JC / Railbird

Woodward Stakes

Wasn’t She Wonderful?

Superterrific, prepping the HRF Woodward Stakes Ten Things to Know feature in advance of Saturday’s race at Saratoga, sent me this reminder of Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 Woodward, a classic Ernie Munick video:

Picking up on the closing scene above:

The grandstand shook. We stood and roared for her. I’ll never forget.

HOTY and the BC

With Zenyatta, Quality Road, and Blame expected in the Classic, it’s no secret that this year’s Breeders’ Cup will decide Horse of the Year. You could say the event is reverting to form. In the 26 runnings since its inception in 1984, only eight horses have been named HOTY without starting in a Breeders’ Cup race:

Three distaffers have won HOTY since 1984, but only Rachel Alexandra did so without a Breeders’ Cup race. She did have a Woodward Stakes start, though, as did three of the other seven HOTYs to win without the BC (Mineshaft ran in the Jockey Club Gold Cup after winning the Woodward). The Woodward Stakes turns out to be a key race in HOTY campaigns, second only to the Breeders’ Cup Classic: 12 of the 26 BC-era winners started in the Woodward en route to honors, 11 of the 20 main track male winners three and up.

A Well-Deserved Rest

Owner Jess Jackson said on Sunday that it is unlikely Rachel Alexandra will race again this year following her Woodward Stakes win:

“She had a campaign since winter, this is the fall. She’s raced more races in two years than most fillies ever run. She’s done things that no fillies have ever done. She deserves a rest.”

After Saturday, who could argue? This campaign needs no embellishing:

I haven’t watched the Woodward replay yet. Like Maryjean Wall, I’m still in “a dreamy state” brought on by being at Saratoga to witness such an amazing display of heart, talent, and speed. I’ll surely watch the replay soon (the better to comment on the race and what it means), but for now, I want my memories of Saturday only to be of her in the lead and the crowd rising and roaring as the field streaked down the stretch, as I saw and felt those intense seconds.

Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward stretch

9/7/09 Addendum: More from Jackson on the likelihood that Rachel Alexandra will not race again this year: “She needs, I think four or five months off.”