IS RACHEL THE BEST THREE-YEAR OLD FILLY OF ALL-TIME???
We are often caught up in the debates about who is the best Kentucky Derby horse or who is the champion male of all time. With that in mind, I just want to say the king of this castle is me…as long as my wife is not around…and if she is I will tell her just how it is…with a simple “yes ma’am”. So here is the point of my babblings…women have way more power than us guys want to admit. Because the Triple Crown series dominates the general public’s perception in the Thoroughbred game, we often think of the three-year old males. But what about those fine fillies that are from the same crop?
A very strong case for best three-year old male goes to Secretariat of course. Fastest Triple Crown winner ever…yeah baby! Here is the question we pose, who is the best three-year old filly of all-time? For us, the answer is pretty simple.
Rachel Alexandra was a super nova in 2009. This daughter of Medaglia d’Oro put on a performance that was simply superb. Eight starts at seven different tracks yielded eight wins including five grade 1 victories. That kind of record can make a career. Rachel did it all in just one year. A breakdown of the season tells us even more about this fantastically fast front-running filly.
The year started with two wins at Oaklawn Park (Martha Washington Stakes, Fantasy Stakes) sandwiched around a victory at the Fair Grounds (Fair Grounds Oaks) in New Orleans. Next up was the Kentucky Oaks and that is where Rachel made a name for herself. Winning the race by an astonishing 20 ¼ lengths under jockey Calvin Borel, more than just a few jaws were left agape at Churchill Downs that day. Some thought she should have run the following day in the Kentucky Derby against the boys, but trainer Hal Wiggins was satisfied with her record-setting performance and blanket of Lillies. Shortly after the Oaks romp Rachel was sold to Stonestreet Stables for what was rumored to be $10 million. Transferred to the barn of Steve Asmussen, Rachel perhaps answered the Derby doubts by winning the Preakness Stakes against the boys just two weeks later. The first filly to accomplish this feat since Nellie Morse in 1924, she was living up to Borel’s claim of “horse of a lifetime”. The second place runner that day was Kentucky Derby winning Mine that Bird.
We might could stop right there, but the amazing season of Rachel Alexandra continued. Going back against females in the Mother Goose at Belmont Park, she easily won by 19 ¼ lengths. Her ambitious campaign continued against the three-year old boys in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, Borel once again guided her to further greatness as she won by a widening 6 lengths. The second place horse in the Haskell was Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird. The final race of her amazing run through 2009 was against older males at Saratoga in the Woodward Stakes. Pushed every step of the way through hot fractions, the courageous female stamped herself as Rachel Alexandra the Great with a stubborn neck victory. That win capped an unheard of run into the history books and helped earn her Horse of The Year honors.
Rachel finished her career with four races as a four-year old. All against older females, she carried the Stonestreet colors to the winner’s circle twice (Fleur de Lis, Lady’s Secret) and finished second twice (LaTroinne, Personal Ensign). But let’s summarize that miracle year as a three-year old. You don’t have to take your shoes off to add this one up. She was unbeaten including a win in a Triple Crown race and victories against the other two Triple Crown race winners. Record-setting margin of victory in the Kentucky Oaks and beat older males in a race means what?… The one digit math says….Greatest three-year old female ever!