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68° Good Afternoon
68° Good Afternoon
SportsHorseracing

'Rachel' romps by 19 in small Goose field

Even when your significant other wins a stakes by 19¼ lengths, life is not necessarily perfect. As Calvin Borel glanced back twice in deep stretch at Rachel Alexandra's two hopelessly overmatched opponents, his fiancee, Lisa Funk, got aggravated. "I hate that," Funk said as her man and the superstar filly coasted to the finish Saturday in the Grade I Mother Goose. "I want to punch him when he does that. But he's not doing it to taunt, it just comes out naturally. He's just so happy to be riding a horse like that." Rachel Alexandra's presence and brilliance turned Belmont Park into a lovefest on a warm, sunny afternoon. You'll never see a paddock so mobbed for a three-horse race, and it wasn't about gambling. The elegant, leggy bay was motionless while being saddled, but applause perked her up in the walking ring. Then she ran 11/8 miles in a stakes-record 1 minute, 46.33 seconds while being eased. That was less than a second slower than Secretariat's 1973 track record of 1:452/5, and Big Red was working hard all the way. Rachel's margin broke Ruffian's 1975 stakes mark by 6 lengths. That's pretty good company. "I am amazed by her beauty combined with her speed," majority owner Jess Jackson said. "The main thing I worry about is her getting injured, not getting beat. She's something special, one for the ages." Hopeful Image (mild colic) and Don't Forget Gil (fever) were scratched yesterday morning. Runner-up Malibu Prayer and Flashing might as well have stayed in the barn, too, but you couldn't fault them for lack of effort. Malibu Prayer blasted through a quarter-mile in 22.57 seconds and a half-mile in 44.66, with Flashing close behind. After 6 furlongs in a blazing 1:08.86, the Amazon princess pounced. Borel split them approaching the quarter pole, and it was over in a matter of strides. At the furlong marker, the margin was eight, and the 1-20 favorite stretched it 11¼ more lengths without trying. "At the three-eighths pole, the others started getting tired," he said. "When I asked her to run, I knew that was it." Cheers greeted Borel on the way to the winner's circle as he tapped Jackson on the left shoulder and pointed to Rachel Alexandra. Her seventh consecutive stakes victory made her 9-for-12. Flashing's trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, has trained many superstars for the Maktoums of Dubai. "The winner," Suroor said, "she's a different class." Out in California, 15 minutes after Rachel's victory lap, America's other killer female stayed perfect. The 5-year-old mare Zenyatta improved to 11-for-11 with a 2½-length victory in the Grade I Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park. Rachel Alexandra beat males in the Preakness. Could she beat Zenyatta? All but one of Zenyatta's races have been on synthetic surfaces in California. Jackson hates "plastic tracks" and ruled out the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. Trainer Steve Asmussen said Rachel will spend the summer in Saratoga, with her next race undetermined. Zenyatta's owner, Jerry Moss, expressed interest Saturday in a head-to-head: "We hope both horses do well throughout the year and we can meet somewhere." As long as it's on old-fashioned dirt, Jackson would be up for it, too. "They're the best two fillies of the decade," he said. "We don't know how deep they can go." Many would love to find out.

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