Now there is a rivalry.

For anyone who has had a chance to see Jess Jackson’s acceptance speech for Rachel Alexandra winning the 2009 Horse of the Year award, you know it’s on now.
All you had to do was look to the face of Jerry Moss during the frequent cutaways. The look on his face said it all.

1. I’m not pleased that I lost.
2. I don’t like you that much.
3. See you in 2010.

His face lacked all joy. His jaw was locked so tight you could hear his teeth cracking. His jaw was so squared off you could have forged Excaliber on it. Though nobody with any inkling of intelligence would say that, ‘Aha! Zenyatta is no longer unbeaten,’ Moss still defended her with an edge that could blunt a diamond.
“Zenyatta’s never lost. She’s perfect. Nobody’s beaten her on the racetrack. So they beat her by proxy as far as I’m concerned. This doesn’t take away anything from the just enormous job done by [trainer] John [Shirreffs]. I can’t say enough about what he and his barn have done. I obviously congratulate Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Jackson. They have a great horse. Someday we’ll meet, and we’ll decide at that time who is the best. Frankly I wouldn’t trade with anybody. I’m looking forward to the encounter.”

This makes IEAH’s 2008 taunts sound like the ‘Too Light’ half of a Bud Light commercial.

This was like Patrick Roy saying, “I can’t hear what Jeremy says because my ears are blocked with my two Stanley Cup rings.”

This is blood that the ‘Twilight’ vampires might shy away from. Maybe this is what was meant when the Police sung, “Don’t stand so close to me.”

Twenty-ten has potential written all over it. Keep in mind that all it would take is for Rachel to come back from a breeze with chips in her ankle or for Zenyatta to clip her own heels to slay this rivalry before it ever gets physical.

For once we see that the gloves are off and Rick Dutrow is nowhere to been seen. Not since the movie ‘Up’ could we have a geriatric action sequence to write about.

When was there a rivalry this salty? You’d probably have to go back to Easy Goer and Sunday Silence. Before that Affirmed and Alydar. Before that? Not sure, but perhaps we can agree that horse racing’s first true rivalry was Seabiscuit and War Admiral. One has horse California cool, the other has sovereignty over the eastern seaboard.
But what these prior rivalries had was multiple attempts at each other. It will not suffice to have Rachel and Zenyatta — should they meet — to race only once, no matter how big the stage and how big the purse.

The Yankees bludgeoned the Red Sox for what seemed like centuries and that was still a rivalry. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, Hemingway and Faulkner, Frost and Nixon, Yin and Yang.

The recipe for a rivalry has a few parts. One, the two parties must hate each other. Now we can never know the true nature of these Golden Year-Californian’s, but it seems they dislike each other enough to want to beat the other into an early grave.

Two, fan bases need to be rabid and more polarized than a magnet. To read comments on Rachel Alexandra columns is to read some of the most adiment Zenyatta supporters and all their venom. The dialogue is brutal, brutal but passionate.

Three, the media hooks on. Since the Breeders’ Cup Classic no topic has been covered like the Rachel-Zenyatta debate for Horse of the Year. Dozens of turf writers opined on this until readers were bloodshot. For anyone in the racing press to hark on such a topic for this long over so many months proves that the perennially jaded have found something that, in all their years of covering this fine sport, truly moves the meter.

Moss is more subtle and subdued, much like the Red Sox John Henry. Jackson throws his plumes around more in the manner of Hank Steinbrenner. His presence in the game is the stirrer that agitates the White Russian. Around the time of the Woodward you got Claire Novak calling him a poor sport and Ed DeRosa applauding him for the same behavior.

This rivalry has the chance to be bigger than Lincoln v. Booth. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Minus the death of course, one can imagine Moss yelling to Jackson, “Sic semper tyrannis. I have done it! Zenyatta is avenged!”