I debated all night about commenting on Rachel Alexandra’s retirement, there’s certainly already a slew of folks who’ve already met that call—Glenn Craven and The Paper Tyger sum up my feelings the best—and I’m not sure I have much to add to their comments.
But as I was thinking last night about her career and all of the great moments she gave the sport, my own personal moment stood out. I made my first pilgrimage to Saratoga this summer, and was lucky enough to walk around the backstretch. Armed with a borrowed professional digital camera, I was utterly enthralled by the place, and it seemed like every turn offered something new and wonderful. I thought about how lucky I was to be a racing fan in a place that personifies (to me) what is good and beautiful about the sport.
Hoping to see Rachel, we made our way to the track a bit earlier the last morning we were there. Standing on the rail at Oklahoma, she galloped by, and I got a few blurry shots.
After she went by, we continued our journey, taking a swing by her barn, and there she was, with her groom. No crowds, no noise, no other horses, just a beautiful morning—the kind of which I’m convinced only happens at Saratoga. We kept a respectable distance, snapped a few pictures of the Horse of the Year, and kept moving. I paused as we walked away, dropped my camera, and took a second to look back and silently thank her, as a fan, for everything. It was a perfect moment.
Like so many others, I’ll remember her successes on the track, but I’ll also remember that quiet, appreciative moment that made my first trip to Saratoga even more special than it already was. Good luck in your retirement, Rachel. Thanks for the memories.