December 11, 2009

Mark Your Calendars Rachel Maniacs

All of a sudden the city of New Orleans is the place to be for the sporting inclined. Those oft downtrodden Saints, are scoring points by the bushels and sport a spotless 12-0 record. Big news for a team who’s fans wore more paper bags over there heads than most. Across town, a quick glance down the Asmussen shedrow at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds Race Course reveals an even bigger star than Drew Brees, Who dat? None other than the Ragin Cajun, The Queen of Bourbon Street, the Grand Mistress of Mardi Gras…Rachel Alexandra.

The magnificent filly who has stormed through the racing world, with all the subtlety of dear, departed Sam Kinison, in winning the Golden Rod, Martha Washington, Fair Grounds Oaks, Fantasy, Kentucky Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell, and Woodward in succession, is being courted by the good people of New Orleans. If everything goes to plan, their wooing should see Rachel make her triumphant return to the races in the New Orleans Ladies. Mark your calendars and secure your plane tickets now. The date is March 13 and the place is Fair Grounds Race Course. The $200,000 New Orleans Ladies is newly created and a Rachel inspired race. It will be 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The New Orleans Ladies should fit very nicely into the superstar’s 2010 schedule. A schedule designed to culminate at Churchill Downs on November 6, in the 27th running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Now we know the likely starting point for our heroine and the ultimate climax, but what shall be in between? I’d like to take a crack at that right now.

After a score in the New Orleans Ladies on March 13, Rachel will make a return trip to one of her favorite tracks, Oaklawn Park for a start in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on April 3, also at 1 1/16 miles. The three weeks is a bit of a quick turn-around, but should set her up with a nice foundation for the bigger races to come. Rachel then will head North and take up residence at Churchill Downs. A little freshening should have her razor sharp for her first attempt against the boys in the Stephen Foster. The Grade 1 in June will be 1 1/8 miles over the same strip as the Breeders’ Cup. In July, Rachel will become the greatest horse to run at Delaware Park since Spectacular Bid, when she competes in the million dollar Delaware Handicap. This will give our star her first chance to excel at 10 furlongs.

With four major wins under her belt, it will be time for Rachel to get some more work in against the boys. She will thrill the fans on the Jersey Shore one more time as she cuts back in distance to 1 1/8 miles around two turns in the Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park in August. From New Jersey, Rachel will make the short trip to New York, where she will use the prestigious Beldame Stakes in early October as her final prep for her date with destiny. Belmont is a track Rachel likes, and the Beldame will afford the nation’s largest market another glimpse at greatness. Rachel will then arrive at Churchill Downs as the greatest female horse in history and the most popular thoroughbred since the glorious Triple Crown runs of the 1970s. The world will be watching on November the 6th as Rachel Alexandra makes her final lifetime start.

Here is what the proposed schedule would look like laid out:

March - New Orleans Ladies
April - Apple Blossom Handicap
June - Stephen Foster Handicap
July - Delaware Handicap
August - Iselin Handicap
October - Beldame Stakes
November - Breeders’ Cup Classic

There you have it, a schedule fit for a queen. Seven races and seven more wins. Will this be the path that Rachel the Great follows to immortality? Ultimately that is up to Jess Jackson, as my proposed schedule is only conjecture of course, but isn’t it fun to imagine?

Photo Courtesy and Property of Eric Kalet


NetworkEmpowerment said...

The last horse to win 16 major stakes races in a row. If Rachel were to win every race on your schedule she would have equaled that great feet. The races for her maybe considered light, since she has proven her mettle against males already, but at the same time it is filled with prestige, giving her the perfect balence of historic wins and lightness of schedule to set her up perfectly for a finale in the BCC. Nice make up. I think it would be cool if some of those were grass races. I think she would excell at that.

Susan White said...

MY home track..Delaware Park..I AM THERE

Susan White said...

She doesn't need to run on grass...*guess you can tell I never trained a turf horse*...

Mike M said...

As much a fan I am of Rachel and horse racing in general, I sure hope this schedule doesn't rattle up the Zenyatta fans. They might take this chance to call Rachel and her connections out....saying they are 'copying' the great campaign from Z last year. It's very rare that a filly races to the BC Classic, with intentions on retiring after the race....and it looks like it may happen 2 years in a row! Great article Brian, enjoying your thoughts!! Maybe you ought to be at Oaklawn when she wins the Apple Blossom? ;)

Brian Zipse said...

Cigar's streak of 16 is still a long way off. Grass would be interesting, but I am not sure that Jackson will do it after Curlin's defeat.

These races are only my idea...please do not be too upset if she does not run at your favorite track.

NetworkEmpowerment said...

Not saying she has to, in my mind she is great already, I just think it would be cool to see.

Also DE is my home track to, so if she shows up I will be there in a heartbeat, especially since my birthday will only be a couple months away.

afleetalexforever said...

I have no issue with your set up of Rachel’s Races, unfortunately as you stated Jess Jackson ultimately makes these decisions and it would seem to me that in looking at your schedule there, you would have pitted her in 1 ungraded race, 1 Grade II and 1 Grade III race. Knowing how important it is to keep your horse in Grade 1 company and races it would seem as if Jess Jackson would most likely vie for another route, Here is one which you might ponder
In March – Replace the N.O. Ladies with the Azeri, A Grade III 1 1/6th mile @ Oaklawn
April – Apple Blossom Handicap 1 1/6th mile @ Oaklawn
June – Stephen Foster 1 1/8th mile @ Churchill
August – Go For Wand 1 1/8th mile @ Saratoga
Sept –Ruffian it would only seem right, lol 1 1/16th mile @ Belmont
October – Beldame/optional 1 1/8th mile @ Belmont
November – Breeders Cup Classic 1 1/4th mile @ Churchill
I see a 6 race schedule with possibly a 7th in there but there would be no reason to run her in an ungraded race especially with a $200,000 purse when there is a graded prep that she can start with, and the purse is $175,000 which I am sure Oaklawn would have no problem doubling.

Silent Sunday said...

I for one would be a happy camper if she hit churchill twice. Two more times I would get to see her in person!!

Brian Zipse said...


Good rebuttal, however, as far as the Azeri vs. New Orleans Ladies point, I feel winning the inaugural race, that should become a big event, trumps the Grade 3 race. It also allows for Rachel to be seen at more places, which is a sporting thing to do.

EricKalet said...

I would be very surprised if a trip to Saratoga was not in the works for RA's 2010 campaign.

afleetalexforever said...

I totally agree Brian, and im not knocking the race I believe there is a good chance she will run in it, its just that when you get to the end of year and start chopping up HOY stats a throwout race like the Jaguar cup for Curlin (ungraded) and the New orleans ladies (ungraded) is something that Jackson will keep in mind. What i am very interested in is the fact that Oaklawn has been very respectful of FG and not tried to bait JJ with an increase of the purse yet. I would guess they will wait until he says they are officially waiting to hear what other tracks are offering. That is very classy on my hometown tracks part, unlike what I would expect from other tracks like the ones out West who have very little respect for tradition.

Brian Zipse said...


Valid point and it would certainly come as no surprise if Rachel raced at Saratoga this year, but I will stand by my predicted schedule.

Jennifer Cook said...

Apple Blossom over Oaklawn Handicap because the former is Grade 1?

Sarah Grice said...

Brian...I'm so sad the Donn isn't on your list. My hope is fading.

Brian Zipse said...

Yes Jennifer, I favor the Apple Blossom due to its Grade 1 status.

Sarah, my opinion is that she will not be cranked up in time for the Donn, but remember, this is only my opinion. Which means you may need to hit the road this year my friend.

AfleetAlexForever said...

I wonder Sarah, why is your hope fading, is it because you are close to Gulfstream and want to see her run there. If so unfortunately, the Donn is going to come up quite quick on her, we probably wont hear of her first timed workout being late January to Early February. If her first breeze is Jan 25th that would her Feb 1st, Feb 8th, Feb 15th, Feb 22nd, and March 8th as a good number of maintenance breezes up to a race say the Azeri March 6th. I don’t recall Curlin’s training schedule but he was quite ready for the Jaguar and DWC as we could see by his demolition of the world’s best on dirt.

Jennifer I do believe the Apple Blossom over the Oaklawn Handicap due to Grade 1 status. I also feel that she should be asked to face males twice this year in the Stephen Foster and the Breeders Cup Classic, with the end of the year classic being important you don’t want to ask her to dig down deep in 2 or 3 races before that.

Jennifer Cook said...

Thanks Brian. I can't see all of the text of your post, by the way. It's covered by the right column of "More from ZATT." Could be my quirky computer again.

Brian Zipse said...

Sorry Jennifer...I think it may be your quirky computer. I emailed you the column, so that you can read it in its entirety.

Sarah Grice said...

"I wonder Sarah, why is your hope fading, is it because you are close to Gulfstream and want to see her run there."

AfleetAlexForever, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I'm about 3 hrs away from Gulfstream and have it on my calendar to go. It will be my first race I'll be attending in person and it would have been pretty special to see RA my first time out!

Anonymous said...

If you ask me the Stephen Foster and BCC won't be enough. JJ will be under a lot of pressure to run her against the boys more than just twice. There are a lot of fans with high expectations for her schedule. I would be very surprised if she ran ungraded stakes race at all. Just my opinion. I like the ideas though. I think it will go something like this:

Apple Blossom or Louisville Distaff, The Delaware Handicap, The Woodward again, and as a prep for the BCC, the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Culiminating in November at Churchill.

Maybe throw in the Beverly D at Arlington Park for a try on the grass.

Brian Zipse said...


How much fun would an attempt on grass in the Beverly D (or even the Million) be for race fans?

For clarification, the Iselin at Monmouth is a race for males, so I actually included three races against males in her 2010 campaign.

Anonymous said...

I realize that Zipse. I was replying to the comment by another reader. Your list seems more likely to me than theirs.

Mike Vlach said...

Do you see a matchup between Rachel and Bambera?

Brian Zipse said...

mvlach77, I think that would be great...the Delaware Handicap would fit the bill nicely!

joani said...

Great schedule! "Make it So!"

ThePixiePoet said...

Great schedule.
Yes, I am a Rachel MANIAC! (How did you know?)
Rachel raced 11 times WITHIN one year (10/2008 to 9/2009) WITHOUT injury too - not bad. If 2010 is her last year, I hope they try to make history and put her in the quality and quantity that would put her in History books FOREVER. However, NO injuries or death (That would totally scare some people away from the sport.)

2009 was a banner year for her:

I hope 2010 will be just as good if not better. GO RAITCH!!!!

C T Coleman said...

Hate to say this.......But (long but kinda like a Kardashian But) She should Avoid the Spa at all costs. Mommouth is a better fit for her, speed biased. Also I know it was at the end of her Campaign last year but she seemed to "wilt" in the Woodward. thats wasnt exactly a Breeders Cup field in that race. Rick Dutrow was quick to keep Big Brown away From the Spa due to the heavy humidity and unpredictable weather. This is where Mommouth comes in with its location a few furlongs away from the shore where the Prevailing Seabreeze will keep it cooler. Also contrary to popular belief the weather is more stable at the jersey shore then the Catskills in the summer*. now all that goes out the window come Sept 1 when we have to deal with the remainders of hurricanes and Nor'easters (ex 1 2006 BC) and honestly I dont think she needs to take on Males every race most pundits will point to the distaff as the stronger of the 2 groups.

BTW for the Record I am a "Jersey shore" (not that mtv show) resident so a Delaware Mommouth Belmont Campaign is Fine by me.