Saturday, September 05, 2009

Rachel Alexandra- A Fan's View

Wow-call me impressed! Today at the Spa, I was a fan, not a horseplayer.

I have been to Saratoga, many, many times but I am hard pressed to find a more exciting day at the Spa, than the one I had today watching Rachel Alexandra win the Woodward Stakes. It reminded me how much fun the game can be, not just from playing the card, but as a fan.

It was funny, early in the day; the crowd seemed subdued and muted, almost like they were saving their energy for the big race to come.

And than it happened, as the 9th race ended (The Forego Stakes) the crowd at the rail, which usually leaves before reconvening a few minutes before the next race, stayed put as if they were fearful of losing their spot on the rail. I quickly ran to the clubhouse ground floor to view the Paddock Post Parade and found people lined 4 deep in the Parade area between the Paddock and the Track. As Rachel walked towards the track, the excitement was palpable and the crowd grew excited. I took the photo above of a very calm Rachel and Borel as they walked by me in the Post Parade.

I raced back to my seats, and heard an audible gasp from the crowd when Rachel unseated Borel shortly after she entered the track. All was fine though and Borel was back on her safely. I then arrived back in my seat in Section K and watched history unfold.

As Rachel came around the turn and entered the final stretch, the entire grandstand and clubhouse crowd stood up, section by section, in unison. It seemed everyone in the joint was rooting for Rachel. I know my kids, age 15 and 12, were screaming the loudest I have ever seen them scream at a sporting event or game. My girlfriend compared the crowd noise to a rock concert.

As Rachel crossed the finish line, withstanding a furious run by Macho Again, the crowd was going nuts, still standing, still screaming. The crowd of 31, 171 made a noise level that was one of the loudest I ever heard at the grand old Spa. The crowd reaction reminded me of the fan excitement at a NY Giant football game in Jersey or a NY Ranger game at the Garden.

This horse is simply a true champion. She is a premier athlete, seemingly always ready, always wanting to compete.


JLDecker said...

Oh, I'm insanely jealous! ESPN and NTRA missed a huge opportunity here to bring new fans into the sport. A telecast of something this huge would have been breathtaking to see!

Anonymous said...

Rachel Alexander is indee a superior horse. But did she deserve to be whipped sixteen times in the stretch by Calvin?????? Who wants to watch a champion being beaten like that? Not me.

SaratogaSpa said...

Anon-I would agree with you. I support banning whips altogether or at least using the lightest, heavily padded whip on the market.