Rachel Alexandra - The Greatest Filly?

Courtesy of Becky Johnston 

I've heard that comment over the last week with open-ended infinity.  I know our sport wants a star badly, but we have had some awfully good three-year-old fillies that beat much more difficult competition by this time in their career, or they did so throughout their classic-year campaign. 

I don't want to take anything away from Rachel Alexandra and I have no doubt that with the change in connections, she will find tougher competition and we will find out where she stands in history.  But for now, let's take our blinkers off and let's look at some of the best three-year-old fillies of the last 25 years, their accomplishments and where this year's top filly stands currently and what she will be compared to throughout the year.

No doubt, Go For Wand was one of the best fillies that I ever laid eyes on.  Before her tragic run in the Breeders' Cup, she had run 12 times with ten wins and two seconds.  One of the runner-up efforts was the Kentucky Oaks behind Seaside Attraction. 

This is her Beldame Stakes win where she faced older fillies, including Grade 1 winners Colonial Waters, Buy the Firm, and Personal Business and nearly took down Secretariat's track record on this day, under wraps.


Here is a filly that her performance most resembled Rachel Alexandra's Oaks, Lite Light.  Even her time of 1:48 4/5 was right on the money with Rachel's.  She won her Kentucky Oaks effortlessly over Grade 1 placed Private Treasure, Ifyoucouldseemenow and Til Forbid, Grade 2 winner Withallprobability, and Grade 3 winner Risen Colony.  Also in the field was the 1991 Martha Washington winner Polish Holiday.


Lite Light looked like she would never lose again, but in fact she lost her next race by the thinnest of margins to two-year-old champion, Meadow Star.

As we are all speculating that Rachel can beat her male counterparts, it was only two years ago when a filly did just that.  Rags to Riches over the grueling distance of a mile and a half did something that had not been done in over a 100 years.  She defeated all three Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes placers in a race that wasn't stolen on the front end, it was hard-earned eyeball to eyeball down the stretch.


Lest we forget how good the newly minted Hall of Fame member Silverbulletday was, either.  Grade 1 placed and eventual Grade 1 winner Marley Vale, Martha Washington Stakes winner The Happy Hopper, Grade 2 placed Dreams Gallore, and Grade 1 placed Gold From The West were her competition.


Serena's Song danced a lot of dances including the Kentucky Derby and we all remember her Haskell win, but it was her Kentucky Derby prep that we sometimes forget.  She won the Grade 2 Jim Beam Stakes over colts including the eventual second place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, Tejano Run and Grade 1 Super Derby Winner Mecke.


Champion Hollywood Wildcat was one of those unique champions that won Grade 1 races on both the turf and dirt and she was never more impressive than a fall day at Santa Anita Park against the reigning older champion Paseana.


The 1991 Canadian Triple Crown winner was Dance Smartly.  She won our three-year-old championship later in the year in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs, but this race is the completion of her Crown in the Breeders' Stakes. 


Dance Smartly 1991 Breeders' Cup Distaff

I guess the point is, let's don't anoint her quiet yet.  Let's let her develop and reach her potential without forgetting the great fillies of the past.  She's not there yet.  She may very well get there, but not yet.

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