Fast Women: Rachel Alexandra Wins Again, Danica to Drive in NASCAR?

Much ado is made about women crossing over into men's competitions in sports. Think of Billie Jean King or Michelle Wie, and it's difficult to come up with definitions of their careers that don't include their crossovers. ↵

↵In Rachel Alexandra, we have an, uh, "athlete" so good that her gender's almost immaterial, transcending much of the gender lines in horse racing. In Danica Patrick, though, we have an "athlete" whose gender is about the only material thing at this point. ↵

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↵Rachel, lovingly mentioned to that name alone, won the Woodward Stakes on Saturday, becoming the first filly to do so in the race's 56 iterations. Adding this victory to Preakness and Haskell Invitational wins makes her a clear choice for Horse of the Year. The only questions surround what obstacle she can hurdle next. (Zenyatta, another Horse of the Year contender who is, coincidentally a filly, could be a challenger.) ↵

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↵Danica, on the other hand, has nothing but questions in her professional life at the moment. ↵

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↵Her contract with Andretti Green Racing ends in 2010; consequently, she will be in a NASCAR series in the near future, if Tony Stewart is to be believed. Why this matters to the serious NASCAR fan is anyone's guess: Patrick has one fewer win (one) in the IndyCar series than she does Sports Illustrated swimsuit spreads (two). Rumors are swirling that she may add a nude appearance in an ESPN The Magazine to that tally. ↵

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↵But as a woman who may have the talent to be a NASCAR regular, Patrick would surely be a media darling all over again. More than ever, though, it would mostly for being the girl in the boys' club, and an attractive one, not because she would be a legitimate Sprint Cup contender. The recent history of open-wheel drivers' successes in NASCAR is basically Stewart's excellence and a few bright moments for Juan Pablo Montoya, and Patrick would enter NASCAR without either of those drivers' talents or equipment. ↵

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↵Maybe she should take a lesson from Rachel Alexandra, who, as you may recall, wears little more than a saddle and shoes: Success is the best possible form of publicity. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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