Rachel Alexandra Out of Apple Blossom
Jess Jackson, principal owner of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, announced March 14 that the 4-year-old filly will not face Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park April 9.
Oaklawn Park had offered a $5 million purse, contingent on getting the two superstar females to square off in the Apple Blossom. John Shirreffs, trainer of both Zenyatta and Zardana, said Zenyatta will definitely return to Oaklawn for the Apple Blossom, regardless of whether Rachel Alexandra runs. The purse would revert to $500,000, however.
The track had been heavily advertising the race. The convention and visitor's bureau in Hot Springs said 50,000 trading cards featuring the horses were being printed, and hotel rooms in the resort area for the track's spring festival have been booked solid for weeks.
In the weeks leading up to her comeback race, Asmussen had complained that Rachel Alexandra had missed training due to wet and cold weather and that the schedule leading up to the Apple Blossom was too tight. In the New Orleans Ladies, she pressed a hard pace for a half mile before eventually taking the lead for jockey Calvin Borel. But she could not hold off the grade II winner Zardana in the drive.
DRF reported that Rachel Alexandra came out of her first race in six months in good order, eating well and appearing to be in good spirits on the morning of March 14. She is expected to continue her training at Fair Grounds for now.
"She blew after the race, but she wasn't exhausted," Asmussen told the publication. "She drank plenty of water afterwards. It took her a little while to leave the test barn, but she went back to the barn comfortably. She went right to her feed tub last night, and she was in very good health this morning."
Jerry Moss, owner of Zenyatta, was reached by phone at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., and asked to comment on the news that Rachel Alexandra will not run as originally scheduled in the Apple Blossom.
“We’re disappointed that we’re not going to be able to face each other in the Apple Blossom. Hopefully, we can meet down the line. We respect both Steve (Asmussen) and Mr. Jackson as horsemen and they’re going to do what’s right for their horse. That’s all anybody could ask for.
“We’ll go on to the Apple Blossom as planned.”
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