Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, racing's leading ladies take center stage yet again during Stephen Foster weekend. Though each is not the highlight of their particular card, they may just end up once again stealing the show from their male counterparts. As they each enter their respective race each will load into the starting gate with the same question. Can she do it?
Rachel Alexandra is winless in two starts this season. Both have been very close, so close that the margins by which she was beaten do not even add up to a full length. First she fell to the little Z of California, Zardana. The loss ended dreams of a potential meeting between the reigning Horse of the Year and California's Queen Z, Zenyatta.
In her next start, where she was expected to once again canter to an easy victory, Rachel Alexandra ran all out to lose by a head to the talented Unrivaled Belle. In both races the champion filly raced admirably. Each of these races would be considered spectacular performances by any other horse coming off a six month layoff. The problem is Rachel is not just any other horse, she is reigning Horse of the Year, 2009's Iron Filly. For such a champion, her last two performances have left many wanting.
Zenyatta. Queen Z. Zenyatta Mondatta. She is an amazon, powerful yet still beautiful, strong but still quick and agile. She is perfect, every move she makes captivate her audience as she dances lightly on her toes. She is perfect in every single way, unbeaten and unchallenged.
In 2007 Zenyatta began as an impressive maiden winner, before ending her season with her second win in a row in a allowance. In 2008 she took on the likes of Ginger Punch, Music Note, and Cocoa Beach, winning seven more races, extending her unbeaten streak to 9 for 9. In 2009 Zenyatta would race but five times, each time wowing us with her every performance, thundering down the Santa Anita stretch to become the first female ever to win the Breeders Cup Classic.
The two time champion Older Female didn't miss a beat coming into 2010. With wins in the Santa Margarita and Apple Blossom Invitational, the unbeatable mare will try to extend her streak one race farther, trying to surpass the mighty Citation and Cigar, with another win in the Vanity Handicap.
One mare looks through the door to immorality, while the other tries valiantly to regain her former glory. Will the great Zenyatta answer that question with an affirmative, will she indeed get number 17? Can Rachel return to the form that brought her racing's ultimate honor, and had her name mentioned alongside of the great Ruffian? We can only wait and see. Wait and see if they can indeed do it.