As much as most of us want to see both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra win their races today to set up their showdown in the $5 million Apple Blossom Invitational, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Neither horse is a lock today by any means.
Reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra goes into the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at the Fair Grounds off a six-month layoff. Sure, the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is 1-5 on the morning line, but that doesn’t mean horses the likes of Zardana and Clear Sailing don’t have a shot.
At Santa Anita, the unbeaten Zenyatta (14-0) will face eight rivals as the 1-9 morning-line favorite and give up 12 to 19 pounds in the process. As great as the 6-year-old Street Cry mare is, she’s not a machine. She’s going in off an 18-week layoff and it’s not an easy task to give up that much weight when returning to the track. Striking Dancer, who just won the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes, and Floating Heart are two talented fillies who can’t be discounted.
Remember, Secretariat had his Onion and Prove Out. Cigar had his Dare And Go, and Spectacular Bid had his Coastal.
I’m hoping they both win, stay healthy and meet at Oaklawn Park on April 9, but it’s no sure thing. In horse racing, never take anything for granted. Especially when weight and layoffs are involved.