Rachel Alexandra was named 2009 Horse Of The Year over the only other candidate, Zenyatta, on Monday night. The final tally of votes was 130-99 in favor of the three-year-old.
Honestly, though, there were no losers in this voting. Both horses are magnificent and did everything that was asked of them in 2009. Rachel won all eight of her starts and Zenyatta won all five of hers. They faced the toughest competition possible at certain times of the year and now the question becomes, "Will they face each other?" Well, it has become much more of a possibility now that Zenyatta will be returned to the races and Rachel Alexandra is having her four-year-old season plotted out.
The major problem becomes, "Who will race with them?" I certainly cannot see John Shireffs sacrificing Life Is Sweet to be a stalking horse in the coming battle, so her stablemate Zenyatta can have a bigger field with which to tame Rachel. After all, Life Is Sweet is a Breeders' Cup champion too. Will Careless Jewel or Justwhistledixie try to finish third and pick up a check? This is honestly a situation where there is absolutely no benefit to the other horses that would have to be part of a fillies and mares only race. So, I say they are going to have face the boys again to have the racing epic we all expect. Blame will be a likely candidate to be in the mix off his last win in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs this fall. If Summer Bird ever recovers from the injury he suffered in Japan, he will probably be involved. Mine That Bird will certainly want to pursue a part of the spoils. Macho Again came the closest to anyone of beating Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Bullsbay acquitted himself quite nicely in the Woodward also. I leave out Gio Ponti, because I doubt he will run in a race against this caliber on a dirt (rather than synthetic) surface, but there is no shortage of acceptable candidates on hand.
I truly feel we will get the "Race Of The Century" at some point this 2010 season. I just hope that somebody else will bother to show up. Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!