Run, Rachel, run
For a few hours this morning, we can hope that this year's Preakness will be joined by Rachel Alexandra, the fabulous filly that was the runaway winner of the Kentucky Oaks race at Churchill Downs the day before the Derby.
The 3-year-old horse was purchased by a group headed by the man who campaigned Curlin, the 2007 Preakness winner and two-time Horse of the Year. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/sports/othersports/07racing.html?_r=1&ref=sports
Jess Jackson, the head of the group, yesterday raised the possibility that he'll enter his new horse in the Preakness Stakes, although he noted that he doesn't have a trainer or rider yet.
Rachel Alexandra vs. Mine That Bird, the Derby winner. Now, that's the excitment needed to pump up lagging Preakness ticket sales.
And what a dilemma for jockey Calvin Borel, who rode both horses last weekend and proclaimed he liked the girl better.
"I think she's the best horse in the country right now," Borel said last Saturday.
Rachel Alexandra has won five straight races, starting with last fall's Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill. She won the Oaks by 20-1/4 lengths, believed to be a record, and in near-stakes-record time.
With time rowing short and no chance at the Triple Crown, chances are Jackson will skip over the Preakness to have his horse ready for the Belmont Stakes.
And The Preakness, where the field is capped at 14, may not have room for Rachel Alexandra--not a Triple Crown nominated horse. There's nine definite entries, and a nominated horse would bump the filly if it came to that.
Jackson said in the The Times interview that he would decide today, after watching Rachel Alexandra work out.
Good on him for not making a snap decision on the future of his new purchase. But let's hope he has the new owner's itch to see what the girl can do.