The Brock Talk

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's A Rachel and Zenyatta Weekend

The rivalry between 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexanda and the undefeated Zenyatta (top photo) has yet to develop into the two greats facing each other on the track, but there is little doubt about the excitement they each continue to generate. Case in point of course, is this weekend when Rachel Alexandra will be running in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis (gr. 2) at Churchill Downs and Zenyatta tries for her unprecedented third Vanity Handicap (gr. 1) at Hollywood Park and her record 17th consecutive victory.

Zenyatta brings plenty of drama with every race as she continues to add to her historical winning streak of 16 consecutive victories. With a win Sunday, she would surpass Citation, Cigar and Mister Frisky with 17 consecutive wins in races not restricted to state-breds among major North American thoroughbreds. Pepper's Pride won 19 consecutive races while at times racing strictly against horses bred New Mexico.

For the third consecutive year, Zenyatta has been assigned to carry the high weight of 129 pounds. Since winning the grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in November, Zenyatta has won the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (G1) on March 13 at Santa Anita Park and the Apple Blossom Invitational Stakes (G1) on April 9 at Oaklawn Park.

Trainer John Shirreffs has again named jockey Mike Smith to ride Zenyatta. Smith has been aboard the record-setting mare in every race except her first three

Rachel Alexandra (photo left) will carry 124 pounds at Churchill Saturday, seven to 11 pounds more than any of her four rivals in a race in which she will be trying to reclaim her 2009 form. In two starts this year, she was second as the heavy favorite in both races. Rachel Alexandra lost to Zardana in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds in March, then again to Unrivaled Belle in the La Troienne Stakes on the April 30 at Churchill.

While both were strong races by most standards, they were far below the performance level Rachel showed last year in winning all eight of her races including the Kentucky Oaks (gr. 1), Preakness Stakes (gr. 1), Haskell Invitational (gr. 1) and Woodward (gr. 1) against fillies, top colts and older horses.

Her 20-1/4 length margin in the Kentucky Oaks was a record. Rachel Alexandra was the first filly since Nellie Morse in 1924 to win the Preakness, joined Serena's Song as the only filly to win the Haskell and is the only female to ever win the Woodward against older horses.

Calvin Borel, who has been riding Rachel Alexandra since their victory in the 2008 Golden Rod Stakes, again get the riddings chores from trainer Steve Asmussen.


The_Knight_Sky said...

A big weekend on tap. A loss by either gal would put the rest of the year in jeopardy.

Also running this weekend is crowd favorite Presious Passion. The 7 year old gelding makes start number 46 at Monmouth Park.

Brock Sheridan said...

Presious Passion may be one of my favorite horses in the last ten years. I'd love to see him make another big run at the BC Turf... and get it this year.

Celeste said...

Looking forward to all the three races - Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and Presious Passion. May they all win strongly and come home safely!