Updated 08/19/2012 03:09 PM
Questing's Alabama performance one for the ages
Saratoga has seen some fantastic fillies in recent years, including Royal Delta, Havre de Grace and Rachel Alexandra. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, fans were treated to a performance in Saturday's Alabama that might just be on par with those other great runners.
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SARATOGA RACE COURSE – Longtime Saratoga Race Course track announcer Tom Durkin’s stretch call may have summed it up best.
"And they're coming down to the finish, a spectacular, exhilarating performance by Questing!"
One day later, Saratoga was still abuzz about the dominating wire-to-wire performance of Questing in Saturday's $600,000 Grade 1 Alabama Stakes. Against seven of the best three-year-old fillies in the country, she blew away the field by a staggering nine lengths.
"She could've run going a mile-and-a-half today, just the way it went,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “She's just a special filly, a special filly and you know, it's a privilege to train her."
"I thought she was going to stop after about a mile. I didn't think she could possibly keep going the way she did," racing analyst Mike Kane said.
More remarkable than her margin of victory were the fractions the Godolphin owned trained filly set. After a swift opening quarter in 22.84, she hit the half-mile marker in a blazing 46.01 seconds.
"I was thinking it was too fast, but I liked the way she was doing it because I looked behind her and a lot of them were riding hard to keep up," McLaughlin said.
"When you saw the fractions that she put down, that's usually a disaster for a horse trying to go a mile and a quarter," Kane said.
The Alabama was the second Grade 1 victory for Questing at this year’s Saratoga meet. During opening weekend, she won the Coaching Club American Oaks by 4 ¼ lengths.
Her final time of 2:01:29 was the Alabama's fastest since the immortal Go For Wand ran 2:00:80 in 1990.
"You always kind of get goose bumps every time that race is run, especially thinking of her,” said Bill Badget, Go For Wand’s former trainer. “Obviously, there's a little find sword between great horses and really good horses. Obviously, she was a great horse."
Still active today, Badget, is still in search of another horse like his big, bay filly.
While Questing's performance may not quite reach that level, it has many wondering 'what's next?'
"Yes, the track surfaces change from year to year and even day to day, but to be able to go out and run that fast, that puts her in pretty rare company, I'd say," Kane said.
"I mean, these are very good fillies and she just ran away from them. It's just incredible really. I thought she could win, but not the way she did it," McLaughlin said.
In fact, you have to go back 20 years to find a Travers winner who bettered Questing's time. In 1992 the New York-bred Thunder Rumble ran 2:00.80.
Both the Alabama and Travers are run at a mile-and-a-quarter.
McLaughlin says Questing’s next start will likely be the $750,000 Grade II Cottillion Handicap at Parx in Pennsylvania.