Thursday, August 20, 2009

Way Back When...

Unlike many other posts, articles or blogs with this title, I am not going to transport us back 20-30yrs, to talk about Secretariat, the Bid, Ruffian or any other of those greats. Though they were undeniably great, they were not of my time, where i wish to go is back to may of this year, only moments after the Kentucky Oaks....
Rachel Alexandra had just stormed to center stage with a tour de force win, by 20 1/4 lengths in the Kentucky Oaks just missing the track record in the most dominant Oaks performance in history. We were just getting done hearing this super filly's owner that, even though, she was so dominant amongst the 3yr old fillies this season, she would not take on the colts, and would start training towards the Acorn, with the ultimate goal the Breeder's Cup Ladies Classic.
Now we all know what happens next, only nine days before the Preakness Jess Jackson steps in and buys the filly to run her back in the Preakness stakes, moving her from Hal Wiggens to his first call trainer Steve Assumusen. Lets pretend that this never happened, that Rachel had stayed with her regular owner and trainer, there was no quick buy or Preakness. Obviously Rachel would've run in the Acorn, and would've, most likely run on to another dominating win. The next thing that would've been done is the filly Triple Crown, the modern day one is the Mother Goose, CCAO, and the Alabama. Then after dominating all these races, Rachel, most likely would've stepped up to face older mares in the Beldame, then gone to the Ladies Classic.
Rachel, by the time she reached California would've most likely would've been a Triple Tiara winner, an Oaks winner, and winner of the Beldame. Her wins in the TT would've been walkovers, or against short fields. Her wins dazzling, with her being pulled up in the last sixteenth or eighth of a mile, while Calvin Borel twists his head from side to side searching for any near by competitor. All of us fans would be memorized by her performances, and after an easy win in the Beldame, the talk would arise of the dream race between her, and older champion female Zenyatta.
The Ladies Classic, is a big if, over a new surface, and against Zenyatta, and though, personally I think Rachel would win by open lengths, I can not as easily predict what would happen, as i can in her races on dirt. Even without a win in the Ladies Classic Rachel would be proclaimed, by the end of the season, the best 3yr old filly since Ruffian. If she won the Ladies Classic she would be among the immortal fillies, only seconded to perhaps Ruffian.
Now come back to the present. Rachel has won the Martha Washington, Fair Grounds Oaks, Fantasy, KY Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, and Haskel Invitational. She will probably now race in the Woodward, then perhaps her last race will come in the Beldame. So, I ask you why, if so many would proclaim Rachel the best when under her previous handlers great, while only racing fillies, do you not want to call her great for what she has accomplished as of now? I think it is because of an intense dislike of her owner, and/or trainer, and I ask why should that make a difference. This filly has accomplished more than most other fillies in the past 3o-40 years have as a three year old, and yet some deny her place in history, and belittle her accomplishments, because they dislike her owner. If she were under her previous connections, you would hear no talk of her ducking the colts, even though, her connections were adamant about racing her only with fillies. With Jackson, though, who had the guts to run her in, not only the Preakness but the Haskell, he is accused of ducking colts, when he has taken them on twice already.
A Rachel who stayed with Wiggen's, and all her previous races, the Triple Tiara, Beldame, and possibly the Ladies Classic would sooner be called great, than the Rachel, who has now won her previous races, plus the Mother Goose, Preakness, Haskell, and may win the Woodward and Beldame or Jockey's Club Gold Cup, just because people dislike her connections. I have news for those who are like this, horse racing is not about the owners, trainers, or jockeys. Is it true that without them we would not have racing, yes, but, it is the horse who does the running. It is the horse who wins race, whether it be a cheap claiming or a grade one. Without horses, this sport would not exist. So do not let your dislike of a horse's connections, blind you to what a truly great horse really is. Forget the connections, and and enjoy, and bask in the glory of a true champion. Rachel Alexandra is this era's champion, lets enjoy her.

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