She needs to win at 1 1/4 against this horse, she hasn't beaten good horses, she can only get 9 furlongs, she ducks good horses, blah blah blah. This sounds relatively familiar, except you can put he in front of all of those, and take out the she. We heard the same things last year with Curlin and Big Brown. This year it's all about Rachel Alexandra. On one side of the fence you have her crazed fans crying out that she is a better filly than than the late Ruffian, in the middle you have those who admit to her greatness, but still feel she has a bit to go, until she can beat out Ruffian, then on the other side of the fence you have those, that no matter what she does, they refuse to give her any credit at all. All the things that i said in the first sentence and more, is what they routinely say about her, no matter who she beats, at whatever distance, and how badly she beats them. With how some of these people act, you'd think she's an over glorified claimer. I seriously believe you could resurrect Man o War and have her beat him, and these people still would not be satisfied.
Ever since the announcement by her majority owner Jess Jackson, that Kensai, his three year old colt would run in the Travers, and Rachel would run in the Woodward, all people can do is complain. Rachel will be taking on older males for the first time, in a race no filly or mare has ever won, and all people can do is complain about how they wanted her to run in the Travers, that Jackson is ducking Quality Road. People, seriously, come on! Any other year this would be the biggest story in racing, and you would have all racing fans clamoring just to see her try and make history. People forget that without Jess Jackson, this filly wouldn't even be running against the boys at all. She'd be running against good fillies, but nowhere near her class, beating them by 20 lengths, never being tested at all. Jackson has taken her and made her into the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness stakes, from a post position no horse, colt or filly, has ever won from, and only the second filly in history to win the Haskell Invitational. She has beaten both the Derby and Belmont winner this year, and has now moved onto older horses, and yet people still refuse to commend this fillies, amazing accomplishments.
I hear that people think Jackson is ducking quality competition, that would she would get in the Travers, coming mainly from Quality Road. People also forget that this horse is even more unproven at distances over 9 furlongs than Rachel. Rachel has won a classic at 1 3/16, Quality Road has had only one race beyond a mile, and in that race the only real quality horse he beat was Dunkirk. Other than this he has never been tested at over 9 furlongs. To think that this horse can win the 10 furlong Travers Stakes, against the likes of Derby winner, Mine That Bird and Belmont winner Summer Bird, who are both fit and proven at the distance, off of one 6.5 furlong race in five months is asking a lot of a relitively lightly race colt. This is by far the best field he's ever faced, at the longest distance he's ever run, so what makes everyone so sure that he will win? What happens if he doesn't, what will his supporters say to that.
Also people seem to forget that this is not just a sport, but is a business. Jess Jackson may have many reasons as to why he put Rachel in the Woodward. Strategically, it makes a very good prep race, to see how she will handle older horses, at what is to perceived to be her best distance. It should also give her a good foundation going into either the Beldame where she may meet west coast champion Zenyatta, or the JCGC, which could very well be the be all end all race of the year. In this race she would meet all the top older horses, Quality Road, Summer Bird, Mine That Bird, and any other improving three year olds. To win this race would not only win her Horse of the Year, but shove her into the pantheon of immortals, such as Man o War, Secretariat, Spectacular Bid, and Ruffian. She will have done everything, everyone wants, from beating Quality Road, to beating older males, and beating a quality field at 10 panels. Jess Jackson is a master strategist, and one would wonder why he would want to risk his super filly's rep in a race restricted to 3yr old males in the middle of the summer, when he could wait until his filly is a little more mature, and dead fit, before going for the jugular.
I am not saying that Rachel is better than Ruffian, though she does have the potential to be better. I am saying we all need to stop complaining, and second guessing her owner, who is a shrewd and clever man, and just sit back and see where he and his filly takes us. Would a race in the Travers be nice, as a fan, I say, heck yes, but as an owner, looking at the reward vs loss, the loss offers much more damage to her rep. It also does not set her up well for another race which could prove to be even better. So stop second guessing Jackson, and enjoy the ride he and Rachel are giving us.