Upon arrival at Stonestreet, it is clear how deeply they appreciate Rachel Alexandra there. It can be seen from the office entrance, where a flag reading “Run Like a Girl” (in reference to her Woodward Stakes win of 2009) is draped over the doorway, and one of the farm employees greeted us wearing a Rachel hat. The impression continued inside the office, which is practically a Rachel shrine of photos and trophies. There are a few new additions since my last visit. One of these is a photo of Rachel that greeted us at the door during the first day the farm opened the doors to her fans, and was signed by everyone that came. There are also two photos of Rachel and three-week-old “Taco,” as he was — and perhaps still is — affectionately known, and a scrapbook of some of her race highlights and of letters and cards from the public rested on a table, assembled by another farm employee. It is wonderful to see how some of the biggest Rachel admirers of all seem to be at Stonestreet, and also to be reminded from the photos in the office, how much of Rachel’s history is intertwined with my own: from seeing her race at 2, to attending her Preakness, and to the visits during her retirement.
Our visit was so perfectly timed in every way. In fact, as we stepped out of the van at the barn, Rachel stepped forward into the sunlight at that exact moment. I had visited her in March 2011, when she was just barely in foal to Curlin, but this was the most heavily in foal I had seen her. She has a lovely yet imposing presence. Her height and strength seem quite evident, and her grace was unhindered by the bulk of the expected filly as she stepped forward. She is well-muscled, no doubt lingering reminders of the power she called upon on the racetrack. I had not really realized how tall she is before, for some reason. Then too, she may have filled out and matured further upon retirement. It is quite evident is she in the bloom of health, and her coat almost gleamed in the sunlight.
Stonestreet was quite gracious, as usual, and encouraged us to get up close and interact with Rachel. She seemed somewhat reserved, understandably, since we were strangers to her, but once it was discovered she loves to have her head scratched, everyone wanted to do that for her. Ah… bliss. It was such a privilege to get to have that one-on-one time with a mare of her caliber, especially in retirement. It’s probably a measure of how much she endeared herself to me during her racing days that makes me always feel in awe when standing next to her. At some point, if all goes as planned, I will be a professional in the racing industry, but I would still think being around horses of this type and class would still be, if not awe-inspiring, one that I would still greatly appreciate. After all, it is for the love of the horse and the sport that I want to be involved in this industry.
We got one last look at Rachel as our visit came to a conclusion.
On the way back to the office, we passed the Cabernet barn, where “Taco” was born and where Rachel usually resided. Just from knowing she had her first foal there, and seeing all the photos of them there and in the pasture a few feet away, it felt like a famous place in its own right.