The Queen

Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly Who Ruled the Racetrack - Deb Aronson

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.


                This television season includes a show called Pitch, about the first female pitcher on a major league baseball team.  The show is pretty good, even though the twist during the premiere wasn’t that much of a surprise.  In some ways, Rachel Alexandra is like that show.


                Honestly, if you are reading this book, odds are that you already know about Rachel Alexandra and her amazing stack of wins.  You know about the jockey Calvin Borel.  You most likely are somewhat familiar with Rachel Alexandra’s owners, and, perhaps, even her breeding career.


                All those stories are repeated in this book, but Aronson also gives room to less well known aspects of Rachel Alexandra’s life.


                Aronson gives details about the bloodline, pointing out that while Rachel Alexandra’s dam was not the good mother with her, that changed with other foals.  She doesn’t even hide the nickname for Rachel Alexandra’s milk mare – Lotta Bitch.  There is the story of Marylou Whitney who basically ensured that Rachel Alexandra would be able to run in the Preakness.  The role of both earlier trainers and groomers is emphasized as well.  While the book may be a biography of a great horse, it is also a testimonial to those who cared for the horse.


                Aronson notes in her afterword that prior to this book, she didn’t know that much about horse racing.  If this is true, Aronson deserves an A+ for her research alone.  She talks about training methods, about why horses respond to the starting gate in the way they do, and there is even a discussion about fillies running against colts as well as genetics and bone density.  While the book is geared toward younger readers, it does not talk down to the readers and is readable, quite frankly, by anyway.  The races are described actively; Aronson does a good job capturing the aura of excitement.  When she can, she lets those who can speak, do so for themselves.  One does want, however, a more information about Rachel Alexandra’s offspring.