Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who is the Best?

Ever since his magnificent win in the Arc, where he split horses in the stretch and charged home to win against seventeen of Europe's finest, the discussion of who is better has come. Everyone wants to know who is better, Sea the Stars or Rachel Alexandra. In some corners I hear the whispers saying that Sea the Star is by far the superior, in the other corner it's the same thing, but for Rachel. Then you have those who say both are fantastic horses, they are both the best on their turf and on their continent, just enjoy them.

Sea the Stars has gone seven for seven this year, never really ever being challenged. In his latest, largest win, he was extremely rank while boxed in, stayed in behind horses until the stretch, where he split horses and displayed spectacular acceleration to win by one and a half lengths. He has taken two parts of the English Triple Crown and beaten older males time and time again. He has now six consecutive grade ones to his credit. It doesn't seem to matter if it's a field of three or twenty, he wins. It doesn't matter if the race is ten furlongs or twelve, he wins. It doesn't matter who the competition is, he still wins. Sea the Stars, as of this year, just doesn't know how to lose.

The same can be said for the American Super Filly Rachel Alexandra. Up until her last race, where she went against older horses, she dwarfed and dominated her competition. In the Woodward she actually looked smaller compared to her older male opponents. In this race she set a blistering pace when she ran an opening quarter in a punishing 22.85 seconds. She continued to set the pace the entire race and ran her heart out in the stretch, holding off Macho Again by a head. She did this after she had beaten 3-yr old males twice, once in the Preakness and once in the Haskell Invitational. Before those wins she completely dominated her own sex, winning by wide open margins each time. It doesn't seem to matter whether she's against fillies or colts, she will win. If the pace is fast, she wins; if she leads or stalks, she wins. It doesn't matter if it's muddy or a fast track, Rachel Alexandra will prevail. Going eight for eight this year, like Sea the Stars, this filly doesn't know how to lose.

So, again the question arises: who is better? People say that Sea the Stars should be said to be the better. They say that he has beaten better horses, while Rachel has struggled to beat sub par competition. Then in response you'll hear Rachel's supporters ask how beating a derby winner and a Belmont winner constitutes weak competition. How do you call the Stephen Foster winner and Whitney runner-up sub par? The Rachel detractors will also say she has had an easy, cherry-picked campaign. I wonder how you can call racing a three year old filly in the Haskell, Preakness and Woodward easy. I don't see how winning five consecutive grade ones and nine consecutive races is easy.

To tell you the truth, you can't compare the two, you just can't. Sea the Stars is a champion on Turf that races across the Atlantic. He runs Europe's Classic distances and beats the competition that is in Europe. Rachel Alexandra is our American champion who races on dirt and at our classic distances. She races the best competition on dirt that is here in America. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges, Rachel dazzles you with her speed, wide winning margins, and her accomplishments as a filly. Sea the Stars doesn't blow you away, but he is always there at the finish line, in front. Did his victory in the Arc win him the title of Horse of the World? To be truthful, it probably did, but to go and say that he is by far Rachel's superior, and that his accomplishments dwarf what she has done, is wrong. Both horses are equally great and to try to make this into a 'who is better' contest defeats the purpose of even having these great horses to enjoy.

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