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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Does Blind Luck Get a Pass Where Rachel Did Not?

I find it interesting that so many people gave me the proverbial business when I suggested that Blind Luck may be starting to show signs of fatigue. A wearing down from her non-stop campaign stretching since her career debut in the Summer of 2009. It was an innocent question after seeing her runner-up finish in the recent El Encino Stakes. In that race, I felt Blind Luck had run her worst race in a long time, if not in her career. She was beaten by a decent enough filly in Always a Princess, but no world beater, and she was well beaten, losing by more than three lengths. My suggestion that perhaps the excellent filly needed a little break was generally scoffed at. While it seems that Blind Luck gets a full pardon for her poor outing, the same could not be said for the previous three-year-old filly champion, Rachel Alexandra.
 
We all know what type of season Rachel had in 2009. She won each of her eight starts, all in stakes. She won the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose by 20 lengths. She became the first female ever to win the Woodward. She was the second ever female to take the Haskell, beating the male champion by six lengths in the process. Rachel is the only filly to win the Preakness in the past 85 years. In a word, her three-year-old season was brilliant. Unfortunately, her four-year-old season was not brilliant.
 
In 2010, Rachel ran five times. She was a game 2nd, after a long layoff in the New Orleans Ladies at the Fair Grounds. Next came a head defeat to Unrivaled Belle in the La Troienne. In the narrow defeat, she gave the horse that came back to easily win the BC Ladies’ Classic four pounds. Her third race was more 2009 like, as Rachel won the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis by more than ten lengths. She ran faster and carried more weight than Blame did in winning the Stephen Foster a few races later that afternoon. The fourth race of her season came in the $400,000 Lady’s Secret in which she won by three lengths in sweltering heat against an admittedly weak field. Finally, her last race came in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. In her first try at 1 ¼ miles, Rachel won the battle by easily putting away the highly regarded Life at Ten, before losing the war, as she had nothing left for the final 100 yards and the late run of Persistently.
 
Her season of 2010, with two wins and three second place finishes in five starts was nothing like her masterpiece of the previous year, but was it really a disaster, miserable, failure, or flop as so many have written? Compare it with the four-year-old seasons of other Hall of Fame fillies. Winning Colors won only 2 of 7 races, and finished out of the money five times. The great Genuine Risk won 2 of 3 races as an older filly, but each of those races came in allowance races. Desert Vixen lost 5 of her first 6 starts after her stellar sophomore season. Serena’s Song kept busy, but lost 10 of her 15 starts at four. Yet those fillies are still deservingly remembered as among the best in modern times.
 
If you eliminate her 2009 season, Rachel Alexandra won 5 and was second 5 times in 11 lifetime races. Only in her first lifetime start, was she worse than second. She won three stakes races, two of them grade 2’s. No juvenile filly earned a higher Beyer speed figure than she did in winning the Golden Rod at two. Last year, only Zenyatta, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, earned a higher Beyer as Rachel did in winning the Fleur de Lis. I think it is safe to say, without her season of perfection in 2009, Rachel Alexandra would have been remembered as an awfully nice filly.
 
Getting back to Blind Luck, I have nothing against her, in fact, I am a fan. I believe she is topnotch, and is putting together a fantastic career. In comparison to Rachel though, the El Encino performance was not as good as any of Rachel’s races last year. Yet people are quick to excuse the effort, blaming the speed biased track, or saying it was a good effort for her first of the year.
 
I understand that Rachel was held to a higher standard, as the reigning Horse of the Year, but to what end? Have we become so expecting of perfection of our stars, that they simply can not live up to them. Do we not allow ourselves to fully enjoy the special ones, because of these expectations? Food for thought.

 

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Older Comments about Does Blind Luck Get a Pass Where Rachel Did Not?...

I absolutely agree with poster KarenRhodes. There were some nice Z fans but many of them were mean spirited and unbelievably vicious toward Rachel and her accomplishments. The epitome of schadenfreude.
IMO all RA needed was some rest and then a proper comeback. Instead she sat for about 4 or 5 months, then was rushed to make a prep to make the AB. If she had just been given some more time to properly work up to her 2010 debute she may still have lost or may not have won as dominatingly, but i think she would've been set up for a much better season. Even now, I think if she had been allowed to run in her last two probable starts she would've dominated. The PE was nothing to scoff at. Persistantly was ridden to perfection that day, and TBH, had LAT not been there RA wins, and that same goes for LAT w/o RA. Blind Luck is a wonderful filly and yes I agree she was fatigued and that the track probably had something to do w/ her loss, however, not once was RA so well beaten in 2010 as BL was in her 11' debut.
  • Show All 3 Comments
  • LDP · Zen, it's a little thing called college and a riding team, it takes up a lot of time. I comment on other blogs regularly and update mine when i have the time, however writing a full fledge blog takes a great deal more time than commenting. · 1274 days ago
  • KarenRhodes · Always interesting to see that Zenyatta fans are sore winners as well as sore losers. Why are so many of them hateful and resentful? This is why I could never love that horse. I admired her, absoulutely, but her truly horrible fans kept me from appreciating everything she accomplshed. Rachel forever. · 1271 days ago
BLIND LUCK is being considered for a race on turf for her next start. "We'd prefer the La Canada (S. [G2] at 1 1/8 miles on the main track February 13), but we'll look at the Buena Vista (H. [G2] at one mile on the turf February 21), too," assistant trainer Dan Ward said. "Our ultimate goal is the Apple Blossom (H. [G1] at Oaklawn Park April 15). She's already won over that track and the Apple Blossom is a Grade 1 worth $500,000."
Very nicely done zatt.Thanks
I am saddened that many have stated to me that Blind Luck is a better horse than Rachel, and use the 2010 season as proof. While I think there were many causes of this thinking, it simply can not be substantiated with objective reasoning. We did not use to treat our true superstars this way.
  • mdreynolds1 · I'll never understand the anomosity directed too often at Rachel & her connections. I watched Rachel's races last night, again, & once more was astounded by her performace. We should be thankful for her & the people who looked after her. They all have done an amazing job! · 1274 days ago
The word is out: Zenyatta to be bred to Bernadini they get a True Nick's rating of A++. very good rating..
I thought Boys was by Officer?
Initial word is he is out of the Holy Bull.
Could be at a private farm or worked so slowly that he fell off the tab.
none recorded since jan13
Does anyone know why there are no recorded workouts for boysattosconva..He is suppose to run on sunday
Oh Brian..music to my ears.. Rachel would have had to have another unbeaten season to appease many..Blind Luck needs a vacation..what i saw was a tired unhappy horse..not at all her usual self.
I agree that Blind Luck would probably enjoy a break.
I tend to lean towards two factors...the speed bias and her being tired. I think she would have had a better chance on a more closer/off pace track, but also believe she has to be tired.
Or sit off the pace.
Yet she falls short a lot. Shes not consistent in her wins. Rachel Alexandra's ability to set blazing fractions, then open up [Example:HASKELL] Would not be more impressive? Blind Luck has never even faced males yet, by that time Rachel Alexandra was a multiple classic winner and HOTY.
Blind Luck is the more classic performer, reacting to and overcoming the pace, not trying to just run away from it.
RachelLover, you are very welcome, and I warmly welcome you to HRN. Thank you for commenting.
I'm new to this site and normally do not care to post comment on blogs, etc. However, I just had to leave a comment here to thank you for writing what I have been thinking for months now. I believe history will be kinder to Rachel. And, in agreement with poster RachelAlex, I'm glad someone is talking about RA again and I miss her, too. As for Blind Luck, I'm a big fan and I have to chuckle at a horse who is so determined to win, she dumped her jockey after not winning the race! Thanks for allowing me to post.
What some folks don't realize is that sometimes RACE HORSES DO NOT WANT TO RACE ANYMORE! Rachel demonstrated what she could accomplish when it was enjoyable to her. Her lackluster tries was her just obeying the humans that control her. The horse in her wanted no part of the game anymore. Good for Rachel. Enjoy your retirement my beautiful girl. Thanks for posing this as a possibility and a reminder to imagine what a race takes away from a horse!

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.