Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rachel Alexandra Leaves No Doubt

Under a dreary New Jersey sky, and on a rain soaked dirt track, Rachel Alexandra, seemingly under the steady hand of the great huntress Artemis, shot past her two biggest rivals like an arrow from the racing gods to win the $1.25 million Haskell Stakes.

It was the second time in three races that the brilliant filly, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by the cagey Cajun, Calvin Borel, beat the boys.  Rachel put her male rivals in place earlier this year in the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, but that race wasn't nearly as impressive as this one as Rachel cruised past two other Grade I winners, the Belmont Stakes winning Summer Bird and he King's Bishop winning Munnings, to stake her claim as the best racehorse in the world.

The huge filly was on the hunt early as she sat outside of Munnings and along with that rival ripped off a quarter in 22 and change and 6 furlongs in 109 and change.  The pace was incredibly swift and it looked as if Munnings and Summer Bird, the Belmont winner was on the pace today, would pose a challenge to Rachel, but then the big time filly kicked it into gear and curised to a 6 length victory.

She left no dout that she is the best three year old in the world and perhaps the best female horse of all time, but that's debatable as thoroughbred racing has been embroiled in it's own version of girl power excess in 2009.  Horse racing fans will be hard pressed to remember a time when arguably the two best horses in the United States, and perhaps the world, were both female, but that's exactly what's going on now as both Rachel Alexandra and the undefeated mare sensation, Zenyatta, have dominated racing this year.

Zenyatta's connections have always maintained that they would not run against the boys and that if Rachel wanted to challenge them that she would have a shot to do so in this year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.  That's all well and good, but after Rachel's performance today, the ball is squarely in the Court of Zenyatta.  She's going to have to do much more than beat up on second tier fillies and mares on artificial surfaces on the west coast if she's to stake any claim as the best female horse, much less the best horse, in the world.

Should Rachel Alexandra show up at this year's Breeders' Cup, then expect her to run against the boys again in the Breeders' Cup Classic.  Jess Jackson, her owner whose wines are almost just as smooth as his Grade I winning filly, has already stated as such.

That means that Zenyatta, who is undefeated and quite possibly the second greatest female horse to ever live, is in danger of getting lost once the history of books are updated.  Without beating Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta will always be a second class citizen in the annals of horse racing.

Fair?  Perhaps not, but that's racing.  Zenyatta's owner and trainer, the brilliant John Shirreffs, should take that into consideration when mapping out the rest of Zenyatta's career.  Rachel Alexandra, on the other hand, has solidified her status in racing history.  She's awesome.  Just ask Summer Bird and Munnings who were probably singing her praises, albeit in their own horse language, as she ran past them, the mud from their hooves flying squarely onto their drawn out faces.


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