LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Rachel Alexandra came out of her record-breaking Kentucky Oaks victory on Friday in fine fashion and will remain at Churchill Downs while being pointed to the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes on the June 6 Belmont Stakes undercard, trainer Hal Wiggins said Saturday morning.
"She had about a handful of feed left in her tub this morning, and I promise you when we took her out of her stall, she had a lip shank on her and just dragged us around the barn," said Wiggins.
The victory was the first in a Grade 1 race and easily the most satisfying ever for Wiggins, who began training Quarter horses and Thoroughbreds nearly 35 years ago before switching solely to Thoroughbreds in the early 1980s.
"It's just overwhelming, very humbling," said Wiggins. "I'm just tickled to death for everybody involved. It's hard for them to realize it all happened the way it did."
Without one bit of urging from jockey Calvin Borel, Rachel Alexandra powered to a 20 1/4-length triumph over six overmatched fillies in the filly classic. Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby two years ago aboard Street Sense, said afterward that Rachel Alexandra is the best horse he has ever ridden.
The margin is believed to be the largest in race history, although Churchill records date only to 1910.
Dolph Morrison, who bred and co-owns Rachel Alexandra, all but ruled out a run versus males in the May 16 Preakness in the immediate aftermath of the Oaks, saying he believed the Triple Crown should serve as a showcase for the future stallions of the industry.
Rachel Alexandra paid a mere $2.60 on Friday but returned $8.40 to those who backed her in March in the only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool offered this year by Churchill.
Meanwhile, the Friday ontrack crowd of 104,867, fourth-highest in race history, was up nearly 5 percent over the 2008 crowd, when rainy conditions prevailed, but the all-sources wagering total of $30,020,877 on the 12-race Friday card was down nearly 4 percent from last year. The ontrack handle of $10,475,352 was down nearly 7 percent.
Wagering on the Oaks itself was $6,839,926, down a whopping 25 percent over the more than $9.1 million bet last year. The short field with a huge favorite surely was partly responsible for that decline.
This was the first Oaks Day with a "pink out," where many in the crowd were attired in pink in a show of support for breast cancer research and awareness. It also was the first Oaks telecast by the Bravo cable network.