May 19, 2009

In Which I Am Vindicated by Rachel A.

So, I spent a couple of days thinking about how to write about the Preakness before crafting a post. Basically I spent my entire Friday and Saturday in a state of paralyzed excitement, so when I finally saw the actual race I was totally spent. In fact, I will even admit that I was depressed by the final outcome. Even though I was right (which I love more than life itself) and even though Rachel Alexandra won.

I was depressed because I felt like she didn't win impressively enough. That Mine that Bird was not the one-hit-wonder that I made him out to be. In fact, Mine that Bird shocked me with his strength, bravery and speed - so much so that I completely questioned my entire analysis of Rachel A. up until now.

And then I slept on it. And read the analysis of the race on Sunday morning. And talked my husband's ear off about the race. And slept on it for another day. And watched the race over and over again obsessively.

And then I decided that I feel pretty vindicated by the filly's performance. What she did was ultimately more impressive than that late, great surge of speed that Mine that Bird dazzled us with. He might have proved himself a better horse than I thought. He may be a great colt in his own right. But Rachel Alexandra was tested and proved herself more than capable. She was unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the track. She broke from post position 13 (a position from which no horse has ever won the Preakness) and had to use a massive burst of speed to go wide enough to outrun the field and reach the front of the pack by the first turn. Borel managed to trick the field to stay at a slow enough pace so that she didn't tire too early. And in the final stretch, when you know she was hurting, she dug in and held on to the lead. That's what I have always revered when I thought about my great racehorse legends. A horse that doesn't give up, that gives 200%. A horse that goes to the lead and stays on the lead. You don't get to see those types of horses anymore. She's game. She has courage and heart. I hope that years from now I can say I saw this day -- that I saw the filly rise to the challenges of the Preakness and overcame it 100%. She is a racehorse in the old-school sense of the word.

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