And they haven't even opened the
If you are perceived as (insert your word here), it is best not
to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
First off, of course, Rachel
Alexandra has a right to run in the traditional male classic. On the other hand, I can understand that some
of the folks feel that Jess Jackson in mid-battle for the World Series,
traded for a 30-game winning pitcher.
That would not be possible in baseball.
In football, you win a series of games to make it to the Super Bowl. This isn't baseball or football Dorothy.
A Filly's Look Back
The last two fillies comparable to
Rachel's situation were Genuine Risk and Winning Colors. Even though they were Derby winners, she is coming into this race with that kind of
hype, warranted or not. This is what
happened in their quest to take down the Black-Eyed Susans.
Genuine Risk rolled into the
Kentucky Derby after a third place finish in the Wood Memorial in 1980 behind
Plugged Nickle. The chestnut filly was
by Exclusive Native out of the Gallant Man mare Virtuous. She was owned Mrs. Bertram Firestone and
trained by Leroy Jolley.
As we all remember, Leroy Jolley
was the trainer of Kentucky Derby Winner Foolish Pleasure, when his colt took
on the spectacular but ill-fated Ruffian in 1975. He hurled some poorly chosen comments towards
the press after her injury that left him open to a lot of criticism, but he
also made this comment to the Washington Post with a sense of sadness, "The ones who run best are the ones who run
hardest, even if it kills 'em."
In 1980, the situation was
different, but the roles were somewhat reversed. It was Mr. Jolley's filly facing a field of
colts in the 1980 Derby.
1980 Kentucky Derby
Two weeks later, things got
ugly. After three Triple Crown winners
in the seventies, the thought of a filly being the next Crown winner wasn't
hard to imagine.
Well, Codex, D. Wayne Lukas and
Angel Cordero had another scenario in mind.
They, along with owners, Tartan Farms, wanted their son of Arts and
Letters to win a classic race. The colt
won the Santa Anita Derby, but he was not nominated for the Kentucky Derby, so
he sat on the sidelines for that race.
He was front and center on Preakness Day, in more ways than one.
The 1980 Preakness Stakes
Although the event certainly
appears legal, it was not widely accepted as the right thing to do. Cordero's reputation as an aggressive rider
made people quiet furious at the time.
Even the mild-mannered Joe Hirsch was angry.
Genuine Risk went on to run in the
Belmont Stakes and ran a solid second there also, well ahead of Codex.
Moving on to 1988, D. Wayne Lukas
is now the one with the Derby winning filly, Winning Colors, the daughter of Caro with
her rider Gary Stevens. Woody Stephens
entered the mix as the trainer of Forty Niner, ridden by Pat Day. The situation was a little different than
the first scenario. Forty Niner did run
in the Kentucky Derby. Woody had
commented to the New York Times the week of the Derby "I can't see her (Winning
Colors) winning the Derby........Forty Niner could outrun Winning colors from the
gate if that's what I want.........If we draw outside her we'll put the pressure
on. If we draw inside we might go to the
lead. That might be her weakness."
Let's back up and take a look at
the romp Winning Colors put on in the Santa Anita Derby in her last prep race
to understand what Stephens was talking about.
1988 Santa Anita Derby
Now, the 1988 Kentucky Derby
Well, after the race, I'm sure
Stephens was thinking about what he said and knowing that the filly had
everything go her way, he probably wasn't happy with Day's ride and Stephens
wasn't going to let her have her own way in the Preakness.
1988 Preakness Stakes
Whatever this was, it seems to me
that it was worse because at least Codex won the first one. Forty Niner finished poorly and the
connections were probably ashamed of their tactics. In fact, Woody Stephens commented after the
race "She's probably better than I thought she was."
Gary Stevens had harsh words for
trainer Stephens. The longtime
conditioner admittedly told his jockey he wanted to send Forty Niner for the
lead and to stay away from the muddy rail inside. What happened was a lot of bumping and
bullying of the filly.
Now here we are in 2009. Rachel Alexandra will line up in the 13 post
and her fate may not be her own, but hopefully after the past weekend, everyone
will be on their best behavior and race everyone the same.
An interesting note, Rachel
Alexandra's broodmare, Lotta Kim, is sired by Roar and Roar was a son of Forty
Courtesy of Becky Johnston