Great - Chel - By Dan Liebman

It is what every person who has worked in the horse industry, ever watched a horse race, or ever tossed away a losing ticket, waits to see: greatness in the Thoroughbred.

Those within the industry, who come from so many special interest groups that they never seem to agree on anything, can surely agree on this. Rachel Alexandra defines greatness in the Thoroughbred.

For a few moments the very real and pressing needs of an industry in sharp decline vanish as Rachel Alexandra reminds us again of why we love this sport so much. Seeing jockey Calvin Borel holding a loose rein, realizing he doesn’t really even have to ask her to run, we forget all that is wrong in horse racing and remember all that is right.

During the telecast of the Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I), the TVG announcers pondered which performance of Rachel’s had been the most dazzling, which is like trying to figure out which of Michael Jordan’s dunks was the most spectacular. Her 19 1/4-length tour-de-force in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) was mentioned, as was her victory over males in the classic BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

After the 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro beat males again, taking the Aug. 2 Haskell by a facile six lengths, one of the commentators immediately wanted to change his vote. And who could blame him? Borel and Rachel moved by Summer Bird, the winner of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), and Munnings, winner of the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II), in the turn for home and opened up by four at the head of the lane with seemingly little effort.

From this viewpoint, however, the moments of greatness Aug. 2 were not in the turn for home or at the wire, but prior to those moments. The first came as Rachel Alexandra walked out of the tunnel and toward the racetrack. With Monmouth Park fans pressed against each other to see her, waving signs while clapping and cheering, Rachel never turned a hair. She was cool, calm, and focused on the business at hand.

The second came just a few moments later, when, during the post parade, Rachel was shown walking toward the TVG camera. It was hard not to notice the size and scope of the filly’s hindquarters, the breed personified in her muscular yet confident walk.

Rachel Alexandra won the Haskell just a few minutes drive from the Atlantic Ocean while another that illustrates greatness in the Thoroughbred, Zenyatta, who is undefeated in 11 starts, was safely in her stall at Del Mar, the Southern California track from which you can see the Pacific Ocean.

Like Rachel, Zenyatta embodies special qualities quite evident to even the casual racegoer. When walking from the paddock to the racetrack, Zenyatta drops her head in a regal manner, and reaching the racing surface, paws at the track in fanciful fashion. Her competitors know they are in trouble.

A 5-year-old mare by Street Cry, Zenyatta also projects an imposing figure, standing 17 hands tall and rippling with muscles.

Rachel Alexandra versus Zenyatta is the match-up racing fans everywhere are clamoring for, though the odds of that happening appear much longer than either filly has been in their recent races.

Zenyatta, last year’s champion older female, has raced outside California only once. Her owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, and trainer, John Shirreffs, have indicated she will make her next starts in California, where the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held for the second straight year in early November.

Rachel Alexandra has won eight straight and 10 of 13 overall, and her co-owner, Jess Jackson, has made it quite clear that he and trainer Steve Asmussen do not intend to run her on a synthetic surface, which rules out the Breeders’ Cup.

With Zenyatta not leaving California and Rachel Alexandra not running on synthetic surfaces, we have a stalemate.

Perhaps Fair Grounds, which opens around Thanksgiving and would be a good neutral site, should start working now on a race that could help define true greatness in the Thoroughbred. Or at least give racing fans what they most want to see.


Leave a Comment:


Greatchel Alexandra...I love it!!!  

As a big fan of thoroughbred racing for the past 40 years, I implore not Mr. Jackson, not Mr. Moss, but the racing industry as a whole.  We want this race, we need this race!!!

04 Aug 2009 2:20 PM


04 Aug 2009 2:58 PM


04 Aug 2009 3:04 PM

I honestly do not wish to see them meet. They are both great in their own respect and we should give them their due. Remember Ruffian, remember Go For Wand? Go For Wand vs Bayakoa is almost the same scenario and I do not wish to see it repeated. Best case would be that one horse wins and the other's standing gets diminished but what about the worst case? Who wants to see that?

04 Aug 2009 3:42 PM
sweet terchi

There is also Golden Gate. That would really be something!!!

04 Aug 2009 4:02 PM

Blame the Moss clan. If they think they have the best horse, take her out of California and try something different. RA has moved around and beat the boys. Shame to see a quality horse like Zenyatta lose some of her stature because her owners are don't believe in her like her fans do.

04 Aug 2009 4:15 PM
sweet terchi

Oops, my mistake. I think GG changed their racing dates, they used to run Nov-Dec, but I think they start next week, not sure.

BTW,  why does it have to be a race?  I think the two of them should get together just to strut their stuff.  The sight of those two together would boggle the mind!!

04 Aug 2009 4:29 PM

Fair Grounds?  What about Churchill Downs?  Not only is that "neutral ground," but it's the track most casual fans associate with racing nationwide.  CD holds a race on Thanksgiving Day, the Falls City Handicap, for fillies and mares.  Perhaps Churchill could sweeten the pot enough to attract both Rachel and Zenyatta.  Now that would be something to be thankful for!!!

04 Aug 2009 4:44 PM

Texohky...I don't see how CD is "neutral". RA has been based there most of her career. It is her "home" track. Plus she has raced over it. I would think a "neutral" track would have to be somewhere neither of them have run (or lived and trained).

Ayla...Noone wants to see another breakdown. Everyone wants to see another Affirmed/Alydar, Ferdinand/Alysheba, Winning Colors?Personal Ensign.

04 Aug 2009 5:37 PM

We have 2 outstanding females. Why can't we enjoy them. Horseracing needs them. Putting them against easch other is just STUPID!!!! I hope and pray Jess Jackson holds firm on NO Breeder's Cup for Rachel.Come on people enjoy them , quit trying to send them head to head. There is nothing to gain doing that.

04 Aug 2009 5:39 PM

I really don't know what Jackson's problem is. Rachel has run on a synthetic track and won at Keeneland. By the time they hit the stretch in the Man O  War you could see that Curlin didn't like Turf much, which could lead to him not liking Synth... but Rachel has been there, done that. So come on...

04 Aug 2009 5:53 PM

I too would love to see these horses meet at least once. That being said, as is seen all the time with 50-1 longshots winning, ONE race is NOT going to prove who is the best overall, only who is best ON THE DAY. We will never see again on-track rivalries, because there is just too much money to be made now and in the future (breeding). Years like 1997, when Formal Gold, Skip Away and Will's Way kept beating each other (I think there was something like 7 or 8 races that had at least 2 of those 3) are the exception not the rule.

04 Aug 2009 6:26 PM

I don't think many really care to see Zenyatta vs. Rachel.  Zenyatta can't break a 148 this year so to consider her real competition is really kind of silly.  EVERYONE would much rather see Rachel vs. The Beast aka Quality Road.  Now that is the race everyone would want to see.

04 Aug 2009 7:10 PM

Quality Road's NTR @ Saratoga is bogus.  He only won the race by about 2 lenghts at was credited with smashing the track record by about one second.  This means the place horse also "shattered" the track record, the show horse nearly equaled it.  Does this make sense? NYRA needs to come clean on this one.  They blew it.

04 Aug 2009 8:49 PM

Even though Rachel has run and won on a synthetic surface, I hope no one talks JJ into running her back to a synthetic surface. My concern is that the simple transition from one surface to another can injure a horse which is why there are so many injuries at the start of a new race meet. Even though synthetic tracks were invented to be safer, it appears that the injuries are just different; soft tissue vs. skeletal.

As for a match race, I am not all that interested in seeing a 3 yr. old be made to take on a 5 yr. old. I do think Rachel's tactical speed would triumph over the late closing style of the older mare, just as it has over the late closing style of top 3 yr. old colts, but I just don't think 3 yr. legs should be asked to take on every possible age group or try every possible distance, nor should that be necessary for HOTY. She has already worked hard and delivered much every time asked in her search for HOTY honors. I think they can bring her out more selectively now and still have the world at her feet.

Besides, I like Zenyatta. I have no wish to see Zenyatta go down in flames.

04 Aug 2009 9:04 PM
Ida Lee

Rachel and Zenyatta are obviously special in their own right. I don't care if they race each other or not. Their place in racing history is set. I agree with those who  think that a race with Rachel and Quality Road would be awesome although I think she would beat him too. Zenyatta will retire undefeated. That's special enough for me. The one thing I'm sure of is that the connections of these two incredible athletes will do what is best for their Filly and Mare. So far, they always have.

04 Aug 2009 9:14 PM

neutral ground for both horses would be great, I like many others would definetly love to see this race. surely both owners are wondering; which filly/mare is truly the best?

04 Aug 2009 9:57 PM

Just adding my opinion. I wouldn't mind seeing them race together, but not a match race. I think they should be filed away in the past... I do agree with JessJ, skip the BC, run her 4th year, then run the BC at Churchill next year. It would be much easier for Zenyatta connections to simply agree to run them together somewhere, anywhere on dirt. Rachel may have run and won on synthetic, but if I remember correctly, JessJ said she did not handle it well, not running to her full potential. We saw it with Curlin; some horses simply don't like it. Whatever the owners feel is best for the horse, is good enough for me.

04 Aug 2009 9:57 PM
Golden Gate

I think they should meet in the Apple Blossom race at Oaklawn next spring. Zenyatta's owners had her there before and Rachel Alexandra too and why don't we see if Seventh Street will come and race in it again also as well as some of the other grand fillies.

For those that don't know the Apple blossom is 1 1/16th mile for older fillies and is usually run the first Saturday in April. Maybe it could get changed to a Grade I in time for the running.

04 Aug 2009 11:10 PM

I’m saddened to see more waffling by Jerry Moss as he first says “we’re shipping to face Rachel” then after her M.G. win he says “we are staying here and waiting for the B.C.” and then he says “After the B.C. we can find a race and a place to meet Rachel”, and now after seeing her demolish males again in a route, he backs up even more and says “"This is a meeting we'd like to have," Moss said. "Usually at the Breeders' Cup, these situations are resolved. I'm not sure where else we would have this meeting. The Breeders' Cup was created for this kind of circumstance, and it's where champions are made. I'm sorry Mr. Jackson feels that way about ."

Zenyatta has raced once on dirt, at Oaklawn Park in April 2008. She was scheduled to run in the Louisville Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 1, the day Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks, but was scratched because of a wet track. (btw the track was not wet)

"We need stars in racing," Moss said. "I come from a business where we try to create stars. We may have two of the greatest horses who have ever run. I would love to have them meet. We'll take it race to race and see what happens."

Sad that you say things you don’t mean Mr. Moss, if you were trying to create a champion you’d make sure she raced in competitive races and against consistent Grade 1 company, which you can’t find out in Cali.

I respect his decision to not run against the best that’s fine, keep running against the lowest competition you can find but stop hiding behind the synthetic Breeders Cup. Its becoming shameful.

04 Aug 2009 11:52 PM

The Woodward may be Rachel's next, and that shall squash all the "beat yer elders" that old timers require of all "Horse of the Year" Thoroughbreds. Thank God that Jess knows the danger of that fake, California Plastic Surface, and how much harm it can do to the 'soft tissue' of our Regal, Remarkable Rachel.

[sidebar: If, at 4 years old, Jess wants to race at The Churchill Breeders, then Zenyatta could challenge. Both have their Domains, their legacy, but like Pioneer of the Nile, CA Plastic inflates the Bris numbers, and gives a false positive of True Thoroughbred Championship Records]

05 Aug 2009 3:14 AM

The last time I saw people foaming at the mouth like this for two horses to meet was Foolish Pleasure and Ruffian, two great horses inextricably entwined forever in tragedy.

I am one of the few who is sick of the ad nauseum trying to force these two fillies to meet, I hope the owners and trainers only do what's in the absolute best interest of these horses, on the surfaces, timing and races they choose.

If racing only survives if these two fillies meet...well, tough.

05 Aug 2009 7:44 AM

Mary, every HOY is asked  and must take on every age group and more, that's why they are HOY. Very few exceptions, and why so few fillies ever win it, and why Curlin won over Zen last year, as an example.

05 Aug 2009 7:46 AM
Linda in Texas

I agree with da3hoss and I appreciate each horse for their own accomplishments. Not fond of synthetic tracks i frankly hope Mr. Jackson doesn't fall for the shots fired at him for not running Rachel in everything and on everything. And Zenyatta is in a class by herself, too. Let's just consider ourselves lucky to have 2 great Thoroughbreds who are doing what they were bred to do and doing it quite well.

05 Aug 2009 9:44 AM

I don't think this should be such an issue, the bottom line is that Zen is one of the best horses in training and Rach is one of the best horses ever!  There are others who would pose more of a threat to Rach than Zen would in my honest opinion.

05 Aug 2009 10:06 AM

Expecting tragedy, is like not leaving your home because of the dangers you might face.  These horses are born to run and running against each other would do more good for the sport than anything that has happened in many, many years.

05 Aug 2009 10:55 AM

Bring it on!

Not necessarily a match race, but how about an Invitational?

Many questions would be answered.

05 Aug 2009 11:23 AM

They are both spectacular and magnificent specimens of the  Thoroughbred.  Rachel is my pick of the two to win, but I too remember the Ruffian tragedy, maybe it is best not to try and match them.  We can just fancy who would be the best and win in a match race--just as we do in the Man O'War and Secretariat match that will never happen.  

05 Aug 2009 11:35 AM

Be grateful they are both still in the game and healthy.

I just love watching them race, no matter who they race against or where.

05 Aug 2009 1:54 PM

One is a dirt horse, the other is a synthetic horse, leave them at their own surroundings. I don't fault either owner, they know whats best for their own. Leave it at that. RA or Zenyatta could get hurt on opposite surfaces, We don't want that. Ra is going to race next year and Zenyatta will be retiring to breeding next year, I want to see each in good physical health, I thinh their owners want the same thing.Have compassion folks!

05 Aug 2009 2:42 PM

Quality Road is on the verge of replacing both of them if he wins the Travers.  

Neither Rachel or Zenyatta is going to run in the big race, the Breeders Cup Classic, so who cares?

The real matchup is Quality Road vs Sea of Stars in the BCC.  I see a repeat win for the news sire of sires.

05 Aug 2009 4:10 PM

match races seldom work out the horse with the best cruising speed usually wins.the horse that is forced out of it's normal style is often defeated. the idea of a match is exciting but i think the race itself would be underwhelming.

why must there always be this discussion? let the girls make their own destiny.

05 Aug 2009 4:14 PM

sorry-anymore i am just plain paranoid about injuries in racing. i can barely enjoy a race anymore. Now with Finallymadeit being put down...

05 Aug 2009 5:13 PM

I don't care to see them matched up either.  Too much to go wrong, and since when is dirt "neutral" territory?  It's RA's preferred surface. I'm a big Zenyatta fan and also one of RA.  I felt Zenyatta should have been HOY last year, and lost due to a gender/coast bias.  A mare/filly should not have to face the "boys" in the first place to prove their worth.  Who do the "boys" upscale to beat???

05 Aug 2009 8:41 PM

Jackson, Bring your filly to the Breeder's Cup proving ground of champions ---- on one condition:  that Moss agrees to a rematch at Churchill Downs, Derby week, next spring.  

You want to prove your great 3-yr-old filly can beat the great Zenyatta?  Bring her.  A great racehorse can run over any surface.  ...You want excitement?

You want to help racing?  You want to prove your filly against the best filly of 2009?  ...Bring her to the '09 Breeders Cup.

Are you a sportsman or a whiner?




05 Aug 2009 9:35 PM

gammyp06, as others on another blog have stated, you are not alone.   So many heroes have been taken down.  Why is this happening?  I cannot stand it.  They are in my dreams.  

05 Aug 2009 10:34 PM

I love that this year is known for GIRL POWER! Two different "girl" horses making history.

I don't feel comfortable having them race each other in a "match race".

If fate brings them together, and they compete against each other, then that's another story. But, to TRY and set them up against each other isn't my idea of entertainment. Or the best interest of the horses. Sorry.

05 Aug 2009 10:46 PM
Mark In SAC

I can't believe some of the crummy comments in this forum.  Some of you say "Oh if they don't race against each other, i'll be satisfied"  You namby-pamby!  Horse racing is all about who's horse is faster!  I live in northern California and I've seen Zenyatta race twice and i'll be at Del Mar on Sunday.  I used to think that the HOY went though undefeated Zenyatta. But Rachael's Haskell perforance now has me thinking the opposite.  Big Z must go after Rachael, and the suggestion of a November or December meeting in New Orleans seems like a great idea.  It's a neutral court (Rachael won there, but who cares, they both have to travel to get there). It's dirt and if both remain undefeated going in, the winner gets HORSE OF THE YEAR!  It would be the race of the century.  

05 Aug 2009 10:54 PM


While it's true Zenyatta has not raced against much this year, she faced and beat far tougher horses -- ever hear of Ginger Punch and Cocoa Beach? -- than Rachel ever has faced. Zenyatta has spotted horses 10-15 pounds and defeated a reigning Eclipse Award winner twice. I too am a big Rachel Alexandra fan, but don't diminsh what Zenyatta has accomplished because it just makes you look foolish.

06 Aug 2009 2:29 AM

Mark in SAC, furthermore, so many of us are looking out for these horses welfare on switching surfaces, JJ even said it himself. I am a fan of both horses,so I don't care to see a match race. I respect them both for their running styles and the surface they are better on. I like having a "East Coast and "West Coast" gal. Also, RA does not have to race Zen to get HOTY, all she has to do is race older horses before the end of the year.It can be older males again.

06 Aug 2009 8:08 AM

I think the really BIG news is that the two best horses in American Thoroughbred racing right now are a filly and a mare.  Has this EVER been the case?  What does this mean exactly...that perhaps more and more fillies and mares will run in the boys races, win, place, and show in them, make more purse money (finally!!), and bring more fan value to the sport?  My hope, which is far beyond ever seeing them face off, is that they have opened a whole new perspective and attitude, long held closed.  I remember hearing so much sarcasm directed toward Curlin for "being beat by a filly".  Well, she was a great filly who not only beat Curlin but the rest of the field.  Life is Sweet didn't beat the boys but came in a very respectable 3rd while being the only one in the field making up ground. Ventura has faced them, Indian Blessing has faced them, and several others...and all came in ahead of most of the field. The more they run with the boys, the more they will demonstrate that they belong in these, place or show.  RA and Zenyatta have given me many thrills and goosebumps.  With these two we are looking straight into the eyes of greatness.  But far beyond salivating over some match race, I would rather see more attention put on what is really happening here...history is being made, change in attiudes are happening.  I totally trust Jess Jackson and the Moss's to know where to race their great horses.  They will do what is right for them as well as remain aware of what is good for the sport. And we the fans?  We will follow them where ever they go, just to witness the progression of greatness unfold.

06 Aug 2009 11:16 AM

In 1972, two owners had excellent mares and both claimed his was the best. So each one put up $100K, the track added $50K and there was a match race at Hollywood Park. For those who think that match races are a waste, took at the video of Convenience vs. Typecast. It was truly a great race. How about it? At Churchill Downs?

06 Aug 2009 11:25 AM
Pam S.


He does not want to do any of those things.

06 Aug 2009 1:30 PM

Oh Come on, Do you all beleive everything you read? After Mine That Bird won the Derby all the writers were saying that this years bunch of colts were inferior so if you take that into account what has Rachel beat (of course these writers also said that "Seattle Slew' was the best of a mediocre lot). ALso, where is it written or carved in stone that a filly (or mares) must beat the colts to get HOTY? As much as I adored Curlin he did not deserve HOTY, that belonged to Zenyatta and this HOTY title is strictly East Coast biased because the turf wirters who vote for this title beleive that there is no racing west of KY.

06 Aug 2009 3:29 PM
Gladys R.

Match race at GGF! What that would do for the bay area racing community and economy!

06 Aug 2009 5:00 PM
The Rock

Golden Gate has a different form of Plastic folks. Jess Jackson ain't going there. But that would be awesome! Honestly, if it happens it happens, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it if they don't. I hope Zenyatta can make it to Dubai next year for the World Cup and then be bred, since Dubai installed Tapeta as their main track in Meydan.

06 Aug 2009 7:04 PM

I wonder why nobody's mentioned Oaklawn? They've both run (and won!) over it, after all.

06 Aug 2009 7:22 PM

Rachel Alexandra, Quality Road and Sea The Stars are the bigshots this year.  If all three or even two out of the three should collide in the Breeder's Cup, that would be the race of the century thus far.  Unfortunately Zenyatta's campaign to this point has not set the racing world on fire ...too bad for such a talented mare.

If Quality Road keeps on winning and setting stakes/track records, participation in the Breeders Cup could be a critical consideration in the HOTY battle.  Zenyatta has a lot of ground to cover to get in the mix but it is not impossible.  For sure a very fascinating second half of the season is unfolding.  

06 Aug 2009 8:10 PM

The best two horses says the clocks are Quality Road and Rachel.  Until Zenyatta breaks 148 this year she doesn't belong in the same sentence.

06 Aug 2009 10:05 PM

FYI, the Apple Blossom is a Grade 1 event, and second match races settle nothing and usually end up in a horse getting hurt because they dont run their normal race.

06 Aug 2009 10:20 PM
John T.

As much as I would love to see a race with both Rachel Alexandra and

Zenyetta in it I would not want to see it at any price.If it does not suit the owners of the horses then it does not matter what we think.When we think back to Ruffian

and her end result during the match race with Foolish Pleasure,it

is better for these two fillies to have Foolish Pleasure in the breeding shed so we can look forward to their offspring,something we can only dream about when we think back to Ruffian.

06 Aug 2009 10:21 PM

Art, it would seem to you that you are very naive with regards to the basics of horse racing.  Rachel Alexandra has run against as many grade 1 winners in her last 4 races as Zenyatta has faced in her entire creampuff filled, racing against the lowest quality fields of competition possible.  For those people on the West coast that feel you have such great racing out there other than Zenyatta and Life is Sweet, who are your other Grade 1 talented horses on the ladies side. LOL there are none basically.  Now in her perfect 11 race career Zenyatta has run in 2 races that are worthy of mentioning, the Apple Blossom where she beat Ginger Punch while early in the year, and in the B.C. on synthetics where the majority of the horses in the race had no experience over the surface.  So I mean its in her back yard and on her preferred surface, wouldnt u think she should have won. I try to have respect for the horse no matter what but I lost a great deal of respect for people who think that a horse that runs in 7 races with 3 of those being Grade II, for anyone to try to mention Curlin in the discussion and pretend that he didnt deserve HOY, well only an amateur with very little horse knowledge speak such stupidity.  Zenyatta is good, not great, she only has 1 run, just like MTB, but she is not running against the best consistently.  And if you think she is running against the best, please tell me how great the Hot n' Dusty, Allicansayis Wow and Modification, Briecat and Dawn after Dawn's are of the racing world.  Running against claimers and allowance horses is not impressive.  And if you think that it is you'd want to try to check out some websites that will help you understand the simple aspects of horse racing.  

06 Aug 2009 10:37 PM

I personally like both RA and Zenyatta, though Zenyatta is my favorite.  I don't think that many people are giving Zenyatta enough credit.  Sure she hasn't faced the guys yet, but who said the guys are that good.  Also, in regards to last years HOTY, Curlin deserved it 100%.  I really like Zenyatta, but Curlin purely dominated.  Last year, because of Curlin, the boys were good.  If Zenyatta wanted that title, she should have faced him.  Many people don't think Curlin was good enough because he favored dirt so much over other surfaces, but I don't see Zenyatta facing top notch competition on all surfaces either.  Curlin was a pure champion, and deserved the title he was given as HOTY.

06 Aug 2009 11:21 PM

I think RA is a great filly, but who has she really run against.  Give MTB credit, he has been the only horse that has closed on her.  That though, only after she had dealt with & put away other speed horses.  She runs like Hard Spun-high cruising speed and then kicks it up to another gear.  If I was Zenyatta's connections, I wouldn't leave Calfornia either.  The world will be coming to her this Fall.  As for RA's connections, they keep going back to the events of last Fall with Curlin.  Curlin would not have won the Classic regardless of what type of surface.  He was not the same horse in the Fall of 2008 as 2007.  In his final race prepping for the Classic, he barely held off Wandering Boy by 3/4 of a length and the rest of a so-so field.  If Zenyatta races the boys in the Classic (esp. if the Europeans bring their best) and wins-or even gets second, RA needs to have defeated more than she has so far.  Munnings-second rate, Summerbird-extremely slow Belmont is his only claim to fame. As much as I like her, I don't think she can go a mile & a quarter and beat the like of QR or Zenyatta.

07 Aug 2009 1:48 AM

Way to go Calbred01, Curlin didn't deserve HOTY.  Zenyatta was undefeated in a tough distaff division.  Curlin lost twice to Europeans and just wasn't the same horse even a couple months prior to his loss in the Breeder's Cup.

07 Aug 2009 1:51 AM

THIS would be the race of the century!

07 Aug 2009 9:05 AM

I cannot believe the debate continues about Curlin's HOY award.  I would suggest to those who still question it to take a spread sheet and list all the different variables, challenges, graded races, risks, etc. and score them for both Curlin and Zenyatta.  I understand having and sticking with your favorite, but what Curlin accomplished last year was not even considered possible or conceivable by most, if not all, of the other's.  What he has done by taking on so many different venues, so much travel, and always showing up is given us a very good model of what the Iron Horse looks like.  He never said no, he never had a hurt or an injury, and he walked into each new and different situation like a pro.  Tired toward the end of such an aggressive campaign...perhaps.  Done...NO!  Hall of Fame...yes.

07 Aug 2009 11:51 AM

Oh yeah Curlin didnt deserve HOTY, i mean he only went to Dubai won the World Cup by almost 8, came back won the Stephen Foster by 4 1/2, in his first and only turf try he raced second to a BC Turf winner and beat another, then he ran in the Woodward won that, when everyone was saying Divine Park would beat him, yeah that worked out well didn't it. He then comes back in the JCGC to yes easily beat Wanderin Boy. You all who say he was all out may want to watch the race again, seeing as how Robby A only threw crosses at him in the stretch as he galloped past Wandering Boy. Then of course, even when JJ didn't want him to he raced him in the Classic on synthetics, where he only finished less than 3 lengths off RP and HTN. Look at Zen's season where she only went out of Cali ONCE, only facing females. She got the award she deserved Female champion cause she knocked off GP the defending female champ. She never went after defending HOTY Curlin, who was having a successful season, and when that is the case she needed to beat him to become HOTY. He deserved it not her. If she wanted it she should've shown up in the Classic and beat the Euros and Curlin. She is queen of older fillies and mares as of now and that is it. Let see if Moss actually has the courage to step outside his division this year, or will he hide in Cali until dirt horses who don't like synthetics are forced to face Zen again.

07 Aug 2009 12:09 PM


I think maybe it's you who needs to skip out of your East Coast bias class and take a lunch break. I never said she was running against the best this year ... SO FAR. There is still almost five months left on the racing calendar. Surely such a "knowledgeable, know-it-all" race fan as yourself should know that. I notice you never mentioned the "weight" issue ... if you're as knowledgeable as you profess, you'd know that giving 10-15 pounds to horses is tougher than winning a Mother Goose against two overmatched foes. I stand by my last statement that you make yourself look foolish. Maybe next time you should check your high and mighty attitude at the door.

07 Aug 2009 1:11 PM
Pam S.

I respect the past and believe we can learn from it, but would remind everyone that history does not always repeat itself.  Rachel is not Ruffian and is not destined to come to the same sad end.  Few people really want to see her in a match race, as they are very tough on horses, but we are fans of the sport of horseracing, so we would like to see her in a field that includes Zenyatta and/or Quality Road, maybe Sea the Stars, so she could have some competition and the sport could have a true marquee event instead of trying to make one out of something like the Mother Goose or the Vanity.

Continuing the theme of history not necessarily repeating itself, remember that Rachel is not Curlin either.  She is not destined to have the exact same experience he had at the Breeders' Cup just because it is being held at the same venue.  Curlin was a 4yo male who had been to Dubai and was not at the top of his form cycle.  (I also think Rachel actually may be more talented, but that's just my opinion.)

It is normal to love and care about the horses.  It also is normal to respect the views of the owners, because they put out their money and they put on the show that is racing.  But if you do enjoy racing, it is normal to want to see the best against the best.  Otherwise, the "sport" is really mostly about gambling.  Or if you just want to see one great horse in routs against overmatched rivals, then it is more like a horse show.

I would just really like to see a race with all the luminaries in it that I mentioned above.  Right now they are all healthy and in form and there is an obvious place to have this star-studded "summit."  I can't believe people are talking about next spring's Apple Blossom for Rachel and Zen, or the 2010 BC at Churchill.  That is an eternity in horseracing, and Zen will be retired then.  

Not that I wouldn't like to see Zenyatta come East for something like the Woodward.  I have difficulty understanding why that's not doable, but again, we have to respect the owner's wishes.  All I know is, last year was frustrating with the BB-Curlin situation (bad feet, of course, can't be helped), and this year is much worse.

07 Aug 2009 1:21 PM

Fact is Curlin faced a number of Grade 1 horses and lost twice on different surfaces to 4 of those grade 1 winning horses, Zenyatta faced only 7 Grade 1 horses in 8 races and faced 5 in 1 race. lol thats why curlin deserved and won HOY because he was tested each race not just in 1 race like the creampuff schedule of Zenyatta's Pride

07 Aug 2009 2:02 PM

Thanks Shuttleworth THIS would indeed be the race of the century ...Rachel Alexandra, Quality Road and Sea The Stars in the Breeders Cup classic.  Although we would be quite happy with any two of the three, we wouldn't complain if Zenyatta entered the fray.  

07 Aug 2009 3:19 PM

I am not saying that Curlin was not a great horse he is and he was one reason I went to the BC last year, a surperior looking horse! And why can a horse never leave the East Coast & get HOTY but heaven forbid if a horse does not leave the West they can't be considered great? Zen. did go back east but was scratched because of rain and they had sealed the track (can we say cement!) and her connections did want to take a risk with her (I say Bravo!). Forget 148!! Beyers are just numbers to help gamblers, I look at PP's and at the horse, as they like to say "score board baby!". But I do think they should meet because to me (all arguments aside) that is what horse racing & sportsmanship are all about. By the way for those of you who think an amateur would think this way I picked RA over the boys in the Preakness even after my Hubby said no way. I am a firm believer in the way that fillys can run run with the boys (example: Europe). ANd for those asking about Hot 'n Dusty etc... those owners said they were honored just to have run with Zenyatta and were actually running for 2nd (and to bolster those blacktype earnings).    

07 Aug 2009 3:46 PM
Janesville Liz


How can you say Rachel Alexandra has not faced tough horses. She has beaten the winners of the Acorn Stakes, the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes,the Arkansas Derby, the Santa Anita Derby, and one of the fastest sprinters in the country in Munnings. While these horses may not be in the same league as Secretariat, they are not slouches. She has traveled all over, winning at Churchill, Keeneland, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, Pimlico, Belmont, and Monmouth. She has won on synthetic, fast, and sloppy tracks. She has won on the lead and rated to come from off the pace. She has four Grade I victories (compared to Zenyatta's five), with two of those wins coming against males. Let's not say she has not beaten anything of any account. That is complete ignorance.  

07 Aug 2009 3:58 PM
Caroline S.


1944 Twilight Tear and Busher. Busher went on to win HOY in '45 as well.

07 Aug 2009 5:52 PM

Folks it really doesn't matter what anyone says.  It is obvious Zenyatta is on a path to try and stay undefeated.  She is not out to beat the boys she is out to go undefeated.  Good for her its been done but good for her.  Rachel is on a path to perhaps have the best 3 year old season any horse in the last 100 years.

07 Aug 2009 6:06 PM


You lose all credibility by refusing to even acknowledge Zenyatta is a great horse. I choose to debate with knowledgeable, unbiased fans. Difference between you and I, I know Curlin was a very good horse and that Rachel is a great horse. Who knows, you might have been one of the voters who gave Ginger Punch one of the two first-place votes she received for best older female even though she lost both head-to-head matchups against Zenyatta.

07 Aug 2009 6:11 PM

No to Oaklawn....I would like to see a decent stretch run.  One track that never seems to get mentioned and is neutral I think for both is Hawthorne.  A.P might be synthetics...Hawthorne is dirt.

07 Aug 2009 11:15 PM


Just how many G-1 winners has Rachel raced against and how many in total G-1 races did they win?

I believe that Ginger Punch alone has won more G-1 races then all of the G-1 races Rachel's opponnents have won.

07 Aug 2009 11:19 PM


The winner could face off against Zen.

07 Aug 2009 11:49 PM

I think Rachel could have beat Curlin. I think she will be more famous in racing by the end of next year (providing she doesn't get hurt and continues to race as well as she is now)than Curlin. my opinion.

08 Aug 2009 8:07 AM

For those of us who actually witnessed the great Ruffian's breakdown, the word "matchrace" triggers terrible flashbacks to that awful day. No matchrace. The events of that day should NEVER be repeated. If they don't meet up sometime down the road, then we will all still have something to bicker over.  

08 Aug 2009 10:28 AM
Port Stanley

Since there are those that say that Zenyatta hasn't beaten anyone, and those that say that Rachel Alexandra hasn't beaten anyone. Does that mean that if they meet it will be meaningless who wins, since she will have beaten a horse who hasn't beaten anyone? :-)

08 Aug 2009 1:12 PM

Match races are not all bad, not every single one has ended in a horrible breakdown like Ruffians. Regular races probably have a high percentage of breakdowns than matches. Do we all remember Barbaro, Go For Wand, George Washington, Pine Island, Fleet Indian, and Eight Bells? All horses, broke down in a just a regular race. Saying this i am not in favor of a match between RA and Zen. Though a match would give my fav RA a clear advantage i want to see her win fair and square. This is also the reaso i don't think the Moss' should be allowed to enter a horse of their own as a rabbit into a race where the two meet. I think if Zen gets to run the way she likes to comfortably so should RA. Now if somebody else entered a horse like Munnings, Big Drama, or QR, where those horses all have different connections than Zenyatta, i'd be fine.

    I saw somebody asked what grade one winners has RA beaten. She has beaten Dream Empress, POTN who is a two time G1 winner, MTB, and SB. Total she's beaten four. If you count the amount of Grade 2 winners then you get some numbers. She beat PC, twice, FF, and Munnings, just to name a few.

08 Aug 2009 2:24 PM

If Curlin had skipped the BC Zenyatta would have won HOY. Jess Jackson knew that and that is why he went to Santa Anita.

Pam S...Great post!

Port Stanley...LOL!

08 Aug 2009 3:00 PM
sweet terchi

Draynay, you finally posted something I agree with,(8/7..6:06pm, and in a unoffensive way.

08 Aug 2009 3:32 PM
Pam S.

Barb, thanks for the comment!  I bet you're going to the Breeders' Cup this year too, am I right?

08 Aug 2009 7:36 PM

I see alot of "numbers" people in these posts.

People don't realize how much slower synthetic racing is when it comes to speed figures.

Numbers on dirt are always "much" higher than synthetic racing. This will always be a "fact".

This year Jess Jackson has shown the public that he has learned from the past.

Jess Jackson is ducking the Breeders Cup because he learned from Curlin's mishap (last year). All those speed figures and the best horse in the world faltered at the 1/8th pole, Curlin was absolutely winded. When Curlin, returned to his groom he was exausted (blowing "extremely" hard).

This mare will make the filly look like an absolute fool if she shows up at Santa Anita this year. In fact, the filly will have a hard time placing in the money. Speed or "tactical" speed is not what you want on this track. This Pro Ride surface is nothing like Keeneland, Turfway and many of the other synthetic tracks in California. It wil suck the life right out of you.

08 Aug 2009 8:15 PM

Draynay, how can you even say that Zenyatta isn't in the same league as QR and RA?  She hasn't ever need to be pushed to get a 148 or better because her connections line her up against a bunch of fillies and mares who don't hold a candle to her.  Until you see her be truly challenged and pushed against real competition, it's wrong to say she isn't as good as the other two.  If she's beaten fair and square by those two (though I'm sad to say I'm not quite sure she'll ever be given the chance to win or lose against them) then you can say that she isn't as good, but until then, it's pure ignorance to make that statement.

08 Aug 2009 8:57 PM

Curlin would've won HOTY over Zenyatta last year even if he didn't go to the Classic. Certainly not by as much, but he would have won it. Tell me why voters would give the honors to Zenyatta who raced fillies all year long, going out of state twice when you have Curlin who wins at going everywhere. He defied the Dubai bounce, and Saratoga the graveyard of champions, is second in his only try on turf against grade one competition, and is unbeaten on dirt. That year he raced in grade one open company all year long and won. His wins included the Stephen Foster, at Churchill, the Woodward at Saratoga, the JCGC at Belmont, the Jaguer Trophy and DWC in Dubai. When you compare just that to Zenyatta's record, why would you not give Curlin HOTY. Also had he not gone to the BCC he probably would've gone to add the Clark to that list of wins. Again why would you choose Zenyatta over the reining champion who had a not only a winning season, but an outstanding season once again.

08 Aug 2009 9:10 PM

Draynay, your constant obsession with both BB and RA are totally bogus.  Sure RA has faced the boys, but who has she run against?  Give MTB an extra furlong and he would've beaten her.  Until there is some real competition within the boys overall, Zenyatta doesn't have any motive to face them.  The only good one right now is QR.  And I've seen many of your other posts about how amazing BB was, when he never ran against any true competition either.  It seems like there is always an excuse for the horse that you like when they don't do well.  Afleet Alex went to his knees in the Preakness a few years ago and still won.  I find it amazing that you are so quick to judge Zen and say she hasn't faced any good competition when your favorites haven't either.  Furthermore, the comments you've made about Hard Spun in the past are totally off the mark as well.  Honestly, HS wasn't a distant horse, and was pushed to far in many of his races.  In my opinion, if not for being being pushed to early in the Preakness, he would've won.  As LDP has said in the past, check your facts and start thinking about the things your precious favorites have done wrong before you critisize the others for making the same mistakes.

08 Aug 2009 9:15 PM


They have both ran on, and won there. It's dirt. It's neutral, but familiar and proven for both, at the same time.

Should cover all the bases for both camps, possibly excepting the fact that the Zenyatta people don't seem to want to move out of a 60 mile radius with their mare.

I do NOT think it should be a match race, as with their polar opposite running styles, it puts Zenyatta at a disadvantage (and I say that as someone who firmly believes Rachel would beat her if they faced off 10 times). But it needs to be a "fair fight" with both pace and closing advantage covered as best as it can be. Create a race, get the cash, fill it (if they can--who wants to face them??), and turn 'em  loose. May the best one win.

As an aside, for those who think the two meeting is a BAD idea, you must be new to the sport. How ironic that once upon a time, FANS did not have to clamor; we had true horsemen, both trainers and owners, who set out with nothing more than a "My horse can beat your horse...and we'll prove it" racing fans have been reduced to begging for it.

It's tragic, really. Somewhere, the late great Charlie Whittingham is laughing and pointing, and calling this "new gaurd" a bunch of wimps.

08 Aug 2009 10:05 PM
Golden Gate


I still think Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra should meet in the Apple Blossom along with other great fillies. I don't like the idea of an actual one on one match race because I believe they would try their hearts out to win since they are so competive and might get hurt in the process.

If some other nice fillies could be lured to compete with their excellent jockeys. I think it would be great. Also because both have been there before and the owners had a good time they might go for it.

Thank you afleetalexforever for correcting me on 06 Aug 2009 that the Appple Blossom is already a Grade I.

I was thinking if the Arkansas Derby which is a Grade II and thinking of that why is it a Grade II when so many horses that run in it use it for a prep for the Kentucky Derby?

08 Aug 2009 10:08 PM

Not Rachel Alexandra nor Zenyatta could ever hold a candle to Ruffian! She was and still is the best female racehorse ever!!!!!!!! Let the two of them write their own destiny. They don't have to "match up" to prove who is better, nothing good ever comes from match races!!!!!!! Rest in peace my dear Ruffian you will Never be forgotten!

09 Aug 2009 12:14 PM

Someone mentioned the Grade 1 winners that Rachel has trounced.

Here's the complete list

Grade 1 winners she's defeated

1. Gabby's Golden Girl

2. Flashing

3. Take The Point

4. Pioneer of the Nile

5. Summer Bird

6. Mine That Bird

7. General Quarters

8. Dream Empress

What an impressive resume.

09 Aug 2009 1:53 PM

Pam S...You are right! I am planning on going to Santa Anita in Nov. It will be my first time to SA and my first live BC. I turn 40 on Nov 19th and am going as my b-day present to myself. It would be fun if those of us going could meet up somehow.

09 Aug 2009 6:23 PM
Dee SIx

I would never want to see a "Match Race" between RACHEL and ZENYATTA, but who's going to face both of them in any race other than the Breeders' Cup? There's an old saying that "Great ones can run on broken glass". And after what I have witnessed RACHEL qualifies as Great and seems to handle any racetrack surface, wet or dry. Mr. Jackson's reluctance to run her on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita is derived from CURLIN getting beat last year in the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. But if CURLIN had more time to acclimate himself to the west coast and Santa Anita's racetrack I feel certain that the outcome would have been different. For he was a Great One. If only Mr. Jackson would send RACHEL to Santa Anita and watch for himself as she gallops and/or works over the track then and only then she he make a decision on her running in the Breeders' Cup. For she and ZENYATTA would draw the biggest crowd in Breeders' Cup history, both on track and TV viewers. Just think what THAT could do for our sport which is hurting so badly.

09 Aug 2009 6:28 PM

Yeah Alex

You needed Saturday's races to add to your little collection that ironically you brought up on Friday.  Great foresight.  That's 9 G-1 wins from 8 different horses.  I’m still not overly impressed.

09 Aug 2009 6:49 PM
Golden Gate

Yeah!! Zenyatta and Mike!!

I love Rachel Alexandra but I believe Zenyatta would prevail in the end. Just like she did in the Hirsch.

09 Aug 2009 9:34 PM

Despite the fact that Rachel has already won over a synthetic surface they're still not going to California...

Regardless, a "match race" would be useless to determine who the better horse is because of their running styles.  Obviously Rachel would win because match races are geared toward whoever can sustain their highest speed longer.  Zenyatta is a late run horse...she can't and probably would be unwilling to sustain her speed for an entire race.  Would I like to see them in a full race field together?  Of course.  Simply because it's fun to see the best compete against the best, not necessarily to find out who is better.  The best horse on the day wins, it's not ALWAYS the best horse.

10 Aug 2009 8:46 AM

I agree with Draynay, RA vs Quality Road is far more exciting. Zenyatta is a Synth horse and RA is dirt, it is apples. and oranges

10 Aug 2009 11:36 AM
Pam S.


I agree, it would be fun.  I didn't go to the Cup last year, but did go when it was at SA in 2003.  I, and maybe some other posters, would love to wish you a happy birthday this fall, so keep me posted on any plans or ideas!

10 Aug 2009 1:08 PM

to those clamoring for a match just go back and watch their races .it would be stupid of zenyatta's connections to play that game.zenyatta is a far closer RA is a filly with high cruising speed.a match would not prove who is the better horse but only who is the better match horse.honestly they are both great if they meet in a race fine but why a stupid match? what is the point?even in a regular race it would only be fair for a best of three on three different surfaces .

10 Aug 2009 5:41 PM
needler in Virginia

No how, NO WAY, NOT EVER!! No match race, and certainly NOT the one proposed by the mattress king of Houston. There is no need for a match race....I was at Belmont in 1975 and remember THAT match race far too well. The connections for each of these Golden Girls have their agendas for their horses, and more power to them. WHO CARES which would win on any given day? I certainly don't. I'm just tickled to death they are racing, healthy, stunning the crowds with their looks and talent, and being looked after with care. All I really want to see is both retire sound. That's it!

As to a match race??? NOPE. Racing doesn't require a match race to present a better face to the general public; racing needs more healthy horses leaving the track when they are through with racing, NOT when they are forced to retire due to injury. So run on Zenyatta and each of your own ways you've given us moments to remember, and we're looking for more..............

11 Aug 2009 1:32 PM

Everyone, for like maybe the last year i've been LDP, but since a new LDP has come along, to avoid confusion i'll be changing to KYgirl914, on this blog at least.

11 Aug 2009 4:51 PM

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