he couldn't get her ready for a BC prep race.      

29 Sep 2010 1:38 PM
needler in Virginia

Steve, WELL said, and thanks for saying it! You always put the point at the top of the needle for us. What we will NEVER get from Jackson is a REAL explanation. Nope, we're gonna get "it's time for Our Rachel to be a happy mommy" and that'll be it. Why am I NOT surprised? Same song, 400th verse. And how disappointing for her fans....this load of manure to explain something so big is laughable. The best part, though, is that it comes AFTER the bullet work. Just another of those things that make you go "hmmmmmmmmm".

Cheers and safe trips to all, especially Rachel; she deserves it.

29 Sep 2010 1:42 PM
sidekickflats

Great article Steve. One thing, you say she beat 3 Classic winning males. I know MTB and Summer Bird but who was the 3rd?

29 Sep 2010 1:43 PM
nina

They owe you nothing. Their horse and they can retire her when they want to, We should thank them for letting us enjoy this magnificent mare.

29 Sep 2010 1:46 PM
Karen in Indiana

Jess Jackson is a spoiled rich kid who takes his marbles and goes home if he doesn't get what he wants the way he wants. He's been getting tracks to change dates and money and even invent races to get what he wants. He should be in NASCAR instead of horse racing. At least those are inanimate objects and the drivers are well-protected. Rachel survived last year because of the foundation Hal Wiggins gave her and because of her natural talent. This year can be directly attributed to the Jackson-Asmussen team. She hasn't looked happy all year.

29 Sep 2010 1:48 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I guess I missed that. I didn't hear where her last work was briliant. That changes things entirely. That makes her retirement very strange indeed. She is one of the great ones, and I did want to see one more great race at least, but also felt that if she wanted to retire then it was for the best, but now I have to wonder-did she want to retire? It's all puzzling to me now after reading this article. First of all I was highly disappointed when she was sold and taken from the Hal Wiggins barn. Her career would have been so much more exciting for me had she stayed with Mr. Wiggins, who had done a tremendous job with her. She was brilliant and happy. Eventhough she proved her greatness as a 3yo, I don't think she was as happy as she would have been with him. I'm not sure that we got to see her true brilliance either. Wiggins and Rachel were a super duo, in tune, and she was being perfectly trained. Rachel's Kentucky Oaks was one of the greatest performances I had ever seen. Her Prekaness was still brilliant. She was still basically Wiggins trained at that point. From there it was all downhill. I hope that we hear the real story about the campaign and the retirement from Steve Asmussen who I fear was controlled far too much by the owner. He may not talk though because there may be another super horse on the horizen that he could train in the future, assuming that he wants to train again under the same rules. I believe that Steve Haskin is right. After all of this, and after all of the wondering and suffering her devoted fans have done this year-the racing world deserves a better answer, but I don' think it's going to come from Mr. Jackson.

29 Sep 2010 1:49 PM
Dog Doc

Imagine that!!

29 Sep 2010 1:49 PM
Nicole

Thanks for this, Steve.  I can't figure out her 2010 career, either, other than her connections were perhaps so scared of her losing that they chose her races accordingly. Which is a shame, compared with the exuberance of her 2009 races.  She ran five very good races this year; unfortunately, it seems that her connections and a lot of the public expected nothing less than Pegasus each time she stepped on a track and anything less than her Oaks performance was reason to start yelling "retire her now!"

I wish they'd raced her with more confidence this year.  Her record might not have been better; might have been worse than 2 wins and 3 seconds (for what other horse, save Zenyatta, would this be considered a failure of a season???), but it certainly would have been more fun to see.  I wish they'd had more faith in her.

And if they know something that makes her 2010 career and retirement make more sense, I wish they'd say it.  She's retired; she's not going to auction; there's nothing to lose by it.

29 Sep 2010 1:52 PM
Jeff A

Steve -- thanks for writing exactly what so many of us were thinking.

Jeff A

29 Sep 2010 1:57 PM
B

Well put Steve. It just came out of the blue, really.

29 Sep 2010 1:57 PM
Frank J.

I think you wrote what everyone here in horse racing land is thinking Steve.

29 Sep 2010 2:05 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

I will always stand by how gallant and brave Rachel is. Horses like her don't come along very often. That is what makes them so special. However, the news of Jackson's purchase of this spectacular filly was like a kick to the stomach for me. When she moved to Asmussen's barn the fans were told that we would see her in prominent races with much fan fare. We got all that we were promised but at a price. Each time she ran, Rachel gave it her all. Rachels connections kept asking for more. Jackson said, and Asmussen parroted, "We will let Rachel tell us what to do." She spoke. They did what they wanted. Rachel paid the price.

I have mixed feelings about Rachels retirement. No more will we see her race, and even in a loss it was great to see her run because she is a beautiful girl and a tremendous athlete. Her 2009 campaign was one for the ages. The 2009 Woodward was amazing. The fans went wild! But to see her so exhausted after was painful. She won that race on heart. I think that is where her heart was broken. Rachel needed a break. She was sent to her stall for 5 months instead of a pasture. I'm not sure where the logic to that is other than Asmussen could keep charging a training fee.

Hopefully the mating(s) with Curlin are a success. Jackson is counting on it. Mostly though, I hope she finds hapiness and a lot less stress as a broodmare. It's a tough job but I think she is up to the task. She has certainly earned a turn out.

29 Sep 2010 2:06 PM
AliciaMcQ

Couldn't be truer. Who knows what could've been....but by retiring her now, they've tarnished her reputation. After hearing that work on Monday, it sounded like she was really getting back to her old self. Guess we'll never know now. What a shame.

29 Sep 2010 2:08 PM
anncat

Thanks, Steve, for reminding us of the details of RA's remarkable career.  She really needs no excuses for retiring.  The humans may say what they want.  IMO, her efforts in the 2009 Woodward took the last threads of strength out of her body and soul and she would never recover.  We have witnessed a Thoroughbred for the ages.  She will stand with Ruffian and Secretariat and Seattle Slew and others who cannot be compared to mortal horses.

I say all this as a rabid fan of that nice mare at Hollywood Park.

29 Sep 2010 2:14 PM
RachelFan

absolutely no reason to retire her =( I think in the Beldame, or the race after we wouldve seen the real Rachel again, maybe they'll take back her retirement like they did with Zenyatta last year, the only reason she's had such a horrid year is because they rushed her in to her '10 campaign

29 Sep 2010 2:16 PM
The Deacon

Well stated Steve, not sure about anyone else but I sure have an empty feeling in my gut about all this. Jackson is a very wealthy guy, but he is not a true horseman. In every sense of the word he signifies in my mind what is wrong with horse racing. He and Frank Stronach are two reasons (not to single them out) our sport has issues. I think the public deserved better. Racing was deprived of one of its stars and we basically don't know why. I personally think rachel was just rounding into form, she hasn't had a grueling campaign like last year so it has taken her awhile to shake off the cobwebs. Where have all of the true horsemen gone? I miss the  Frank Whitely's, the Johnny Nerud's, the Noble Threewit's, the Stute brothers, the Calumet connections, the Jim Maloney's, the Laz Barrera's, the Charlie Whittingham's and the Bobby Frankel's of our sport.

Rachel was truly special, she had speed, power and the ability to carry her brilliance the entire race. In my mind, she was the closest thing to Ruffian we have seen.........  

29 Sep 2010 2:16 PM
Horse owner

Well Steve, the only thing I can say, is "Jess Jackson." This guy has acted like a spoiled child since he had Curlin wowing us on the track. He bought RA for who knows how much only because he wanted to have the best toy that year. He then proceeded to run her into the ground.

Hal Wiggins had it right when he said that 3 yo fillies need to run against other 3 yo fillies. They're immature physically, for the most part. Yes, some are bigger and stronger than some colts but that doesn't mean they should be put thru the rigors of running over their heads.

The way he's handled this whole retirement thing tells me that something is seriously wrong with her but JJ won't admit it because it will make him look bad.

29 Sep 2010 2:17 PM
tsuggs

Hey Steve,

First off, I just wanted to say thank you again for all your articles. You have such a way with words and it is always such a joy to read your work. Now, I just want to say that I agree with everything you have stated. Rachel is such a wonderful filly and what she did for racing last year, was nothing short of amazing! But to just drop this bomb on us and without a reason, is a little hard to swallow. I understand that her life now will be less stressful and for that I am happy for her, but was she ready? Did she want to hang up her saddle and go straight to her life of breeding? I guess we will never know. All I do know, is that I will always remember how great Rachel was and what she brought to the table. I wish her all the best now and look forward to seeing her offspring. You said it best Steve, when you said Rachel is one of the great fillies, because she most certainly is!

29 Sep 2010 2:18 PM
Bryan

Hi Steve,

I too am mystified, although really with Jess Jackson how can anything be a surprise anymore.  I have a question for you though about Asmussen.  A while ago I think it was you who mentioned or wrote that a venerable "gag order" had been placed on Asmussen by Jackson and he wasn't really allowed to comment much on Rachael and her plans.  Have you ever heard of an owner censoring a trainer like that before with a horse, especially a horse the caliber of Rachael??  Just curious.  I will be at Belmont Saturday and the day will be a little more hollow now that she is not running.  I was there when she ran in the Mother Goose and I still get chills at the brilliance she showed that day.  

Bryan

29 Sep 2010 2:19 PM
Glimmerglass

I don't see why should couldn't have been kept in training and gone for the Clark Handicap (G2) as her final send off. One more run against the boys. It would've been at Churchill, the distance in her sweet spot, and by then the BC circus would've passed through. Going out with one more chance to show the magic would've been nice.

RA is their horse however, I've just been an admirer of her and I don't pay her bills.

My guess is CD will offer a retirement parade lap send off on Lady's Day at the BC.

29 Sep 2010 2:29 PM
Ranagulzion

STEVE,

From my perspective the "writing was on the wall" once Jess Jackson made the uncharacteristic shy move of ducking the colts in the Stephen Foster in favour of running in the Fleur de Lis.  I posted on one of these blogs that it was a golden opportunity lost to salvage Rachel's defence of her HOTY title, and I'm now sad to say that her sudden (if not surprising)retirement proves me 100% correct.  All the pace/speed figures of the FDL and Stephen Foster suggested that she would have trounced Blame and Battle Plan in the Stephen Foster, which would have wiped away those narrow defeats to Zardana and Unrivalled Belle as mere prep performances and reinforced her "awesome colt-beater" reputation.  Even if she (conceivably) could have lost narrowly to Blame in that race, his now exalted status, having narrowly defeated the "Dirt King" Quality Road would pull her along into the same orbit as those two big colts in 2010. Hindsight is twenty-twenty vision but courage often gives a person huge foresight in the final analysis.  JJ acted cowardly IMHO (like others who shall be nameless at this time).   Timidity mascuerading as "doing right by the horse" once again stole the day ...what a shame.

That Stephen Foster race held the key for Rachel's season and I am on record as expressing my utter disgust and frustration at JJ's decision to run her in the FDL.  Consider this also. If courage had prevailed in all camps and Rachel had won that race and then later lost out to ...guess who? ...Zenyatta (instead of Persistently), coming to Saratoga for the Personal Ensign, wouldn't the racing world be salivating at a re-match in the Breeder's Cup Distaff in November, with HOTY still in the offing for both horses?  I certainly think so.  Call me a dreamer if you will but keen competition in thoroughbred racing is turning out to be a nightmare for the true fans of the sport.  Looking back now it is kind of shocking that these two super fillies/mares couldn't face each other even once.  Might as well both had been retired at the end of last season.  We would have been spared the frustration and broken promises and their respective reputations would be better off.

Having vented thus, may Rachel Alexandra produce many classic aspirant offsprings in a long and happy career at stud.  She was a truly sensational 3YO filly.    

29 Sep 2010 2:36 PM
davec

I feel bad for Asmussen.  I think he was finally getting her where she could beat any female besides Zenyatta maybe.  I would love to hear him speak freely.

29 Sep 2010 2:37 PM
Stephen Ciattei

I have to agree on all points and just one more not mentioned. She did gain significant weight in growing up and may have needed the time to grow into herself. The timing to retire is a testament to the whole years handling of her campaign.. oblique.  

Hindsight is 100% if they would have run her in the Foster she would have beaten Blame as she ran the fastest 1 1/8 mile in the country just a few minutes before Blame ran. That would have set her up for Horse of the Year and Old Filly or mare Championship.  Show would have also beaten Quality Road in the Woodward where he ran 1:50+ a time Rachel never came close to on her worst day.  She was improving and should have been entered in the JCGC where she had a legitimate shot.  

Let me close this by saying farewell to a GREAT ON who surely had the "Look of Eagles"

Many years ago, a man named John Taintor Foote wrote a story called "The Look of Eagles".  In it, he described the look of which Mallory speaks:  "About the head of a truly great horse there is an air of freedom unconquerable. The eyes seem to look on heights beyond our gaze.  It is the look of a spirit that can soar. It is the birthright of eagles." (article, by Ellen Parker, originally appeared in the August 2002 issue of American Turf Monthly.)

29 Sep 2010 2:38 PM
Rachel Maniac

Steve, thank you for this wonderful article. Still reeling from yesterday's announcement. Your last paragraph was dead on. What do you think are the chances of having public ceremony for Rachel so the fans can get one last glimpse of this beautiful champion?

29 Sep 2010 2:40 PM
Travis

Steve,

As usual, you've hit the nail on the head with all the points you've made here. In my opinion, Jess Jackson has completely mismanaged Rachel all year long. As a Rachel fan and horse racing enthusiast, I will always remember her amazing 3 year old campaign and I will always know how great she was last year. In 2009 she captured the hearts and imaginations of many and certainly helped the sport of horse racing. Regardless of Jess Jackson's reason or reasons behind retiring her (although I doubt he really has one), I think we should all be thankful for what she gave us in 2009. Steve, THANK YOU for pointing out all of her many achievements and I couldn't agree with you more..."the fact that Rachel Alexandra is one of the great fillies, certainly one of the greatest 3-year-old fillies, of all time." Well said, my friend!

29 Sep 2010 2:45 PM
Robert

Maybe, just maybe Jess Jackson has come to his sense and decide that the best interest of the filly was what he........oh who am I kidding??  This guy has done more to mess up horse racing the last 3 years than any owner in recent memory.  He needs to let his trainer decide when and where to run the horses and show up in the stands and cheer.  Other than that, butt out.  This mare was sitting on explode for the Beldame, and he retires her.  She is either hurt or the actual time for the workout was fudged and she did not work a bullet.  Jess Jackson may have millions of dollars in his wallet, but he had got squat in his head for brains when it comes to racing.  And to top it all off, he is breeding her to Curlin next year, when A.P. Indy is waiting, and is getting older.  Curlin is a son on Smart Strike who has not shown to be a sire of sires.  Curlin also has some less than top notch breeding when you get to his 2nd and 3rd dams.  I would wait until his first crop gets to the track before sending Rachel to him.  I wish Rachel a long and happy broodmare life.  With an owner like Jackson, she sure has earned it!!

29 Sep 2010 2:45 PM
CrossingFingers

Steve,

I've tried to post comments on your RA articles all year, and none have been approved (no expletives, nothing rude).  For whatever reason, none of them have gotten posted. Maybe because I've said it like it is coming from the backstretch? I hope this one gets through.

Each one of them warned that RA would never be the same horse.  That unless she was put back in the hands of Hal Wiggins (the man who trained her into the horse who ultimately beat males last year) - she would be finished in a very short time period.  

And I consider not finishing out her 4 year old year a short time period.

I'm on the backside at 5am every day, 7 days a week. Horses are all done up and I'm on my laptop on a bale of hay.

 Jackson got his HOTY and his stage.  

I try not to think of how much more great racing we might have seen from RA had she stayed in the right hands.  No, we might not have seen her run in the Preakness or against males ever, but she could have rightly been one of the greats against her own, beyond one season.  Now we'll always wonder.

If you do post this, thank you.  

29 Sep 2010 2:45 PM
smartysgal

I think, when it comes down to it, Jackson didn't want to admit that Zenyatta could beat Rachel.  Don't get me wrong, I was a Rachel fan up to the first time I saw Queen Z run on TV, and still liked her, only, not so much her connections.  But we won't go there.  Rachel got a bum rap this year and to say she was mismanaged is putting it lightly.  Races were made for her and put on a silver platter, but her connections ended up taking a different, somewhat confusing route.  So, a good filly goes into retirement sooner than we all had normally expected (I was expecting it AFTER the Breeders' Cup), and the best news she's getting is that she doesn't have to put up with fools anymore.  She can look forward to her date with Curlin and the expected foal the next year.  Good luck, Rachel.  You should be glad you're away from those who didn't know what to do with you.  

29 Sep 2010 2:47 PM
Kalidinrs

I am disappointed in the fact that Rachel was retired! Ruffian had been my hero from the time i was a little girl and my dream has always been to breed, own and race a filly of that caliber. Rachel was as close to that caliber as has been seen or will be seen! It is shocking to think that they would retire her immediately after her bullet work! If she is undound, say so, it will not ruin her image to her fans! I believe that her best races were to come this year for sure and the Personal Ensign was not a bad defeat, in fact, none of the races she lost this year were losses that would point to retirement to me, after that long of a layoff you would expect a race or two would be needed. However the decision came about i guess its one we will have to be ok with as a Rachel fan! I am very excited that she will be bred to Curlin, who is in my opinion one of the greatest racehorses of all time and more than fitting a mate for Rachel, i just wish her retirement had come in late November.

29 Sep 2010 2:47 PM
Pam S.

Wow, I really agree with everything you said, Steve.  I mean, if you're a racing fan with normal, reasonable interest in the game and its participants, you're not gonna rant and rage about this, but you are gonna wonder and ask questions.  I myself had a feeling Rachel would run in the Beldame, and, in the event of a less-than-great performance, it would be announced she was out of the BC. Even that would have been disappointing, especially to the fans who already made plans to go to the BC wanting to see Rachel, but at least it would have made more sense.

Abrupt?  I'll say.  She was retired and that is that.

29 Sep 2010 2:49 PM
Lynne Veitch

Steve:  Thank you for writing this masterful article.  Everything you have said is certainly logical and at least will make people who read it feel a little better, I hope Jess Jackson will read it and respond to it. Surely he must be feeling a backlash about the bizarre timing & wording of his statement.  Thank you for understanding how so many of us feel and writing about it here.  Sincerely, Lynne Veitch

29 Sep 2010 2:50 PM
ezbreeze

Your thoughts on this development mirror mine. You're entirely correct that the racing fans are entitled to a better exit for such a special horse. As much as I try to be a fan of Jess Jackson he surely does make it tough. One things for sure, I'll never forget watching her run by in front of me at CD on Oaks Day 2009 and win going away with ease.

29 Sep 2010 2:51 PM
Trudy

Figures.  I think Jackson is a sore loser - and didn't want to chance it again.  

29 Sep 2010 2:52 PM
Taxman

This whole thing with Rachel's condition over the last year says we need to change the way that injuries on horses are reported. In the NFL, MLB, NBA we hear when every athlete even has a pimple. Why do we not have access to horses being hurt with various injuries so we can make intelligent wagers on them? Only when a horse can't make a particular race do we know there is a problem. What if Rachel was not 100% last time at Saratoga but they chose to run her anyway? It is a deception of the public that needs to be corrected...oh yeah, we don't have anyone in charge to protect us, I forgot. I guess it is more important to have the "fixers" stay in business than for the public to know.

29 Sep 2010 2:52 PM
Judy G ~ California

Thanks Steve for posting this question!!

I think as Rachel fans, we deserve some explanation. If she isn't 100% healthy, why not say that? Rumor mill is that she got hurt in that last workout. If that's not true, then what is the truth?

Facebook was blowing off the internet yesterday with this shocking news.

Mr. Jackson: we respectully request an explanation, please. Thank you.

29 Sep 2010 2:53 PM
WilolaFarm

So what if it was abrupt.  Why run her into the ground?  If they saw that she wasn't returning back to her 2009 form, so be it.  I am very happy to see her retire, I was hoping for it after her 2009 season.  We are looking forward to seeing her having a less stressful life and rewarding us with many beautiful babies! Thank you Rachel Alexandra!  We loved watching you race!

29 Sep 2010 2:54 PM
KJY

Thanks Steve for laying out the historical perspective on Rachel's triumphs. Reading her accomplishments in that format takes your breath away. How sad to see it come to an end. But she gave us a great run.

29 Sep 2010 2:56 PM
gagehill

You said everything that has gone through my mind the last 24 hours.  Just when she was looking more like her old self (good works, fantastic PE, etc.) and bango, she's retired. Felt she was ready to kick butt in the Beldame.  Think her fans and racing deserved better.

29 Sep 2010 2:57 PM
dinkydiva

When I heard of her retirement yesterday, I was merely shocked but, as a fan of both great mares, I wasn't really too surprised by Jackson's decision.  It's just how he did it that makes no since whatsoever.  I just think that perhaps Jackson and Asmussen finally listened to Rach.  I don't think her heart was in it anymore and, if she were any other filly, her races were pretty good but, she's not just another good filly, she's reigning HOTY!  Last season, she set the standards soo high and was expected to do the same this year. Fillies and Mares are different from colts and horses.  They are more delicate and require special handling.  I don't know.  Like you said Steve: we need closure, we need to know the "real" reasons behind this abrupt decision!

29 Sep 2010 2:58 PM
Barb Dwyer

I think we should have a contest to guess how many responses this article gets.  My guess is over 1000 as your recap of her career will undoubtedly spark some arguing.

But to the subject at hand.  I've always refrained from criticizing Mr. Jackson but I can't hold my tongue this time.   It seems to me that he usually times his press releases to get the most attention on himself and/or take attention away from another horse/owner.  For example, he often announced Rachel's next start just when there was media focus on another horse or an upcoming big race.  

But this time there isn't an obvious event he's piggybacking on, so I'm left assuming Rachel came out of her last work in less than perfect condition. OR - and admittedly this falls in the "wishful thinking" category - maybe he retired her suddenly so he could get lots of attention by UNretiring her in the future.

29 Sep 2010 2:58 PM
Lonnie

Thank you, Steve, for trying to make some sense of this year for Rachel.  When she didn't show up for the Apple Blossom I think we all knew she was not the same race horse she was last year.  It's a shame that Mr. Jackson could not have been more forthcoming and honest with all of her fans regarding her 2010 racing season.  I liked him during Curlin's racing career but something happened with Rachel.  He was not fair to the press or her many fans.

I wish her the best of luck with her new "career" and we will always wonder what could have happened this year with Zenyatta and Rachel if they ever would have raced.

Steve - good luck getting to the bottom of Rachel's racing career.  We will always wonder.

29 Sep 2010 3:01 PM
Lindsey S

You have dealt with a lot of bizarre things in all of your years covering this wonderful sport.  Where do you think this ranks?  I think most of my sadness lies in the fact that I never got to see her race in person, and I was so very excited to see her at the Breeder's Cup.  I feel like 2 years of anticipation (since she didn't go last year) just went down the drain.  It was like someone kicked me in the gut yesterday when I read of her retirement.  I was shocked that this close to the end of her career, they didn't just run in the Beldame and the Ladies Classic.  I have to think there is something amiss with her, don't you?  All I know is, that she brought tears to my eyes with each breathtaking victory, and each heartbreaking defeat.  I sincerely hope they have a retirement ceremony at Churchill Downs for all of us who always were, and always will be, true fans of Rachel Alexandra the Great!  She certainly deserves that, and so does the racing public!

29 Sep 2010 3:02 PM
Edward Denny

This is a prime example that just because a person has been successful in buisness,that does not make them a horsemen or sportsmen. Mr Jackon whined about the sythentic surface after Curlin was soundly beaten in the 2008 Breeders Cup Classic.He then refused to Run Racheal on the same surface in 2009 when she deserved the chance to win the Breeders Cup. So should the odd time and manner of this great Filly's retirement really surprise anyone?

29 Sep 2010 3:04 PM
TerriV

Not stunned but sooo disappointed.  I was hoping to see her at Churchill in the Ladies Classic - I believe she was improving to be a powerhouse in that race.  I just don't get it.

29 Sep 2010 3:05 PM
Cowboykiller67

I have heard some mumbling around the track that Rachel might have tore a tendon that showed up the morning of the announcement. Whether this is true or not I still feel the public deserves an explanation.

29 Sep 2010 3:06 PM
Chrystal

Thanks Steve, for stating exactly what had been on my mind. When i read the Blood Horse article I thought it was the weirdest thing I'd read in awhile!

Then I second guessed myself and figured I must be wrong for feeling this way. I figured I was just missing something.

Well, I guess I was missing something: ANSWERS!!!

Poor Rachel. Her connections are greedy idiots.

I always wanted her to face Zenyatta. Or at least go out with a win!!!

Please keep us updated if you find out anything.

29 Sep 2010 3:07 PM
Smoking Baby

 Thanks for another great read Steve.  I'm struggling with this because I have nothing but respect for you and I'll admit I'm probably splitting hairs here.  This bothered me last year when we were all in the heat of the big Horse of the Year debate.  OK...Here goes...I'm somewhat nervous writing this so forgive me if I mess up.  Rachel Alexandra DID NOT beat the winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  She beat the EVENTUAL winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup.  The Summer Bird that she defeated by six was barely recognizable when compared to the later in the year version of Summer Bird.  Am I making any sense at all here?  It's like saying Larenzoni (probably butchered that name), the colt that beat Easy Goer in his first start beat the winner of the Champagne, Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup...You get my point hopefully.  Larenzoni beat an unraced maiden by a nose.  He did defeat the EVENTUAL winner of all of those races.   My point is that I don't think it's an accurate reflection of the competition unless it's on the horses resume THE DAY the horse beats them.  Whew...That was rough for me.  OK...Enough of my negativity.  Thank you so much for your excellent work Steve.  You are and will always be THE MAN!!!

29 Sep 2010 3:09 PM
Susan Friend

All I have to say is this: not since Judy Garland has so great a talent been so mismanaged. What are they hiding??? What's going on here? We have a right to know! God bless Rachel, she deserves better than this!!!

29 Sep 2010 3:11 PM
donkeyhotey

rachel's 2009 season was so glorious, what a shame and a disgrace that her 2010 season was so miserably mismanaged.  i have personally thought that since last march they have handled her more like a motorcycle that can be turned off and on than a sensitive equine superathlete.  borel, while an able jockey, should have been replaced at least 2 races ago.  clearly she likes running under her exercise rider more than him, and understandably after the despicable display on the stretch run of her last race.  what a tragic last memory of a great champion, her connections owe her and her legions of loyal fans more.

29 Sep 2010 3:12 PM
Shamfan49

Even in last year's Preakness, there was evidence that RA would have difficulty getting 10 furlongs. One of the Hall of Fame jockeys now working as a racing commentator for TV, I think Jerry Bailey, might have been Gary Stevens, used computer graphics to show that if Mike Smith had given Mine That Bird a Bo-rail ride, he might have prevailed that day. Down the Personal Ensign stretch, Rachel was clearly in distress after the speed battle with her worthy opponent. Based on that finish, it would not make sense to place Rachel in the BC Classic against defending Champion Zenyatta and the big boys Quality Road and Blame. In typical Jackson style, since it was unlikely that his costly purchase would repeat as HOY with a Classic win, he took his ball and went home. He's done it before. He'll do it again.

29 Sep 2010 3:13 PM
Lucy

  Thoroughbred fillies can be unusually sensitive and difficult to train.  For some, all it takes is one negative experience to forever change their psyches.  I had a filly I was showing in dressage.  She was briefly at the track, spent six months on the farm and then came to me.  She was unusually cooperative and I began showing her in record time.  She won all sorts of awards.  Then, one night, a drunk driver crashed in front of her barn while she was in the cross-ties.  She panicked and was injured badly enough that she required some surgery.  She came out of it perfectly sound but something had changed.  She became very spooky and difficult and never was able to perform the way she had before.  I wonder if the Woodward took something out of Rachel?  The effort that she had to give, the number of times she was hit with the whip, after a long year, it might have left her with psychic scars though physically she was fine.  I don't know, but I did wonder, after that race, and then the layoff, if Rachel might not have some invisible scars.  Zenyatta, who I have thought has been handled almost too gently, is sure she is Queen of the World. Rachel may have lost some of that confidence.  Only her trainer could know for sure.

29 Sep 2010 3:16 PM
Noelle

I had the same reaction.  Why now? Why go out on a loss when she's working so well?  Unless there's something physical they haven't disclosed and they know she can't win again.  It doesn't make sense. I hope there's an enterprising reporter at the BH or elsewhere that will go out and get the whole story.  

29 Sep 2010 3:17 PM
Whippet fast

Steve,

I agree with what you say RA is a great filly.

It was to bad that Mr. Jackson bought her.  Again, Steve A. trained a horse to HOY honors that was a "made" horse.  He just had to stay out of her way.  Hal Wiggins deserves the credit for her 2009 performance in my opinion.  

As for her retirement coming at an odd time.  Mr. Jackson has played us all year long.  Not saying where she would race next until entries were taken.  The public deserved better treatment from Jackson.  

I think that Zenyatta has some of the fans she does is because the Moss's are a class act unlike Jackson and Asmussen.

Here to a long life Rachel, thanks for the memories!

29 Sep 2010 3:18 PM
Susan

As usual, Steve, great perspective. . I guess this is just one more example of JJ being a "sportsman" "doing it all for the fans" "the fans are so important", yeah, blah blah blah, all that stuff that people believed back to the Curlin days. Please, I for one am glad RA doesn't have to deal with the rif-raf anymore. Maybe you could help Steve Asmussen write a book about it all. Would be a best-seller.

29 Sep 2010 3:19 PM
Joern

donkeyhotey,

Rachel: Unreasonably managed???

She wasn't that good in the first place.

29 Sep 2010 3:22 PM
John

Steve,

You did a good job of recaping Rachel Alexandra's career. However, I would of added that she beat one Eclipse Award Champion (Summer Bird) and one Divisional Champion (Summer Bird).

But as for the eight males that were Grade 1 winners - I counted seven, Pioneer of the Nile, General Quarters, Mine That Bird, Macho Again, Bullsbay, D'Tara, and Summer Bird.

29 Sep 2010 3:26 PM
nonnonheinous

I agree, the timing of this announcement is very odd, considering how well she was working.

The only explanation I can come up with is that she came out of the bullet work with some soreness or other kind of minor "issue"--not an injury, per say, but enough of a minor setback to nix the Beldame. No Beldame, no BC prep (remember they were really stuck on the 5-weeks-between-races thing), therefore no BC. No BC, no point in running. Might as well retire before anything else goes wrong.

Bear in mind I'm just guessing a line of logic here, not condoning or passing judgment on anything.

But I think the pressure was on, in terms of her legacy/reputation, to WIN the Ladies Classic if she was going to go in it. I think they knew the 10 furlong Classic was not an option, and were left with the so-called "step down" of the Distaff/Ladies Classic. If she lost that, it would really look bad. If ANY little problem caused her to miss the Beldame, or whatever her BC prep was supposed to be, then that pretty much wipes out the possibility of running her in the BC. I don't think they would have risked losing the Distaff because of being forced to train up the race.

She was a very special filly and I'll miss watching that elegant stride of hers! Hope she has safe and successful pregnancies...

29 Sep 2010 3:26 PM
Steve Haskin

Let me reiterate, this is not about Rachel retiring, it's the reason, or lack of. If she was injured say so. If she wasn't, provide a better explanation than that. The cloak and dagger days are over now that she is retired. It's time to be forthright.

Jess Jackson has done a lot of good things with Rachel, and I would never say he's not a sportsman. We owe him a lot. But he just doesn't connect with people well, at least when it comes to racing, and his micromanagement is not conducive to this sport.

Sidekickflats, the third classic winner was Belmont winner Da Tara.

29 Sep 2010 3:27 PM
bb47

The first thing I do every morning when I turn on the computer is check the Bloodhorse for news. It was with shock and disappointment that I read Rachel was being retired...  I actually shed some tears... I'm so glad I went to Saratoga to see her last race and came home with some wonderful pictures of her. I love her so much. Darn that JJ!

Tears for Real Quiet this morning too...

29 Sep 2010 3:30 PM
Steve Haskin

John, Take the Points is the eighth.

29 Sep 2010 3:31 PM
Spicer Willits

Steve,

It's been said before, but I think the long lay-off after the Woodward with not even being turned out took that "something special" out of her. We have to wonder if there wasn't something wrong - either an undisclosed injury or illness - that caused such a puzzling occurence.  People can knock the Zenyatta team for one reason or another all they want, but they have always done things in such a way that she has never lost her edge. I think Rachel's people simply let her down terribly.

29 Sep 2010 3:35 PM
RachelLover

Hi Steve - did you happen to see my earlier post?  I directed a question to you concerning information about visiting Rachel at Stonestreet Farm.  I commented fairly quickly after you posted the article...I'm worried it got lost again.  I had a fairly lengthy post get lost in cyberspace the last time you wrote an article on Rachel after the PE race.  Just curious, as this was somewhat important (at least to me!)

29 Sep 2010 3:37 PM
Blue Blue Sea

Yep, outta the blue and a shock. I doubt we'll ever get that explanation though.

29 Sep 2010 3:38 PM
wildblueroan

It is perplexing, but there are usually reasons behind such decisions that come out eventually, and hopefully that will be the case here. She has certainly had curious handling yet I'd rather see this sort of mistake than the more common scenario of asking too much. Rachel may have been slowing regaining her strength but I saw her last race, and she looked utterly dejected afterwards-I wish this tremendous filly could have left the track on a more positive note,all around. She was utterly phenomenal.

29 Sep 2010 3:39 PM
richard 29 sep. 2010

it about time this is weeks over do i was looking for R A to retire days after her last race i don`t know why it took MR. Jackson so long this horse never been the same after her last race last year only thing to do now MR. Jackson go buy you a derby horse early next year,

29 Sep 2010 3:41 PM
Smoking Baby

And to top it all off, he is breeding her to Curlin next year, when A.P. Indy is waiting, and is getting older.  Curlin is a son on Smart Strike who has not shown to be a sire of sires.  Curlin also has some less than top notch breeding when you get to his 2nd and 3rd dams.  I would wait until his first crop gets to the track before sending Rachel to him.  I wish Rachel a long and happy broodmare life.  With an owner like Jackson, she sure has earned it!!

Robert 29 Sep 2010 2:45 PM

ROBERT.  You nailed a point that has been bugging me for some time.  I've read so many posts that seem to be saying that a stakes winner coming from a Rachel/Curlin mating is something akin to a foregone conclusion.  Not the case at all.  Curlin's bottom side is suspect and there's no guarantee he'll be a good sire at all.  Add to this that there's certainly no guarantee that Rachel will be a good producer.  I do understand that breeders want to support their stallions but if she was mine Curlin would be WAY down the list of stallions I'd be looking at.

29 Sep 2010 3:42 PM
Displayname

I don't care why she was retired; I'm just glad she was. It was in her best interest, which I applaud.

But, in all honesty, I'm tired of hearing about how she beat Mine That Bird (which is an accomplishment why? Lots of horses have), Macho Again (same reason) and Da'Tara (LOL) to polish off an AMAZING 2009 campaign (she skipped a very heavy field albeit against females to challenge weaker males in the woodward; older males < harder bunch of females). Her "ability" was exposed this year so they're taking their marbles and going home, since she has a shot only to hit the board the rest of this year.

29 Sep 2010 3:45 PM
Pam S.

Susan Friend,

Judy Garland, huh?  Besides possibly giving your age away, you also have chosen a human that does have some "parallels" with Rachel:  Troubled, yes, but also super talented, precocious, American icon, extremely devoted fans, and big brown eyes.  Now, will she have a "performer" better than Liza?  Time will tell.

29 Sep 2010 3:46 PM
Karla

I've been waiting for this announcement for a long time, especially since the Personal Ensign. I fell in love with RA when I saw her Martha Washington win.  In 2010, I never once saw the same electrifying runner I saw repeatedly in 2009.  She had already given us everything--I guess maybe they were trying to be patient and see if she would regain that electricity.  I'm sorry I'll never see her run again.

29 Sep 2010 3:48 PM
Lauracrown

Steve,

Thank you for listing the facts of Rachel's accomplishments. I am grateful to have watched her races, even if I never got to see her in person. I will never forget her. May she have a long and happy life! I can accept that no further elaboration as to the reasons for her retirement may be forthcoming from her connections. But, I would hope that we are informed now and then as to her health and contentment in the years ahead as well as news about her foals. May she always be cherished by those in charge of her! I thank Rachel and all her connections from Mr. Wiggins to her current team for the thrills she provided on the racetrack.

29 Sep 2010 3:48 PM
surftheturf

I think the problem lies in the owner's lack of knowledge about horses and horse racing/training.  I don't doubt Mr Jackson's expertise as a vintner but given the strange way Rachel's been managed this past year I'd have to agree with those who say Mr. Jackson's style is micromanagement from place of ignorance.  I cannot imagine how Steve Assmussen, a class trainer, must felt this past year.  I've been there, and there's a reason the best owners are often the ones who write the checks, name the horses, feed them carrots and defer to the trainer's vast experience...that's why they were hired, right?  Thankyou Mr. Haskins

29 Sep 2010 3:50 PM
monkfish8

To be honest this is not a mystery to me.  It's actually pretty apparent when you consider the owner.  As good as Rachel was, and she was stellar, she was not going to beat Zenyatta in a race with any pace, which is what the Breeder's Cup would have been (Classic or Ladies Classic).  Rather then tarnish her record, and have it out on the track with the worlds best mare, he retired her.  It's a marketing move.  Jess Jackson didn't get to where he is because he can't market a product.  What was the biggest question of this year's racing season - Who is better Rachel or Zenyatta?  I think Jess knew the answer, so he sent Rachel to the shed.  Of course he would never say so, so he leaves it open.  Let me say this again, he wanted no parts of Zenyatta, on synthetic or dirt.  He'd rather have the question out there, "Was she the best mare?" and have folks debate it without ever knowing the answer, than have it play out on the track and Rachel come in second.  That would tarnish her value.  He will breed her to Curlin and sell her for an amazing amount of money.  Is that good for racing?  I don't know.  But I do know it is a shame we won't see prob the two best mares in generations meet each other on the track.

29 Sep 2010 3:51 PM
Bill Daly

I understand and share your frustration, Steve.  I guess it all comes down to whether owners have an obligation - and to what extent - to be forthcoming and candid with the press/public? Jackson has always treated the press/public like we're in a poker game with him. Just show us your cards, man.

29 Sep 2010 3:51 PM
surftheturf

Way to go Steve Haskins...your blog is thoughtful and, as always, well written.

29 Sep 2010 3:52 PM
Rachel

I will always be thrilled a horse named "Rachel" was the greatest American 3-year-old filly ever...

I respect the connections, but would like to know "why", too.

29 Sep 2010 3:55 PM
CharlieCigar

For once I agree with Jackson on his decision to retire the mare.  There is no more upside knowing she is not good enough to win the BC Classic much less the Ladies Classic.  The downside is huge however knowing that every time a horse goes on the track they are one bad step away from a catastrophic life ending injury.

I have no respect for Jackson however, for ducking last years BC Classic while Rachel was in her prime and in essence sealing up the HOY award.  Even if last years Classic was on dirt, I have trouble imagining Rachel winning that race @ 10 furlongs with all of the other legitimate high speed that went in that race.  

29 Sep 2010 3:57 PM
dunie

I have nothing but admiration for Rachel and wish her the very best!

That being said, here is my guess on the retirement. If she lost in the Beldame, her record would have been tarnished further. If she won, the pressure on JJ to run her in the BC Ladies Classic would have been enormous and fans would have felt very cheated if she were retired after winning the Beldame and before the BC race.

JJ may have felt that had she lost the Ladies Classic it would have been a bitter end to her career, whereas even had she won it, many would have called it a big step down from last year's races against the males. Not saying I agree, but maybe he saw it as a no-win situation.

29 Sep 2010 4:03 PM
Kat

Smoking Baby - You should go back and take a look at Dunkirk in the 2009 Belmont.  What an incredible,gutsy race he ran!  I certainly didn't think he would run that kind of race at 1 1/2 miles.  I think he made Steve Haskin's list of best 2nd place runs in the past decade.  Then you might want to take a look at who beat him. . .

29 Sep 2010 4:05 PM
RacingThroughTheAges

Agree with all your points, Steve. What a contrast to Zenyatta's team! Thank goodness for great horsepeople around her who balance the horse's, the fan's, and their own needs so well and gratiously.

29 Sep 2010 4:08 PM
The Beav

I am just grateful that she is retiring healthy.  At least it sounds that way.  Maybe last year if RA and Zenyatta had met, she may have been able to beat her, but based on her performance this year, she could not have beat Zenyatta.  Zenyatta I am hoping will be able to hold off the big boys in the BC whom are now older and stronger and retain her winning streak.  They are both wonderful mares and deserve the good life, raising babies and eating that rich green grass.  I also look forward to seeing Rachael's babies.  

29 Sep 2010 4:09 PM
pat

Thank you Steve for the great write up. I agree with you.  I am a true Zenyetta fan.  But what Rachels new owner and trainer did to a wonderful horse is a shame. Sure wish the Industry could find away of stopping them from buying any more of our Thoroughbreds. You know i didn't care if Zenyetta and Rachel didn't meet up although i had faith Zenyetta winning. I just wanted to see both of them have a year without injury.  again that Jackson guy he don't deserve a Thoroughbred. Thank you

29 Sep 2010 4:15 PM
pc

Jackson's philosophy:  They can't lose if you don't run

29 Sep 2010 4:16 PM
Rachel

Rachel & AP Indy nick breeding "D"

Rachel & Curlin "A"

I don't know where anyone says his bottom line is weak or "suspect"...Deputy Minister was a HOTY & Champion Two Year Old Male in Canada, & USA Champion Two Year old Male and a leading broodmare sire. Bates Motel was a multiple Grade 1 winner, Champion Older Male, Sir Ivor was GB & IRE HOTY, TV Lark was a U.S. Champion Male Turf Horse and

a Leading sire in North America, Promised Land was Damsire of Spectacular Bid & Dam's Grandsire of Sunday Silence, Battle Joined was the sire of Ack Ack.

How much more solid do you want it?

29 Sep 2010 4:17 PM
Rocky Road Farm

Steve,

I like reading these type of articles by you!!!!...At least you give us some insight....I never have liked Jackson!!!!....I wonder what Asmussen will say now????

29 Sep 2010 4:18 PM
DBH

Obviously there was a problem coming out of that bullet work on Monday.   What is wrong with admitting such ?

29 Sep 2010 4:22 PM
Kyrachelfan

I agree Hal Wiggins did a fabulous job with Rachel, but Jackson deserves credit for making her the star she is. Her previous owners didn't believe in running fillies against the boys, so she wouldn't have the profile she has today without the sale. Maybe they overdid her 3yo campaign, and that caught up with her this year. That's something only an insider likely can know. Still, I agree it seems odd that they retired her after a series of good works and every expectation that she would run in the Beldame and, possibly, the Breeders Cup. Maybe they'll un-retire her, a la Zenyatta.

29 Sep 2010 4:23 PM
Gladiator

Steve, maybe that was the plan. They pushed RA in her last work knowing she would run a blistering time. This way it looks like she is retiring with the arrow pointing up rather then down. either way RA has been one of my favorite race horses of all time. I have all of her races recorded on my dvr so I will be able to watch them anytime.

By the way, great blog!

29 Sep 2010 4:24 PM
Fahad Malaikah

Steve,

My internet access is extremely limited right now, but I make a concerted effort to read your perspectives whenever possible.  I was gutted when I saw that retirement headline yesterday during one of my brief internet-surfing sessions.  I agree that the timing and explanation are quite puzzling.  I think all real horsemen without blinders on can easily recognize that she wasn't even close to the same horse as last year, but why retire her now? It's a bit frustrating.  I don't know what effect the Woodward ultimately had on her performances this year, but I think the biggest mistake made by her connections was rushing her back this year.  They paid for that the rest of her campaign.  You just can't do that to horses, and I totally agree that JJ's micromanagement needs to come to a halt.  He's a great sportsman, not a great horseman.  

When all is said and done, I am just thankful that I got to watch this beautiful filly race three times in person.  I really appreciate all of the memories, and I will always cherish her Woodward victory, which I also saw live on my birthday.  I am glad I ventured up to NJ to watch her final victory as well.  

Thank you, Rachel, you are truly one of the greatest fillies of all time.  If you hadn't been a little mismanaged (not to be confused with mistreated) this year, I have no doubt that you would have stayed undefeated since your 2yo campaign and continued to awe the racing public with all kinds of unprecedented achievements.

Sincerely,

Fahad M.  

29 Sep 2010 4:27 PM
Nancy

Hi Steve,

I made my comments regarding this issue on Jason's blog this morning.

All I have to add here is that yes,

JJ 'seemed' to be a good sportsman, but now I question just how much of one he really is and how much was to glorify his own persona!  His bizarre announcement in my book is that he is either is suffering from Alzheimers, petit mal, or just plain senile.  

Rachel Alexandra and her fans deserved better than what he served!  When he dies maybe someone in that camp will divulge the reason for all of this nonsense in 2010.  As you can read, I'm quite angry about JJ and his shenanigans. Maybe it is time for him to sit a rocking chair and fade away like old soldiers do!

Rachel Alexandra is a great filly and she always be remembered by all of us for her sterling performances.

29 Sep 2010 4:29 PM
Handicapper

They overreacted because the Beldame looked tough.  Plain and simple.  

29 Sep 2010 4:31 PM
kochisr

Rachel was totally mismanaged this year.  First they gave her too much time off before putting her back in training and then racing her not physycially fit on her return.  Second they decide to change her bridle in order to be able to control her better.  Guess what....Rachel was so successful in 2009 because she was knew what she was doing and run her races in her own style.  Now in 2010 they  change the type of bridle in oder to have better control of her and to try changing her running style.  Comments have been made that Rachel did not look "happy" this year, probably not! Basically they were changing the type of horse she was in 2009.  Her own expectations of her running as well as the expectations of her fans could not be met.  It would be the same for any athlete if you change their equipment, change the approach to the game and technique in performing the game.  Just recently she was starting to show her "old" self......possibly she had been given the amount of time to become "fit" and adjust to all of the changes.  I think if she had been left alone and given a shorter amount of time off we would have seen a differnt Rachel and different results.    

29 Sep 2010 4:31 PM
Tiredofthe Whining

Jess Jackson owns this horse and can do what he wants.  He kept RA in training where a vast majority of owners would not have.  Comparing him to Frank Stronach does a disservice to Mr. Jackson and also Frank, whose criminal career as a stock market plunderer should be allowed to stand on its own without any comparisons except possibly to PT Barnum.

And to pretend that every single poster would not breed to Curlin if they owned both Curlin and RA is laughable.

29 Sep 2010 4:34 PM
inthebridle

Appreciate your comments Mr. Haskin. Her tough campaign last year produced some sort of wear and tear that we may never be privy to. However small, every horse raced experiences some physical ailments, you just hope they are manageable and short-lived. I would be shocked if she does not have something chronic going on, probably minor in nature but even small issues cost lengths in races, especially at her level of competition. Could be a physical issue inside that can't be identified, one of those highly frustrating types where you know something's wrong but can't get to the bottom of it. That Woodward effort was spectacular but I feel at a huge physical and perhaps mental cost. Once they feel that sort of exertion pain it can be awfully difficult for them to ever put out like that again. Hoping for the best for her and will miss her at the BC.

29 Sep 2010 4:35 PM
Jim

These people owe the fans NOTHING! They put Rachel through the most ambitious campaign we've seen from a filly in many a year. What more do some of you people want? She wasn't the same horse this year and she's not the first that has had this happen...They're not racecars.....I'm glad she's getting out now safe and hopefully sound.

29 Sep 2010 4:37 PM
MHA

I too am saddened by Rachel's retirement, but frankly, with Her 2010 campaign being what it's been, why continue with Her?  She was completely knocked out after last year's Woodward, and many horses, even great ones, just don't come back and remain in the same form as the year prior.  Throughout the year, She clearly was no where near Her '09 form, and honestly, am surprised Her retirement didn't happen before now.  I am certain there must have been something to have made the decision to stop on Her.  Maybe Tem Rachel is just looking out for Her best interest as She certainly was not in the running for any Eclispe awards.  Even if there wasn't, thank God she reamins intact and hopefully She can produce some awesome offspring.  We can thank JJ for putting Her in spots where She won all of our hearts, and formed memories we all shall never forget!!  I don't think JJ is the vilian here.  Maybe She can be paraded at CD on BC day

29 Sep 2010 4:41 PM
donkeyhotey

TAXMAN!!  You are right on!  Please everyone, go back and read what TAXMAN said, and...

Dear Steve, why why why can't there be more transparency in horse racing?  I know, after 50 yrs. of being a fan, that racing has its high highs and tragic lowest of lows.  But the sense that "They" are covering up and don't have accountablility regarding the horses may lead to the sport's eventual demise.

29 Sep 2010 4:43 PM
Nancy

Deacon - I agree with everything you wrote above - especially about JJ and Stronach!

29 Sep 2010 4:43 PM
MHA

RacingThroughTheAges,,, you might want to take another look at Z's PP's,,, she didn't even start until late in her 3yo year,,

29 Sep 2010 4:45 PM
Rachel O

Looks to me like what I've thought akll along. JJ is only interested in HOTY, an unending string of them. If he had any popularity with the public, he has destroyed it with this latest maneuver.

As for Curlin being the prospective dad of Rachel's foal, that speaks loudly of Jackson's unbridled narcissism.

What a lovely filly Rachel has been. She has deserved so much better, and how great she has been in spite of the mismanagement. I hope she finds a really happy place out in the fields on the farm.

29 Sep 2010 4:47 PM
Serena

I haven't been a Jess Jackson fan and I'm sure lots of others agree on the reasons as to why they're not either.  But I was grateful that he had the you-know-whats (and $$$) to acquire Rachel and thrust her onto the stage that was her 2009 campaign. We all should be thankful for that or we probably wouldn't have had the volumes and volumes of text on the subject.

This man is a businessman, first and foremost.  I don't really think emotion is ever truly a factor in any sharp businessman's decisions.  The sad part is that this man, for all his success and supposed intelligence, could not see the rare gift that he bought and could not revel in the adoration and loyalty she brought (moreso to herself and not necessarily him) Makes you wonder if he even loves Rachel like her fans do!      This is why he will never be mentioned in the same breath with the owners such as the Mosses, Roy & Gretchen Jackson, Mrs Whitney, The Phipps family, etc etc.   Those classy folks could give lessons in sportsmanship and generosity.

Perhaps it's his aim to constantly frustrate and anger racing fans.  You know what they say.... bad press is still better than no press. It keeps his name in the news.

If Rachel was injured, I'd like to think he'd man up and tell us.  But if she is fit and healthy, there's really no logical reason to retire her so suddenly. So what if she lost another race?  Her fans wouldn't care that much.  We KNOW she wasn't gonna face Zenyatta.  She would have most likely gone to the Ladies Classic.  And if she would have won that and Z enters and wins the Classic again.... would Jess Jackson not have been happy with that outcome???   He probably wouldn't want to be second fiddle to the Mosses.

And another thing, it's not like Rachel is going to be bred right away. The likely goal is to get her in foal by Feb or March so she delivers early in the year.

It's sad that we will now be deprived of watching Rachel race and will now be relegated to brief snippets and reports of her in retirement and motherhood. Those will certainly be welcome but there will still be a hollow feeling for quite a while.

I hate to wish anyone ill will (bad karma!) but it would be a shame if somehow Mr Jackson finds lightening in a bottle for a third time. I'm also grateful that I am not a fan of domestic wines and, therefore, won't be contributing to his bank account by purchasing is product!

It'll be interesting to see what he does with the anticipated foal from RA/Curlin.  Would he sell it for an outrageous amount  (The Green Monkey or more $$$ type money)  OR will he see that the offspring of two of the most exciting horses on the planet is carefully nurtured and given all the right guidance and training to become a champion carrying his colors?  Here's an ugly thought: what if sells that foal to the guys connected to Big Brown???  If anyone could give Jess Jackson competition in the dislike department, it's that group.  They always rubbed me the wrong way too!  (perish the though!)

29 Sep 2010 4:50 PM
Galia

I have to say that I was indeed expecting Rachel Alexandra's retirement since she got beat by Persistently in her last race. Although I thought it was a very good race, given the conditions she endured. However, Rachel was on a collision course with the BC in November and I could tell that JJ could not handle the perspective of losing to Zenyatta or any other horse in that race, knowing that they had been unable to bring her back to her 2009 form and that skipping the BC this time had no justification (no plastic course to blame). If ever did Rachel have a legitimate shot at beating the Zen, was last year. And they skipped. Unfortunately, it all goes back to the most incomprehensibly long lay off of a healthty horse in the history of the sport.

She was never the same after that. She lost all interest. Fortunately for us all, we got a chance to see some of the most amazing performances of any horse in history. That we will cherish forever.

29 Sep 2010 4:53 PM
Dissapointed

Rachel's retirement is kinda like bad chocolate right now the taste just dosent go away i think there were many bad decisions made on her 2010 campaign inclding the figure 8 bridle they put on her that wasnt a smart move as soon as they took it off of her she won the la tronnine which if i am no mistaken was the first win of the year for Rachel but this years campaign kind of reminds me of Curlins last year of racing in 2008 the stupid decision to run on the lawn and try for the arc was stupid its just the way Jackson is he wants to run these horses is circumstances they are not quite ready for or just dont have a chance at Rachel's 2009 campiagn was something that only happens 1 in a melliunm and we should be very proud of what she did but this year was very dissapointing to say the least we were expecting better things but we got what we got and should just be happy that they tried to bring her back this year because we live in an age of racing where most horses retire at 3 because of breeding value so we should just be happy they tried  

29 Sep 2010 4:54 PM
Rachel/Zenyatta Fan

I am just guessing but I would imagine if she is not hurt after her last work he does not want to race her again because if she were to win by a large margin all of the racing world would be calling for a Rachel-Zenyatta match in the Breeders Cup Classic. This in my opinon would not be a good thing.  As much as I would like to see them run against each other everytime two superhorses are matched against each other one always gets hurt or gets their heart broken..and never races again. The only reason Zenyatta was not retired after last year I think is they wanted a match to determine who was the best.  Each Mare is great in their own way and should be admired for what each has accomplished.

29 Sep 2010 4:55 PM
J Blessing

The entitlement here is rather astounding. The fact of the matter is, Rachel Alexandra is owned by Mr Jackson, not the betting public. Mr Jackson's decision to retire his superstar is ultimately his own decision, whatever the reason. He owes us absolutely nothing, least of all an explanation.

29 Sep 2010 4:57 PM
Dixie

Jess Jackson is a disappointment to the horse racing community. While we all expected that he would find a way to avoid a match up with Zenyatta, his lack of sportsmanship is truly disappointing and such poor representation of ths sport.

29 Sep 2010 4:58 PM
Rachel Lover

This is one of the worst things Mr Jackson could have done to our sport, short of running her hurt. Those of us who knew we were seeing something very special every time she ran, want to know "Why". 1/48 works one day, gone the next. Mr Moss would not even think about takin Zyn out with no explanation, he has more respect for the sport and it's fans. Mr Jackson, you wanted to own the top horse in the country, now own up to it!

29 Sep 2010 5:09 PM
momscommand

Maybe hormones are the answer.  Many fillies change when they enter a certain phase of development and racing becomes a minor concren to them.  I suspect a change in jockey may have been wise -- some of the decisions during her races can be questioned.  There are so many variables; if JJ had treated her like Z's owners treat Z, she may still be running but we as racing fans would have missed her remarkable 2009 season.  I salute RA and know that she ranks among the great iron filles of the past and deserves our respect.  Z is not an iron filly, but a remarkably entertaining mare who is well managed and rationed so that she is usually placed well to win. Comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges. I am glad that they never met on the track.

29 Sep 2010 5:16 PM
Janice

Come on people this was no surprise.  The hand writing was on the wall for quite awhile.  Many horses have great work outs but can't take it to the race and how many times have we heard about Rachel's great works and than  she promptly lost a race.  I would be more inclined to think she has a mental issue.  They ran the heck out of her last year and she will never recoup from that.  

29 Sep 2010 5:17 PM
Cheryl G

I do agree with you Steve. I am one of the hard core Rachel fans, as you know. I also have much respect for Jess, Steve & Scott. When I got word of her retirement, my heart literally broke. I do feel they owe us some type of explanation, but I have a gut feeling she may not have come out of her work Monday feeling so perky. Be well Rachel, I do love you very much.

29 Sep 2010 5:17 PM
racingheart

When Blood-Horse came up on my screen yesterday I was searching for confirmation that Rachel would in fact be running in the Beldame. After those two fantastic works who would have thought anything else?

So there is her picture & I get excited then I read the title of the article & it's like I'm blind-sided!

I hit my knees & tears filled my eyes & all I can remember is asking out loud, "What? Why? WHY?"

When I finally came to grips with reality (this whole campaign has been like a sci-fi movie!)I found NO sensible, solid explanation for this sudden announcement at all.

WHY work her like this, FINALLY, if she is going to the farm?  Why retire her if she is working like THIS? If the word is she came out of the work in fine fettle then what the crap is going on?!?!

I have been a true-blue Rachel fan since the Oaks & had a keen eye on her before that. & as one of her many truly devoted followers I cannot express my confusion & utter disappointment in this decision. FINE. If there is a reason, we deserve it. Let's have the truth!  If "she hasn't returned to form" is the excuse then why throw in the towel now? She looks to be on a roll to me.  So what if she hasn't won every race?  She is running with the same heart & guts that she always has. She never folds & never surrenders. She hasn't been run over in her races. WHY retire a horse that appears to be peaking at last?  Man, this really breaks my heart!

I will miss my beautiful girl.  She brought such sunshine into my life!  I awoke to her every day & checked on her every night... just in case....  

But the thought of her racing through an open field at will, feeling the wind, tasting the fresh air & sweet grass....  good for her.

We will always cherish Rachel in THIS house. Merry trails, Rachel Alexandra. You will be sorely missed. Thank you for giving us yourself.

29 Sep 2010 5:20 PM
joe c.

'Would have liked to have seen her go out in glory on the track, win or otherwise.  I suspect that the Woodward took a lot out of her three year old development.  In the fall of 1981, didn't the retirements of Genuine Risk (Woodward eve?) and Pleasant Colony (JC Gold Cup week) pose more questions than answers?

29 Sep 2010 5:22 PM
Steve Haskin

For those not familiar with this blog, all posts that contain personal insults directed at the subjects involved and the people who comment will, and have been, deleted.

29 Sep 2010 5:29 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Real Quiet is sad. A tragedy. I hope that Steve Haskin will write a tribute to him soon. With Rachel, it's Lucy has some splainin' to do. It's true that an owner can do what he wants, but it's also true that it isn't good for the sport to leave people hanging, and speculating, and pondering the question of -"Why now?" I can assure you that it is important that everyone involved in horse racing be concerned with what is good for the sport at this time. The explanation given isn't good enough. It's true that Rachel owes us nothing, but I believe that Mr. Jackson owes us a little more. Why now after a bullet workout that was breathtaking? Is there a physical problem, a menatal problem, does Mr. Jackson feel that they can't win The Classic, and the Beldame, and Ladies Classic are beneath their dignity? Whatever it is, be a man and tell the truth. I'm personally even sick of my own speculation. If she is healthy, why not run in The Beldame and announce that this is Rachel's last race so the fans can flock to see her, and pay tribute to her for all that she has given to racing? I feel really bad for the people that said they saved their pennies to go to the Breeder's Cup so they could see Rachel. Sure Mr. Jackson, you're rich and can do whatever you want, but what about the hard working people that have sacrificed to be able to see her once in their life, fans that truly love her, and have planned for a year or two to go see her? Don't they deserve a better explanation? As a matter of fact, the speculating has gone on for a year with Rachel.

29 Sep 2010 5:31 PM
Darlene

I was shocked to hear of Rachels retirement but maybe they did the right thing retire her before she met up with Zenyatta Rachel is a great horse and a champion but who really thinks she could win against Zenyatta? The classic is at Churchill downs Rachels home base so it makes sense to retire her now why get whipped on home ground ?  I am just thankful she retires sound and look forward to her foals  I am afraid Queen Z will follow her in retirement after whe wins the classic. so 2010 is a sad year for racing we are going to lose both of these champions  may they both have long and happy lives as mares in ky.   lets have a quiet moment for another champion that was lost Real Quiet.  

29 Sep 2010 5:33 PM
WWSTP

I'm not surprised.  Saddened, but not surprised.  The lack of an understandable reason is frustrating but perhaps it is all truly explained in "she's not back to her 2009 form".  Why should she run more vulnerable races, in the Beldame or the Ladies Classic, if she has not and is not coming back to her 2009 form.  Frankly, I think her desire to run ran out with her screaming awesome gut wrenching win at the Woodward.  The explanation I still would like to hear is why, during her 5 to 6 month "rest" was she kept in the stall.  Something mysterious went on during that time which we were never privy to.

I will miss her very very much, as well as the anticipation that builds to each race she runs.  I have just loved this filly so much!!  I'm left with a heart full of thanks for ALL she has given us; all she left on the track in 2009; all she has done for fillies now racing more often with the boys; and ALL she has done for this sport.  Enjoy being a horse RA!!  You ARE 2009 HOY without a doubt!!

29 Sep 2010 5:35 PM
shuttleworth

JJ has his reasons I'm sure... I wish he would've given her just one more chance to go out a winner... I will miss RA... love that filly...

29 Sep 2010 5:38 PM
Susan W

Steve, most of the time I agree with you...not this time.

I think JJ looked ahead to the Breeder's Cup, and the very thought of his Rachel going to the junior prom when everyone else is going to the big dance was more than he could bear for his filly. So, why even bother with one more prep race?

And as for him giving an explanation? If he's been reading even a part of what people say about him, even just on here, he's probably laughing the last laugh right now. It's his horse, he can do what he wants.

29 Sep 2010 5:38 PM
Dani

For a man who is all about what's best for the sport of racing and its fans, Mr. Jackson sure pulled the rug out from under those fans. That fluff of an explanation does not sit well - we deserve more than that. Aside from that, I wish I could have seen her race one more time. She was a magnificant beauty and a filly for all ages.

29 Sep 2010 5:42 PM
Mousse

Steve and everyone I see this filly EVERY day and she looks and has been training brilliantly.  Her breeze over that deep surface Monday was nothing short of sensational.  I do question why Dr. Joe "Mig"'s vehicle is constantly parked by the barn-at least it's there everytime I pass by.  Of course we'll never know as their are several other critters in residence that could require his services.  

JJ has always been disingenuous and now this final act shows his true cowardness.  A day after the work and the day before entries for the race he pulls the plug.  Unfortunately he lacks the class & heart that Rachel has.  He's a bad owner and has hurt the sport with his cavalier approach to the game!

29 Sep 2010 5:44 PM
Zenyatta2004

I was disappointed in hearing the news as well as other fans. Rachel has done alot and more for racing. I hope Mr. Jackson will consider this: Give the fans and Rachel a final exit at the Breeders Cup. This was the fans will be able to see her one last time. Like he did for Curlin. Isn't she already at Churchill Downs? I think the fans would really be appreciative of this gesture. I know I would. I'm going to the Breeders Cup and was looking forward to seeing her in person. Rachel could make an appearance on both days that way people who couldnt get to see her, Friday, could do so Saturday. Is there a way to see if Mr. Jackson would do this? I hope all goes well with Rachel. She's done the females proud in racing.

29 Sep 2010 5:49 PM
Gulchfan

"Nothing about her retirement makes any sense"

THANK YOU! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so...

Also, I wonder who knew secretly before the press release, how did FG put out the announcement of a race in her honor so swifty?

29 Sep 2010 5:50 PM
Jen

Why are WE owed an explanation??  Rachel owes nobody anything, and neither does Jackson.  He did what no other owner would do, giving a filly a chance to show her greatness, and bringing her back for us another year.  Now he "owes" an explanation for why he'd like her to retire??  The one he gave sounded pretty good to me - seems that Rachel may have been saying for some time that she was done, and they're listening to her.  Yeah she had a great work this week, but she's had bullet moves all year, which haven't really made her regain her '09 form.  They certainly know her better than any of us, and if she tells them she's done, I believe them.  Unlike some owners past who have fabricated injuries rather than admit their horse is done, Jackson tells the truth, and he's still getting slammed with accusations that he's hiding something.  It's totally freaking ridiculous!

29 Sep 2010 5:52 PM
slee

What a mystery.  If they're seeing something in RA that's not right, if the fight's gone out of her, or there's an issue developing, then by all means, retire her.  But Steve's right - WE've been buying tickets and WE've been cheering her home and WE've (us cancer survivors) have been loving the money she's helped raised (with JJ's help!) for research.

So tell us what's going on with RA, eh?

(nice story in the Boston Globe with some quotes from Mike Smith:

www.boston.com/.../2009_horse_of_year_rachel_alexandra_retired)

And as I typed in another blog this morning, thanks for the memories Rachel.  Like the song says, "it was a very good year......."

29 Sep 2010 5:58 PM
Citation

I am just glad that she is retiring in a healthy state.  Do you people who want her to keep on running--do you know that every practice/race she undertakes jeopardizes her health or her very survival?  There is always the possibility that she will break down during the next race or the next practice.  I hope Zenyatta will be retired soon  too.

The Phipps always retired their fillies/mares at either 3 or 4 years old, because they do not believe in running them into the ground and they are always cognizant of the possibility that they may break down at any time. Personal Ensign, My Flag, Storm Flag Flying--they all retired early.  I remember when PE was retired after the Breeder's Cup, there was a similar chorus of doubters who wanted her to continue to entertain us.  But, fortunately for Personal Ensign, their complaints fell on deaf ears as the Phipps always stuck to their decisions.  She went on to live for 22 more years and produced many winners.

29 Sep 2010 5:58 PM
Norma

I, too, have mixed feelings about Rachel's retirement.  I think it is much deserved, but I sure hate to see her go.  What I do have no uncertainty about is the manner in which the end of her career was handled.  I consider it insulting for Mr. Jackson, who has been a master manipulator of the media, to leave us with a dead end.  In the past his ego has provided us with press release after press release generated to improve his position and influence all in the name of What is Good for the Sport.  Now when the racing public and devoted fans are questioning his actions and fear for the health of the horse we are left with nothing.  It is insulting and suggests we lack the intelligence to comprehend what is actually going on.  Fact #1  Great as Rachel was, after her last race, nobody believed she was going to the Classic.  The distance was always a question and that question got answered.  Fact #2 They never seemed inclined to go in the Ladies Classic so that was out.  Fact #3  Horse of the Year honors were never in play for her this year.  So....why did you train her like crazy and then when she seems to be advancing up and retire her.  Doesn't make sense to me and I would like to know for sure that she is alright.  She was a great one and I will miss her.

29 Sep 2010 6:03 PM
Annette

Thanks Steve for being there for us. Now that she is retired, I think she should go to A P Indy, or Dynaformer- both of which are getting older.

29 Sep 2010 6:08 PM
shane

Steve,

JMO, but I think they were getting criticized at every turn for anything they did this year with Rachel and even though you felt (and I) that her last race was a good one. Most people criticized it saying it was too slow or she got beat by a claimer or she not that good for the new owner. I'm sure he flips thru bloodhorse every now and then so I know he has to have seen the bashing of his horse at every turn. Therefore when it gets to where people are doing more criticizing than praising. What else is in it for him and the horse? Risk injury? for who? he doesnt need the money he as won HOY 3 years in a row. phenominal feat. She was not going to win any end of the year awards...no matter what races she won here on out. So they have nothing else for her to prove. I think if the public was a little more endearing like they were with Curlin, he would have kept her running but it became a bash Rachel fest and I think the connections were tired of it. I know I was. again JMO

29 Sep 2010 6:08 PM
Will W

Jackson is bizarre. The idea that a racehorse in her prime who just turned in a breathtaking bullet work  needs "a less stressful life" is a non sequitir. He's sipped too much of his wine and its muddled his thought processes. Yes, Steve, the racing public is due a believable explanation. Retiring her a day after a superb work indicating she's returning to form after her connections kept her in the barn too long after last year's campaign, causing her to lose her fitness, makes no sense. Jackson must have concluded, having shown a reluctance to go the BC Classic distance of a 1 1/4, that RA could not handle Blind Luck either in the Ladies Classic. I was looking forward to that match up. Now Jackson has rained on my party. This leaves a bitter taste just like JJ's refusal to let Curlin run in the Clark Handicap at Churchill after losing the BC Classic on synthetic and giving the horse a chance to redeem himself before Jackson put him in the breeding stall all too soon. Another wretched decision from Jackson.

29 Sep 2010 6:10 PM
CV

I was shocked when I read about Rachel's retirement. She had been posting bullet works and seemed in top condition. It looked like she had recovered completely from the Personal Ensign.

I figured since we hadn't heard anything from her connections this week that they planned to pass on the Beldame and train her up to the Breeders Cup. I was even hoping she'd go in the Classic, because it was at Churchill, her favorite track and Calvin Borel certainly does well there.

Suddenly, she is retired.

Steve, is it possible Rachel sustained an injury that showed up after her last work? I can't figure out the timing of this news otherwise.

I wonder if we'll ever know.

I would love to see Rachel's connections arrange an appearance by her during the Breeders Cup festivities so her fans get to see her one last time before she trots off into her new career as a mom.

29 Sep 2010 6:13 PM
Pam S.

J Blessing,

Without fans, there wouldn't be a horse racing game for Mr. Jackson to crash.  If nothing is owed to the fans, maybe we should all just watch football.  It's not "entitlement," it's sports.

29 Sep 2010 6:13 PM
Woodswoman

Thanks for your insights, Steve. I think they are spot on.

Like so many have said, we may never know what the rationale is. This seems consistent with what Jess Jackson said in an interview I heard, meaning that his perception of Rachel's journey and the horse racing community seems at odds with what most people think.

The interview was done in conjunction with NTRA's broadcast of one of Rachel's races earlier this year (it was the Fleur de Lis or Lady's Secret in New Jersey; I forget which). Jackson was asked why he chose those two races in particular instead of regularly scheduled grade 1 races, and was choosing to run Rachel in an ungraded stakes.

He replied that it was largely because he thought these were the two that Zenyatta was most likely to come to so they could finally face each other.

I am still scratching my head trying to understand his thinking with that, but this is in fact what he said in the interview.

29 Sep 2010 6:14 PM
shane

JJ has also lost a few of is runners in the past few months and I dont think he was willing to lose her. He is looking for those babies. I think he will view them like they are his. Guarantee he is not selling the first few if any.

29 Sep 2010 6:15 PM
Cool Lou

Does that question have to be asked whenever a horse is retired out of the blue?? It has nothing to do with Zenyatta or facing other rivals. The simple answer is "she is not sound". No owner/trainer is going to admit that, but that is exactly why she is retire. Rachel never returned to her form. She was not sound enough. Good horses will work fast and race well despite their condition. Let's be thankful that they retired her instead of letting their egos run her into the ground.  

29 Sep 2010 6:18 PM
CDR

Thanks again for saying out loud what all of us were only thinking. Another bizarre move from Rachel's camp.  She belongs to Jesse Jackson and of course he had the right to decide what she does, but this just doesn't make sense.  I was so happy when she had that brilliant work and hoping to see her in the Beldame and now we will never know.  Actually, we will never really know about this 2010 campaign.  I was a big fan of Curlin's and blown away by his physical appearance when I saw him, but again, no one knows what kind of sire he will be and A.P. Indy is just out there.  I just hope that Rachel has a peaceful happy life and that arrangements will be made so that she will be able to live out that life at her owner's farm.  It still makes me sad that Azeri wound up in a sales ring.  She was so special also and a few years goes by and next thing you know - sold, on a plane and gone forever.

29 Sep 2010 6:19 PM
cdnkowboy

Once again I'm completely puzzled by another Jess Jackson decision.  Giving him the credit he deserves for his part in Rachel's ambitious 2009 campaign, I think he also deserves every criticism for the way her 2010 season has been mis managed.  I'm beginning to believe that if shoes were clues, the man must be bare feet.  I am more dissapointed than I can express on how Rachel's career has been handled.  It doesn't take an eclipse award winning trainer to spot a bad decision when they see one and Rachel's career has been an ungoing saga of one bad decision after another.  Why does it suprise us that her retirement and it's announcement should be any different?  Who are we?  We're just lowley fans to whom the horse racing industry and it's rich owners -like Mr. Jackson- owe nothing.  How dare we ask an explanation?

29 Sep 2010 6:20 PM
Janesville Liz

To say that Jackson owes an explanation to the fans is naive. Jess Jackson is all about ego. I do not think he cares a jot about her fans. The acid test will come if he allows her fans--the people who loved her and supported her all through her career--to visit her in retirement. I never got to see her in person, and was hoping to in the Breeders Cup. Let's see if Jackson will allow her loyal fans to have to have the opportunity to see her in retirement, as I have found other farms will do if you are considerate of their time and respectful of the horses as the priceless animals they are.

29 Sep 2010 6:20 PM
Linda in Texas

Nina,Susan W and Jen must be related.

Yep,Rachel sure is part his horse, and he darn sure can do with her what he wants. And he did. He has had that attitude all along and look where Rachel ends up. Retired, unhappy, will probably be placed where she is hardly seen by anyone but JJ if even him.

It is an abrupt strange ending to a spectacular racing year for her.

Let's hope Nina, Susan W and Jen that he keeps his hands off of decisions that will ruin another horse as great as Rachel, just because he paid for it. Lots of people paid to come watch her and he certainly benefitted monitarily from that.

I agree with Karen In Indiana and many others, he needs to find someplace to put his money that does not involve the heart of a horse.

And Mousse,well stated.

Thank you Rachel Alexandra. You are still one beautiful lady and thousands of us appreciate you and will always think of your great year not who 'owned you.'

Thank you Steve Haskin for your article. I guess he showed and shut us all up. What a disgraceful and demeaning exit he has made for Rachel Alexandra.

I hope she benefits and enjoys her life, that is all i really care about for any of them.

And R.I.P. Real Quiet, gone way too soon handsome fella.

29 Sep 2010 6:25 PM
wilson

I agree that some explanation should be cited by Jess Jackson but I can't say that her last race was anything other than one of her worst.  She didn't have it anymore and after losing Kantharos I am sure they just decided that there was a lot to lose and very little to gain by running Rachel any more.  She was fun to watch and will be missed.

29 Sep 2010 6:27 PM
Diane

Evaluation of the "bottom line" in Rachel's pedigree was a bit too  technical for some, who need to know it refers to the dam line, sometimes called "tail female". Dam-granddam-3rd dam etc, and their production record, is very important to breeders, especially with an eye to sales.

In fact some advocates consider the emphasis on male input a weakness of "nick" theories. Most thoroughbreds can boast a fair amount of fine  male performers,   in generations past.  

29 Sep 2010 6:28 PM
Hardhorseman62

I posted a while back that Rachels's works for her earlier races were not consistent with how she'd work if 100%...way too slow for a horse of her calibre . At that time i felt that they were trying to keep something in the tank for this fall campaign and lo and behold...just as they were starting to crank the engine...she's been retired ! I would guess that there is a soundness issue being hidden here...and it will come out sooner rather than later ! We dont control her future...but hopefully she'll match well with Curlin and give us classic babies...good louck !

29 Sep 2010 6:29 PM
Ida Lee

Jen, I agree with you. Although I'm broken hearted that I won't be seeing my beautiful Queen run again, I don't believe her connections owe us anything else. If it was not for Jackson, we never would have had her running the campaign of a lifetime that made her HOY and a legend. What a ride she took us on!!!! I'm glad she's sound and healthy and hope to see her soon in KY. Zenyatta is running this weekend...she'll help mend my broken heart. She's another Treasure we need to cherish while we have her.

29 Sep 2010 6:30 PM
Joe V

Steve,

this is your best work.....and any one, who after reading this doesn't see how this horse is the best filly ever, needs their head examined

29 Sep 2010 6:31 PM
The Rock

Jen,

How do you interpret a bullet work as Rachel telling her owner, "I'm done". Isn't it funny that Jess Jackson said that and not her trainer? Horses don't talk to people you know. You would think his trainer would be able to interprate whether his horse is done or not.

29 Sep 2010 6:32 PM
longtimeracingfan

Have read the first 134 commments on here... most of them well thought out, some not so much, and a couple needing a bit of editing  to make them readable. I knew this subject would bring up a lot of questions and commentary.

Steve, so glad you sat down and stated so succinctly what we all feel. Something is being hidden--- it may be a minor or major injury, a mental problem (horse or owner?? <G>), or it may be a decision purely on speculation of future race success. Let's hope JJ mans up and tells us.  

I wondered for months why she was kept in her stall instead of sent to the farm for her layoff. I am wondering if she may have had a mild case of laminitis? Did anyone else notice her hooves in the giant double-page photo BH ran a couple months back? Her hooves had that telltale grooviness that show some sort of recent-past disturbance in a horse's system. I've seen it from a change of feed (from starving to healthy and vice versa), from having a fever (laminitis is an inflammation of the laminae inside the hoof which cannot expand), actual laminitis, and similar "body battle" situations.

I'm a diehard Zen fan but I am also a diehard Rachel fan. These horses give us their all and I truly believe Rachel knows what her business is, get out there and RUN, and DO YOUR BEST, and she has certainly done that. I have heard and read multiple reports that she came back from her last race exhausted. She gave her all. As to Borel's whipping her down the stretch--- some horses tend to let up a bit when they get ahead, though Rachel certainly never has. But he may have felt her shortening stride or laboring to breathe, and got to work with the ol' bat--- using it a few more times than she needed? or not? Just to get that last ounce of energy from her. I do think we HAVE seen the bottom of this great filly.

I hope anyone and everyone who can do so will go see her in person, whether at Asmussen's barn or at the farm--- and come back and report to those of us in different regions of the planet. We all want to know.

One last thought that occurred to me is that JJ has been ill with cancer... he may know he has limited time and wants to know for sure his two Horses Of The Year are bred before he goes.

And so what if that's not the perfect mating? She should be able to have more than one foal, so she could go to whoever on the next time. Let the man have his dream... even if he did rather buy them both already made. Or nearly so.

lrf

29 Sep 2010 6:33 PM
downhomesunset

I actually read the article last night before I went to bed as I usually check the site.

First-Poor Real Quiet-that sounds like the most freakish paddock accident since St. Liam's and an extremely painful way to go. Bless him.

Shock and disbelief were my feelings last night when I saw the headline about RA. Only four or five headlines down was about her bullet work. Thats when I said "what the heck?". Talking about breeding her with Curlin-which would not happen for 6 months made me shake my head-not to mention AP Indy and other stallions that are creeping into their 20s. Last of all, people saying that there is a rumour about unsoundness are probably giving JJ a perfect alibi after she is whisked away! I honestly can say that I feel like she is gone for good-how many mares produce their equals-the last being Miesque.....

29 Sep 2010 6:35 PM
Karen2

No Jen...it is not freaking ridiculous. Rachel's fans deserve to know why her career was cut short. She has a fan based not seen in years...maybe not ever before. Although Rachel owes us nothing.....her connections owe us honesty...period. Without fans, there is no sport.  Unfortunately honesty is not usually a trait that comes easily for the sport of kings.

Thank you Steve..for asking the questions that need to be asked.

29 Sep 2010 6:40 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

I'm thinking that JJ is thinking about the dollar signs when it comes time for Rachel to go to the breeding shed. He wants people to remember her 2009 season, the spectacular wins, not the 2010 campaign,with more 2nds than 1sts. If she's not up to Rachel-par,someone won't pay big money for a Rachel foal - even if it IS out of Curlin. So retire her on a high note,before she has anymore 2nd places under her belt,and she'll still have a strong win-lose ratio.

Wonder if she went back to Hal Wiggins, he could get her back on track and power-winning again..... just a thought (wonder if Hal ever kicks himself for letting her go,after seeing her 2010 run.....)

29 Sep 2010 6:45 PM
Kathy Kimber

My thoughts are its more about her owners ego than her ability.  Rachel is a great horse I wish she and Zenyatta could have met.  I would have trained her differently but that is just me.  I think there is a lot of horse left and it could have been handled differently.  Let the trainers do their jobs

29 Sep 2010 6:57 PM
MED

Rachel's connections owe us NOTHING.

29 Sep 2010 7:04 PM
Slew

I have to ask Jen,(5:52pm) if the connections actually listened to Rachel, what did she tell them after the Woodward?  Why didn't they retire her then...when she wanted to?  Why come back with all the promises and negotiations and demands, and then pull the rug out from under the feet of the fans just when there was a glimmer of hope?  If it weren't for the fans, there wouldn't be a sport.  surely they're owed more than, "Bye..see ya!"  And right now, the fans are dumb-struck and angry...and I can't blame them.

29 Sep 2010 7:14 PM
Tate

Steve I couldnt put it better, your dead on.  As a fan since the beginning I'm left with a hole, I was at Saratoga for the Personal Ensign and even though she didnt win I thought it was a really good race, setting her up beautifully for the Beldame, actually I was hoping they would send her to California to take on Zenyatta in "her House".  After 3 amazing bullet works I thought our girl is Back, send her to California, what do you have to lose?  You win and everything is broke open you lose, oh well no harm no foul.  And then the press release?  We are left wondering, it's kind of like a funeral with no closure, WHY?  As you said if something happened tell us we have a right to know and it's not like she's a stud &  stud fee value is going to drop.  JJ will be the one racing her babies so no auction value, what the heck we need answers!

29 Sep 2010 7:16 PM
RP

Thanks for this, Steve. I agree with Dr. Drunkinbum that Lucy's got some splaining to do! It puzzles me. I love this horse so much and all I want is what is the best for her. If she wants to be retired, so be it, but coming on the heels of her bullet work, a work you say was brilliant--it just isn't sitting well with me. I don't understand. Rachel owes us SQUAT. But with the odd press releases and the strange 2010 campaign, I do think Jess Jackson owes us a bit more than this.

Gosh, I'm really going to miss her. I'm going to miss anticipating her races and wishing her well. Even though she lost in the La Troienne, I'm so glad I got to see her on Oaks Day, I'm glad I spent 2 hours in the paddock to get a front row spot for her. A year ago, who saw this coming, even with the way she gave everything she had and then some in the Woodward?

29 Sep 2010 7:22 PM
Michelle K.

What if all this is a ruse? I wouldn't out it past her connections to retire her and suddenly stage a "comeback".

29 Sep 2010 7:23 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

To Smokingbaby,

Analyzing someone's expressed, written opinion by pointing out supporting or contradictory facts is NOT being negative.  It is engaging in mature debate with the hopes of drawing ever more accurate conclusions.

I wrote Steve about the very issue you brought up...that is, that he can't claim that Rachel beat good fillies by listing the races that those fillies EVENTUALLY won.  The pertinent point is, what form were the fillies in when Rachel beat them...that's the issue.  I don't see anyone claiming that the fillies that beat Rachel at 2 are better than Rachel now.

My critique of Steve's points then was meant with as much respect as you expressed in your critique now.  That's not being negative...it's an attempt at objective critique.  

Hope you agree Steve, 'cause that's how Smoking Baby and I meant it.

29 Sep 2010 7:27 PM
Slew

One more thought...Rachel Alexandra and I Want Revenge pairing.  Just a thought.  He is a fresher version of AP Indy.

29 Sep 2010 7:29 PM
Bill B.

Doesn't shock me, but I agree, the timing seems odd. I think Asmussen was just keeping her ready in case Jackson wished to go on. This year was due to be a letdown after all of her historic accomplishments last year and those accomplishments seem even greater with the lists you have provided us with. So, we were lucky enough to see two of the greatest fillies of all times and we should feel privileged to have been around to see that, though it would have been nice to have seen them compete at least once, but for the most part, one wouldn't go west and the other wouldn't go east. The correct one won HOY last year despite the other's historic Classic win, but she didn't do enough the rest of the year to overcome Rachel's numorous great acheivements. So, this is Zenyatta's year to match Rachel's HOY win and that would seem fitting and I hope she does it, but this year's Classic field just might be tougher and Blame just might be something very special and a special colt will usually beat a special filly, but Zenyatta just might be up to it. Should be quite an anticipated race, especially if they both win their final preps this weekend. For the record, I strongly supported Rachel Alexandra for HOY last year, though I always had the feeling that she might not have been able to beat Zenyatta. But we will now never know.

29 Sep 2010 7:33 PM
Richard

To me Jess Jackson and owners like him are what is wrong with this sport and why it will never be as popular as it once was. Owners seem to have little or no regard for the fans anymore. No, Rachel owed us nothing, she more than proved herself in 2009, but unless she was unsound I think Jess Jackson owed us an opportunity to see the two greatest females in the sport today go head to head in the BC Classic. They had nominated her for the race so obviously at one point they were going to give us that. Jackson must see more profit in breeding her than in racing her and I guess money is all that matters to him and those like him.

29 Sep 2010 7:35 PM
Russell

Steve, you are asking the right questions, just as they can run or not run her. So Accepting the facts as you are these are the right questions. My only other comment about Rachael, now that she is retired, is as confusing and goofy a 2010 campaign she has had, she did very well and people need to know this. Fogetting her great year in 2009, I had her and Blind Luck battling to the wire in the ladies distaff or whatever it's called now. My gosh if that ain't good enough I guess all horses suck unless they are man o war.

This horse is still just dog gone fine, unless like you said Steve, something happened in that last bullet work. She has taken way to much criticism this year for doing nothing more than not being perfect yet improving all year long and if she would have one any of the breeders cup races we would all be talking about Rachael / Zenyatta again.

29 Sep 2010 7:36 PM
Freetex

I will never forget her Woodward.  Never.

I am without any other words.

Thank you Steve for saying what I can''t.

29 Sep 2010 7:37 PM
Bonnie

I could feel Rachel Alexandra's anguish, saw her tuck her tail in paddock before race, saw her drop her head way low after a race, saw her fight the figure 8, saw her fight the tight reign in workouts...something wasn't right.  She wasn't the proud horse she was. When I see this I know there's not good communication between owner & trainer and therefore the horse gets left out of the equation.  No one was paying attention to her body language.  She did really well before Jackson owned her...sure horses can change but something tells me it wasn't a good match and the horse suffered.  At least now she doesn't have to put up with being mismanaged, hopefully.  I wish her all the best, she deserves it and more!

29 Sep 2010 7:39 PM
Merle O

Retired because one  of 3 reasons

1. Undisclosed injury

2. Cannot get the distance

3. Owner does not want to face the Big Gal on West Coast.

29 Sep 2010 7:43 PM
HorseRacingMania.com

THANKS STEVE!! Another article BEAUTIFULLY written!!! We will ALL forvere be stumped by the BIZARRE actions of jackson...I agree with whomeveer stated he is wealthy but NOT a true horseman! I think he even overrode his trainer at times to satify his own greed for publicity or media spin. So sad for all us fans who did nothing but LOVE her her entire career and tro have her ripped away from us with some bizarrer and nonsensical excuse is just a shame!

KUDOS TO HAL WIGGINGS for making into what she was!!! Too bad Jackson couldn't have AT LEAST mentioned him in his press release.

Thanks Steve for your brilliant words and for "telling it lik eit IS"!!

(and Happy Anniversary BTW)

:-)

29 Sep 2010 7:48 PM
Christine

Well said Steve

29 Sep 2010 8:08 PM
The Deacon

Steve:

     You posted this blog knowing full well that folks would get all fired up about it. Anytime a discussion of any kind comes up about Rachel or Zenyatta the fireworks are gonna start. These two fillies bring the best and the worst out of people. I think what ires folks most is the disrespect they feel Jess Jackson has given them. Fans don't like to be treated with indifference.  Maybe  we don't have a right to know what happened to Rachel if anything, because we don't have a vested interest in her , but an explanation would have been nice as a common courtesy. I think we can all agree that something doesn't smell right here.

29 Sep 2010 8:08 PM
Arlene

Steve..I thought you would be having a party since you will never have to get to hearing the rants about Rachel and Zenyatta again. Her connections said when she took her lay off after the season last winter, she liked being a horse. I would hope this decision is because..she just wasn't happy racing. What we don't know is how she is at the barn. Maybe she is stressed, nerveous, maybe track sour. I hope it is not because of an undisclosed infirmity.

I would like to think she just wasn't "happy" racing anymore. And no whipping from Calvin Borel could put the heart back into her. And, I for one, am happy to see the whipping stop..when she ran with such joyous abandon last year. That, was something special!

29 Sep 2010 8:23 PM
Marcia

I have truley enjoyed everyone's take on RA's retirement.  However, although the fans have lost, the trainer & owner have possibly made fools of themselves, and Hal Wiggens may be crying, the winner in this is Rachael.

We own race horses & although the thrill of winning is great, I never cease to acknowlege the fact that each & every one of them would rather just be a horse. Let her go, she will be happier by far & another filly will be groomed to take her place by the humans that rule their world.

29 Sep 2010 8:29 PM
Marcia

Ok, Thanks

29 Sep 2010 8:29 PM
Dawn in MN

The only good things I can say about Rachael Alexandra's retirement are these...

Nobody can take my memories of her Kentucky Oaks and Preakness wins.

I will remember when she ran her guts out in the Woodward.

I will consider myself fortunate to have witnessed the beauty and tenacity of the three-year-old filly she was.  

I will remember when she ran her guts out in the Woodward.

I am always happy to see a horse retired, alive.  I breathe a big sigh of relief.

I will remember when she ran her guts out in the Woodward.

I will not miss the horrific arguements over the merits of Rachael Alexandra v. Zenyatta.

I will remember when she ran her guts out in the Woodward.

This is where the other shoe drops...

And for that I must thank you for your excellent article, Mr. Haskin

29 Sep 2010 8:34 PM
Linda in Texas

Longtimeracingfan what an interesting, insiteful and well thought out post. Your observation of the appearance of her hooves was thought provoking. And if she did have laminitis or was going through some health issues, why would it have been harmful for us to know, i wonder.

Having just lost my brother to cancer i must say here and now that if Mr. Jackson is fighting the "C" battle, i will be the first one to say a prayer for him and light a candle in The Washington National Cathedral.

I think we have all just been caught off guard, hurt and disappointed with the news of her retirement and perhaps guilty of not wanting to let go of a creature that was as magnificent to watch and admire as she is.

I said some time ago that i felt she was not in good spirits nor happy and agreed with many who felt the same way.

In retrospect had Mr. Jackson been able to take the time to appear with Rachel Alexandra at his side and announced it was time for her to call it quits, perhaps we would not all be so upset.

I hope she gets to take a final walk around her home track for her grande bid adieu from her fans. She certainly has earned it.

Thanks from a faithful fan to all horses and the racing they do while risking their lives to entertain us each time they go out on the track. And that goes for all who make it happen at all the tracks.

29 Sep 2010 8:39 PM
MRO

Just glad I was at CD to see the Fleur de Lis. I was shaking when she came on the track. She didn't disappoint!

29 Sep 2010 8:40 PM
strikethegold

i just dont understand why calvin borel did not rate her off the pace at all this season?  he made her do it the hard way, including the woodward which i think broke her heart a little bit. he used the stick what 14 times in the stretch? she deserved to be brought into the race with better tactics and better preparation.  and yes we deserve a better explanation for this retirement.

i was there for the personal ensign in person and rachel's legs were rubbery in the stretch. after last season it was hard to see her like that.  she deserved to be better prepared.  

29 Sep 2010 8:43 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Like Citation said, the bottom line is that she is retiring healthy, or so we presume, or think, or assume, or are guessing. The way she looked this year a few times, it didn't really seem that she wanted to run and give it her all, or was very happy. I am thankful that she is OK. Speculating of course, I do think this was probably a personal decision of Mr. Jackson's because he doesn't want to risk injury to Rachel at this stage. It may or may not have been a hasty or simple decision. If his goal is to breed her to Curlin there is no financial reason that I'm aware of to hide an injury since he owns both horses so she probably is sound, and maybe despite the breathtaking bullet workout they feel that Rachel is just not up to racing anymore, or maybe she is peaking this year now and wants to race but Mr. Jackson doesn't want to take any chances that the Curlin and Rachel show won't go on. I've enjoyed the few interviews I've seen of him but he seems to have his heart set on a Curlin-Rachel super baby more than anything else. I'd say that Curlin and Rachel were really Super in their own right. I don't know how he's going to top those acts. Personally, if I were the owner I wouldn't in a million years let all of this speculation go on. I would hold a press conference and answer every question honestly, but that's just me. Some say that he's answered the question, but the timing is so odd that most of us it seems don't feel that way. Rachel is a National Treasure. I do hope that she can be seen by the public a few times. Parading her in front of the fans at CD before a race  would be a great idea. How about this November? Not at the Breeder's Cup but another Saturday or Sunday. Horse racing will always exist as long as there are horses even if it were banned, but at this point without the fans and bettors it could not exist on this grand of a scale. To think fans that want an explanation with this odd timing with her enormous fan base don't deserve one is naive.

29 Sep 2010 8:43 PM
Woodswoman

I wonder how much of Rachel's condition this year was due to four months of primarily being confined to a stall during the winter and spring. That would make sense if she were ill or injured, but her connections have never said this was the case. If she was healthy, confining a horse to a stall for so long--even with the walks they gave her--seems torturous. I would imagine that would be hard on the disposition of any horse.

It makes sense that Rachel needed a rest after her grueling 2009 campaign when she wasn't yet fully grown. Veterinarian Larry Bramlage confirmed that was the case in a Bloodhorse article in December, saying she needed time to “recuperate.”

If Rachel was healthy but exhausted, it makes no sense that she was kept at the track with limited exercise instead of letting her relax and be a horse in a pasture somewhere. That just doesn't seem kind, and she hasn't appeared to be happy all year.

As much as I think Rachel was a filly for the ages, it sure seems she didn't receive the care she deserved this year from her human companions. With the way things have gone, I hope she gets to have a happier life off the track.

29 Sep 2010 8:43 PM
SaratogaTony

99% of the general public doesn't give a damn about horse racing, and here's yet another example of why.  Taking one of the sport's only recognizable names off the track with 0 explanation further tarnishes the reputation of a struggling sport.  Imagine if Derek Jeter, Lebron James...pick your sport, pick your star, retired with the same level of public disclosure.  What would fans think?

As far as Mr. Jackson is concerned; while obviously I'm not thrilled by the lack of explanation, he owes me nothing.  I don't know the guy.  He may very well be every bit the ego-maniacal clown he's be labeled by some, but I can't help applaud what he's at least tried to do (obviously not always successfully) for the sport.  

Question the training regiment if you will, and be disappointed by the results, but at least he brought Rachel back for a 4 year old campaign when he could have just as easily sent her off to Curlin after the Woodward.  To some extent racing fans owe him a debt of gratitude (I know consider myself paid in full) for giving us another year of Curlin.  Street Sense, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday; all very good colts, all retired too soon.  Mr. Jackson not only brought his colt back, but he showcased him to the world.  I only wish Zenyatta's connections were as generous with their wonderful mare.

Save for 4 days a year, we're fans of a sport with no mainstream TV coverage.  Cable options, be they HRTV (barely available anywhere), TVG, and your local OTB station are stuck in the dark ages (barely any meaningful content, no HD), and the sport's biggest stars are sent out to pasture far too soon.  It's amazing any of us care at all.

When the dust settles, and the anger subsides, Rachel's 3 year old campaign will be what we all remember.  I'm mostly just disappointed we've lost any hope of seeing her brilliance one last time.

29 Sep 2010 8:53 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I can understand that some people wouldn't be comfortable with press conderences, or interviews, but if you don't want to, just let your trainer do it. Steve Asmussen is very articulate. Just lift the gag order, and let him talk to Steve Haskin. He's respectful.

29 Sep 2010 9:07 PM
tvnewsbadge

No mystery. One possibility is that 2009 took more out of Rachel than her connections wanted to admit (for fear of being accused of gutting or injuring a beloved horse for personal glory).

29 Sep 2010 9:07 PM
Leslie

sounds like another good book project for you....

almost a horse racing mystery, no?

29 Sep 2010 9:10 PM
Laura P in DC

Thanks, Steve, for itemizing the history Rachel made in so many of her races last year.  I do agree that her retirement was quirkily handled and should better have been explained, with a focus not so much on her falling short in 2010, almost inevitably, on her tremendous campaign last year but on how it seemed to be in her best interest to retire her at this point.  Horse lovers and racing fans want and even in a sense deserve (to support this somewhat faded industry) that sort of information.

It's interesting to contrast Rachel's management under Jackson with Zenyatta's under the Mosses.  Jackson fashioned a bold, unprecedented, and historic campaign last year, garnering the HOY title, but perhaps at the price of Rachel's health and well-being this year.  The Mosses, on the other hand, have conservatively managed Zenyatta, who may dance and prance her way as a 6 year-old to a successful defense of her Breeders' Cup Classic title and a skein of thoroughbred victories that may never be equalled.  

I hope, too, great as Curlin is, that Jackson won't blind himself to other worthy "dates" for Rachel.  (I seem to recall that Curlin is a very good but not the best TrueNicks match for her.)   And Curlin is a young stallion, so in a sense it'd be "better" to breed Rachel to an older stallion who might be an even better match on paper and whose years as a stud are numbered.

Thanks again, Steve, for your always thoughtful and informative comments.    

29 Sep 2010 9:27 PM
ezevans

Appreciate your viewpoint as always Steve.  As a fan I certainly think it is reasonable to wonder or inquire the reason behind the decision.  And like many, I would like to have Mr. Jackson or her trainer discuss what led to this decision.  But I have a hardtime agreeing with all the criticism and the need-to-know positions.  What I know is that Rachel Alexandra raced as a 4 year old.  She was not rushed off to the breeding shed at the end of her brillant 3 YO campaign as I would bet 8 out of 10 owners would have done.  Her connections took a shot.  They made the decision to let her continue running.  Now I wonder why that is? She already had HOY honors and a racing campaign that will legendary. To compete against Zenyatta?  Well, thats a possibility but given all the variables (i.e., surface, running styles, distances)I'm not sure what anyone would have considered a fair race for either horse.  Money? Ah,I tend to think not...plus keep in mind the loss if something happened to her on the track.  My gut says he did it for one of and possibly all of these three reasons.. 1)bragging rights 2)juut loved watching her run and/or 3) love of the sport which includes its fans.   No, I'm not related to any of Rachel's connections and yes, I have scratched my head in regards to her campaign this year...but we got to see her run.  Many fans getting the opportunity to see her in person for the first time this year who otherwise would only catch an occasional picture in the BH foal reports are posted.  

29 Sep 2010 9:28 PM
Chicago Jo

The more I think about the situation, the more i am convinced that Rachel must have been injured in Monday's work.   It is the only plausible answer, although it doesn't excuse the handling of the announcement. The work was probably unnecessarily fast just a few days out from the race.  I wonder if she got away from the rider a little bit and over-extended herself a bit.  She bucks and plays in her works unlike most horses i have ever seen (watch them on youtube). (yes, she quite obviously still LOVED to run in the mornings, although i am not sure she loved Borel or the whip very much anymore). In her workouts, I often wondered how she managed to never take a misstep or tweak something. think about the players involved and the lack of motivation to suddenly retire her (if healthy). Steve A sounded very woefully earnest when interviewed after the PE - saying he didn't want to give up on getting her back into form. So, i don't think he would have been behind a decision to prematurely retire an uninjured Rachel. Since then she's had 3 (not just 1) very good works.  Even if Jess had hurt pride about this season with Rachel -which has been disappointing ONLY by her own standards - from a odds perspective, there was only upside in running Rachel in these last 2 races "restoring" her legacy (if that is/was his concern. She seemed more primed than ever to crush others in the Beldame.  So, i just really can't imagine Jackson doing something as bizarre as retiring a HEALTHY Rachel.  Although many folks will disagree, except for rushing her back to try and make the apple blossom when she probably had been recovering from something in her stall over the winter - they have been more conservative than bizarre.  And their conservatism was perhaps a justifiable mix of patiently (maybe unsuccessfully) trying to change her running style (shifting to stalker to stretch her speed out with an eye toward holding off zenyatta at 1.25 miles), getting her back in peak form with a markedly heavier/changed physical appearance, and keeping her fresh for fall.  I can't fault their race choices this year with all of the above going on.  But, i don't know enough about racing or what hal wiggins did or didn't do to speak to how good or misguided the day to day training might have been for Rachel this year in terms of 'getting her back in form'.  One thing i will note is the Wiggins ran her an awful lot too last year.  I think this team never wanted the woodward to happen to her again (she was gutted and they knew it more than anyone) - thus the long experiment to make her distance races a little easier on her by changing her style.  I will always wonder if the post positions were different in the PE.  They would have stuck to their 'change her racing style' guns, let her rate outside and a bit off LAT.  Would the slightly more relaxed placement have made a difference?  Either way she appeared to need the race as a tightner very much and i was looking forward to how she might build off that race.  But, i am pretty sure she at least tweaked something, and i hope they might release that information soon. its still sad to have it all end - but then at least Jackson and association SA wouldn't be lambasted so much.

29 Sep 2010 9:30 PM
Mike Relva

Steve

First I want to say thanks for the great article. Also,besides admiring the wealth of knowledge you always bring to the table your honesty is always impressive.  

29 Sep 2010 9:33 PM
Mike Relva

Steve

First I want to say thanks for the great article. Also,besides admiring the wealth of knowledge you always bring to the table your honesty is always impressive.  

29 Sep 2010 9:33 PM
Lynn

I really feel this brilliant filly was terribly mismanaged. I wish her a wonderful retirement.  I am now hoping for the gorgeous Zenyatta, a safe trip and another big win. All rationalizing aside, we have been blessed in our lifetime to see two such incredible mares.  Wish them both godspeed!

29 Sep 2010 9:37 PM
Robin from Maryland

Thanks for the info.  Too bad, but I think it's in her best interest - not ours.  She didn't look happy running her last couple of races.  Anyway, JJ owns her and can do with her whatever he wants.  He really doesn't have to explain anything.  No one can take away her accomplishments ever, and hopefully she will become a champion broodmare, time will tell. Does put a damper on BC cause now we'll never know who was the best.  And that friends will become another mystery of racing.  God Bless RA and may she live long and produce champs.

29 Sep 2010 9:38 PM
downhomesunset

Everyone has noticed how secretive that JJ is with RA. One thing that JJ can do is manipulate the media-some "announcement" is always ready if something threatens to overshadow him and his filly. The only thing that I can think of that is doing that this week is the coming of the "Secretariat" film.Alot of attention is on horse racing right now and RA losing the Beldame would be big news....

29 Sep 2010 9:45 PM
ARLENE

off the blog subject..after going through the True Nicks Tribute to Real Quiet..why didn't this match up relate to a Alydar..Affirmed match up? Your thoughts and memories? Is it all media..or good competitive colts in the same yaer? Good breeding programs? I would like to see youe insights, thoughts..on "The Fish"...

29 Sep 2010 9:56 PM
ThoroughbredZone

What explantation is needed? Jess Jackson decided it was time to retire her, so he did. I have no issues with it. Her last two races were very tough, and getting her back to her best by the BC might not be possible. So that's it. She is a great champion and gave us plenty to cheer about already. God bless her. I can't wait to see her babies with Curlin.

Jess Jackson did the right thing. No explanation needed.

29 Sep 2010 9:59 PM
christy tate

we may never know the real reason rachel was retired, but i agree that the public was owed a little more of an explanation than what it got, which is a big fat dissapointment and stabbed in the back by her connections. still, i hope the filly becomes a really good broodmare. maybe her foals will be able to follow in her hoof prints.

29 Sep 2010 10:08 PM
Terry

Entire 2010 campaign was a mess. Poor Rachel was badly handled all year, then retired right before a race she was poised to win. Great horses like her belong to the public and the fans in a way this owner does not seem to understand or respect. Shame on him. Thank you Steve for another excellent commentary.

29 Sep 2010 10:09 PM
smarie

I don't think Rachel Alexandra was the same horse after the Woodward. She laid her body down in that race. Perhaps she didn't want to do that to herself anymore. Jess Jackson made a huge mistake when he took RA from Hal Wiggins and gave her to Steve Asmussen to train. I don't think Asmussen called too many shots in RA's career. He was the official trainer - JJ was calling all the shots. I can't imagine a Charlie Whittingham or a Woody Stephens allowing an owner to make so many bad decisions about a horse that they were training. RA may be retired from racing, but she has many obstacles ahead of her. Breeding can and is traumatic, especially for a maiden mare. There isn't much "natural" about the process for Thoroughbreds. She will probably be bred over and over again and no matter what anyone says, carrying a foal places many demands on a mare's body. It would be nice if she got several months to enjoy herself in a nice paddock with other horses and was just be allowed to be a horse. I have never been too impressed with Jess Jackson's handling of his racehorses and I am even less so now. I am thankful that RA is sound and I wish her a happy life. She deserves it.

29 Sep 2010 10:11 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, great piece and I am very grateful you highlighted Rachel's very historic accomplishments. She is a truly great horse and I was afarid that because of this year, people were forgetting what a magnificent horse she really is. I will miss her greatly. I am also disappointed because I think she was doing well. But I believe this: they weren't going to the classic because it wasn't her best distance and she stood no chance to win. They didn't want to risk anymore losses in the Lady's Classic and the Beldame. In short, Jess Jackson is cutting his losses so that she will retain her value as a brood mare. The timing is bizarre however, considering her improvement. You would have thought if he was going to do yhis, he would have done it earlier in the year. But because I think this decision is partly a financial one, he is never going to come out and say that. So we will never get a real explanation in my opinion.

As for Real Quiet, I was shocked. Another truly great horse and he was too young for this very sad and untimely death. This has been a bad week in horse racing. Alot of losses. I hope Zenny can work her magic this weekend and break this awful spell.

29 Sep 2010 10:16 PM
Runfast159

I agree, the issue has to be the bizarre timing of Rachel's retirement.  I for one never thought she ran a bad race this year.  And a bullet work on Monday, seems like everything was going as planned.

Jess Jackson's wife said today on Race Day America that now was a good time to retire her healthy and happy.  More vagueness.  She said they started talking about retirement after her last race.  Then why not not make the announcement in the week after the race?  Why after the bullet work, 3 weeks later?  I agree, it's strange.

But to me it was equally strange that she stayed on the shelf for 6 months.  

Horses DO change mentally.  Often times with no apparent reason.  Perhaps this is why Rachel just wasn't the same horse.

But, I am happy she gave us 19 races and supposedly retires sound.  I look forward to seeing her much anticipated Curlin offspring.

Now, in an unrelated note, the loss of Real Quiet has been overshadowed a bit by the retirement of Rachel.  

He was lost in a freak paddock accident at age 15.  The horse who gave us the most stirring Belmont in many, many years.  The horse who, by most accounts, should have been a TC winner.  I hope you have some personal observations about Real Quiet that you can share with us down the road.  It's a shame he is gone.

Unsettling news travels in 3's.  Could Switch or Rinterval upset Zenyatta on Saturday?  That would complete the trifecta of crummy news...

29 Sep 2010 10:22 PM
Keith

"All we were asking for was closure. And we didn’t get it."

My thoughts exactly. This sudden, ill conceived, ill timed pulling the plug on Rachels career left me with a hollow feeling inside.

Seeing her shortening stride badly in the final 16th of the Personal Ensign and being overtaken by the likes of Persistently after emphatically putting away Life at Ten was a bad way to end her career. She wasnt done yet. While I appreciate any owner doing whats best for the horse, RA was not hurting, was not too old, and could probably still rock 'n' roll with the best F/M in the country at a mile and an eighth, as well as most of the boys.

Sorry, dont like it.

29 Sep 2010 10:27 PM
Kim C.

I loved watching her run. She is extraordinary and laid every ounce of herself on the line with each race. She always dug down for more and got it. My gut says that her 2009 season really knocked the stuffing out of her and she's tired. As much as her connections wanted her to be the Rachel of 2009, it just wasn't going to happen. I'll bet that she wasn't coming out of her works as well as they hoped and retiring her has been on Jess Jacksons mind for a while. I'm hoping that for the love of the horse he decided to call it a day and retire her. Good for Rachel. She deserves green pastures to run at will and to be pampered for the rest of her life. Thanks for ALL the thrills Rachel. It was quite a ride.

29 Sep 2010 10:30 PM
Outlaw Enterprises

Seems to me that most of the comments have everything covered from about every angle imaginable.  I don't think that I can add much to the comments about RA or JJ.

That being said, I just wanted to add a bit about the curse of being a champion.  I have been a breeder for a number of years and it seems that the great mares never seem to reproduce themselves.  Wish I had scientific evidence of this but it is purely anecdotal.

Put 2 HOTY together?  I hope for the best but I sure wont try to hold my breath...

29 Sep 2010 10:39 PM
Nancy

Oh please, enough of the nonsense about Jackson thinking Rachel can't beat Zenyatta so he retired her. Zenyatta hasn't faced a horse this year who has won a G1, so who knows if she's even the same horse as last year or the year before. Jackson deserves credit for racing his filly at less than 100% and in races that were challenging. The same can't be said about Moss/Shirreffs.

I too think there is a lot of racing left in Rachel, even another year. The decision to retire Rachel doesn't upset me, it's more that it is a surprise considering she's been training and running so well. There very well may be some other things behind the decision that we don't know about and that Jackson doesn't want to reveal, we may never know. Maybe his health has taken a turn for the worse, who knows. As much as I wanted to watch her race through the end of the year, I'll always be a fan of Rachel.

29 Sep 2010 10:39 PM
tpjockey

Nice to see so many posts about horse racing.

My take on this situation.....retiring on a great workout is better than losing another race badly!

29 Sep 2010 10:50 PM
Joy

Steve, I was so angry and upset after I read the headline yesterday afternoon that I nearly cried. I was always a huge Zenyatta fan, living in California, and have no doubt who would have crushed who in a match race, but Rachel Alexandra was one of the greatest fillies I will probably ever live to see. Even if she's not, she did have one of the most grueling and amazing campaigns of any filly ever, and she will be greatly missed on the track.

I'm confused just as much as you are, and was looking forward to seeing her in the Beldame, a race that was playing out for her perfectly (perfect distance, a track she's dominated on) and I know I'll always look back and feel like there was a champion who's career was never closed off the right way. Besides, is racing her in the BC Ladies Classic really THAT much worse than not facing Zen and the boys in the Classic? Plenty of freak horses have won the Ladies Classic! It's no shame at all.

Bottom line, I am very disappointed and confused to see her go when she might have not been done, but excited to see her baby on the track in just a few years!

29 Sep 2010 10:51 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

tvnewsbadge

  Your post of 9:07, 9-29, I think is probably what it's all about. They don't want to say what they are thinking for fear of being accused of taking too much out of her for good last year. A lot of good posts here. All that I read are valid statements. The bottom line is that we probably just have to accept the statements given from the owner and be happy that she's OK, and grateful for all that Rachel has given us, but I still would like to see her paraded in front of the fans as a farewell and thanks for her greatness. In hindsight she possibly should have been retired after her 3yo season. She might be carrying little Curly. Maybe someday we'll hear the truth and nuttin but the truth, but for now I'm just accepting that she's retired and safe. I do hope that a writer gets to ask Asmussen a few questions. I'm curious as to how he'd answer.

29 Sep 2010 11:13 PM
clarinetmama

Godspeed Rachel, we love you!

(i'm being reminded of the Dallas Cowboys...a particular owner and his puppet...)

On a lighter note, RA is an amazing mare and has given us one heck of a ride!!!

I don't think this is a bad omen of things to come. Rumor is, Zenyatta is fit as a fiddle and horse racing fans have that to look forward to for the time being!

29 Sep 2010 11:16 PM
Barry

I agree, Jess Jackson owes it to the racing public to let us know if she was hurt. Other wise, why not race her. Come on Jess do what is right.

29 Sep 2010 11:25 PM
Cynthia

I feel very bad for RA. What a beautiful champion horse she truly was. Her first owner stated she may not always win but she will die trying. RA was all heart. I get sick everytime I watch the replay of the 2009 Woodward. Calvin beat her so badly I do not think she was the same horse ever again. She was badly mismanaged from the owner and distroyed by the jockey. I hope she enjoys her retirement. I think history will be kind to RA and she will be remembered a one of the greatest 3 yr old filly of all time.

29 Sep 2010 11:38 PM
Monika P

Poor 2010 campaign and poor choice of stallion. It really is a tragedy that these magnificent animals are subjected to such glaring mismanagement by the people in control of their lives. Money clearly does not buy wisdom. Fortunately, Rachel will always be one of the great ones, despite her unfortunate entourage.

29 Sep 2010 11:44 PM
David

Shoot, Rachel Alexandra is Jess Jackson's and that other guy that doesn't put out goofy press releases' horse. I checked the books and neither one of those cats owe me or most of the folks putting up these post a dang thing. I figure they can put her in either one of their manicured back yards if they want to. He can send her to his own version of a super horse of a stud and tell us what he wants to tell us, if he wants to tell us anything. BUT, I sure was dissapointed to hear this. She had the most spectacular year as a three year old and for whatever reason, not so spectacualr this year. I got my own ideas, but I refer back to point one. She ain't mine, she isn't yours. He can retire her and we don't have to like it. So.....     thanks Rachel Alexandra. You were one of the finest racing fillies....racing horses...I have ever seen. I still get goosebumps watching your Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward. Go make fast babies. Thanks Mr Jackson and that other guy for her last season. Not so much thanks for this one and none at all for not letting this great filly finish her legacy on the track.

29 Sep 2010 11:52 PM
Karen in Texas

I'm reading the article and comments late this P.M. I, too, would like to have some sort of explanation for Rachel's sudden retirement after a "bullet" work. As Dr. Drunkinbum suggested, let Steve Asmussen speak if Mr. Jackson is not prepared for a news conference for whatever reason. Regardless, I hope she is sound and will be happy in her new role as a broodmare.

30 Sep 2010 12:08 AM
Jodie

It amazes me when people say Rachel would have won this race or that race if only they had not retired her.  Well, Jackson thought she could not and that is the only opinion that counts.  Any one that knows horses could see she had issues from the start this year and never got past them.  I fault Jackson for the grueling campaign he put her threw last year but not for retiring her now.  Why keep beating on her in the hopes she will win one more race.  

30 Sep 2010 12:31 AM
John

Nancy,

I don't think there's a Grade 1 winning horse out there that wants anything to do with Zenyatta.

Just ask Bill Mott, Bob Baffert, Mike Mitchell or Jerry Hollendorfer.

30 Sep 2010 12:51 AM
The Deacon

Dr D:

     You are right Rachel is a National Treasure. That is what hurts the most, yes it is his filly but out of respect for so many that love her an explanation of some kind is needed.

It is said, that we should have seen it coming but how do you prepare for something like this. Horses come and go, we know that, it won't be the first or last time a great horse was unexpectantly taken from us. I guess it's our fault in believing Mr. Jackson in the first place. I am not arguing the decision, just the manner in which it was done.....

Great blog as usual Steve..........  

30 Sep 2010 1:23 AM
Meydan Rocks

Nancy,

DEEP! She hasn't faced a grade 1 horse "this year"?

What does that mean exactly?

Hopefully, do you think she'll be able to handle the BCC?

What do you think?

30 Sep 2010 2:00 AM
Aluminaut

I wanted to read all the posts before making a comment, but I'd better not stay up all night, or I'll be working tired tommorow.

Just wanted to say that when Rachel hadn't been officially entered in the Beldame, I had this uneasy feeling that something like the retirement announcement was forthcoming.  Then, after her work there was no "next race" news.

If Jess Jackson is in poor health, maybe he's just trying to tie up all the loose ends, including making his plans for her new career next spring.  That's what most good businessmen do to prepare for the future.

30 Sep 2010 2:41 AM
Bellwether

HE$ A $TRANGE DUDE BUT HE DOE$ SUPPORT "THE GAME"...FORE THAT WE LIKE HIM...ty..

30 Sep 2010 3:04 AM
jayjay

My comments were going to be what Paula H posted, word for word (although she's always better at posting her thoughts).  I totally agree that Jackson is cutting his losses.  Another loss would've looked really bad.  The questions that Steve raised are very valid questions and I think Rachel's fans, specially her true loyal fans  deserve to know the truth.  They all have invested emotionally on this filly and her connections needs to explain why, at the very least the timing of it as Steve highlighted.  If she's hurt, her fans needs to know.

Aluminaut : I did hear that JJackson is sick, your last post probably makes the most sense in all of this.  If that's the case, then I respect his decision to make this announcement the way he did.

30 Sep 2010 4:20 AM
Dawn in MN

The only good things I can say about Rachael Alexandra's retirement are...

I will always enjoy my memories of her wins in the Kentucky Oaks and the Preakness.

I will never forget the way she ran her guts out in the Woodward.

I am always relieved when a horse is retired alive.

I will never forget the way she ran her guts out in the Woodward.

I will not miss the ridiculous arguements about the merits of Rachael Alexandra v. Zenyatta.

I will never forget the way she ran her guts out in the Woodward.

And now the other shoe drops.

I must thank you Mr. Haskell for writing this piece  and dropping the other shoe.

30 Sep 2010 5:59 AM
miss

People hardly ever give you honest and true for real reasons for almost everything else in life, why should racing be any different?

Need to get rid of the people to get rid of the lies and that's not really possible in organized racing so we're stuck with the lies. I try to avoid the liar problem by avoiding people as much as possible and just loving my horses and doing right by them.  They have never let me down.

30 Sep 2010 6:12 AM
masterpjj

I dont see the difference in mating two "HOTY" is going to matter.   It has never came into play before.  Was Zenyatta's sire and dam a HOTY?   NO, and look at what they produced.  I know you mean it hypathitically,  but I dont see it meaning a thing , but on paper.

30 Sep 2010 6:21 AM
Ron

It's not about Rachel, it's about money.  The breeding season is coming up and Rachel has to be ready for Curlin.  Think about the dollars that offspring is going to bring JJ, let alone the notariety from mating two of the greatest thoroughbreds of our time.

30 Sep 2010 7:26 AM
sodapopkid

Steve,  I want to post this link that is recently published, So eveyone will know RA retired healthy not injured.

www.timesunion.com/.../Retired-Rachel-healthy-happy-680650.php

30 Sep 2010 7:33 AM
Oscar's Scoutmaster

Doesn't anyone remember the photo after the Woodward of Rachel walking with her groom with her right hind leg bandaged from the fetlock to the hock?   Don't you think she may have some injury, however slight, that is irritated by her workouts, and that her connections thought may finally cause a severe breakdown, and they are protecting her from some possible greater harm?    Be as critical as you like, I think she is a marvel, and no one should be second guessing Jackson's decision.....

30 Sep 2010 8:11 AM
MikeM

inthebridle- well said. The physical issues just caught up with her.

30 Sep 2010 8:33 AM
berttheclock

I remember the days of the great Charlie Whittingham.  He trained horses superbly,  brought them fit and ready off layoffs, placed them well, while his wealthy owners stayed in the background.  After a typical Grade I win, the headline never was, "Well, Mary Chandler Bradley said..."  or, "Howard Koch says that the next race for...."

Same in pro sports.  Yes, the owners own their respective teams, but, who really needs to see them on the sidelines walking up and down with the coaches, or having them being the number one spokesperson for anything involving the team?  So, they made a ton of money in real estate, but, does that make them an expert on anything else?  Hire the best and stay far, far in the background.

This marvelous, at first, journey of the great Rachael Alexandra should have, always, been her story and never yours, Mr Jackson.  She exuded Class to the end.  You have never shown any.  

30 Sep 2010 8:38 AM
NDBirdfinder

Jess Jackson has a bluster about integrity and supporting the sport but ducked the Breeders Cup last year and obviously is ducking it again this year. Yes, money talks and with the influence of cases of wine Jackson not his equine representative took the Horse of the Year title but that is what it was a title. The real stand out of the year, unbeaten and winner against all willing to try in the Breeders Cup was spurned by voters who know horses after a few glasses of wine and a trip to the two dollar window. The ego of one prevented the face to face meeting the sport truly needed. At least that is what it appears to be to this life long racing enthusiast. Let's all now wish Zenyata and her human attendents a safe journey to her well deserved but delayed Horse of the Decade designation!!!

30 Sep 2010 8:40 AM
ray

my opinion is the only reason you retire a horse after a bullet work is if they come out of it with a problem.hope not but i suspect a tendon issue.

30 Sep 2010 8:49 AM
LACS70

Hmmmm...I think that Jess Jackson is Sam Riddle incarnate. Bullet works, then a strange retirement notice ("doesnt owe us anything, etc.")I think the real reason why RA has been retired will be revealed eventually.

30 Sep 2010 8:52 AM
Sarah

Thank you for saying this, especially about her 2010 campaign being a mess. I didn't want to be overtly critical but it was and is still hard not to be at least a little disgusted by the way they "managed" (or mismanaged) her this year, and I too have thought that from day one of this campaign. Why they didn't give her the foundation she needed to excel this year as well has baffled me from the start. I had so much anticipation for what she could and should do as a 4-year-old, considering she should have had time to mature even more and come into even better form. And she looked like an absolute powerhouse on the track in her workouts in January and then... it just all fell apart. And I will never for a minute believe it's her fault. I think it's actually a testament to her that she won this year on sheer talent, because I don't think she was getting the solid training foundation she needed, and it is shameful to train a top racehorse and a Horse of the Year to boot, in that manner.

I know Steve Asmussen is a good trainer so I am not trying to say he is not; however, I can't agree with Jess Jackson's statement upon her retirement announcement that she was given a top training regimen. It's true I don't know all the ins and outs behind the scenes but her workouts and race performances are public record, and they don't indicate a top training regimen to me.

She is one of the best horses I have ever seen race and I will always remember her 3-year-old campaign with awe, and remember that this year does not reflect her true ability. I was thrilled and priveliged to be in the grandstand the day she won the Preakness and to see her race two times as a two-year-old. She is amazing.

I am pretty disheartened by the abrupt retirement too. I hope they at least give us a public farewell at a retirement party since they are yanking her from the public eye so quickly. I had still held hopes of seeing her at the Breeders' Cup next month (in the Ladies' Classic at least, wasn't expecting her to take on Zenyatta) - it would have been my chance to say farewell to one of my favorites. How about it, Mr. Jackson? How about a retirement party for us? We'll miss her too, more than you may know.

I think it would be fitting to have a special presentation at the Breeders' Cup, even though she never raced in it. It would be a great forum for her to bow out on a day when racing gets a lot of national recognition and many of her fans are sure to be present. How about the Friday before, when she won't be overshadowed by the Classic and the other big races? I think it's a solid idea. Maybe someone with connections to present it to him could send it along...

Farewell, Rachel. You did us proud and you are one of the exemplary horses of this sport. I wish we'd had longer to witness your brilliance but am grateful you've weathered the battles and came through it sound and healthy.

30 Sep 2010 8:55 AM
SQ

I am one of RA's biggest fans and yes it is disappointing that she will not race again but not nearly as disappointing missing her race Zenyatta! I really thought they would put her in the 2009 BC-against Zenyatta! That would have been the greatest race ever! Please keep us updated on RA even though she is no longer racing!!! Thanks:)

30 Sep 2010 8:58 AM
Shane

horses take bad steps everyday and Jackson hasnt been too lucky with his bigger horses lately. I think he saw no upside to keeping her in training. She had nothing left to prove. We know she would not win older mare, or horse of the year and I think so much criticism about her was in the air. I think if they make a movie about these two horses in the future he might "unfortunately" get painted as the villian in the movie. But anyhow. He sees it better not to risk injury than to keep pressing on.....He gave us a bonus by putting Curlin in the BCC, I think he wanted to control the cards this time. AND he did.

30 Sep 2010 9:08 AM
Susan

Rachel's been mismanaged ever since Jackson bought her.  I was so in love with RA after she won the Kentucky Oaks.  After Jackson bought her I was heartbroken to see how badly she was handled.  He just used her up in an effort to glorify himself.

30 Sep 2010 9:23 AM
markinsac

I'm a big Z fan and enjoyed the rivalry with the east coast, even though the two great mares never met.  Rachel fans, I can understand your disappointment.  Last year, Rachel was thrown at the wolves and won every time, she won the HOTY title too.  WAS IT ALL WORTH IT?  Zenyatta's connections have been criticized up and down, left and right.  But look at the end result:  Rachel had a mediocre 2010, while Zenyatta keeps on ticking.  What I'm trying to say here, were Zenyatta's connections MORE concerned for their horses's well being, while J. Jackson treated his horse like a machine.  You can say all you want about Zenyatta's conservative campaign, but in about a month, she will be going for a 20 for 20 record and her third Breeders Cup win.  If you were fortunate enough to own a top-class like Rachel or Zenyatta, who would you want to train?  Assmussen, who has horses all over the country, many who haven't seen Steve in quite some time or Sherriffs, who has a much smaller stable, all at Hollywood Park.  He sees ALL his horses EVERY day.  Despite the fact that Assmussen has a huge stable dotted all accross the country, Sherriffs has won 3 Breeders Cup races in the last two years, Assmussen--0.

30 Sep 2010 9:23 AM
kaytee

I agree that Borel was getting very fierce with his whip lately.  That, along with running against the bulls and fresher females might have taken some spark out of her.  We might not know the real reason; they might not admit they might have hurt her a little bit but if they won't change what they're doing, then they did the right thing.  I think Borel needs to calm down a bit; MTB ran backwards even under new jock last time.  I think he's had enough of the spanking also.

30 Sep 2010 9:27 AM
Lauracrown

Steve,

I do hope that eventually one of Rachel's close connections will let you do an in-depth interview with them regarding Rachel. Reading the news here that Mr. Jackson is in bad health strengthens my belief that (as I wrote on another blog)he now believes the time has come to mate Rachel to Curlin. When he bought her, he made it known in a press release that that was one of his primary reasons for buying her. As it will take time for Rachel to unwind from training and be prepared to become a broodmare, Time may be of the essence for Mr. Jackson. When he remarked in his recent press release that now was the time Rachel should retire, he made it clear that Curlin was in her near future. Whatever else may be said of the man, I send him my prayers for better health. And, I pray for long, happy lives for Curlin, Rachel, and all horses.

Also, I want to add my request to others that would like you to write about dear Real Quiet. I will always remember his gameness and the excitement of his Triple Crown attempt. I am saddened by his death. Whenever I tell people who the Triple Crown winners are, I always remind them that he lost only by a nose.

30 Sep 2010 9:29 AM
Fireflies

Agreed. I will miss Rachel Alexandra, she truly is one of the best I have ever seen, and I, too, wish for closure. Thank you, Steve, for being the voice of reason throughout this whirlwind campaign.

30 Sep 2010 9:50 AM
Smoking Baby

To Smokingbaby,

Analyzing someone's expressed, written opinion by pointing out supporting or contradictory facts is NOT being negative.  It is engaging in mature debate with the hopes of drawing ever more accurate conclusions.

I wrote Steve about the very issue you brought up...that is, that he can't claim that Rachel beat good fillies by listing the races that those fillies EVENTUALLY won.  The pertinent point is, what form were the fillies in when Rachel beat them...that's the issue.  I don't see anyone claiming that the fillies that beat Rachel at 2 are better than Rachel now.

My critique of Steve's points then was meant with as much respect as you expressed in your critique now.  That's not being negative...it's an attempt at objective critique.  

Hope you agree Steve, 'cause that's how Smoking Baby and I meant it.

Gary at Rough Creek 29 Sep 2010 7:27 PM

Gary at Rough Creek.  Dude, THANK YOU SO MUCH for that.  You have no idea what a load off my mind that is.  I was worried about the way I was coming across.  Thanks again.  You made my day and I totally agree.

30 Sep 2010 10:11 AM
Paula P

As stakes placed Thoroughbred Owner back some time ago, I cannot help but think there is a something that has not come to press yet.

To have to accept RA's retirment zip like that would not only be hard on the connections/trainers/fans and I do believe they need to time to digest it before they offer more to explain this retirment.

Often horses of that calibre will run their guts out every time their hooves hit the track.......that is what defines that cut above in RA Zen etc type race horses.

They can turn in performance of life time and come back to barn only to find out they are "warming" in a spot....and not let you  know it by they  way they act on track.

It is the intangible.....a fast work, bullet even, does not sometimes explain all.

In this case, I will defer to her connections who know her better than anyone.  This caliber of horse will run sick/well/hurt/aching and not necessarily let you know.......that is why observing them very closely on and off track is so very important think something is a problem........would much rather see her retire than run till she breaks down on the racetrack.

I know the feeling that JJ is odd is prevalent.......however I will wait and see for the next installment of the story to pass judgments on the who/why/what factor of her retirment.

In the meantime though, I just want to express a bit Thank you, a hugggggggggg to RA for giving us some of the most spectacular racing I have ever seen.

She will remain forever one of the greats!!! and I feel privileged to have been a spectator to her superb career.

PS folks who think her 2010 career was sub par........wake up smell the coffee, she never finished worst than 2nd.  By all standards this still was a superb racehorse who ran with her whole heart everytime she was out there.

Thank you Team RA and RA herself!  It was an amazing ride!

As a former owner, our partnerships motto was err on the side of safety.

I believe something is up with RA and frankly if they even

30 Sep 2010 10:13 AM
Debbie O'Connor

I agree with Nina.  The public is owed nothing.  These rich folks buy these animals for THEIR pleasure and stoking their giant egos.  If the public enjoys what they see, fine, but they can do with their horses whatever they want.

You know what would be a really great thing?  If some of these wealthy, spoiled egomaniacs got together and did something to alleviate the suffering of unwanted thoroughbreds.

Now THAT would be something.

30 Sep 2010 10:21 AM
green0

thank you, Steve, for some great writing and for reiterating her greatness.  I love that filly and it makes me very sad to know that we will never see her race again.

30 Sep 2010 10:26 AM
Don from PA/DE

Thank you Steve, I can say your words and thoughts are very timely, apparently unlike the subject owner, answers please. Don

30 Sep 2010 10:33 AM
txhorsefan

Brilliant article, Steve, and I agree on all points.  Mr. Jackson owes me nothing, but I think I would appreciate him and all her connections a little more with an explanation.  So many people have contributed their thoughts and feelings to this blog already and I can't really say anything new, but I can attempt to express how sad I feel that I will not be able to watch Rachel Alexandra run any more.  Her campaign last year gave everyone many thrills, but at what cost to Rachel?  I think that's the thing that bothers me the most, is that it took so much out of her. Yes it was wonderful, yes, she beat the boys, yes,it was one for the ages, but did it just about kill her doing it?  With the vague press releases and ambiguous responses from her connections, we may never know, so on top of not seeing her again, it just leaves us sadness.  Thankfully, the Bloodhorse has recently been doing some features and blogs on the foals that some of our favorite mares of the past are producing, so hopefully Rachel Alexandra won't be locked away in some pasture, out of sight, out of mind.  We've all loved her too much.

30 Sep 2010 10:37 AM
Love 'em all!

Rachel has spoken ... and "they" listened.  Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen have always said their main interest is the welfare of the horse.  So be it.

Best wishes to Rachel Alexandra and to Curlin, and may they thrill us once again ... with a "Little Rachel" or a "Little Curlin", or, preferably both.  I believe that's been Mr. Jackson's goal since he and partner purchased RA just prior to the '09 Preakness.  

We all want what's best for RA ... and keeping her healthy as a soon-to-be expectant "mom" makes perfect sense to this one.  

Farewell wishes to Rachel Alexandra.

30 Sep 2010 10:45 AM
Colmel

Okay, maybe I missed someone else posting this, but I think I've either read or sufficiently scanned to see that no one has brought up the fact that the just-finished yearling sales at Kenneland were the strongest in at least 4 years. Even in a depressed economy, a healthy Curlin/Rachel yearling would bring TOP dollar. Yes, this is caveated that it requires a healthy cover, healthy gestation and delivery, and healthy first year. But with the care that she will receive, I believe that the best of outcomes can be hoped for. (Yes, I remember Genuine Risk, but I also know all about Personal Ensign.) For a race mare to become a "mommy," it requires sufficient "let-down" time. In other words, it requires time for the mare to acclimatize and get relaxed. It's quite a different way of life on the breeding farm from what she is used to at the track. Some mares take longer than others. Then there's the matter of planning the mating for as early in the year as possible to allow for an early foal. Every day spent at the track is a day away from the breeding shed.

I'm not saying that I know that this was the plan for Rachel. I am saying, however, that this is a possible explanation as to what could be going on behind the scenes...especially if something else in her attitude toward the track (or health) was off.

30 Sep 2010 10:56 AM
justice

sure not sorry for asmussen, think jj should have retired her after last race. horse of this caliber dosen't need to come with their b-game.

30 Sep 2010 10:56 AM
wendyg

Match races are nothing but bad for those who hoped for one.  A race like the apple blossom with the two horses in it is better, but still, they could both have gone out winners.  To "Bad Omen", give it a rest.  If Z loses this weekend, it will be bad enough with out "half-empty" people making it worse by predicting.  What a downer.  

Lastly, why can't Jackson get into race cars where he isn't screwing with the well being of flesh and blood animals and the emotions of people who love that animal.  He is cold hearted, and will get his in the end.  Maybe not, because people with money like he has always seem to bounce back.  I hope Rachel finds all the happiness now that she lost when Jackson acquired her.  

30 Sep 2010 11:05 AM
I Davis

Thanks, Steve, for such a great article on Rachel.  I'm still hoping Jackson will do a "Jerry Moss" and bring Rachel temporarily out of retirement for her encore and final good bye to her devoted fans and for all the world to get one last glimpse of a future Hall of Fame racing legend. I was there for herKY Oaks phenominal win...and then at Pimlico to watch her win the Preakness (I was the only one in my group that singled RA on my multi-race ticket!!) and then followed her to NY/Belmont for the Mother Goose where she ran away once again w/the race and broke a track record.  Rachel is indeed the best of the best!!  Hopefully Jackson will rethink this one (assuming Rachel is indeed healthy) and let us send her off in style. I agree with you, Steve, she's ready for a top performance and I'm confident she won't disappoint us no matter the outcome.

30 Sep 2010 11:06 AM
OldDog

How strange indeed -- retired the morning after an awesome bullet workout.  An eyewitness said that they really let her rip.  If Jess Jackson had intended to retire her, why risk a workout?  Assistant trainer Scott Blasi called in to TVG, and they asked him some softball questions, but he gave vague answers, many beginning with, "I don't really know..." and trailing off.  Poor guy, I don't know if HE knows the reason she was retired, other than that Mr. Jackson simply said so.  We may never know the true reason.

All that being said, I've been watching videos of her 3-year-old campaign, and remembering the excitement that she gave us.  For being here to witness that, I am thankful.  

30 Sep 2010 11:09 AM
mike rullo

steve

I have the answer for you. the rachel camp wanted to run in the beldame but they didnt want 2 speed horses hounding her the whole way. they have no other options for her to be sent, so instead they retired her.

the beldame did not set up the way they wanted. It's that simple!

30 Sep 2010 11:14 AM
Sunny Farm

The owner of the horse decides what he wants to do, this is what I like about racing and owning horses...the freedom to decide.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA was done in after the woodward, she should have been rested after that race but hind-sight is always 20-20....I imagine there was a lot of pressure to keep her on the track.

IN 2008 a filly was born at our farm. She had a 95% mortality rate but I refused to quit or give up on her.There was not one other who said she would live. She is now a two year old , but the exhaustion to save her was so great that my son & I did not fully recover for two years !

We were with that filly 24-7 , lifting her up to the udder every 20 minutes / half hour....72 days......and then there has been full care now for two years....we were so exhausted we could barely function for six months....like RACHEL , we had given ALL. To save 'Feathers' there was a great cost. In hind sight would I have done this again for Feathers ? You know I would. Despite her hardship, Feathers is the embodiment of a champion in her heart and she has brought me much joy & inspiration. Feathers has taught me so much about what is important. She taught my son the importance of faith , diligence...and hope.Priceless.

RACHEL has given us all a special gift by her will and heart and victories.Be happy to have been able to know her, to see her run.

RACHEL had proven herself to say the least & now she needs / needed a rest from that grueling race of the Woodward...We, here at the farm know how she feels !

If Mr. Jackson feels it is time to retire RACHEL ,then so it is.Maybe she DID tell him in her own language-maybe he heard her.

Personally I don't know HOW a person can put down CURLIN in the breeding shed....have you seen his foals ? What legs and substance they all have, little beauties full of power and class is what I see ! You go RACHEL and go to see CURLIN , become haughty and demanding and messy , like all great broodmares ! "Me and Feathers '' will be awaiting your first foal with excitement & wish you the very best as you deserve.

30 Sep 2010 11:15 AM
an ole rail bird

so goes horse racing,RA is retired. & thats all of that. now the next order of business, in the racing world should be, somebody come up with something, to run at zanyetta. this shoud be on every trainers mind . in my opinpion Blind Luck is the prime canidate. with this mares stile she is on a roll of improvment. i thought we would get to see her ( blind luck ) & RA hook up ,with Blind Luck,on the front end. with RA out of the way,watch for Blind Luck to step into her shoes.

30 Sep 2010 11:22 AM
Secretariat

Quote from Nancy:

"Zenyatta hasn't faced a horse this year who has won a G1"

Well nancy, when Zenyatta is winning all the Grade I's on the west coast and the east coast fillies/mares are too scared to run against her, then yes...you would be right with the quote (above).

30 Sep 2010 11:25 AM
MonicaV

In my life, certain race horses have touched my heart in a special way.  Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, John Henry, Sunday Silence, Smarty Jones and Curlin.  After Curlin retired, I just didn't have the one horse I felt a connection to.  I never felt that for Cigar or for Zenyatta. I respect and admire them but I don't feel a connection to them.  The first time I saw Z race was her BC in 2008 and I was wowed by her but I was waiting for Curlin to race.  In 2009 I just didn't feel any excitement.  None of the TC horses excited me but MTB was a good shocker.  I remember reading about Rachel and her wins in 2009 and and then her astounding win in the Oaks followed by her purchase by Jess Jackson and her entry in the Preakness.  I watched the Preakness and she touched my heart and my soul.  What a filly!  I was in love with that gorgeous girl and followed her the rest of the year.  She was like a lifeline to me at the time and she made me love life again.  Rachel brought something very special into my life and gave me something to look forward to.  She will always be special to me no matter what.  This year has been full of ups and downs for her but it hasn't been any fault of hers or any lack of talent.  She ran her guts out last year and was off six months and rushed back. This whole year has been difficult for her and now that she has finally come around and finally run 10 furlongs, which by the way, she did get and ran well and anyone who thinks she can't run 10 furlongs is quite mistaken, she is being yanked out of competition.  If she was injured then it makes sense but why would they keep that a secret?  She certainly didn't run like an injured horse.

All I know is that I was hoping they would bring her back at 5 after this disastrous year but instead she is going to Curlin.  I will never again see that beautiful creature glide over the track and thrill me.  I am heartbroken to never see her again especially since I know she would have finally come back to form in the next race.  I feel absolutely cheated.  I know she's Mr. Jackson's horse and it's his call but I am so saddened by it all.

30 Sep 2010 11:25 AM
kaytee

 I can't completely agree that we as racing fans aren't owed maybe just a little.  We're here; we love this incredable sport and our hearts are invested.  We embrace the great times and want to understand the not-so-great.  Maybe owed is not the right word but I'd still like to know; after all, this is modern day TB history.

 RIP RQ

30 Sep 2010 11:37 AM
slee

Hey -

Did you see "we" made the HGTV discussion about Rachel last night?  I only caught a few minutes of it, but they were talking about "Steve Haskin feels" and "a lot of fans agree", well, so, ok, STEVE made the discussion but we're right here on his coattails.

They had a quick phone interview with Scott Blasi Asmussen's right hand man who was so involved with training both Curlin and Rachel) and he said essentially the same thing many of us have been saying - Rachel is JJ's horse and he just felt the time was right.

I agree with that.  That's not the question.  JJ can do whatever he wants to with Rachel.  It's the cutoff from the fans who love or like her that's odd.  

Anyway, Scott Blasi says Rachel is happy and looking for candy

www.timesunion.com/.../Retired-Rachel-healthy-happy-680650.php

and coming to Churchill Downs next week.

God speed Rachel.

30 Sep 2010 11:39 AM
berttheclock

"The owner of the horse decides what he wants to do"

Obviously, that owner never had Bobby Frankel for a trainer.

30 Sep 2010 11:42 AM
Cris

Press Release:

Because I cannot stand watching my great racemare verify how badly I have handled her career since I purchased her, I intend to retire her. To prove I have learned nothing during this past year on how to handle her career I will retire her just short of a race where she is ready to dazzle and leave the public and my trainer totally in limbo by my actions.

If I was the trainer of this horse I would take a step back and rethink if the big bucks he is paid to be treated in this way is really worth it. He is not a horse and can speak for himself. He is not doomed to be treated like Mr. Jacksons possessions unless he choses to.

30 Sep 2010 11:42 AM
DawnStorm

(i'm being reminded of the Dallas Cowboys...a particular owner and his puppet...)

Quote by Clarinetmama

I'm reminded of the Redskin's owner. ;)

30 Sep 2010 11:44 AM
shuvee

It continues to amaze me that people feel they are somehow "boosting" or "defending" the merits of their favorite horse by denigrating the achievements of another one.

If you are a true fan of the thoroughbred, you should appreciate the greatness of both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. If you can't see how special Rachel's accomplishments were last year, I gently suggest you look a little bit closer and with a bit more objectivity.

As for Zenyatta, she does not need you to "defend" her accomplishments by bashing another horse. She has, and will continue to do, her talking on the racetrack.

I am really glad the Internet was not around during the glorious 1970s or I would have had to shift through the Sham vs. Secretariat, Seattle Slew vs. Affirmed, and Affirmed vs. Alydar and Affirmed vs. Spectacular Bid threads. LOL.

30 Sep 2010 11:50 AM
toshi

I'm glad they finally got off the fence and retired her.  To be pragmatic, there is no way RA is going to win HOY/Champion Older Mare this year and does she really need to earn more money?  Her training/racing schedule was screwy this year and probably didn't help her return to top form...or perhaps her 3 year old year was the top for her. It doesn't diminish her phenom 3 year old year.  She made it off the track alive; stop and think of the many wonderful talented fillies who didn't.

I also believe that top horses like this are smart enough to know when they're not winning and take it personally.  Horses are intelligent sensitive animals and I'd hate to see Rachel go through that.  Plus this is less wear and tear on her joints and body -- Old Friends has really brought that to my attention -- how crippled up these horses can get in their later years. And wouldn't we all want to see RA keep up with her foals? I do.  I hope she makes a wonderful broodmare and improves some of these boys in the breeding shed with their delicate legs. :)

30 Sep 2010 12:02 PM
Zookeeper

MonicaV,

I feel your pain. Big hugs to you. Think how happy and content she will be in a large pasture with a foal at her side, away from the stress of training and racing. Maybe this thought will help you and ease the sadness you feel right now.

30 Sep 2010 12:06 PM
MarilynH

This is just a thought, but could it be that Rachel was retired because of Jess Jackson's health?  

I don't think anybody has seen him publicly in a few months and even before that he wasn't looking very healthy.  So maybe he retired her because he thinks he won't be here much longer and he wants to make sure he'll see that first Rachel/Curlin foal?

30 Sep 2010 12:11 PM
Peggy

I've been thinking about the question "Why did they do it" that Mr. Haskin posed.

I think that by reviewing the facts that are known we can come up with some ideas. Only the principals know for sure, but here are the facts that I know:

1.  A decision had to be made on which race (Beldame or JCGC) Rachel would enter.  That would have required an announcement on Tuesday.

Somehow retirement became a third choice, so it was announced instead of the selected race.

2.  The announcement of Rachel's retirement by her owner, Mr. Jackson appeared to be hastily thought out.  He did not thank Steve Asmussen (and Steve did not thank him) as would have happened if it were a planned event.  Mr. Jackson thanked Calvin Borel, but it seemed an afterthought.  

The only way I can make those facts answer the question that we all want to know of "Why?" is to assume that there was a disagreement between the owner, JJ and the trainer, SA about which race Rachel would enter.  My thought is that SA would favor the Beldame because he felt that the distance was too long in the JCGC and he would rather have her finish the year at the Ladies Classic.  JJ, meanwhile wanted the JCGC and the BCC. The bullet work of the day before and her improving condition gives JJ reason to argue that she can do it. While Steve knows what the PE loss did to her confidence.  The end result was that JJ did listen to his trainer and decided to retire her rather than race her in the Beldame (which she probably could have won).  

I like many of you have seen things in a way that makes Mr. Jackson look bad.  But what I want to believe is that neither the trainer or owner is behaving selfishly.  I think that they both wanted to do the best for Rachel, but saw what was best differently.  I think that Mr. Jackson truly loved her and had so much faith in her abilities that he set an optomistic course for her last year and a possibly too optomistic course for this year.  In the end he stated that, "She doesn't owe us anything." No, she doesnt't owe any of us anything, but we feel that we owe her something.  So, if you are listening, Mr. Jackson, please let us show her how much she meant to us.

30 Sep 2010 12:19 PM
RonW

A year ago, when Rachel and Zenyatta were both at the top of their games, I emphasized the point that all fans of thoroughbred racing should "enjoy the moment".  We come to expect too much at times, to expect perfection and never be satisfied with anything less.  

Rachel Alexandra had a 3-year-old season which will go down in history as one for the ages.  In truth, she was probably never a true 10-furlong type (although she could arguably handle most fields, even at this distance.)  Her last race was actually pretty darn good:  dogged repeatedly by Life at Ten (who was beaten a country mile) going 10 panels at Saratoga, finally giving way to be 2nd to a filly who merely "inherited" the victory after a rough pace set by the two leaders.

As far as Jess Jackson is concerned, how many owners would have tackled the boys in the Preakness?  And furthermore, how many owners would have gone after older males in the Woodward?  Doesn't the man deserve some kudos for what transpired in 2009?  So he wants to retire his champion without "one more race"?  What's the uproar over this?  Sure, Rachel could go in the BC Distaff, but if the man wants to retire her, so be it.  To me, Jackson is receiving unfair criticism.

 So R.A. wasn't as good at 4 as she was at 3.  History is filled with such examples, when champions slowed down a step from year to year.  Again, the public tends to easily forget.  

 I close this opinion with one final thought.  Name one horse, today, who would beat Rachel Alexandra, head-to-head, at a mile.

All I can say that IF there is even any list, that roster would be quite brief (if at all.)  

 Maybe Rachel is going out not as terrible a performer at age 4 as many claim to believe.

30 Sep 2010 12:22 PM
Kim

I am very sad that RA has been retired but relieved at the same time.

I just got the feeling when I saw her run in 2010 was that her heart was not in it.

I knew after the Woodward that they had pushed her too far, Calvin should never have hit her like that, did he not think she was giving her all. It is a shame that she did not stay with Hal Wiggins who would have treated her like a precious gem.

Jess Jackson does not know how to treat a lady, at the HOY awards he called his wife Barbara his mother.

I feel like he treated RA like a colt, she may be able to run like a colt and she has a massive heart to be able to run like she did but in the end she was bullied, and fillies are much more sensitive than colts.

Look at Sariska she knew when she had had enough she refused to leave the starting gate in two races, smart filly.

Zenyatta has been treated like a precious gem it is a shame that RA was not in the same stable.

30 Sep 2010 12:55 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Smoking Baby,

No problem...you made an important and valid point.

I'll add this of my own...Steve wouldn't have to go to such lengths if Rachel's filly and older male competition had been better.  Or if she had gone to the Breeder's Cup and won...in any BC race.

I said then and I'll say again now...Rachel (while a brilliant 9 furlong horse) got by last year by beating up on poor quality fillies and on weight breaks.  And even with that, a couple times she only won by the skin of her teeth.  The fillies she beat in The KY Oaks came home in 1:52 and change.  I think I could have outrun them, even with a bad knee.  Stone Legacy, who came 2nd that day, never won a stakes and may not have ever won again after that day.  

Take Rachel's weight allowances away and two of the three year old males would have beaten her in The Preakness.  BTW, I think that weight allowances in Triple Crown races should go the way of the dodo bird.  If you think you are good enough to run in a Triple Crown race, carry 126.

Take her 8 pound weight allowance away, and at least two older males would have beaten her in The Woodward.  Yes...a win is a win, but weight still plays a part in determining which horse in a race is truly the BETTER horse.  Blame just beat Quality Road, but he was getting 6 or more pounds.  At equal weights, at 9 furlongs, Quality Road probably beats him.  

I've read through quite a few of these posts, and I've been involved on various blogs beginning last year after The KY Derby.  What shocks me is, I see a glaring omission.  I see an example of poor sportsmanship and manipulation that barely got a word from any major writer in this business.  

Put yourself in the position of MTB's connections.  You've just won the KY Derby.  You and only you are eligible and alive to win the Triple Crown.  But because JJ plunks down 7 or 8 figures for Rachel, all of a sudden you don't even have a jockey for The Preakness.   That never sat well with me.  Gamesmanship is expected...and fine.  But I think the truly sporting thing to do would have been to name another jock on Rachel just for The Preakness.  Leave Borel on MTB.  Beat him fair and "square"...where "square" means getting 5 pounds even though Rachel was a much bigger horse than MTB.  But no.  Force Borel to make a choice.  Leave these guys from New Mexico in a lurch, because you're rich enough to do it.  Take the weight break, and run.  Jerry Bailey showed later by telestrator  on the Belmont telecast how a better ride on MTB in The Preakness would have beaten Rachel, even giving her 5 pounds.  

So to me (objectively), at equal weights, Rachel wasn't even the best 3 year old last year.   A truly deserving Champion Filly for sure.  But definitely not HOY.

This caught up to Rachel this year.  She was giving weight to her rivals this year...who beat her three times...barely.  They weren't better than Rachel, they just beat her due to Rachel being "handicapped".  I think she was running just as fast as she did last year.  She was just facing better competition and not getting weight.  

So what did she have to run for?  No grade 1 victory this year, a tough Beldame coming up, and evidence from her last race that she shouldn't really be asked to take on the best at 10 furlongs.  So all the lofty goals were gone.

So retire her and try to make it sound as positive as possible.  I think we've been given all the rationale for retiring her that we will get.  But the real, underlying reason is that there is no way for her to live up to the unrealistic expectations of her now that were inaccurately and unfairly put on her last year.  Think she can do 1:59 and change for 10 furlongs in top company at Churchill?  Really?  Think she could even put in a sub-2:02?  I say "no way", and it would be unfair, even cruel, to to make her try it in top company.  A trainer I really respect told me once that horses get hurt most often when they are put in a spot that's over their heads.  Rachel gives it all she has...why do that to her.  Why run in the Beldame and maybe lose, or the Lady's Classic and maybe lose?  I bet even entering Rachel in The Lady's Classic would feel like a loss to JJ.  Not good enough to try the big Z?  You all can imagine.

There's no real (realistic) "top" for her to go out on.  Better to just retire her now...which he did.        

30 Sep 2010 1:01 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

I don't think even another narrow loss by RA would affect her value as a broodmare. Everyone knows what she did in 2009. Even though that series of races eventually took a lot of her enthusiasm for winning away she is still full of ability physically. If a horse doesn't want to win mentally then that's a tough hurdle to overcome.

Some people choose to dislike RA's nemesis, Zenyatta, even though the two super stars have never seen each other. If any of you have a Grade 1 filly/mare/colt/gelding/horse they would like to race against Zenyatta, please do! She can only race against horses entered. I will be at HP Saturday to see Z try to keep her perfect record alive. Go Zenyatta!

30 Sep 2010 1:02 PM
duchess

Like many others here I am in shell shock at the retirement of this superb filly - who was giving  every indication she was finally gaining fitness and form and about to have a monster race (I think she actually needed a really tough race like the Personal Ensign to add to her bottom and fitness). I too would like an explanation of the sudden retirement. If it was an injury or illness why not simply admit it? Horses retire injured all of the time, with no shame or loss of value attached.

I would like to say that while I can understand the anger directed at her human connections, I would like to say a few words on their behalf.

While Jackson is not perfect he does bring some true positives to racing. He is obviously passionate about it. He is willing to bring back his three year old champions as four year olds - something not done often enough IMHO. And he is willing to think outside the box and experiment a bit with his horses - Curlin on grass and Rachel against older males for example. And most of all, he is generally willing to let his horses compete in an age where many of the better horses are coddled (and no, I am not pointing a finger at Zenyatta's connections here - as there are many other top horses such as Quality Road and Blame who are also very lightly raced. Makes me appreciate Blind Luck's connections more and more with each of her starts).

In fact Rachel's light racing schedule in mostly unchallenging races this year indicates to me that something was off in her following the Woodward (though that was obvious anyway with the long layoff). This was just not the way Jackson campaigns his top horses.

Like MonicaV I was also hoping against hope that they would give her some time off at the farm (after the Beldame and Distaff) and bring her back at five, with better conditioning and planning behind her campaign.

She showed in the Fleur de Lis by winning in a better time than Blame in the Foster - while carrying more weight than Blame if my memory serves me correctly - and also in the first nine furlongs in the Ensign where she dominated a very good mare in Life at Ten - that she can still be a world class filly at nine furlongs even when not at 100%.

I wish I could have seen her prove that in the Beldame and the Distaff.

Do I wish I could have an explanation of her sudden retirement? Yes. I would also like explanations of her long layoff at the track (rather than the farm) while we are at it.

But this lack of openness is not unique to Jackson, and seems to be widespread in the sport as a whole and has been for a long time (going back to my childhood to find an example, why did Secretariat's connections not explain he had health issues at the time of his shocking loss in the Wood Memorial?)

If anyone could give me a logical explanation of this opacity in horse racing, I would appreciate it, as I have never understood it.

Goodbye beautiful Rachel - may you run like the wind in the fields of Kentucky just for the joy of it, and pass on your great racing heart and your speed to your babies.

(Am I alone in looking more forward to her possible foals with Eskendereya than her possible Curlin foals? In my mind Esky has a much better pedigree than Curlin - he is so classically bred. Combine Rachel's class and speed with his peerless bloodlines, and something very special might result, IMHO).

30 Sep 2010 1:10 PM
Mike Relva

NANCY

Obviously Zenyatta didn't have a problem w/Grade 1 horses last year in the classic.

30 Sep 2010 1:22 PM
Rachel Fan

I don't understand you as Rachel Alexander fans take the retirement news...she retired healthy...she was campaigned really heavy last year and she can not top that performance...really in my opinion team Rachel Alexandera really does not have to go into lenghtly deatails by they are retiring her...take a look at Curlin...they did alright with him...lets see what RA and Curlin produce....

30 Sep 2010 1:22 PM
kaytee

 berttheclock,  all I can say is amen.  You might have hit the nail on the head.

30 Sep 2010 1:38 PM
WinnahPickah

Simply stated:

Mr. Jackson confuses me too.

30 Sep 2010 1:38 PM
sixtyplus

There are unexplained things about Rachel's last year. The tough schedule and the very difficult Woodward victory had to have affected her, but the way she was handled over the winter was strange. As Steve has pointed out, this was not the customary way to prepare a runner for another campaign.  As for the retirement, her owner's goal was to win the Breeder's Cup Classic and establish her superiority over Z. When it became obvious that the distance was not to her liking, the benefits of running and perhaps winning lesser races did not outweigh the risk of injury.  

30 Sep 2010 1:43 PM
Steve Haskin

Remember, this is not about whether Rachel should have been retired. It's about why. Just tell us the reason why and we'll all go home. I have been hearing several reasons why she was retired, all fairly reliable. Just pick the one that's true the most and that'll be the end of it.

30 Sep 2010 1:55 PM
rob

Rachel ran her heart out in the Woodward and Jackson got what he wanted out of her, but it cost her, not him. I wonder had the latter part of her 2009 campaign and early part of 2010 had been handled better, what kind of Rachel we'd be seeing right now. She is as talented and game a competitor as any horse out there, but she got used up too soon. I think she could have gone much farther. I sure will miss seeing her long, beautiful stride .. hope she passes that on to her babies. Thank you, Rachel, for the pure pleasure of seeing you run.

30 Sep 2010 2:04 PM
tweedcoat

What Jackson did to that lovely filly is deplorable!  Had she been managed like Zenyatta, she would be running in the Ladies' Classic.

My hat is off to the Mosses, and particularly to the way John Shirreffs has choreographed Zenyatta's career.   Not many other trainers would have kept that huge mare sound into her six-year-old year--in fact had she been with one (no name please) she would have been gutted and broken down by four, I'm sure.  The fact that Zenyatta hasn't raced much on other tracks is more due to the fact that she's not the greatest shipper in the world, I believe.  Not to lack of sportsmanship on the part of her connections.

Kudos to the Mosses and John Shirreffs, and Zenyatta,  and particularly to the unfortunate Rachel Alexandra, who fell in with the wrong crowd!

30 Sep 2010 2:06 PM
one rachel fan

The Times Union article brings up an issue that has been bothering me since last year's Mother Goose. Each race and photo brought more and more hardware to restrain RA. While I am in the camp of "the Woodward gutted her" I noticed that she was beginning to show signs of not cooperating with her handlers before that, whereas, what brought me on board originally was her free spirit that seemed to be "willing". Under Wiggins, she "listened" to her handlers and was more cooperative. Did her new handlers never ask themselves why she was fighting them? Why sugar was needed to keep her interest in people?  Granted, my exposure to RA is short compared to those who live with her daily, but I think that many here are expressing the same concerns only using different words. Her body language changed even while racing during the last three races of 2009 and each time it became more painful to watch. This year, I found myself watching and rooting for RA, but not enjoying the spectacle of a joyless horse.

The picture in the Times Union is scary to me for all the hardware in her mouth. Is that not a twitch on her jaw? Please tell me that I am nuts. I'd would prefer to be nuts than to think that she is sour and rank enough to need it for a trip outside her stall.

RA's connections do not owe us anything, but they owe her a world of gentle treatment, not sugar bribes.  

30 Sep 2010 2:28 PM
kaytee

 My only point with my last comment is how much pull does the owner have in this case?  I could understand purchasing a peaking colt at the time for the money that was paid, but why this filly?  Ialso noticed what I thought was an embarrassed Assmussen accepting the Preakness vicory he clearly did not train for and he was quick to credit the work of the trainer that did.

 With that being said, there is little ryme or reason for alot of this.  Maybe it is all just based on whims.  Let's wait to see where RA goes and if she's purchased for big bucks.  Money is almost always the matter.

30 Sep 2010 2:30 PM
WinngColrz

to Fuzzy Corgi:

Horses like RA will NEVER get a "pasture turnout" like you've expressed. Simply put she's like a keg of dynamite and you cannot take the risk they won't hurt themselves--no really good racehorse gets that pleasure until they are permanently retired, even then it takes a LONG time for them to unwind mentally and physically. And even then, it's scary for us to watch!! There's an old saying "put a colt in a padded stall and he'll find a way to get hurt" and it's soooo true. A horse like RA could be tragically injured simply PLAYING and being a horse. I hope she takes the retirement well, she does deserve that.

30 Sep 2010 2:30 PM
Heather

Thank you, Steve, for writing what it appears that most of us are thinking.  In this age of corporate scandals and secrets, I would think an attorney of Jackson's stature would try to be as forthcoming as possible.  By not doing so, it only lends the situation an aura of secrecy that leads most of us to speculate (and worry) that something bad happened.  

I am still rather new to the "behind the scenes," but it seems this was a year of unsuccessful trainer transfers.  Wiggins seemed to do well with Rachel, and Chip Wolley was successful with Mine that Bird. When both were transferred, it seems like their success was not duplicated. This is not taking away anything from Rachel's wins and placings this year.  I would not consider this year "poor" as Yahoo said... it was only disappointing because she was soooo incredibly spectacular last year and we expected the same horse.  And with MTB.... I have no clue what happened to him.  I wish he had done better this year because he is a sweet little guy.

The fans love horse racing because of the horses.  Many owners also love their horses, but too often, money seems to be behind many of these strange decisions.  LOL -  Law school has turned me into a bit of a cynic. :)  

Sorry - very long post! But, very good article, Steve. I think the truth will come out at some point.

30 Sep 2010 2:34 PM
Beth

This the best thing for RA I think.  Excuse me for trying to "humanize" her, but she seems to lost the fire to compete.  She seems like she is burnt out. You can see it in her eye-the spark is gone.

She has been living in stalls on tracks for the last 3 years of her life.  

She once again will experience the joy of being turned out into a large paddock, feel the grass under her feet, free to run, graze and play and just be a horse; something she has not been allowed to do since she was a yearling and before she was sent off to be trained.

Good luck, RA, I hope you get some well deserved rest and have beautiful healthy foals for us to enjoy.

30 Sep 2010 2:41 PM
LadyValtaya

Thank you for another beautifully worded article, Steve. I think that Jackson's decision to retire Rachel so suddenly is crazy. I was so sure that she was getting back into peak form and that in the Beldame we might get to see a glimpse of the shining star we all remember so clearly from 2009. It seems unfair that we are losing her to the breeding shed so suddenly, but I would not want her to race if there was some chance that there was something wrong with her. Rachel deserves all the happiness a horse can have. I was just hoping that he would give her a chance to go out on a high note...

30 Sep 2010 3:23 PM
smarie

Thank you, Debbie O'Connor. Your post comment about the rich Thoroughbred owners stepping up to help the unwanted horses live a good life was right on. People can go on and on about RA being retired, but she will in all probability lead a long life and be well cared for. It is just tragic and shameful that so many noble Thoroughbreds don't get that chance. So many of these wonderful creatures find themselves at slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone who has posted here would contribute a few dollars towards rescuing unwanted horses?

30 Sep 2010 3:57 PM
Annette

I think she was retired, due to the failing health(possible cancer?), of Mr. Jackson. Being a breast cancer survivor, I can tell you, that having cancer is a private matter. I did not go public with mine, (only my family knew). Some people arent confortable talking about it, because it makes them feel like they are looking for sympathy.  I dont have respect for Mr. Jackson's horse racing business, I think he should stick to making wine, and I feel he's using his Rachel to boost his ego. With this said, he probably is living only to see that first foal! Hence the sudden retirement. So I will back off of the  critic of him, and pray he lives long enough to enjoy his beautiful Rachel, and her no-doubt stunning foals!

30 Sep 2010 4:22 PM
BP

I went to Belmont Park last year and witnessed 'Rachels Mother Goose'. No horse on the planet in this world or any other could beat her that day. When she finished, I and just a handful of people rushed through the tunnel to the paddock area to see her cool out. Coincidentally or otherwise, each of us stood separated from each other - each of us alone in Rachels private world.  

I could see and hear an elderly black woman crying with joy, praising Rachel for giving us such a moment, and oh - what a moment it was.

As Rachel walked by me with my camera at the ready, she slowed - stopped and turned to me. I was awed and completely transfixed by her. I could neither breath OR take a picture. It was if she was asking me, "so what did YOU think"?  I said softly to her, "you rocked our world" And as if on cue, she slowly turned forward, shook her head up and down and away she went.  

I will have this memory forever!!!

God bless you Rachel Alexandra

30 Sep 2010 4:29 PM
Kyri

I agree with all those who've said there should be more transparency. So many people love this great mare. If she came up with an injury after her bullet work, which seems to me like the most reasonable explanation, why not just say so? If she would miss the Breeders' Cup, as someone else pointed out, it would make sense to retire her. By the way, I personally don't think that Rachel Alexandra has been mishandled either this year or last -- and I think she has nothing to be ashamed of this year, though it was not as brilliant as last. I just would like Jess Jackson to show some consideration for her fans. By the way... Asmussen has had such bad karma of late that he's really due for one, and I think that one might be the nice horse Haynesfield on the lead in the JCGC Saturday.

30 Sep 2010 4:30 PM
Rachel

One thing about Rachel...she sure as heck never needed to take her track with her. ♥

30 Sep 2010 4:34 PM
Rock solid

I think she bled.

30 Sep 2010 4:44 PM
J Blessing

Nancy:

Just wanted to point out that Zenyatta mowed down St. Trinians, who was the favorite in the Santa Anita Handicap (against males, of course) earlier in the year. No, she didn't win that race, but I don't think anyone doubts the class St. Trinians has (for her to go off as the favorite against males says something about her class and talent).

Everyone else has chosen to steer clear of the big Z.

30 Sep 2010 5:13 PM
Bob

She had a great three year old campaign, there is no doubt about that.  But one of the all times greats.....no way!!  She didn't have the same 3 year old season as Secretariat so to say her 3 year old year was one for the ages I think is premature. She beat the likes of Mine that Bird, Macho Again, Summer Bird; they were a bunch on nobodys and the bottom line is she didn't run against Zenyatta and when she had the chance she ducked her.

RA will be forgotten in about...15 minutes.  The way she retired was all to abrupt and her 4 year old season was all to average.

Maybe Zenyatta has run on poly track most of her career against much weaker competition(most of the time.  But she has won everytime she has been asked to do it.  That is what matters.  You can't say that about Rachael.

Her four year old campaign lessens her place in history.

30 Sep 2010 5:19 PM
Cari

Personally I applaud her connections for retiring her.  As as far as I am concerned she proved all she needed to as a three year old.

We all know that every time a horse steps on the track, it could injure itself beyond repair.

If she produces foals with even 1/2 her talent, they will be amazing!!

30 Sep 2010 5:33 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

WinngColrz  - RA will probably NEVER be out in a field with a bunch of other broodmares but she sure won't be standing in a 12x12 stall either. If course she will be let down before she has a true turnout, and even then she will probably be in a large paddock, possibly alone and close to somones house so they can keep an eye on her 24/7.

I'm fully aware how easy it is for a horse to hurt themselves, even alone. I've seen plenty. No matter how well built a stall or paddock is a horse can and will find a way to hurt themselves; i.e. getting cast, kicking a wall or post, colic, struck by lightning, bumping their heads, kicking themselves, stepping on their own heel, slipping on a perfectly dry surface, stepping into a hole, etc., not to mention any of a dozen or so common breeding issues.

Breeding horses is an expensive, high stakes industry and only through breeding do we get the next generation of athletes. JJ bought RA to race and then be bred to Curlin. I wish her well.

30 Sep 2010 6:04 PM
longtimeracingfan

For everyone who thinks the life of a broodmare is tough: ROTFLOL. We all should be so lucky!!!

You get all you want and need to eat of the finest hay, grass, and oats as appropriate; you have a large paddock to meander as you please, with a small group of compatible ladies and your children; you have a warm clean stall at night in the winter; you have fresh air, sunshine and shade, clean water, and you have dedicated humans to cater to your every need.  

Mares adapt very well to this new life; Rachel will have plenty of time to wind down and by breeding time in mid-February she will be ready for her new career. You wilrecall Rags to Riches who also was a fierce competitor, and she became a happy broodmare... one of thousands... I'm eager to see her babies on the track, by the way.

For everyone who fears accident or injury every time a horse steps onto a track: of course, that is a very real possibility. But just look, for illustration, at Real Quiet, bless him. All it takes is a slip... ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. You can fall out of bed and break your neck, but does that stop you from sleeping? EVERYthing we do in life is some sort of risk. How dull and fear-filled if we give in to the thought that "something might happen so let's not do it" mentality.

Debbie and smarie: Plenty of rich big-name folks contribute to programs and efforts to make better the lives of ALL horses. Just like plenty of "ordinary", no-name folks do. They understand that without the horse there is no horse industry... many of those big name folks are in this as their livelihood, and they have committed themselves to the horse. So don't daub mud on everyone just because you can't see what they do. And yes, if everyone sent a few dollars for every post we'd fill a couple of nice buckets. And do something positive in the process.

berttheclock: Can you picture Bobby Frankel with JJ as his client? ---me neither...

lrf

30 Sep 2010 6:27 PM
Kels

"The picture in the Times Union is scary to me for all the hardware in her mouth. Is that not a twitch on her jaw?" - one rachel fan

No twitch; there's a chain, tongue tie and a Haughton bit.

30 Sep 2010 6:48 PM
Fahad Malaikah

Gary at Rough Creek,

You are very persistent in your belief that RA won last year due to weight breaks and lost this year due to handicaps.  You have previously based your opinion on some British handicapping site which you have never provided a link to, and which I have yet to find.  You have tried to “adjust” RA’s times based on some magical weight/time “formula” (that is, that she would run 1/5th of a second slower per extra pound) that you pulled off of said handicapping site.  We all know that there have been horses in history where weight was practically a non-issue until the extremes were reached.  You are isolating the cause of her defeats this year with a weight explanation without actually proving it, when there could just as easily be another variable at work.  I believe that you are very mistaken if you are assuming that weight handicapping/assigning is a hard science.  In fact, the assignment of weights can be just as puzzling for some veterans of the game as it is for newbies.  You have previously tried to adjust Rachel's times based on this "formula" to argue that she was basically the exact same horse as last year, which is a roundabout way of denigrating her 2009 campaign.  The problem is, your claim isn’t really even about handicaps, given that handicaps are relative.  We could just as easily be talking about 135 versus 127 pounds, if you get my drift.  What you are doing is making a physics-based claim, and I have never seen any study that corroborates your "formula," and I don't think one exists.  What's more, it's not as if you carefully analyzed Rachel's differing times and weights (or her competition’s) from last year to prove your point, that what I think are negligible amounts of weight (1-2 pounds) are even an issue for Rachel, especially given that we are talking about a maturing filly who gained 200 pounds.  Even if you did do such an analysis, you would have to factor in track variants, weight/time formulas for her competitors who you claim would have beaten her, pace scenarios, and a whole host of other factors.  What I don't think you grasp is the big can of worms you are opening up with some of your claims.  If handicapping was a hard science and you understood it nearly as well as you seem to think you do, you would/should have probably written a book about it by now.  

I do firmly believe that Rachel could have won last year’s Preakness and Woodward at equal weights, and that the weights this year were a non-issue, particularly for a filly who added 200 extra pounds to her frame.  Yes, I think she was that good, and I think she was nowhere near herself this year.  One thing that Calvin said after the Personal Ensign is that he didn’t feel that normal acceleration off the turn and that it was like she wasn’t even there in the Personal Ensign.  That was one of her most dangerous attributes last year…the ability to run horses into the ground early and then accelerate off the turn.  That is why I think it would have been very difficult for Zenyatta to beat Rachel at her best last year outside of Zenyatta’s comfort zone.

The whole diatribe about weak competition has been around since time immemorial and has been leveled at some of the sport’s immortals.  That same criticism could be leveled against Zenyatta (and particularly the point that some of the better horses she faced weren’t in peak form by the time of the BC Classic).  I have seen Rachel race live three times (twice last year and once this year), and I saw a different horse in the paddock this year, and I know a little about how to look at these things, as I was raised on the backside from the training angle of the game.

Respectfully,

Fahad M.    

30 Sep 2010 7:01 PM
gpugh

Lets consider Rachel's options. Run in BC Classic and probably finish 4/5 at best. Run in the ladies classic may run out of the money again because Blind Luck will win and after that who knows since Life at Ten will run Rachel into the ground. She is a one dimensional horse that took advantage of a year when the boys were one of the worst crops in recent time and the other races were won against short fields where she won on the lead. Jess Jackson did what he could to keep from being disgraced. He involved himself in a rivalry that was between a great mare and the best filly of that year. To be great you must at least beat the best. The much talked about Woodward was just the luck of the draw that they were sub-par classic division horses. Perfect spot to run your filly when trying to beat the boys. This years field would have had no chance of seeing Rachel. Steve and Jess are not dummies. They know part of the whole breeding thing is putting your horse in the right race. Unfortunately to be deserving of HOY you must beat the best of that year. She didnt show up so she didnt beat the best. She was the Best Filly of the Year nothing more. The rivalry was not good for racing because it paints a back picture for the ranking system when quality of field is not considered when judging races. There are plenty of fillies that can beat older males. But what level the boys are tells the story. Zenyatta has transended 3 consecutive years. May be 20-0 when this is over. However is there really any need for her to run in the classic? She should run against Mares in the F/M classic. Her and Blind Luck coming from the back of the pack will be something to see. GL to the true HOY 2009 and soon 2010.  

30 Sep 2010 7:29 PM
Bigtex

Good story, BP!  Steve, your opine is right on the money!  It shouldn't be that difficult to give us a descriptive explanation of what's behind the retirement.  My guess is, after hearing others who have observed her up close, that she's not a happy horse any more having lost her will to race (although you can't tell when she's in the heat of  battle!).  Perhaps, Jackson recognizes this as well and doesn't want to tell that story to the public?  I just wonder sometimes if 2009 campaign was too taxing on her, for one, and, two, the layoff was so flippin long that coming back was much more of a burden and she lost the joy?

I agree with you for sure.

30 Sep 2010 7:50 PM
Nancy

Secretariat and Mike Relva,

Unless there is another Nancy posting on this blog, I never wrote one word or sentence with negative remarks about Rachel Alexandra and Grade 1 races.  I love and respect her too much to ever write a negative comment of any kind about her!  Please go back and check whose blog you actually read those comments in.

In the meantime I will use NancyP for my signature, so I'm not confused with any one else with the same first name.

NancyP

30 Sep 2010 7:58 PM
NancyP

Hi Steve,

I just read your column, 'Countdown to the Cup: Twirling Dervish', where you present some tips from the 'grapevine' as to why Rachel was retired - nagging foot problems or suspensory issues.  Either one of those  issues would be plausible, but why does JJ and SA cloak her retirement in all of this mystery?  I guess some people just have to be 'drama queens' or in this case 'drama kings' to keep people titillated.  I think your suggestion that they should present her at the races on Saturday, Nov. 6 for a farewell is a great idea.  She should have the opportunity to hear how all racing fans have loved her.  

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the Breeder's Cup this year, but I will give cheers and bravos to her.  She is a great a Filly and will be remembered as one of the greatest of the 21st Century!

30 Sep 2010 8:08 PM
Paula Higgins

FuzzyCorgi, I understand your point that her 2009 record would keep her value up as a broodmare but I still think they didn't want to risk any more losses. Since she wasn't going to the BCC, they decided it just wasn't worth it. I think their goal all year was the BCC and when they saw she wasn't going to do well at that distance, that was it. They were done. I would not want to speculate on Mr. Jackson's health. All I will say is that I hope he is well.

30 Sep 2010 8:21 PM
Ida Lee

I guess I was so hurt about Rachel's retirement that I forgot to thank you for the outstanding information you gave us on Rachel's races and the horses she beat. Wow..I know she's the best 3-year old Filly ever but even I didn't realize how good.  Now...why was she retired? Here's my opinion.  Rachel is going to boyfriend in waiting, the Mighty Curlin, and will start making incredibly beautiful and talented babies. I'll bet my beautiful Siberian kitty that Jackson is looking for a Derby horse before he "kicks the bucket". So, a Rachel/Curlin KD winner is on top of Jackson's bucket list and, of course, he's not getting any younger so we need to get Rachel with child pretty quickly. What say you? But, for whatever reason she was retired, I adore Rachel and want her to be healty and happy and just be a horse.  She's given us more than enough.  P.S. This weekend - Zenyatta, Blame, Paddy O'Prado ...OMG - I can't wait!!!

30 Sep 2010 8:37 PM
Stacy V

What if Jess is SICK? Maybe he wanted to make sure she was OKAY? Why doesn't anyone show them some respect for a week or two and see what happens instead of acting like they did something wrong?

30 Sep 2010 9:25 PM
racingheart

I don't know if you guys have seen this great compilation of her 2009 races but I fell in love with this & wanted to share it with you all!

www.youtube.com/watch

30 Sep 2010 9:30 PM
Marci

Rachel won my heart last year. I will miss her Highness. What a gift she is.

30 Sep 2010 9:42 PM
Matthew W

It's unfair for a filly v males--the fact that Rachel Alexandra smoked them is a tribute to her greatness--I wonder if she would still be racing had they not run her v older males last Summer?...she is bigger/stronger this year, but she lost her "skip away" gear, I'll never forget her head hanging down in the Woodward winners circle, at any rate, I appreciate her stellar year--and I also appreciate a more conservative tact, when it comes to trying males--on dirt, it's so unfair, as the male has more strength....

30 Sep 2010 10:52 PM
PomDeTerre

While I have to agree that her connections owe us nothing, there is still a rather mysterious veil around RA's retirement. I saw her at Saratoga- both years, and NO, Rock Solid, she did NOT bleed after the PE.   She was, however, totally spent, with her head almost to the ground after the gallop-out.  My personal thoughts on the reason: Career Mismanagement, plain and simple.  They pushed that filly beyond her limits and she simply gave way.  No mas.

30 Sep 2010 11:01 PM
Bettys

Maybe now that he is away from the Jackson people, Calvin or Lisa Borel would give you an honest answer.  I love Rachel --- only want to know the truth bout why after the great work.  I will miss her, only so very sorry I never got to see her in person, was going to try to make it this year---

30 Sep 2010 11:52 PM
Bellwether

RITE OWN STEVEN...JU$T GIVE US THE STRAIGHT SCOOP PLEASE &...ty...

01 Oct 2010 1:37 AM
rms

People shouldn't be so hard on Jess Jackson. I think the Woodward was too much for Rachel and wore her out, but after running so well and easily winning her other races, especially beating a good horse like Summer Bird by 6 lengths in her race prior to the Woodward, you can't blame Jackson for thinking the Woodward wouldn't be hard for her to win. None of the other horses in that race were superstars. I expected her to win a lot easier than she did. And at least he gave her a long rest after that. She's always been well cared for. He wouldn't let a $10M horse be mistreated. And Zenyatta's people put her in a much tougher race in last year's Classic, and having never faced males before. If she had come out of it all tired out would people be saying they mistreated her? You never know how a race is going to set up, how hard a horse is going to have to run to win. And it's the jockey's job to get the horse to run it's fastest to win and that usually requires using the whip. Calvin didn't hurt Rachel, he was just doing his job. If there had been a horse closing in on Zenyatta with every stride at the end of the Classic, Mike Smith would've been whipping her too.

01 Oct 2010 1:44 AM
PeterF

Another great compilation of Rachel Alexandras 2009 glory. Will miss you, girl.

www.youtube.com/watch

01 Oct 2010 4:18 AM
Karen in NY

Steve,

Thanks for the article and allowing a chance to comment. I felt a wave of extreme disappointment and sadness that I will never get to see her race again. They say that hindsight is worth 20/20. In this case so true.

What Rachel did last year was such a remarkable spectacle. Her win in the Woodward was a season finale to her greatness and her sheer brilliance to dig deeper and deeper and give us all that she had. She simply was gutted after that performance. I was there at Saratoga and I can say there were many with tears in their eyes cheering her on . Little girls screaming Rachel, Rachel i love you. It gives me chills now to think of it. Was she pushed too much at this point? Most definately. She gave us everything. It has had its effect on her. Would it have been better to have her had a less strenous 2009 campaign and then now we would not be facing her retirement so soon? The answers seem easy now that we are facing the fact that she is almost gone. Watching her at the Oklahoma training in the early hours was a memory that will stay with me forever. She would come around the turn in the morning fog and all you could her a pin drop and the unmistakenly sound of a "trememdous moving machine" A lot like what they said about Big Red. She took your breath away.

It would be nice to have an explanation of transparency. But we all see for our own eyes she is missing something. Does JJ really have to say that anymore than he has  to?  Lets remember her greatness.

She should be retired as Rachel the Great. Parades and all. Lets have those little girls all line up and scream her name out loud and have her walk by with her head held high once more. She deserves it!  She will never be forgotten but she will be missed dearly to deepest part of my soul. Gone but never will be forgotten. She is Rachel the Great!

01 Oct 2010 5:05 AM
shane

To all that are questioning Curlin as a sire----look at Smrt strike's female line...that will be the end of the story. That line is amazing and they struck gold with smart strike as I beleive they will with Curlin....precocious and longevity and good bone.

01 Oct 2010 8:38 AM
RGW

After the gutting she took against the boys and everybody but Zenyatta last year it would have made more sense to have her in foal to curlin now waiting for a new legend to be born next spring

01 Oct 2010 8:44 AM
JerseyBoy

Fahad Malaikah:

I have always been struck by people who question weight concessions. To me it is a simple matter. Weight is a burden and 126 pounds is a greater burden than 121 pounds. The burden affects the outcome. Anyone who questions this probably also needs proof that 80 degrees is hotter than 75 degrees. The only issue is the extent of the difference in weights.

No horse would have run just as fast carrying a greater burden. Or to put it another way the same horse would have run faster carrying a lighter burden. I do not need any study to prove this. In fact, none can be devised because no test will duplicate the exact conditions, including the way the horse is feeling.

I generally agree with Gary at Rough Creek.

Attached is a link to Timeform . It gives an idea of their assessment of weight differences. See the first paragraph.

www.chef-de-race.com/.../timeform_highweights.htm

01 Oct 2010 8:53 AM
jjdobs

I think its time to retire Jess Jacksons ego....enough said!

01 Oct 2010 8:59 AM
Perfect Zen

The difference in RA this season was the training decision early on to change equipment on her because she had so much energy in the morning.  My arguement is if it is not broke why are you trying to fix it.  With all of the success she had last year and here the Assmusen team is changing equipment.  So many mistakes made by the training team and the owner that just doesn't get it.  They always said listen to the horse and when the horse seems to be say I ready to go, they quit on her.  Sad day for the fans.

01 Oct 2010 9:09 AM
Wilde

I love Rachel, I was going to the Breeders Cup in hope of seeing her in the ladies classic since the Jackson team said she was going to be retired after that race.  I'm not sure I'm going now. I feel bad for Calvin...what a disappointment for him.  They final get Rachel's excercise rider from her 2009 season back on her, she has fantastic works with him aboard, and she was moving forward for this weekend's race.  I'm so disappointed in Jackson. The longer distance race at Saratoga had primed her for the mile and 1/8 race this weekend. If Rachel is hurt..then by all means protect her. But say so.

She was started by the Diamond D Ranch in Texas and then Hal Wiggins took over and did an amazing job.

Racing has lost a great icon for the race community.  I started watching horse racing because of Rachel.  I know her Mother "Lotta Kim" (also was started by the Diamond D Ranch and trained Hal Wiggins)is in foal for a full brother or sister to Rachel...I hope there is another great one in the making...I so wanted to see Rachel finish the year and I get to see her race in person before she retired at the end of the year..all gone now and a true fan spent a lot of money on tickets and airline cost...I still hope that Rachel is sound.  She is still "Rachel the Great" to Me

01 Oct 2010 9:22 AM
Fuzzy Corgi

Paula Higgings - I 100% agree with you and the things you normally post. I made that statement to a plethora of people who said that another poor race would diminish her value. At this point, only infertility will diminish Rachel's value as a broodmare.

I do wish the fans had a chance to see Rachel in an announced final race or retirement ceremony. Rachel means so much to a lot of fans.

01 Oct 2010 9:35 AM
bill marshall

Well, the case for Rachel Alexandra's greatness can now be rested, having been thoroughly briefed and argued here.  For those who can not accept, and be satisfied, with the notion that both Rachel and Zenyatta are great thoroughbreds, perhaps a brief of the same order, concerning Zenyatta'a achievements should be offered.

01 Oct 2010 10:16 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Let them eat cake.

01 Oct 2010 10:30 AM
Jack Armstead

Great article Steve... I have never trusted the Jess Jackson PR machine from day one.  Last year was special for horse racing (Rachel and Zenyatta) but it was also very political and East/West Coast arm waving.  

I don't believe that Rachel beat Summer Bird after he matured (post Haskell) as he was really a June foal.  

What I find more ironic is that Andrew Beyer all of a sudden decides to "denigrate" Zenyatta after Rachel is safely retired.  This is the biggest travesty in the horse racing industry; not this blurb about a horse who should have been retired a year ago... when it was obvious that she could never reach those heights again.

01 Oct 2010 10:44 AM
David

That Jess Jackson is really hard to figure out. I have no clue why he would retire this horse when he did. Doesn't make sense and I think it may fall off in the category of never really making sense. No doubt the man has an ego and I am sure that served him well as he was accumulting the wealth he has. Risks don't scare him so, I am pretty sure, he wasn't scared to run her against anybody, including Zenyatta. I am glad that he put some of his money in the game that I love, so for that. Thanks Mr Jackson. We could name off a lot of reasons why he retired her when did, but to be frank, I don't think we will ever really figure out why he did it. Shoot, he might have just woke with a "retire Rachel" burr in his saddle. Who the hell knows? Obviously Scott wasn't training her like she was about to see Curlin. Unless they have a private foot race planned that we aren't invited to. Once agian, who the hell knows? Her whold year was a, "What in the hell were they thinking?" kind of year. So....this is about right.

01 Oct 2010 11:24 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

racingheart

   Thanks for that fantastic link to the video of all of Rachel's 2009 races in succession. She looks even greater now to me than I could have imagined. She was not the same horse this year. The Woodward was one too many last year. She need an easier race at that point. She was visually more impressive in 2009 than I had remembered. Her stride is fluid and powerful. "Like a machine." I suggest that everyone click on that link and you will see Rachel's greatness. Don't let The Woodward or this year or your thoughts on the timing of the retirement to diminish your view of her greatness. Watch racingheart's link and you will understand why her 2009 campaign will always be one of the greatest.

01 Oct 2010 11:27 AM
RachelLover

Wilde - I am in the same boat as you.  My husband and I have scrimped and saved since the beginning of the year in order to buy expensive Breeder's Cup tickets and lodging just so we could see Rachel run once in person before her retirement.  We haven't been fortunate enough to see her in person before because she never raced close enough to where we live.  We decided to "take the plunge" and make the trip to Louisville to see her go off with a splash.  I've been trying, to no avail, to find out if she will be allowed visitors once she moves to JJ's Stonestreet Farm in Lexington.  Haven't found out a thing. Just thought I'd share you aren't the only one, I really do understand the heartache...but please, don't give up your trip, ok?  There will be so many other great races and horses to watch, and, I'm hopeful JJ's connections will see how sad all of Rachel's fans are and decide to work out a retirement ceremony for her at Churchill during the Breeder's Cup.  With luck, we might get to see her after all!

01 Oct 2010 11:29 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

PeterF

  Another excellent link. Thank you very much. She didn't look as strong in The Woodward. Physically I don't think she was quite ready for that race is why it took so much out of her.

01 Oct 2010 11:34 AM
charlie

JJ doesnt owe anyone anything. It's his property and he can retire her with no explination if he chooses to do so. The sense of "entitlement" I see being expressed over Rachel belong only to those who own her.......They pay the bills (the amount fans wager is done for the benefit of there own....at least in hope) If you want own a race horse.....go get yourself one.....but dont go on a witch hunt looking for answers when you have no right too. Thanks for all the great memories Rachel.......you were one of the best fillies of my lifetime so far.

01 Oct 2010 11:48 AM
Gary at Rough Creek

JerseyBoy...

Thanks for the link, and the support..."generally."

Fahad...

I read your post, and as far as the first part goes...no, I do not get your drift.

It's not my "can of worms" either Fahad.  It's called handicap racing.  Weights matter.  I think it's proven every day at the track.  Higher weights have been used for many, many decades to handicap the better and/or older horses.  Weights have been - and MUST BE - taken into consideration when EVALUATING the true quality of race horses.  Check JerseyBoy's post and link therein for a serious example, and The Blood-horse's book The 100 Greatest Race Horses of the 20th Century.  It's not me Fahad.  All serious race horse analysts use weights as part of their criteria for determining quality.  

My question was - and still is - why aren't more serious writers in this business analyzing Rachel as they have other race horses historically?  

01 Oct 2010 11:48 AM
GAL

This may have been proposed, and if so, sorry.  I've kept up but not religiously.  What if nothing's wrong with Rachel--what if they just want to get her ready for Curlin (I realize the mating won't take place for a while for timing reasons) because something is wrong with Curlin?  Any rumors about diminishing fertility?

01 Oct 2010 12:09 PM
WWSTP

Both the awe and the mystery of RA will probably always stay with us.  Thanks Steve for outlining so precisely her amazing campaigns.  If anyone needs a roadmap to see her greatness, you've just laid it out.  

I do feel she gave us everything she had in 2009 with such an aggressive campaign.  As I look back I see her Woodward as her most amazing...her ability to ward off three waves of attack, after the campaign she had already waged, is still etched in my heart and mind.  Her win in the Woodward was won from pure heart!  And, coming from pure speculation, I think that's where she left all she had left on the track.  After that it all turns into mystery.  Immediately after that race they stopped her 2009 campaign, and probably for very good reasons.  Why the stall instead of the paddock or pasture?

I think it's important to remember the huge heated stir that has affected everyone...the sudden RA vs. Zenyatta swelling debate, particularly following Z's BCC win and her HOY loss.  It's reasonable to think that RA's connections, while perhaps even knowing that RA's mind and body were indicating that she was done with racing, hoped beyond reason that she would find her way back, and also felt compelled and highly pressured to bring her back for the sake of racing and to appease this snarled fan contention between the two filly champions.  

It has been a muddled year.  I think what we got was decent racing from RA, but all based on her athleticism…and without the heart she once had.   As a fan I kept hoping, believing, that she'd find that juice again, that desire to run again like a 3 year old or even better, for pure fun and joy.  But I think by the finish line of the Woodward she had given it all, and her heart had been depleted for this sport.  Perhaps that’s where the fun disappeared and the struggle of it all prevailed for her.  Whatever the reasons, let us not forget the pressure and relentless appetite we as fans, blogs, article writers, commentators and the media have put on her connections...to bring her back, to face Zenyatta and to settled the arguments once and for all.  I still marvel after how obvious it became that Rachel was struggling as a 4 yr. old, how many still felt they deserved the match race that would “settle it all”!  For anyone who chooses to view RA as a "one year wonder", I guess that's where they will be stuck with their opinions.  

The fact is we've never seen a filly take on the aggressive campaign that RA did in 2009…and triumph.  That, for so many of us, is what is permanently etched into our hearts and minds for all time, and nothing can diminish her consistent triumphant climb in overcoming progressively bigger and bigger challenges.  Because of this, history got turned on its head.  Rachel Alexandra has been a heroine in this sport for so many of us.  For me personally, she has been a huge inspiration.  So now I find relief in her retirement.  It sounds as though she is well and has no injuries...which is remarkable for all she has been asked to do, and all she has done.  I think she spoke to her connections and they heard her.  I wish her only the very very best in her new career, which is no piece of cake either, and I genuinely look forward to what she and Curlin are able to create.

01 Oct 2010 12:10 PM
northwoods kat

All comments truly fascinating...when Calvin Boral retires I hope he writes a book. I feel he is a truly gifted jockey and knows his mounts, but they too do what they are told . Will we get the truth from Asmussen, hardly.  As far as JJ he thinks he will have a "super" horse from RA and Curlin, the odds do not favor that. RA is a high class filly so at least she will be treated well. If she doesn't produce and live up to expectations, enough people will be following so will have a comfortable retirement.

01 Oct 2010 12:59 PM
Fran Loszynski

I've always believed a racehorse runs because he or she loves to run.  Unless a racehorse is injured and cannot run then retirement of course and future breeding. Racehorses run for their fans. You can have the owners and trainers and jockeys at the rail but without those fans, there is no horserace. So I feel like you Steve about Rachel DID I MISS SOMETHING THAT CHANGED ABOUT HORSERACING?!? Mr. Jackson loves Rachel and yes she deserves a rest but she is still "OUR Star Lady!"

01 Oct 2010 1:09 PM
Brenda

I do agree with you Sreve..It is odd that they would retire her right after her best works. So there must be something just not quite right, and Mr. Jackson just does not want to make it public.

I think it is easy for all of us to say...well he should do this or that, but when your the one in the situation...who knows what you might do.

I am just happy that they have taken such good care of her and she will retire (as far as we know) Totally sound.

She did not have the Desire to run this year like she did last year. SO WHY RUN HER IF YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO WHIP HER TO GET THE MOST OUT OF HER. I will miss seeing her run. But glad she will be able to romp around and kick up her heels. :)

01 Oct 2010 1:19 PM
trackrat59

If Jess Jackson is ill like one poster mentioned, Rachel's retirement happening now might be more about the opportunity to breed her to Curlin sooner than later.  This could ensure that Jackson will be around to see one or two offspring from this mating.  It's just a guess but would justify the suddeness of the decision and the lack of a solid reason given regarding Rachel's retirement.  

In any case I'm a big Rachel fan and I hope she lives healthy and happy for many years to come.  

01 Oct 2010 1:28 PM
dona

Just look at how many people followed this great horse.  I was supposed to be there the day she won the Oaks and it didn't work out.  I hope to get to see her one day.  Shame on the person who said Zenyatta will lose this weekend.  You had better knock on wood.  

01 Oct 2010 2:40 PM
EasyGoerFan

For those who hope to see Rachel at Stonestreet -- don't hold your breath.  Broodmares are generally out in huge fields and it would not be fair to Rachel to be stuck in a stall so that visitors can admire her.  Even if she had her own private paddock like stallions do, she wouldn't be as happy as she would be out in the herd.  Stallions are shown to visitors because there is always a chance that somebody might book a mare or buy a share.  It's marketing.  Rachel can't be bred until mid-February but she needs time to get her natural biological clock back in order.  She will probably be outside until the days are so short that she needs to be under lights at night during the winter.  It would be disruptive to the whole team of employees to try to set a separate schedule for her, so it is unlikely that she will be available for visitors.  That's just how it is with broodmares.

As for the timing of her retirement, it is indeed strange.  Did anybody witness those bullet works?  If so, was she cruising along under her own power or being asked?  Since she got her former exercise rider back, maybe he sensed that she was laboring a bit to get those bullets.  A while back somebody said she might be like a gymnast who undergoes a growth spurt and can't do the same difficult moves that require the speed from being light and agile.  That makes sense.  Whatever the reason, she was a great horse to follow and I'm so glad Calvin got to enjoy 2009 with her.  I'm sure he was hoping for a better 2010, as we all were, but racing is often disappointing.  The highs are few and far between, unfortunately.  Thanks to Rachel, Calvin, Hal Wiggins, and those who cared for her, which includes Scott Blasi and Steve Asmussen.  It was fun while it lasted.

01 Oct 2010 4:00 PM
Michelle

I am disappointed but not surprised at the retirement of Rachel.  I love her and am thankful that she is retiring healthy as far as we know.  I feel that she was raced too hard last year and could never recover from that.  I have heard it said so many times "don't squeeze the lemon dry".  I think they pushed her too far.  I would have liked to have seen her managed a little more protectively.  Yes, it was thrilling to see her beat the boys but 3 times in a row was too much too soon.  I just don't feel that her best interest was taken into consideration.  I don't recall Curlin being pushed that hard.  

01 Oct 2010 4:03 PM
1800s

its so plain and simple,

jess was afraid of losing one more time in the beldame. knowing full well that the ladies classic was going to be a tuff field, she could have lost her last 2 races.

having that said, its not in his personality to be scared, but he's just looking to save face and value for rachel.

no mystery, no injury

it really is that simple

01 Oct 2010 4:55 PM
chuck

Rachel is very good not an all-time great. Yes she accomplish all that stuff but those males were again good not great. Let's be honest. Macho Again!!??

Of course this is all opinion just like yours but a horse with no championship distance of 10 furlongs in her resume is below great!

That distance separates the all-time greats from the very good.

Rachel in a nutshell was very good.

01 Oct 2010 5:43 PM
Linda / Maryland

If Rachel needed to retire, so be it, but I think Jess Jackson owes the public an explanation which is better than the one he has given. Rachel and Zenyatta have done a World of GOOD for thoroughbred racing. They have brought many many people to the sport who were not before and for them to retire her out of the blue? Doesn't make sense to me and it surely will not make sense to the "new" race fans. There "IS" something they are not telling the public. Maybe in the future the public will not give Jess Jackson and his team the admiration and dedication that they have in the past. You have to earn respect and he hasn't in this situation. If it were not for the public there would be NO racing. Why would there be? This is a very undeserving dish to throw out like he has. I believe he does owe the FANS of Rachel a better explanation than what he has brought forth, as that is ridiculous.

01 Oct 2010 8:07 PM
Renee

It is pure and simple, Jess Jackson did what was right for her at the right time before something worse could have happened. She will be a great mother and love a great life as she should.

Thank you Darling Rachel for all you gave us and more. You will be missed and most of all remembered so fondly! Love you big beautiful girl.xx

01 Oct 2010 8:15 PM
Paula Higgins

A depressing week. Real Quiet and Rachel all in one day. One gone for good and the other from view. Sigh. Zenny is still with us and up next. She is also up against a pretty good group. I know it is asking alot to make it 19 for 19, but we can hope. But with the way this week has been going, I am almost afraid to watch.

01 Oct 2010 9:01 PM
ttimsan

Assuming JJ just ran out of excuses short of admitting he just plain screwed up and neither he nor his team have the chops to work with RA's talent. JJ and SA rode the coat tails of a suberb conditioner when they won the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward. Those wins belong to Mr. Wiggins, and him alone. Hal Wiggins is a remarkable horseman and what a shame RA was wasted on a man who thought to fix something that wasn't broke. It was clear from the start of the year she was not a happy horse. The hardware she wore all year spoke volumes about her disintegrating attitude. And that attitude comes straight from her barn. Again, what a shame she was wasted on small-minded men.

02 Oct 2010 12:31 AM
robin from michigan

we'll miss you Rachel Alexandra. you were a great horse, to watch run.

02 Oct 2010 1:25 AM
jayjay

rms : There's a reason owners hire trainers because they don't know how to handle a horse, they don't know how a horse reacts to each race.  Trainers do.  You have to blame JJ for what happened to Rachel and I'm quite sure he knows it now.  He went for a trophy, and in return he tarnished her reputation.  I know the RA fans will have an issue with that but it's the truth.  The critics will remember her 2009 accomplishments and will always mention 2010.  It's because there was a big lesson learned which is how pushing your horse to the extreme will come with consequences.  He took that risk and he has to deal with it.  I believe she's probably the only HOTY that never won a G1 the following year.  I think that hurts JJ most than anything.

Zenyatta didn't get tired after the Classic, in fact, she didn't look like she just ran against the best male field in 2009 after that race.  You know why ??  John Shireffs, her trainer, was managing her, spacing out her races, it's the same reason she's still running at 6 yrs old...not her owner.  I doubt QR or Blame or any other horse in training today will be running when they're 6 yrs old.

Paula : If it happens, it happens.  I just hope that if it happens, that she tried her best and that she doesn't get hurt trying to win.  It's all we can hope for.  If it does happen, just be prepared with all the rabid RA fans out there, they'll be bloggin left and right in full force lol.

02 Oct 2010 1:38 AM
Dona

I'm glad you asked the qestion, Someday we may get the answer. Not one person whose income is associated with Mr Jackson will say anything at the moment and that's understandable. Maybe after he's gone, someone will explain the mystery. Maybe.

It's unbelievable that Rachel should have endured this years indignities and then this bizzare abruption.  le roi le veut!

Have never cared for Rachels' connections and while I think she had a really great year in 2009   personally, I don't believe she will go down in history as one of the greats. Having said that, I strongly believe her fans and the public as a whole deserve better closure for this champion filly.  

02 Oct 2010 4:47 AM
rachel Ruled

For all you Rachel fans.

stop worrying. Rachel is fine. She did not loose her will to run. she was slightly below her best because her feet were sore from wear and tear and running so hard last year. she slowed down to protect herself. Her team realized this and made the prudent decision to protect her. Be grateful for the thrills she gave us and hopefully for her future ofspring.

02 Oct 2010 7:10 AM
Sue

I feel (and I'm know expert) that she still want's to run. I think if you asked her she would not want to retire yet. Some of your greatest racehorses had bad years and came back better then ever. She will never have that chance.

02 Oct 2010 8:14 AM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

Just a quick note this morning to thank you again for paving the way for us to visit Zenyatta at John Shireffs' barn. The more than 2 hours spent around Zen and her crew were simply magical. Dottie, John and the whole barn were the most gracious hosts and the experience will always be one of the greatest for me and the rest of the group.

I don't have time this morning to go into details but you will get an ear full from all of us later, I'm sure. Today, Zen attempts to win the 19th race of her undefeated career. As soon as I'm done with my morning chores, I'm heading for Hollywood Park to witness history and to honor you (and your blog) in the first race of the day.

So for now, thank you again for making our dream come true! You are the BEST!

02 Oct 2010 9:38 AM
sleeper

I knew when JJ bought RA it was solely for the fact that he could afford it and purely ego. Hal Wiggins did a wonderful with RA and its a damn shame money and ego can buy most anything. I am not a Asmussen fan either but my instincts could be wrong so it may be all a JJ thing. I'm sure he had good intentions or at least he thought he did but I think they ruined her and she ran all on talent this year. Yes the Woodward took a lot out of RA and she got 5 months off but she wasn't herself because of the grueling campaign  last year. It was all JJ's ego that wore her out and not sure how much Asmussen had to say about the whole matter. Money talks but at least she didn't break down and tarnish racing anymore. That would have been devastating. Personally I think they brought her back too quickly and they should have let her be a horse over the winter and turned her out in a pasture so she could really relax. Yes they brought her along relatively slowly but clearly she was not the same horse. This sudden retirement has fog all around it and yes we all would like some explanation or the real truth. Maybe he realized that since RA could not get a 1 1/4 there was no reason to campaign her further.  She had already beaten top flight fillies and colts last year and it was doubtful she would meet up with Zenyatta until the BC and no way was she going to beat her going that far. Overall RA gave us what the sport needed and it would have been nice to see her race Zenyatta but personally I think the whole synthetic surface has really put a dent in horse racing and kept those two great girls apart. JJ hated synthetics and I don't blame him. It changed the whole handicapping game. Thats another story but hopefully RA has a great broodmare life and she will produce some fantastic runners.

02 Oct 2010 10:28 AM
Steve Haskin

Zookeeper, glad to hear you had such a great time. I hear you ran into a buddy of mine, Gene Viti. I'm sure he got some great shots of all of you. Enjoy your day.

02 Oct 2010 10:51 AM
UCLinden

Pedigree wise - a better mating for Rachel would be with Big Brown

02 Oct 2010 11:00 AM
txhorsefan

Excellent report, Zookeeper!  I am so excited for all of you.  I cannot wait to hear more and I hope there will be some way for some of you to post photos.  Thanks, Steve, for helping make this happen for your devoted fans.  Enjoy the day's races.

02 Oct 2010 11:13 AM
Candace Serviss

I was at Saratoga to see Rachel ...told my husband I wanted to see her run before she was retired I didn't know while cheering that this would a farewell to this great champion who has never disappointed those who love her. All time greats live in hearts and memories forever and for Rachel she will be my Horse of the Year always.

02 Oct 2010 11:44 AM
Marie

Even though I wish I could see her race one more time, I still thank JJ for purchasing Rachel Alexandra!

Had it not been for JJ, and his connections, Rachel Alexandra would not have made it to the history books in the Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward!!! Her former owner did not want to race against males. Wiggins, her former trainer knew she was ready for the greatness he helped form, but he's just a trainer, and it was Mr. Morrison's decision.

I love Rachel Alexandra, and even though I think she still wants to race, if her body is showing wear and tear in her hooves, as another poster commented, then let her retire joyfully and painfree.

Again, thank you to all of the connections! There could've been more records broken had she not been eased so many times at the end, but hindsight is 20/20.

If by chance there's mention of a last race, it will be such a huge event! Rachel Alexandra transcends states, and tracks, as can be seen by the fact that those at Fair Grounds thanked her connections for racing twice in New Orleans and named a race in her honor within hours of her retirement. This was one of the many fan focused contributions that Rachel Alexandra's connections (both new and old) did and went unnoticed by many. In my opinion.

02 Oct 2010 11:55 AM
L Ware

I my opinion the enjoyment of watching Rachel work and race was fantastic.  She will be labeled as one of the greats, and rightly so! However the owners and trainers don't owe any reasons for their actions.  It is their business.  Perhaps Mr. Jacksons age or health play a part and he would like to see a few foals, and realize more of his dreams.  He has spent a good deal of his money to do as he likes and live his vision of Curlin & Rachel out.  I would have prefered her race again but she retired on all four and in good health.  Lets watch for the results with the same glee as before.

02 Oct 2010 11:57 AM
KELHORSE

Well said!  I just recently wrote a blog echoing some of these same sentiments.  As someone who prefers to follow work quality and patterns to predict upcoming races rather than waiting to be spoon-fed owner intentions, the bullet fired on the 27th certainly seemed to signal a rematch between the top three in the Personal Ensign.  Instead, the Beldame became a SUPER SATURDAY yawner.  Once again, the true racing fan misses out on another potential memory-maker.  Sad indeed!  

02 Oct 2010 12:00 PM
Marie

To JayJay,

Rachel Alexandra started racing when she was 2 years old. Zenyatta started racing when she was almost 4 years old. Therefore Zenyatta missed many of the grueling 3 yr. old historical and competitive races, which is proably why she's still racing undefeated now as a six year old - it's 3 years of racing? Isn't that how many years Rachel has raced, and in more competitive races on different tracks across different states.

I like Zenyatta, but Rachel Alexandra is my favorite horse.

02 Oct 2010 12:17 PM
Paula Higgins

Zookeeper, how wonderful!!!! I am so glad you got to see Zenyatta and meet her "family" (what a nice thing to do Steve). What an experience. Have a fantastic time today and I am praying and hoping Zenyatta makes even more history for the sport.

02 Oct 2010 12:34 PM
Linda in Texas

Zookeeper - The Devil May Care but you are 1 lady with Blind Luck to Hoist the Flag in person for our Zenyatta today.

Safe journeys to those of you in California lucky enough to witness Zenyatta and her team up close and personal and especially safe trip to Zenyatta in her quest to make it 19 for 19.

Looking forward to your remarks,  reports and hopefully, photos !!

We who read Steve's blogs and post on them are all very happy for you.

And thanks Steve for making it happen for them and all of us when they get back and relate their once in a lifetime experiences on this blog.

02 Oct 2010 3:46 PM
Azeri1

RA is a champion and no one can take that away from her. She gave us some beautiful races and some exciting memories--her Woodward is a real classic.

I agree with the reader who said that fillies are different. RA was happy with Wiggins; they seem to have had a great bond and mutual appreciation. Horses are that way. They are happy with some and not with others. She became out-of- sorts after her acquisition. You could have given her a golden stall and she would have been happier with her original trainer.

It is a shame that Jackson retired her but I believe he has her best interest at heart.

We can wish her well and look forward to her making a new mark in horse racing history.

02 Oct 2010 4:30 PM
jon

I see Steve's well-stated points, but even as Rachel won those fabulous races, she was fully extended, and would regress, naturally, the way Secretariat did after the grueling Triple Crown...he was second to both Onion and Prove Out...

So Rachel retires after fast works? That sounds like an injury to me.

02 Oct 2010 4:34 PM
Linda

Retired after a bullet work tells me you didn't come back sound. No harm in disclosing that. I have so lost any respect for the "trainers". Listen to your horses and that includes Mine That Bird who needs to quit too. Rachel's campaign was a mess from the start this year and you have the trainer to blame for that.

02 Oct 2010 5:12 PM
KHYLE

A TRULY HEARTBREAKING NEWS for all Rachel A.'s rabid fans!

A filly with an exceptional gift, charm and talent, we hate to see her go out of the limelight (in haste) without even racing her for the last time and with a warning of a last race. We felt so cheated... so deceived!

Rachel has touched so many lives across America - even the world - and being a track superstar is what this ailing industry needs to re-attract people. Many may not agree, but she is a phenomenal icon.

Now that Life at Ten romped to win the Beldame (where RA was supposed to run), Rachel could have had redeemed herself (after her PE loss to Persistently). We could have had rejoiced for the last time! She could have had proven her detractors wrong because she's already peaking to top form. We could have had seen her greatest last performance - win or lose the race we certainly don't care!

I abhor the idea of retiring horses too young and too soon to breeding shed, especially those that can still run and breathe fire on the racecourse . Horses were bred to race. What's the point of retiring them soon?

This is a reflection of what is absolutely wrong about  horseracing - GREED!

I'll miss Rachel and the thrill she makes everytime she runs on dirt. Forever, RACHEL ALEXANDRA THE GREAT!!!

02 Oct 2010 5:34 PM
Nona Yaron

She probably didn't come back right after the work.  I'm sure no one in her camp wanted to take the risk of hurting her.  She has nothing to prove and is too valuable to run if there is a hole regardless of how small or minor.  They made the right decision and I'm sure RA will be happy with her retirement.  She earned it.

02 Oct 2010 6:10 PM
Nona Yaron

Some of you who have never worked on the backside of a track may not know that in racing the horse always comes first.  Always!  RA's camp doesn't owe anyone anything.  Their horse, their business.  They are doing what is best for the horse.

02 Oct 2010 6:20 PM
Neb Diane

I always thought that Rachel was the reincarnation of Ruffian!  What a fabulous filly!  She made me so proud to be female!  You go girl!  Please change your mind on retirement!  Let her finish the year unless she has foot problems or something else.  Curlin? Ugh! No!  Not handsome enough for her.  Rock Hard Ten would be better!  I will miss her heart-warming races!Goodbye baby girl!

02 Oct 2010 6:22 PM
avianatic

Any chance there's a rush to get her into breeding shape because of something going on with curlin?

02 Oct 2010 6:58 PM
Rob W

Great post....love reading how Rachel did against some outstanding competition last year and how those beaten horses came back to win big races.  Today even strenghthened your points....Life at Ten demolished the Beldame field today which only complimented Rachels performance in the Personal Ensign.  There's still time for Jess Jackson to explain to the public why he did what he did, right?

02 Oct 2010 9:37 PM
Red Harchik

Travis wrote Jess Jackson has done more to mess up racing than any owner in three years. Is that the same Travis that worked for Frank Stronach briefly last winter?

Rachel's owner owes no one an explanation for retiring her. He OWNS her, it's his filly. He would owe explanations if she were to be hurt or if she were to continue to disappoint those who keep betting her down off last year's performance instead of this year's form. He did racing a favor: By bowing out, the stage is now Zenyatta's, as it should be.

02 Oct 2010 10:10 PM
Karin C-C

You know, if Rachel Alexandra had run in the Beldame and gotten beaten, people would be castigating Jess Jackson for continuing to run her when she's past her best.

I hope everyone cherished last year, with Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta making things so special.  I hope everyone who saw them understands that it is unlikely we will ever see two such horses in the same season during our lifetimes.

I'm not a Jess Jackson fan, but I'm with him on this decision:  let Rachel Alexandra go.  She doesn't owe anyone anything.  She's one for the ages.  She wasn't going to beat Zenyatta this year, and she wasn't going to be Horse of the Year.  So let her go and leave the stage to Zenyatta.

Every race puts a horse at risk of its soundness and its life.  How would it feel if Rachel Alexandra broke down?  Especially when it seems apparent that she's lengths  below her form of last year?

Let her go and let's hope that she becomes a producer on the level of Urban Sea.  Now that would be something to look forward to.

02 Oct 2010 11:49 PM
Kat

Fahad - good point about RA being heavier this year.  I get what you are saying relative to this, weight is felt as a percentage of body weight, Mine That Bird is going to feel 10 lbs a lot more than Zenyatta will. . . The difference between Rachel of this year and last year (at least) was a loss of her brilliance.  I attribute this to a large extent to her being over extended in the Woodward.  Calvin had commented earlier in the year that she did not like the whip.  Whether or not the whip "hurts" the horse is irrelevant, the horse understands the rider's intent (they are incredibly sensitive to intent) and if it is "punished" while doing it's best, will lose trust in the rider/circumstances.  Horses are savants at association and one bad experience can make that experience/situation tension provoking without serious reschooling.  Unfortunately, the racetrack by its nature does not allow for reschooling as the whip is a part of the process.  The experience was even more compromised when Rachel was brought back too early and once again had a bad experience on the track.  In addition, I think she had physical issues further compromising her experience on the track.  A horse with it's tail clamped in the paddock or post parade is not a horse in a good state of mind. I suspect Rachel is a very sensitive, "over achieving" type of mare.  I've had one and although they are a joy to work with, they are also mentally fragile. Rachel appeared to run last year with the sheer joy of running.  This year was truckling obedience.  No athlete turns in a best performance unless they have the mental edge.  Rachel lost her's last year.  She did as well as she did this year because she's a pretty talented horse.  It was obvious the thrill was gone.

03 Oct 2010 2:07 AM
Cris

I feel a real sense of loss with her retirement and I am very upset by the death of Real Quiet. This is a horse who had a rough time after a successful career at three. At four, when at Pimlico for the Special, he was not sleeping at night and the owners were afraid of losing another race. I purchased some screening for the barn area to diffuse the headlights that would shine in his stall from the street and upset him. He had a good night sleep the night before the Special and won the race. We were all happy for him. Seems so hard to think of him as gone. Rest well buddy.

03 Oct 2010 2:13 AM
jayjay

Marie : I'm not sure what you're point is but just to clear something up, Rachel had ONE year of competitive racing, Zenyatta has raced in mostly G1s in her 3 year of racing.  Rachel lost 3 out of 5 in her 2 yr old season (2 G3s and 1 MSW), you know what her 2010 campaign is like (1 G2 and 1 ungraded stakes win).  How can you say that Rachel's 3 years were more competitive than Zenyatta's ?  

03 Oct 2010 3:27 AM
DanceSpell

They retired her right after, what most feel, was an excellent work.  Then, she must have come back with a problem--something wasn't right. If that's the case then it's better off--why risk her. The question now is; which ready-made champion will Jackson purchase next for attention. The man sickens me.

03 Oct 2010 3:46 AM
Monica in CA

I think Sweet Catomine retired under the same vagueness.  Didn't she?  She was another nice filly that I was rooting for when she was racing.  Winning Colors didn't return in the same form after her Kentucky Derby win.  Didn't Ladies Secret kind of fade away as well; she was so pretty when she ran.  Yes, Rachel did okay for the Breeder's Cup, but you could feel that the vitality she shared with you from the track was gone.  Rather than doing something these fillies enjoyed, it seemed like they had to be forced.  Zenyatta runs and you can tell she enjoys it.  I hope that if she remains sound that she can get close to Curlin's earnings.  What a match that cross would make!

03 Oct 2010 7:33 AM
Patricia Guthrie

Just curious:

Has Zenyatta or RA beat any track, stakes or world records?  i haven't heard the commentators in those races, mention this.  

I will be sorry to see RA go.  But, I believe it was time.

I almost hope that Zenyatta does NOT race in the classic. I'd love to see her win this rce, but I'd haate even move o see her lose.  Especially after the career she's had.

03 Oct 2010 7:41 AM
sodapopkid

I think Curlin is absolutely beautiful.  I dont even follow Jess Jackson's horses.

After watching a replay of the PE, I do believe RA would have won the Beldame today, but I dont know about the BCL.  Jackson should have at least let her went out a winner in the Beldame.

03 Oct 2010 7:47 AM
Slew

I sincerely hope ruffianruns and zook and all the Haskin groupies had the greatest day of their lives yesterday at HP, and I can't wait to hear about it.  That Zen is one big-a$$ed mare.  The other runners looked like toy horses.  The weather was perfect, as was the Queen herself.  So sad for Rinterval.  Death threats???  How unseemly in the sport of kings...er, queens. I hope she is fine, and that we see her at the BC.  

I still don't know what to make of Rachel's retirement except that it was too sudden, and that it really didn't give her a chance to prove herself in 2010.  She remains a champion as far as I am concerned, and her legend has already been made.  Looking forward to safe foaling, and a smile.  Just maybe, at least one foal will light up the sky, and steal our hearts as she has.

03 Oct 2010 8:15 AM
BKWizard

Being a owner and great fan of the game, I see mistakes daily.  It was apparent in 2009 that Rachel Alexandra had great difficulty getting real distance.  If the preakness was a 1 1/4 see would have been ran over. The real issue with her is the trainer and owner. Steve Asmussen is a average trainer and nothing more.  He has had 1937 starts in 2010 more than twice that of Plecther and is ranked behind Plecther.  Asmussen has a win % of 21 which is not in the top 300.  He will always have winners just because he has so many horses.  Jess Jackson as a owner:  I do not know the man.  I do understand what he is trying to accomplish.  I do understand that he work hard to get Rachel Alexandra the horse of the year award and promoted the east vs. west.  Most writers are east coast based so they went with Rachel Alexandra even though they knew Zenyatta was the best.  Rachel Alexandra had a great 3 year old campaign without question, but to compare her to Ruffian, Zenyatta or Personal Ensign is simply ridiculous.  She has lost too many races as a 2 year old and a 4 year old.  I don't believe one great year makes you great, it just means you had a great year.  Rachel Alexandra simply didn't get any better from her three year old season to her four year old season.  She also is not any worse.  Sometimes horses develop faster than others which she did at three.  At four the others grew up and now are on even footing. I believe Rachel Alexandra is a true champion and that Jackson should be a man and tell us the real deal.  

03 Oct 2010 8:51 AM
Marie

JayJay,

I'm not interested in a discussion right now. I was just responding to your post about longetivity in the races. Plus, I agree with the author that this retirement was to abrupt while Rachel Alexandra was on her way up again.

Rachel Alexandra's two year old season?  Out of the three races she won, one of which was the Golden Rod. In the Golden Rod, she claimed the stakes record for the fastest time. That happened when she and Calvin Borel came together towards the end of her two year old season. The beginning of history.

Rachel Alexandra has come back and decisively beaten any horse that has beaten her, except for Unrivalled Belle...but in the manner that Rachel Alexandra beat Life at Ten, who beat UB twice, it leads me to conclude that a rematch with UB would've also been a successful event for Rachel Alexandra.

Who, that Zen has faced this year, can compare to Life at Ten? Not to say she can't, but they haven't given her a chance to prove it this year. Except for once a year, I never find myself saying "this is going to be a great race" when it comes to Zenyatta's competition. It's not like Quality Road vs. Blame, Rachel Alexandra vs. Life at Ten, Lookin at Lucky vs. etc.

Again, I like Zenyatta but I love Rachel Alexandra.

03 Oct 2010 10:50 AM
dw

You could look at most of her races she won last year and say - whay have those horses done since then

Over-rated a bit - this horse is*

a very good horse is all she is

Also - Hollywood Park is 88% dirt to all the un-informed people out there

03 Oct 2010 11:35 AM
dw

to Marie - no horse in the history of Horse Racing has won races with "no pace" coming from behind like Zenyatta has - anywhere at any time. look at all her races "no rabbits" all somewhat slow early fractions and every single time she gets up and wins She is truly a great, great horse - Zenyatta is **

03 Oct 2010 11:46 AM
duchess

Quote: "The question now is; which ready-made champion will Jackson purchase next for attention. The man sickens me."

I am not sure this is a terribly fair comment.

If I had access to what pretty much amounts to unlimited money I would probably also buy the best racing stock and breeding stock available.

As far as I know he did not buy that good two year old he had this year ready made (I just woke up and am drawing a blank on the colt's name - I am talking about the one who was recently retired due to injury).

And it sounds like he wants to breed and race some high quality home breds, too.

Can many of you who criticize Jackson for buying top horses honestly say that if you had gigantic amounts of money you would not buy the best horses on the market as well?

Not only that but it takes two parties to transfer ownership of a horse. If you wish to criticize Jackson for buying them, then you probably should also equally criticize their previous owners for selling them.

03 Oct 2010 11:48 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Cris

  Thanks for taking care of Real Quiet in his time of need. It's insight and care like you showed, that makes the difference in this game. It is a very sad time indeed to lose Real Quiet so young. Just a tragedy. Thanks for sharing your story. Real Quiet was great. You can't come any closer than that to a Triple Crown. His Belmont is one of those races you want to try to forget about because it can drive you nuts. One bob. Still, it's all irrelevant when you compare it to him losing his life too early.

03 Oct 2010 11:52 AM
Linda in Texas

Cris - What a considerate person you must be. Sometimes the smallest act of kindness can make all the difference in the world, even to a horse. And I am with you in your feelings for the loss of Real Quiet, if he did go the way it has been explained, he was simply telling the girls good morning in his stellar stallion way.

We just have to give every horse (his/her)daily due that stands in a stall or frolics in a paddock as we never know which life will be snuffed out next in an unexpected split second.

On a lighter note i would like to think that Zenyatta ran and won her race yesterday for Rachel Alexandra.

And i say that with a respect, love, admiration and caring heart for Rachel. Sort of a 'love you little sister Rachel from big sister Zen' kinda thing. 'Everything is going to be okay.'

No, i don't talk to horses, but i know they think, how else could Zenyatta know where the heck the finish line is 19 times?

Amazing, just amazing. Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Moss and Zenyatta's entire supporting team, same goes to all of you. You must be proud and deservedly so.

Zookeeper, bring on the photos !!!

03 Oct 2010 12:23 PM
Zookeeper

To love a horse does not entitle you to denigrate another. Watch this:

Zenyatta makes me feel like a million dollars. She is absolutely awesome in every way. Physically, she is not only imposing, but beautiful beyond words. Her personality, peerless. Her running style, amazing. Her consistency, mind-boggling.

The Zen-experience drives you from the pit of despair to the summit of pure elation. She makes you crazy with the anguish that, this time, she's not going to make it... then she picks you up and makes your heart soar with her, as she mows them all down, to another victory. NINETEEN times she has done this. NINETEEN times!!!

P.S. See, no other horse was mentioned in my celebration of the Great Zenyatta. It can be done. When it comes to Zen, it's easy! :)  

03 Oct 2010 12:28 PM
Peggieg

Although not my favorite owner, Jesse Jackson owes no explanation.  Rachel certainly has done her best at all times, but although arguably the best 3 yr. old campaign ever, 4 yr season showed she was tired. Were she mine, I would have retired her earlier.  Just glad we were able to see her as long as we did, and she retired HEALTHY. I don't agree with the choice of stallions in Curlin for her, but again, Jesse Jackson is her owner and it is his right.  Let's wait and see before casting stones. Just be happy and grateful we had her for longer than usual in today's game.As for that pairing of Z and RA in a race, I am glad it never happened.  Z deserves to retire undefeated in longer races and RA needed to stay shorter.  Just apples and oranges.  Two fantastic females.  In the long run, history will be kinder to Z.  Just the way it is.

03 Oct 2010 1:18 PM
jayjay

Marie : You posted to me directly, I was just responding to your post.  Yes, my bad, she was 3 out of 6 in her 2 yr old season.  I still don't get how her overall career record year after year is more competitive than Zenyattas...RA had 2009, no one is questioning that, not even us Zen diehards.  We agree she earned that HOTY, but her other years can't really compare to Zenyattas no matter how you spin it...but I guess you'll tell me you like Zenyatta but you love Rachel.

One more thing, I think St Trinians would've have crablegged gobbled up Life At Ten, and Rachel and Unrivalled Belle and Persistently and whoever else that is currently running in that division.

03 Oct 2010 3:31 PM
Steven

I was discussted last fall at the Breeders Cup, if you got the best you go after the best, synthetic or not....by skipping the cup last year, RA should have lost the HOY.  Until Jess jackson doesn't get his way, he will continue to do what is good for him, not racing as he so commonly states....

03 Oct 2010 3:56 PM
jayjay

Cris : I think it's great that people like you share your stories in blogs like this.  We appreciate your compassion for these animals.  To me, Real Quiet's TC bid in the Belmont wasn't like most of the others, he was one of those horses that didn't really dominate that much coming into the Belmont (unlike Smarty Jones and Big Brown who dominated in their previous races) so I wasn't really locked on him getting the win but watching that race, at the top of the stretch when he pulled away I started believing history was going to be made, the drought was going to end.  It was very very disheartening to see the result of that photo.  I watched it again and to me, the live shot angle looked like he got it...at least a deadheat but the racing gods has a future horse in mind whoever that may be.  Thanks again for sharing your story, it's appreciated.

duchess : I don't think it's the buying that's the issue with Jackson, it's how he handled Rachel.  The problem with buying a ready-made champion is that they have no idea who the horse is, they only know they're good.  They don't know the horse's character. Hal did. Some people tend to forget that these are animals, they are like pets, they do get attached to humans and vice versa.  I'll say it again, if RA wasn't gutted last year, we'd have one AWESOME 2010 horse racing year.  Rachel healthy and on top of her game at 4 and Zenyatta ... imagine what could've been.

03 Oct 2010 5:08 PM
tiznow9

To say R/A wasnt that good is like saying Z is just a little above average. RA is one to remember. One of the best 3 yr old seasons in a long time . Z is a plastic surface specialist. Looks like that surface is over. Strange year for two great fillies that do not come along often.

03 Oct 2010 8:45 PM
Linda/Maryland

Speaking of Rachel’s retirement, some fairly reliable tidbits heard through the grapevine include Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen knowing she would not race again as of a week or two ago, and that it was nagging foot problems that prompted her retirement. Another cited suspensory issues. See what happens when you are not forthright in announcing the retirement of a horse such as this.

It is hoped one of these, if true, will be made public in the next day or two to give closure to Rachel’s retirement.

While they are at it, how about arranging with Churchill Downs to parade her in front of the fans on the Saturday of the Breeders’ Cup.

The above comment was on another page of Bloodhorse. If this is true why in the heck didn't Jackson just say so??? I think a lot of fans have been very cheated by Jackson in the way he has handled RA. The fans love Rachel and care about Rachel. I am thinking that all Jackson cares about is the money and "Being in the Spotlight", NOT the horse or the Fans. He may not be able to "BUY" the next HOY.  

03 Oct 2010 10:56 PM
RealQuiet

Thanks a million, Steve. I enjoyed your article very, very much, particularly the facts stated. I wish RA could have raced one more time when we knew she would be retiring so that we could given her a proper send off. (Sorry if I am repeating other blogs as I didn't have time to read through them.) What a sad week to have lost Real Quiet and RA in the same week. However, your article gave me much peace. Thanks again.

04 Oct 2010 1:23 AM
duchess

Jay Jay: I agree that the way Jackson handled Rachel was a problem - I think her entire 2010 season and her mysterious and unexplained retirement are real issues.

You can see just in this blog discussion how rumors - whether about the horse or the owner himself - start to fly around in unexplained situations like this one.

I just think he gets some unwarranted criticism as well. As I said, if I had unimaginable wealth and wanted to own/breed horses, I would also buy the best available. Nothing wrong with that.

And while it might be hard on the horse, if I had a trainer I had a good working relationship with, I might move the horse to that trainer, too. That might not be the greatest situation for the horse - but it is a very human thing to do, to keep on with an established business relationship.

And the criticism for him not running Rachel in the BC last year drives me nuts. It is very obvious she was not up to running in another big race after the Woodward last season. Jackson did absolutely the right thing for the filly in not running her in an even harder race over an unfamiliar surface last year after that Woodward.

He just cannot get a break on that. People get all over him for gutting Rachel in the Woodward and then turn right around and get all over him for not running her in the BC two months later - in an even harder race against much better competition!

A lot of people seem to hate Jackson. I guess that I would personally prefer to save that sort of thing for people who truly abuse their horses - the people who murder their champions in cold blood for insurance money (like Alydar was rumored to have died), send their champions to the slaughterhouse (like Ferdinand), and let us not even talk about the fate of Canadian champion Wake At Noon.

As far as I know, Jackson has NEVER abused or neglected his horses. And if Rachel was pushed too far in running in the Woodward last year - well, he is far from being the first owner or trainer who went to the well either too quickly or too many times during a grueling three year old season. I'm pretty sure he won't be the last, either.

Was wonderful getting to see Zenyatta win yesterday!

But was anyone else disturbed by reports on death threats on Rinterval? Is that a usual thing at the track? Because it is a horrible thing...

04 Oct 2010 1:33 AM
Keith

Linda/Maryland wrote that there were rumers to the effect that "... it was nagging foot problems that prompted her retirement. Another cited suspensory issues."

If this were the case, you would think that Jackson & Co. would have come right out and announced that these problems were the reason for her retirement; after all, no one wants to see a greatly beloved thoroughbred being pushed to perform with either of those issues.

What is the truth? We may never know for sure. If there WERE physical issues, Jacksons decision was understandable.

But if not, it was a real kick in the butt for the fans - myself included - who dearly loved this filly.

Yeah, I know - he OWNED the horse, and he can do whatever her wants with her. But Jacksons rather sudden & brusk action only gives further ammunition to those who say - and not without some justification - that horseracing is the only sport which despises its fans.

04 Oct 2010 4:06 AM
sodapopkid

While they are at it, how about arranging with Churchill Downs to parade her in front of the fans on the Saturday of the Breeders’ Cup.  L/Maryland

Re:  That would be fine had JJ not up and retired her so abruptly without a single reason /tightlipped.

By seeing her being paraded in the BC races on Saturday, Fans may be offended that she isnt in any of those races, since Blasi says she is retiring healthy and sound.  I agreee,  they need to have her a parading, but they may need to wait until after the BC races is over with. A lot of people were really looking forward to Rachel running in one of the BC races.

04 Oct 2010 7:05 AM
Slew

Nona: You said, "Some of you who have never worked on the backside of a track may not know that in racing the horse always comes first.  Always!"

Before Old Friends and horse rescues, what happened to retired thoroughbreds?  Does that "always" include Ferdinand, Exceller, and Alydar.  You shouldn't jump on fans who see things as they are, and are trying to do better.

Neba: As much as I love him, RH10's sire, Kris S. is Zen's dam sire.  The inbreeding is much too close. She might be better with Einstein.

Duchess: I believe fanatics on some blogs have gotten too carried away to the point of extreme rabid fanaticism.  I've heard of it before.  Didn't Rachel A. have 24x7 hour security?  And JJ announced Rachel would not go to the BC months before her final 2009 races...so it had nothing to do with her demanding races.  It appears that he simply wasn't happy Curlin lost on synthetics the year before.  That's the reason for the fan's criticism.

04 Oct 2010 7:07 AM
EasyGoerFan

duchess, I find the death threats against Rinterval to be extremely scary.  I don't know if that's a common thing but Jimmy Croll went to his grave swearing that somebody got to Holy Bull before the Derby.  It makes me sick to think about it.  Security will have to be extra tight at the BC.  

04 Oct 2010 9:39 AM
Pam S.

duchess, just to clarify one point:

I don't think any of Jackson's critics are saying Rachel should have run in the Woodward and then run in the BC.  We are saying it would have been better -- much better as it appears -- to have skipped the Woodward and instead prepared the filly for the BC Ladies Classic or Classic, as the original connections had planned.  Long before the Woodward, JJ announced, via press release of course, that Rachel would not compete on the "plastic," therein insulting both the BC and the State of California.  The Woodward was subsequently chosen as the best way to get Rachel the HOY without participating in the BC. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Again, I don't think ANYONE who cares one iota about the horse wanted Jackson to run Rachel in the BC after they saw the Woodward.  But when he announced in June, I believe it was, that she would not be pointed to either championship day, well, that sparked the criticism.

04 Oct 2010 12:46 PM
SMTDL

Yes 2010 was a disappointment for Rachel,but largely because of the almost impossible standards she set in 2009.That some people still claim she was overrated or didn't deserve to be HOTY,I can only say ..hold your breath until another 3 yo filly does what she has done.That some people called it ducking for her to run in a grade 1 route race against older male horses says a lot more about the critics than the horse. She is one of the greats and always will be because you won't see her accomplishments duplicated anytime soon.

Zenyatta has made history that won't be duplicated soon either,but she took a more conservative route and remains racing at age 6 and likely will retire undefeated .Two different approaches to greatness with these two champions.

04 Oct 2010 1:20 PM
EdK

Steve, I totally agree.  As a friend of mine commented - "Love the horse, hate the management."

I think Rachel's early retirement is totally strange.  Is Jess Jackson embarrassed, that Rachel won Horse of the Year, and then has not run to form in 2010?  Surely, you can't knock her amazing performances in 2009.

But, I think it's very strange, to pull her from competition just weeks prior to the Breeders' Cup.

It's like he was afraid of losing, and/or maybe he's a bit gun-shy since he recently lost Majesticperfection and Kantharos to injury.

I feel he thinks he's a bit snake-bit, or is there an 'undisclosed' issue they're not talking about?  Is the recent change in the Bute threshold an issue?

I don't totally blame Jess Jackson, but it's a shame that he decided to pull-the-plug just 5 weeks out from the Breeders' Cup.  As you noted, she just worked a bullet 48.4, best of 49 horses at the distance the day before she was retired !

That's my 'two-cents.'  Mr. Jackson owes the public a 'dollar-full.'

04 Oct 2010 2:12 PM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

I'm impatiently waiting for your take on last weekend's races. I know it's a big job, as there were so many outstanding races... but I'm looking forward to read your thoughts.

I think the subject at hand has been exhausted. We have run the gamut of scenarios, conjectures, expressions of bafflement, sadness and regret in regard to Rachel's abrupt retirement. Have you found out anything concrete? If so, are you at liberty to write about it or have you been sworn to secrecy (also)? We've been pontificating and supposing for several days and are no closer to an answer than we were when the announcement was made. Frustrating, to say the least!

If there's nothing there, then it's time to move on. If there is, let's hear it and clear the mysterious fog surrounding the whole saga.    

04 Oct 2010 4:12 PM
YYZGUY

Love the Horse, Strongly dislike the connections. Duchess makes a the very sensible observation that JJ certainly doesn't abuse his animals and it's for the type of people who would, that I reserve hate for.

That being said, I can think of over a hundred more deserving horses to parade at a Breeders Cup. Those would be horses that have actually participated in a Breeders Cup.

04 Oct 2010 4:23 PM
GJU

Zookeeper said:

Zenyatta makes me feel like a million dollars. She is absolutely awesome in every way. Physically, she is not only imposing, but beautiful beyond words. Her personality, peerless. Her running style, amazing. Her consistency, mind-boggling.

"The Zen-experience drives you from the pit of despair to the summit of pure elation. She makes you crazy with the anguish that, this time, she's not going to make it... then she picks you up and makes your heart soar with her, as she mows them all down, to another victory. NINETEEN times she has done this. NINETEEN times!!!"

Boy, ain't that the truth. I couldn't have said it any better!

04 Oct 2010 4:25 PM
surftheturf

Perhaps it was time to retire Rachel a long time ago, but JJ couldn't bear to do it then and suddenly he felt he owed ot to her to retire her.  That's the best I can do in a positive light for the Jacksons.

04 Oct 2010 5:07 PM
Linda/Maryland

Well, I don't know what is true and what is not about Rachel and we will probably never know but I think it is a shame that JJ did her the way he did. HE sure disappointed her fans.

04 Oct 2010 8:57 PM
Zookeeper

Last Friday started horribly for me. My favorite cat was hit by a car and I saw him laying dead in the middle of the street just as I was leaving for HP to meet with the other bloggers for a visit with Zenyatta. I was devastated. An hour later, I called Ruffianruns to tell her what had happened and that I would not be able to join the group. She convinced me otherwise and somehow, I made it to Inglewood, in the middle of rush hour traffic. 1 1/2 hours of bumper to bumper, stop and go circus kept me so occupied that I regained enough composure to meet the group, already at John Shirreffs' barn, waiting for Zenyatta to make her grand entrance. Shortly, she did... in all her glory and we followed her to the track for her morning gallop. For 2 hours, we watched her every move as she ran, cooled off, had a bath and grazed on her mini-pasture, right outside of the barn. The whole experience is sort of a blur but I can assure you that I left there in much better shape than when I arrived.

It is difficult to stay sad in Zenyatta's presence and even more difficult to not respond to the gracious welcome that we received from Dottie, John and the whole Zenyatta crew. It was impossible to not join in the pure joy of the other bloggers who smiled and smiled, took countless pictures and kept pinching themselves in case it was all a dream.

Two hours away from the pain of my loss. Two hours with the nicest people in the world. Two hours with the wonder that is Zenyatta. These magical hours helped me cope with the death of my beautiful Streak and they will remain etched in my mind as some of the most memorable moments of my life.

Thank you Mr. Haskin for making it possible. Thank you Ruffianruns for orchestrating it and for talking me out of my sorrow. Thank you John & Dottie and the whole crew for welcoming us in your beautiful world. But most of all, thank you Zenyatta for starting the healing process and for comforting me with your awesome presence and your charming, delightful ways. You are indeed a GREAT GIFT!!!    

04 Oct 2010 11:06 PM
Steve Haskin

Zookeeper, are you trying to make me and everyone cry? Well, you're doing a darn good job of it. That was beautiful, and my deepest condolences on the death of your cat. Your two comments about your visit are so heartfelt and beaitifully written, at some point I am going to use them in one of my columns.

Thank you for sharing your feelings.

05 Oct 2010 2:16 AM
sherpa

"Zookeeper, are you trying to make me and everyone cry?"

Mission accomplished.

05 Oct 2010 8:33 AM
Erin

She probably tied up. If she did that would ruin the rest of the year.  My applause for giving her the rest she needs.

05 Oct 2010 8:34 AM
Linda in Texas

Zookeeper, i am so sorry for the loss of your Streak. I have found that if a person is sensitive to 1 animal they are sensitive to all others.

I feed and care for 3 feral cat groups and wonder every evening if

they will all be present when i arrive to feed them.

I have 4 cats on my property and one i just lost on Sunday due to old age. He was faithful and never left my yard. His name was Bunny.

Sometimes i wonder where the spirit to go on comes from when we lose a special pet.

Our hearts lose a chunk every time we lose one, that i do know.

I rescue dogs also. One i have is 19 years old and she was abandoned by a carnival that came to town. She had 3 pups when she was 10, they are now 9 and all are still with me.

So sadness, Streak, started your day and Zenyatta, happiness personified, tried to make up for it.

Two totally different feelings, one as far from the other as possible and i know you had to be strong to not let one overtake the other.

Now i know why you sign your posts Zookeeper and i identified with your heartfelt posts from the first time i ever read this blog.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and thank you Steve for this blog.

05 Oct 2010 9:14 AM
Jim Patnode

As a lover of thoroughbreds and racing, I don't need any explanations re Rachel's retirement. Jess Jackson has every right to do as he wishes. Why can't you just be happy you got to see her race as long as you did. I look forward to seeing her progeny. Wow, Rachel/Curlin, what possibilities!

05 Oct 2010 9:46 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

   It's terrible, and shocking that such a tragedy happened to you at any time, let alone that day. It must have been Zenyatta that gave you the strength to perservere, "come see me and I'll help you to feel better. I am so sorry." And I am so sorry also. What's amazing to me is that you have been so warm, and insightful on here since the weekend that I would have never known such a tragedy had occurred. My deepest, heartfelt condolences during this time of grieving. The sorrow will last a lifetime to a certain extent but time and horse racing heals. Horse racing teaches us to deal with sorrow, and joy. The lows and highs in this sport are as extreme as it gets. We are very fortunate that we have these Bloodhorse blogs to help us through them. Thanks for all of the joy you've given me that has helped me in my life. I know that Streak had a fabulous life with you, and never suffered, had the best Mom, and friend that a being could have.

05 Oct 2010 9:47 AM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

It took me a while to find the words to relate the series of events of last Friday. How do you express going from abject devastation to relative peace and even joyful delight, all in the space of a few hours?

Eventhough I lived through it, it is impossible to wrap my mind around what happened to me that day.

If you remember, I was hoping for a miracle. I was hoping that you would surprise us with your presence at the barn. Well, a miracle did happen... it wasn't the one I was wishing for but it was the one I desperately needed that fateful morning.

Thank you for your kind, compassionate words. I'm utterly flattered that you liked my writing. I spoke from the heart and if I made you cry... I'm not even a little bit sorry, because you have done it to me countless times.  :)

05 Oct 2010 10:18 AM
txhorsefan

Oh, Zookeeper, I am so sorry about your kitty cat!!  Our pets we live with daily become so dear to us, it is heartbreaking when we lose them, especially in such a tragic way as you had to go through.  My sincere condolences and wishes that in time sweet memories will comfort you.  I am so glad that ruffianruns talked you into continuing on with your plans to visit with Zenyatta so you could enjoy a few hours with some new friends and a once in a lifetime visit with our Queen.  Thank you so much for sharing your day with the rest of us.  You described everything so well - it's just beautiful.  Thank you!

05 Oct 2010 10:19 AM
Susan

In response to duchess -

"If I had unimaginable wealth and wanted to own/breed horses, I would also buy the best available. Nothing wrong with that."

If I had unimaginable wealth, I would try to breed the best.  For me, creating and developing the best is the challenge.  Buying a "made horse" to race is no challenge; it's just spending money.

05 Oct 2010 10:50 AM
Zookeeper

sherpa, Linda in Texas, Dr Drunkinbum, txhorsefan- Thank you for your warm expressions of sympathy. We all have experienced great losses in our lives and I'm certainly not alone in mourning the death of a being I loved. In time, the pain lessens, the wound heals and we go on... living and loving some more.

I have always found great comfort in the companionship of animals but never, before last Friday, have I experienced the insightful truth of Churchill's words regarding the outside of a horse for the inside of a human.

That's what I tried to convey in relating the events of last Friday. Not so much the extent of my hurt but the healing power of a magnificent mare and the happiness that permeates all who are fortunate enough to spend time with her.  

05 Oct 2010 1:27 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

You really, really "got it". As usual, your words to me proved how caring and kind you are and how we find ourselves on the same page, time and time again. You're my best blogging buddy and I thank you for being you. :)

05 Oct 2010 1:55 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

   What's really strange is how much the name Streak has popped into my mind over the last few weeks. I often think of names I'd like if I had horses to name. I recently thought that Streak is one of the best horse names possible. Hope you're doing well. Thanks for your response. It means a lot to me.

Linda in Texas

 Your last post was very special. Just so you know, I always enjoy your posts, and your caring ways. You're very insightful and always have kind words. Keep up the good work with your rescues and care of animals in need. You're a special person.

05 Oct 2010 3:12 PM
Slew

Zookeeper: I'm so sorry to hear you lost Streak.  But how overwhelmingly grateful am I that you had Zenyatta to help you heal.  I wish you and your menagerie days filled with the warmth of treasured memories.  So glad you decided to go to HP.

Linda: You named your cat, Bunny?  Can't help myself; I had a bunch of giggles over that. It reminded me of all those horses named Kitten.

05 Oct 2010 5:56 PM
dinkydiva

Zookeeper.  Like Steve and some of the others said: are you trying to make me cry?!  You accomplished that goal.  I too am so sorry about your cat.  I know how it feels when you loose a beloved friend.  I'm also so happy for you that you got to spend time with the Queen and that she in her own way, said, I feel your pain, let me help you out even if for just a lil while!  That must have been one heck of a roller-coaster ride!

BTW how is RunFlatOut doing?

05 Oct 2010 6:19 PM
Neb Diane

No wonder she lost her zip from 3 to 4.  Lying around a stall for five months.  Quick way to kill a spirit.  She also gained weight.  I hope they will change their mind in the BC Ladies Classic and run her.  She clearly would have won the Beldame! Dr. Drunkinbum..your name makes me want to know why you are so sad!

05 Oct 2010 7:48 PM
Zookeeper

Linda in Texas,

We have a lot in common. Like you, I try to feed every hungry cat in my neighborhood. Sadly, there are too many of them, as you well know. Thank you for sharing your pet stories with us. The love of animals is something that connects most of us and I'm always glad to find out that I'm not the only "nut" running around trying to help the helpless. Maybe Bunny and Streak are stalking together in the great hunting grounds of cat heaven. :)

Slew- Zenyatta did help me, tremendously! And so did your kind words.

dinkydiva- Runflatout is healing beautifully. There is talk of getting him back to his trainer as soon as the beginning of next week. Thank you for thinking of him and also for your kindness.

05 Oct 2010 7:55 PM
Lmaris

While I'm curious why exactly Mr. Jackson chose this point to retire her, I'm just glad she retired sound.   She'll also get a 6 week jump on letting down, putting on a bit of weight, and getting used to the farm routine before breeding season.

05 Oct 2010 9:36 PM
jayjay

ZooKeeper : Just sent ya a big hug via SteveH.  If it helps, you can tell us what Streak was like, his character, the funny things he does and the not so funny things.  There are other catlovers in this blog that can share the same and while it may bring back painful memories, I believe it will also heal your pain.  I always believe that when we lose someone we love, talking about the good times we had with them is the better way to get through the pain, talking about and celebrating their life.  Just a suggestion...

duchess : If I had unimaginable amount of money, I would buy you a castle.  I won't buy the best available horse, I would buy one that nobody likes and will probably spend a little over 60K.  I will then keep the horse in training until she's 3 and probably race her towards the end of the year.  I would space out her races but if she's good enough, I'll try and race her at top level, with luck, just G1s.  At some point, I'll try her against the boys but only if she wins her races, I'll see if she can handle the big boys.  I'm hoping she'll last til maybe 5 or 6 years old and still be racing in top shape, good enough to maybe break some type of record.  Oh yeah, I'll probably keep her in California, I don't like being away from my baby :)  I'm sure SteveH and everyone at BH would be very supportive of my horse.  Let's hope she brings me back some of my investment when she retires so that I can afford to buy Andy Beyer's book and learn more about horse racing :)

05 Oct 2010 10:02 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Where's ruffianruns and others that were in the group? Let's hear about your experience !!!!

06 Oct 2010 12:33 AM
Aluminaut

I had a cat named Bunny.  She had one blue eye and one yellow eye and I picked her out of a litter at the Playboy Mansion during an aviary tour.  They actually had real rabbits and a cage full of monkeys also.

Zookeeper,

Sorry about your cat. Dottie suggested that I take a picture of one of the barn cats relaxing on a saddle pad out on the grass while Z was grazing.  The photo looks great.  Did you see that dusty orange cat?

Steve H,

Thanks so much for helping the Blogger's Team have such a great time visiting Zenyatta and also at Hollywood Park for her Lady's Secret win.  Thanks also to ruffianruns for all the organizing and it was great to meet and spend time with such a nice group of people who get the racing experience.  Pretty good handicapping also. What a great couple of days!

06 Oct 2010 3:48 AM
Zookeeper

Aluminaut!!! Finally, somebody from the Group! I was beginning to think that maybe I dreamed the whole thing... Yes, I did see the orange cat. Very sweet! It did come sit with me for a while. Glad you took a picture of it.

I hope more people from the Group resurface. Where are you guys? Were you so stricken by the whole fabulous experience that you haven't recovered yet?

Hi jayjay! Did you meet some of the group on Saturday? My box was away from the rest, so I don't know whether you showed up or not. I see that you are still dedicated to the defense of the great mare. Believe me, Mr. Beyer doesn't have anything to teach you, at least not as far as Zenyatta is concerned. lol! As to my beautiful Streak... it's still too early. Talkin' horses helps a lot more. Thank you for caring.

06 Oct 2010 11:42 AM
YYZGUY

jayjay your last comment to Duchess was very well done. It sounds like a movie that if written, would be too far fetched to believe.

Nice.

06 Oct 2010 12:01 PM
ruffianruns

Folks, I don't know what's going on, but my last two posts going into a little detail about our Zenyatta visit didn't make it to the blog.  But I'm here and, no, Zookeeper, you didn't dream it.  At least I hope you didn't.

06 Oct 2010 1:56 PM
ruffianruns

I've finally been able to catch up on all of the comments and wouldn't you know that Zookeeper makes me cry!  Well, many of the comments have really touched me - I SO get the Rachel love and the sadness over her retirement and Real Quiet's tragic accident.

So, last Friday morning, Zookeeper was so heartbroken!  Through my tears I reminded her that there would be people at the barn who knew exactly how heartbroken she was, people who would understand, and that the regret of missing the great mare might prove unbearable.  I didn't think she'd come, but she said she would try, and she made it.  Zookeeper, you're very welcome!

06 Oct 2010 2:08 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

ruffianruns

   You're here !!!!! Please try again. We do want to hear a little about your experience. Did you have a good time?

06 Oct 2010 2:09 PM
Steve Haskin

Ruffianruns, I looked all through the Community Server and there are no comments from you since last weekend. If you sent two and they weren't posted, you should have e-mailed me.

06 Oct 2010 2:10 PM
ruffianruns

OK Steve, I can be pushy, but to actually EMAIL YOU because my comments aren't posting???  I would never bother you with that!

At 2:09 PM ET, I submitted a shorter comment, thinking that maybe my post from last night and the repeat post this morning was just too long.  That one still hasn't shown up.  See, I'm paranoid - I'm keeping track of the submit times!  Maybe I will just email you my entire post...

06 Oct 2010 2:29 PM
Peggy

Zookeeper, I want to say also that I am sorry about the loss of your Streak.  It may seem strange that I didn't tell you earlier when we were together at HP, but I didn't know.  You were very good at hiding your pain and making sure that others had a good time.  My emotions last week were similar to yours in that the news of Rachel's retirement came on Tuesday.  Since she is the reason I became interested in racing, I have been devastated all week.  Like you, seeing Zenyatta helped take away my feelings of loss.  She knows that she is special, and has a way of letting you share that feeling.  

I want to thank Slew again for encouraging my trip to LA, and of course, Steve for making the visit to Zenyatta possible.

I was weiting for ruffianruns to post her synopsis of the trip, but I want to share a few of the things that were unique to me as a first time track goer.  It was an awesome, overwhelming experience and I am still processing the whole thing.  Friday, we met not only Z, but also the mambers of the team that makes her so special.  Her exercise rider, Steve Willard is 67 y.o.!! He looks a lot younger because he is so fit.  The stable area is immaculate.  I expected it to smell like horses, but it doesn't.  We got to see Zardana, which was for me a connection to Rachel (possibly as close as I will get).  We had lunch in a small cafeteria on the backside where the track workers eat.  They were all very nice to us.

On Saturday we had 2 nice boxes just down from the finish line. (Zookeeper is on the line, and she let RR and me watch the Z race there.)  The Steve Haskins bloggers group race was the 1st one.  We were taken to the Winner's Circle and watched it from the rail there, and had our picture taken after the connections.  Down in the paddock when the horses were being saddled for the Ladies Secret, we heard a loud crash, which was Rinterval going over and hitting the side of the stall.  She eventually walked out on her own, though.  Didn't hear about the threats to her until later.  Went back to the stands to watch Zenyatta win the LS with my new friends, Cleone, Zookeeper, Ruffianruns, Aluminaut and Jim C.  (Jim was our pick 6 handicapper.)

I know that there is a Shutterfly site that has been set up for us to share our photos, but don't know how people can access it.  Hopefully someone who does know will post here.  We all took lots of pictures and videos which would be nice to share with those of you who were in our thoughts (Slew), but not in our box.  

06 Oct 2010 2:31 PM
Zookeeper

ruffianruns!!! Great to hear from you! I see that the cybermonster has been up to his old tricks... I'm off to the dentist, I hope to read more from you and others from the Group when I come back. Hugs!

06 Oct 2010 2:54 PM
Steve Haskin

Ruffianruns, I have no idea what happened to your posts. All the others, regardless of length, have shown up OK as far as I know. You definitely should have e-mailed me to let me know about the comments not being posted and to also let me know how your trip went.

Did Gene Viti e-mail the group photo to anyone? If not, I have it. I know he sent it to Dottie. He said he had trouble getting everyone to look at the camera, and one person unfortunately is hidden.

06 Oct 2010 3:02 PM
Aluminaut

Zookeeper,

Probably you are right, everyone is still recovering from that fabulous experience with Zenyatta and her Team on Friday, and watching Z race on Saturday.

Also, some of the blogger's had to fly or drive home. I know I had to attend to my rearranged work schedule.

Wow, it sure is raining right now at 12:30pm Pacific time in SoCal.

06 Oct 2010 3:34 PM
jayjay

ZooKeeper : I did make it to HP after getting lost for a good 45 minutes.  I forgot to charge my cell and forgot to bring my charger - and guess what, it's also my GPS.  I didn't find out it was dead until I had the car rented and I was about to drive off.  I managed to get there after asking for directions twice (vague directions..."just go about 4 miles on this road and turn right on manhattan and left on prairie", the problem was finding manhattan.  It turns out, it was manCHESTER!)

I like HP better than SA, it seemed much cleaner specially the paddock area.  The first thing I did was buy 2 extra programs for souvenir and then went straight to the window and bought my souvenir win tickets.  Just after the 5th race, I thought I better get something to eat before she runs and got in line for the paddock burger (it's so big, I'm still eating it right now), by the time I got the burger there's like 3 or 4 deep around the paddock and couldn't get through.  So I went and worked on my burger then headed back to the "fence" to make sure I can get some shots of her.  I guess everyone rushed over there while I was eating lol.  I did manage to get a video of her passing by Switch :)  That place went crazy!  I was trying to stay calm but was uncontrollably screaming at the same time.  I literally had tingles on my back and it was a weird feeling (turns out it was this guys program poking me but nonetheless, it felt good, not that it was coming from a guy but because I thought Zen did it to me).

I'm trying to get my schedule at work change to hopefully make it to CD.  I'm going to try my best to see her there.  I may have to auction my other win ticket to make it lol.  

Anyone want to buy a $19 win ticket ? :)  It says on the ticket :

$19 WIN

5 - Zenyatta

MINT CONDITION and comes with the regular program and the giveaway program ! It's a RARE ticket as most fans would've bought a $2 win ticket.  This one actually says "19" :)

06 Oct 2010 4:08 PM
ruffianruns

OK, over an hour ago I tried for the third time to post my longer comment and no dice.

Steve - Gene took my email address and sent me a test email, saying he would send the group pic to me, but I haven't received it.  I'll email him and ask him for it.  I was really glad that he said he'd send it to you as proof that I didn't hog Zenyatta all to myself.  I DID think about it, but wouldn't have been able to live with myself.  In the group pic, I'm the tall one with glasses, a light colored shirt, dark pants, and short dark hair.  I think I'm closest to Zenyatta on the right side of the group.

Dr D - I had a blast!  I thought of you so much!  Especially when I saw Jaycito.  I told him that he was your favorite so that he had to stay healthy and safe.  It was hard because Jim C. had done all of our Pick 6 handicapping and he had picked Gusto - who wouldn't?  I liked Acaffella, Jaycito, and Gusto

Aluminaut - I got a pic of the barn cat too!  The orange one.  I AM having a hard time recovering.  It's amazing how pure excitement and coffee over two days can keep an exhausted body going.  Then the crash occurs.  I'm still not recovered fully, but getting there.

06 Oct 2010 4:48 PM
ruffianruns

BP - Thank you for your post from a week ago.  I finally finished reading the comments last night and was blown away by your story.  I am still so puzzled and heartbroken by her unexpected retirement and I'm glad you told RA to her face that she rocked our world.  With tears in my eyes, missing her, I can say that even though I never saw her in person, Rachel Alexandra TRULY rocked my world.

jayjay - I loved your response to duchess.  I had to avoid Beyer on Saturday.  Wished we coulda met up.  Maybe my tingling was just someone's program!  I want your $19 ticket!  I didn't think of that!

06 Oct 2010 4:58 PM
Steve Haskin

If you want to post it, e-mail it to me and I'll post it for you.

06 Oct 2010 4:59 PM
Steve Haskin

If anyone wants the photo, send me your e-mail address and I'll send it to you. Just a warning to the person in the pale blue shirt, you are directly behind someone and are almost totally hidden. I dont even think Gene saw you, because thats very unlike him. He's an excellent photographer.

06 Oct 2010 5:05 PM
Steve Haskin

JayJay, that is very clever of you to get a $19 ticket. I'll bet that's worth a lot more than a $2 ticket, and I dont mean $17 more.

06 Oct 2010 5:08 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

jayjay

  That's pretty darn smart, buying a $19 ticket. Frame it with the Program, and a 19-0 Headlines from online. Print a few before it's too late. "For just $19.95, you get the $19 ticket, and The Program, but Wait !!! If you act fast and call in the next 30 minutes, we'll throw in a hot dog wrapper for free from a hot dog that was eaten at Hollywood Park during Zenyatta's race, yes, guaranteed to have been eaten during the race. It even has a spot of mustard on it. Act fast. Call now !!!!"

06 Oct 2010 5:08 PM
Steve Haskin

What I would like to know is, why are only half the people in the photo looking at the camera. The others are looking off to the left.

06 Oct 2010 5:13 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

ruffianruns, Peggy, Aluminaut, jayjay, Zookeeper

   Thanks for the updates. I was beginning to think it was some kind of secret mission !!! It sounds like you all had a great time !!!! Congrats. I would have watched the first race if I would have known. What a special time. Good luck recovering.

06 Oct 2010 5:17 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

ruffianruns

   Thanks for thinking of me. I was definitely thinking of all of you. Sounds like you did a really good job. I'm glad it all worked out for you, and everyone else. What a whirlwind adventure. You did bow to The Queen like I told you to didn't you?

Steve

   Please send me a photo. Thanks.

06 Oct 2010 5:27 PM
Steve Haskin

Ruffianruns, I couldnt post that either. I'm trying again without the video links. Maybe thats whats causing the problem. If this shows up below, then that is the problem.

Zookeeper is right about all of us pinching ourselves!  I kept asking

people if this was really real, if I was really there, and someone

else kept asking people if we were watching a YouTube video!  We were

at the barn for about 3 hours, arriving around nine and leaving around

noon.  We then all ate in the backside cafeteria, all pretending that

we belonged there!

We spent about two hours with Zenyatta, watching her warm up for her

gallop around the track, then we saw her take her bath, then we

watched her graze.  When she first came out of the barn and was

warming up, I had tears streaming down my face.  I COULD NOT BELIEVE

THAT I WAS RIGHT THERE WATCHING HER!  I still can't believe it.  But I

have pictures!  Do you realize how BEAUTIFUL she is?  When she looked

right at me, I almost fainted.

The other hour at the barn was before and after Zen's arrival.  We

visited with the best team in racing today!  Dottie is the most

wonderfulest person in the world!  Steve Willard was very kind to us

all.  John thanked me with a fist bump for bringing Zen's favorite

drink, the Extra Stout Guinness!  He thought it was too cool.

Michelle, the assistant trainer, was wonderful, as was Mario, the

super groom!  Thank you all for your kindness and generosity.  I will

never forget you all.

I also want to thank the wonderful group members.  We all had so much

fun over two wonderful days.  All of the group members keep thanking

me for making the Zen visit happen, but folks, Steve Haskin is the one

responsible.  Thank you Steve.  You have no idea how much JOY you

caused that day!  I have never had a more miraculous day, and I've

heard from all of the group members that they feel similarly.

06 Oct 2010 5:29 PM
ruffianruns

Yikes, I think it was Zookeeper in the light blue.  Zookeeper, you can see your face in the pic that Shortskinnylady's camera took.  I think that we all gave our cameras to Gene.  Isn't that what happened?  It's amazing how much I don't remember.  Shortskinnylady posted the group pic from her camera at Shutterfly and I'm looking at that now.

Peggy, you asked about Shutterfly.  I got an email from Shutterfly saying that Shortskinnylady had added me as a member of the site.  I had to follow the link and create a user name.  If you can do Facebook, I'm sure you can do this site.  I've been going through Shortskinnylady's pics and she's got some good ones!

Steve, about us looking to the left for Gene's shot.  Hmmm.  It seems like there were two people taking a whole bunch of pics for all of us.  Maybe at the time Gene took his pic something had happened to make us look away?  I don't remember.

06 Oct 2010 5:37 PM
ruffianruns

OK...  Having my words come out of Steve Haskin's mouth is REALLY weird!  But thanks Steve for posting.  It must have been the links.

06 Oct 2010 5:40 PM
Cleone

Dr. D, ruffianruns did indeed bow to the Queen!  I have a photo to prove it.

I will post later about my experience, I am slammed at work right now, but maybe tonight?  I need to go through my photos, too.

06 Oct 2010 5:48 PM
ruffianruns

OH!  Dr D!  I DID bow like you told me to!  I forgot about that.  People please back be up.  I got down on my hands and knees and I kissed the ground before the Queen.  Really, really, I did!  I had wet knees!  My cousin got a picture of it, but Zen's not in the pic, so there's no context.  Did anyone else get a pic of me prostrate before the Queen?

06 Oct 2010 6:02 PM
Aluminaut

Does anyone have an extra Club House seat in their box w/access to the lower level to sell for the Breeder's Cup?

After Friday and Saturday I sure want to go again--I went in 2006 to see Invasor win the Classic and visit John Henry at the KHP.

On the site they're still trying to sell me the whole box, just like at the pre-sale when I only wanted a couple seats.  Now I'm willing to go alone.  

I have great seats reserved at the Del Mar Satellite, but that just doesn't compare to seeing Zenyatta, Blame, QR and the others in person at Churchill.  Club House lower level allows you to walk down to the finish line/Winner's Circle area.

I'm smitten wit da mare!

06 Oct 2010 6:28 PM
Aluminaut

Steve,

If some of the Bloggers are looking to the left--Stage left, it's because Dottie says to get Zenyatta in the photo behind us, and whenever we hear "Zenyatta" we have to take a look, ya know!

What a great time we had, and all of Zenyatta's Team were pleasant and kind.  A big thanks again to Steve H, ruffianruns, Team Z, and the Steve Haskin Bloggers who were such great company.  Hope to meet more of you sometime.  Good luck at the races!

06 Oct 2010 6:33 PM
dinkydiva

Steve, can you send me the pic too? Please?  

I have to add, I think that you (Steve) are great for the industry. I love everything you write and I love you and Lenny!  I'm sure you both and stableboy, have a lot to talk about on the next "And They're off!"

06 Oct 2010 6:44 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Got it !!! Thanks Steve. What a great photo, and with all of those happy, smiling faces, and that couldn't be The Queen could it !!!! How gracious of her. Nice looking group. I wonder why someone is hiding? That isn't Richard Kimble is it?

06 Oct 2010 6:45 PM
sherpa

Mr. Haskin, can you see our email addresses when we post a comment?  If not, please tell me how to send an email to you.  I would so love to see the picture(s).  

Stupid me, I found a way to watch all of Saturday's OTH races LIVE online  - and FREE - where I could see the horses in the paddock, the post parade, winner's circle & everything.  It was great! But I didn't find it until AFTER the 1st race. :-( rats rats rats!  

Zoo, I am really feeling your hurt over Streak.  Been there more than once.  But I'm awfully glad ruffianruns talked you into coming into town to spend the time with Zenyatta.  The day's memories will always be colored with a tinge of sadness, of course; but if you had stayed home, the memory would have been laden with regret as well.  Sadness is unavoidable in the course of living; but *regret* CAN be avoided when you have a choice.  You made the right one.

ruffianruns, you are obviously someone who makes things happen!  Love your enthusiasm and all the energy you bring to the blogs. Wish you'd get me to the BC! LOL!

Mr. Haskin - Steve - thank you for all you did to make the day with Zen possible for these folks.  You didn't have to do it, and it warms my heart that you did.  

06 Oct 2010 7:03 PM
Steve Haskin

Dinky and Sherpa, the photos have been sent. And thank you for the kind words.

06 Oct 2010 7:24 PM
ruffianruns

Shortskinnylady took some videos of our visit with Zenyatta.  I've been having trouble posting them, so I'm going to try one more time.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-97th0GXydk

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYea8g1aytY

I hope you enjoy!  I hope you don't get sick of the exclamation points.

06 Oct 2010 7:43 PM
Cleone

ruffianruns, Michelle (John S's assistant) was taking pictures with our cameras.  I'm guessing that was who those of us looking left were looking at!  I know Queen Z was behind us at that point.  

06 Oct 2010 7:59 PM
Zookeeper

sherpa,

You're correct, I made the right decision. Ruffianruns made me do it!!! (usually used as a pee-poor excuse, but in this case it's so true!) lol!

Mr Haskin- I think I may be the person in a pale blue shirt... however, I wasn't hiding. The photographer was probably protecting his camera. :)

06 Oct 2010 8:13 PM
Linda in Texas

You Bloggies must have had a zooper time in California and i would love to know if there is a new blogger reading all of this for the first time, if they are wondering what in the world did Steve do for all those women!!!!

And think they come across the wrong blog.

Thank you Zookeeper and Dr. Drunkinbum for your kind remarks.

I was introduced to animals before i could walk, my dad raised Cockers while he was in Med. School, first picture ever taken of me was in a play pen with a blonde cocker.  

Then in his later years,my dad's devotion and interest turned to  Labrador and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and he showed them in Field Trials all over the country. i have many of their trophies, Sloe Gin Fiz the Chessie, Poco Rio Seco and Tank the Black Labs and

me, i always brought home the strays but my dad felt like i did, that ancestors or pedigrees did not change what was in a person's or a dog's heart. He was a Heart Specialist in all kinds of ways. I am a chip off the old block.

Enough about me. I need to find out where i can see some of the photos.

I hope someone will tell what it was like to be so close to Zenyatta and look her in the eye.

Can you see clear thru to her heart or does she keep you guessing? Is she moody or always on an even keel?

When she comes back from a race or is headed to race, does she seem to check out what is going on, or does she just do it from habit. I

always get the sense that she is looking for someone, maybe the Mosses. Just wondering if she has

any favorites amongst those who see her daily. And does she like mints (chocolate or peppermint) or carrots????

Does she whinny at other horses and flirt????

Just some girlie girl questions that i was wondering about.

I have butterflies that will not be stilled until after 'the race' in November.

You all are a wonderful group and i truly enjoy every single person who posts here and everywhere.

Thanks Steve. You made so many folks forget about reality for a few hours and no one can take that experience of a lifetime from them and their posts exude a true inner sense of sheer happiness that is contagious.

06 Oct 2010 8:43 PM
Aluminaut

Steve,

Please send the photo if you have a chance.  Thanks so much again to Steve, ruffianruns and Team Z for  making Friday and Saturday a wonderful time for the bloggers, owners and fans everywhere.  

06 Oct 2010 8:48 PM
sherpa

OH! What a great picture of great-lookin' people with the most bountifully beautific horse in the world! Thank you for sending it to me, Steve!  

But Zoo, did you hide behind that very pretty young lady on purpose?  I'm afraid you did!  I wanted to see you :-(

06 Oct 2010 8:53 PM
sherpa

The videos are terrific!  It's just so awesome that you were all that close to Zen.

<sigh>

06 Oct 2010 9:06 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, would i be imposing to ask you to please send me the picture sherpa is thanking you for.

Thanks so much.

Linda

06 Oct 2010 9:24 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Peggy

 I want to hear more about your first visit to the track. Did you bet? Aren't the horses powerful when thundering down the stretch? Did you see anything that surprised you from the bettors or crowd? Did you see the horses in the paddock? Are you going again?

ruffianruns

    Good job bowing to The Queen. I'm proud of you. I sense even more enthusiasm and confidence coming from you post trip. I think it did you good. Sorry I couldn't make it. Hopefully next time.

Zookeeper

   How was the dentist? I'm really glad you mustered up the strength and courage to go to HP Friday after what happened. Blogger Power.

Cleone

   Looking forward to hearing about your experience.

Aluminaut

   How did the energy compare to other events you've been to? Glad you could go.

Steve

   Thanks for helping our Blogger Buddies out, and being so gracious sending out photos. It was a little too weird there for a few days not hearing a word from anyone except Zookeeper about the experience. All is well now.

06 Oct 2010 10:42 PM
Zookeeper

sherpa,

You're better off not knowing. LOL!

Linda in Texas,

Zenyatta is very calm around the barn. The only time she got excited was when Dottie was on her cell phone with Mr. Moss and she told us to say Hello to him. We all yelled "Hello Jerry" and the Queen got startled and jumped around a bit. She calmed right down after that, no problem. The rest of the time, she was on a very even keel and that's because they stick to a strict routine with her. That way, she knows what to expect and stays really mellow.

The most endearing thing I saw her do was while I was sitting down on a storage bin at the entrance to the barn, watching her go round and round, cooling off. At some point, Dottie came out of the office, just as Zen was passing by. Dottie said: "Well, hello pretty girl!" Zen walked a few steps towards her and stretched her neck to receive Dottie's kiss. That seemed to satisfy her greatly and she continued with her cooling-off routine. Love runs rampant in that barn!

Race day is a different story. I don't know what she's like at the barn, but when she enters the paddock area, she exudes power. She is much more tense and appears to be in "a zone". It's show time and she knows it. She's not just going through the motions, she's getting ready for battle and you can feel the pent-up energy waiting to be released. There's only one word for her: AWESOME. Too bad that word is so over-used... but it's true meaning is examplified by Zenyatta and her presence.  

06 Oct 2010 11:05 PM
Zookeeper

Did you guys see the pictures of Rachel Alexandra on the DRF's website? She's leaving Saratoga for Kentucky. It was comforting to see her looking so well, alert and seemingly happy. I wish her a long and serene life, on the greenest of pastures. Hope her foals are as beautiful and talented as their Dam. (Sigh)

07 Oct 2010 12:15 AM
Audrey Heiligman

Rachel Alexandra!!!

07 Oct 2010 1:18 AM
Cleone

Linda in Texas, you asked:

1) I hope someone will tell what it was like to be so close to Zenyatta and look her in the eye.

Do you know, it was a surprisingly calm experience.  Zenyatta herself handles everything with such aplomb that sometimes it was hard to remember she was who she is!  We did keep commenting on how it kind of felt like watching one of John S's youtube videos - familiar place, familiar horse.  But my BRAIN was pretty awed, when I let it remind me.  I do agree with Zookeeper that it almost seemed like the Zenyatta of Friday was a different horse than the Saturday Zenyatta.  

2)Can you see clear thru to her heart or does she keep you guessing?

Honestly, she ignored us most of the time.  "Yes, yes, more of my adoring public.  Whatever."  LOL!  It's clear, though, that she knows she is top dog.  She's very regal and self-possessed.  

3) Is she moody or always on an even keel?

She was very calm and professional on Friday, except for the phone incident which Zookeeper described (and which was Dottie's fault!).  It was pretty funny how every one of us just froze when Zenyatta spooked.  I don't think Mario was amused, though.  

4) When she comes back from a race or is headed to race, does she seem to check out what is going on, or does she just do it from habit.

You understand that we only saw her before the race in the paddock and in the post parade, warming up, and on the way to the gate, and you probably had a better view on TV.  But she came into the paddock doing her dance - strutting her stuff!  And again, after the race, you could probably see better on TV. But she does stop and put her head up in that regal way she has, and just look at the crowd.  And again, you can almost hear her saying, "Yes, yes, I'm wonderful."  

I kind of got a kick out of watching Switch in the paddock as she circled near us after being saddled.  She was clearly eying the crowd with a touch of suspicion and thinking something along the lines of, "Wow, I never saw this many people before!"  

5)I always get the sense that she is looking for someone, maybe the Mosses. Just wondering if she has

any favorites amongst those who see her daily.

She was doing the regal gazing into the distance on Friday, too, and all the people she knows well were there, so apparently it's just something she does.  She does seem to be a keen observer of what's going on around her.  

6) And does she like mints (chocolate or peppermint) or carrots????  

Well, I know she likes stout!  Ruffianruns can tell you what kind, since John S rushed out to offer her a fist-bump for getting the right kind.  :)  We were allowed to feed Zardana some carrots, but were not permitted to touch the Queen.  (Actually, no one ever said we COULDN'T, but since we weren't invited to, we didn't.)

7) Does she whinny at other horses and flirt????

She grazed on the same little patch of grass with Zardana for a while, and couldn't have cared less.  Horses walked past on their way to and from the training track, and she didn't care about that, either.  From what Dottie said, I got the impression that she is fond of her pony (is his name Hootie?  That's what I think I heard...), who accompanied her to and from the track for her gallop.  But really, she never seemed that interested in the other horses.  

Great questions, Linda! I don't know if I answered them effectively, but I did what I could.

07 Oct 2010 1:52 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper and Group

  Zookeeper-  great post about Dottie and Zenyatta, and going to battle etc. You're really quite an excellent writer. I got another picture, and you're in it this time !!! Nice to see you !!!! You and everyone else look great, and so happy. You've all made us so proud here in the Bloggerville capital. Thanks to all of you for representing us and giving Queen Zenyatta the inspiration to win the race. I have never seen a  more special group of Haskinites. Can't wait for the sequel. Haskinites 2, or Revenge of the Haskinites or The Haskinite Story or Everything You Wanted to Know About Haskinites But Were Afraid To Ask, or Haskinites Go to The Derby. Good job everyone and thanks for the photos. ruffianruns- I was able to see Zenyatta's bath from the one link you posted, the other didn't work. Thanks. Your hard work paid off getting fellow bloggers together for a very special treat. Sounds like the barn enjoyed you guys as much as you enjoyed them, and I'm sure Zenyatta loved it too. What a sweetheart for a monster !!!!

07 Oct 2010 2:02 AM
Cleone

One of our group set up a private place for those of us fortunate enough to visit Zenyatta last week, but I know if I hadn't been among them, I'd want to see pictures!  And I don't mind sharing mine, though it will take me a while to get them all scanned and uploaded.  But I formed a Facebook page, which, if I set it up correctly, should be accessible to anyone.  

It's "SH Blogger's Group" and I have uploaded just a few photos - I was using my film camera mostly because it's the one with the good lenses, so I have to scan those photos before I can upload.  

Everyone else who was there should feel free to upload their own photos!  Or hey, if you weren't with our group, but you've got some great photos from another day, another race, another horse... go for it.  :)

07 Oct 2010 2:31 AM
dinkydiva

I'm in envy of your group! I think I would have fainted from being so star struck!!

Thanks, Steve, Mr.Haskin for the photo. So, who is who????

I also loved you and Lenny and Stableboy tonight! What else can you say about Zen besides, U-N-B-E-L-I-A-B-L-E...?!! Love it.  Please, keep posting the links.  ESPN, did a lousy job on their coverage and I didn't see the pre-race or even the winners circle ceremony! Again, thanks all!  :)

07 Oct 2010 3:29 AM
EasyGoerFan

Is it okay if I post something about Rachel Alexandra?  :)

Barbara Livingston's photos of Rachel are so beautiful.  I love the montage of Rachel leaping up in her first stride after being released by Scott Blasi.  What a gorgeous filly and all the more befuddling that we don't know why she has been retired.  She seemed eager to train so it's kind of sad that she won't be able to kick into high gear and gallop down the track.  Does anybody know if she will jog at CD for a few weeks or if she's headed straight to the farm?

07 Oct 2010 8:28 AM
ruffianruns

Linda in Texas - Thanks for sharing about your dad and the animals.  I've been a stray collector too.  My two kitties were on their way to the pound when I took them.  This trip was the first time I've been away from them in their three year old lives.  Zenyatta and I had a little playful moment where she looked really super curious.  Mario was walking her in slow, gentle circles around the little grassy area while she was grazing.  I had kneeled on the ground (I think this was before my bow, but I can't remember exactly) to take a picture of her from grazing head level as he brought her around.  She came around with her head low, stopped, and I thought she looked right at me.  I took the picture then squealed to the group, "Was she just looking at me?"  And I think it was Shortskinnylady that said, "Yeah, she was checkin' you out!"  When we got back to my room that night, my cousin loaded all the pics, and I saw the one I took and she is looking right at the camera and me with a look of "What sort of creature is that?"  Gives me butterflies.  Also, we learned that she doesn't like apples, but she does like carrots, and, of course, Guinness.  I was very impressed with how professional she was, very even keel as Zoo and Cleone said.  Have you seen the videos?  She was very funny getting her bath.  When she looked off in the distance with her head high, it was just beyond stunning.  She's so beautiful.  Gene, Steve's friend, said it best when he was looking through his pictures:  Her dapples have dapples!

07 Oct 2010 9:56 AM
ruffianruns

Thank you all for sharing our Zenyatta visit joy and excitement.  I hope I don't forget anyone, but Slew, txhorsefan, Dr D, dinkydiva, sherpa, Linda in Texas... have all made me smile time and again.  Thanks.

Cleone - Thanks for backing me up on the bow before the Queen.  Hmmm, for some reason, I have no problem admitting a four-legged is my superior!  Oh, and yes, it was Michelle taking the group pictures.  She must have had 10 cameras!

Sherpa - If *I* could get to the BC, I would take you!  Thanks for your kind words.

Dr D - I agree with the more enthusiasm - I'm on top of the world!  Interesting about the more confidence.  Perhaps.  Maybe some of Zenyatta's greatness is contagious.

Zookeeper - We really did startle the poor girl, but she did calm down right away.  I have a blurry picture of the Dottie/Zenyatta kiss!  In the pic, Dottie is leaning forward to give the kiss.  I thought that was so sweet.  

Cleone - Spooking Z was Dottie's fault!  LOL!  We did all freeze and Mario was NOT amused.  I think I pointed at Dottie and blamed her!  She took it well, both Dottie and Zenyatta.  It was neat that Dottie was telling Jerry about the group being there.

Peggy had a good rundown of the two days.  Rinterval going over was a very scary moment.  The sound was so loud!  I'm glad I didn't know about the death threats then.  I almost couldn't take the strain as it was.  In the walking ring, Zenyatta looked more amped up than usual to me, and that worried me.  Then Rinterval reared and went over, then Switch, who had already beaten Blind Luck, looked like a giant killer.  I had a mini-love affair with her, she is such a beauty with big, big dark eyes.  I had to tell her that she couldn't win on that day.  Oh, I was a mess by the time the race rolled around, and Zenyatta nearly killed me when it didn't seem like she was gaining any ground on Switch.  I remember Zookeeper grabbing me and hiding in my shoulder, like she didn't want to look at the finish.  I was frozen, stricken with fear.  When Zen flashed by us in front, I was a wet rag.  Geez, that is dangerous!

Cleone is right.  We were just more of her adoring fans.  Good job answering Linda's questions!  That fist-bump moment with John is one of my favorites.  Did anyone get that on video or in a pic?  That was AWESOME!

07 Oct 2010 9:58 AM
sodapopkid

Cleone and Zookeeper, thankyou both for filling us in on your great day with the queen.  Gosh, I am so darn jealous.  I love reading about her in the paddock from your eye view.  Keep telling us,  I love hearing about her.

07 Oct 2010 10:00 AM
Linda in Texas

Zookeeper and Cleone - After i sent all those questions, i thought to myself, with some of the manley mans on here, they are going to say to themselves is this woman nuts?

But the questions go to my way of sizing things up for the whole picture. I just was curious if on race day she feels something is up and you answered all that i had in mind. Thank you muchly.

She clearly is in tune with her surroundings and cares deeply about what others think of her.

She aims to please and that is really a treat to know. I was a psychology major in college, never could get enough of it and the subject intrigues me as much with humans as with animals.

Well maybe some of the enthusiasm for Zenyatta rubbed off on Switch, that is nice. So the adage that attention to one brings attention to all is so true.  

I will zero in on Hootie next time they are walking to the gate, i am always in 'stunnation' (a stunned state of mind) when i watch Zenyatta on her way to race that everything around her is a blur to me. I am always thinking, i wonder if Mike Smith keeps a special set racing silks that he wears only when he races Zenyatta for good luck?

You mentioned Mario, i have watched him with her especially right after the races and i can tell he is all business and deeply devoted to her and Zenyatta does trust him. It just is an entire family affair and my wish would be that every single horse that races could have the attention Zenyatta receives.

Thank you Zoop and Cleone, those were great answers. I bet it was hard to believe that you were so close to her.

I know the guys like the furlongs and quarter posts but me, i just love watching her take em' down one by one, but bless all of them for their efforts as she does.

You can see exactly when Mike must tell her some secret word and she knows what she has to do. Glorious, just glorious to observe.

Thank you Steve for the photos.

Great seeing smiles on everyone's face and Zenyatta standing in the shade.

I am going to attempt to make 8 x 10's on my new HP multi-pixil scanner. It is still in the box so that will be a project for me today.

Thinking about you Rachel Alexandra, we have not deserted you.

07 Oct 2010 10:27 AM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

As I watched the new edition of "and... They're Off" I admired your patience under intense pressure from Lenny to recap last weekend's races in the space of a few minutes. As slow as he talks, he couldn't do it if his life depended on it. You did express a certain level of annoyance with the pitch fork remark to Stable Boy. LOL!

I always enjoy these videos, the only problem is that they aren't long enough, especially when you try to cover the races of a day like last Saturday.

In your article "Countdown to the Cup", you , at least, had the chance to put two thoughts together. That was much more informative and as always, a pleasure to read.

Oh! I almost forgot! It will be fun to follow the "exploits" of LeftyLennytheLegend. What a name!!!

07 Oct 2010 11:04 AM
Linda in Texas

Just looked at DRF.com, Rachel's photos are accessible and now i am sorry i looked at them.

Rachel Alexandra is 4 years old. She looks 10. She clearly does not look enthusiastic or happy and it does not take a trained eye to see that.

What a sad day for all of us but for her, i know she wonders what the hell did i do wrong? Not one of us can tell her she did a magnificent job and is one super filly for all the racing books and stats that will be written about her.

They surely won't use any of these 3 on the cover's of any books written about her.

I wish she was headed to the Mosses/Shirreffs stables. That is all i can say.

And Dr. D = the photos will depress you, as they did me, i am sure.

And she is only 4 years old.

Love you Rachel.

Steve captioned this blog with the subject, "Rachel Explanation Needed."

After looking at her walking to the trailer to exit Saratoga, no words are needed.

Her pictures are worth a thousand words.  

Thank you Rachel Alexandra

07 Oct 2010 11:10 AM
Aluminaut

Dr. Drunkinbum,

The energy at Hollywood Park was incredible.  There were more people at Del Mar, but at Hollywood Park, the majority were there to see Zenyatta.  Lots of children held up by their parents to see the Big Mare.  

Wish you were there.

07 Oct 2010 12:51 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Linda in Texas

   Rachel will get better. She needs a parade. She needs for fans to be able to visit her. Stars get used to adoring human attention, and enjoy it. She gave it all she had in her last, and to go out losing is a little sad. You're probably right, she remembers that last race, and feels like she did something wrong. If paraded in front of the fans just one more time would boost her spirits and she would know that even though she isn't racing anymore, everyone still loves her. This is not about HOY, or Zenyatta vs. Rachel, this is about two magnificient winners who put their lives on the line for us to think that we are winners, so that we can feel like champions for a few minutes, or a few days, or a few weeks, or forever,  without running a step, so that we can escape the human world for awhile and fly like the wind with them. The human world needs more people like you that help animals to be themselves, and enjoy the brief lives they have. The Zenyatta barn is magnificent. They understand that the horse comes first. Rachel is retired, and we hope that it's in her best interest, and that she'll be OK, but please let her walk in front of cheering fans one more time so that she can then walk proudly into retirement like she deserves.

07 Oct 2010 1:06 PM
Zookeeper

Linda in Texas,

How can we look at the same pictures and come up with opposite impressions? Rachel looks like she's 10yrs old? What am I missing? She looks fine to me, her ears are up, her eyes seem bright... on what do you base your assessment? I'm not being argumentative, I just want to know what you see that I don't. Could it be that I look at things through rose-colored glasses? Was my observation the result of wishful thinking?

07 Oct 2010 2:09 PM
jayjay

The one person I wanted to hear from with regards to RA's retirement is Scott Blasi, he's the one that's with her pretty much all the time. He was her personal guardian, he would know the real deal.  

SteveH : Do you have the bandwidth to get an interview with Scott ?  or maybe he's not allowed to say anything (gag order).

LiT : I don't know if she looks 10 but she does look like she aged quite a bit.  Her coat isn't as shiny.  I'm hoping that she gets rejuvenated and enjoys life as a broodmare.  She deserves lots of carrots and guinness :)

Thanks SteveH for sending me the pick! Now someone has to tell me who's who!!  I wanna know who that smart one is that went under the shade, it was hot that day! :)  I also want to know how you guys managed to get each other's emails, I didn't see anyone posting their email addy here.

07 Oct 2010 2:18 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Aluminaut

  Thank you !! I'm really glad you went and had such a good time. Sounds like an excellent group chemistry to me.

Zookeeper

   My thoughts exactly on that lightning round. Nerve racking.

ruffianruns

   Hang on to that enthusiasm !!!!!!

07 Oct 2010 2:43 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I have to believe that Rachel is fine physically, but that mentally she may not really want to race anymore. I'm like most everyone else, I want more explanation. There is no point in encouraging speculation by not giving more details on the thought process behind the retirement. There is nothing to gain, and too much to lose for the racing community. Have you noticed how many people are saying that they became racing fans because of Rachel, and how many were saying that they were going to The Breeder's Cup just because of Rachel? At a time when racing needs help, don't worsen things with secrecy regarding the retirement of a big star. Sit down with Steve Haskin or anyone, and answer questions about Rachel, and her retirement and career. Don't let it end this way. Rachel captured new and old fans like few have. The barn has been with her everyday so they know how she is doing or has changed mentally but were they involved in the decision? We don't know. I want to assume that it's in Rachel's best interest to be retired, but I also know that the cloud of secrecy about it is not in the best interests of racing.

07 Oct 2010 2:57 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

I read somewhere that Rachel is going to Asmussen's barn at CD for a slow "let down" before she goes to the farm. So there is no reason for Mr. Jackson to not give her the sort of "Goodbye Parade, we love you Rachel" you describe in your post. If he doesn't... it will surprise the heck out of me and the fans disappointment will be tremendous. Let's hope that it will happen and that her dedicated fans will get the chance to honor her. If Jackson or Asmussen can't get it accomplished, let's give the job to Ruffianruns, she gets things DONE! lol!

07 Oct 2010 3:17 PM
Slew

Wow...so much to catch up on.  To all the Haskin groupies at HP...Thanks to you, I'm all set for next St. Patrick's Day...green with envy from head to toe.  At the same time, I'm utterly thrilled that you all went to see the queen...and to imagine I was a small part of that spur is beyond contemplation.  I'm just so happy for you all, and I truly wish I could have been there.  I will have to take some time to check out all the photos posted...and I can't wait.  Other free advice, since you all express yourselves so admirably, write down your experiences of the day, save it, then hand it down to your children and grandchildren, so that they too can share in a mare who is becoming a legend...and know for certain Zenyatta is real, and not just a page in Wiki.

Steve...I think you are fantastic not just as a writer, but as a driving force in bringing fans and their favorites together for an unforgettable day.

07 Oct 2010 3:18 PM
Slew

Zookeeper:  I checked out the DRF's photos of Rachel A., and I sort of agree with Linda on this one.  Maybe there's a sort of droopiness to her demeanor (it might just be because the groom's hold is so close), I'm so used to seeing her with her head held high.  None of RA's usual connections are anywhere to be seen in the photos.  It just sort of appears to be a lonely horse.  At least, that is the impression I got, and the photos made me sad too.

07 Oct 2010 3:32 PM
Linda M

DrD.....I couldn't agree with you more.  How Rachel packed each and every venue she raced at, and, poof, no explanation as to why she is going to the breeding shed?  It is not fair to her fans.

07 Oct 2010 3:58 PM
ruffianruns

If you couldn't see the videos, try going to YouTube and searching for Shortskinnylady.  The top two videos are Zenyatta's warm up walk and her bath.

Dr D - It would have been fun to have you there!  You sound like such a warm, wonderful person.  I want Rachel to hear some more cheering, too.

Cleone - A Facebook page sounds like a great idea!  Do I have to be a member of Facebook to post pics?  Probably, huh?  Go to bed!

jayjay - I posted my email address and that's how we all got together.  Cleone also posted hers later.  Kind of amazing how it all worked out.

07 Oct 2010 4:00 PM
Linda in Texas

So heartfelt are your words Dr. D.

for Rachel. Indeed you are so right on all counts.

There was no fanfare as she left Saratoga, i am surprised photos were allowed to tell you the truth.

I went to The Stonestreet Farms web site to peruse where she will be. Beautiful Farm to put it mildly. And the open fields looked lush and green and i guess Rachel will be in one of them either by herself or with the 100 broodmares that live there. But she will be just another broodmare.

I have thought about Mr. and Mrs. Jackson and their children and i have felt somewhat guilty for some of the things i have said. However, i never dissed the family,

my comments as best i recollect are totally about Rachel. Just like she has been at Saratoga and

not 'at home' or in New Orleans but she will be home soon, i presume with the family. That will be a new experience for her. Rachel is 4 years old. Still so young.

To have the week that we have all had as admiring fans of all things horse, to go from the bottom to the top and then back to the center is rough.

I am a very sensitive person and try my best to keep the water works to a minimum, but after reading your post of 1:06 PM, 'Bumster,' i did not succeed.

You are a special person yourself Dr. Drunkinbum, and a little sensitive to say the least. We  will all hope for the best for Rachel Alexandra and her new home.

Surely someone there will let her know what joy she brought and brings to so many, still. And hopefully someone will be allowed to give updates on her activities.

I know i sure will be looking forward to them.

Safe trip Rachel and hugs from all of us who know how hard you worked to do what you did not just on the race tracks, but the hope you have brought so many.

Amen.

Now we can turn our dreams and best wishes for the safe trips of the new up and coming 2 year olds and look forward to Runflatout's appearances. And Winter Dreams a winner last week end. And more of Looking at Lucky,and all the other great ones that have to meet the bars that were raised by both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta and we were witness to it all. Cannot get any better than that.

Thank you Steve. We all know you have a huge heart yourself. Who else would be monitoring this blog, making sure posts are posted and send out links to folks at midnight in answer to requests for pictures. You are one devoted writer. We appreciate you and that's a given. You deserve WOY,

Writer of the Year!

07 Oct 2010 4:08 PM
Peggy

EasyGoerFan,

It's not only OK for you to post about Rachel, I love it and thank you for it.  It's nice to hear comments like yours because I have been heartbroken this last week worrying about her.

Have you been to her Facebook page?  I went there on the day of the retirement announcement and people were in shock.  It was like a wake with track workers as well as fans posting their feelings of loss.  It took a while for the moderator of the Facebook page to say anything.  The next day, the profile shot of Rachel (which had been her head) changed to one of her riding into the sunset with a jockey.  So besutiful, it made me cry.

07 Oct 2010 4:19 PM
Aluminaut

Dr. Drunkinbum,

You're right.  On Saturday at Hollywood Park people were discussing Rachel's retirement, and quite a few mentioned that Rachel is the horse that brought them into racing as a fan.

07 Oct 2010 4:36 PM
Linda in Texas

Zookeeper, are you referring to the 3 photos of Rachel walking away from the stalls en route to the van?

I read your words about her looking great and i thought i must be looking at the wrong photos.

To me she looks bloated in the first photo and just not her best is what i guess i am getting at.

Maybe it was the angle of the shot.

Then she is glancing over at the van as if where am i going now and her head is down in the last picture and she just does not look her best i guess i should say.

Her body language is just off and so is her physical appearance, regardless of where her ears are.

And to me her eyes looked sad. She looks tired to me.

I think when she gets to Stonestreet she will finally be home. Maybe she will become acclimated once she does not have to leave Kentucky and go stand in a stall somewhere else.

I hope all she needs to perk her up is some good ol' Green Grass of Kentucky.

Wishful thinking on the answer to your post. But never never take off those rose colored glasses!

Maybe i should put on your rose colored glasses. God knows i want Rachel happy! I just want her to remember what it feels like.

07 Oct 2010 4:36 PM
ruffianruns

I just finished Barbara Livingston's blog Goodbye to Rachel.  Is that a tear jerker or what?  Oh, my heart is broken.  I hope she will be happy where she's going.  I think she looks good.

If not for Rachel Alexandra, I never would have known about Zenyatta.  If not for Rachel Alexandra losing her second race of the year, I wouldn't have found these blogs.  I needed to be consoled.  I was confused.  When she skipped away to win by 10 lengths, my heart sang.  Then I worried again in her next race.  I had never checked for weekly works before; I had never searched high and low for any shred of information about anything.  Until Rachel Alexandra.  I love that girl!  I love that blaze.  I hope she will be happy.

07 Oct 2010 4:37 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Two Days at The Races Bloggers

    There was nothing wrong with Jim C. singling JP's Gusto in the Pick6. That was probably one of the two most logical singles on the card, and you have to have 2 or 3 races to single to have any chance unless you're spending a fortune, and even then it's best to have a single or two !!! If it was 1 1/8 or longer I could have singled Jaycito, but as it was I would have had two horses in that race. I couldn't really have seperated those two at 1 1/16. Pk6, you just have to give it your best shot for a reasonable price. It's very, very difficult to hit. I couldn't have hit it even if I would have singled Jaycito, but I wouldn't have anyway. JP's Gusto could even win it at BC.

Zookeeper

   I didn't see anything either. It's too early anyway, and you'd have to be around her all of the time anyway. I do think she might be a little tired and discouraged. It has been a long haul this year. I strongly suspect that they made the right decision to retire her, but she looks fine. I felt all year that she may have had enough of racing. Let's hope she'll be happy as a broodmare. How are you doing??!!

07 Oct 2010 5:10 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

I'm doing well! Thanks to "Blogger Power" (to borrow your words).

I have news of Runflatout. As I'm typing this, he's on his way to Carla's barn at Hollywood Park to resume his training. I was planning to go visit him at the Ranch tomorrow but they accelerated his departure and I missed out on a private visit with him. He must be doing really well for them to scoop him out ahead of schedule. I imagine he was wanting to get out and run. I'll get more details when I speak with Carla and the partnership VP when I see them. So, I'm fastening my seat belt once more. "...On the Road Again"!!!

07 Oct 2010 5:58 PM
Zookeeper

Linda in Texas,

You will never forget what it feels like. How could you? She's unforgettable!!! You can borrow my rose-colored glasses if you want. They come in real handy when the going gets tough. lol!

07 Oct 2010 6:07 PM
dinkydiva

Ok, I am looking threw tears as well after reading "Barbara's" blog and the pics.  The only things that I really noticed in the pics was that Rach is very unhappy and she's gained weight. I loved the picture of Blasi letting her go!  Her leaping in the air, eager to get it on!  Saying; let me go, come on now!  LOL

I agree that there should be a few moments set aside to send her a farewell but, I don't think the BC would be the place for it. I think that would be an injustise to those actually running or that have run in the BC.  Maybe a day or so before?  

07 Oct 2010 6:29 PM
sherpa

First, I need to say another THANK YOU! to Mr. Haskin for sending me the second group picture.  Much better! ;-)

Second, I want to thank all of you who were there - Zoo, ruffianruns, Cleone, Peggy & Aluminaut - for the terrific comments about your day w/Zen and at the race.  Can't read enough about it!!

Let me also say to Linda in Texas, whose comments are always so kind and thoughtfully composed, don't judge Rachel by the 3 pictures on DRF's front page.  Go and look at/read Barbara Livingston's BLOG where there are loads of pictures that truly show off Rachel's beauty and energy.  When I saw it Tuesday, I was, like, how can they be thinking of sending this filly to the breeding shed???  

Another thing everyone needs to read at DRF (sorry) if you haven't already is Dan Illman's blog at the first of this week, entitled "Zenyatta on the Brain."  It is just so cute!

I joined Facebook months ago because of particular things I wanted to see, but never really got the hang of it and haven't gone back.  You better believe I'm going to spend some time working on it now, SH Bloggers!

07 Oct 2010 8:30 PM
Peggy

Zookeeper,

I'm happy for RFO and you.  Keep us posted on how he's doing and when he will return to racing.  I might make another trip down to LA to see that and I'll bet on him too, Dr. D.

For any who might have mistakenly thought that I am the "cute young girl" that ZK is hiding behind in the Bloggers picture, I am one over.  My husband, Craig is 2nd from the end next to ruffianruns.

07 Oct 2010 8:32 PM
sherpa

Zoo, just went back to read recent posts and saw your news of Runflatout - YIPPEEE!!!

07 Oct 2010 8:33 PM
ruffianruns

Hooray for Runflatout!  Hooray!

07 Oct 2010 8:50 PM
Shortskinnylady

Hi everyone! Shortskinnylady here.. have read everyone's take on last Friday and Saturday with Zen at the barn and races, and could not have described those two days better. Surreal is the best word that comes to mind for me. I mentioned to our group recently, who bonded incredibly over those 2 days, that I couldn't decide as to which was better: the experience at the barn for 3 hours on Friday, or watching the race in person (plus everything else that went on there that day) with her coming down to the wire like being shot out of a catapult the last 15-20 strides - did you count them? I don't know the answer, really. Both days were extraordinary.

Slew: You are absolutely right. I mentioned in a prior blog that I was fortunate enough to see Secretariat at Claiborne Farm in '83, five years after his wins, and five years before he died. I took a couple of photos, stuck them in an album, and there they've been all these years later. Did I ever expect that that picture would be so special all these years later? Maybe, but no matter what, I am SO glad I did that. Yes, I think some kind of personal archive of our 2 days is necessary as part of my own family history!

As for our Shutterfly page for our race group, I do have to say I was asked to keep that site private by a couple of the members who would rather not have a high Internet photo presence, so am respecting that. Hope everyone else will also. Maybe that horse is already out of the barn on that one, however, based on what I've read.

Have enjoyed reading everyone's comments, and think I'll be dropping in more often! :-)

07 Oct 2010 8:56 PM
Linda M

For all of us Rachel fans, before she heads to the fields, I think it would be wonderful if she could have a big beautiful farewell at a couple of the the tracks.  Oh, that face, her markings are incredible.

Have fun with the boys Rachel, how can I forget you?  Nope, have your pic and Zenyatta right on the wall right where I am typing. And have recorded your incredible feats as the best 3 year old ever.

                 Linda M

07 Oct 2010 10:14 PM
Zookeeper

Thank you guys for the heads up on B. Livingston's blog. I hadn't seen it. Beautiful words and many, many more wonderful pictures of Rachel Alexandra. The empty stall really got to me. But she is still with us, thank goodness! I'm sure that someone out there will keep us in the loop through photos and articles. (There goes my wishful thinking again) I can't help it, I'm an incorrigible optimist!

08 Oct 2010 12:18 AM
Zookeeper

Peggy,

I hope you do come to the LA area again and that you get to see Santa Anita also. I like HP but SA is my favorite track. When you do come down, E-mail me, we'll make arrangements to get together.

Shortskinnylady,

You are soooo lucky to have seen the great Secretariat... and to have a personal photo of him. What a treasure! This coming Saturday, my family and I are going to see the movie. Can't wait!

If you make it to HP again, you know where to find me!

08 Oct 2010 12:41 PM
Peggy

Thanks to all that have posted about their sadness about Rachel.  Knowing that others feel the same way helps me with my own grief.  As did going to see Zenyatta.  I didn't tell her that she had been only my second favorite, now my first.

Linda in Texas,

Thank you for sharing about your interest in animal psychology.  My pets have almost always been rescue animals.  One was a monkey, a Javanese Macaque who had been raised in a cage so small she could barely move around by a Psychology grad student.  We were living in Topanga Canyon (LA area) at the time and had chickens and a goat.  Jojo, the monkey got her own large outdoor pen, but she spent most of her time running around outside.  She could open the door and get in the house too.  The problem with abusing an animal as intelligent as a primate is that they can get mean.  Jojo was that.  She took advantage of me but loved to sit by my husband and groom his back for hours.  She also loved to sit on the fence and watch the cars go by, nearly caused accidents that way.  Unfortunately, she played with a rattlesnake one day and lost her life.  I hadn't thought of her in years until I read your posts.  I really enjoyed them.

08 Oct 2010 2:46 PM
Zookeeper

My son, grandson, daughter-in-law and her parents are coming with me to see Secretariat (the movie) Saturday. None of them are horseracing fans. Some of them have never heard of Big Red. Are they in for a surprise, or what?

I just watched Lenny's interview of Penny Chenery. What a gem!!! Tomorrow cannot come soon enough! After seeing the film, maybe some of them will want to come to the races with me. I'm not holding my breath by I can hope, can't I?

08 Oct 2010 4:40 PM
sodapopkid

steve H.  Why dont' you let shortskinnylady send you the pictures she has of Secretariat and the recent ones of Zenyatta and the group and you put them on here for us all to see.  

You can do that cant you Steve????

08 Oct 2010 5:34 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zookeeper

  Just make them go to the track with you. It's for their own good !!! Or at least your Grandson. Just bribe him. Have fun at the movies. Let me know if they have Bon-Bons (in the freezer). Dots, Bon-Bons, popcorn, and soda.

08 Oct 2010 6:35 PM
Shortskinnylady

Speaking of Secretariat [slightly late considering that was the last blog topic - sorry, but ZOOKEEPER started this - hee hee :-)] because of the movie coming out, I know that it was publicized  - at least during the TV coverage, if not before -  that Penny Chenery was at HP last weekend, was interviewed in the paddock before Queen Z's race, and was in the winner's circle to present the LS trophy to the Mosses, but ONLY after I'd gone home from the track.  I didn't know she was even present until I took a picture with a telephoto lens and later saw her on it, since I didn't go down to the paddock before the race. What a thrill to see the link between the best racehorse in the last 80+ years and Queen Z today, and that Ms. Chenery made such an extraordinary effort for someone of that age to go to the track and be a part of that remarkable day there. It just made the day even more special for me, and makes me appreciate my visit to that great horse in '83 even more special today.

As I said above and before, HUGE thanks goes to MR. HASKIN for facilitating our visit to see Queen Z, and to RUFFIANSRUN for coordinating everyone and everything. She did an outstanding job, and I am still thrilled with having met such interesting people in the group and having such a good time!

ZOOKEEPER - I'll send you an email if I venture back to HP anytime soon so we might connect again - it was my privilege! Same goes to anyone else in the SH Bloggers Group from HP!

And PEGGY, please let me know if you come back down again anytime soon also!

MR. HASKIN, if you could please email me a copy of the group picture, I'd greatly appreciate it!

PS, am really enjoying reading everyone's comments, and am learning a lot!

08 Oct 2010 6:40 PM
Linda in Texas

See what i mean about the ups and downs of the good and the sad.

Streak leaves, Zenyatta wins.

Rachel leaves and moves to greener pastures, and Runflatout  is going back in training !!!!

Such great news. Doesn't get any better than that.

Peggy you are welcome. I bet your Jojo did not know that something could hurt him once he was freed from his small cage. And he was in  your care and felt comfortable with anything since you were there.

There is nothing more rewarding than the love and trust of an animal for a human being.

Been away from the computer today and am seeing that Wickedly Perfect (a gray) won the Juvenile Breeder's Cup Race today. How nice.

There are a ton of races this week end so i will be looking forward to watching as many as available on HRTV.

Shortskinnylady, i you tubed and found your videos. Thank you so much. They are wonderful. I am not savvy on Facebook, and tried to find the SH Blogger's Group but i must keep searching.

Time to go feed the critters.

I will look for Barbara Livingston's photos. But i don't know if i want to see the empty stall, Stall 2, I believe i read. She also said that stall is where Rachel spent 198 days from June of 09 until she left it just the other day.

I think it is time for Rachel to see some open fields. I must be

nieve, but i cannot understand why she would need to be sent to Asmussen for 'down time.' Can someone please explain why she would need more down time?

Enjoy all the posts and the things i learn from so many learned people. Thanks everyone, you all make my day, everyday.

Thanks Steve.

08 Oct 2010 7:03 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

ruffianruns

  It's funny how we end up here. And then it got you traveling, and to the track, and a thrilling race with energy galore. You met one of the greatest of all time just from being confused and hoping a little blogging would help. Isn't life interesting how we take paths based on little decisions. Now about that asteroid........

08 Oct 2010 7:34 PM
ruffianruns

Dr D -

I love you.  I think you've been told that before (by me?) on this blog.  You deserve all the love you get.  Thank you for placing my journey in that light.

I did come to these blogs, confused, about Rachel's second loss, among other things.  April 30th.  I remember the day well.  That was also around the time the BP rig exploded killing 11 workers and causing so much damage.  It was a SAD, SAD time.  I think I dove headlong into horses to ease the pain.  It's pretty mind boggling to think where all this has taken me.

Thank you so much for being a part of this journey.

08 Oct 2010 8:20 PM
Zookeeper

Dr Drunkinbum,

"Make them"??? I'm afraid those days are long gone, thank goodness! I'll look for the BonBons but I'm partial to Raisinets myself. Now, what about that asteroid???

Shortskinnylady,

As you can tell, we often stray from the topic. It's called Attention Deficit Disorder. Anything can set us off to some tangent or other, especially if Dr D. comes on... then, who knows where we'll end up?

08 Oct 2010 8:54 PM
NancyP

Ruffianruns and Zookeeper - Thanks for sharing the wonderful day you had with the GREAT ZENYATTA!  I know it had to be the thrill of a life time! I wish every horse that races could have a team as devoted as her's.  I'll check out the pictures on Youtube - thank you so very much for sharing them!

Zookeeper, I'm so sorry to hear about Streak's passing away.  It is a difficult time.  

Sincerely,

NancyP

09 Oct 2010 1:42 AM
Aluminaut

Um, Hi Steve,

Not that I'm desperate, but please send the blogger's group photos; especially the one with Zenyatta at the barn.  My first request was late at night due to work, and may have been missed.

Thank-you very much.

09 Oct 2010 3:09 AM
Slew

I did recheck the DRF for B. Livingston's article, and found all of the pictures much more satisfying.  Originally, I had seen only the final 3, and those are the photos I found depressing.

I firmly believe that 50 years from now, considering what she has accomplished, Zenyatta may be considered a myth rather than a flesh and blood marvel.  I still find her exploits unbelievable. That is why I recommended saving everything from your HP visit, and passing it down through your family.  I loved Jayjay's clever idea of the $19 ticket.

To be honest, blogging with Steve H. is like finding another family that welcomes you with open arms.  I think you're all quite wonderful and exude warmth, and a unique and total love of the horse along with other treasured critters.

Dr D: What's wrong with us that we didn't make it to HP?  Oh well, sometimes a vicarious adventure is better than none at all, and I feel that I have thoroughly enjoyed a day with Zen through many loving and star-struck eyes.  Thanks so much for the adventure.  I am just so happy for everyone.

09 Oct 2010 9:16 AM
sherpa

Slew, your 9:16 AM comment says it all.  So often, I find that your posts express what is in my heart.  

09 Oct 2010 10:00 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Jim C.

  I hope you can make it back here. You have had some very good posts.

Zookeeper

   I love Raisinettes. I totally forgot about them. There have been at least ten horses named Asteroid. Other than that the subject is closed. We'll talk to you at the track.

Slew

   You're right about family. There's some great people on here and they proved it when they got together in person. I would have liked to have been there, and had you there also but it would have been a struggle physically. I wasn't ready, but I've thoroughly enjoyed the adventure through their eyes. It was quite disappointing at first when no one one but Zookeeper was coming on to post, but they've more than made up for it. You were there in their hearts anyway. You're the matriarch, and Steve H is the patriarch. $19 ticket. Great idea but he should have bought a $102,107,190 ticket. 19-0 on 10-2-10, 7th race. I'd like to see him not cash that one !!!!!!

ruffianruns

    I wasn't sure when you got here but was glad you were here with your interesting, and enthusiastic blogs. I still find this last adventure entirely amazing. Maybe you'll meet me and Zookeeper at SA and we can talk more about it. I'll save my questions and additional thoughts for then. Go Runflatout !!!! And Jaycito. I don't know what happened to Elite Alex, but he's another I like. I don't even want to think about the BC Classic anymore right now. Hip hip hooray for Steve Haskin and Zenyatta and her entire barn. Talk about good hosts !!!!!!! I heard Dottie talk on the radio. She's dynamic.

09 Oct 2010 11:06 AM
txhorsefan

Oh, my...where do I start?  My heart is so full after spending time reading all the posts regarding the bloggers' visit with Zenyatta, our shared disappointment at Rachel's retirement and on and on.  I think what Slew said this a.m. at 9:16 about this blogging family really expresses my feelings also.  While I was watching Zenyatta's race a week ago I kept looking at the shots of the crowd, wondering if any of those excited, exuberant people were some of my blogging buddies!  lol!  So, yes, I've enjoyed the adventure vicariously through the posts you all have made here and I appreciate it very much, so thank you all once again.  Thank you, Steve, for being the reason we feel so free to express ourselves because we know you are all heart, too.  I'm going to try to find the you-tube videos posted by shortskinnylady, but please, Steve, could you send me the photos also?  

Zookeeper, I'm so excited to hear that Runflatout is going back to Carla's barn!  He must be doing so well and rarin' to go.  Thanks for the update!

09 Oct 2010 11:08 AM
Zookeeper

Slew- You said "...blogging with Steve H. is like finding another family that welcomes you with open arms." SO TRUE!!! Our Blog Master is also an excellent Gate-Keeper. He turns away the naysayers whose sole purpose in life is to pee on everyone's parade. I've said before that this blog is a safe haven... for LOVERS, not haters. People on here tend to CELEBRATE, not denigrate and you are ONE OF THE BEST among us.

At the Shireffs barn last Friday, someone was talking about Seattle Slew in glowing terms. I turned to somebody (I think it was Ruffianruns) and said: "Boy! Slew would love to hear this." See... you WERE with us after all!

09 Oct 2010 12:04 PM
jayjay

Thanks Slew, I thought about it when Dr. D was telling ruffianruns about buying the $2 win tickets and I thought, EVERYONE would have a $2 win ticket.  At first I thought $20, then realize, hey...$19 WIN would look much much better.  I bought 2 of them and two programs to go with it.  

I'm going to put it up on eBay and auction it for 10 days, then I'm buying an island on the 11th day, build a ranch and buy about 30 horses.  I'll take you "bloggers" to hawaii next summer with whatever's left of the sale.  We can ask Steve Haskin to do the night time story telling of Slew, Big Red, Rachel, and Zenyatta while we all sip red wine over soft classical music and have TVG on our laptops...making bets :)

09 Oct 2010 6:10 PM
Slew

Jayjay:  Noooooooo....Hawaii has no horse racing...find another spot...like Kentucky!

Dr. D: I think I'm in the same boat as you, so let's ditch Gilligan before he gets us lost.

To All: Thanks so much.  You are all really special to me.  You have no idea how thrilled and excited I was when everyone took off to HP to see the Zen.  Even my toes tingled.

And Steve: you're the greatest!

10 Oct 2010 10:55 AM
ruffianruns

Slew- You were in my thoughts during the entire two days.  It's so weird, but I thought of you and Dr D so much considering I've never "really" met you!  And Zookeeper's right in mentioning you.  I think it was when Dottie was telling us about a famous rider (I'm blanking on the name!) who used to ride Seattle Slew.  He rode Zenyatta one day and said that he had never felt that type of acceleration except with Seattle Slew.  I think that's when Zoo mentioned you.

jayjay - I love your vision, but agree with Slew.  We need to hang in a horse racing mecca... like New Mexico!  Where the other 19 race winner used to live!

I also thought of needler, Woodswoman, and donkeyhotey who all got in touch with me or vice versa.  I bought a $2 win ticket and blew a kiss to Zenyatta and sent love for needler, arranged to meet Woodswoman (but that fell thru when her seats changed unexpectedly), and had to tell donkeyhotey that there were already too many people in our group!

Nancy - Last but not least, Nancy, who posted on the last Secretariat blog as "Nancy."  There's a "Nancy" and a "NancyP" on this blog, so I don't know which is which.  Nancy asked me to kiss Zenyatta for her and tell her that she loves her and to come home safe.  Nancy, I want you to know that while I didn't get close enough to actually kiss Zenyatta, I did blow her a kiss, told her that she was loved, and told her to come home safe, all for you!

Dr D - If you email me at pics.cec at gmail dot com I have some pictures for you.

You all have been SO WONDERFUL.  It is so nice to share the story of our great adventure with people as excited as I am.  Thank you all.

10 Oct 2010 3:03 PM
Slew

ruffianruns: Angel Cordero, but before him the TC was Jean Cruguet.

10 Oct 2010 8:16 PM
ruffianruns

Slew - I think Dottie said Migliore for the last name.  Could he have been one of Seattle Slew's exercise riders?  Help!  Zoo, Anyone?  Do you remember the jockey Dottie mentioned?

11 Oct 2010 11:40 AM
Zookeeper

ruffianruns,

Sorry, I don't. All I heard was the praise and Slew (the blogger) came immediately to mind.

11 Oct 2010 7:27 PM
Cleone

ruffianruns, I don't remember, either!  I clearly remember hearing Dottie tell the story, but where the rider's name should be is a big blank!  

12 Oct 2010 4:32 PM
ruffianruns

Hmmmm, maybe we were just a little starstruck?  And our hearts were doing weird things with our brains?

12 Oct 2010 9:57 PM
jayjay

Hope you don't mind me posting this Steve.  Here's a cool video of Liza G singing to Zenyatta in person with John Shireffs videotaping it :)

www.zenyatta.com/.../liza-g-fly-sings-zenyatta-to-lady-z-in-person

13 Oct 2010 4:44 AM
needler in Virginia

To ruffianruns and ALL those who got to HP for #19, I'm thrilled that you got a chance to meet the Big Hoss.......and before you come over all cranky, Zenyatta is, after all BIG, AND she is a hoss, so get over yourselves. All these posts have filled me in and I'm certain ruffianruns is glad of that, 'cause I've been hocking her to tell me EVERYTHING! My apologies for that. However, she did remember not to faint, so that's a big plus. And, best of all, not only did she get me a win ticket, but also a GREAT Zenyatta poster......... THANKS!!! What a good friend she is. And, if you're reading, ruffianruns, I've begun checking on mileage between you and Louisville!!! That's assuming you've recovered from the California trip, of course, AND that you've absolutely nothing else to do...............

Zookeeper, my heart hurts for you and your Streak, and his name would be great for a horse. HOWEVER,  the very best name I've heard for any horse is Carrot Breath. I hope that makes you smile a bit.

Cheers and safe trips.

14 Oct 2010 1:10 AM
needler in Virginia

Hey, ruffianruns.........it's only about 1,325 miles give or take a mile!!!

Cheers and safe trips.

14 Oct 2010 1:17 AM
Zookeeper

needler in Virginia,

Thank you so much for your kind words... and Carrot Breath DID make me smile, in fact it meade me LOL!

14 Oct 2010 7:52 PM
ruffianruns

I have to echo Zookeeper's comments and thank you needler in Virginia!  I'm so glad you like the poster.  You better be waving it on 11/06!

1,325 miles, eh?  Hmmm.  Maybe I can make like Zenyatta and get my butt in gear!

15 Oct 2010 9:46 AM
needler in Virginia

Ruffianruns.....yeah, well, you don't need to REALLY kick into gear until you get to the Kentucky border...at least that's the way Zenyatta would run it!

Glad I could make you smile, Zookeeper; there's nothing that won't make you stop missing him, but a smile helps a little. At the very least, you know you aren't alone. Everyone here hurts for you.

Cheers to ALL and safe trips.

15 Oct 2010 1:00 PM
Woodswoman

Thanks, Ruffianruns, for thinking of me at the Lady's Secret even when you couldn't locate me because Hollywood Park had changed my seats. I was silently cheering for all of you who got to meet Zenyatta and her connections that weekend. The good news is that I was just a few yards above the finish line and winner's circle, and that was special seeing Penny Chenery there.

Steve, although this blog clearly started as a moving and much deserved tribute to Rachel Alexandra, I am in awe of the amazing community that has evolved from this and your other blogs. I don't post much, but rest assured I look forward to every column AND the responses.

I am delighted that John Shirreffs has announced Zenyatta's daily schedule prior to her departure for Kentucky. I am determined to get myself from the San Francisco Bay Area to LA to see Zenyatta graze on a Saturday afternoon and work on the track Sunday morning some time this month.

However, I confess I have no clue how to get into the backside at Hollywood Park. Everything from knowing who to talk to, to finding where the heck the entrance is. When I went to the Lady's Secret, it was the first horse race I'd been to in person in 34 years!

16 Oct 2010 2:46 PM

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