By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Paddock to Post : Rachel Does It Again
JAMAICA, N.Y. (BASN) — What a gal; what a race!
Rachel Alexandra left no doubt as to who rules thoroughbred racing. In a dramatic, jaw-dropping performance, she knocked off seven of the best older male horses in the country to win the Grade I Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Track.
While the crowd of over 30,000 at the Spa screamed their approval, millions of Off-Track Bettors were transfixed on the big screens as the field left the gate.
Rachel, down inside at post position No. 3, was immediately pressed by 2008 Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara, (No.1) who pushed her into a speed duel.
In front after a smokin’ hot 22.85 quarter, jockey Calvin Borel looked to harness Rachel’s speed, managing to bring her down a taste to a 23 second quarter mile and a 46 second half mile over the mile and an eighth distance while Cool Coal Man (#1A), the other part of the Nick Zito entry, looked to press Rachel – along with Past the Point (#7).
Macho Again(#4) and Asiatic Boy(#6) , the closers, had yet to kick to into high gear…
At the top of the stretch, Rachel, having dusted her earlier challengers, extended slightly to a length and a half lead. Now Bullsbay (#2) slips inside and angles into position – and Macho Again is in full stride, taking dead aim at Rachel.
But the patented Four Heel Drive of Ms. Alexandra would not be denied; the last seventy yards were all guts as the Equine Empress got down and held off Bullsbay and Macho Again, coming out a head (and shoulders) above her competition at the wire in a finishing time of 1:48.1.
Borel would say later that the rating after the fast first quarter was the key to giving Rachel enough Hoss Power to stay ahead of the fellas; and with the win, Ms. Alexandra has now gone 8 for 8 in 2009, defeating a field with a collective earnings of over $10 million in purse money.
Owner Jess Jackson and head trainer Steve Asmussen have achieved something not done in over a generation – they have turned the Breeders’ Cup into a denouement;because the performance by this Noble Beast was clearly the climax to this thoroughbred racing season – and put to rest any talk of any other horse as a selection for Horse of the Year.
Because of the coupled entry of Da’Tara/Cool Coal Man, we couldn’t play a superfecta – but we did nail the trifecta as they came home as called in my previous column.
However, this is one of those rare occasions where the little profit is meaningless. In a time where excellence and adjectives describing same get tossed away like losing tickets, once in a great while, a performer rises above the pack in such a way that you feel blessed for being part of that moment.
Simply put, this must be said: All hail Her Royal Highness, Rachel Alexandra, aka Rachel the Conqueror; Dominatrix of Dirt (Tracks), Equine Empress and Warrior Queen of all Thoroughbreds – one of the greatest champions to ever stroll a paddock!