Rachel Alexandra: The Little Filly That Could?

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2009 at 10:12 pm

The Famous Filly

The Famous Filly

How can you not be rooting for Rachel Alexandra today? 

The 3 year old filly is trying to break into the Boys Club and win the Preakness for the first time in 85 years and, though she’s been called a “freak of nature” by Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel who will ride her today, she faces a pretty serious challenge. Only four fillies have ever won the Preakness in the 133 year history of the race and it’s rarely even attempted because of the miniscule odds a filly has of winning on a track this long. Any distance over a mile is considered almost an impossible length for a filly and the Preakness track measures a mile and 3/16. 

But history and distance aren’t the only obstacles Rachel faces today. She’s running against a racing culture that has long worked to keep girls out. Just to get her into the Preakness today, Rachel’s handlers had to wage a veritable media war to drum up sympathy before she would even be considered as an entrant. It looked like Rachel would be watching from the sidelines as owners schemed and maneuvered to keep her out by entering substitute stallions to block her. It wasn’t until Luv Gov owner Marylou Whitney threatened to pull her horse in favor of Rachel that the little filly was allowed in. And even then, the governing bodies stuck Rachel with the 13th post spot. No horse has ever won the Preakness coming out of the 13 hole. But at least she’s in. 

And why not? Now that Rachel is running, horse racing – an institution that has long faced waning relevance and bad PR (see: Barbaro) – has something good to talk about again. Rachel Alexandra, gorgeous filly that she is, has brought a little mystery and intrigue back to the Preakness. And, until about 6:17 today, the question remains: 

Can Rachel run with the boys? 

Can she beat them? Can she perform at Pimlico the way she did at the Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago, when she beat the field by more than twenty lengths? Can this beautiful horse become the first female to win the Preakness since Nellie Morse did it 85 years ago? 

It remains to be seen, but count me among those who hope that today Cindarella will crash the ball.


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