Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rachel Alexandra

Mine That Bird scored a monumental upset in the 135th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, winning at odds of 50-1. By now, the story of the connections and the horse's humble situation has been told and retold. With all of the hoopla now surrounding the Cinderella story, let's not lose sight of the fact that the best three-year-old in the country also ran at Churchill Downs this past weekend. Rachel Alexandra is her name and she turned in a performance that can only be described as "Secretariat-esque".

Yes, that's right, I am invoking Big Red's name in describing what she did to the field in the 134th running of the Kentucky Oaks. While it is true that the scratch of the second-best horse in the field (Justwhistledixie) with an abscess probably extended her winning margin, she still wins the Oaks easily. She won the race by an astonishing 20 1/4 lengths. Jockey Calvin Borel never even moved on her back through the stretch. Bravo race caller Tom Durkin likened Borel to a statue in the final moments of the race. Borel himself would call the horse, "the best horse I have ever ridden in my life". This from a man who is the only rider to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby aboard the same horse (Street Sense in 2007).

The question for the connections of Rachel Alexandra is what to do with her now. Do they try to challenge the boys in either the Preakness or the Belmont (which they would have to supplement $100,000 to do)? Do they try to capture New York's Triple Tiara (Acorn, Mother Goose, CCA Oaks) and then try the boys in the Haskell or Travers this summer? Do they forget the boys altogether and keep her running against females, pointing for a showdown with the formidable Zenyatta in Breeder's Cup at Santa Anita (albeit over an artificial surface)? I can tell you this, it is a set of questions I would love to have to deal with.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Photo courtesy of drf.com

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