OCEANPORT, N.J. — Rachel Alexandra turned on the speed around the far turn and rolled past the boys once again to win the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational and establish herself as one of the greatest fillies in Thoroughbred racing.
When the bay filly returned to the winner's circle with Calvin Borel patting her neck, the Monmouth Park crowd of 37,090 cheered mightily for racing's brightest star.
Rachel Alexandra was not bothered a bit by the sloppy track Sunday, and settled in behind the leader Munnings, with Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird third in the seven-horse field in the early going.
When Munnings went into the final turn, Rachel Alexandra accelerated and blew past him to lead by 4 lengths at the top of the stretch. With Borel urging her on, the filly extended her lead and easily beat Summer Bird by 6 lengths.
"We haven't reached the depth of her yet," co-owner Jess Jackson said. "She is just running to beat the competition, and I don't know if she will ever get to Secretariat's records."
At this rate, who knows what Rachel Alexandra is capable of.
"She's just a tremendous filly, and I'm glad she put on a good show," winning trainer Steve Asmussen said. "She's very special. She's been able to separate herself from everyone else."
Rachel Alexandra, the 1-2 favorite, returned $3, $2.20 and $2.10. Summer Bird, with Kent Desormeaux aboard, paid $3.40 and $2.60. Munnings was third and paid $3.20.
Papa Clem was fourth, followed by Duke of Mischief, Atomic Rain and Bunker Hill.
The winning time for the 11⁄8 miles was 1:47.21, just off the stakes record of 1:47.
Rachel Alexandra joins Serena's Song as the only fillies to win the Haskell. The daughter of Medaglia d'Oro became the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness when she beat Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird by 1 length.
"There's not been a filly as good since Ruffian, and she just might be as good," Jackson said.
Hall of Famer Ruffian won 10 of 11 races in 1974 and 1975, but suffered a broken leg in her famous match race with Foolish Pleasure in 1975, and was later euthanized.
Now that Rachel Alexandra has beaten the Derby winner and the Belmont winner, can the prestigious Travers Stakes at Saratoga in three weeks be next — and a possible matchup featuring all three of the Triple Crown race winners?
"We'll let her tell us," was Jackson's reply.
How about the Woodward Stakes on Sept. 5 against older horses? Jackson didn't answer, but simply repeated himself: "She'll tell us what's next."
Another possibility is a race against the undefeated Zenyatta, the 2008 older female champion who is 11-for-11 running primarily on synthetic surfaces in California. However, Jackson said Rachel Alexandra will not run in the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 7 because he doesn't like synthetic tracks.
Jackson bought Rachel Alexandra after she won the Kentucky Oaks by 201/4 lengths on May 1 and said he wanted to run her against the boys. Now, Jackson said he just may have himself the best filly — ever.
Rachel Alexandra has won 10 of 13 races and added $700,000 to raise her earnings to $2,498,354. In her most recent races against fellow 3-year-old fillies, she won the Oaks and the Mother Goose Stakes by a combined 391/2 lengths.
Asked if Rachel is the best in the land, Asmussen said: "What she can do is take care of it on the racetrack. The rest is public opinion."