Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro), running away with the 2009 Kentucky Oaks
under the guidance of Jockey Calvin Borel.

Image: David J. Phillip [larger view].

To the disappointment of her many fans, the amazing filly, Rachel Alexandra, will not be running in the upcoming mile-and-one-half Belmont Stakes, the third jewel in the Triple Crown of American horse racing. Jess Jackson, the co-owner of the three-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, cited the filly’s “need for a vacation” as the reason she was not entered in the race. Rachel Alexandra recently won two major stakes races; the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and May 16 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). She was the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes since Nellie Morse’s victory in 1924 — 85 years ago.

“We know the media and many fans would have liked to see (Rachel Alexandra) run in the Belmont Stakes — we feel the same,” said Jackson in a statement on behalf of his Stonestreet Stables. “But all of us sincerely interested in the horse must agree that we only want to see her run when it is best for her. While she is in great shape, having strong works, and recovering well from her amazing performances, we feel Rachel deserves a well-earned vacation.”

Rachel Alexandra is impressive: she has six straight victories, including a memorable wire-to-wire win over the boys in the Preakness Stakes just two weeks ago (see video; 3:22);

“Since March 14, Rachel has won four graded races with just two weeks rest between her last two victories. We will always put her long-term well being first. And, of course, we want to run her when she is fresh. Rachel, her owners, her trainers and her fans can continue to anticipate an exciting campaign. All major races will be considered as we look to the rest of Rachel’s racing career.”

Although Jackson didn’t specifically state when Rachel Alexandra’s next start would be, he previously said that the $300,000 Mother Goose (gr. 1) at Belmont on 27 June would be her next start if she skipped the Belmont Stakes. Further, Jackson personally guaranteed NYRA racing secretary P.J. Campo that Rachel Alexandra would run in a race at Belmont Park this meet, according to New York Racing Association president Charles Hayward.

Jackson, with his business partner, Harold T. McCormick, co-purchased Rachel Alexandra shortly after her Kentucky Oaks victory for somewhere between $3 and $4 million (depending upon whom you listen to). So impressive was she that the filly was valued at $1.2-million in November, before she won her first stakes.

Jackson also owns champion racehorse, Curlin [2007 Preakness Stakes; 2007 Breeder's Cup Classic; 2008 Dubai World Cup; 2007 & 2008 Eclipse Award Horse of the Year]. It is widely speculated that Curlin and Rachel Alexandra will meet soon — as paramours.

“She is fast, strong, and durable — the traits we should all be breeding into all future generations of race horses,” Jackson said after his purchase of the filly was announced.


  Curlin, 2007
Image: Sarah K. Andrew.

Curlin was a two-time Horse of the Year who won 11 of his 16 starts and more than $10.5 million in purses to become the richest racehorse in North America. He earned his reputation as an Iron Horse for never missing a race or a workout and — unusual among thoroughbred superstars — he retired in perfect health.

“We are tremendously excited by the prospect of one day seeing the offspring of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra,” he said. “But for now, the story of this filly is still being written.”

Rachel Alexandra’s jockey, Calvin Borel, was pleased to learn so soon whether the filly would start in the 6 June race. Borel was contracted to ride Rachel Alexandra throughout her three year old year.

“Now that this decision is made, I am excited to come to New York and ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes,” Borel said in a statement to NYRA. “I would like to thank Chip Woolley, and [owners] Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach for being so gracious and allowing us to wait for this decision. We also thank Mr. Jackson for letting everyone know earlier than anticipated about the decision whether to run Rachel Alexandra.”

Since the filly will not start, Borel, who will be riding in his first Belmont Stakes, will ride the gelding, Mine That Bird, as he attempts to become the first jockey to sweep all three Triple Crown races aboard more than one horse.

Rachel Alexandra [2009 Preakness Stakes, 2009 Kentucky Oaks].

Image: Molly Riley .

Comments

  1. #1 The Ridger
    May 30, 2009

    Wise move on their part. It’s hard to say whether the distance and the weights would cancel, or if Bird would beat her at Belmont. It’s not hard to say that losing would damage her value…

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    May 30, 2009

    the value of a filly is determined differently than that of a colt. a loss for a colt would damage his value as a stallion, but since a fair number of excellent broodmares were either mediocre on the track or unraced, i find this to be an unconvincing argument. (i’ve been arguing this same point all afternoon in my pub). for example, secretariat’s mother, somethingroyal, did not distinguish herself in her one race.

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