Courtesy of Becky Johnston
I've heard that comment over the
last week with open-ended infinity. I
know our sport wants a star badly, but we have had some awfully good
three-year-old fillies that beat much more difficult competition by this time
in their career, or they did so throughout their classic-year campaign.
I don't want to take anything away
from Rachel Alexandra and I have no doubt that with the change in connections,
she will find tougher competition and we will find out where she stands in
history. But for now, let's take our
blinkers off and let's look at some of the best three-year-old fillies of the
last 25 years, their accomplishments and where this year's top filly stands
currently and what she will be compared to throughout the year.
No doubt, Go For Wand was one of
the best fillies that I ever laid eyes on.
Before her tragic run in the Breeders' Cup, she had run 12 times with
ten wins and two seconds. One of the
runner-up efforts was the Kentucky Oaks behind Seaside Attraction.
This is her Beldame Stakes win
where she faced older fillies, including Grade 1 winners Colonial Waters, Buy
the Firm, and Personal Business and nearly took down Secretariat's track record
on this day, under wraps.
Here is a filly that her
performance most resembled Rachel Alexandra's Oaks, Lite Light. Even her time of 1:48 4/5 was right on the
money with Rachel's. She won her
Kentucky Oaks effortlessly over Grade 1 placed Private Treasure, Ifyoucouldseemenow
and Til Forbid, Grade 2 winner Withallprobability, and Grade 3 winner Risen
Colony. Also in the field was the 1991
Martha Washington winner Polish Holiday.
Lite Light looked like she would
never lose again, but in fact she lost her next race by the thinnest of margins
to two-year-old champion, Meadow Star.
As we are all speculating that
Rachel can beat her male counterparts, it was only two years ago when a filly
did just that. Rags to Riches over the
grueling distance of a mile and a half did something that had not been done in
over a 100 years. She defeated all three
Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes placers in a race that wasn't stolen on the
front end, it was hard-earned eyeball to eyeball down the stretch.
Lest we forget how good the newly
minted Hall of Fame member Silverbulletday was, either. Grade 1 placed and eventual Grade 1 winner
Marley Vale, Martha Washington Stakes winner The Happy Hopper, Grade 2 placed
Dreams Gallore, and Grade 1 placed Gold From The West were her competition.
Serena's Song danced a lot of
dances including the Kentucky Derby and we all remember her Haskell win, but it
was her Kentucky Derby prep that we sometimes forget. She won the Grade 2 Jim Beam Stakes over
colts including the eventual second place finisher in the Kentucky Derby,
Tejano Run and Grade 1 Super Derby Winner Mecke.
Champion Hollywood Wildcat was one
of those unique champions that won Grade 1 races on both the turf and dirt and
she was never more impressive than a fall day at Santa Anita Park against the
reigning older champion Paseana.
The 1991 Canadian Triple Crown
winner was Dance Smartly. She won our
three-year-old championship later in the year in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at
Churchill Downs, but this race is the completion of her Crown in the Breeders'
Dance Smartly 1991 Breeders' Cup
I guess the point is, let's don't
anoint her quiet yet. Let's let her
develop and reach her potential without forgetting the great fillies of the
past. She's not there yet. She may very well get there, but not yet.