Two years ago, it was Rachel Alexandra.  This year, it was Havre De Grace's turn to beat the boys.

Havre De Grace put herself squarely in the Horse of the Year honors on Saturday afternoon with a 1 ¼-length victory over seven males in the 58th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward.

The 4-year-old daughter of Saint Liam became just the second female ever to win the 1 1/8-mile race, joining Rachel Alexandra, who capped her 2009 Horse of the Year campaign with a win in the Woodward. 

Sent off as the 2-1 favorite and confidently ridden by Ramon Dominguez, Havre de Grace left from post position 6, then raced wide around the first turn as Rule, closely followed by Mission Impazible, carried the field through an opening quarter-mile in 23.93 seconds. Angled toward the inside as the half went in 48.09, Havre de Grace began inching closer approaching the far turn and launched her bid with three-eighths of a mile to go.

Just two lengths back in second at the top of the stretch, Havre de Grace steadily cut into Rule’s margin, taking over inside the eighth pole with enough left to turn back the late bid from Flat Out.

Her winning time was 1:49.18.

The victory, Havre de Grace’s fourth in five starts this year, likely put her back atop the older filly and mare division and firmly in the race for Horse of the Year honors. Her only loss of 2011 came in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on July 16, when she was nosed out by arch rival Blind Luck at the wire while conceding two pounds.

With a career record of 7-4-2 from 13 starts, Havre de Grace earned $450,000 and now has bankrolled $1,986,175. As the slight favorite, she returned $6.50 to her many backers in the crowd of 24,430, who cheered and applauded as she was led into the winner’s circle.

Flat Out, the second choice, was 1 ½ lengths clear of Rule, who was followed by Mission Impazible, Giant Oak, Ice Box, Mambo Meister, and Convocation.

Trainer Larry Jones and owner Rick Porter said the likely next spot for Havre de Grace was the Grade 1, $350,000 Beldame at 1 1/8 miles against fillies and mares at Belmont Park on October 1, followed by a start in either the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic or the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.