By Brian Zipse, Zipse At The Track
All of a sudden the city of New Orleans is the place to be for the sporting inclined. Those oft downtrodden Saints, are scoring points by the bushels and sport a spotless 12-0 record. Big news for a team who’s fans wore more paper bags over there heads than most. Across town, a quick glance down the Asmussen shedrow at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds Race Course reveals an even bigger star than Drew Brees, Who dat? None other than the Ragin Cajun, The Queen of Bourbon Street, the Grand Mistress of Mardi Gras…Rachel Alexandra.
The magnificent filly who has stormed through the racing world, with all the subtlety of dear, departed Sam Kinison, in winning the Golden Rod, Martha Washington, Fair Grounds Oaks, Fantasy, Kentucky Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell, and Woodward in succession, is being courted by the good people of New Orleans. If everything goes to plan, their wooing should see Rachel make her triumphant return to the races in the New Orleans Ladies. Mark your calendars and secure your plane tickets now. The date is March 13 and the place is Fair Grounds Race Course. The $200,000 New Orleans Ladies is newly created and a Rachel inspired race. It will be 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The New Orleans Ladies should fit very nicely into the superstar’s 2010 schedule. A schedule designed to culminate at Churchill Downs on November 6, in the 27th running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Now we know the likely starting point for our heroine and the ultimate climax, but what shall be in between? I’d like to take a crack at that right now.
After a score in the New Orleans Ladies on March 13, Rachel will make a return trip to one of her favorite tracks, Oaklawn Park for a start in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on April 3, also at 1 1/16 miles. The three weeks is a bit of a quick turn-around, but should set her up with a nice foundation for the bigger races to come. Rachel then will head North and take up residence at Churchill Downs. A little freshening should have her razor sharp for her first attempt against the boys in the Stephen Foster. The Grade 1 in June will be 1 1/8 miles over the same strip as the Breeders’ Cup. In July, Rachel will become the greatest horse to run at Delaware Park since Spectacular Bid, when she competes in the million dollar Delaware Handicap. This will give our star her first chance to excel at 10 furlongs.
With four major wins under her belt, it will be time for Rachel to get some more work in against the boys. She will thrill the fans on the Jersey Shore one more time as she cuts back in distance to 1 1/8 miles around two turns in the Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park in August. From New Jersey, Rachel will make the short trip to New York, where she will use the prestigious Beldame Stakes in early October as her final prep for her date with destiny. Belmont is a track Rachel likes, and the Beldame will be afford the nation’s largest market another glimpse at greatness. Rachel will then arrive at Churchill Downs as the greatest female horse in history and the most popular thoroughbred since the glorious Triple Crown runs of the 1970s. The world will be watching on November the 6th as Rachel Alexandra makes her final lifetime start.
Here is what the proposed schedule would look like laid out:
March - New Orleans Ladies
April - Apple Blossom Handicap
June - Stephen Foster Handicap
July - Delaware Handicap
August - Iselin Handicap
October - Beldame Stakes
November - Breeders’ Cup Classic
There you have it, a schedule fit for a queen. Seven races and seven more wins. Will this be the path that Rachel the Great follows to immortality? Ultimately that is up to Jess Jackson, as my proposed schedule is only conjecture of course, but isn’t it fun to imagine?