The week following her win in the Oaks, Rachel Alexandra was purchased
by Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick and transferred from trainer
Hal Wiggins to Steve Asmussen. Borel, who had ridden both Rachel
Alexandra in the Oaks and Mine That Bird in the Derby, was asked
to continue riding the filly and he agreed.
Mine That Bird’s trainer, Chip Woolley,
picked up Mike Smith on the Derby winner.
It made for one of the most intriguing Preakness Stakes ever, and
after drawing post 13, Borel knew he would have to send the filly
from the outset, which he did.
Big Drama added some drama to the start of the race when he acted
up in the gate and jockey John Velazquez had to dismount as the
horse was backed out of the gate. But the obvious pacesetter walked
back in, and when the gates sprung, he went with the filly as
the field went down the stretch the first time and through the
first turn. They went the opening quarter in an aggressive :23.13
and the half in :46.71.
Borel was able to open up just a bit on the backstretch but he
had used the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro a great deal to get the
lead and knew he had to try and slow the pace a bit.
"I was comfortable early, but down the backside they started
to pick it up," Borel said.
Big Drama, who had skipped the Derby, was still in second down
the backstretch, followed by Friesan Fire, the beaten favorite in
the Derby, and Papa Clem, who had run fourth in Louisville. They
went six furlongs in 1:11.01.
Meanwhile, Smith had Mine That Bird settled nicely in last of the
13 runners but he was only about a dozen lengths from the lead and
waiting to make his run.
As the field made the turn for home, Borel asked Rachel Alexandra
to open up and she moved out in front by four lengths.
Smith had Mine That Bird on the move but he had to go wide and
then split horses to make his run. Another horse had also made a
move to get in contention, and that was Musket Man and Eibar Coa.
Mine That Bird was able to move past the gutsy Musket Man but could
not catch a laboring Rachel Alexandra.
The final time for 1 3/16 miles on a track labeled fast was 1:55.08.
Mine That Bird settled for runner-up, a half-length better than
third-place finisher Musket Man.
"She was struggling at the end," Borel said. "She
struggled a lot (with the track). She was pricking her ears and
I had to get after her. I knew (Mine That Bird) was coming. It's
going to take a racehorse to beat her. She's the greatest racehorse
I've been on in my life."
Despite tiring at the end of the race, Rachel Alexandra coasted
home under the wire to cheers from the 77,850 in attendance under
skies that had spit rain starting just 10 minutes to post. She had
again confirmed just how special she is, and Mine That Bird had
proven he was not a fluke Derby winner, despite his 50-1 odds at
Rachel Alexandra was the heavy favorite in the race, going off
at 9-5 and paying $5.60, $4.60, and $3.60. Mine That Bird returned
$8.60 and $4.80, while Musket Man paid $5. The exacta (13-2) netted
$39.20 and the trifecta (13-2-3) was $216.20.
"I'm thrilled to death with the race my little horse ran," said
Woolley of Mine That Bird. "I thought we had a chance at
the eighth-pole. But you have to give that filly credit. She's
one. The Belmont is next for us."
Derek Ryan, trainer of third place finisher Musket Man, also gave
full credit to Rachel Alexandra.
"I saw (Rachel Alexandra) breezing at Churchill before the
Oaks, and I knew she was a super star," he said. "My
horse ran well, but we got beat by a great one. She's a filly
The complete order of finish was: Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird,
Musket Man, Flying Private, Big Drama, Papa Clem, Terrain, Luv Gov,
General Quarters, Friesan Fire, Pioneerof the Nile, Tone It Down,
and Take the Points.