For weeks I have listened to all the talk, the ifs, ands, and buts, but let me tell you now, no matter what, Rachel Alexandra is Horse of the Year. Many people claim that Zenyatta, California's top mare and likely Eclipse Older Female, should be crowned Horse of the Year if she wins the Breeders Cup Classic. Others say that Summer Bird who is the leading three year old colt should win if he should win the Classic, and while he will have capped off an amazing year, one that would be worth of Horse of the Year honors, it will not be enough. Even if Zenyatta becomes the first filly or mare to ever win the Classic, it will not be enough to overshadow the accomplishments of Rachel Alexandra.
I am tired of hearing that Zenyatta should be given the award off of just one tough race. She has run a total of four times this year. Her average amount of races from the time she started racing this year to today is one race every five and a half weeks. Rachel has raced a total of eight times, and from the middle of February until September fifth she raced an average of one race every three and a half weeks. Zenyatta has raced only against fillies, only in California, and over three tracks this year. Zenyatta will only have five races by the time the year ends, and will have a max of four grade ones this year. Rachel has raced over slop or a lightning fast racetrack. She has run in six states, over seven tracks, and has a total of five consecutive Grade ones, three of which are against males. In each race Rachel made history, whether it is by time, margin, or being the first to do win, she has made history.
I understand that winning the Breeders Cup Classic would considerably shorten Rachel's hold on Horse of the Year, but when comparing the overall bodywork of a season Rachel still wins over Zenyatta. Yes, it is true that if Zenyatta wins the Classic she will be the first to do so, but it will be one race of historical significance to Rachel's eight. The Classic is in Zenyatta's back yard, on one of her favorite tracks, at a distance and on a surface that would seemingly help her closing kick. The only real challenge that seems to present itself is the fact that this will be the first time Zenyatta has challenged males and it will be the best field she has ever faced. The thing I don't get is that Zenyatta may not even go in the actual Classic. Her owners may choose to go with the race that will give her the best chance to stay unbeaten, which will be the Ladies Classic. So, why are all the Zenyatta supporters, who dislike Rachel Alexandra for whatever reason, acting like Zenyatta is entered in the real Classic, when chances are she'll duck the boys to stay within her comfort zone?
A real threat to Rachel, if he wins the Classic would be the leading three year old male Summer Bird. When he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup this year he did something that had not been done for twenty years, by winning the Belmont, Travers, and Gold Cup. His first half of the season left something to be desired, seeing as how he finished third in the AK Derby and sixth in the Kentucky Derby. After trainer Tim Ice gave the growing colt some time to rest and grow he started his rampage to the top of the three year old male division by winning the Grade one Belmont. The only thing is, Rachel has already beaten him. The race after the Belmont, Summer Bird met Rachel in the Haskell Invitational, and was beaten soundly by six lengths. That is why even if he does win the Classic he should not win Horse of the Year.
I've heard people say that he is a much improved horse since he met Rachel, yet if you look at his Beyer numbers, they are relatively in the same realm as his 111 Beyer in the Haskell. In the Travers he ran a 109 Beyer, which is only two points off his Haskell performance. No matter how people try to spin things the fact remains that in their only meeting Summer Bird was beaten by Rachel.
I am not say that either of these horses are not great, I am just saying that their accomplishments pale in comparison to Rachel Alexandra. In the Martha Washington she set a stakes record, in the Fantasy she blew her competition away by over eight lengths, she has the largest record of margin on record for the Kentucky Oaks, and in the Mother Goose she set a stakes record and now holds the largest margin of victory as well. In her victories against males she was the first horse EVER to win from the thirteen post and the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness. In the Haskell, she was one fifth of the from the track record, two fifths off the stakes and is only the second filly to win the race. In the Woodward she became the first filly to ever win the race in its 55 year history. Point is one race is not enough to overtake a season that presents so much volume. There is no debate, Rachel Alexandra is going to be the 2009 Horse of the Year.