Last updated: 5/1/09 8:22 PM
Rachel Alexandra was never challenged in taking the Oaks
L and M Partners’ RACHEL ALEXANDRA (Medaglia d’Oro) continued her domination
of the three-year-old filly ranks with a deceptively easy victory in Friday’s
Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs, pulling clear by 20 1/4 lengths on
The margin of victory is believed to be an Oaks record. Available
records date to 1916 and the largest previous victory margin was 10
lengths, a feat last achieved by Lite Light in 1991.
Leaving jockey Calvin Borel with nothing to do but stay in the saddle, the
bay lass loped along beside early pacesetter Gabby’s Golden Gal (Medaglia d’Oro)
as that one set splits of :23 3/5, :47 2/5 and 1:11 4/5. Nearing the turn, with
Borel still sitting chilly in the saddle, Rachel Alexandra continued her
galloping motion but was suddenly drawing even and then away from the leader.
Never asked for any kind of run, the three-year-old lass merely drew off under
her own power, eventually crossing under the wire in a final time of 1:48.87 for
nine furlongs on the fast dirt, just missing the stakes record of 1:48.64
established by Bird Town in 2003.
“It was just unbelievable,” said trainer Hal Wiggins, a training
veteran of 40 years who scored his first victory in the Kentucky Oaks
and notched his first win in a Grade 1 stakes race. “When (Borel) asked
her, she just naturally took off. And just finished tremendous. It
looked like she came out of the race really, really good. That’s the
“Her last four races have been like that,” he continued. “Of course,
this is the most important, a Grade 1 win for a filly. The owner still
owns the dam, so that’s very important. And I’ve trained for the man for
30 years. It’s a good feeling to me for him to be able to experience
The victory in the Oaks was the first for Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby
(G1) in 2007 aboard Street Sense and will be aboard Mine That Bird for
Saturday’s renewal of the “Run for the Roses.”
Borel was forced to look back for the competition
“To tell you the truth I’m happy they didn’t run her, I think they
did the right thing by running her today, but I do think she would have
won it,” Borel said when asked is Rachel Alexandra should have run in
the Derby. “She’s probably the greatest horse I’ve ever been on in my
life. There are other things down the road for her and she’ll prove it,
I promise it.”
“This filly she breaks out of the gate and she’s like ‘bring it on,
“No sir, the Triple Crown races are to showcase the future stallions
of our industry and fillies should run with fillies and stallions with
stallions,” reiterated co-owner and breeder Dolphus Morrison when asked
if he had any regrets about not running in the Derby.
Despite the threat of rain early in the day, the 135th Kentucky Oaks
attracted the fourth largest crowd in the history of the race that was
first run in 1875. The event has attracted more than 100,000 fans in 10
of the past 11 years, topped by the crowd of 111,243 that attended the
race in 2005.
Rachel Alexandra broke her maiden in her second try
at Churchill Downs, then finished just a half-length back in second in the
Debutante S. (G3) when making her stakes debut next out. The miss added an
allowance score to her line at Keeneland and returned to Churchill to run second
in the Pocahontas S. (G3) prior to finally breaking through with a first
black-type victory in the Golden Rod S. (G2).
She wasn’t seen again in competition until showing up at Oaklawn Park to make
her sophomore bow in the Martha Washington S. on February 15. Rachel Alexandra
dominated her rivals in that one as well, posting an eight-length score, then
shipped to New Orleans, where she stretched back out to 1 1/16 miles when
capturing the March 14 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) by 1 3/4 lengths on a sloppy,
sealed track. She tuned up for the Oaks with a yet another easy score, this time
in the April 5 Fantasy S. (G2) at Oaklawn, drawing off by 8 3/4 lengths.
Rachel Alexandra flew away from her Oaks rivals
Rachel Alexandra has now banked $958,354 in lifetime earnings to go along
with her 10-7-2-0 career mark.
Sent off the prohibitive 1-5 favorite in the seven-horse field, Rachel
Alexandra paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10 while keying the $45.20 exacta, $151.60
trifecta and $431.60 superfecta (6-3-8-2). Stone Legacy (Birdstone), the 25-1
longest shot and a late entry to the Oaks, secured second by 4 1/4 lengths over Flying Spur (Giant’s Causeway), giving back $11 and $5. Flying Spur was a length
in front of Be Fair (Exchange Rate) on the wire, returning $2.80 as the 5-1
second choice. Nan (High Yield) just missed fourth by a neck, but was 3 1/2
lengths up on Gabby’s Golden Gal. Tweeter (Unbridled’s Song) finished out the
order under the wire.
“I thought Be Fair would be the stronger of the entry but I was
really pleased,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas commented about his three
entrants Stone Legacy, Be Fair and Tweeter. “The way the pace developed
it really setup for Stone Legacy. We are tickled. Mary Lou Whitney has
won this race in the past and now to get another second is great. Second
is what everyone was lining up for today. There is no disgrace to get
beat by the winner. The pace scenario didn’t really matter because once
Rachel Alexandra took off, the front-runner was of no consequence.”
Rachel Alexandra was crowned with lilies
“No excuses,” said Kent Desormeaux, who piloted Stone Legacy. “That’s
one we don’t have to beat tomorrow. I’m glad she isn’t in the Derby.”
Justwhistledixie (Dixie Union), who was the morning-line second choice, was
scratched from the race Friday afternoon after her connections discovered she
was suffering from a foot ailment. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said the filly was
suffering from an abscess in her left front foot that was discovered as his
brother and assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin prepared Justwhistledixie for the
“She took an ‘off’ step in her stall,” Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We called the
vet over and took a look at her and she was really tender in her left inside
front. We took the shoe off and there was heat in there.”
McLaughlin said his filly’s ailment is not serious, but there was no way she
could compete in the Kentucky Oaks.
“It’s just horrible timing,” he said. “She’ll be fine, but it’s really
Bred in Kentucky, Rachel Alexandra is the first registered foal out of stakes
winner Lotta Kim (Roar), who finished second in the 2003 edition of the Golden
Rod and has a juvenile colt named Empire Ruler (Empire Maker). The Golden Rod
connection continues in Rachel Alexandra’s female family as 2001 Pocahontas S.
winner Lotta Rhythm (Rhythm), a half-sister to Lotta Kim, ran third in that same
year’s running. Another notable runner in the line includes last season’s Tejano
Run S. victor, High Blues (High Yield).