She’s A Lady

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 29, 2009 in General Discussion, Other Events | No Comments >>

Every horse race has a winner; that’s a fact. And just because a horse wins an otherwise important race, that does not make that horse particularly special, other than it may have been the best (that day) of an average field of Thoroughbreds. Greatness must be earned—gauged against the clock, measured against the history books. There must be dominance and consistency, across state borders and time zones, over varying track conditions and against the best competition available. When these conditions are met, then a discussion of history and greatness can begin.

It is too early to call Rachel Alexandra great; she hasn’t even won a G1 race yet, much less run in one. But any serious fan of Thoroughbred racing has chill bumps in anticipation of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and the rest of her 2009 campaign. Having seen her races in the Golden Rod (G2, new stakes record), Martha Washington Stakes (in time a second faster than Old Fashioned’s winning time in the Southwest Stakes), Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), and Fantasy (G2), all of which she won with devastating ease, we know that this filly has very serious talent.

Will Rachel Alexandra ever race against males? Perhaps. She looks a lot more like a colt than a filly, and her imposing frame makes her seem like the kind of filly that wouldn’t be intimidated by colts. Her front-running style would also make it easy for her to stay out of trouble, and she could simply run them off their feet (like Winning Colors or Lady’s Secret), which is a distinct possibility, given the times of her races. You can’t blame her owners for wanting to pick off the important filly races that are at their mercy in the immediate future, however, as those races are very prestigious in their own right and very difficult to win under any circumstances.

The race record of Medaglia d’Oro (her sire) is fairly fresh in our minds, as Rachel Alexandra is from his first crop. There were his wins in the Whitney (G1), Travers (G1), Donn Handicap (G1), Oaklawn Handicap (G2), Strub Stakes (G2), San Felipe (G2), and Jim Dandy (G2)—he certainly liked Saratoga—as well as solid second place finishes in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1, twice), Belmont (G1), Dubai World Cup (G1), Pacific Classic (G1), and Wood Memorial (G1). So, he was very fast and very consistent, always part of the exacta in important races, it seemed (he was first or second in 15 of his 17 starts).

Talent doesn’t fall out of the sky, at least not in Thoroughbreds. If you look closely enough and do your research, you can invariably figure out the source or sources of excellence in a horse’s pedigree. It can skip a generation or two, but it’s always there.