Thursday, June 25, 2009

'Rachel' will pass on Breeders' Cup

David Grening, Daily Racing Form

ELMONT, N.Y. - Owner Jess Jackson said Wednesday he would love to race his Preakness-winning filly Rachel Alexandra against the boys again this year, but that she would not run in any race in this year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, and he suggested that she could run again next year as a 4-year-old.

Jackson made those remarks during a conference call Wednesday to preview Rachel Alexandra's return to the races in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose at Belmont Park. Rachel Alexandra drew post 3 in a field of five 3-year-old fillies and was installed as the 1-5 favorite by Belmont's linemaker, Eric Donovan. The Mother Goose will go as race 9 (post 5:17 p.m.) on a 10-race program.

The Mother Goose will be Rachel Alexandra's first race since she defeated Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and 11 other males in the Preakness, becoming the first filly to win that race since Nellie Morse in 1924. She was held out of the Belmont Stakes because her connections felt she needed more time, but Jackson said he had no reservations about trying her against males in races such as the Haskell or Travers. He said, however, that Rachel Alexandra would definitely not run in this year's Breeders' Cup - be it against the females or males - because it's being run over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita. Last year, the Jackson-owned Curlin finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"That's absolutely certain," Jackson said. "If I'm going to run [next year] the Breeders' Cup is not that essential for her. I just don't want to risk her. You may not think it's a risk, but I saw what Curlin did and how he struggled, and I saw four or five other horses that raced on plastic and they struggled. If it's a dirt horse, it's a dirt horse."

The field for Saturday's Mother Goose, from the rail out: Hopeful Image (Edgar Prado), Don't Forget Gil (Alan Garcia), Rachel Alexandra (Calvin Borel), Malibu Prayer (John Velazquez) and Flashing (Javier Castellano).

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