A straightforward biography of one of thoroughbred racing's greatest mares.
Rachel Alexandra was foaled in 2006, from decent but not spectacular racing lines. Big and well-made from the start, she proved to be easy to train, calm, and biddable even as a youngster. And Rachel was fast. Though unplaced in her first race, she won her second and quickly emerged as one of the top 2-year-old fillies in the country. In 2009, her 3-year-old year, she won nine straight stakes races, including the Kentucky Oaks (distaff counterpart to the Kentucky Derby), the Preakness (beating Derby winner Mine That Bird), and the Woodward Stakes (against older male horses), culminating in her being named 2009 Horse of the Year. Aronson writes primarily from personal interviews she conducted with the horse's many owners, trainers, and riders—including jockey Calvin Borel—and includes color photographs, a glossary of racing terms, an index, and a full bibliography. What she can't do is inject much real drama into this riches-to-riches story—Rachel just starts out fast and keeps winning. Only the last chapter, which recounts the mare's near death following the birth of her second foal, carries any real emotional tension.
It's hard to know how much Rachel's story will interest young readers, who aren't old enough to remember her racing career, but it's a decent effort and an overall worthwhile book. (glossary, notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-13)