Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rachel going 0-for-2 in 2010?

With the draw of the $400,000 La Troienne S.-G2 on Friday's Kentucky Oaks undercard, and word that defending Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra will face just five foes, it's time for a poll, which I haven't undertaken in a good while.

Among the quintent to line up against Rachel Friday will be Zardana, the 6-year-old who handed a loss to 2009's most fabulous filly in her 2010 debut, the New Orleans Ladies Stakes. Zardana is trained by John Shirreffs, who also conditions "that other Z-girl," twice-champion older mare (and still undefeated) Zenyatta.

Can Zardana (or someone else) get one over on Rachel again, leaving her 0-for-2 in 2010? ... That's the poll.

Thinking deeper, if the Shirreffs barn can bit ... err, mare-slap ... Rachel twice in as many tries with their undoubtedly lesser runner, will Jess Jackson and company ever let their girl meet the other player in 2009's horse of the year debate?


  1. Zardana headed her in Louisiana, and Rachel never fought back. Was it conditioning or was it dispiritedness? On one hand, first off the bench after 6-7 months in the barn is a terrible angle to be playing (esp. against a Shirreffs-trained runner) so anything is forgiveable. On the other hand, Asmussen has admitted he really has no clue what he's doing with her because he has no experience bringing back a filly after a 6-7 month freshening following a legendarily successful campaign in Group I races -- one of the few genuinely humble quotes I've ever read from one of racing's biggest egoist. So second off the bench with a little bit better conditioning by Asmussen, coupled with a return to a track the filly clearly loves, perhaps she begins to return to her dominating form.

    But until I see it happen, my vote in the poll is with Zardana, who is already in form and has already headed and beaten Rachel.

    I look forward to watching Friday!

    David H.

  2. I NEVER thought that Rachel should have been horse of the year, but I didn't get to vote either. I agree that she has a battle with Zardana, and I'm afraid I have to agree that Zardana as the one to beat and I pick her to win it over Rachel Alexandra..

  3. I certainly did, and still do, believe that Rachel Alexandra deserved to be 2009 Horse of the Year. If a 3-year-old filly can't win it by going 8-for-8, all stakes, five Grade 1s, a couple of records set, and three G1 wins over males (one against older), then maybe no sophomore filly should EVER win it.

    Zenyatta, undefeated though she remains, was 5-for-5 and four of those were pretty much beating up fairly small fields of the same ol' competition she'd faced the year prior. Didn't ship out of California. Scored an historic victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic, though over what sort of field? Some of the top horses in the States skipped the race due to the synthetic track. (Or ducking Zen? Who knows?) And the foreign contingent lacked Europe's best horse, Sea The Stars, and ended up running like duds. ... U.S. turf horse Gio Ponti came home second.

    But, I've made that argument before.

    Rachel has her hands full with Zardana, a mare who appears to be in her prime. She should be better second off the layoff (one would hope) and Rachel *did* try when Zardana passed her in New Orleans. Zardana won by three-quarters (or maybe a half?) and third place was almost 12 lengths behind Rachel. A quitting horse (and rider) would have accepted taking second by six.

    It certainly will be interesting to watch the rematch.


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