I saw “Inception.”

I nearly had a seizure when I left the theater—that’s how much I liked it. Was it ALL a dream? And who was the main inception performed upon?

All intense questions for the movie-goer that I hope to answer with greater depth when I see the movie again.

Still, for those who haven’t seen it, the idea of “Inception” the movie, and inception the noun within the movie, is to slip into the unconscious of your target and plant an idea—inception—such that the target believes it was his idea all along, not some invisible hand pushing the target one way or the other.

So, what’s my point?
It was so, so long ago that Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 ¼ lengths and we became so unbelievably mesmerized by her open-length-style of victory. She does, believe me, have a compelling narrative (to be told in the hope-to-be-published-before-I-pass-away Six Weeks in Saratoga).

She then won the Mother Goose by 19, then the Haskell by six, and finally the Woodward by a diminishing neck. Rachel set the bar so high that even when she comes back and wins by 10 ½ lengths in the Fleur de Lis, it wasn’t quite enough. Not smashing. Then she sits nicely off Queen Martha at Monmouth and doesn’t kick clear by 15, rather she wins by only three lengths.

Could somebody have planted the idea that she was better than she is? Could a Dom Cobb have put us to sleep and so majestically orchestrate a dream in our own subconscious that she was too spectacular for reality? It would seem so because since we have awoken from such a sparkling campaign, her 2010 2-for-4 —which would be a pretty nice year for any horse of any caliber—just doesn’t garner enough attention and leaves people saying things such as:

“Let’s see: Four races so far this year. None of them Grade 1s.”

“It certainly didn’t leave me breathless.”

“Mr. Jackson should retire his horse now before her value plummets further. She has absolutely no chance of beating horses in the Classic or the Distaff.
Comments courtesy of The Paulick Report.

The idea, the lore of Rachel Alexandra is dead, along with the lore of Tiger Woods or Alex Rodriguez. The latter two look very human and for Rachel, she looks very equine. It’s not enough for Woods to win a tournament; we want to see him win by 15 strokes as he did at Pebble Beach in 2000. Racing fans expect no less from Rachel Alexandra.

I’d like to see the Patron Saint of Horse Racing, Jess Jackson, enter his filly in the Personal Ensign. Then, awaiting his trump card, Jerry Moss throws down the hammer and chases Rachel in a race where Zenyatta will be the overwhelming favorite. Jackson will have nowhere to turn and no excuse: the training is right, she will be entered and her withdrawal will be solely on the gutless act of a spoiled child taking his ball and going back to the vineyard.

A year ago we saw a freakishly talented filly take on very ordinary colts and fillies her own age. Then came the Woodward where Rachel ran into multiple Grade 1 winners. The Woodward was her Dubai.

Curlin, Rachel’s future backpack, was still a monster but, let’s be honest, not the same horse he was when he left the United States. He grinded out victories in the Woodward and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. They lacked the shock-and-awe of his 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic and his 2008 Dubai World Cup wins when his turn of foot was as swift as Baryshnikov.

To the best of my knowledge nobody knocked Curlin the way people knock Rachel. It’s her turn to have to grind out victories and get it done. Gone are the days when she would win by so much daylight you could drive a cruise ship between her and the second place horse.

Gone are those days ... or were they ever there.

Was it all just a dream?

Brendan O’Meara blogs about horse racing here at HRI and at The Carryover. He also blogs about narrative nonfiction and his book project “Six Weeks in Saratoga” at The Blog Itself. His Web site is http://www.brendanomeara.com.