Rachel Alexandra returned home to Louisville today a star.
At the 134th Preakness Stakes Saturday, the 3-year-old filly, the only female in the race, showed the boys who was boss.
She took an early lead at the starting gate, stayed strong at the turns and fended off a last-minute challenge from the Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird. That's despite starting in position No. 13, the outermost spot on the track. No horse has ever won the Preakness from that spot.
"It's great for horseracing," Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley said. "She's a great filly. My colt's a super-colt, he won the Derby, came in second here."
Calvin Borel, the winning jockey, who made the controversial decision to ride the filly instead of the Derby champion he commandeered just two weeks ago has no regrets. After all, he won the Kentucky Oaks with Rachel Alexandra May 1.
"I've been in the business 30 years. I know my horses, sir, and I knew she was most probably the best horse I've been on in my life," the unrepentant Borel said.
Christine Brennan, a sports columnist for USA Today, said the victory was historic.
"You can make a very strong case that this victory by Rachel Alexandra is the most significant victory by a girl against the boys in the history of sports," she said.
Brennan said that it probably helped that Rachel Alexandra was the favorite to win.
"Fillies have won Triple Crown races before, and of course we need to make that clear, although it has been since 1924 that a filly won in the Preakness," Brennan said. "Last year Eight Belles coming in second at the Kentucky Derby and then tragically having to be put down because of breaking both of her legs."
Borel rode Rachel Alexandra to five victories in a row this year. But this is her first Triple Crown race.
Rachel Alexandra's previous owners didn't believe in racing her against colts. She proved them wrong.
The filly has won the hearts of women around the country, both in and out of racing. She even has her own Facebook fan page.
On the track, she's all strength and speed -- and with her braided mane, sheer girl power.
The big question now is whether Rachel Alexandra will race in the Belmont Stakes in three weeks June 6 and have a rematch against Mine That Bird.
"There's going to be some great horses at the Belmont," Borel said. "Even if Alexandra comes, she's one of them. She's a super-filly, but there are other horses that are very very tough too."