The Brock Talk

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Let the Rachel Alexandra vs. Zenyatta Debate Continue

The racing gods continue to smile down upon us this year after two exciting wins by two brilliant mares Saturday with Rachel Alexandra winning the Mother Goose (photo at left) in New York and Zenyatta winning the Vanity at Hollywood Park. Add to that comments by Zenyatta owner Jerry Moss that he would consider taking Zenyatta outside of Southern California to face Rachel Alexandra and it was quite a good day for racing fans.

Rachel took the racing stage first Saturday in the $300,000 Mother Goose at Belmont Park, but faced only two rivals. Sent off at odds of 1-9, Rachel easily put away second-place finisher Malibu Prayer and Flashing. Her galloping final strides were no surprise, nor was the 19-3/4 length margin - although it eclipsed Ruffian's 1975 margin. But her final time of 1:46.33 broke the stakes record by nearly 7/10ths of a second and she did it with such ease. At one point just before the finish, jockey Calvin Borel seemed so relaxed it appeared he reached up and gave her a congratulatory pat or maybe just fixed her main for the photo.

Minutes later on the West Coast, Zenyatta remained undefeated winning the grade 1, $300,000 Vanity Handicap. Although she faced only four other rivals, Zenyatta met with considerable more adversity than Rachel, most notably the 129-pound assignment under the terms of the handicap conditions of the Vanity. The late running Zenyatta had less pace to run at than she would like, but stayed a bit closer to the pace and prevailed with confidence by 2-1/4 lengths with another late run.

At the top of the pace, it appeared the extra weight was a challenge for Zenyatta until she ranged alongside the leaders inside the 1/16th pole to the finish. That's when she pricked her ears as if to say a passing hello to eventual runner-up Briecat and third place finisher Dawn After Dawn.

Now the question begs as to where these two magical mares - although Rachel is technically a filly - could possible meet. My guess would be the grade 1, $400,000 Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga in late August. Since Rachel Alexandra controlling owner Jess Jackson said Monday that he would not race his filly on a synthetic track, such as they have in Zenyatta home-base of Southern California - it appears Rachel's home of New York would be the next logical place for a possible match-up.

But Rachel Alexandra would again have to leave her comfort zone in the Personal Ensign, or any other race versus Zenyatta, because of the age difference. Rachel Alexandra is a 3-year-old and Zenyatta races against older mares. Both owning teams are trying to map out possible paths for not just divisional championship honors, but perhaps Horse of the Year honors as well.

Rachel Alexandra has already proven she can leave and win outside of her division of course, winning the Blackberry Preakness Stakes in May.

1 comment:

Donna McArthur said...

Both ran gr8 races but I do not think you can compare the two.