Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Super Girl vs. Wonder Woman

Rachel Alexandra, top, winning the 2009 Preakness Stakes. Zenyatta, bottom, taking down the 2009 Breeder's Cup Classic.

Are you spending sleepless nights wondering whether to lend your support to Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta for Horse of the Year honors? I know, we all are. For two thoroughly biased opinions click here and here for articles in Thoroughbred Times by Jess Jackson and Jerry Moss. Jackson is Rachel Alexandra's owner and Moss and his wife own Zenyatta.

Just the facts:

Rachel is a three-year-old filly who has won 11 out of 14 races in two seasons. In her superlative 2009 campaign she won all eight of her races and broke a string of records: She won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths, the largest margin of victory ever in that race. She became the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes since Nellie Morse did it in 1924. She won the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park, putting up the fastest time and the largest margin of victory ever in that race. She beat the boys again in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, and her crowning achievement was becoming the first filly to ever win the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, beating colts and older males. Wow!

Zenyatta is a five year old mare who has raced for three seasons, and is on the short list of undefeated thoroughbreds. She tied Personal Ensign's record of thirteen for thirteen when she took down the Lady's Secret Stakes at Santa Anita, and surpassed it when she became the first female to win the Breeders Cup Classic in what had to be the most thrilling race of 2009: She raced dead last in the early stretches, spotting the field more than 10 lengths. She was still 7 lengths back and in ninth coming into the far turn, but at the top of the stretch Mike Smith wove her through a wall of horses and into the six path where she won going away. Holy mackerel!

Winners of the Eclipse awards will be announced on January 26.