Waiting for Rachel: It's Worth Getting Up, or Staying Up, to See the Filly

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Waiting for Rachel, originally uploaded by budmeister 26.2.

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One of the "happening" places on the horse world map every August is Saratoga Springs, New York. It's been happening there for horses for over 150 years, and not much has changed. The track that launched Man o' War and Secretariat into national prominence looks much the same now as then.

This summer, the happening hype is magnified by the presence of a true sports celebrity, in the form of champion filly Rachel Alexandra.

When the filly leaves her stall, the word travels fast. When a work is scheduled, the curious gather. The Saratoga Special reported that 67 people lined the rail in the post-dawn light on Monday when Rachel worked on Saratoga's Oklahoma training track. Secretariat's public works attracted thousands back in the 1970s.

The faithful arrived early. Staked out a spot. And waited for the sun to come up, which it does in a very beautiful way in Saratoga.

Across the street, Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird has joined the Saratoga summer crowd of fine three-year-olds training up to next Saturday's Travers Stakes, the "mid-summer derby". Summer Bird, Quality Road and Kensai attract the curious, too. They're all here.

The question is if they will meet each other next Saturday on the main track. So far, everyone appears to be in fine condition.

Dawn at Saratoga, waiting for the champ to gallop by: this is the place to be.

Thanks to Budmeister 26.2 for capturing so beautifully a could-only-be-Saratoga silhouette.

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