By JIM WELLS
The biggest race in the country on Saturday was still getting reaction on Sunday.
As far from Pimlico Race Course as, say, even Canterbury Park.
Rachel Alexandra’s sparkling effort in the Preakness Stakes confirmed her validity as the “real deal,” and Mine That Bird vindicated himself as something quite different than a “fluke.”
There were accolades aplenty for both 3-year-olds from anyone who witnessed Rachel’s ability to hold off a furious closing rush from the Kentucky Derby winner.
“That filly was really great and she ran a great race,” said trainer Bernell Rhone. “Now I just hope they don’t run her in the Belmont Stakes.”
As good as Rachel Alexandra was in the Kentucky Oaks and previously, as good as she was in winning Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, Rhone believes that asking this filly to run the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes against the boys is simply wrongheaded.
“They need to keep her where she belongs,” he said.
For a couple of days, Rachel Alexandra belongs on the throne she assumed by finishing a length in front of Mine that Bird and various other distances in front of 11 other rivals in the 134th running of the Preakness.
“She’s the real deal,” said jockey agent Richard Grunder. “The Derby winner surprised me, too. “That wasn’t just a freak race he turned in.”
Trainer Tammy Domenosky was chatting with Alan and Beverly Kasdan, the owners of All Joking Aside, the winner of the sixth race at Canterbury on Sunday. “Look at those fractions _ 44.4, 56 and 4. That’s trackin’ ” Alan said about his winner.
“He’s never ran that fast before,” said Domenosky as she watched a re-run of the race. “He’s real relaxed out there.”
The conversation shifted to Rachel Alexandra when the Kasdans departed.
“She’s a very nice filly. Of course I was rooting for her,” Domenosky said. “It was a fun race to watch. It was nice to see because they always say the fillies can’t beat the boys.”
Domenosky saddled the winner, Steven R. Cholity’s Backwoodsmoking, in the fifth race as well, beating Stitchntwine by a bob at the wire.
“Percy, you’ ve got to teach that horse when to have its head down at the right time, horse owner Jack Walsh told Percy Scherbenske, the trainer of the Stitchntwine.
“That’s horse racing,” Scherbenske said. “I’ve won a few that way, too. Famous last words of a trainer, right.”
Scherbenske is another trainer who gives Rachel Alexandra her due, but seriously questions her place in the Belmont Stakes.
Track president Randy Sampson didn’t think you could script a race better than the Preakness Stakes. .
“It was a hell of a race,” he said. “I thought Friesan Fire and Pioneerof the Nile would be bigger factors, but you couldn’t have asked for a better race, the filly proving her stuff and the Derby winner coming at the end.”
Few people could have liked the Preakness Stakes any better than owner Bob Lindgren of Prior Lake. “So what did you think, Bob?”
Lindgren reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of bills so thick he couldn’t keep them folded, with hundred-dollar bills dominating the roll.”
Lindgren explained his windfall in the face of the favorites finishing one-two.
“I had the superfecta four times,” he said.
He was able to pocket $11,600 as a result but even this tale of success included a bit of woe.
“I decided to bet the superfecta 20 times, but I was eating a big ice cream cone when I made the decision to hit the windows again and couldn’t finish it in time,” Lindgren said.
Lindgren wasn’t getting sympathy from anyone who heard the tale.