Tomorrow (August 31) marks the closing day of the Saratoga Springs race season with the famous race, the Woodward. The Woodward marks Rachel Alexandra’s final, unbelievable race of the 2009 season. It has been a decade but that race still stands as one of the most thrilling .. and grueling, in racing history.
Going up against, not only male horses — as she had done at both the Preakness and the Haskell — but also older, bigger, stronger male horses, made the Woodward Rachel’s toughest test. And the males were gunning for her, there were no marshmallows in that race.
Every horse pushed Rachel at different points. First it was Da’Tara and Cool Coal Man, but when she repulsed their challenge, Past the Point charged at her. Finally, when Past the Point fell back, here came Bullsbay, as well as Asiatic Boy and Macho Again. Macho Again pushed her the hardest, but his best wasn’t good enough, and Rachel was victorious again.
The noise from the stands after Rachel’s win was so great that some spectators (Calvin’s then-wife, Lisa, for example) lost their hearing for a day or two. Some people I interviewed were so worn out from that race, they could hardly bare to re-watch it. One person felt so bad about how hard Rachel had to work that they never watched Rachel race again.
But it may have been that race that put Rachel over the top, by beating males twice her age, she showed what it meant to Run Like a Girl.