Rachel Alexandra is just not the same filly

Rachel Alexandra was a magnificent filly in 2009, one for the ages. She had an 8-0 campaign that was worthy of Horse of the Year, beating the boys three times while thrilling her thousands of fans and helping attract much-needed new blood into the sport.

But it’s time to face reality — Rachel Alexandra is not the same filly anymore. That’s not to take anything away from what she accomplished last year because no one will ever be able to erase that magical season she posted. It’s in the history books forever and she’ll go down as one of the best 3-year-old fillies in racing history.

But, for whatever reason, she has not carried her 3-year-old form over into her 4-year-old season. Maybe the eight races last year took too much out of her. Maybe it was that grueling stretch drive in the Woodward at Saratoga when she was all out to hold off Macho Again that was the final straw. Maybe she peaked in 2009. Just because a horse is brilliant one season doesn’t automatically mean they will dominate again the following year.

Or perhaps it was the six-month layoff following her victory in the Woodward. Maybe that competitive fire has never returned once she hit the track again to begin training for a new season.

Deep down I think her connections know she’s not the same horse. I mean, the Personal Ensign on Sunday was her fifth start of 2010 and her first time entered in a Grade 1 race. How many times in history have you seen a returning Horse of the Year race four times against non-Grade 1 competition to begin a new season?

Co-owner Jess Jackson’s statement following the Personal Ensign, where Rachel Alexandra got run down in the final eighth of a mile by a filly — Persistently — who’d never won a graded stakes before and had just beaten optional claimers, was telling.

“We are disappointed in the result, as we are sure her countless fans are, but we are certainly not disappointed in her. She is still a superstar in our hearts and minds. The old sports adage applies … on any given Sunday, anything can happen.”

That’s the difference between 2009 and 2010 — last year, Rachel was a superstar on the track. This year, she’s only a superstar in our hearts and minds. We have yet to see that brilliance in 2010 that made her a national celebrity last year.

At this point, I don’t think there’s any chance we see Rachel Alexandra in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. And even if her connections deem her sound enough to run in the Ladies’ Classic the day before, I really can’t see her winning against a field of fillies and mares that will undoubtedly be much stronger than the group she ran against in the Personal Ensign.

Rachel’s fans can argue back and forth all they want about jockey Calvin Borel’s ride in the Personal Ensign, but that’s not going to return the 4-year-old daugher of Medaglia d’Oro back to her previous form. The 3-year-old Rachel would have won the Personal Ensign, but the Rachel who’s a year older is just not the same horse.

4 thoughts on “Rachel Alexandra is just not the same filly

  1. Same horse, tougher opponents. She is a champion sprinter. No more, no less. No chance against top routers and no chance against Zenyatta in 2010 or 2009.
    They know better.

  2. After Rachel got beat this past weekend, I heard Gary Stevens say out loud on the HRTV broadcast something I have been thinking when I look at Rachel lately.

    Paraphrasing, Gary said that when Rachel was slaying ‘em last year, he saw a lean, athletic filly. Now he sees an overmuscled horse.

    I totally agree. She’s really not terribly fit in the right places. It’s not 100% clear since I am just looking at a TV image, but I swear my 24 yr old TB has leaner, healthier looking muscle mass than Rachel does right now. She’s got an ass like a bulldog QH… not exactly optimum for a TB runner, especially a filly.

    So I bet those nice little injectable hormones and steroids coupled with developmental age are finally having a permanent not-so-positive affect on her metabolism.

    I’m not sure what the answer is if you are looking to correct her conditioning quickly.

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter much in the great scheme of things. Just something that I’ve noticed and has been bugging me.

  3. I agree about her not being the same and that all of the hormone shots et.al do take it’s toll on a filly – remember Genuine Risk, they used all the wrong drugs on her and she was unable to conceive for years. My guess is the connections with Rachel Alexandra stopped using the performance enhancing additives the prepare her for breeding and in doing so compromised her artificial brilliance on the track. Don’t get me wrong She is Still one of the Greatest 3yo Fillies of all time.

    I also believe they should be kicking themselves in the behind for not campaigning her against GR1 horses in GR1 races. If you look at her time for the Fleur De Lis she ran faster than Blame 1 hour before. She should have been in the Woodward because the time of 1:50 on her worst day is a # she could have beat.

    So the handlers of Rachel are at fault for her diminishing stature had they only campaigned her as Horse of the Year instead of an allowance horse it would have been better for racing and her legacy. Retire her already and stop diminishing her in the public eye. She deserves better.

    Respects to all

  4. I agree about her not being the same and that all of the hormone shots et.al do take it’s toll on a filly – remember Genuine Risk, they used all the wrong drugs on her and she was unable to conceive for years. My guess is the connections with Rachel Alexandra stopped using the performance enhancing additives the prepare her for breeding and in doing so compromised her artificial brilliance on the track. Don’t get me wrong She is Still one of the Greatest 3yo Fillies of all time.

    I also believe they should be kicking themselves in the behind for not campaigning her against GR1 horses in GR1 races. If you look at her time for the Fleur De Lis she ran faster than Blame 1 hour before. She should have been in the Woodward because the time of 1:50 on her worst day is a # she could have beat.

    So the handlers of Rachel are at fault for her diminishing stature had they only campaigned her as Horse of the Year instead of an allowance horse it would have been better for racing and her legacy. Retire her already and stop diminishing her in the public eye. She deserves better.

    Respects to all

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