The Unbreakable Rachel Alexandra

February 14, 2013 04:22am
Magnificent, beautiful, powerful, courageous…. Those are the words that come to my mind when I remember Rachel Alexandra. Curlin, is by far, my favorite horse of all time, but not even he could compare to the fire that Rachel Alexandra sparked in 2009. The passion she stirred was incredible, and even in retirement, she still manages to bring forth love and compassion from her fans.
I remember, being a skeptic during her preps. I thought that her wins, while impressive, were due to a lack of true competition. I knew she would probably win the Oaks in a hand ride, but never did I expect a win by over 20 lengths, completely decimating the field. That was the day she turned me into a true believer.
I watched her win the Preakness, floated wide, after breaking from post 13, pressured on the lead by a future champion sprinter. I watched as she put him away and fought like a lion down the stretch, never giving an inch to Musket Man or the Derby winner Mine that Bird. I remember her decimation of the Mother Goose, her track record, and near 20 length victory again. I remember the Haskell, a race that was supposed to be her greatest test turned into a route as she beat Belmont Champion and eventual three year old champion, Summer Bird by six lengths. What I remember most of all though, was her Woodward. Challenged at every point in the race, from the start to the finish, by males older and stronger than herself, she never relented. Even as Bullsbay and Macho Again closed in she refused to relent, and became the first filly to win the Woodward.
Her four year old season was not as brilliant. Almost nothing could be as brilliant as the year she won Horse of the Year, but what I remember still was her unbending will. She may have lost her first two races, but just look at what she ran her competition to. She was never beaten by even two lengths that year. It didn’t matter if she was in a rapid pace duel, forced out of her normal running style, or coming off a long layoff, she always, always, fought.
After being retired you would think she would have a life of leisure. That all she would do is make babies, and be a loving caring mother as fans fawned over her and her foals to come. That has not been the case. After her first foaling, she was sore enough for Stonestreet to send her to Rood and Riddle for precautionary measures. All was fine, but this time around, after delivering a beautiful filly, news came that Rachel was sent back to Rood and Riddle. This time surgery as required to fix a bruised colon, her condition termed as serious by the vets.
On the track she demonstrated an unyielding will to win. She showed courage and an unbreakable spirit. She is now forced to show that same strength, that same courage, and that same unbreakable spirit, once again. Her courage is what drew me, along with thousands of others to her. It made us love and identify with a horse that was not even ours. I hope and I pray that I do not have to see her go like I have so many of my other favorites. I hope and I pray that the courage she showed on the track is still there, even now in retirement, and that it pulls her through this.


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Older Comments about The Unbreakable Rachel Alexandra...

I never said she was better. I said she had fight. She always did have fight, no matter when winning or losing. No matter if it was on the track or no in retirement. The point was not to say she was better, which i never did, it was to highlight that she is a fighter and always has been. If you wish to debate merits do it somewhere else, start your own thread if you like. But this is not the article for it. Have a good day.
One was a phenom, 3 time horse of the yaer, extremely fast and a weight carrier, the other had ONE good season
Leave it to the racing community to turn an article in support of a wonderful race mare into a fruitless debate
So, you are saying he never lost? I'm sorry that just isn't true. He did lose. He may never have given, but he did lose. You slam Rachel because she lost, but she never "gave" either. In 2010, she lost by just over 2 lengths total, that is not giving. You twist facts to suit you. My point is not that she didn't lose, not that she was or was not as brilliant in 2010, but that she was the same fighter that she was in 2009. That never changed.
By the way, Froego would dust 99.9% of the thorougbred currently running.
EWven to the likes of Quiet Lttle Table a poor old gray who wound up bleeding in allowance contests at Hastings.
What imagination. I have all the American Racing Manuals to 1966...How do you think I could make a rookie error like that. Forego never gave in EVER.
Travel Vic, so Forego was unbeaten? Wow I didn't know that. You're saying he won 16 in a row under all circumstances? Wow. Didn't know that either. Must be nice to be able to twist history and leave out facts to suit you, since i am very sure Forego was not unbeaten and tasted defeat several times, like most champions. You act as if a true champion never loses, when most have, and in fact, most proved their greatness in losses.
Both Zenyatta and Rachel were great horses, who I enjoyed immensely. What they both did for the sport of racing at a time when we couldn't keep tracks afloat without a casino incorporated in it is just immeasurable. Naturally we know the casino/racino to be a Trojan horse as eventually after coming in as a savior they bury the track, literally. In 1972 Riva Ridge, a strapping 3yo, who having won the Kentucky Derby, and Belmont stakes among others, and most probably would have been the first triple crown winner since Citation if not for mud in the Preakness, ventured out west to run in the Hollywood Derby which was run at 1¼ miles on dirt. He won the race but according to Penny Tweedy "it took him almost a year to recover, they just kept coming at him, never letting him rest." I mention this particular race as it was much like Rachel's Woodward Stakes, and they brought he back in only 6 months, way to short a time, and she finished 2nd to Zardana. She received a beyer of 100 for that race, well below her capabilities. In August 2010, Rachel finished 2nd in was to be a prep fo the Breeders Cup Classic. Jess Jackson feeling she wasn't the same horse, I assume, then retired her. For me at Saratoga in 2009 it was love at first sight, which is still undiminished.
One reason that Zenyatta raced primarly in California is that the Mosses wanted to support California racing, and it was a great boost for California racing. She would double the attendance at Hollywood Park and Del Mar when she ran. As for facing Rachel in 2009, Rachel ran in races restricted to 3 year olds except for the Woodward and by that time Zenyatta's connections were focusing on the Breeders Cup. Rachel and Zenyatta were both great horses.
Then the idiot Mike Smith when on CBS and said Zenyatta is great as or greater than Secretariat. When any horse run 3 race in 5 weeks and set 4 record while doing it at age 3. Then lets start making comparison...
wo wo wo....Do not generalize me because you have no idea of my personal opinion. Maybe I should share my point of view on RA and Z. I love both horses, I would've not be the one to mind if the connection said that RA need more time to recover from the Wood. I think RA had a fantastic 3 yo campaign and a brutal one but was gutted in the Wood. I still think with some time off she could have come back and be the same RA that most of see in 2009. As for Z, don't get me started with her connection. They are a bunch of coward and blame it on the horse that he couldn't handle traveling yet they ship her to CD and OP. That is the reason I do not give Zenyatta career credit, but as far as the horse goes. She is a monster. As far as a match up goes between the two of them. RA win anything less than 1 1/4 . In a match race, now that changes everything and I would give it to RA. That is my opinion and even though many may disagree with it I can't change how I feel.
If you go back in time there are many "one season wonders" at the track
Forego, one of the BEST under-rated champs, DID NOT KNOW WHAT DEFEAT WAS. Weight, pace, surface, rain...IT didn't matter
Champions dontinue to overcome, dominate NO MATTER. I was able to see just about all of Ack Ack's races the year he was Horse of the Year. He mever backed down, not a step...The animal was still sound when he was through
what is PE?
Unbreakable is the word. Why, as explained in the blog, while she may not have been the same she never stopped fighting, not once. A horse that quits does not get beaten by a max of 1 1/2 lengths. Her PE was what she showed us the year before. She did come back. She was victim of a duel once again, victim of a suicide ride, yet it was her fighting through the stretch. The horse that quit, the horse she ran into the ground, finished over 10 lengths back. She never broke, she kept running despite suicidal fractions. She took a while to come back, but she did come back. She fired, even if she was hounded every step of the way or was taken off her normal running style. Zxswordxz, the pressure of the potential match race is what brought them out so quickly. The Apple Blossom, on it's originally scheduled date was to close to bring her back. So, the head of Oaklawn moved it back, by a week. To anyone who knows racing, one week, especially when a horse's training has been delayed like Rachel's had, is not enough. However, most fans do not get that, and crowed for the match up of Zenyatta vs Rachel. Fair Grounds came up with the NO Ladies for Rachel to run in as a prep, and it might have worked had Zardana not been shipped from Cali. Also you say it's sad to have her retired so early. Most star don't even make it back, so what would you have had them do? Retire after the Woodward or keep running her? You say they force her to come back then that it is sad to see her retired early. They did not force her to do anything. Fans, and our inability to wait did that. One horse could not be bothered to travel outside her home state while RA was in her prime, yet Jackson was the bad guy for trying to stay out of the race to protect his horse. Then was the bad guy when he tried to give the fans what they wanted and it didn't work. In summation, Rachel was the same filly, she still had the same fighting spirit she showed at three, and do not blame her connections for trying to give the fans what they wanted, after their hands were forced.
One have to asked why didn't the connection give her a lot more time to recover rather than force her back and then retire her. So sad when they retire mare so early in their life.
UNBREAKABLE, my that is the completely wrong word to use for a horse that was gutted on the track right before our eyes and NEVER cam back close to the same.
My first love will always be Sunday Silence. I've like others in the years since, but it took me 20 years to fall in love again. Her 2 year old season she had my attention. Her 3 year old season she had my heart. I steadily checked for updates on her today from work. I keep glancing at my Fred Stone of her. I'm am upset for her connections. I am saddened for her. She just has to pull through this.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college, she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at Virginia Intermont College and then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010, Laura began writing for Horse Racing Nation and has also contributed to Lady and the Track, TwinSpires and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter.

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