Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rachel Alexandra Proves She Is One Of The Greats With Preakness Win

Pimlico Race Course

Rachel Alexandra was hustled from post 13 up to join Big Drama on the lead and they stayed together until midway on the far turn. At that point, Big Drama started to fade as Rachel Alexandra found another gear. The sensational filly drew off to a 4 length lead before holding on to win by a length over the hard charging Mine That Bird and Musket Man who was another half length back.

In coming in 2nd on a different surface as it was dry this time, Mine That Bird showed his stunning win in the Kentucky Derby was no fluke. His Hall of Fame jockey, Mike Smith, said he was trying to thread the needle along the rail but nobody was conceding that space today. He then said he thought they still had a shot midway on the turn but had to steady behind several horses and was then forced 7 wide before finding running room. Smith said they simply ran out of ground in the end.

Musket Man ran a very similar race to the Derby too as he stayed along the rail to the 1/4 pole and then move out heading into the stretch but was not good enough to catch the filly. Trainer Derek Ryan said he ran a super race but he just got beat by a super filly.

Rachel Alexandra was having an obvious problem handling the track at Pimlico and she still had enough to beat the best colts of her generation. The prevailing thought among those who know in the sport has been that Rachel Alexandra was already maybe the best filly ever to set foot on a race track. After her win in the Preakness, it seems fair to talk about her in the same light as Derby winning fillies Genuine Risk and Winning Colors, the great Bayakoa, ill fated super fillies Ruffian and Go For Wand, and the undefeated Personal Ensign.

A Day after the Preakness, Rachel Alexandra has already flown back to Churchill Downs. She is set to be on the track on Wednesday and will breeze on Memorial Day. Owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen said that the Belmont was not a certainty for her. They planned to see how she comes out of this race and then look at the upcoming race schedule to consider her best interests before deciding on her future.

Trainer Chip Woolley said that Mine That Bird will run in the Belmont and that he will be vanned back to Churchill Downs today to train for that race.

I happen to agree with what Jackson and Asmussen have said and hope they consider the best interest of the horse before entering her in the Belmont. However, even though they have done their part to add interest to the sport by running her in the Preakness they will certainly face intense pressure from the industry to set up a rematch with the Derby winner in the "Test of the Champion" at a mile and a half in the Belmont on June 6.

If a rematch doesn't happen then, there are plenty of other opportunities during the rest of the year for Rachel Alexandra to take on the top colts from the Travers at Saratoga to the Breeders' Cup Classic in the fall.