Zenyatta vs. Rachel: How About May 2?

When Oaklawn Park owner Charlie Cella announced he would ante up $5 million in an attempt to lure Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta to the April 3 Apple Blossom (gr. I) we all knew it was a longshot at best. Everyone wondered aloud, “How can Rachel be ready by then?”

On Feb. 10, Jess Jackson, co-owner of Rachel Alexandra, answered our question: “She can’t be ready.”

Zenyatta has remained in training since her dazzling performance in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). She has seven published works since Dec. 7, the most recent being a six-furlong move Feb. 11. Rachel Alexandra has not raced since Sept. 5 and has had only two four-furlong breezes, one Jan. 31 and one Feb. 6.

God bless Cella, who was bold enough to put up the dough to bring together the race everyone wants to see.

Jackson, who owns Rachel Alexandra with Harold McCormick, issued a press release Feb. 10 proposing the two distaffers meet in a series of three races, those contests not yet selected.

When told of this, Jerry Moss, who owns Zenyatta with his wife, Ann, told the Associated Press, “I have no idea what he’s even talking about.”

The ideal thing, of course, would have been for the owners and their trainers to sit down and discuss different scenarios under which 6-year-old Zenyatta, winner of all 14 of her starts, and 4-year-old Rachel Alexandra, eight-for-eight last year and winner of 11 of 14 overall, could meet.

Which tracks, which dates, what distances, what conditions…what would make everyone happy?

Now, Cella has spoken to both sets of connections and has moved the Apple Blossom to April 9, giving Rachel more time.

The timetable is still tight and everything must go perfectly. If it doesn't work out, here is another idea, meeting at Churchill Downs: The Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on April 30; the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 1; the La Troienne (gr. II), moved from Oaks day to May 2.

Yes, the track is traditionally dark the day following the Derby. Seems it would be worth the effort to have the clean up crew and employees push one more day. Seems the television and newspaper reporters that are already in town would stay one more day for the match-up of the century. Can you imagine how much you can promote this event to happen the day after the world's greatest race?

Let's hope things work out at Oaklawn Park. If not, let's get Churchill working on something.

Racing fans everywhere wait. And hope.

110 Comments

Leave a Comment:

pas

i'm not sure what Jackson is referring to, but i hope he doesn't mean that new races should be created just for a match-up between these titans. just imagine the boon to racing if these girls would meet in races that are already in existance throughout the country. i think it would be great for racing, the racetracks in question (and it would be super if there were several different involved), and other horses competing. it's clear neither party needs the money, so the purse money need not be increased all the time. but what a wonderful thing if every other race or so these two mares would square off in a different state on a different track. sort of like a tour. the fans would love this. but creating new races for this purpose would be superfluous.

11 Feb 2010 3:50 PM
MOKEY

Yes that time really sounds better for both horses! I think if the meet at a couple of different tracks and times gives more fans a chance to see their girl or girls!

11 Feb 2010 4:11 PM
Zipse at the Track

How about April 9?   www.zipseatthetrack.blogspot.com

11 Feb 2010 4:22 PM
tweetypie

I think it gonna happen at Oaklawn April 9th !!!

11 Feb 2010 4:22 PM
Bob Z

That is a great idea!

Run it the day after the Derby....

So that would be 2 full days of buildup... the Oaks.. where they would be talking about what Rachel did last year...

... then the Derby which stands on its own.. but I'm sure there would plenty of verbal buildup outside of the 2 minutes of the race itself...

... and yes the news crews would already be there for the Derby... no need to have to regenerate interest at a later date.. its all built in..

But.... I would say the purse would have to be increased ... and the distance decided on... probably 1 1/8 miles...

So IF there are going to be 3 races between them.. have one in May.. the 2nd in August or September... (Woodward?) (Jockey Gold Cup?) and then the 3rd at the Breeders Cup...

The decision to run Rachel in the Woodward at 1 1/8 versus the Travers I believe was mainly an issue of Rachel not being ready for a top effort at 1 1/4... no fault of hers ... just the way it was...

But if Z & R run in May at the La Troienne at 1 1/8.. and then not meet until late summer that will mean that Rachel has had a whole year to mature and fill out and train towards running at 1 1/4... something she will have to do at the Breeders Cup anyway...

One of the shrewdest moves Jess made was going to the Woodward instead of the Travers... In doing that and having stated that the Breeders Cup on synthetic was out .. he effectively delayed Rachel from having to prove herself at 1 1/4 until late summer of 2010...

11 Feb 2010 4:25 PM
Louis Trudel

Very brilliant suggestion(date, concept, decision making).  I also thought about a 3 races contest (regarding $$$ that can be generated for all parties).  Very good article.

11 Feb 2010 4:38 PM
Billy's Empire

just have it as the undercard for the Derby, and move the Woodford Reserve a race earlier. Think about that? They would never have the capability to have a racing day on the Sunday after Derby. CD is trashed, and everyone is hungover....

11 Feb 2010 4:41 PM
Criminal Type

How bout April 9th at Oaklawn in the Apple Blossom ? I just read that they moved the race back 6 days to accomodate training schedules for both mares and both owners are on board. I can't wait to see Zenyatta get her just desserts.

11 Feb 2010 4:56 PM
Jordan S

I am very excited to see these two wonder horses race, but I am a little disappointed about their race being on a Friday. It seems to me that with a race of this magnitude, a race that will be as highly anticipated as any race in recent memory, that you would want to put it on a weekend day when people are off work and when you can get the most people to come to the track and watch on t.v. I recall Bill Mott, trainer of Cigar, one time being asked if his champion would be in a handicap race that happened to be run on a Friday, and the response he gave was "Cigar is more of a Saturday horse." Well so are Zenyatta and Rachel. I can't wait for them to meet, but wish it could be on a day when the most people could watch these two magnificent athletes compete in what will surely be a race to remember.

11 Feb 2010 5:13 PM
It Aint Easy being good

I am with billy everyone is simulcasting and waiting for the derby why not have the race of the century on derby day! Gives each corner enough time to get there horse ready and then when one of them loses there will be an excuse by the owners and the fans! lol!

11 Feb 2010 5:21 PM
Zookeeper

Criminal Type,

"I can't wait to see Zenyatta get her just desserts." (LOL) How about some Apple Blossom pies?

If you mean deserts, as in just punishment, what an ugly comment to make. What punishment does this great mare deserve after winning all of her races and delighting her fans through it all? Shame on you!!! Your comment is disgusting!

11 Feb 2010 5:47 PM
Sandy

This type of race scares me, all I can think of is what happen to Rufian.  Why can't we just be happy knowing that both horses are great and appreciate them equally. I pray they will both be okay.

11 Feb 2010 6:36 PM
Rachel

Zookeeper, you're right, but you KNOW it's gonna happen, whoever wins is going to trash the other side, bash the losing horse...that's why I really hope both girls race all year...I just get this freaky feeling if Zen should win the first meeting...poof, gone to the breeding shed! I hope I'm all wet...and I hope they both get to meet QR!

11 Feb 2010 6:46 PM
marktoothaker

Cella stepping up to say whatever it takes to make this happens should be rewarded with this great matchup. I was also hoping for a Saturday matchup to see if OP could break their attendance record but with these two superstars they might just do it anyway. Wish both connections the best and hope it happens, just the type event to put racing back into the mainstream media if only for the one day its a start.

11 Feb 2010 7:31 PM
mary glynn

Shame on  Any one who would say  I can't wait to see Zenyatta get her just desserts While I am a Fan of zenyatta i am also a Fan of Rachel Alexandria they are both Great horses!

I want to see them both do there best and will Love them both I hope for a great race with safe outcomes for both. True Horse lovers Love horses. These horses show tremendous talent and heart. I suggest that criminal mind go see his or her doctor cause you might need a check up do you have a tiny little heart?

11 Feb 2010 7:47 PM
carolyn

Criminal Type, It may be Rachel getting her just desserts, Never underestimate Zenyatta!!!

11 Feb 2010 7:57 PM
Bill Smith

It's time for Rachel to kick butt.

The Zenster she will be coming with her late move but too late...Rachel will be long gone!

And don't forget the other horses that might be in the race,they could be a factor.

Rachel all the way...

11 Feb 2010 8:13 PM
Lil Darlin

April 9th, here we go! The TV Networks better be brought on board!

11 Feb 2010 8:19 PM
Robin

I agree with Sandy... let's not ever forget Ruffian.  There's no need for a match race.  Is America ready to watch one horse run itself to death!!!  If the two camps want to meet in a race along with other contenders, than so be it.  I pray to God that both owners have enough sense not to condone a match. Both horses are truly wonderful specimens.  There's no need to ruin one for the glory of the other.

11 Feb 2010 8:24 PM
Mary in VT

My gut is that April 9 is just too soon for Rachel given where she is now in her training. I wish they gave it another month. I hope it doesn't happen anytime in April no matter what they say today.

Jackson was on to something big when he proposed a 3 race test. If they met for the first time on what is already racing's biggest day due to the KY Derby when the whole country is watching and can be introduced to these two great super horses, and hear all about their spectacular achievements with a big dose of hollywood drama about their rivalry thrown in ... then ... just maybe then ... we could get people interested in the next two races of a 3 race test to see who ultimately wins the slugfest.

Yes, we want the better horse to have a chance to underline that fact, but we also want to squeeze out as much mileage for the good of the sport of horse racing as we can, don't we?

11 Feb 2010 8:28 PM
Gilbert

The ideal of racing the day after is dumb on all levels.If both train up to the breeders cup 2010 race fans will be in for a treat.

11 Feb 2010 8:38 PM
MTBFan(still)

It would be great to have a date that satisfies BOTH the mares and makes a lot of publicity (putting the race ahead six days is pushing it a little), but we need to settle down and realize this is probably the best we'll get so far. Moss wants to get this done early so his champion can go on to bigger and more varied things, and Jackson is still working out Rachel's big plans. Get this done early. You got your race, in a neutral track, it's as good as it can get for now. This isn't Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral, and even the leadup to that match race was back and forth. As for me, I'm thrilled. I wish it wasn't a match race, but this is going to be something to turn peoples' heads, I hope. I'm a rabid Rachel fan, though. WATCH OUT!

11 Feb 2010 8:38 PM
cheri

I agree they should have it on a saterday, where ever they are going to have it.

11 Feb 2010 8:42 PM
OldFashionedRunner

I am so nervous about the Apple Blossom! I want Zenyatta to win so bad but I don't want either of them to lose! But, I would laugh if another horse came out of nowhere and beat them both. You never know, it could happen.

11 Feb 2010 8:46 PM
Karen2

April 9th now huh??? I don't even know what to think about this. I LOVE both horses and honestly almost hate to see them meet on the track. It kindof gives me a sick feeling and a kindof excited one at the same time. I just don't want either one of them to get beaten. They have brought so much to this sport. Wow...what a serious bag of mixed emotions.

11 Feb 2010 8:53 PM
PAUL

I am very happy that they will be meeting on the track sooner rather than later. You never know if they both will get through each month without some nagging injury.

However, is having a race of this magnitude on a Friday when everyone is at work really what is best for racing. It should be on a Saturday.

11 Feb 2010 8:57 PM
Ace Hare

The day after the Derby? You (and those that agree with you) obviously have no gift for publicity or promotion. Why, let's just tuck this race away the day after the most significant race in the country? Sure, everybody would care about this race, about as much if you ran the Daytona 500 on the Monday after the Super Bowl (no, I am not a NASCAR fan). Racing, like it or not, is now a niche sport in the MSM, and the need to capitalize on events in this sport is great just to maintain visibility to the public. Which reminds me, Friday before the last round of KY Derby preps. Great timing. You may as well pick out a more ineffective date, like, say, the day afte the Derby, itself.

11 Feb 2010 9:16 PM
anniedixie65

Me personally would like to see the filly and mare meet in a race with boys, like Jeff Seigel on HRTV mentioned yesterday when it was announced on HRTV that Rachel wouldn't be able to run the Apple Blossom. I think it would be more fair for both horses if they met where there could be some pace in the race and midsummer so they both can have a few races in. Just IMO though. I have a few concerns with the Apple Blossom for both horses such as pace and if Rachel is ready. In one instance Zenyatta has the upper hand because she will have one race in, but if there is a lack of pace from the front runner to the back that is a disadvantage to Zenyatta. Rachel is coming off a very long layoff and so a disadvantage to her, will she come back as strong as last year after her taxing finish in her last start? I personally think Zenyatta will win going away, just IMO again.

11 Feb 2010 9:21 PM
Bob Z

"I wish it wasn't a match race, but this is going to be something to turn peoples' heads, I hope."

What is all this about match races...?

A match race is between 2 horses... there will be quite a few more in the Apple Blossom..

11 Feb 2010 9:22 PM
Paula Higgins

Karen2 I am right there with you. I hate to see either of them beat too. I would like to say up front, that neither one will be diminished no matter who wins.

11 Feb 2010 9:28 PM
sherpa

The day after the Derby rightfully belongs to the Derby Winner.  All the News should be focused on him (or her ;-). A Z vs RA race would take away from that. It just wouldn't be fair.  Think about it!

RA is a big, strapping filly and there's no reason she can't be at 100% in 2 full months if she's healthy and still loves to run.  I worry more about Zen racing in mid-March in the Santa Margarita and having to make the long trip to Oaklawn in such a short space of time.  The 9th is certainly more advantageous for both; but I echo those who are hating on a Friday race.  Why?why?why???  I can't take a day off work at the very height of tax season :-(  

11 Feb 2010 9:59 PM
pas

what a lot of people seem to be discounting is the experience that Mike Smith has in riding Zenyatta, and in general. Borel might do well for the most part, but there is a reason why many people would prefer to ride Smith on their horses. I really hope that Borel has learned a little from his Belmont experience. because if it comes down to a jockey's race, Smith may have the upper hand. i think he would keep an eye on Rachel and make a move appropriately. I don't think he'll take it as business as usual out there. and any other horses in the race should keep it honest for both of the superstar mares.

11 Feb 2010 10:48 PM
LORI S

There will be no match race. the Moss' love their big mare way too much for that. Everyone needs to slow down and let both horses get into peak form before they meet. The BC Ladies classic is just fine with me. Let who's best be decided on the track instead of in people's minds.

11 Feb 2010 10:52 PM
Gail

Thank God!! I was beginning to think I was the only one that thinks this is a stupid, unnecessary thing to do. It's good to know there are people out there like me that think there is no need for these races. Both horses are quality and there is no need for one to lose a race like this. Why can't we enjoy them for the awesome runners that they are. I do wish these owners had shown more strength of character and not given in to the pressure of people that are determined to make one of these horses a loser. That, in my opinion is not good for racing. Watching these two run last year was great fun, pitting them against each other is a fleeting thing and will not be good for either one in the long run. To be truthful i do not think I will watch the race or races.

11 Feb 2010 11:28 PM
wendyg

Why can't people be happy that we have to amazing mares? Why does one have to get beat to make people happy? I would have thought that people would have learned after Ruffian.  These aren't two regular racehorses, they are phenoms that will push beyond their boundaries to win.  I love them both, but if this ends tragically just for the sake of peoples vanity, it is not going to be a good thing for racing.  If it does happen though, I hope Zenyatta wins.  Rachel has a lot of time left, but this will probably be Zenyatta's final year.

Rachel has lost before, it will not be a big deal if she loses, but it will be huge for Zenyatta when she has been so great.  

12 Feb 2010 12:02 AM
wendyg

What happens to this big match-up if either mare loses their respective races before the match-up?  Will that be a factor?  Just curious.  

12 Feb 2010 12:06 AM
wendyg

Honestly, for those of you that think the derby would outshine or cast a shadow over the race with these two mares?  I think the derby would be overshadowed by a race with Zenyatta and Rachel.  The derby would be like a teaser for a great race.  

12 Feb 2010 12:12 AM
WhoKnows

anniedixie, see, the problem with the pace scenario is that someone is gonna love it and someone is gonna hate it, regardless. The odds of each horse winning dramatically improves with the pace scenario, and who knows what that will be so they will go in with equal chances of being given the upper hand or drawing the short stick. Personally, I think pace will be the deciding factor. If its fast, Zenyatta will close over Rachel. If its slow, Zenyatta will still close but Rachel will be too far gone to catch.

12 Feb 2010 12:38 AM
Bob Z

Ok somebody help me out with this....

The race was originally scheduled for April 3rd.. now its April 9th...

.. that is 6 days further out...

If Rachel would not be ready and in peak form by April 3rd is 6 more days that much more of a difference in her conditioning and her recuperation...?

12 Feb 2010 12:56 AM
MISTY

Have the author ever been to Churchill Downs the day after the derby?? Even crews working all night long could not clean up the mess from 150,000+ people.  Just have it on Derby day when media and the crowd are already there to watch world class racing.

12 Feb 2010 1:19 AM
BELLWETHER

HOLD YOUR BREATH...NOT ONE DAMN THING N "THE GAME" IS EASY...LONG LIVE THE KING!!!...

12 Feb 2010 3:18 AM
mg

Hold the presses and say it ain't so. The two superstars of the game are going to meet, the purse gets bumped up to five million, a real opportunity for racing to showcase itself and they set the race for FRIDAY. You have to be kidding - FRIDAY, I'm quite sure everyone will take off work to see one race on a FRIDAY. Is there possibly any other way horse racing can shoot itself in the foot? Oaklawn would not agree to move the race back seven days, but I guess six days is just perfect. For Heaven's sake - FRIDAY, Wow!!!

12 Feb 2010 6:08 AM
Fish

I would perfer that Rachel and Zenyatta not meet at Churchill Downs until the Breeder Cup.  If Mr. Jackson wants a three race series how about the Apple Blossom, the Beldame at Belmont in the fall and then the Breeder Cup?

Also I hope Team Zenyatta will consider running in the Hollywood Gold Cup this summer.

12 Feb 2010 7:38 AM
Fran Loszynski

I know many horseracing fans will disagree with me, but I can't help thinking about Foolish Pleasure and Ruffian. I once spoke to a stallion manager who was revered to be the best- he said racehorses are meant to "race horses" as a group not each other. A racehorse is trained to look around him in every direction mindful of the horses around him they look for competition on both sides of the fence. I agree. Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra deserve to race with their peers and enjoy all-around competition not just for "our pleasure". Sorry but I loved Ruffian and I will always feel that race should never have happened.

12 Feb 2010 7:50 AM
dliebman@bloodhorse.com

Actually my original thought was the Thursday prior to the Derby. Think how much attendance would rise. But television would be a non-factor. Next I thought of Derby day, but that day belongs to the Derby and the Derby winner. The day after, however, would be fantastic. Attention already focused on racing that weekend. Television already on the grounds. Reporters already in town. Would not detract from Derby winner. Would only bring racing more publicity. As for the distance, purse, condition, that can all be worked out. Just one man's idea.

12 Feb 2010 8:14 AM
Billy's Empire

one thing the race will not be is a match race. think about the purse size. The top 5 finishers make over 100k, so there will be fillies and mares lining up to be in this race, many owners just to say that they were in the "race of the century." I am excited, and here is my opinion of what could happen.

If Rachel get's out to an easy lead, and say she goes the first half in anything around 47 and change, there is no way BiG Z will catch her unless she change's her running style, which she won't. Rachel will ease away from the field on the turn, and be as good as gone.

If Rachel is in a speed duel like in the Woodward, and they 45, low 46 for the half, I can see her getting tired in the stretch and giving Z a chance to run by her. At the distance, I feel Rachel will be the one that determines how the outcome of the race will be. At 1 1/4 miles, I think Z just runs her down unless Rachel gallops the mile in 1:38, which most likley will not happen. Get your popcorn ready. This is gonna be fun!

12 Feb 2010 8:16 AM
Slew

1. Smith vs Borel...Oaklawn is a home track for Borel..not Smith.

2. A reality check...I've never had a bad word to say about the connections of either Zenyatta or Rachel.  But now I am noticing puffery from the Jackson camp.  They stated they tried to get a date change but couldn't..lo and behold...the date gets changed the day after their announcement not to run.  They said they are trying to arrange a 3 race series.  Apparently they contacted the head of the NTRA, but never the Moss's.  The facts just aren't adding up.  When Oaklawn did change the date of the Apple Blosson, I'd say it left Rachel's camp cornered into a commitment.  I love both of the horses so much...respect and admire both their accomplishments, but I must say that all this political bluster is ruining the sport for me.  Perhaps both camps should just race these ladies where they want, and quit all the posturing.  I'll withhold any further judgement until I see the Zen and RA actually in the same starting gate.

12 Feb 2010 9:12 AM
Kate

Fran Loszynski I was having very similar thoughts as to the similarity.  Really hope that it doesn't become like the Ruffian/Foolish Pleasure match race, and have all the media attention get out of hand.  I would like to see these two meet up, but I would also prefer for it to be in a race like the breeders cup, be it distaff or classic.  But people don't go out of your way to make a race just for these two horses.  As someone else said, let the horses decide when they are ready to race against one another, not the humans.

12 Feb 2010 10:46 AM
quarterhossgal

My prayers are for both of theses great mares.  They have more than given their hearts in several of their races.  Any horse can be beaten on a given day, it will not diminish my respect for either mare if they do meet.  If they are both fit it will be an exciting race with their different racing styles.  Criminal Type is not a horse lover, maybe just a gambler.Real horse admirers respect great horses whether they reach the finish line first or second. Godd luck and health to both of theses great champions!!

12 Feb 2010 10:53 AM
LDP

Slew,

    I would actually say JJ cornered Oaklawn into giving him the extra week. He did try to get the week beforehand, but Cella didn't give it to him, so JJ basiclly said "well if you can't accommodate my horse's needs, then no matter what amount of money you offer, I'm not running." Personally I think that is good, he showed he is willing to run if given that extra week, which despite what some think does make a difference. It is one more week of rest, and another week of preparation for the race, which can make a huge difference in a horse's performance. When he also talked about a three race series, that took the spotlight off of Oaklawn, and on to other potential tracks. If you look at what happened you'll see it was JJ who did the maneuvering and cornering. This whole thing is like a chess match to him, and when Cella didn't immediately give in, he threatened to pull away. Now, I know many do not like JJ, but he normally does do what he says he will, and because of that track record Cella decided to believe him instead of trying to call a potential bluff. So, in order to get the spotlight back on his track, Cella gave in and moved the date back.

12 Feb 2010 11:04 AM
linda

april 9th friday that will bring in a a new fan base many folks work on friday and may not even get to see this race unless it is in the evening was anyone thinking about the fans never mind who will win if this is on a week-day racing and the fans will loose again i wonder who came up with this date

12 Feb 2010 12:18 PM
Pam S.

I agree with you Slew, after all this "puffery" (great word; I also like "dithering"), I'm just gonna wait 'til they're in the gate before I get excited.

Six days?? Hard to believe that was a deal-maker or deal-breaker, but okay.... Many folks will say I don't know what I'm talking about, but at this point I say, regarding Rachel, train the horse and run her.  She's an exceptional filly and I'm betting she'll be ready.  I just heard Rachel's prep is scheduled for March 13, so I guess the connections agree, for now.  

I do not understand whay any real racing fan would not be excited about this matchup, or why Ruffian is brought up so often.  One, this will not be a match race but more like the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic; and two, it'll be a great event for racing to promote.  I do see the Friday date as somewhat of a problem, but the important thing is that both owners have agreed to it.  Maybe there will be a later-than-normal post time to push it to evening in the East??

12 Feb 2010 12:21 PM
Dask27

I agree with mg - a race like this and it's going to be on a Friday afternoon.  This industry just doesn't get it.  Who in the hell is going to be able to watch it?  It's so frustrating listening to the powers that be telling us we need to do this and we need to do that to increase the popularity of this sport and then they schedule what could well be the most anticipated race in decades for a FRIDAY afternoon.  I live on the east coast and could perhaps sneak out an hour early from work to see the race - but the bottom line is I shouldn't have to leave work early for an event like this!  C'mon people - let's get your act together!

12 Feb 2010 12:54 PM
Redraven

how about a match race on Deby Day at Churchill? wouldn't that be something!

12 Feb 2010 1:01 PM
The Rock

Rachel vs Zenyatta. How about all the time! lol. Zenyatta will beat Rachel no matter what. The most amazing horse I've ever seen run in person.

12 Feb 2010 1:18 PM
GAGSTAG

Thank you Robin, Lori S.and Gail,everyone just needs to calm down.This match-up has all the potential of greatness.But no need to risk safety for a match race.If a third horse wins the race then, so be it.I saw Ruffian go down live, I never want to see that again.Don't worry, one of these Champs will win!

12 Feb 2010 1:35 PM
Bob Z

Ruffian took a bad step...

...at the time there was talk about some birds that took off in front of them might have caused her to mis step... and there was also the possibility of her changing leads... it might have been a small rock... whatever.. it was a bad step...

I can't see a horse caring if they are racing against 1 other horse side by side like in that case or they are in the lead with 10 horses behind them ... or in front of them for that matter...

they just run...

What is this constant talk of a match race... This is NOT a match race.. there will be as many as 8 other horses in this race...

So because Rachel and Zenyatta are the stars in the race they shouldn't be matched (run) against each other... ?

If thats the case we wouldn't have seen Affirmed and Alydar in '78...

Its only a match race in your eyes because you aren't considering the other horses... all 8 of them...

12 Feb 2010 2:57 PM
Fire Slam

If RA wins, everyone will say the stretch at O--Park was not long enough for Zen.

I only hope C-Bo is smart enough to not use RA too much early, possibly sit 2nd by 3/4 or so, and then ease into it going into the top of the stretch.

Not sure RA has faced anything that will be closing like Zen. I think RA is the better horse.

Wish they would both retire, and go make babies. That way we arent back on here pointing fingers because one of them broke down.

12 Feb 2010 2:58 PM
shane smith

I think Rachel is closer toready than they are letting out. If Asmussen will do an aout face, because he is the one who said no at first. He must have seen something in her works to suggest she is ready to GIT-R-done. I cannot wait!

12 Feb 2010 3:49 PM
Zookeeper

Every time a horse races there is the possibility of an accident. Stop with the breaking down business regarding this particular race. It will NOT be more dangerous than any other. The potential for disaster is always there. If fear is so overwhelming to you guys why are you even interested in horseracing?

For those of you who already know who the winner will be, hats off to you! I will be rooting for Zenyatta but I have NO idea whether she will win or not. Rooting for a horse is not the same as being gifted with clairvoyance. So root away, for whomever you like best, but leave your certitude at the door it is really annoying on both sides.

One more thing before I go back to my cage... My favorite is Zenyatta but I have a GREAT amount of admiration and respect for Rachel Alexandra. So much so that it does not seem impossible to me that the filly can beat the mare. It's just not the result I would prefer.

12 Feb 2010 4:23 PM
Dawn

For those who want a R/Z race at CD the day after the Derby, but worry about the Derby litter, here's a suggestion. Sic the US Park Service on the grounds of Churchill. They'll have that whole place cleaned up before the sun is up! If you don't believe me, then try to find before/after shots of the DC Mall on July 4-5.

12 Feb 2010 4:57 PM
My Juliet

  So very glad it sounds like this will happen, this is great for the fans....the top two horses can meet after months of many commenting back and forth, who is the better or faster horse. Two very different campaigns in 2009, many who have been in horseracing for decades declared Rachel the best they have ever seen. This race will be much closer than I thought after the Classic, but I still think Rachel will win this race. I have great respect for Zenyatta, and if she wins I'll give her the credit due. No predictions of who Will win though, but that it will be one Exciting race.  

  Most of all, may they both continue to be healthy and sound.

12 Feb 2010 6:13 PM
txhorsefan

Ditto what Zookeeper said at 4:23 p.m.  I love both these mares and wish them safe racing, they have given me so much pleasure in following their careers thus far.  

12 Feb 2010 7:09 PM
Bob Z

Here is the way they are breaking down the purse share....

"Oaklawn spokesman Terry Wallace said the purse breakdown allocates...

50% ($2.5-million) to the winner,

20% ($1-million) to the runner-up,

10% ($500,000) to third,

6% ($300,000) to fourth,

4% ($200,000) to fifth,

and 2% ($100,000) to the horses who finish six through ten."

Zenyatta could come in fourth and make more than she would have if she won and the purse was at the original 500,000....

So by agreeing to run in the Apple Blossom on the new date and getting an additional 6 days rest

... if Zenyatta wins she will get 10 times the amount of the original purse.. anyway you slice it that is a Home Run for team Zenyatta....

12 Feb 2010 7:13 PM
Sam Anderer

Zenyatta's connections should aim her toward the Santa Anita Handicap.  She's able to lope all day long.  One mile and one half would be horseplay.  She needs to stretch out.

Would settle any arguments.  Also the Pacific Classic, and the Hollywood Gold Cup.  Lava Man did that in one year. The Queen could do it as well.   She doesn't have to work as hard as the average horse.

Has Rachael recovered mentally from the onslaught of those colts and holder horses running her off her feet?  I hope so.

Has Rachael run the last quarter in 23?  I don't remember.

Meeting at Saratoga?  I believe Z's connections had a bad experience in the detention barn a year or so ago.  Said they wouldn't do that again.

Seems the industry is going to blow it again.  Friday???  One of the claiming races, allowances races etc., could be way laid on the 10th of April and the Apple Blossom run in it's place.  

Will be interesting to watch the drama unfold.  God's blessing to both mares and their connections.

12 Feb 2010 7:40 PM
marktoothaker

I still think there is a chance enough pressure can be put on Oaklawn to back up one more day. If they can back it up 6 whats one more. I understand wanting to make this a huge 2 day affair with the girls on Friday and Ark Derby on Saturday but this is the most important match up in a long long time. On track attendence will be unreal no matter which day but as many have said its the national audiance on tv we need to involve as well.

12 Feb 2010 8:02 PM
Mark

I agree Rachel. One of them may lose. It is just sad to see such bitter hatred from both sides. To bad they can't see what really good horses we have that stayed sound and gave us entertainment. Tired of the bashing..

12 Feb 2010 8:11 PM
pas

i thought Borel was based at CD? sure he comes from LA and rides meets at OP, but lots of jockeys do. they go where the races are. it isn't as though Smith hasn't rode there either. i don't think there's a track he hasn't rode. still, i hope Borel preps over the track before the AB. even if you're familiar with a track, it's just common sense.

13 Feb 2010 12:19 AM
Golden Gate

One thing great about Oaklawn race track is the people can still afford to attend it.

The weekend tickets for this fantastic event were $4.50 and the rescheduled seat price was $2.50 and gate entrance is $2.00.

Where in the world can someone go for that value and see one of the greatest sporting events in history?

Thank you and congratulations to Oaklawn and Mr. Cella for not upping the seat prices. Therefore allowing all socio-economic classes to attend this great event.

13 Feb 2010 8:14 AM
Slew

LDP...I honestly believe that if Cella had been approached earlier, as was stated, he would have agreed to a delay then.  The fact that the date was changed the day after the RA camp announcement that RA will not run, leads me to this conclusion....that Cella was not previously asked.  It was Cella who said..."I've never had such a tough time giving away five million dollars."  And that fact that the Moss' were never consulted about a 3 race match up also leads me to believe Jackson has bluster...but it's only that.  The Apple Blossom will be worthwhile ONLY if Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are in top form.  RA's workouts presently do not indicate she is in top form as yet. And then consider...if it rains on April 9, it will be all Rachel...the slop makes no difference to her performance..

...she overcomes it.  I believe the worries about a match race are realistic.  No one could ever bear to lose either champion.  Wherever these 2 ladies ran, how many other fillies actually chose to compete against either one?  I'll be looking for a full field at Oaklawn, and I hope it happens.

13 Feb 2010 9:45 AM
Criminal Type

Zookeeper & Mary Glynn are way off base on your responce to my comments. I love Zenyatta and you totally misunderstood. I did mean desert's, as in she will be eating them. What I was refering to was, and this is my opinion, is that she is the better horse and should have won horse of the year. Now she's gonna prove it, ala just desert's

If you will look back through these blogs you will see, I have always been a big fan of Zenyatta.

Im not bashing Rachel, your projecting thoughts that my words do not express. It is just my opinion that Zenyatta is better.

If you want disgusting, look at your interpretation of my comments.

13 Feb 2010 10:35 AM
Monica V

Zookeeper,

Great post!  Nobody knows what the outcome of this race will be but some have already stated the results as fact.  I'm not talking about the ones who have posted "if" scenarios and possibilities.  This race could go either way or maybe even have a shocking winner.  This is why they run the race because anything can happen.  Nothing is a given and there is no shame in losing.  Most of the horses we consider great lost some races.  It's the running of the race that is thrilling.  Z and RA are the best horses, no doubt and it will be one hell of a race and I have no doubt they will both come out of it just fine.

13 Feb 2010 10:49 AM
Zookeeper

Criminal Type,

I apologize for misunderstanding your comment re Zenyatta. I assumed you meant "just punishment" instead of "just reward". And you know what they say about ASSuming... I deeply regret not giving you the benefit of the doubt. Please forgive me for jumping the gun and perceiving an insult when a praise was intended.

13 Feb 2010 11:10 AM
Pam S.

More on the Friday date ... Some kind person familiar with Oaklawn explained, on the other blog I think, that April 10 seats were already sold out because of the Derby.  By having the Apple Blossom on the 9th they can accommodate more (different) people.  I know it's not ideal, but there would be SOME problem with almost any date, time and place chosen.  I seem to remember the 'Blossom being run on a Friday at least a few times, like in the late '90s.  Oaklawn people, am I right?  Anyhoo, two days ago we didn't think this race would happen at all, so this is still great news.  We'll just have to hope for TV coverage and the latest possible post time.

13 Feb 2010 11:47 AM
Zookeeper

Monica V,

Thank you! From your previous posts I have always felt we were of the same mindset, although I admit that I often engage my keyboard before my brain. :)

13 Feb 2010 12:27 PM
gary at rough creek

After reading through this blog, I agree with those who think that the day after the KY Derby is a bad idea.  Let the Derby winner revel in their win I say, and the fans and track recover!

Not giving the KY Derby winner their due is one of the main reasons I've been rather upset at the "new" connections of Rachel Alexandra since last May, and the media's reaction to them.  You see, we liked Mine That Bird in The KY Derby...we bet him...and we won.  What we heard before the Derby was that he (along with Summer Bird and a couple other horses) should not even be in the race. After MTB's victory, we were personally deluged with calls from people who generally NEVER care about horse racing.  They were excited...they were enthralled...they loved this little gelding that could.  What an opportunity to promote this sport, I thought.

And then what happened?  Did the "writers that be" in this business use this mass appeal of the Derby winner (and his connections) to promote the sport. An emphatic NO. Many in the media called MTB a fluke...a "one hit wonder"...possibly a cheat (this one was from several blogs, not the media). Did MTB, not just Calvin, but MTB, get general respect for his Derby win?  Not in my opinion.

To the contrary, they jumped on the next story.

JJ et al bought Rachel for a large, undisclosed sum. By doing so, they knowingly create a situation where the KY Derby winning jockey had to decide to stay on or jump off the Derby winner.  That wasn't sporting or respectful at all in my opinion. And, due to a weight break and a questionable ride from Mike Smith, Rachel beats MTB by a quickly diminishing length.  Some in the media, maybe still feeling the sting from being SO WRONG about the Derby, saw this as proving their opinion that MTB was a fluke, while at the same time crowing about the greatness of RA.  What?  That doesn't even make logical sense, and I had to write about that on these very blogs.

And what of those people who had called us after MTB's victory. Those potential racing fans who fell in love with the MTB story just shrugged and went back to their lives.  Racing is just for the super rich.  We could have had a gritty little gelding going into the Belmont with a Triple Crown on the line, but no.

Any of those who think that Rachel Alexandra generated more new fans for HORSE RACING than MTB and HIS CONNECTIONS did, at least briefly, I think you are deluding yourselves.  

So, for that reason and more, I think the Oaks and Derby weekend should be for the Oaks and Derby winners.  Let Zenyatta and Rachel and other fillies and mares meet at another time...hopefully more than once.  I would love to seem them run against the best 4 YO colts and geldings in The Classic this fall at Churchill.  But I would be absolutely shocked if Rachel ever tackles serious classic horses at close to equal weights at 10 furlongs. I just don't think her connections want to really expose her.  I will be watching to see all the maneuvering and posing and rhetoric that ensue though. Please don't get me wrong here. Rachel is a very good filly...a special horse.  But Zenyatta is one of the best horses ever.  I hope they both stay sound ALL YEAR, and meet each other a few times at least, so everyone can see it for themselves.  

13 Feb 2010 12:52 PM
Somethingroyal

I'm thrilled at the thought of a three race series. I would also like to see one of the three races contested at 1 1/4.

13 Feb 2010 2:10 PM
CRob87

I think it's still the sooner the better for getting this race to happen.   Especially considering the possibility of more bad weather on the way and the always possible training setbacks (God forbid).

But, it does seem a little strange to know that in any other year the Derby is Racing's bigget day.   But, this year the Derby could be "Upstaged" by the Apple Blossom.

No offense to Oaklawn Park, but in that regard May 2nd would be a better idea.

13 Feb 2010 4:55 PM
LAZMANNICK

How about April 9th.

13 Feb 2010 6:33 PM
CRob87

Whatever happened to the "Take Back Saturday" campaign ???

Whether it's Friday April 9th or Sunday May 2nd it makes us look foolish in the eyes of the public after promoting the "Take Back Saturday" campaign and now having the biggest race of the year not on a Saturday.

Guess i'll just have to look for the replay on SportsCenter on Saturday morning.

13 Feb 2010 7:50 PM
marktoothaker

Pam S

You are right about Apple Blossom being run on Friday before. It has been run on that date several times as the Fantasy use to always be the Saturday before Derby Saturday. I remember as a kid Althea stumbling badly and getting beat in Fantasy and coming back on one weeks rest to beat he boys in Ark Derby.

I appreciate the point being made on seating being sold out for Derby day which makes a ton of sense, it looks like Friday then for sure. We as a industry need to figure out how to make the most of it and get that person that normally wouldnt watch racing to get in front of a tv or get to Hot Springs.

13 Feb 2010 7:57 PM
a teacher

desserts--those foods we eat after the main course at dinner

deserts--large, arid landscapes

13 Feb 2010 8:44 PM
Tonya in Arkansas

To Gary at Rough Creek,

  I have to say IMO its so much easier on the heart to not have a triple crown on the line after the Preakness.  I have watched Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones and Big Brown come in with Triple Crowns on the line and it tore my heart up especially with the last two. After Big Brown I just don't think I am going to get as excited with the TC on the line,  I just don't see us having another in my lifetime.  What does it matter if we do the horse will be swept off to stud duty right after the last race or at best the end of their 3 yo year.  We need sustainable names (horses) out there to peak the interest of the general public.  Not just a horse on the berth of a TC.

13 Feb 2010 9:36 PM
Footlick

marktoothtaker- not just beating but destroying the boys!

14 Feb 2010 12:00 AM
robinm

Very interesting bag of comments here.  First and foremost, I want to see both horses at their best.  The extra 6 days (Apr 3 to Apr 9) gives the Rachel camp time to get a prep race and nearly 4 weeks 'til the "big one".  This is very significant.  Still, Friday is just wrong.  These ladies are definitely both "Saturday" horses.  There are many of us that can't take time off work; we'll wind up hearing the results before we're able to watch the race on tape. I don't think Sunday after the Derby is any better an idea though.  Finally, to Zookeeper.  I am generally at odds with you, mostly because I am a bigger fan of Rachel than of Zenyatta.  But I really liked your comments about people claiming to "know" who will win.  Both of these ladies are great race horses.  Because of their immense talents, we can't be sure of anything other than seeing a great horse race.  Thanks for the reality check.

14 Feb 2010 1:20 AM
Tracey

One thing I haven't seen mentioned in here that I am curious about (I admit I have limited knowledge on training issues!) - there is concern about whether RA can be in top form having recently returned to training. Is it a concern that Zenyatta has been racing and training for too long without a break? I mean: Z started 2009 with a race on May 23, and I assume her training began a minimum of 2 months before that in March. That means she has been training and in good/top form for over a year (by the time the Apple Blossom is run). How long can you have a horse in top form? Her last race was Nov. 7th, but from everything I've read she has been kept in training since then.

I guess my concern is not so much that RA won't have enough training time to be in top form, but that maybe Z needs a break to really be at the top of her game? What are your thoughts on this?

14 Feb 2010 1:56 AM
Criminal Type

Zookeeper, No worries, easy enough mistake to make. I should have been clearer about my comments in the first place.

These two mares are both much loved and the battle over who is better has been heated to say the least. I respect Rachel Alexandra, but, I love Zenyatta and a lot of that is because of her connections. The Moses, Sheriffs, Mike Smith. For some reason that group just seems so happy. Clearly they all are enjoying life & the horses accomplishments much more then Rachels connections do. Again, this is just my opinion, from what I have seen of them. I do not know any of these people, but you can tell a lot from body language and expression. Jess Jackson does not strike me as a warm fuzzy human being. Nor does Steve Assmusen. Yes, I know this is a business and warm and fuzzy is not part of the job discription. The style of campaigns these horses have run over the past year are so very different.

Zenyatta was not pointed toward the Breeders Cup when she began her 09 season. It just ended up being there when she was ready for it, all her races where about what she needed. Whereas I think from the time Rachel Alexandra came into Jess Jacksons posession, he was specifically looking for another horse to win HOY with and knew she must beat male horses to even have a shot. In other words, While Rachel proved herself to be one very accomplished race horse, one of the best ever, in fact, I dont think Rachels season was about her. I am glad to see they gave her a long rest after her heavy schedule last season. No doubt she deserved it.

14 Feb 2010 6:10 AM
Criminal Type

Teacher, yep, my spelling sucks, but I already knew that. Maybe we can get the bloodhorse to add a spell check feature to their blog. : )

14 Feb 2010 6:16 AM
EMD

In addition to the aforementioned negatives for Rachel and Zen to meet Sunday, the day after Derby, I have no doubt that most people intending to attend Derby (like myself) already have travel plans in place and will join the droves leaving Kentucky on Sunday. Although I'd love to see the race, I'm not willing to pay $150. to change my airline ticket in addition to the other expenses I would incur to stay another day.  Monday is a work day for most.  And what is good old Churchill going to charge for these tickets? I say Oaks day should be ladies day.

14 Feb 2010 6:17 AM
uclinden

Adding my two cents ....why not ...

Haskell Day at Monmouth Race Track in N.J. ??? Monmouth could add another race that day featuring RA & Zenyatta ; and, as you know, Monmouth has already hosted The Breeders Cup. Both horses would have plenty of prep time and Monmouth is a dirt track. Okay, so I added two & a half cents .. lol

14 Feb 2010 7:56 AM
Leon

Sam Anderer,

Blind Luck, and second-place finisher Evening Jewel finished in 22'2 and 22'4 in the Las Vírgenes yesterday.

Both St. Trinians and Jeranimo also finished in 23 in their respective stakes wins yesterday.

Closing 23 quarters are as common on the the pro-ride as they are on turf for top quality horses.

You seem to have forgotten that the main knock on Zen is that she's a synth specialist who only runs in SoCal. While wins in the SA 'cap and other G1's in SoCal vs males would be great, they would still be in her home state and on synth surfaces...sorry, but 'been there...done that...

Zen fans justified her staying in SoCal in 13 of her 14 races because the BC was held there two years in a row, so her  connections are now doing the right thing by sending her away from there, to run on dirt and further her legacy with more serious challenges. It makes sense because the BC is on dirt in 2010, and because it is the only way she will prove she is the best

horse in the country.

For those who fear injury in a match race: It's nonsense. The risk of injury or accidents in a full field is a lot higher than in a match race.

I'm glad jockeys don't think like fans. If they decided not to ride because of the injury risk involved in racing, we wouldn't have our favorite sport.

14 Feb 2010 8:55 AM
Leon

Gary at Rough Creek:

The media jumped on the RA story because fillies NEVER win the Ky Oaks by +20 lengths, are sold for $10M, and then beat the Derby winner and the rest of the boys in the Preakness 15 days later.

When a horse wins the KY Derby at huge odds, it is only natural to think it is a one-hit wonder. It is on the horse's part to prove otherwise. Mine That Bird's career hit a high note on Derby Day, and it's been nothing but downhill since then. I guess the media knew what they were doing!

14 Feb 2010 9:04 AM
Slew

Gary...I believe the "undisclosed" sum was guesstimated at $10 million.  and Yes, Rachel generated more press than Mine That Bird, mostly because he never won another race all year, while she won 8 for 8.  She had a spread in Vanity Fair!  She was the darling of the media...until the BCC which, telecast around the world, drew international attention to Zenyatta.  Yes the ladies did more for racing that MTB, but you really have to admire the grit and determination of MTB to continue to compete well during the year.  He and Borel stunned us at the Kentucky Derby, they won the honors, and that can never be taken away from them.  Was he a "fluke"...I don't know.  He was sooo close in the Preakness, and we'll see what he does this year.

14 Feb 2010 9:14 AM
Golden Gate

I hope Stardom Bound is invited to compete in the Apple Blossom if she comes out of her  race in Feb. 14 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park in Southern California in good shape. It is a 1 1/8th mile race.

14 Feb 2010 10:19 AM
Hector L. Salaverria

Re COMMENTS PAS 11/02

"would be super if there were several different involved",

maybe Mr.Cella will like to extend his invitation to EVITA ARGENTINA ,Halo Farms or Three Sisters Thoroughbreds.

And as ZOOKEEPER SAY "Z and RA are the best horses, no doubt and it will be one hell of a race and I have no doubt they will both come out of it just fine".

Maybe like the SAN BERNARDINO Handicap April 17,1998 we will see an spectacular race between two legends like "Alysheba Edges Ferdinand by Nose, and Good Taste (ARG) finished a surprisingly close third, a head farther back.  

14 Feb 2010 11:01 AM
sherpa

gary at rough creek, I completely agree with your post.  I follow racing today because Mine That Bird brought me back.  I've developed attachments to other horses since the Derby - Zenyatta and Cloudy's Knight in particular - but MTB will always be #1 in my heart.  I long for news of him.

14 Feb 2010 1:18 PM
Horselover

That is a good idea. More fans would come to the Derby to watch the Derby and stay another day to bet and watch Zenyatta and Rachel. It would be more time for them both to be in good shape and let them get some preps in. Its a good idea and needs to be considered. I'm mean many people would come to watch and I mean lots of people would come. It would be the best two days in history. Somebody should propose the idea I hope somebody does. Its such a good idea. I mean wow so good. So somebody please propose the idea and boost up the purse to 5 million in the stakes race and ask other horses to come maybe some males would make it more interesting. So lets hope it will be considered. Go Zenyatta and Rachel!

14 Feb 2010 2:12 PM
Steph

all this talk of match race and Ruffian/Foolish Pleasure is just plain FOOLISH. this is much more a Winning Colors/Personal Ensign MATCH-UP. full field, big purse, honest pace one speed horse one closer, may the best horse win... for my money ZENYATTA

14 Feb 2010 10:06 PM
carolyn

Tracey, I to have thought about that, but on the other hand she didnt' go back into training until near the end of January? I think?

I am pretty sure though that J.Shirreffs keeps a pretty tight eye on her, and he will see how she is doing in her first prep race in March,

I know she is a big muscular horse, but hey we all need a break? I remember hearing that at some of her training sessions that she wanted to run, instead of jog. I am a diehard Zenyatta fan, so I have to put all my trust in the Moss's and J. Shirreffs as to see what is best for her.

Actually, I don't believe that they had her in full runs, I believe they have had her in light training....

15 Feb 2010 6:26 AM
Janesville Liz

I am uneasy about all this clamor for the two to meet. All I can think of is Ruffian. I remember that so vividly. all the months of hype to get her and Foolish Pleasure in a match-up, and it ended in tragedy.

I for one do not want Rachel and Zen to meet. I want to appreciate them separately. I love them both, and I hate the thought that one of them will have to lose in a head-to-head match-up.

But I predict the Santa margarita will be the key. I think this new filly, St. Trinians, may be a dark horse. If she upsets Zenyatta in he comeback race, the Apple Blossom will hang in the balance.

15 Feb 2010 9:44 AM
zambito

The two of them dont need the hype of the derby. They are a show on their own. Besides the derby party is better than the race it self.

15 Feb 2010 10:19 AM
gary at rough creek

Slew,

Your logic could not be more flawed regarding why RA generated more "positive" press in early May relative to MTB's victory in The KY Derby.  You say in part that, because MTB WOULD NOT win another race and RA WOULD go 8 for 8, that's why she generated more press...back in May????  What?  

How could writers know what would happen the rest of the year?  If they can, they really should be handicappers!

My point, in part, is enforced by what you write.  You bring up the word "fluke" again in relation to MTB? You really want to go there?  A graded stakes winning 2 YO champion, that goes on to win The KY Derby, come 2nd in The Preakness only because of 5 pound weight allowance, and come 3rd a neck in The Belmont, earning over $2,000,000 in the process?  He then runs 3rd in a grade 2, but he was giving 11 pounds to the two horses that beat him.  Slew...do you understand what weights are intended to do?  They are intended to HANDICAP the better horse.  MTB was better than his two rivals in The West Virginia Derby, he just came 3rd.  He was the best horse in The Preakness too, he just ran 2nd.  The fact that - strangely - last year was one of the few times when the weights being carried in races and the quality of the horses in those races was NOT thoroughly discussed, or hardly even mentioned, showed me that the horse writers dropped the ball.  Why did they drop the ball?  That's an interesting question, but that they can be allowed to drop the ball is disturbing.

Read any credible book which discusses the best Thoroughbred race horses of all time.  Some of them - almost all of them of course - were beaten sometime in their careers.  In those defeats they were often carrying the most weight in the race, or at least more than the winner.  Depending upon the nature of those wins and losses, it may not harm the reputation of the horse that lost at all.

I've read on these blogs many times how horse racing needs more people like Jess Jackson.  I have rarely read - not never but rarely - people saying how horse racing needs more people like the connections of MTB.  And that, friends, is what's wrong with horse racing.

Guess who showed up in West Virgina, a first for a KY Derby winner, to the thrill of racing fans there, even though MTB was loaded down with 11 more pounds than any of his main rivals?  The MTB folks.  Guess who went to Santa Anita and The Classic, even though the synthetic is not MTB's best surface?  The MTB folks.  Guess who allowed almost unfettered access to The KY Derby winner, to the delight of racing fans and possibly new racing fans?  And guess who paraded MTB in front of the fans at Sunland Park.  That's right, you know who it was.

I think it could objectively be stated that MTB's post KY Derby campaign was almost more an ambassador's tour than a campaign designed to solidify his chances as 3 YO Champion.  I know his connections would disagree, but they did go out of their way to expose their Derby winner to a broader spectrum of the racing public than in most years.

And my point is - in part - that the talking heads that be in this business blew it.  They just don't get what it takes to expand our fan base.  Calling the stunning winner of the KY Derby a fluke or a one hit wonder just deflates enthusiasm and spreads pessimism and cynicism.  Especially when they continue to be wrong about the horse, based solely on objective evaluation of his performances.  

If you continue to reinforce the stereotype - intentionally or unintentionally - that only the wealthiest among us can achieve success in this business, and you don't realize that the number of wealthy people the world over is declining, then...duh.  You get what you deserve, but you drag the rest of the industry down with you.

15 Feb 2010 12:10 PM
carolyn

After the BCC, St. Trininans is just another drop in the bucket against Zenyatta.

15 Feb 2010 1:23 PM
Judy ~ Burbank, CA

While at Santa Anita on Saturday, I heard more than one racing fan friend say they are going!!

All I ask: What happens if there is bad weather? Weather has been a BIG factor in canceling races!! :-(

I pray both Queen Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra The Great stay fit and healthy. Come home safe from ALL of your races "girls"!!

15 Feb 2010 7:31 PM
Deacon

I personally do not want them to race against each other. I see no good in the outcome, regardless of who wins. This race is becoming more about the connections then the horses. It seems like folks always want to see a beat down regardless of the sport. This race won't save "horse racing" it will only add to it's demise. It brings out the ugly in people, and their desire for blood. This race is not based upon friendly competition in the flow of the sport, it is predicated on politics, and

big egos.

The only time I ever cried because of a horse race was watching Ruffian break down. The memory of the race still brings chills up my spine.

Zenyatta and rachel have nothing more to prove, like good soldiers they did their duty to perfection. Turn them out to pasture and let enjoy their retirement, my God they have earned it.............

16 Feb 2010 3:17 AM
dliebman@bloodhorse.com

I just thought about this if the race was run May 2 - a pick three with the Oaks, Derby, and La Troienne.

16 Feb 2010 12:22 PM
Criminal Type

No matter when thise two beautiful ladies meet, it's going to be about money. Do you really think Jess Jackson is going to run his filly for 500K when he can run her for 5 million. HAHAHAHAHA! Not likely.

17 Feb 2010 5:34 AM
Bob Z

Here is one persons opinion on the date and timing of the Race of the Century...

www.youtube.com/watch

He has some good points...

Ideally this should have been over a weekend... but maybe this will be the only time they race so we should be thankful for that...

17 Feb 2010 11:50 AM
Slew

Gary...horses become great because they win more than they lose.  Mine That Bird, as gamely as he competed the rest of the year...still seems to have more in common with Giacomo than with Rachel Alexandra.  I admire the horse and his grit, I respect his connections, and I really have nothing bad to say about any of it.  You however seem to have a lot of problems with anyone who states "He didn't win another race in 2009" when they're just stating a fact.

17 Feb 2010 6:59 PM
Bob Z

Put a poll up on the home page..

Who do you think will win the Apple Blossom?

Rachel Alexandra

Zenyatta

By how much?

nose

neck

length

2 lengths

3 lengths

more than 3 lengths

19 Feb 2010 3:50 PM

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