It's easy to find fault with Mom's Command. She is a one-dimensional speed horse, and her winning times almost always are unimpressive. The filly's detractors probably will keep knocking her all the way to the Eclipse Awards ceremony, where she assuredly will be named the champion of her generation.
Mom's Command clinched the title today with a four-length victory over Fran's Valentine in the historic Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. She did it the way she always does: she sprinted to the lead, never faced a serious challenge and won in unimpressive time -- 2:03 1/5 for 1 1/4 miles.
If ever Mom's Command had looked vulnerable, it was today. She has gone through a grueling campaign, racing eight times since April and winning six of them, including New York's filly triple crown series. She has run hard, showing her impressive speed, in all of them. Now she was facing a formidable challenger -- the West Coast's top 3-year-old filly, Fran's Valentine, who set a track record at Hollywood Park in her last start.
But it was no contest as Mom's Command blew her chief rival away. She sprinted to the lead immediately, speeding the first quarter-mile in 23 seconds in opening a two-length lead.
Chris McCarron, the jockey on the California filly, knew immediately he was in trouble. "Fran's Valentine has decent speed," he said, "but it's nothing like Mom's Command had today. I'd planned to lay back a bit, but I was worried that 'Mom' would get too far ahead. Every time I pushed my filly closer, 'Mom' would move that much further away."
Mom's Command was able to open an even more comfortable lead as she hit the half-mile in :46 4/5 and the three-quarters in 1:10 4/5. But as she approached the final turn, the slow-starting Foxy Deen accelerated suddenly on the rail, passed Fran's Valentine and looked for a moment as if she might score a major upset.
But Abby Fuller, the jockey on Mom's Command, wasn't worried. "I saw a couple of horses and I asked her to run," the daughter of owner Peter Fuller said.
Actually, Mom's Command didn't accelerate to fight off these challenges. She ran her last half-mile in a ridiculously slow :52 2/5 and her final time was the worst in the Alabama since 1978.
But what happened today is what happens in all of Mom's Command's races: her rivals ran even slower. They fell apart from the effort of trying to cope with her early speed. Foxy Deen faded to finish third.
Trainer Ned Allard said Mom's Command will get a rest now. She probably will be pointed for the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Distaff in November. When she faces older females at a classic distance, some skeptics surely will point out she can't possibly win if she can't run any faster than 2:03 1/5. But those skeptics are diminishing in number every time Mom's Command runs.