Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Women of . . . Rachel Alexandra - All She Wants to do is Run

The Write Sisters have told the stories of a lot of women on this blog - writers, lawyers, suffragettes, artists, astronauts and photographers, just to name a few. I’d like to tell the story of a different kind of lady. I’m going to tell you about Rachel Alexandra.

No. Rachel's not a long lost relative of the Romanovs. She’s a three year-old filly who won the Preakness Stakes last Saturday at Pimlico.

The month of May is a big month in horse racing. We start off with the Kentucky Derby, follow it up with The Preakness Stakes in Maryland, and finish with the Belmont Stakes in New York. It’s called the Triple Crown, and the hope is that one horse will win all three races. It doesn’t happen often, and it won’t happen this year, either.

Rachel didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby. Her owners, at the time, didn’t even think of entering her in a race with the big boys. She was a filly and she ran against other fillies. And simply annihilated them. She won her races by 8 lengths, then 9 lengths, then a whapping 20 ¼ lengths!

A lot of people noticed. But a man named Jess Jackson did more than notice. He bought Rachel from her previous owner and decided to enter her in the Preakness.

There was a lot of buzz about Rachel. Everyone knew she could run. Some horse owners didn’t want her in the race, running against their horses. They complained that it was too late to enter the race. The field had already been decided. And what if it was too much her? Hadn’t Eight Belles collapsed at the Kentucky Derby last year, when running against the boys had proved too much for her?

But there were those who wanted to see what the little filly could do, and Jess Jackson and his team at Stonestreet tables had faith in Rachel. In the end, Jackson paid a $100,000 Supplemental Fee, and Rachel was allowed to run.

So there she was on the far outside, in the thirteenth position - not a great place to be. Her competition was twelve young colts - some of the best race horses in the country, including the Kentucky Derby winner. The announcer shouted “And there off!” And Rachel Alexandra was. She took off and never looked back. She won by a length and was the first filly to win the Preakness since 1924. She was the only horse to ever win it from the thirteenth position.

“A thoroughbred wants to run," Jess Jackson, her owner, said. "And if a filly is as good as the colts, they ought to compete. That was my position and that's why we came.”

To see the Preakness - Click here.

To see how fast she can really go - Click here


Mur said...

And Rachel did it without the backing of a group like NOW...or NOF? (National Organization of Fillies).


Diane said...

Isn't it odd how the prejudices against the female of the equine and human species parallel each other! How many women athletes were told they couldn't compete--even against other women--because they weren't strong enough or smart enough to perform. Bullsh*t.

Thanks for sharing Rachel Alexandra's story! --Diane