Owner: Rachel Alexandra to skip Breeders’ Cup
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – The co-owner of Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra doesn’t plan to run the star filly in the Breeders’ Cup, preventing a potential matchup with champion mare Zenyatta on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita.
Jess Jackson said Wednesday that Rachel Alexandra, who’s won six straight races dating to last year, could run against the boys again this summer. But he ruled out taking part in horse racing’s world championships on Nov. 6-7, after the poor performance by his two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Curlin had dominated on traditional dirt surfaces but struggled to a fourth-place finish on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic track in the only out-of-the-money finish of his career. Curlin won 11 of 16 races and was retired as thoroughbred racing’s leading money earner with more than $10.5 million.
“I have a very strong dislike for plastic surfaces and I don’t believe she should be exposed to that,” Jackson said during a conference call Wednesday. “I’m not going to run her on plastic. We don’t need to risk her that way.”
Rachel Alexandra has raced on synthetic surfaces before, cruising to a convincing win in an allowance race over Keeneland’s Polytrack last October. That race came well before her rousing victory in the Kentucky Oaks, and before she was purchased by Jackson and his Stonestreet Farms.
“I’m 110 percent with Mr. Jackson,” said jockey Calvin Borel, who jumped off Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness. “It’s his horse and he’s going to do what’s right for the filly, and I can’t blame him.”
That means a matchup with Zenyatta, the reigning Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner, might never happen. The 5-year-old mare, coming off a win in the Milady Handicap last month, has campaigned almost exclusively on the synthetic surfaces in California.
“Love to see her,” Jackson said, “but they’re going to have to come to the East or some other neutral track.”
Rachel Alexandra returns to the track for the first time since her stirring Preakness win against the boys when she runs in Saturday’s $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
She’ll be a heavy favorite in a field of five that includes Florida Oaks winner Don’t Forget Gil, Hopeful Image, Flashing and Malibu Prayer.
Jackson decided to skip the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes and avoid subjecting Rachel Alexandra to a fresh field of horses so soon after her victory at Pimlico. It was a fresh filly, Rags to Riches, that outdueled Curlin down the stretch to win the Belmont two years ago.
“I think she could have taken it, but I don’t think it would have been the best thing for her career,” Jackson said of Rachel Alexandra. “Usually the Belmont is such a long distance, and there’s fresh horses coming in. That’s what beat Curlin.”
Jackson said he’s uncertain what the rest of the year holds for his filly, but he did not rule out the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro taking on the boys again.
Among the possibilities, he said, are the Delaware Handicap on July 19, the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2 and the Travers on Aug. 29. He could also turn around and run Rachel Alexandra against fillies again in the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 25 at Belmont.
“Wherever he’s going to go,” Borel said, “I’m going to go.”
The decision could come down to the Rachel Alexandra’s health and whether her connections plan to run her as a 4-year-old.
That decision won’t be made until later this summer.
“We’re looking at races that give her enough time between races but establish her as the champion she is, and running against the boys is part of that,” Jackson said. “At the same time, if we have two years running together, we don’t have to be concerned about the races we put her in. We want her to be fit as possible.”