Monday, June 29, 2009

Rachel settles in at The Spa

(ABOVE: A couple more photos from Belmont on Saturday. Calvin Borel up on one of his other mounts, Z Fortune, a lovely gray, as they head from the paddock to the track. Other photo is of Sam the bugler as he heads out to sound the call to the post for Rachel's big race.)

So a little to catch up on from the weekend. Like people who head upstate for cooler climes, Rachel Alexandra has decided to summer at The Spa. According to the article on, she's in Curlin's old stall and is happily ensconced among Steve Asmussen's other horses at Saratoga. She deserves nice cool morning workouts after all she's done this season so up North is the place for her to be. If you didn't see her triumph in The Mother Goose Stakes (G1) this.

While there's a lot of speculation on what her next race will be, it seems her connections are really focused on making sure she's a happy and healthy horse. Cheers to Mr. Jackson and all the co-owners for their genuine care about her welfare. We've seen that this is not always the case in horse racing, sadly, making it more impressive when the connections do things right.

As a small aside, if you've never been to Belmont or any of the NY tracks to hear Tom Durkin call the races live, he alone is worth the trip. You've no doubt heard him do the Kentucky Derby or any of the Triple Crown races, but even on a regular stakes day he is great to listen to. The guy loves horses, loves bettors and really gets into the races. He also has a great sense of humor. He was equally as excited as the other nearly 14,000 in attendance at Belmont on Saturday when Rachel romped to victory. He's a classic and I love hearing his voice come over the Tannoy at the racetrack.

Now all the way on the other side of the country, Zenyatta had her own big day, winning The Vanity Handicap (G1) for the second year in a row. Again, if you haven't seen her here.

And because it was all about the girls on Saturday, this post wouldn't be complete without some footage of the great Ruffian, from the Mother Goose Stakes in 1975. Interestingly, it was then held at Aqueduct not Belmont. Notice how Ann's Commander, the 7 horse, shakes her jockey almost immediately after exiting the gate. So scary...but the outrider does a courageous job of steering the horse away from the rest of the field. The move that Ruffian makes as she rounds the turn into the homestretch is gorgeous. She's pretty well with the pack for a good portion of the race, but once she hits that straightaway, she's gone. A great victory for one of the great racehorses--male or female.

One other small update from the weekend, Mine That Bird had a nice half-mile breeze at Churchill Downs this morning. With Calvin Borel up for the breeze it seems that MTB is pointed toward the West Virginia Derby (G2) on August 1. I was never really on the MTB bandwagon, but I think Calvin Borel deserves much success, so I'm happy to see he and the little gelding getting on so well together.

Big racing across the pond, too. The Irish Derby (sponsored somewhat oddly, I thought, by Dubai Duty Free) was one by Fame and Glory, and in style, too. His main rival, winner of the English Derby, Sea the Stars scratched from the race thus giving F&G a slightly easier go. He did face some competition from Golden Sword, but Fame and Glory garnered more of both, fame and glory. There seems to be a much more festive atmosphere at the meetings in the UK and Ireland than at US tracks. I'm not sure what that means attendance wise, but it looks like these race meetings are really festivals and fetes as much as horse races. Something here for US racing to learn from?

No comments: