SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Rachel Alexandra will face seven older males and the long history of Saratoga Race Course as the “Graveyard of Champions’’ when the 3-year-old star filly tries to become the first female to win the $750,000 Woodward Stakes on Saturday.
Rachel was made the 1-2 favorite and will launch her attempt to make history and win her ninth consecutive race from the No. 3 starting gate.
Her opposition in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward includes Bullsbay, 5-year-old winner of the Whitney Handicap Aug. 8; 4-year-old Da’Tara, winner of the 2008 Belmont Stakes; 4-year-old Macho Again and 6-year-old Asiatic Boy, the winner and runner-up in the Stephen Foster Handicap in June at
“It’s going to be tough,’’ said jockey Calvin Borel, who has ridden Rachel Alexandra in each of her eight consecutive victories, including two, the Preakness and Haskell Invitational, over males her own age. “Put them in the gate and let’s see what happens.’’
“None of them are to be taken lightly,’’ said Scott Blasi, assistant to Steve Asmussen, who trains Rachel Alexandra for principal owner Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stable.
Rachel Alexandra will receive a three-pound weight allowance in deference to her sex and a five-pound break because of her age and carries 118 pounds. The older males will carry 126.
“I know the filly is the one to beat, but hopefully everyone will run well,’’ said Brian Ainge, assistant to trainer Eoin Harty, who sends out 15-1 shot Past the Point. “ We’ve been watching her all summer long. She’s facing older horses for the first time and they’re all facing her for the first time. It will be very exciting.’’
The field from the rail out is Da’Tara (Jose Lezcano, 12-1), Bullsbay (Jeremy Rose, 6-1), Rachel Alexandra (Borel, 1-2), Cool Coal Man (John Velazquez, 12-1), Macho Again (Robby Albarado, 8-1), It’s a Bird (Julien Leparoux, 10-1), Asiatic Boy (Alan Garcia, 10-1), Past the Point (Edgar Prado, 15-1). Da’Tara and Cool Coal Man, both owned by Robert La Penta, are coupled in the wagering.