Weekend Overview: So is Rachel Alexandra the best filly of all time? She is definitely the best filly I've ever seen and in my mind she has surpassed Ruffain, Regret, Busher, Personal Ensign and all those greats save one. Twilight Tear is still the standard for me but Rachel Alexandra doesn't have far to go. A win over a quality field of older males would definitely put her over the top as the greatest filly of the modern era in my opinion. Munnings proved himself to be a quality horse who should have been kept in sprinting races. He'll be very hard to be in any sprint race this year but he was never going to beat a monster like that. Mine That Bird looks more ordinary by the day. He's a quality horse that fans should enjoy for years to come but he's not really championship quality. He'll probably be the top three year old male this year but that division is really thinning out. The best three year old males seem to be sprinters this year. Forever Together got back on track even though the course was likely softer than she wanted. I can see her sweeping every event from here to the end of the season unless Gozzip Girl continues to improve. Colonel John was nearly the most impressive horse of the week in the Wickerr Handicap. He loved the turf and had his rivals all at sea once he got going. It wasn't quite War Chant's turf debut but Colonel John could be as good as anyone on the grass if connections choose to leave him there. Justenuffhumor is definitely a rising star in the Turf division. If he can avoid Gio Ponti he just may find himself undefeated until the Breeders' Cup.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Rachel Alexandra is now officially the best Three Year Old Female on record. Better than Rags to Riches, Ashado and Silverbulletday and we're only in August. She still has a few months of serious racing to go. It's incredible to think that she's outdone those fillies in such a short span of time. One more G-1 win basically guarantees that she cannot be caught in the standings. She is already a lock in the hearts and minds of race fans but the numbers say she needs one more just to be totally safe from some horse that may get hot over the summer and fall.
Power Rankings: Six fillies are among the top 10 best active horses in racing. Rachel Alexandra dominates the list of course but Forever Together, Informed Decision and three Main Track Older Females also make the list. This may even be a stronger year for fillies than 1999 when we had Beautiful Pleasure, Banshee Breeze, Silverbulletday, Manitisque, Soaring Softly and Excellent Meeting. Enjoy these fillies to the fullest because they're a very special lot.
Performance of the Week: Champions and all time greats often have defining moments of brilliance or courage. The Haskell is the race that both ushered Rachel Alexandra into the company of the most exalted and the race that will likely be used to surmise her career. There could be more brilliant feats to come but this was definitely her best race to date. Summer Bird also ran a career best race and Munnings tried his little heart out despite going too far but they were in their own race. Rachel Alexandra was already walking back to be unsaddled. This was one of the best performances in the past decade by any three year old, male or female. She simply looked invincible and for champions the aura can be just as important as the accomplishments.
Race of the Week: Blanket finishes in dirt races usually point to a lack of quality but they sure are good to watch. Backtalk seems like a good enough juvenile but 100 yards from home in the Sanford I sure had some questions about how good he was. He was rightly favored off of his past form but the Sanford field seemed to get away from him on the far turn. The principals quickened and he struggled to stay on terms. But in the final furlong as the top 3 were dueling themselves into submission Backtalk and Bulls and Bears were getting on track. They all finished with a rush and the neck margin of victory almost seemed generous. Only 1 1/4 lengths separated the first five horses across the line.
Flop of the Week: Both Kip Deville and Well Armed were horrendous this weekend. I'm not sure that either has a legitimate excuse other than the fact that they're now old and obviously inconsistent. How could Well Armed have gone from Dubai World Cup winner and defending champion in the San Diego to failing to beat a single horse? Kip Deville was perhaps less of a surprise since he was flat in his last effort too but I thought the track had more to do with that effort. Evidently not, he may have simply lost a step.
Tip O'the Cap: The DRF did a little spot on Informed a few months back about how he might be the next Lava Man. A older horse claimed by O'Neill and transformed into a stakes runner he seemed to have a few similarities. But a few things have since become clear. He's not nearly as fast as Lava Man and he's never going to be a serious horse of the year candidate. But let's appreciate him for what he is. His latest gutsy win in the San Diego brought his career earnings to half a million dollars and he's now a dual G-2 winner and is just a nose shy of have three G-2's to his name. Informed is a cool horse and I wish him all the best.
KC Handicapping: My Saratoga travails are being documented on a day to day basis so this little recap will focus solely on my weekend picks and analysis. It was a shaky week for me in that I didn't really have strong opinions in any stakes races aside from knowing that Rachel Alexandra would win for fun. I ended up going with four horses in two races. Lucky for me one of them (Justenuffhumor) ran well and paid for the rest. So a week where I was pretty confused becomes one of my best recently. I can see the humor in that.
Weekly Record: 4(2)-1-0-0 ($1.50 +18.75% ROI)
Overall Record: 793(446)-137-124-101 (-$157.50 -9.93% ROI)