There are still roughly 5 1/2 months left for viable Horse of the Year candidates to strut their stuff and show why they should be voted the most prestigious of the Eclipse Awards. Here’s how we see the race as the field approaches the quarter pole, including probable odds:
1. Rachel Alexandra — A Haskell-Travers sweep could be the crowning blow, 7-5
2. Zenyatta — Brilliant mare’s camp needs to step up, take a chance, 7-2
3. Einstein — Looking for Arlington Million-Pacific Classic-Breeders’ Cup Classic trifecta, 6-1
4. Mine That Bird — Derby winner can’t afford any more slip-ups, 12-1
5. Well Armed — Must add to that 14-length romp in Dubai World Cup, 15-1
6. Gio Ponti — Turf specialist needs to keep winning, hope others stumble, 20-1
7. Rail Trip — Needs Pacific Classic-Breeders’ Cup Classic double, then some help, 25-1
8. The field — Time running out for Summer Bird, Macho Again and others, 50-1
Even if Rachel Alexandra doesn’t sweep the Haskell and Travers and wins only one of the two, that will give her two victories over males this year. A sweep would give her three and make it highly unlikely Zenyatta could challenge her for Horse of the Year unless the two meet on the track and Zenyatta beats her and then goes on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
If Rachel Alexandra wins her next start — the Haskell on Aug. 2 — she’ll score more points with the Eclipse voters in the Horse of the Year chase. If Zenyatta wins her next race — the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 9 — it won’t do her a bit of good with the voters. Sure, she’ll be in line to defend her title as top older female, but owner Jerry Moss already has gone on record as saying Horse of the Year is a goal — a goal that will be virtually impossible to reach unless the 5-year-old daughter of Street Cry ventures outside her comfort zone.
Right now, Rachel Alexandra is proving as difficult to catch in the HOY race as she is on the race track.