(November 29, 2008) – Rachel Alexandra, owned by L and M Partners, LLC (Dolphus Morrison and Michael Lauffer), romped to a front-running, 4 ¾-length victory over Sara Louise to win Saturday’s 65th running of the $162,900 Golden Rod Stakes (Grade II) for 2-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Calvin Borel and trained by Hal Wiggins, Rachel Alexandra covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in stakes-record time of 1:43.08. The previous mark of 1:43.82 was set in 2001 by Belterra.
Borel sent Rachel Alexandra right to the lead, taking the field of six through fractions of :23.75, :47.85 and 1:12.55 while receiving only mild pressure from War Echo.Approaching the final turn, Rachel Alexandra began to shake off War Echo as Sara Louise loomed to her outside under Robby Albarado. At the head of the stretch, Sara Louise drew on almost even terms with Rachel Alexandra only to have Borel let out another notch on the leader and draw off to an emphatic victory.
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro out of the Roar mare Lotta Kim, who was trained by Wiggins, Rachel Alexandra improved her record to 6-3-2-0 and increased her earnings to $201,440 with the winner’s check of $99,988.
As the third choice in the wagering, Rachel Alexandra returned $8.20, $4 and $2.80. Sara Louise paid $3 and $2.40 with War Echo, finishing another 7 ¼ lengths back under Shaun Bridgmohan, paying $3.40 to show.
Completing the field in order were Dream Empress, Super Poni and Pearl of Valor.
Rachel Alexandra’s Golden Rod triumph was an early birthday present for Wiggins, who will turn 66 on Sunday.
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE GOLDEN ROD
CALVIN BOREL (Jockey, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, winner) – “She had kind of a bad trip last time. She was stuck on the inside of horses and stuff. She couldn’t really overcome it. I think Robby [Albarado]’s horse got a jump on her last time. I worked her twice and was so impressed. I worked her the first time and the track was real slow and we went in something like 1:05. About four days ago, we checked her engine to see if we were back on target. She went in like :47 under wraps. Brian Hernandez did tell me a while back when he knew I was going to ride her that she was the real deal and that she just had a bad luck trip. That happens in horse racing. I think the farther she goes the better she’ll get.”
Q: What about thoughts on next year’s Kentucky Oaks?
“She’s perfect. She can go there and be there any time. If she stays sound and healthy, she’s the top notch.”
HAL WIGGINS (Trainer, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, winner) – “I told Calvin [Borel] in the paddock that you might find yourself on the lead. Maybe [trainer Steve] Asmussen’s horse (War Echo) would show some speed. I told him, ‘If you’re on the lead, don’t worry about it. Just sit there and let her relax.’ He rode a really, really nice race.”
Q: What about her talents and the dream of the Kentucky Oaks?
“That’s what we’re pointing for, you bet. We’re going to (Oaklawn Park in) Hot Springs (Arkansas) with her. They’ve got a three-year-old series and the Fair Grounds has a three-year-old filly series. We’ll pick one or two of those races. We don’t want to dance every dance because we want to be ready for the Oaks and maybe the Ashland (at Keeneland) before that. . . That’s what we’re planning. We’ll give her a little bit of time and get her ready for the spring.”
DOLPHUS MORRISON, owner-breeder of RACHEL ALEXANDRA (winner)
“We knew she could run. And she’s not the end of the story. We’ve got an Empire Maker out of this mare (Lotta Kim) that’s just getting started.”
Q: Are you thinking that she is a Kentucky Oaks type of filly?
“Oh yeah, if she can earn her way to it we’ll certainly be there.”
Q: How special is it to win this race with a homebred?
“You can’t really truthfully explain what it does for you. My wife (Ellen) loves his business, she’s part of the brain trust and very knowledgeable. She’s very excited about this filly.”
DALE ROMANS, trainer of SARA LOUISE (runner-up)
“There’s not much to say. She ran her race. We just couldn’t catch Rachel Alexandra turning for home.”
Q: What will you do now with your filly?
“We’ll give her a little break and try to start doing something with her at the end of January or early February.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on SARA LOUISE (runner-up)
“I had no problems. Rachel Alexandra got bottled up last time (in the Pocahontas) or she might have been a little closer. But she ran big today – take nothing from her.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey on WAR ECHO (third)
“She ran as well as can. It was a tough field. The horse that just ran fourth won the Alcibiades and ran second in the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies), and two top-notch fillies finished in front of her. She ran really hard.”
KEN McPEEK, trainer of DREAM EMPRESS (fourth)
“I think she’s a turf and a Poly(track) filly. She’s kind of a light-bone, galloping type, and they run better on turf and Poly. This stuff was a little heavy for her today.”
Q: What’s next for her?
“She’s going to get six weeks off at my farm in Lexington, and then we’ll point her to something in the spring.”
KENT DESORMEAUX, rider of DREAM EMPRESS (fourth)
“I don’t think she cared for the surface under her feet, or the pelting in her face. She didn’t enjoy herself and I think she wants grass or Poly.”
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