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Here comes Rachel

By Phil Janack
Monday, August 31, 2009

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The mayor of the city of Saratoga Springs has declared Saturday "Rachel Alexandra Day" to coincide with her Saratoga Race Course debut in the Grade I $750,000 Woodward.

Mayor Scott Johnson read a proclamation during a morning press conference at the track which announced a series of events planned for the final week of the Saratoga meet.

"Rachel Alexandra has, in her short lifetime, built a reputation that joins the elite ranks of the greatest horses in racing history," Johnson said. "She is a true champion in racing's classic style. We enthusiastically welcome her to our city."

A winner of eight consecutive races, including victories over males in the Grade I Preakness and Haskell, Rachel Alexandra will attempt to become the first female to beat older males in the Woodward.

The only 3-year-old filly to have beaten older males in a route race that is currently a Grade I in New York was Lady Primrose in the 1887 Manhattan Handicap. The Manhattan is run on the grass at Belmont Park.

NYRA and the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce have worked with community leaders and businesses to promote the appearance of Rachel Alexandra at Saratoga, where she has been stabled at the Oklahoma training track since late June.

"Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward Stakes. I've been waiting to say that for the entire meet," NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward said. "We're really thrilled."

A number of special pole banners with Rachel's blaze or the slogan "Run Like a Girl" will hang all week along Broadway in downtown Saratoga. Gates will open at 7 a.m. on Saturday for the only time at the meet other than Travers day, Aug. 29.

The first 25,000 fans will receive a commemorative Rachel Alexandra button with paid admission. NYRA is also selling special t-shirts and baseball caps in its stores, with net proceeds going to benefit the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

"I would like to thank NYRA and Saratoga for being so hospitable to us," said Barbara Banke, wife of co-owner Jess Jackson. "Saratoga has some of the best racing fans in the world. This is the apex of racing in America. This is the place we wanted to be with Rachel, and we're so looking forward to Saturday. There's no place we'd rather be."

 
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