Thursday, April 29, 2010

Excuse me, please, Mr. Jackson

What body part is it to which excuses are compared?

That thought crossed my mind as The Blood-Horse reports today -- on the eve of the La Troienne S.-G2 at Churchill Downs -- that principal owner Jess Jackson has declared his filly, reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, "90 percent fit," declaring that she "should win."

Nothing like lowering expectations for a champion.

Jackson's statement allows him to appear as though he has confidence in his filly. After all, he says that she "should win." If she does, all the better, because she did it without even being at her best; her owner said so before the race. But if she doesn't win, well, the connections already have the built-in excuse that she was only "90 percent fit."

I think it's a safe bet that the John Shirreffs barn's Zardana is 100 percent fit, or close as a horse gets (because Shirreffs and Co. just don't seem to run horses that aren't). And considering Zardana has beaten Rachel once this year already, 90 percent of whatever Rachel's packin' might still not be enough.

Jackson upped the rhetoric, and lowered the bar, by adding that should Rachel lose on Friday, it's no big deal. That's because Friday's race is just one more baby step toward "the ultimate goal," in Jackson's words -- the Breeders' Cup this fall at back at Churchill.

I hope Rachel makes it there and I hope she's even better than she was throughout 2009, her championship season.

But I'm not very confident in her chances in the La Troienne. Probably not even 90 percent.


  1. She was close in the Ladies Hcp and with a slightly better strategy could have beaten Zardana right there. So, yes, she should win the La Troienne, but Rachel doesn't seem to be where Jackson, and probably Asmussen, expected.

    Just a (more or less educated guess) of course, but my impression is that Team Rachel is scratching their heads at the moment, wondering if 90% of their expectation is really 100% of what the filly is able to show this season.
    Time will tell. Jackson most likely won't.

  2. That's a very interesting comment ... that 90 percent of their expectation for this season is all that Rachel can deliver. You might have hit it on the nose right there.

    She gave a good effort in the New Orleans Ladies, I agree. And strategy might have been the difference. And honestly, she SHOULD be better second off the layoff. ... So we'll see.

    I'm definitely not rooting against her.

  3. Another good effort today but not the Rachel of old. I think she may have peaked physically last year and the other mares are catching up or caught up. It also might be that she's a little tired of the whole thing after last year's hard campaign and isn't a good work horse anymore meaning racing to fitness.

  4. Something that Ann Ferland also suggested in a different forum: Rachel at 4 might not be much (or any) better than Rachel at 3, and everyone has caught up. Certainly possible. As Ann also noted, it happens to hot 2-year-olds all the time.


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