The best 3-year-old in the land just happens to be a filly named Rachel Alexandra.
Jockey Calvin Borel all but guaranteed victory in the Preakness Stakes and she delivered, becoming the first filly in 85 years to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.
A rangy bay, Rachel Alexandra shot to the front Saturday and wasn't seriously challenged until a late close by Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.
She led by a head at the quarter and half-mile poles. She stretched it to a half-length at the three-quarters pole. She was ahead by four lengths going down the stretch. In the end, the 9-5 favorite won by a length in her first race against the boys.
The win also validated Borel's decision to climb off Mine That Bird and stay on the filly as her regular rider.
Now Borel might get a shot at a personal Triple Crown, if Rachel Alexandra goes on to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks. The 11/2-mile race is the most grueling of the three.
"I'm not worried about nothing," he said. "It's going to take a racehorse to beat her."
Rachel Alexandra had already beaten up on her own gender, winning her five previous races by a combined 431/2 lengths.
Rachel Alexandra covered 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.08 and became the first horse to win at Pimlico from the No. 13 post on the far outside.
"I'm thrilled to death with the race my little horse ran," said Chip Woolley Jr., who trains Mine That Bird. "You have to give that filly credit. She's a great one."
The last filly to win the Preakness was Nellie Morse in 1924. Rachel Alexandra became the second filly to go off as the wagering favorite and win. Whimsical at 8-5 odds was the first, in 1906.
Rachel Alexandra stumbled slightly leaving the gate, then stuck her head in front at the first turn and refused to give way.
LEAVING HER MARK
Five fillies have now won the Preakness Stakes. A look at how the past 10 fillies have fared:
PLEASE STAND BY
Comcast viewers in the Augusta area missed Rachel Alexandra's victory at the Preakness Stakes.
The Emergency Alert System was activated just as the race was beginning. A Comcast customer service representative said Saturday by phone that EAS "is something put into place by Richmond and Columbia counties. They have no control over it. It's supplied directly from Public Safety and Homeland Security."
-- From Staff Reports