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HORSE RACING

Rachel Alexandra wins Haskell Invitational

The filly beat Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird by six lengths.

August 03, 2009|Associated Press

OCEANPORT, N.J. — Rachel Alexandra sped around the far turn and rolled past the boys once again Sunday to win the $1.25-million Haskell Invitational, establishing herself as one of the greatest fillies in thoroughbred racing.

When the regal bay filly returned to the winner's circle with Calvin Borel patting her neck, the Monmouth Park crowd of 37,090 cheered mightily for racing's brightest star.

Rachel Alexandra was not bothered a bit by the sloppy track, and settled in behind the leader Munnings, with Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird third in the seven-horse field.

When Munnings took his lead into the final turn, Rachel Alexandra accelerated and blew past him to lead by four lengths at the top of the stretch. With Borel giving her a tap with his whip, the filly extended her advantage and easily beat Summer Bird by six lengths.

"We haven't reached the depth of her yet," co-owner Jess Jackson said. "She is just running to beat the competition, and I don't know if she will ever get to Secretariat's records."

At this rate, no one knows what Rachel Alexandra might accomplish.

"She's just a tremendous filly, and I'm glad she put on a good show," winning trainer Steve Asmussen said.

Rachel Alexandra, the 1-2 favorite, returned $3, $2.20 and $2.10. Summer Bird, with Kent Desormeaux aboard, paid $3.40 and $2.60. Munnings was third and paid $3.20.

Papa Clem was fourth, followed by Duke of Mischief, Atomic Rain and Bunker Hill.

The winning time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:47.21.

Rachel Alexandra joins Serena's Song as the only fillies to win the Haskell. The daughter of Medaglia d'Oro became the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness when she beat Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird by one length.

Jackson bought Rachel Alexandra after she won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths on May 1 and said he wanted to run her against the boys. Now that she has beaten them twice, Jackson just may have the best filly -- ever.

"There's not been a filly as good since Ruffian," Jackson said, "and she just might be as good."

Hall of Famer Ruffian won 10 of 11 races in 1974-75, but suffered a broken leg in her famous match race with Foolish Pleasure in 1975, and was later euthanized.

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