Zenyatta, no, doesn't sound right. Rachel Alexandra, still doesn't sound right. Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta? That sounds wonderful.
Over the years racing has seen some outstanding rivalries. Sunday Silence and Easy Goer, Nashua and Swaps, Bold Ruler and Round Table, Secretariat and Sham, then the greatest of all Affirmed and Alydar. Racing remembers both of the horses. Fans cannot say Sunday Silence without mentioning easy Goer, they cannot bring themselves not to think of Sham whenever Secretariat is brought up, and nobody can talk about Affirmed without bringing up Alydar. Why is this? Why does history remember both the victor and the unlucky loser? History remembers both because, even though Alydar played second fiddle to Affirmed, he was the horse who pushed Affirmed to become the Affirmed.
It has been a long time since racing has seen the likes of such a rivalry, and now we may just have found another in Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. The two have yet to meet on the track, but it seems that one influences the other, even though they have not yet set foot on the same track together.
Can one imagine 2009 without Rachel Alexandra? Zenyatta would have continued her march towards fifteen consecutive races, still surpassing the great Personal Ensign, but one has to wonder, would she have been entered in the Classic? One can argue that it was the unprecedented campaign by Rachel Alexandra that pushed the Moss's to enter their undefeated mare into the Classic in a last ditch attempt to win Horse of the Year. Would Zenyatta still be racing in 2010, if she had received Horse of the Year and not Rachel Alexandra? One can only guess, but I have a feeling that if Rachel Alexandra had not been Rachel Alexandra in 2009 we would not see Zenyatta in 2010.
On the flip side, can anyone imagine racing without Zenyatta? What need would there have been for Rachel Alexandra to take on the boys after the Preakness? A win there, over her three year old male peers would've been enough to earn her Horse of the Year. There would've been no need to run in the Haskell or the Woodward, the flashy filly would have easily been able to sit on her laurels and race against her female peers and elders, later in the year.
Just a few days ago turf writer, Steve Haskin wrote the article "A World of Their Own." A piece that reminds people, that it is not impossible to love just one filly. It recognizes Zenyatta, capturing the essence that Zenyatta gives off to all of her adoring fans, when she wows them with her sheer size and charisma, then further wows them with her ability to always run that same heart stopping, but winning race. It also reminds people that even though Zenyatta is Queen of the world right now, to not forget about Rachel Alexandra, who is great in her own right.
Some people understand this, but others still feel that the spotlight should be on Zenyatta and only Zenyatta. They fail to see that you can pick a favorite, but still love the other one, still be excited to see the other run. These people also fail to realize, that just with Sham and Secretariat, and Affirmed and Alydar, you cannot have Zenyatta without Rachel Alexandra. It's like black and white, yin and yang, one completes the other. They maybe totally different in looks, in running style and personality, but that is what makes them fit togeather so well. It is why you cannot have just Zenyatta or just Rachel Alexandra. From now until the end of time, history will remember not just one, but both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.