Saturday looking long on lovely ladies

The two best horses in America are slated to run on Saturday.  One will appear at her Southern California base looking for her 11th consecutive victory while the other will make her first start since a spectacular score in the Preakness Stakes against males.  They are separated by 3,000 miles, they probably will never face one another, but they are the best we have.  And they are females.

Fillies and mares like Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra don’t come along very often, but are universally cherished when they do.   One is a monster of a gal who does everything with inimitable ease, her ears never pinned back and her rider’s stick always in its holster.  The other seems to gallop her rivals into the ground, often giving her showboating jockey an opportunity to begin his celebration a few strides before the wire.  Their running styles are quite different, and the differences don’t stop there.

The biggest difference between the two may be the (un)aggressive nature of the campaigns their respective connections have created for them this year.  Rachel Alexandra romped against 3YO females in four starts this spring before she was purchased privately by current owner Jess Jackson.  He wanted a very quick return on his investment and announced that he’d start his newest horse against males in the Preakness Stakes.  With regular rider Calvin Borel clad in yellow and maroon, she defeated 12 males in wire-to-wire fashion.  Jackson said afterwards that the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro would definitely face males again in the future.

Zenyatta made her first start on May 23 against females in the Milady and won with typical ease, another handy win in what have been 10 terrific efforts to start her career.  Afterwards, when asked about shipping his super mare to other racetracks, her trainer said, “With the Breeders’ Cup out here, what’s the need?” he said. “When it gets closer to [Breeders’ Cup] time, you don’t want to ship around too much. Saratoga is a long way.” 

Forgive me for sounding harsh and don’t think for a second I lack any respect for Zenyatta, her accomplishments, or her connections, but that proclamation by Shirreffs was infuriating.  Zenyatta is going to be remembered as one of the best mares ever, but how good will she be considered if she comes across the country and wins the Go For Wand at Saratoga, or the Personal Ensign, or the Spinster?  What if she meets up with Rachel Alexandra in any of those events?  I suppose it’s easy to say that the onus of getting Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta into the same starting gate falls on the former’s connections with the Breeders’ Cup being on the west coast.  But, isn’t it at all possible that we could see these two square off on dirt?

Whether we get to see Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta face each other on dirt, on synthetics or at all won’t take away from the fact that we’ve seen so much from both individually.  This Saturday looks like it’ll just be another entry into the greatness tome describing this spectacular duo.  I’ll leave you with Zenyatta’s greatest performance to date, the 2008 Ladies Classic.


3 Responses to “Saturday looking long on lovely ladies”

  1. greg Says:

    Who is better? Match race in the future?

  2. nicktammaro Says:

    It’s tough to say who is better as of right now. Let’s put it this way. If they were both in a race going 9 furlongs at Churchill Downs, my money would be on Rachel Alexandra. If the same race was run at Santa Anita, I’d think Zenyatta would roll.

    I doubt either’s connections are interested in a match race, so there’s only one entity to blame if these two great ladies never meet- the Breeders’ Cup for foolishly making Santa Anita the host site for two consecutive years.

  3. john Says:

    Well, we have a bit of a dilemma. Yes, both horses are great. They just happen to be based on different tracks and California law requires the synthetic surface, so what to do to get these two together? My suggestions,
    let them BOTH take on the boys in the Arlington Million, or Sunshine Millions in Florida. One caveat……..regardless of the results there, and assuming both are healthy, Rachel Alexandra MUST show for the Breeder’s Cup in 2009. One loss for either of these great horses will not detract from their positions.
    The horse racing fans that support the industry are entitled to see greatness on both coasts.

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