Will a Big Preakness Drama Unnerve Rachel?

Courtesy of Rob Fundter, The Amateur Capper

RACHEL ALEXANDRA has been the best horse on the track in each of her four starts this year.  The compelling question in the 134th Preakness Stakes is whether the filly is more horse than her male counterparts.  Pimlico morning line maker FRANK CARULLI believes she is, installing her as the 8-5 favorite, despite the presence of the top four Kentucky Derby finishers.

Her dominance of the 3y.o. filly division in 2009 culminated with a win in the Kentucky Oaks on May 1.  Her 20 ΒΌ length win compelled JESS JACKSON to purchase the likely champion for an undisclosed sum (believed to be in the $10 million range) just five days later.  RACHEL has been supplemented to the Triple Crown series for $100,000 making her eligible for the Preakness Stakes this Saturday.

There was much controversy after her new connections confirmed RACHEL ALEXANDRA would be running in the Preakness.  Connections of the Derby winner MINE THAT BIRD and runner-up PIONEEROF THE NILE were reportedly conspiring to keep the filly from running, but came to their senses before entries were taken.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA will be heavily supported on the third Saturday in May, in large part because she is the fairer of the equine genders.  This sentiment could drive her starting odds even lower than listed despite her.  For those enthusiasts who will be placing a wager on the Preakness Stakes, she may not hold enough value.  Here are some critical points about RACHEL to consider:


RACHEL is not the only entrant with that distinction:  BIG DRAMA has won his two tries around two turns and enters today off a fast win in the G.2 Swale S. at Gulfstream Park.



The jockey was forced to pick between the Kentucky Derby winner MINE THAT BIRD and RACHEL ALEXANDRA.  Borel has been quoted as saying the filly's the best horse he's ever ridden.  That's big praise considering he piloted juvenile champion STREET SENSE to '05 Champion 2y.o. and a Derby win and a narrow Preakness defeat just two years ago.



Her Fair Grounds Oaks win on a sloppy/sealed track was easy, nearly on a par with Louisiana Derby hero FRIESAN FIRE, who'd completed his race in "driving" fashion.



In BIG DRAMA, RACHEL will be forced to chase a pace similar to the one that sapped her late energy as a two year old.



Since 1992, only two horses have won the Preakness without starting in the Derby.  BERNARDINI posted a big 12-1 upset in 2006 when BARBARO sustained a life-ending (eventually) leg injury.  The other was 6-1 RED BULLET in 2000.


The weight assigned to each of these points will help you determine whether RACHEL ALEXANDRA can defeat the boys this Saturday.

Who do I like?

On a fast track, PIONEEROF THE NILE was my Derby selection and his 2nd in the Derby did nothing to diminish his standing in my eyes.  BIG DRAMA is perfectly spotted to use his ample speed to establish a lead and the tight, minimally banked Pimlico turns will help him negotiate the longest race of his career.  Like eventual champion sprinter CHEROKEE RUN, I would not be surprised to see BIG DRAMA hang on for a share.  PAPA CLEM can improve on his Derby 4th.

Should the track become "off", MINE THAT BIRD and RACHEL ALEXANDRA will become major threats.

Enjoy the race.

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