So, the rumors are true, NYRA is trying to get the two leading ladies of racing, the brilliant Rachel Alexandra, and the undefeated Zenyatta. If you haven't read the article already you will notice that NYRA is trying to get these two togeather in the October 3rd Beldame, the same day as the Jockey's Club Gold Cup. What the NYRA has proposed is to eliminate the detention barn, to appease the connections of Zenyatta, and raise the purse by $600,000, to make the total 1 million dollars. Neither side has said no, and it seems that this is the best chance to make this dream match happen.
Now all of us know that as of now Zenyatta is pointed towards the Lady's Secret on the 10th of October, but obviously if they decide to come to Belmont that plan will be scrapped. Zenyatta normally has a good bit of rest in between races and it's not out of the question to assume she will again after how she ran in her last. So in my opinion, if she comes out, she'll train up to the Beldame. Rachel seems to be a whole different story. She as of now has five different races that she has been nominated for, and a decision is most likely coming today or tomorrow morning. What i am going to do is give you my ideal path for this filly for the rest of the year, and if she should run in a loaded Jockey's Club Gold Cup or go for the match up in the Beldame against Zenyatta.
First off, as i said earlier, Rachel's connections have laid out five potential races that could be next for this brilliant filly. Those race would be the Alabama, this coming Saturday, the Personal Ensign at 10 furlongs, on the 30th of this month, the PA Derby against males on the 5th of September, the Travers, also at 10 furlongs against males again, and lastly the Woodward on the 5th of September against older males. In the Alabama Rachel would most likely get to show down with Gossip Girl, who some have said, before her last couple of victories, is better than Rachel. Rachel would also be going 10 furlongs for the first time in this race. The Personal Ensign is also at the same distance, but would be against older fillies and mares. Some believe that outside Zenyatta the division is weak and the mares would not provide a good enough challenge for Rachel. The Travers is also like the two other races will be at 10 furlongs, but will be against 3yr old males, which Rachel has beaten twice, except this time she would likely face the record setting FL Derby and Amsterdam winner Quality Road, who some believe is the only horse who can run with, or even beat Rachel. That race would also include Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont winner, Summer bird. The PA derby is also against 3yr old males but offers much softer competition and a distance of nine furlongs, a distance Rachel already is proven at. Lastly, the Woodward she would get her proven distance of 9 furlongs, but she would be facing older males for the first time, and trying to become the only filly to win the Woodward in the race's history.
Now that I've covered what Rachel will face in each of her options, it's time to decide which should she go in. My choice would be the Alabama. Though it only offers her a 3 week break off her Haskell victory, she will not likely be tested as much as she would in the Travers. I like the race because it would offer a good test to see how she would handle the new distance against her own sex, and against Gossip Girl, one of the best 3yr old fillies this year. In the Travers she'd be test much more by Quality Road, a speed horse, like Rachel, possibly setting this race up for a closer like Mine That Bird and Summer Bird, who would relish the extra distance this race would provide. The PA Derby is too light a spot, and I myself would like to wait until the fall, when she is more mature, before testing Rachel against older horses.
The next race I would point towards is the Ruffian Handicap on the 12th of September. Yes she would have to come off a three week turn around, but it is a drop in distance from 10 furlongs to 8.5 furlongs. It also would see how she performs against the older females of the year. It would also be a nice little prep for either the Beldame, or a stepping stone to the Jockey's Club Gold Cup, in another three weeks. This would also give her a chance to re-familiarize herself with the surroundings and the track.
Now here comes the big question race, does Rachel go in the Beldame for that anticipated show down between her and Zenyatta, or does she go in a loaded Jockey's Club Gold Cup, where she will face older males, and most likely will find another showdown against the speedy Quality Road and a re-match with the winners of the Derby and Belmont, Mine That Bird and Summer Bird. This race could push Rachel into realm of the immortals, making her worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Ruffian, Secretariat, Man o War, etc. In winning the race she would be the undisputed Horse of the Year, and she could end her season with a perfect 10-10. I would go for the gold in this, literally. Even if Zenyatta came i believe Rachel would be fresh enough with two wins against the fillies to run in the Gold Cup and hopefully win out.
This is all just speculation at this point, and only one opinion out of many on what road this filly should take. As a fan, I agree with many and would love to see her run against Quality Road in the Travers, but as an owner, this is what I feel would be the best path to take. What do all of you readers think?