September 7, 2009

The Rachel Diaries - Day 6

Today is labor day and our Rachel Alexandra vacation is winding down. Yesterday we spent half the day at beautiful Lake George and then caught the second half of the day’s races. At the track, I won a few dollars and saw some impressive horseflesh. In the Grade 3 Saranac, Bill Mott added yet another stakes winner on the lawn to his resume. Al Khali, a Kentucky bred son of Medaglia d’Oro, raced at two in Peru and has now become a force on grass in America at three. He won by only 1 ¾ lengths, but it was an effortless rally off a moderate pace and was geared down late. I will look for him to run long and against older soon. The Spinaway was predictably won by the precocious Hot Dixie Chick. She is the most impressive 2-year-old filly in the country so far and she ran very fast again yesterday. I was quite taken by the 2nd place filly Beautician. The gray daughter of Dehere has a beautiful long stride and ran a huge race yesterday. I am predicting big things in her future.

One vital part of our trip that I have not mentioned yet is the food. Yesterday we visited a traditional stop for me, PJ’s Barbecue. This favorite of many is just a few minutes south of the track and serves the best barbecue chicken that I have ever tasted. It is slow roasted and constantly basted over an open pit with oil, cider vinegar and spices. It is succulent, unique and delicious. Unfortunately, this meal at PJ’s was bittersweet, as word is this will be their final Summer. Say it ain’t so PJ’s! Chicken was definitely a culinary highlight for us on this trip as back in Buffalo we visited a national landmark in the Anchor Bar. They originated the Buffalo chicken wing and today they still make the best that you can get. Our other meals were good but those two meals stood out. I would also be remiss in not mentioning something that I have been eating all of my life … a shout-out goes to the racetrack clam chowder, as good as it has ever been.

Speaking of as good as she has ever been. I am still on a Rachel Alexandra high. The thrill of the stretch run, my great fondness for her, and the raw emotion of the uproarious crowd all made this one of the most exciting races I have ever seen. Despite the narrowness of her victory, I have the utmost respect for what she accomplished in making history by winning the Woodward. As outlined in my previous column, Rachel overcame a lot that would have cooked the goose of a mere mortal horse. I understand that Rachel will almost certainly not run another race this year and the slight, selfish sadness I feel is more than overshadowed by a sense of accomplishment and doing what is best for her. Not since Spectacular Bid in his 4-year-old season of 1980 has there been a horse with truly nothing left to prove, but that is how I feel about the 2009 campaign of Rachel Alexandra.

I snicker at those who suggest that she can not get a distance. Do they not realize that she is 8 for 8 around two turns? Her nine race winning streak is compromised of races from one mile to a mile and 3/16. She has beaten the boys and she has beaten the men, she has won five consecutive Grade 1 races. Rachel has run brilliantly fast and won by record distances. She has showed the courage of a lion after battling on suicidal fractions. Rachel has won at seven different tracks this year. She has captured the hearts of millions of devoted fans. You have done enough great one. Take your rest. For next year will bring a whole new set of challenges to test your grandeur. I, for one, can not wait to see you run again. Thank you for 2009.


Ernie said...

Agree every step. It's bizarre---I almost need a break from the heroism---I'm gutted just watching her conqueror the universe.

Brian, I need her to do ten furlongs---she would kill them---maybe the Personal Ensign or better, the Breeders' Cup Classic, 2010.

We know what she can do at nine furlongs.

These races she's given us---pure magic.