Three year old filly Rachel Alexandra etched her name in stone for top 3 year old honors this weekend by defeating this year’s Belmont Stakes winner, Summer Bird in the $1.25million Haskell Invitational (Grade 1) at Monmouth Park before a crowd of 37009 Aug 2.
As the field of seven horses broke from the gate, Rachel Alexandra’s regular jockey, Calvin Borel raced three horses wide just off of the pacesetter Munnings, who was being closely tracked on the inside by Belmont winner Summer Bird. After blazing through an eye opening three quarters of a mile in 1:09 4/5 seconds, Calvin unleashed Rachel and quickly opened a four length margin on the field at the top of the stretch. The other competitors would be racing for second as Rachel continued to extend her lead, winning by a final margin of six lengths. Rachel Alexandra’s finishing time for the 1 1/8 mile was 1:47.21, falling just 2/5s of a second slower than the track record set 24 years ago by 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend A Buck.
Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird held on for second, with the two time (grade ll) stakes winner Munnings finishing third. The Arkansas Derby (grade ll) winner Papa Clem was fourth, followed by Duke of Mischief, Atomic Rain and Bunker Hill.
“This filly is just unbelievable,” Borel enthused. “I can’t say how good she is. I don’t know. I gave her a few taps at the sixteenth pole, that’s it. I just wanted to keep her focused with a couple of taps. She started looking around at the crowd, so I just kept her busy to the wire; kept her focused.
“I really didn’t ask her for much run,” he added. “We have not gotten to the bottom of her, that’s for sure. She’s an amazing athlete and I’m glad that I get to ride her.”
Rachel Alexandra wasn’t the only one writing her name in the history books this weekend. Her trainer Steve Asmussen, also captured the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (grade ll) at Mountaineer Racetrack with Soul Warrior, and the Jim Dandy Stakes (grade ll) at Saratoga Racecourse with Kensei, giving him a sweep of this weekends major three year old events while becoming the first trainer to win all three races the same year.
“I thought with her success in the slop, I felt very confident that she would be able to handle the surface today,” Asmussen said. “The Haskell was our major goal, and we’re happy with the way she ran today. We’ll go back to Saratoga and breeze her back before we decide anything about the Travers.”
When asked to compare Rachel Alexandra’s other victories this year to today’s effort, trainer Steve Asmussen responded, “Comparing her races from the Preakness, to the Mother Goose,to today, it’s hard to determine her best effort. From changing barns and running over different surfaces and still showing showing her consistency. All of her races are special for different reasons. She handles the crowds and the weather, and nothing surprises her.
Owner Jess Jackson was asked if he would like to run the filly once more against the boys this season in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
“We don’t know,” Jackson told TVG when asked about Rachel Alexandra’s next start. “She’ll tell us.”
Because of his disdain for Santa Anita’s synthetic track, Jackson reiterated, “We’re not going to the Breeders’ Cup. I’ve said it and I meant it.”
When asked about a much anticipated race against Zenyatta owner Jess Jackson replied, “We’d love to run against Zenyatta but it has to be on a neutral course,” Jackson said. “When she’s ready, I don’t think there’s a horse in America that can beat her.”
Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables owns Rachel Alexandra in partnership with Harold McCormick. Dolphus C. Morrison bred the bay filly in Kentucky. She was sired by the stallion Medaglia d”Oro and is out of the mare Lotta Kim, by Roar.
Rachel Alexandra is seven for seven this year and is currently undefeated in her last eight starts.
The most notable victories of the streak began with her 20 1/4 length romp in this years Kentucky Oaks and continued on with her win in this years Preakness Stakes, defeating the Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, while becoming the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years and the only horse to ever win the race from the 13 post position. She then moved on to New York’s Mother Goose Stakes on June 27th and devoured a filed of fillies, beating them by 19 1/4 lengths, falling just short of breaking Secretariats 35 year old track record. Today’s victory in the Haskell ad $700,000 to Rachel Alexandra’s lifetime earnings, bringing her bankroll to $2,498,354 with a racing record of 10 wins and 2 seconds from 13 lifetime starts.
PHOTOS BY: Rick Buckley for PhelpsSports.com