Rachel Alexandra's First Trainer Enjoys Watching Her Babies Win
by LAURA PUGH
Rachel Alexandra mania enjoyed a renaissance this summer when, five years after her retirement, both (the only) foals out of the 2009 Horse of the Year raced and won at Saratoga Race Course.
And watching from afar was Hal Wiggins, who trained Rachel Alexandra for Dolphus Morrison before he sold a majority of his homebred to Jess Jackson following her dominating Kentucky Oaks win.
“I’m very, very proud of her,” Wiggins said. “It looks like she’s almost as good of a broodmare as she was a racehorse. I think trainers [Kiaran McLaughlin and Todd Pletcher] are to be congratulated. They’ve taken their time with them [Jess’s Dream and Rachel’s Valentina, respectively], and they have been justly rewarded.”
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Wiggins hasn’t seen much of Rachel Alexandra or her brood since he moved to Texas, but he watches with keen interest when they raced and noted that both foals have Rachel Alexandra’s long, fluid stride.
Pletcher has said that Spinaway Stakes winner Rachel’s Valentina has some gate issues, but that she is quick into stride. Wiggins recalled that Rachel Alexandra struggled at the start of her first race.
“She broke just a tad slow and just kind of got almost lost back there in the crowd,” Wiggins said. “Then in her next out it looked like her gate just opened before the rest of them, and she just went right to the front.”
Jess’s Dream did not have gate issues in his career debut, but he did drop back early before making an electrifying stretch run to win.
“I was very, very impressed with that race,” Wiggins said. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence in him, but he just kept coming. He has that long fluid stride also, you could just see it. He really, really ran a nice race. Looking at it, you would’ve thought it was an older, nice, horse running like that.
“I’ll sure keep up with them. I hope [Jess’s Dream] becomes a great sire and that filly becomes a great broodmare after their racing careers so they can prolong [Rachel Alexandra’s] legacy.”