Wow! Not in a million years would I consider myself a fan of horse racing, but Saturday's race had me on the edge of my seat. Not because it was a photo finish (Rachel Alexandra won by 3/4 of a length...not a lot, but definitely not the closest finish the Preakness has ever seen.) I was more intrigued by the story behind the two favorites, Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird.
For those of you that pay attention to the horse racing world, you'll know Mine That Bird was the extremely unlikely winner in the Kentucky Derby, going from being in dead last to pulling off a 50-1 victory. Rachel Alexandra didn't race in the Derby, and was instead entered in the Kentucky Oaks the day before, winning by 20 lengths...a massive win.
You see, Rachel Alexandra is a filly (a girl). Her former owners didn't think she should be entered in the Derby with the "boys". After winning the Kentucky Oaks, she was sold. Her new owners had a different outlook, and decided to enter her in the Preakness to see how she measured up against the stallions. As she proved Saturday, she has what it takes, being the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years and the only horse in history to win the race from the 13th post- the slot furthest from the rail at the start.
The real kicker was the jockey, Calvin Borel. Not only did Borel ride Rachel Alexandra to victory in the Kentucky Oaks, he also rode Mine That Bird to victory in the Derby. So, he had to decide which he wanted to ride in the Preakness. He chose Rachel Alexandra, with Mike Smith taking Mine That Bird.
I was torn on who I wanted to see win. On one hand, Rachel Alexandra is a spectacular horse. But, Mine That Bird had a lot to prove to show everyone he wasn't the one hit wonder of the horse racing world. And of course it would have been great to see a Triple Crown winner this year. (There hasn't been one since Affirmed in 1978.) I was also a little put off by Borel's decision not to ride Mine That Bird, and thought his declarations of Rachel Alexandra's sure win of the Preakness were a little cocky of him. (Although he was ultimately right.) So, I was routing for Mine That Bird.
It was a great race. And I think if the race was only a 1/4 of a mile longer, Mine That Bird could have taken it. He again came from dead last to losing by merely 3/4 of a length. Wow.
So, alas, there won't be a Triple Crown winner this year. But hey, maybe there will be a Triple Crown winner in the jockey world, if Borel rides Rachel Alexandra to a victory in the Belmont. I'll be watching for a rematch between these two spectacular horses. The racing world has gained a very unlikely fan, in the form of me.
Did you watch the Preakness? What did you think of the race, and are you looking forward to a rematch at the Belmont?