Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No decision on Rachel Alexandra status

ESPN.com news services

Rachel Alexandra owner Jess Jackson said he was uncertain Monday morning of the Preakness champion's status for next month's Belmont Stakes after the filly worked out at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

"What else does she have to prove?" Jackson said to ESPN.com. "[The Preakness] was a gamble. We don't have to gamble anymore."

Forde: For Rachel, we'll gladly wait
Jess Jackson provided the meaningful words of the day at soggy Churchill Downs, despite the uncertainty they left in their wake. Column

Rachel Alexandra worked half a mile in 50 seconds and galloped out a fifth furlong in 1 minute, 4 seconds, an unspectacular time on a sloppy track for the star filly, who won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths on May 1 before beating Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird by a length in the Preakness.

Jackson said they'll wait another week or so to make a firm decision for the June 6 race.

"She's not in top shape right now," Jackson said. "She struggled in the Preakness; it was a hard race. She was tired after the race."

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Rachel Alexandra was "comfortable, happy, and agreeable, and it looked like nothing more than an extended gallop," but he advised Jackson to wait on a decision because of the rain and track conditions.

"It was exactly what I had hoped to see, she was sound, relaxed and happy during and after," Asmussen said. "Although the rain interfered with it a little bit."

Jackson said if Rachel Alexandra does not run in the Belmont she would likely be pointed to the Mother Goose Stakes, a June 27 race for 3-year-old fillies also held at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

We want to protect her, we can't just let her eagerness be our guide, she will always be eager. We have to do what's best for her in the long run.

-- Rachel Alexandra owner Jess Jackson

"We want to protect her. We can't just let her eagerness be our guide; she will always be eager," Jackson said. "We have to do what's best for her in the long run."

Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley backtracked on his demands for a Monday commitment from Calvin Borel, the jockey who guided both horses to their championship runs.

"We're going to hold off naming a rider for for a few more days, out of respect for Calvin and them," Woolley said. "We're going to give them a little more time."

Jackson said if Borel decides to go with another mount, Robby Albarado would ride Rachel Alexandra. Albarado is Jackson's regular A-list rider who rode Curlin to great riches and fame.

Mike Smith rode Mine That Bird in the Preakness but has a conflict and will not be available for the Belmont.

Borel, wearing a Rachel Alexandra cap, and his agent, Jerry Hissam, met with Jackson early Monday. Hissam said they would have "no comment at this time" as they came out of Asmussen's barn.

Information from ESPN.com's Pat Forde and ESPN's Jeannine Edwards was used in this report.


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