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Rachel, Zenyatta and the Weekend Stakes Review (6/12 - 6/13)

The Triple Crown might be all over, but there was still some excellent racing action taking place all across the country this weekend.  Once again, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta stole the show, even through they were racing a couple thousand miles apart.



Grade 2 Fleur de Lis

Not much to review with the Fleu de Lis as Rachel Alexandra simply ran her four rivals into the ground at Churchill Downs on Saturday.  Jessica is Back put up a spirited fight on the front end and attempted to duel with Rachel down the backstretch.  That only served to burn her out while Rachel Alexandra easily pulled away from the rest of the field under a hand ride. 

Distinctive Dixie attempted to make a move on Rachel coming off the far turn, but had nothing left in the tank from that point forward. 

On paper, the Fleur de Lis looked like a laugher and that's exactly what it was. 

No word on where Rachel will run next, but a start in either the Ruffian Handicap or the Personal Ensign at Saratoga would seem logical.

Grade 1 Vanity Handicap

According for Formulator interactive charts, Zenyatta ran the final furlong in 11.61 second and, as usual, ran just fast enough to ensure that she passed all other horses in front of her in the stretch. 

The field for the Vanity may have been small, but they were by no means punching bags.  Prior to yesterday's Vanity, St. Trinians (GB) has only lost once in her five races since coming over North America from Great Britian, a sixth place finish against the boys in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.

Zardana (BRZ) ran a decent third but couldn't keep up with the top two through deep stretch.

Like Rachel Alexndra, there is no word yet on where Zenyatta will point to next, but you would think that they'll want to get her on dirt one more time prior to the Breeders' Cup.

Just for fun I put together a little chart comparing the fractions for Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta in the Fleur de Lis and the Vanity.  I'm not trying to make a case that one is faster/better than the other (different tracks and surfaces make the comparison tenuous, at best), but instead wanted to further illustrate the dramatically different running styles. The key difference is the first quarter mile where Rachel Alexandra ran more than two seconds faster than the typically slow from the gate Zenyatta.








Fleur de Lis

Rachel Alexandra























Grade 1 Stephen Foster

Battle Plan looked like he had this race won in mid-stretch but a furious rally by Blame propelled him past the pacesetter in the final to win by ¾ of a length.  Battle Plan had everything his own way on the front end, running early fractions of 24.50, 48,72, and 1:12.63. 

General Quarters finished in third to run his usual good but non-winning race.

A nice effort by the Arlington Park shipper, Giant Oak, who finished 4th at odds of 22/1.

Macho Again, in a continuing decline of his form, finished 10th of 11.


Grade 1 Ogden Phipps

Unrivaled Belle couldn't keep up with pacesetter Life At Ten and finished a well beaten second, just ahead of Funny Moon

The fractions for the Ogden Phipps started out sensible with a first quarter clocking of 23.22, but then Life At Ten turned up the heat by running torrid second and third quarters (44.55 and 1:08.40), which was enough to cause Unrivalled Belle to throw in the towel. 

Midway through the stretch it appeared that Funny Moon might have a shot to catch the winner, but she flattened out and had to settle for third.


Grade 2 Californian

I really liked the race that Rail Trip ran in winning Saturday's Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park.  He was content to sit second and stalk the early speed, made an easy move on the turn and put away the field in good order through the stretch.  Rail Trip wasn't facing the most accomplished field on the planet (thus his 1/5 odds) but it was an impressive race and that is exactly how I like to see a heavy favorite win.