Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Bitter Sweet Departure

All who know me from Facebook and Twitter know that this week has just not been my week. I'm sick, I'm tired, and my classes just seem to drrrraaaaggggg by. However I knew if I could just make it through this week, the weekend would all be worth it, because this weekend was Super Saturday. From coast to coast it will a day only second to the Breeders Cup itself. Brilliant turf star, Paddy O'Prado is set to try and continue his dominance, this time over his elders. Rail Trip and Blame face off in what promises to be a very contentious edition of the Jockey Club Gold Cup and on the Left Coast, Zenyatta goes for number 19 in a row while Twirling Candy looks to add the Grade one Goodwood to impressive resume.

All of this would be enough to get any racing fanatic through a bad week, but the most important thing of all this weekend was the return of Rachel Alexandra. She was the main reason for all of my excitement, because in whatever race her connections chose to run in, the Beldame or the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I knew she was sitting on a huge race, and would likely return to her 2009 glory. I was so ready just to see her run a huge race that would set her up perfectly for the Breeder's Cup.

The reigning Horse of the Year was looking all set to go. She was coming off of two strong and dazzling bullet works, the first at 3/4's of a mile gone in 1.12.05 and the second would be 48.45 seconds for four furlongs. Her fans were practically foaming at the mouth, waiting for Jess Jackson to announce what race she would run in. Instead he shocked and ultimately crushed millions of fans when he announced in a press release that Rachel Alexandra would not race this Saturday, or any coming weekends, that she had been retired.

Some were left numb by the announcement, I only wish I had felt that. To me the announcement seemed to completely crush me as well as stun me. It made no sense and still does not. Why after two bullet works and only four days before the race do you retire? I normally am full of answers, but for once I'm left overflowing with questions.

However, after giving everything time to sink in, the gaping hole I felt seems to hurt less. Now, I look back at the memories Rachel has left me. I remember that at the beginning of 09 I was looking for a horse to fill the void Curlin had left. Zenyatta had yet to race, and at that point, I though Rachel was a nice horse, very fast, but was beating up on a weak crop of fillies. I expected a win in the Kentucky Oaks, maybe by as much as 10 easy lengths, but she outdid even that. As she ran away with the field, cruising under the finish by over 20 lengths, she ran away with my heart.

From then on I firmly backed, so much, that I would become livid when others started to bash her. She took me on the ride of my life. Her Preakness and Woodward, challenger after challenger ran at her and she repelled them, finding more and more, ultimately leaving my speechless with her courage. Her Mother Goose and Haskell left me speechless as well, but because of her raw speed and brilliance, creating an aura of invincibility.

Even though this season did not come close to approaching her dazzling 2009 form, her heart and determination in every race were enough to keep me at her side. I will miss her, I will miss her so much, but I will move on. I will never forget what she gave me, never in a million years. She gave us everything every time she set foot on the track, making sure that no matter what, we will always remember her. Good-by Rachel Alexandra.


  1. I was hoping you'd write a piece about Rachel, and you certainly did. I know how disappointed you are, but it's good that you've let the idea of Rachel's retirement have a day to sink in, so the emotions can settle down, if only a little bit.

    I know I will miss Rachel very much. I've also spent a lot of time, since last year's Breeders' Cup, defending her against her detractors (she shouldn't have had any after what she did).

    Somehow however, despite the good workouts and the indication that she was moving forward steadily, I always felt there was something lacking in 2010, that fire she had last year seemed to be dimmed, if not extinguished. I wish I could explain it, but I can't. It's an intangible thing that you can't identify. Perhaps it's a mental thing. And I felt that after watching her first race this year, and perhaps her second, she was lacking that fire. That was very understandable to me. She had done enough already. She had nothing left to prove. She didn't need to be that superfilly anymore, although I certainly would have loved it if she could have. Last year, everything Rachel did, up until the Woodward, seemed easy, and from the Woodward onward, it was more laborious and workmanlike. But that was OK, Rachel was still a great filly. And the Woodward was her defining moment, IMO.

  2. I don't know how anyone could ever follow a J.Jackson owned horse again. He slapped the RA fans in the face all year long. Never would I give this man my time and love for a horse he owns, He is provened to be a careless man to say the least, It was unfair the way he done her fans. HE crushed yalls heart and spirits when he chose to make a cowardly move and give no good reason for it. She is sound and healthy, she should be still running..

  3. The human connections should have no bearing on how a person likes the HORSE. The horse did nothing and did much to help the sport. I could not stand the connections of BB, yet I love the horse. I don't agree with how Zen has been sheltered, but I respect her. Curlin and RA are my favorites. Do I like what JJ did and how he did it, no. However, if he owns another horse that I start to become attached to, I will not let him take a way from how i veiw the horse.


    I like her Haskell best. Summer Bird was the best colt on dirt in 2009 and she handed him his lunch w/o breaking a sweat.

    I personally wonder about what could've been, if she had been left with Wiggens. He said he would've gone for the Derby and possibly the Belmont, both I think she would've won. Then he said he would have liked to aim her for the distaff. Personally had she had a year like that I think we still would've seen a HOTY and RA back even better as a 4yr old.

  4. Laura, Are you going to the BCC this year?

    If so , you may could see RA at Churchill Downs.

  5. Anon,

    No, I won't be able to go to CD. I wish I could but being my age and in college I have my classes to worry about.