Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rachel Alexandra and the Mother Goose

I have read several opinions on Rachel Alexandra running at Belmont in next Saturday's Mother Goose S.(GI). The majority of them are decidedly against the idea. The last two blog mentions I read were were over at Equispace, and his link over to John at Not to the Swift, two blogs I enjoy (both 6/18 entries). However, on this issue I have to disagree with them.

I think it's a great spot for her to run. First I don't think any Grade I is a gimme. Although I, along with every race fan, would be absolutely shocked if she lost, anything can happen in racing. I don't think it is beneath any horse to win Grade I's. If she does lose and then runs the board the remainder of the year, or even wins most of them if they are very tough spots, the loss will be considered an anomaly and disregarded.

As for HOY I think June is just too early to think about handing that award to a horse. And too early to be sitting on one's accomplishments. There's a half a year (okay 5 months) of racing left and that accolade needs to be earned. To my thinking one race does not earn that award. Unfortunately, the BC events often have the effect of crowning a champion because of one race result; perhaps the worst aspect of the BC. To be HOY a horse has to dance the dances and that means running. Also as far as HOY discussions go lets not forget a mare named Zenyatta or perhaps one of the two other triple crown winners will go on to become dominant. I have high hopes for Summer Bird.

To become legendary a horse has to run and has to win the big races - most of the time. They have to prove they are a legendary type of horse on the track by giving legendary performances. It's not her fault if her competition is not able to challenge her. But she still has to go out and prove that is the case. Secretariat lost five times and his mythical status was not marred. As race fans we wait and wait for great horses to come along and the best thing for racing is to be able to let the fans see them run. I think the most likely outcome is that she wins easily and adds to her heir of superiority, especially over the three-year-old crop.

Also her campaign has to be taken into consideration. Should she just run against the boys because she's already proven she can beat them? I don't think so. Perhaps they do have the Travers in mind. With Jess Jackson I'd say it's a foregone conclusion. But, they still have to get her ready for that day. Sure, Steve Asmussen is capable of training her up to a big spot but does that mean she should run the Haskel and the Travers? Again, I don't think so. I believe a horse has only so many top performances in them each year. The Mother Goose is a race she should win without giving her "A+" effort. But racing fitness is better than training. Running gets another race into her, likely gets her more black type and, most importantly, gives the fans a chance to see her. In a sport where the fans don't get to see the stars often enough this is a treat. Regardless of the outcome of the race I think this is a win-win situation for Rachel Alexandra and racing.

I feel certain that Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen will put her in the big races but you can't win every big race. You have to pick your spots and prepare for them. I fully expect to see her in the Travers. I don't think this is a case of connections ducking a big race but rather preparing for a bigger one. Let's remember it wasn't Jess Jackson and Curlin that didn't show up for last years Woodward S. Regardless if you're a fan or dislike Jess Jackson he does what's best for racing and his horses by running them and caring for them.

I for one am going to be thrilled to get to see her run again. If she wins by 32 lengths I suppose I will be even more thrilled!


John said...

Thanks for the mention.

Amateurcapper said...

It was 19 1/4 (how do they estimate that when it's 19 lengths between) are you thrilled?

She was some kinda dominant. This gal's the real deal...probably the closest thing to SECRETARIAT in my lifetime.

One question: If many regard her as the best 3y.o., period, why should she be able to run vs. fillies? It's not like the Derby also-ran colts/geldings could have run in the G.1 Acorn vs. a filly RACHEL dominated in the Oaks.

I'm just saying...