This years 134th running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, MD is shaping up to be a race for the ages.
Never before has the Kentucky Oaks winner opted to take on the winner of the Kentucky Derby in the Preakness. Never before has the jockey of the Kentucky Derby winner given up the winning mount to ride a different horse in the Preakness. But this is no ordinary filly. This is Rachel Alexandra. Racing’s new superstar who won the Kentucky Oaks the day before Derby by 20 1/4 lengths, in the most dominating display of talent since Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes in 1973.
Rachel Alexandra, winner of the Kentucky Oaks, is being readied to start in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, May 16. Her new ownership and trainer announced the decision in a Friday press release.
Purchased this week by Stonestreet Stables, Rachel Alexandra will be entered in the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown if her training continues to go well.
In addition, jockey Calvin Borel, who rode her to victory in the Oaks, will continue to ride the three-year-old filly for the rest of 2009.
Calvin Borel has given up the ride aboard Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, left, for Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness
“It came down to the facts that he (Borel) knows and loves this horse,” co-owner Jess Jackson said in the release, “that he knows how to get the most from her and he knows how to win. They were an amazing team at the Kentucky Oaks, winning by over 20 lengths. We think this is a perfect match of rider and horse.”
“We’re very happy to have the opportunity to continue to ride Rachel Alexandra,” said Borel. “I’ve had the chance to ride some great horses, but she is one of the most special horses I’ve ever been around. I appreciate the faith that Mr. Jackson and Mr. (Harold) McCormick have shown in me, and we can’t wait to be there wherever she runs next.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen was given the filly when she was purchased by a group led by Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables. Asmussen was the conditioner of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin who was also owned by Stonestreet Stables.
What makes this matchup more intriguing is the stellar performance given by Mine That Bird in this year’s upset at the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. Mine That Bird came from over 20 lengths behind to win the Derby beating his closest competitor by 6 1/2 lengths. More impressive was, Mine That Bird’s finishing half mile time of 47 1/5 seconds, getting the last quarter of that in 23 1/5 of a second. Virtually equaling the fastest quarter of a mile finish in the history of the Derby set by none other than who? The great Secretariat!
There are those who say that Secretariat’s overall time was better. Making his finishing quarter more impressive. I concur, but Secretariat also had the benefit of running on a fast, dry racetrack and also had a smooth trip in traffic that day. In comparison, Mine That Bird was pinched back at the start, had to weave his way around and through traffic, and was running over a sloppy racetrack, winning with plenty of gas left in the tank.
In fact, the race took so little out of the horse that he jogged Monday just two days after his Derby victory and on Tuesday he galloped twice around the 1 mile oval, and tried to run off with his rider toward the end of his gallop.
There are also those who say fillies can’t handle the boys. However, if you’re one who likes statistics, fifty-two fillies have competed in the Preakness with four crossing the finish line first: Flocarline (1903), Whimsical (1906), Rhine Maiden (1915) and Nellie Morse (1924).
The Preakness Stakes allows up to fourteen horses to run. If you do the math and fourteen horses run in the Preakness with only one winner, that’s one winner for every fourteen starters. Fifty-two filly Preakness starters divided by four winners equals – one in thirteen. And Rachel Alexandra is no ordinary filly.
Pimlico Racecourse, the place were Sea Biscuit met War Admiral in that legendary horse race during the great depression.
The 134th Preakness Stakes May 16, 2009. Maybe it’s time for the next great horserace.