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Rachel Alexandra

Rachel Alexandra: 20 length success for red-hot favourite

  PICTURE: Matt Wooley  

Rachel Alexandra stuns  Kentucky Oaks field

Report: USA, Friday
Churchill Downs: Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1
) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo fillies

TO say that Rachel Alexandra's victory in the Kentucky Oaks matched the hype surrounding her going into the fillies' Classic qualifies for an understatement, to say the least.

Those who may have considered her a Kentucky Derby horse have much now to back up that belief, as the 3-10 favourite merely galloped through the 1m 1f on the main track under Calivn Borel, who showed little sign of ever asking her for any serious run.

And when she got into the straight she effortlessly left her rivals behind en route to a hand-ridden 20 length victory.

"I've never been on a horse like this," said Borel.

Trainer Hal Wiggins added: "I kept looking at that other filly, Baffert's filly [leader Gabby's Golden Gal] and I thought she looked pretty comfortable. But our filly looked pretty comfortable, too."

Wiggins had to be pretty comfortable as well as Rachel Alexandra raced by the pacesetter nearing the top of the straight as each stride took his filly closer to the wire and farther from her field.

Asked if he should he have run his filly a day later, Wiggins said: "We're not going to look back. We're going to enjoy this. we're not going to have any regrets."

Rachel Alexandra came into the Oaks having won six of her nine career starts with two second-place finishes. Her four most recent starts, including her last of 2008, the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes over 1m ½f on the main track at Churchill Downs on November 29, resulted in authoritative victories.

She is a daughter of second-season sire Medaglia D'Oro (El Prado), who stands at Stonewall Farms for $40,000. Until this weekend, he was in second place behind Tapit, sire of Stardom Bound, on the second-season sires' list. The filly ishis first Grade 1 winner.

Breeder Dolph Morrison, who owns Rachel Alexandra as part of L and M Partners LLC with Mike Lauffer, said of a Derby bid: "The Triple Crown is the showcase of the future stallions of our industry. Colts should run against colts; fillies should run against fillies."

Calvin Borel

Calvin Borel: full of praise

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Borel concurred on the decision to run in the Oaks.

He said: "They did the right thing. This is the best horse I've ever ridden in my life. She'll go on and prove it down the road."

Borel, of course, rode Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense for trainer Carl Nafzger in 2007.

The temptation to take on the boys in the Preakness Stakes on May 16 might be an easy one to resist now, as it would require a $100,000 supplementary fee.

So, for now, Rachel Alexandra's connections may have to be sstisfied with owning just the best three-year-old filly in the US.

>>> also on Friday

Churchill Downs LouisvilleDistaff Stakes (Grade 2
) 1m½f dirt 3yo+ fillies and mares

WITH distaff champion Zenyatta scratched from the race early in the day by trainer John Shirreffs, just one unbeaten horse was left in the field for the Louisville Distaff.

One Caroline (George Arnold/Edgar Prado) had won all her five previous starts and her connections had looked forward to taking on the champion.

But along came near 9-1 chance Miss Isella (Ian Wilkes/Calvin Borel) to give the jockey the first of his two major victories on the day with a patented rail-skimming finish to best 1-2 favourite One Caroline by nearly a length.

"I don't know if [One Caroline] finished the way [Edgar Prado] thought she would or if she wasn't handling the track or whatever, but she went nice and comfortable on the lead. But my filly loves this race track. She's a totally different filly on this track and any other track. he got his filly relaxed two or three off the fence and I took the opportunity to move on in there and go on."

Trainer George 'Rusty' Arnold took the first defeat of his 1-2 favourite's career with class, adding: "My filly loved the race track. Ian'sfily just outran us today."

 

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