Who's the Queen in the Sport of Kings? We May Never Know...

Matt KayContributor IJune 29, 2009

In 1938, the thoroughbred horse racing fans of America got what they wanted.

They waited a while for it to happen, but it happened.

Seabiscuit ran a match race against 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral.

In 2008, the thoroughbred horse racing fans of American didn’t get what they wanted.

After Big Brown came up short at the top of the long stretch run at Big Sandy, failing to win the Triple Crown, racing fans still yearned to see him go up against the 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin.

They waited.

And waited.

And it never happened.

In 2009, the thoroughbred horse racing fans of America want to see Zenyatta—the perfect 11-for-11, five-time Grade One winning mare, versus Rachel Alexandra—the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years.

In fact, they don’t just want to see it.

They need to see it.

The race would increase the popularity of the sport and create interest in fans who are slipping away.

After Rachel Alexandra’s owner Jess Jackson decided to retire Curlin to stud, following last year’s fourth-place finish in the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita on a synthetic track, and Big Brown retired to stud as well, there was only one superstar—Zenyatta—in the Sport of Kings returning to the track for a 2009 campaign.

So far, Zenyatta is a perfect 2-for-2 after earning a six-month layoff following her impressive win in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.

She hasn’t faced stiff competition in either the Milady or Vanity Handicaps at Hollywood Park, but she’s still perfect.

And, there just may be no female horses that can give her a run for the money.

Or are there?

We may never know, because Jess Jackson has recently announced he has no intention of bringing his superstar filly to the West Coast for a showdown against Zenyatta at the Breeders Cup.

His reason?

He doesn’t believe the filly should run on a synthetic track.

Well, Mr. Jackson, I don’t buy it.

Why wouldn’t you, the Sportsman of the Year in 2008, according to horseraceinsider.com, want to do justice for the sport and give the fans what they want?

We know it’s not because of the money—you're already a billionaire.

His filly, although it was before he purchased her following a 20-length romp in the Kentucky Oaks, has already ran on a synthetic, and won nonetheless.

So, why is Jackson afraid to ship West?

Well, Zenyatta is a perfect 10-for-10 on synthetics, and she even scares away the other “plastic” track specialists.

All Zenyatta did in her one traditional dirt race start was beat the reining 2007 Eclipse Award-winning older filly or mare Ginger Punch in a Grade One event at Oaklawn, which just so happened to be the only time she ran outside of California.

Will Zenyatta’s connections send her over to the East Coast to face Rachel?

We can only hope.

It sure would throw off Zenyatta’s schedule for the 2009 Ladies Classic at Santa Anita, but it may be what’s best for the sport.

But, it needs to happen.



It needs to happen.

Will it happen?

Can it happen?

Maybe, but it’s likely to be a cat and mouse chase for both connections. Just like War Admiral and Seabuscuit’s connections searched for the perfect track, conditions, and fields that favored their horse, so will Zen and Rachel’s.

Jackson already said he wouldn’t run against Zenyatta unless there was a full field.


Zenyatta is a come-from-behind mare, and the bigger the field the more horses she will have to run by to get catch the front-running Rachel Alexandra.

If I were the connections of Zenyatta, I’d ship East.

Knowing Jackson and his mastermind plan to breed Rachel and Curlin to create a new superstar, the wire is coming close to the end of Rachel’s career.

And, if the Zen Master gets a chance to run her down, I’m pretty sure she’s going to remain undefeated.

But, that day may never come.


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