07/17/2012 10:49PM

Rachel Alexandra and a Midsummer Night's Dream


Above:  Rachel Alexandra, Stonestreet Farm, June 20, 2012.

It was the night of the summer solstice: quiet, hot and dreamy, with pastel colors, a seemingly endless green pasture, fireflies...and Rachel Alexandra and her puckish foal Taco.  

To say I am a Rachel Alexandra fan seems understatement.   She is a thing of wonder to me.  If you somehow missed her most memorable races, including the 2009 Woodward - in which older horses pushed her every step of the way but she refused to lose - do so.  You'll see a most remarkable example of the heart of a Thoroughbred champion....a filly for the ages.

Jess Jackson didn't live long enough to see the result of the breeding of his wonderful back-to-back Horses of the Year Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.  But thanks to the remarkable generosity of Stonestreet Farm, countless fans have visited with Rachel and her famous foal, who is nicknamed 'Taco.'  There have been several 'Rachel Days,' where fans visit Rachel and have their picture taken with her.  Stonestreet regularly posts photos and stories about Taco both on Twitter and Facebook.  They've held Rachel-related contests, including one recently where fans had to guess not just the gender of the foal Rachel is currently carrying, but also the winner of the 2012 Mother Goose (Rachel won in 2009).  Recently, Stonestreet even held a tea party recently for young children - and the guests of honor?  Why, yes, it was Rachel with her Taco...and Taco, just for fun, wore a bow tie.  

Whatever Taco's future holds, he has already stirred countless hearts - including mine, on a visit to Stonestreet on June 20.  Of course, with Rachel as his mother, it was odds-on.

Above:  Rachel Alexandra and 'Taco.'

Above:  Rachel Alexandra had 'the look' when schooling at Saratoga and, below, Taco, photographed on June 20, has inherited her eyes.  

Above:  Rachel Alexandra, left, and Hot Dixie Chick, both stakes winners and now best friends, wander their expansive Stonestreet field.

Above/below:  Hot Dixie Chick and her strapping Curlin colt.  His real name is Union Jackson and nickname is Chili (also below).

Above/below:  Chili found digital media manager Amy Kearns' skirt absolutely fascinating.

Above:  Rachel Alexandra and her colt 'Taco.'

Above:  Rachel and son.  I wonder if it's ever hard to keep up with a Horse of the Year mother?

Above:  Silky Serenade, a lovely and gentle 5-year-old Unbridled's Song mare, shares the field with Rachel and Dixie.  Her 2012 colt is by Eskendereya.

Above/below:  Kelli Andonian, a digital media intern from Cornell University, shared the solstice evening - and gave some loving to Silky Serenade as Silky's Eskendereya colt watched.  And below, Taco wanted a turn.

Above:  Taco.

Above:  Just imagine what this foal tag would bring on eBay!

Above/below:  Taco and Chili hung out and played the "grab the halter in the teeth" game.

Above:  And some more wrastlin' about.... Taco and Chili.  

Above:  Horse play.....Chili (right) and Taco.

Above/below:  Hot Dixie Chick won the G1 Spinaway for owner Barbara Banke's Grace Stables LLC, and her overall record was 7-4-1-2, $343,252.  She is by Dixie Union and out of an In Excess mare named Above Perfection.  Chili is her first foal.

Above/below:  Hot Dixie Chick and Chili.

Above:  Rachel.

Above:  Taco!

Above:  Taco felt the love from Amy Kearns.

Above:  Silky Serenade with her Eskendereya foal.

Above:  Chili, looking so much like his Horse of the Year sire Curlin.

Above/below:  Yahoo, Chili!

Above:  Chili's mane in sunlight.

Above:  Rachel and Silky Serenade's foals acting coltish. 

Above/below:  Silky Serenade's colt chased Taco....

Above/below:  ...and Taco gave a few playful warnings...cut it out!

Above:  After a few warnings from Taco, Silky Serenade's foal decided the game wasn't fun and ran off to hang with his mother.  Can't you hear Taco saying, "Hey, where ya going?!  Come back!"

Above/below:  Don't you worry, Taco!  Chili was still nearby!

Above/below:  How beautiful is Rachel Alexandra, the broodmare....stunning.  Her halter nameplate recognizes her as the 2009 Horse of the Year.

Above/below:  So just what was it with that skirt?  Taco had a turn...and, below, look at the tatters by evening's end!  (and yes, Amy tried to stop them, despite the appearance of these two photos)

Above:  The scene was like a Milton Menasco painting.

Above:  Rachel Alexandra.

Above/below:  The summer soltice's last sun rays on Rachel Alexandra.

Above:  A Photoshopped photo of Rachel and Taco being led in just before 10 p.m. - long after the sun had set.  The fireflies were darting about, but they barely showed up in the photo...so I added them.  The scene was so still and beautiful that it didn't seem real.  I created this image to help preserve the feeling...but, alas, that never quite works.  The night was magic.

My story about the visit with Rachel Alexandra, which appeared in the DRF Weekend issue on July 7: http://www.drf.com/news/rachel-alexandra-motherhood-brings-out-sweeter-side

My story/photos about the last time I saw Rachel Alexandra at the track - the day she left Saratoga: http://www.drf.com/blogs/goodbye-girl-rachel-alexandra-heads-toward-new-life-0

Rachel Alexandra's Woodward....still amazing.  Watch older horse after older horse try to test her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysO_Fhc8Fpw

A heartfelt thank you to Stonestreet Farm for allowing my visit and to Amy Kearns for her kind assistance.