Filly keeps Canadian horse at bay

Rob Longley, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:55 PM ET

BALTIMORE - He is still the best three-year-old male in racing, but that won’t get Canadian champion Mine That Bird a shot at the Triple Crown.

Not when there is a filly who can run faster.

Rachel Alexandra had girl power to spare in today’s 134th Preakness Stakes, holding off the late-charging Kentucky Derby champ to win by a length.

It was a stirring performance at old Pimlico Racecourse, both by the winner and the runner-up as a filly and a gelding handed it to the studs of thoroughbred racing.

As he did in the Derby two weeks earlier, Mine That Bird unleashed a furious rally, going from last to almost first before the finish line arrived too early.

“I’m thrilled to death with the race my little horse ran,” Mine That Bird’s trainer, Chip Woolley said of the plucky competitor who reeled off a four-race win streak at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack last summer to set him on the Derby trail.

“I thought we had a chance, but you have to give that filly credit. She’s a great one.”

There will no disputing that today given the way Rachel Alexandra handed it to the 12 other competitors in the 1 3/16th race.

Not only did the race favourite lead for almost every step - and from the outside Post 13 at that - she did so despite a stiff early pace yet still had some run left to cross the wire in a time of 1:55.08.

“The filly is as talented as advertised,” said trainer Steve Asmussen, who has had her for just 10 days after owner Jess Jackson purchased her privately. “We got the saddle to stay on her and stayed out of her way.”

She was ridden with authority by Calvin Borel, who made history by becoming the first jockey to win the Derby and the Preakness with different horses. Borel rode Mine That Bird in Kentucky, but switched mounts when Jackson declared he was going to run Rachel Alexandra in the middle jewel.

They will never take the Derby win away from Mine That Bird though and yesterday he validated his accomplishment of two weeks earlier.

“He’s a tough little dude,” said jockey Mike Smith, who got the mount when Borel bailed. “If we could have gone another sixteenth of a mile, I think we would have tackled her.”

Smith didn’t have the benefit of the inside trip that Borel was able to utilize aboard Mine That Bird in the Derby. Instead, he had to go wide and cover ground that may have compromised his chances.

“On the backstretch, I tried to duck back in but there was a lot of traffic. I had to do what I had to do.”

Rachel Alexandra has become the first filly to win the Preakness since 1924 and returned $5.60 to win.


Videos

Photos