Please bear with me….as I flashback to the 70’s…..”I am woman, hear me roar, In numbers too big too ignore…” Yes, I know it’s a “women’s lib” song….and it’s Helen Reddy…but dammit, get over it! 😉 The chorus of the song says it best, though…”I am strong, I am invincible, I am Woman!”
Why is this song in my head?? No, I don’t want to go out and burn my bra (although it is tempting, actually….); it’s totally because the tremendous FILLY, Rachel Alexandra, kicked some serious butt in the 134th Preakness Stakes today at Pimlico. WOW! For me, it was sweet revenge for Genuine Risk and Winning Colors, who both ran great races in their Preaknesses, only to have the boys ‘gang up’ on them.
Genuine Risk, especially, has a special place in my heart. I was in the 7th grade in the spring of 1980, and my world revolved around horse racing (ok, so that hasn’t changed much). I was so excited that there was going to be a filly running in that year’s Derby….when classmates asked me who I thought would win the Derby (I used to carry around Sports Illustrated magazine…the only connection I had to the racing world), I said without doubt, “Genuine Risk, of course.” I clearly remember several classmates (all boys, mind you) saying, “…a filly can’t win the Derby”. HA HA HA (I said later)
Anyway, two weeks later, I waited anxiously as I watched the ABC Preakness coverage; I was both outraged and heartbroken when Codex (or Kotex, as I called him from that point on) stole the race from *my* filly. It was that race that made me dislike D. Wayne Lukas for many many years. I also carried a big grudge against Angel Cordero. I still think Codex should’ve been disqualified.
Fast forward 8 years, to Winning Colors and the 1988 Preakness Stakes. Now, I have to be honest–I don’t recall being the biggest fan of Winning Colors. Yes, I again told my (now Michigan State) classmates that she would win the Derby (and this time around, they were all in agreement). I attended that Derby (got a very, very bad case of sun poisoning. I have never been that sick in my life). I remember being a fan of Forty Niner, Pat Day, and Woody Stephens, though. No, I did not agree with Stephens’ instructions to Day. I think Forty Niner very well could have won the race had they not gone out and burned the filly.
*Anyway*, here we are in 2009….and Rachel Alexandra has not only become the first KY Oaks winner to run in the Preakness (I think ever, but I’m not positive on that fact), but she won it convincingly, beating a determined Derby winner in Mine That Bird, and (hopefully) shutting up all the naysayers who said she shouldn’t be in the race. That it was ‘too risky’ running a filly against the boys. To them, I say, ‘SUCK IT!’ On to the Belmont we go!
Post script–the last filly to win the Preakness was Nellie Morse in 1924. Nellie Morse was co-champion filly that year, along with Princess Doreen. Nellie Morse was purchased by Calumet Farm in 1931, while in foal to American Flag (a son of Man o’ War). The resulting filly, named Nellie Flag, became the first stakes winner bred by Calumet Farm, and their first champion. She went off as the *favorite* in the 1935 Kentucky Derby, finishing fourth to Omaha (who went on to capture the Triple Crown). She was also the first Derby mount for the legendary Eddie Arcaro. That, my friends, is your “horse nerd trivia” for the day.