Perfection or Greatness?
Perfection is defined as the state or quality of being or becoming perfect, the highest degree of proficiency, skill or excellence, a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.
Greatness is defined as being notable, remarkable, exceptionally outstanding, important, highly significant or consequential, distinguished, of noble or lofty character.
Both of these attributes are impressive and there are times when one prevailing quality outshines the other, which one would be foremost, I have no idea they both have their positives and there would seem to be no negatives. Well then we get to the topic of horse racing, there are a number of qualities that could be used to quantify what we are seeing on the race track this year. We are all lucky enough to be able to experience the incredible talents of two equine stars that are as impressive as any 2 stars running at one time in the history of the sport.
One of these stars resides on the West Coast and another resides on the East Coast. They are owned by connections who take extreme care to make sure that they put the health of their stable star first but there are some differences in the way that the connections have campaigned these two stars. Zenyatta is a 5 year old mare; she races in California and has a perfect race record of 12 starts and 12 wins. She Is trained by John Shirreffs who is based in California, and owned by Mr. Jerry and Ann Moss. The Moss’s have campaigned 2005 Kentucky Derby Champion Giacomo and B.C. third place finisher Tiago. Thus far Zenyatta has bankrolled 2.5 million dollars in her career; she has won races like the Apple Blossom Handicap, the Clement L. Hirsch and the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic. The 12 for 12 undefeated records pretty much sums up what her career has been about. The Moss’s have come under fire due to the path that they have taken to allow Zenyatta to keep her perfect race record. This has caused there to be question about her place in history even if she finishes out her career with a perfect record. Her connections realize that they have a very special mare, but in the process of trying to keep a perfect record some question the quality of competition that she has met in her career, It appears that her connections are doing what they can to protect her perfect record, get her to the Breeder's Cup and win and therefore keep that record intact, and retire her. Some might argue that this Is taking the path of least resistance, but others would tend to say different. During Zenyatta’s 12 race career to this point she has faced 8 grade 1 winners. This on the outside looking in would give indication of greatness due to the quality of the competition. When you look closer though it would appear quite a bit different. In the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic alone Zenyatta faced 5 of her Grade 1 foes. That would leave 11 races where she faced a total of 3 other grade 1 horses, some of these races included the same horse over and over again. In comparison, Ginger Punch the 2007 Breeders Cup Ladies Classic Champion faced close to 20 Grade 1 winners in her career. So the big question is does the quality of competition make a difference. Quality over Quantity, some might make an argument for both sides. Remember though no matter what that undefeated is still undefeated and Zenyatta is a true Champion.
Does the pursuit of perfection leave the door open for another to slide in and achieve the standard of greatness? On the East coast stands the embodiment of Greatness in the eyes of many. It has been a long time since a 3 year old filly caused the connections of so many horses to wait to make decisions about every race that is being run until they know where her connection are pointing. In Rachel Alexandra there is so much potential, potential seen and still unseen. Rachel Alexandra is a 3 year old filly out of sire Medaglia d’Oro she is owned by Stonestreet Stables & Harold T. McCormick, with Jess Jackson of Kendall-Jackson Winery holding controlling interest. They purchased the filly after her Kentucky Oaks victory from her original owners: breeder Dolphus Morrison and partner Michael Lauffer. Initially she was trained by Hal Wiggins, after new ownership she has been turned over to Steve Asmussen. Rachel has raced 13 times with 10 wins out of those races, she is currently on an 8 race winning streak and has won those 8 races by a combined 69 ¼ lengths. She has lost races therefore she is not being pampered to continue on an undefeated path. She at this point has no competition on the 3 year old level, and is most likely going forward to either open competition or will run against older females for the first time. She has emphatically beat both 3 year old fillies and colts and now has caused the connections of older male horses to await decisions before making a decision about the next race. One likely race for her is the Woodward Stakes, and the connections of the Whitney Winner, Bullsbay has stated that they do not want to run against Rachel Alexandra and will await the announcement from her owner. Her owner Jess Jackson is a wine mogul from California, he is a sporting man who wants his horse to achieve the most possible. This can be seen by the ambitious schedule that Rachel has taken on since being purchased in May. So while perfection is not in the scheme of things, her greatness and incredible legacy will be without question.
So again the question you have to ask yourself is Perfection or Greatness, if you had to choose one which would it be.