Jess Jackson might as well have said “read my lips,” when he stated emphatically on a national teleconference July 28 that his filly Rachel Alexandra will not run in the Breeders’ Cup, regardless of how much pressure is put on him.
“I’ve already had pressure put on me by the media to change my mind, mostly by bloggers,” Jackson said. “I’ll go to the Breeders’ Cup on dirt, hopefully at Churchill next year, but not this year. That’s a firm decision, even though they may be pressuring and cajoling. It’s for the good of the horse, and in the long run for the good of the fans to have her around another year.
“I want to race Rachel next year, and I normally don’t mind running her against any champion, as long as it’s a fair race on a neutral field. In any other year, the Breeders’ Cup would be my target. But I feel running it on a synthetic surface two years in a row was an unwise decision. Synthetic surfaces are not the same and react differently in different temperatures and depending on the season. It becomes totally unpredictable. What we do know is that turf horses tend to do better on synthetic surfaces, and we also know that horses who run on them and train on them tend to do better.
“I’m solidly in the camp of a dirt horse is a dirt horse, a turf is a turf horse, and running on plastic is still undefined. It’s going to impact the breeding industry and it’s going to impact the handicapper. And I don’t see where the injuries are less. They’re different. There are more soft tissue injuries than bone injuries on synthetic, and we don’t want Rachel suffering any soft tissue injuries. But we don’t have the final conclusion of those studies yet. I just have the experience of having run several of my horses on the plastic, and they just don’t perform as well as they do on the dirt, when they are a dirt horse.
Jackson also said it was he who first initiated the $250,000 purse increase of the Aug. 2 Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park, where Rachel will run next, to $1.25 million.
“I advocated that it would be nice if they raised the purse,” Jackson said. When asked if he would have run had the purse remained at $1 million, Jackson said, “Maybe and maybe not.”