Today is Woodward day, the day Rachel Alexandra will try to accomplish, what has been, in the past, an impossible feat for a filly or mare, let alone a 3yr old filly. Today Rachel Alexandra, will try to become the first filly, of any age, to win the Woodward Stakes. She will also try to become the first 3yr old filly to beat older males in a grade one route race. To put this in perspective, a three year old, of any sex is like a teenager and a older horse, 4yrs old or over, is a mature grown up. So when a 3yr old colt races a 4yr old colt, it is like running a teenage boy against a full grown man. Rachel is a teenage girl running against a fully grown men. That is why today was suppose to be Rachel's biggest challenge yet.
Post time comes, and as the they load into the gate Rachel is an overwhelming 3/10 favorite. In my last blog I outlined a couple of situations that may go on during the race, one being that she could possibly be boxed in. As the gates opened, unleashing a field of seven of the top older males on the east coast, and the champion filly Rachel Alexandra, Calvin Borel, sent the filly to the lead to avoid the possibility of being boxed or bumped around. The price he had to pay was high though, the rabbit Da'Tara and the speedy Past the Point pushed Rachel through a punishing pace, the first quarter in 22.89, the half in 46.41, and six furlongs in a blistering pace of 1.10.54.
As they went into the far turn, both Past the Point and Da'Tara were finished, dropping well back, and one could only wonder, how much longer before Rachel, herself threw in the towel. Moving into the top of the stretch she had a lead just over a length, with Bullsbay, the Whitney winner in second and closing. Digging down deep Rachel repelled the bid, but as soon as she disposed of Bullsbay, Macho Again, the Stephen Foster winner came on, with a furlong left to go. I sat on the edge of my seat, yelling at the top of my lungs, "Come on baby, Come on bay, just a little more!" Rachel was running her heart out, and was still with less than half a furlong to go holding off Macho Again, but he was steadily wearing her down, as the wire came Rachel dove under with a head in front. She showed her heart and courage, and despite all odds, still won.
Was it her flashiest victory, no, but Rachel prove that she had courage, and ran her heart out more than I have ever seen a thoroughbred ever do. She was tested through a blistering early pace, then when Da'Tara and Past the Point dropped she remained. Then she repelled two late bids by the Whitney and Stephen Foster winners. Did she get a weight break, yes, but all other fillies before her, who also had breaks, failed to do what she did today, and one could argue that a tough season and the furious early pace was enough of an equalizer in the weights. Rachel proved her metal, and most likely in completing such a historic an seemingly impossible task, locked up Horse of the Year honors, something no 3yr old filly has done in 64 years. She has had a perfect season, 8 for 8, and in those eight three have been against males, in grade ones. She has cemented herself as one of the best, if not the best filly to ever grace a track in North America. She truly is Rachel Alexandra The Great, a filly for the ages.