Rachel Alexandra won thirteen races during her
brilliant career, which included 2009 Horse of the Year honors, and two of
those victories came in unforgettable fashion on The New York Racing
Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit.
Yesterday, Jess Jackson, principal of Stonestreet Stables, the majority
owner of Rachel Alexandra, announced that the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia
d’Oro would be retired and bred to two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.
The first chance that fans in New York
got to see Rachel live was the Grade 1 Mother Goose on June 27, 2009 at Belmont Park. She came into the race off six
straight victories by a combined margin of more than 34 lengths, including a 20
¼-length romp in the Kentucky Oaks and a triumph over the boys in the
Taking on two fillies in Flashing and Malibu Prayer that would go on to
become Grade 1 winners, Rachel settled comfortably in third behind swift
fractions of 22.57, 44.66 and 1:08.86. When jockey Calvin Borel asked her for
run on the sweeping Belmont
turn, she catapulted to the lead and turned for home on top. In what NYRA Track
Announcer Tom Durkin referred to as a “dazzling display,” Rachel
won by 19 ¼ lengths, completing the 1 1/8-miles in 1:46.33, good for a new
Following an impressive six-length victory over 2009’s eventual
3-year-old male champion Summer Bird in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, Rachel’s connections had
even more ambitious plans in mind. She would attempt to become the first filly
or mare to defeat males in the 56-year history of the Grade 1 Woodward at
Saratoga Race Course. The only female to have even finished second in the
prestigious race was the great Lady’s Secret, during her Horse of the
Year campaign in 1986.
Stabled all summer in trainer Steve Asmussen’s Saratoga barn, Rachel came into the 1
1/8-mile Woodward riding an impressive eight-race winning streak, including all
seven of her races in 2009.
An energetic crowd of 31,171 flocked to Saratoga on Saturday, September 5 to see the
filly try to make history.
When the gates opened, Borel sent Rachel to the lead, dueling on the
outside of 2008 Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara
through a torrid opening quarter of 22.85, prompting Durkin to comment,
“There will be no free ride for Rachel Alexandra!”
Continuing to lead through subsequent fractions of 46.41 and 1:10.54,
Rachel put away the other speed horses on the far turn, but turning for home, a
trio of closers, including Grade 1 winners Macho Again and Bullsbay, began to
find their best stride.
In deep stretch, just when it appeared that Macho Again would surge by
his younger rival and score the victory, Rachel, implored by Borel for
everything she had and cheered on by the Saratoga crowd, found more and held on
to win by a narrow head.
Durkin’s call summed it up perfectly: “It’s going to
be desperately close – here’s the wire – Rachel won! She is
indeed Rachel Alexandra the Great!”
The Woodward was the final race in Rachel’s undefeated 3-year-old
campaign, comprising eight victories, including five Grade 1 events, and
netting her Horse of the Year honors.
Given more than seven months off to recover from her grueling, historic
season, Rachel returned to the races as a 4-year-old, but was never able to
regain the brilliance that she had previously shown. In 2010, the filly made
five starts, winning twice and finishing second three times.
The final race of her career came at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, run
at 1 ¼ miles on Sunday, August 29. After dueling with Grade 1 winner Life At
Ten through a brisk opening half-mile in 47.73, Rachel led at the top of the
stretch but was caught late by Persistently, finishing second by a length.
“Rachel Alexandra is a superstar in every sense of the
word,” said NYRA President and CEO Charles
Hayward. “Her sensational victory in the Woodward
provided one of the most memorable moments in Saratoga’s recent history and capped
off an incredible 3-year-old campaign. We would like to thank Mr. Jackson for
racing her in New York
on three occasions and providing our racing fans the chance to see one of the
best horses of this generation.”
Fans of Rachel Alexandra can look back on her amazing career at NYRA’s
special website, “Rachel’s
Sandbox,” including numerous videos, articles, blogs, and much more.