It's gonna be an interesting race. Kentucky Derby upset winner Mine That Bird faces an out-of-left-field challenge from Rachel Alexandra. She's the super-filly who won the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby, by an astounding 20 lengths. Calvin Borel, who piloted Bird from way behind, rode Rachel to a similar tactical win on the same sloppy track -- coming from way off the pace, bringing her through on the rail and leaving the field struggling dismally far behind.
So Rachel's owners decided to put their maxi-girl up against the boys. Meaning that Borel found himself in the sticky position of having to pick which horse he'd ride in the Preakness.
Since Borel had been Rachel's regular rider, he chose the filly -- giving up a possible shot at a Triple Crown win, for reasons that I can only guess at. Did he have a standing agreement with Rachel's owners that obligated him to ride her? Or does he have a hunch that Bird won't repeat his brilliant Derby performance at Pimlico?
We'll find out tomorrow. Rachel Alexandra brings a 5-race winning streak, and drew the No. 13 post position -- which places her perfectly for a big closing run. The punters like all this, and have bet her down to favorite. Mine That Bird has only one 3-year-old win under his belt, and has drawn #2 position, where he might get jammed up behind other horses. Not surprisingly, the smart money has him at third favorite. But his jockey is Mike Smith, another outstanding tactical rider. I'd say that Smith will give Bird the best possible shot.
Being pro-girl, I have to like this amazing filly. But Mine That Bird shouldn't be written off. And some other nice horses are entered, including Pioneer of the Nile and General Quarters. It's a horse race, so anything can happen.
NBC will cover, with horses going to the post at 6:15 EST.