Rachel Alexandra in her Stonestreet paddock, May 2012.
I’ll take any excuse for a Rachel Alexandra post, and Melissa Hoppert gives me a good one with a story about visiting the 2009 Preakness Stakes winner, who is recovering well from her near-death post-foaling ordeal earlier this year:
“Running is not the word for it,” Comer said. “She is breezing for the Belmont. When we turn around, she’s back to her old self. She is up in the air, she rears, she runs, she bucks, she plays. She is definitely feeling good.”
Wonderful! Get in the mood for today’s Preakness (post time 6:20 PM ET) with a replay of the 2009 edition. “She’s got her ears up, pricked, ready to go …”
You’re rooting for Orb today, right? “You’ve gotta.”
In short, the vibe when you watch a Black Caviar race is one of assurance. The absolute certainty that Black Caviar is indisputably better than those around her.
This is no small thing. In this age of online commentary and social media, everything is up for debate. Everything can and will be refuted by someone, somewhere, and with venom.
You can’t troll Black Caviar.
She’s so freaky good, she converts even the skeptical: “[Black Caviar] takes us away from our daily grind … like some 21st century Pegasus.”
And now she’s 25-for-25, the winner of a record 15 Group 1 races in Australia after the T. J. Smith Stakes. “Her odds of $1.14 made her unbackable.” Did anyone care? “You’re beautiful,” they shouted when she entered the paddock.
More Black Caviar at Randwick on Saturday here, in this fantastic album posted to Facebook by photographer Bronwen Healy.
4/17/13 Update: Black Caviar has been retired.
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On Friday, Horse of the Year Wise Dan (pictured here in the post parade) returned a winner in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland (the odds were in his favor). He looked eager on the backstretch, but waited for rider Jose Lezcano’s cue to go. “He wanted to go on, but I wanted to slow him down,” said Lezcano. “I waited as long as I could, but he’s a champion, you know.”
The win was a relief to trainer Charles LoPresti: “I did not want this horse to get beat today. I would have been really sad if he got beat today.”
1:00 PM Addendum: Beyer speed figure of 99 for Wise Dan, via Dan Illman.
More important than semantics or awards, though, is the idea that the Ladies Classic — particularly this year — is a great race in its own right. Should the field remain intact, it will feature three previous BC winners — Royal Delta joining last year’s juvy filly winner My Miss Aurelia and the 2010 Juvenile Filly winner Awesome Feather. Throw in Questing, Love and Pride and possibly It’s Tricky and right there you have five of the more dynamic distaffers we’ve seen in a long time outside of Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. Wasn’t it just yesterday we were all lamenting the fact that two of the greatest race mares of our generation never raced against one another? In the Ladies’ Classic, we have the chance for a classic confrontation—a chance many would just throw away simply in the name of “beating the boys.”
10/3/12 Addendum: “It’s shaping up as one of the greatest editions in recent memory.” The distaff buzz, 30 days out.
For all the complaints about its short field, the Cotillion ended up a pretty good reminder that it only takes two game horses to make a race exciting:
Anyway, it’s embarrassing, but there it is: four horses racing for a million bucks in a Cotillion that has turned into something of a private dance party. And Saturday night, how many owners and trainers will regret not having entered?
A fifth-place finisher could have earned $30,000. Any runner finishing worse than that could have earned $10,000 just for starting. #gasface
You’d think with only about $9 million in age-restricted main track graded stakes purses for 3-year-old fillies through the year (compared to $23 million for males), connections would be reluctant to pass up the earnings.
What if you were the owner of any 3-year-old filly in the land not named Questing or My Miss Aurelia, would you be knocking down the racing office door to get into the fray? And, remember, please, there is more pressure than ever to “do the right thing by the horse.”
The obvious overmatching of race horses for the purpose of earning minute shares of a big purse does not serve the best interests of the Thoroughbred.
Irish Champion Stakes winner Snow Fairy has overcome injury to win Group 1 stakes in five countries. She’s now a mare on the verge of worldwide fame:
“I usually don’t notice these things,” said rider Frankie Dettori, winning the ten-furlong contest for the fifth time, “but I could hear the crowd get behind her and the roar when she crossed the line. I’ve had some great days here but this one was all about this mare.”
Romance and record combine to make her an organic star.
And to think, she might not have been.
While Blind Luck’s rival Havre de Grace will likely use the Beldame as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) against males, Hollendorfer said there is no way his filly will run in that race.
“I’m not running her in the Classic,” he said. “I don’t believe in that. If others want to do it, God bless them. If we win the Ladies’ Classic, that’s plenty good for us.”
Farewell to Horse of the Year, too.
9/22/11 Addendum: About HOTY, Hollendorfer? Hovdey inquires. “If I did the right thing for my horse, I’d say that nothing would make a difference.”
9/29/11 Update: Interesting — the rivalry could resume in 2012. According to their connections, both fillies are expected to race as 5YOs.
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