Rachel Alexandra is one of horse racing’s undisputed leading ladies. In her racing days, this elegant bay filly had the speed and stamina to beat America’s fastest colts – and set a few records of her own. She has even posed for Vogue magazine, and has a line of vintage wines named after her!
© 2010 Sarah K. Andrew
A daughter of Medaglia d’Oro from the Forty Niner granddaughter Lotta Kim, Rachel Alexandra was originally owned by breeder Dolphus Morrison (who named the filly after his granddaughter) and his partner Michael Lauffer. At first, Morrison planned to sell the filly, but her speed prompted him to race her.
At age 3, Rachel Alexandra started setting the track afire. First in the Martha Washington Stakes (where she set a new stakes record), first in the Fair Grounds Oaks and first in the Fantasy Stakes, she then made headlines with a 20 ¼-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks, the Kentucky Derby for fillies. It was the largest winning margin in that race’s 135-year history, and inspired the owner of Curlin, Stonestreet Stables’ Jess Jackson, to buy the filly with Harold McCormick and move her from trainer Hal Wiggins to Steve Asmussen.
In a bold move, the filly’s new owners entered her in the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown – the Preakness Stakes – where she would face colts for the first time. Calvin Borel, Rachel Alexandra’s jockey in the Oaks, had piloted Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird, and was expected to ride him in the Preakness. But so solid was his faith in Rachel Alexandra that he opted to ride her in this race. "This is the greatest horse I've ever been on in my life,” he said.
Borel did not regret it. Though she drew the unlucky #13 post position, Rachel Alexandra defeated Mine That Bird, becoming the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness and the first Kentucky Oaks winner ever to do so.
It was just the beginning of a sizzling summer for Rachel Alexandra. In New York, she sailed home in the Mother Goose Stakes by 19 ¼ lengths and set a new track record that just missed Secretariat’s 1973 record. (With this win, she also broke the record for margin of victory set by another legendary filly, the late, great Ruffian.) “Rachel” followed that with a romp in the mud in New Jersey’s Haskell Invitational Stakes, defeating a field of colts that included Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird. Despite the sloppy track, her winning time was just 0.21 seconds off the stakes record. Rachel’s 2009 campaign concluded in September in spectacular fashion when she held off late-surging colts at Saratoga to become the first filly ever to win the prestigious Woodward Stakes, holding off Macho Again by a head. She ran an electrifying race against the older boys for her ninth consecutive victory. By then Rachel Alexandra had won 11 of her 14 races and earned nearly $3,000,000. For her incredible achievements, she was named the 2009 Horse of the Year.
After the 2010 racing season, Rachel Alexandra was retired on September 28, 2010 to begin a new career as a broodmare. After a second pregnancy wrought with difficulty, however, the decision was made to not breed her again for the foreseeable future. Rachel continues to reside at Stonestreet Farms, where lucky guests can have the opportunity to meet this living legend on special tours.
Rachel Alexandra's Breyer portrait model was produced from 2010 to 2011.