Wednesday, September 29, 2010

End Of The Line

On Tuesday afternoon, Jess Jackson, owner of 2009 Horse Of The Year, Rachel Alexandra, made an announcement that really shouldn't have surprised anyone that has been paying attention over the last several months. He announced the retirement of the champion filly and plans to breed her to his other Horse Of The Year, Curlin, are already underway. By the way, one can only hope that the progeny will inherit all the champion qualities of those two parents and become yet another champion to wear the yellow and maroon Jackson colors.

I know she never faced Zenyatta, which is only a huge lost opportunity for the sport. However, I would like to offer the following thought as far as Rachel's historical importance: Rachel Alexandra's 2009 season is the greatest single season for any filly anywhere or anytime. Starting with that first start of 2009 in the Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park, Rachel Alexandra never posted a Beyer figure lower than 100. She won seven consecutive Grade 1 or 2 races. That list includes a Triple Crown race (The Preakness), a 20 1/4-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks, a 19 1/4-length victory in the Mother Goose, and back-to-back wins against her male counterparts in the Haskell (against three-year-olds) and the Woodward (against older males). She did things in 2009 that no other three-year-old filly in history has ever done and she captivated the horse racing nation in doing so.

I must admit that I was quite disappointed in her 2010 campaign, which seemed mismanaged by her connections from the start. The results of only two wins in five starts appear to bear that out. I also admit that it was quite disappointing to never see her run with the Grand Dame of the West Coast, Zenyatta. While you must blame her connections also on that front, you must also blame the connections of Zenyatta, who only ventured outside of California once in an effort to match up in what would have an historic Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Park. One can only wonder what might have happened in such a race, but whether you are in the Zenyatta camp or the Rachel Alexandra camp, you must admit that it would have been incredible to see it happen.

So, Rachel goes off now to have babies with the creme de la creme of the recent times in Thoroughbred racing. It would be tremendous to see her replicate herself, but the odds are very long that would ever happen. I think we should just appreciate what we were able to see from her and accept that she was a great champion. That is all we should ever ask from any great one, isn't it?

Here is the link to watch Rachel Alexandra's win in the 2009 Preakness Stakes: Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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