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Rachel Alexandra wins Preakness; Mine That Bird places second
Associated Press

Jockey Calvin Borel gestures as he rides Rachel Alexandra to victory in the 134th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.

 

Associated Press

Rachel Alexandra, center, with jockey Calvin Borel up, leads the field around the fourth turn.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 5/16/2009 5:35 PM | Updated: 5/16/2009 8:53 PM

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Preakness winners

2009 -- Rachel Alexandra

2008 -- Big Brown

2007 -- Curlin

2006 -- Bernardini

2005 -- Afleet Alex

2004 -- Smarty Jones

2003 -- Funny Cide

2002 -- War Emblem

2001 -- Point Given

2000 -- Red Bullet

1999 -- Charismatic

1998 -- Real Quiet

1997 -- Silver Charm

1996 -- Louis Quatorze

1995 -- Timber Country

1994 -- Tabasco Cat

1993 -- Prairie Bayou

1992 -- Pine Bluff

1991 -- Hansel

1990 -- Summer Squall

1989 -- Sunday Silence

1988 -- Risen Star

1987 -- Alysheba

1986 -- Snow Chief

1985 -- Tank's Prospect

1984 -- Gate Dancer

1983 -- Deputed Testamony

1982 -- Aloma's Ruler

1981 -- Pleasant Colony

1980 -- Codex

1979 -- Spectacular Bid

1978 -- Affirmed

1977 -- Seattle Slew

1976 -- Elocutionist

1975 -- Master Derby

1974 -- Little Current

1973 -- Secretariat

1972 -- Bee Bee Bee

1971 -- Canonero II

1970 -- Personality

1969 -- Majestic Prince

1968 -- Forward Pass

1967 -- Damascus

1966 -- Kauai King

1965 -- Tom Rolfe

1964 -- Northern Dancer

1963 -- Candy Spots

1962 -- Greek Money

1961 -- Carry Back

1960 -- Bally Ache

1959 -- Royal Orbit

1958 -- Tim Tam

1957 -- Bold Ruler

1956 -- Fabius

1955 -- Nashua

1954 -- Hasty Road

1953 -- Native Dancer

1952 -- Blue Man

1951 -- Bold

1950 -- Hill Prince

1949 -- Capot

1948 -- Citation

1947 -- Faultless

1946 -- Assault

1945 -- Polynesian

1944 -- Pensive

1943 -- Count Fleet

1942 -- Alsab

1941 -- Whirlaway

1940 -- Bimelech

1939 -- Challedon

1938 -- Dauber

1937 -- War Admiral

1936 -- Bold Venture

1935 -- Omaha

1934 -- High Quest

1933 -- Head Play

1932 -- Burgoo King

1931 -- Mate

1930 -- Gallant Fox

1929 -- Dr. Freeland

1928 -- Victorian

1927 -- Bostonian

1926 -- Display

1925 -- Coventry

1924 -- Nellie Morse

1923 -- Vigil

1922 -- Pillory

1921 -- Broomspun

1920 -- Man o' War

1919 -- Sir Barton

1918 -- War Cloud and Jack Hare, Jr.

1917 -- Kalitan

1916 -- Damrosch

1915 -- Rhine Maiden

1914 -- Holiday

1913 -- Buskin

1912 -- Colonel Holloway

1911 -- Watervale

1910 -- Lay Master

1909 -- Effendi

1908 -- Royal Tourist

1907 -- Don Enrique

1906 -- Whimsical

1905 -- Cairngorm

1904 -- Bryn Mawr

1903 -- Flocarline

1902 -- Old England

1901 -- The Parader

1900 -- Hindus

1899 -- Half Time

1898 -- Sly Fox

1897 -- Paul Kauver

1896 -- Margrave

1895 -- Belmar

1894 -- Assignee

1893-91 -- No Races

1890 -- Montague

1889 -- Buddhist

1888 -- Refund

1887 -- Dubine

1886 -- The Bard

1885 -- Tecumseh

1884 -- Knight of Ellerslie

1883 -- Jacobus

1882 -- Vanguard

1881 -- Saunterer

1880 -- Grenada

1879 -- Harold

1878 -- Duke of Magenta

1877 -- Cloverbrook

1876 -- Shirley

1875 -- Tom Ochiltree

1874 -- Culpepper

1873 -- Survivor

BALTIMORE -- Girls rule!

The best 3-year-old in the land just happens to be a filly named Rachel Alexandra.

Jockey Calvin Borel all but guaranteed victory in the Preakness Stakes and, boy, did she deliver, becoming the first filly in 85 years to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.

A rangy bay — as big as most of the horses she beat — Rachel Alexandra shot to the front Saturday and wasn't seriously challenged until a late close by Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

She led by a head at the quarter and half-mile poles. She stretched it to a half-length at the three-quarters pole. She was ahead by four lengths going down the stretch. In the end, the 9-5 favorite won by a length in her first race against the boys.

The win also validated Borel's decision to climb off Mine That Bird and stay on the filly as her regular rider.

Now Borel may get a shot at a personal Triple Crown, if Rachel Alexandra goes on to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks. The 1½-mile race is the most grueling of the three.

"I'm not worried about nothing," he said. "It's going to take a racehorse to beat her."

Rachel Alexandra had already beaten up on her own gender, winning her five previous races by a combined 43½ lengths.

Musket Man finished third, as he did in the Derby, followed by Flying Private and Big Drama.

Rachel Alexandra covered 1 3-16 miles in 1:55.08 and became the first horse to win at Pimlico from the No. 13 post on the far outside. She paid $5.60, $4.60 and $3.60. Mine That Bird returned $6.60 and $4.80, while Musket Man paid $5 to show.

"I'm thrilled to death with the race my little horse ran," said Chip Woolley Jr., who trains Mine That Bird. "You have to give that filly credit. She's a great one."

Rachel Alexandra earned $660,000 from the purse of $1.1 million.

Papa Clem was sixth, followed by Terrain, Luv Gov, General Quarters, Friesan Fire, Pioneerof the Nile, Tone It Down and Take the Points.

The last filly to win the Preakness was Nellie Morse in 1924. Rachel Alexandra became the second filly to go off as the wagering favorite and win. Whimsical at 8-5 odds was the first, in 1906.

Rachel Alexandra stumbled slightly leaving the gate, then stuck her head in front at the first turn and refused to give way.

Her first challenge was to get rid of Big Drama, a persistent presence from inside down the backside and into the final turn. Once she shook him loose and opened up the four-length lead at the top of the stretch, Mine That Bird made a run at her.

Borel sensed she was tiring, and took firm hold of the reins.

"I had to put the bit in her mouth because she was kind of struggling," he said. "It kind of took a lot out of her."

Still, she had enough left at the end and crossed the finish line to the cheers of 77,850 fans — the smallest crowd since 1983 — at Pimlico.

"Awesome," said Bob Baffert, who trains Pioneerof the Nile. "Rachel Alexandra is amazing. She took the heat and kept on going."

The most impressive of Rachel Alexandra's performances was her stunning victory by 20¼ lengths in the Kentucky Oaks, the day before the Kentucky Derby.

This ending was far different from the last time a filly challenged the boys. Eight Belles finished a gallant second in last year's Kentucky Derby, then broke both front legs while galloping past the finish line and was destroyed on the track.

This time, it was all cheers. No tears.

"Rachel Alexandra was great," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "She took it right to them, led every step of the way. She deserves a lot of credit."

Rachel Alexandra, marked by two white spots on her head, wasn't even supposed to be in the Preakness. Her original owners, who named the filly after a 13-year-old granddaughter, didn't nominate her to the Triple Crown races, believing fillies should run only against their own gender.

After the Oaks, Rachel Alexandra was sold to Jess Jackson, founder of Kendall-Jackson winery, and Harold McCormick.

They ponied up $100,000 to buy her a spot in the race, and the gamble paid off.

"There was a lot of social criticism and doubt about whether she was capable," Jackson said. "I think I would've taken some heat if she hadn't performed well, so that takes some heat off my shoulders."

Borel had total faith in the filly, making the unprecedented decision to dump Mine That Bird after his stunning Derby victory at 50-1 odds.

"She's the best horse in the country right now, bar none," he said.

The last filly to win a Triple Crown race was Rags to Riches, who beat the Jackson-owned Curlin in the 2007 Belmont Stakes. Her victory was the first by a filly in that race in 102 years.

The start of the Preakness was delayed slightly when Big Drama reared up in the gate and dumped his rider. Rachel Alexandra stood at the opposite end, waiting patiently for the biggest test of her life.

Unlike the Derby, Mine That Bird had a tougher trip with Mike Smith, Borel's replacement, aboard. A light rain fell at the start of the race, but it didn't turn the dirt track into the kind of slop that he flew through to win at Churchill Downs.

"My hats off to her. She's a talented, talented mare," Smith said. "Anyone else would have caved."

Borel crossed the finish line, wagging his right index finger to signal their No. 1 status.

"Turning for home, I knew I was home free," he said.

Fans hoping for a rematch in the Belmont will have to wait a few days for a decision, although Mine That Bird will definitely run.

"I'll depend on her. The horse always tells you if they're ready," Jackson said. "Would we love to run? Yes. Could she win? We think so. We've already shown she can run with colts. It's a question now of her best interest."

Preakness results

1. Rachel Alexandra

2. Mine That Bird

3. Musket Man

4. Flying Private

5. Big Drama

6. Papa Clem

7. Terrain

8. Luv Gov

9. General Quarters

10. Friesan Fire

11. Pioneerof the Nile

12. Tone It Down

13. Take the Points