In one corner stands the up and coming challenger - Rachel Alexandra - winner of 7 straight by a combined 63 1/4 lengths. Winner of the Fantasy Stakes, the Kentucky Oaks, the Preakness Stakes (A Triple Crown Race) and the winner of the Mother Goose Stakes in devastating fashion. Are there any more superlatives that can be used to describe this filly.
In the other corner stands the Champion - Zenyatta - Ultra consistent, she always makes her run and guess what she always wins, She has won the Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic against a top notch field that included reigning Eclipse award winner Ginger Punch, Grade 1 winners Cocoa Beach, Music Note, Hystericalady and Carriage Trail.
The stage is set, the competitors are warmed up as can be confirmed by their practice rounds in the Mother Goose and the Vanity. So the question is when will this showdown take place. I hate to disappoint everyone but "IT WONT".
The owner of Zenyatta stated that he would wasn't afraid to run Zenyatta against R.A. outside of California during the summer, which would leave plenty of time for Zenyatta to be ready for the Breeders Cup. Well that statement was made on Saturday morning, hours before the running of the Mother Goose at Belmont Park. After watching both competitors do in their weary foes, it looked as if we were primed for the marketing explosion and awaiting the venue and the race that these two great mares would run in. Whoops, it seems as if Jerry Moss watched the replay of the Mother Goose a few too many times. On Tuesday not more than 72 hours after announcing in an article in DRF that he would ship Zenyatta to face Rachel Alexandra, Mr. Moss had a change of heart. I would guess that watching the Mother Goose and the ease of which Rachel Alexandra won that race gave him indication that this would be one horse that his super mare could not catch having to go five wide on the final turn. I must honestly say that I don't blame him. I do find it very cowardice that he would go back on something that could be so instrumental to the well being of horse racing. But every owner has to make his own decision about things of this nature and it seems that the thought process is the preserving of her perfect record is most important to Mr. Moss and the synthetic legacy that Zenyatta will no doubt be labeled with.
When I think back to Zenyatta's 2008 and 2009 campaign, I like most writers and horse racing fans will think back to the four Grade II events that Zenyatta ran in for no apparent reason other than the fact that this was the softest most convenient schedule ever run in by a horse that was considered to be the best mare in racing at the time. Zenyatta's connections have allowed her to be disgraced by running in lesser known grade 2 events against horses that have just barely broken their maidens. Then because of her running style she wins those races not in a romp or convincingly, but by a few lengths. What does this mean for her legacy? Well she'll be known as the champion that beat a number of allowance company and faced very little legitimate competition. And for the naive West Coasters that talk about how she faced such a stellar field in the B.C. Ladies Classic, well she did but on a synthetic surface. A surface a number of these horses had never raced on. So was the playing field even, no by no means.
Lets also talk about the stupidity of the Breeders Cup for first hosting the Breeders Cup dirt races on a Synthetic surface, and then having the nerve to do so two years in a row. The best way to put it, like many out west who try to make excuses for dirt horses running bad out west, CLASSLESS. Listening to message board members who talk about how Curlin was over the top by the Breeders Cup or the same excuse for Ginger Punch. This is ridiculous, and very much shows a lack of knowledge with regard to the game of horse racing. That same excuse can not be used for every dirt horse that struggled last year on the synthetics. Lets run down that list.
Curlin - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt - 4th in the classic on synthetics. - Career worst
Cocoa Beach numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 2nd in the L.C.
Music Note-numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 3rd in the L.C.
Hystericalady -numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 5th in the L.C.
Ginger Punch -numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 6th in the L.C. - Career Worst
Fabulous Strike - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt 5th in the Sprint
Black Seventeen - Grade 1 winner on dirt 7th in the Sprint
First Defence - Grade 1 winner on dirt last in the Sprint - Career Worst
Munnings - Graded stakes winner ran 10th in the Juvi
Mine That Bird - Kentucky Derby Winner Ran dead last - Career Worst
Be Smart - Graded placed - Career Worst
Doremifasollatido - Graded stakes winner on dirt - career worst
Pyro Graded stakes winner on dirt - career worst
Lewis Michael - Grade 1 winner on dirt - career worst
Indian Blessing - numerous Grade 1 wins on dirt - had never fired on synthetics.
Intangaroo - Grade 1 winner on dirt
Dearest Trickski Graded Stakes placed
Dream Rush Graded Stakes placed
So this is the list, I would love to hear the excuses that the west coasters can make for the
18 horses on this list that were all over the top or whatever excuse you'd like to use. Please ask Bob Baffert to verify the reason why Indian Blessing will not run on the west coast for the rest of her career. Well this would give indication that synthetic surfaces play differently than dirt and the difference between dirt and synthetics horses is large. So the nonsense that is spoken by some about Jess Jackson's decision to skip the Breeders Cup is not going to be the first announcement of this nature. This can be expected more and more as we get closer to the running of the Breeders Cup. Attendance will be down and the handle at the track will be down, all things that I personally could care less about due to the fact that the Breeders Cup and California has disgraced horse racing by taking a championship such as the Breeders Cup and put it on a synthetic surface. Could you imagine the Kentucky Derby on a synthetic surface, NO, not possible because it is a dirt race and has been for hundreds of years. People don't understand what tradition means. This does not mean changing something that has been in place for years on a whim.
Back to the match up that will not happen. Lets look at the thoughts of some who realize the truth behind the balking of the connections of Zenyatta. Some just plain and simple want to see Zenyatta challenged, not by horses that have run in optional claiming races, or allowance races or even Grade III events. Something has to be done to allow her to prove her greatness because as of right now that is in question. When you continue to beat up on the same horses continually and not impressively let me point out, that means that either you are afraid your horse will lose to decent competition or you just don't care about the legacy that she will be remembered for. If you look at the resume of Pepper's Pride 19 for 19 she was impressive because she beat horses that were of comparable quality. Therefore she towered over these, Zenyatta is beating horses that no doubt are no where close to her ability. This would mean you step up and actually face some competition. Zenyatta due to her connections handling of her will not be known with Personal Ensign, Zarkava, Azeri, Indian Blessing, Eight Belles or Rachel Alexandra or many other outstanding fillies or mares. Why because these stepped outside their comfort zones because their connections felt that they were the very best and wanted to challenge that theory. The Moss's know that Zenyatta can beat inferior fields on synthetics and they are happy doing that, if that's how they feel then let that be, but please don't start the talk about Horse of the Year. Right now Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird, Einstein, Well Armed, Precious Passion. All of these horse have more right to Horse of the Year honors, with R.A. being at the top of the list due to her impressive wins in the most prestigious of races that are being run at this time. Does Zenyatta's race record match up with a Grade II Milady and Grade I Vanity win. Not even close. Do her connections seem to care. It seems as if they don't and I understand that but I don't understand why they would be afraid to face a 3 year old up and coming star in Rachel Alexandra. Show that you have confidence in your charge and let this match up happen.
Is zenyatta overrated, absolutely not, she is a very good race mare. Will she be able to show her true greatness, unlikely, she will always be remembered as the horse that faced and beat very little whose connections were petty and classless and begged for HOY votes.
Here's to the connections of Rachel Alexandra for allowing us to see the greatest thing running today, and campaigning her as if they want her to win Horse Of The Year. Kudos Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen. Thumbs down to the connections of Zenyatta for being cowards and hiding out west. Thumbs down to the West Coast lovers who get to watch lower tier horse racing and connections. Now we all understand why the state of horse racing is as it is out West.