Cadillakin wrote:No question, Rags beat much better horses...
To this point, Mine that Bird has never won a race on a fast-dirt surface. He is 0-5 on dirt. That's right.. MTB has 4 synthetic wins in Canada and one muddy track victory at Churchill. On the other hand, Rags to Riches beat real racehorses of championship quality..( Curlin, Tiago, and Hard Spun, ran 2-3-4.) And she bobbled at the start and raced 4 wide throughout while doing so...
The Rachel fans love to knock Zenyatta and suggest she was great because of synthetics.. but not a mention that the horse she beat in the Preakness - for her most acclaimed win - has *zero* victories on a fast dirt surface.
The quality of the field that Rags beat was undoubtedly better than the one that Rachel beat but it has more to do with how it was done. I never considered Rags' stumble all that big a deal given the distance of the race and a wide trip at Belmont is unlike a wide trip at any other locale.
Curlin was at the tail end of an incredibly busy 3YO season. He debuted in February, raced in the Rebel, Ark Derby, Ky Derby, and Preakness and ran one hard race after another. Basically he was a completely spent horse by the time the Belmont rolled around and he still ran a gigantic race considering the distance was more than he preferred. Hard Spun was an overachieving sprinter/miler who had no chance going a mile and a half. Tiago always was and always will be a mediocrity who rarely won races and was mis-managed from the time he turned four until the end of his career. There was absolutely no reason for him to be on the west coast last year after proving time and again he much preferred dirt.
The thing about Rachel's Preakness is that she ran a good sprinter who was later graded stakes placed going long into the ground through fast fractions and had more than enough to hold off a couple of fresh closers who happened to be in career best form. Your point about Mine That Bird being winless on fast dirt tracks really means little when you consider that he was at the top of his game in mid-May. That is often the case with the Preakness as a great number of Derby winners fare well given that they're able to duplicate their form on the short rest. It is the three weeks between the Preakness and Belmont that ultimately does them in.
I also would disagree that the Preakness was Rachel's most acclaimed win. It was her coming out party in that she did what we hadn't seen in so long, which was to navigate a bulky field in a Triple Crown race and get the job done. She, of course, followed up that victory with an absolutely spectacular Haskell where she throttled what ended up being the most accomplished 3YO in the crop and then became the first filly to win the Woodward. It wasn't really a campaign that had a signature win but a trio of groundbreaking ones and a couple of astonishingly brilliant ones to go with it.
Like I said before, it is a very close call between the two and it's perfectly reasonable to think Rags' Belmont win was better. Unfortunately she was not able to duplicate that race and her career is now remembered more for what it could have been than what it was.