Zenyatta won the Clement L. Hirsch on Sunday at Del Mar, but Rachel Alexandra is still the queen. Simply put, Zenyatta was all out to beat a field that Rachel no doubt on a dirt surface, would probably have beaten by between 10 to 20 lengths.
I was a bit embarrassed, actually, for both the connections of Zenyatta and Zenyatta's fans as I watched them gush over the brilliant filly. Yes, Zenyatta is still brilliant, 12 victories in a row means something, but she has yet to run against Rachel Alexandra on a traditional dirt surface and I doubt that her connections will do so claiming, as they have before, that if Team Rachel wants to go out west and take on Zenyatta on an artificial surface than they would be more than willing to tackle her.
It's a ridiculous notion in my mind since I do believe that the artificial surfaces give closers like Zenyatta a huge edge over front-runners like Rachel Alexandra who are prone to tiring much more easily on concoctions like Polytrack or cushion track or Pro-Ride. Rachel Alexandra has taken on the boys while Zenyatta has run against females. Rachel Alexandra has won a Triple Crown race while Zenyatta's connections, while she was a three year old, kept her away from any horse that could challenge her.
Rachel's connections have been bold and even though I have said in the past that their boldness was unfounded, I have to give them credit now. I was wrong. They were right.
Zenyatta is brilliant. Rachel Alexandra is special. Zenyatta is Bobby Charles, the brilliant songwriter/musician from central Louisiana who almost never leaves the swamps of Cajun Country and plays a particular brand of music. Rachel Alexandra is Bob Dylan who travels the world and changes direction musically every time he steps into a studio.
Who would you rather be?
I'd rather be Rachel Alexandra and I doubt anyone would argue against that. Zenyatta is brilliant, but she isn't special. If her connections wish her to go down as a very special horse, then she has to travel out east to take on Rachel Alexandra.
Otherwise, she will end up being spoken about in the same breath as Azeri not Ruffian.