Saturday, June 27, 2009

Let's hear it for the girls!!

Above photos are Rachel Alexandra (with Calvin Borel up) as she comes out of the tunnel from the paddock to the track. Second photo is Rachel is after her dazzling win with the blanket of pink carnations trailing behind her.

It was a great day for racing, today, with Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta both adding to their already impressive records. I didn't get to see Zenyatta's race until I was home from Belmont, but she blew by her competitors with such style and grace. My proverbial hat is off to Zenyatta, she's undefeated and nearly unchallenged.

Rachel herself is something to see. I'll probably write more about my "day at Belmont" tomorrow, but just a little perspective on how good Rachel Alexandra is. And yes, she has been defeated, but not recently. And even though her victory today was only against two other fillies, she set a stakes record for the Mother Goose. How impressive is her time? The first 1/4 mile was in something insane like 22.55 seconds. The 1/2 split was an equally insane 44 seconds and change. Now I was standing by the finish line watching the backstretch on the jumbo-tron and worried that this pace was just too much for her. (I'll also say that as much as I adore Calvin Borel, and I do think the world of him, I was very glad to see that he had a couple of other mounts today which gave him a little more experience on those wide Belmont turns...but I digress) This is blistering speed here, folks, and it wasn't any too cool today, either. As the trio rounds the corner and heads down the home stretch, Calvin steered Rachel between the other two horses and that was it. You would have thought that he had a gear shift and just shifted down the way she moved. After that it was over. Rachel blew by them like they were standing still. And the crowd roared. There were over than 10,000 people at Belmont today, more than a usual summer weekend, and they cheered this lovely filly like a rockstar when she made her way from the paddock out to the track. Calvin, too. He was smiling and waving and you could just tell that both and Rachel were there to take care of business. And take care of it they did...and with style and grace, and they made it look easy. He eased her up before the finish line. So the final time? 1:46.33. In addition, the 19 1/4 lengths which she won by shattered the 13+ lengths record formerly held by the great Ruffian.

Rachel's in amazing company. Consider that the 9 furlong record for Belmont was set by none other than Big Red himself, the immortal Secretariat, at the Marlborough Handicap in 1973 where he ran a blistering 1:45.40.
This means she was a little less than a second away from Himself.

Other highlight of the afternoon? Walking over from the near the winner's circle I cross paths with Steve Asmussen (and a little girl I believe is his daughter) as he heads toward the winner's circle. He's a little past me and I turn and say "congratulations." He turns back and says, "thanks." Very cool :)

Other cool highlight was to see so many kids, especially little girls out for the race today with their parents. Most wearing pink (there was a lot of pink at the track today partly because the Jackson's are donating some of Rachel's winnings to The Susan G. Komen foundation) and one adorable little girl wearing a pink Rachel Alexandra hat and clutching her stuffed plush pony as she waited for Rachel to make her appearance.

It was a beautiful day in Queens and one certainly fit for a who wears the crown pretty easily, it seems. Drink a toast to Rachel on the the East Coast and one to Zenyatta on the West Coast--two classy dames who got it done today, and in splendid fashion.

Still wearing my Rachel Alexandra pink bracelet...

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