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Rachel Alexandra Breyer Model Announced

Rachel Alexandra, the racehorse voted "Horse of the Year" at the Thoroughbred Racing Association's Eclipse Awards earlier this week, has been announced as the latest choice for a Breyer "portrait model."  Rachel Alexandra narrowly beat out Zenyatta for the Horse of the Year award, 130 votes to 99, which marks the first time that two female racehorses were finalists for the award.

2009 was an amazing year for female race horses, with both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta finishing out the year with perfect winning records.  Rachel Alexandra won all eight of the races she participated in, beating out stallions in several high stakes races including the Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward Stakes.  In fact, she was the first filly to win the Preakness in the 85 years since Nellie Morse won in 1924.

When Rachel Alexandra was young, it wasn't clear that she would be a winner.  In fact her breeder Dolphus Morrison, who makes it a habit never to sell the first few foals out of a new dam, nearly sold Rachel Alexandra as a colt.  Rachel Alexandra was the third foal by her dam Lotta Kim.  Lotta Kim's first foal succumbed to a rare neurological disorder, and her second foal was stillborn.  

Rachel Alexandra was "a little raw-boned and a little scruffy" as a foal.  Morrison had entered her to be sold, but he scratched her from the auction due to a "minor development problem."  No doubt Morrison has had cause to be glad for that since then, since at the time he estimated Rachel Alexandra's worth at $125,000.  After her victory at the Kentucky Oaks in 2009, she was sold for a sum "rumored to be in excess of $10 million."

Morrison sent Rachel Alexandra to a ranch in Texas, where she was trained to saddle by Jimmy "Scooter" Dodwell.  After several months, Morrison called to ask Dodwell whether he thought Rachel Alexandra was in well enough shape to be sold at auction.  Having worked with her extensively, Dodwell advised Morrison to hang onto Rachel Alexandra instead.

Rachel Alexandra was first ridden by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., and they did fairly well together, winning two out of five races entered.  However, the winning combination proved to be with jockey Calvin Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2007 and 2009.  

(In fact, Borel became famous for his win at the 2009 Kentucky Derby with Mine That Bird, an amazing upset unlike anything ever seen before.  If you haven't seen it, you have to watch the footage here on YouTube.  Mine That Bird was the long shot, at 50:1 odds.  One newspaper article advised Mine That Bird to "just stay home."  Mine That Bird was at the far back of the pack, until suddenly he wasn't.  He came up so fast the race announcer barely has time to pronounce his name.  Mine That Bird went from the very last horse to first by an astounding 6 3/4th lengths, one of the greatest winning margins in Kentucky Derby history.)

The Rachel Alexandra model will use the Ruffian mold, created in 2006 by Susan Carlton Sifton.  Ruffian is also a dark bay, so they will barely need to adapt the mold from the original.  Rachel Alexandra's Breyer model is scheduled to be released in April 2010.