Around every bend was some showing of Rachel Alexandra pride. From the hanging banners around town that read “Run Like A Girl” to the pink “Rachel” pins handed out at the entrance gates, the summer haven of Saratoga was all about Rachel Alexandra.
You would have been hard pressed to find a person in Saturday’s crowd of 31,171 who was not rooting for her. Almost every vendor was selling Rachel Alexandra merchandise, whether it be paintings of the filly or pink shirts with her name inscribed across them.
The impressive field of horses also included Cool Coal Man, It’s A Bird, 2008 Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara, Grade I Whitney Handicap winner Bullsbay, and Grade I Stephen Foster winner Macho Again.
As the tenth race, the big ticket Grade I Woodward Stakes, approached, the paddock was surrounded by fans stretching their necks to get a glimpse of the phenomenal filly.
After the trumpets blared their call to the post, they played a stanza from Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman To Me”. An obvious nod to the super filly.
Once the post parade started Rachel Alexandra, taken aback by the roaring crowd, dumped her jockey, Calvin Borel.
After the race began, it was apparent that the tiny mishap did not effect her running.
She broke well, and showing early speed, pressed near the front of the pack. Neck and neck with Da’ Tara, the pair ran the first six furlongs at a swift clip of 1:10.54. At the 6 1/2 furlong pole Rachel over came Da’ Tara, and took over as the leader.
As the field rounded the final turn into the homestretch, Macho Again made his move to the outside. He closed on the filly quickly, and was soon neck and neck with her. Rachel wouldn’t let him pass, and won by a head. Finishing the race in a respectable 1:48.29, she became the first filly in history to win the Woodward.
Although this was not the dominant performance that Rachel usually dishes out, it is truly one of her most impressive wins. She was hotly contested by the older males, and had to gut out the last few furlongs to hold on for the win.
Even though this was probably her last race of the year and will not run in the Breeder’s Cup, she has shored up her spot for Horse of the Year with her ninth consecutive win.