Wednesday, September 1, 2010


After a shocking second place finish in the Personal Ensign, beaten only by a length, the search for Rachel Alexandra's next potential start begins. Jess Jackson mentioned earlier, that he wanted the reigning Horse of the Year to be on a five week schedule, that would set her up for a start in this years Breeder's Cup.

As we look five weeks down the calender from the Personal Ensign, there are three races that pop out the most, the first being the Beldame, which is viewed by many as Rachel Alexandra's most likely next start.

The Beldame is only 8. 5 furlongs, a distance Rachel has run twice over this year, with the result being two second place finishes. The Beldame is at Belmont Park, the site of Rachel Alexandra's second stakes record and her 20 length beat down of Grade one winners Flashing and Malibu Prayer.

At this distance, her foes which already include Persistently, the filly who upset Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign, and may very well include Malibu Prayer, Unrivaled Belle and Life At Ten. If there was a time for Rachel Alexandra to get revenge upon those who stole some of her thunder this year, this race would be it.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup would be the next most likely start. At 10 furlongs, many may point out that in Rachel's only try at the distance she lost and the final time was not all that impressive. I say, Rachel can still get the distance. Saratoga and Belmont are nowhere near the same. Saratoga is not the track a horse wants to be on the front end if they are want a serious chance at winning at 10 furlongs. The front end was exactly where Rachel was. Belmont is not as deep, and Rachel Alexandra skipped over the very track to a near 20 length victory last year.

The competition in this race may also put the connections of the Medaglia D'Oro filly off. Blame already had a good reputation as an exceptional closer when he came into the Whitney. He put an exclamation on that status as he ran down Quality Road, after the Pletcher trainee got away with coasting along on the front end. This race doesn't seem to have an abundance of speed, but Rachel will need to be at her best if she's going to hold off the son of Arch.

The last and least likely option would be the Hawthorn Gold Cup. This race is also at 10 furlongs, but again it is not over a track as deep and tiring as Saratoga has been the last couple years. The plus to this race are that the competition will not be quite as stiff as the Beldame or Jockey Club Gold Cup, which means there is less of a chance for Rachel to be used up before the Breeders Cup.

However the negatives are the travel and grade two status. Both the Beldame and Jockey Club Gold Cup are just a van ride from Saratoga, but the Hawthorn Gold Cup is all the way in Illinois. Why ship for a grade two when you have two grade ones to choose from right in your backyard?

So what should the connections of Rachel Alexandra do? Should they go for the softer Hawthorn Gold Cup? How about the shorter, but more contentious Beldame? Or, do you think they should go all in for the Jockey Club Gold Cup?


  1. Let's go get that grade 1 win in the Beldame, which I'm pretty sure is still nine furlongs, and from there it is on to Louisville and the Breeders' Cup. Look forward to seeing her race in person two more times.

  2. Beldame would be my choice. It's 1 1/8 miles, a grade 1, and I think more suitable at this stage. If Rachel wins impressively and has a lot left in the tank, then perhaps she'd have the option of either Classic or Ladies' Classic, depending on how she comes out of the race. Another 10 furlong affair in succession, just to see if she can win at that distance, might be too much to ask her,and even if she should win it, it may be another Woodward Stakes situation, where she pretty much emptied herself; with Blame in the race, I fear that's what would happen. I wouldn't want to have her meet a top male like him until she absolutely has to.

    So whether she goes in the Classic or Ladies Classic, Rachel needs to have enough in reserve on that day.

    I don't like the Hawthorne at all for the reasons you mentioned.

  3. I agree with Brian, let’s take off a week, get her back on a Monday breezing schedule and shoot for the Beldame. It will be a race to remember.

  4. First off you guys are correct on the Beldame distance, for some odd reason, NTRA has it posted at 8.5 furlongs. For that reason, I do feel more comfortable about the Beldame, but with the set up she will get in that race vs the Gold Cup, the one in NY I could see why she would go for that race instead.

    LAT could possibly show as could Malibu Prayer and Unrivalled Belle, though the last of the three opted out when the connections saw the two titans in the race, and with what RA did to LAT, Pletcher may not be so quick to run her back against RA or Malibu Prayer either. One may show up, however it any of the three do not show up, and especially if all three do not show up I can see why that would be the more desirable race.

    The Gold Cup, seems void of speed, or any real speed. Somebody might throw in a rabbit, and if that happens Calvin has the sense to let the rabbit burn itself out rather than wasting Rachel's energy dueling with it. However, withough speed she has the lead all to herself, and to be honest running 12 second furlongs with no pressure over Belmont is probably more easily accomplished than running the same distance while being hounded at Saratoga.

  5. I'd like to see her pointed towards the Beldame as well. I think the JCGC would really push her too much before the BC - I'd rather see a fresher horse come November.