The sensational 3-year-old filly became the first female to win the prestigious Woodward Stakes on Saturday (Sept. 5), holding off Macho Again by a head and leaving six others in her wake.
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She beat 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds in an electrifying race before a cheering crowd of 31,171 at Saratoga Race Course for her ninth consecutive victory, all but clinching Horse of the Year honors.
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Rachel Alexandra dueled early with 2008 Belmont Stakes winner Da'Tara before taking the lead along the backstretch.
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On the turn for home, it looked for a brief moment as if the filly would be caught, but regular rider Calvin Borel wasn't bashful about using the whip, first left-handed, then right-handed, to keep her in the lead.
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Robby Albarado (left), who rode the 4-year-old runner-up, knew his horse wasn't going to win. "I never thought I had her,'' he said. "The only thing I was hoping for was that she'd tire. Champions show different dimensions. She's in a league of her own. Older horses, her own age, it doesn't matter. No matter what they throw at her, she'll beat them.''
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Rachel Alexandra beat 3-year-olds boys in the Preakness and the Haskell Invitational, and overwhelmed 3-year-old fillies in the Kentucky Oaks (20 1/4 lengths) and the Mother Goose Stakes (19 1/4 lengths) at Belmont.
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She earned $450,000 for Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick, her owners, increasing her career total to more than $2.9 million. Jackson (right) and longtime friend McCormick bought the horse after she won the Oaks and decided to enter her in the Preakness two weeks later.
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Jockey Calvin Borel said "The last 40 yards I was a little worried, but she just kept digging in,'' he said. "She stepped up and proved to be the best.''
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"She was ready,'' said co-owner Jess Jackson, who called the ride "perfect.'' "Those were a lot of big animals she was running against, but she showed her spirit. She showed her class. She didn't give up. That's my Rachel.''
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