Trainer Hal Wiggins, who plans to retire at the end of November, is the recipient of the 2009 Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year Award given by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners.
Popular Churchill Downs-based jockey Calvin Borel, who swept this year's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) aboard Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, respectively, will be honored at Churchill Downs Nov. 21-22 with a bobblehead giveaway, autograph session, roast and his very own drink special.
- By Steve Haskin
These are the final words from here on the Horse of the Year debate between racing's two monarchs, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Unfortunately, only one likely will be crowned, but you can be sure both will rule in the hearts and minds of most racing fans.
All the comments made about Quality Road being a rogue or crazy are way off base. Dr. Larry Bramlage called him a juvenile delinquent following his meltdown prior to the Breeders' Cup Classic. A juvenile, yes, in many ways, but being scared out of your wits does not make you a delinquent.
Sam Houston Race Park and Gallery Furniture continue to step up efforts to bring super star females Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra together in a stakes race slated for Jan. 30.
A day after undefeated Zenyatta became a giant of the racing world with a spine-tingling victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), trainer John Shirreffs said she should be Horse of the Year over favored Rachel Alexandra.
Whether Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra is the better horse is a question Gulfstream Park president and general manager Ken Dunn believes best answered in the Feb. 6 Donn Handicap (gr. I). The race will be run the day before the Super Bowl in nearby Miami Gardens.
- By Tom LaMarra
Zenyatta reclaimed the top spot in the final National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll of 2009.
Although she was back in her barn at Hollywood Park after her historic Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) win, Zenyatta was the hot topic the morning of Nov. 8 among those gathered at Clocker's Corner at Santa Anita, one day after they witnessed history.
A personal visit with superstar filly Rachel Alexandra goes on the auction block tomorrow as the grand final item in Kendall-Jackson's "Rachel Alexandra Running Auction," benefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research. The auction will end after seven days at noon, Nov. 4.
Star filly Rachel Alexandra is finished racing for the year, co-owner Jess Jackson announced Oct. 9.
Leading Horse of the Year candidate Rachel Alexandra returned to her home base at Churchill Downs Oct. 7 and settled into familiar surroundings in trainer Steve Asmussen's Barn 38 following a long van ride from Saratoga, where she spent much of the summer and the early days of fall.
Rachel Alexandra is enjoying her well-deserved vacation at Saratoga following an arduous and ambitious campaign that culminated with a memorable victory over older males in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I). The daughter of Medaglia d'Oro will ship back to Churchill Downs on Tuesday, Oct. 6.
Monmouth Park concluded its 2009 meeting Sept. 27 showing a significant gain in average attendance, even as wagering followed what has become this year's national downward trend.
Circle the date Oct. 4 on your calendar. Your assignment is to pray for rain in France - enough to turn the Longchamp turf course soft. The softer the better.
It's time to accept the fact that Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are not going to meet. As the cliche goes, that ship has sailed.
The Breeders' Cup board of directors Sept. 11 said the organization will increase the purse of the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) by $1 million if Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta start in the 1 1/4-mile event Nov. 7 at Santa Anita Park.
Lenny and Steve talk about Rachel Alexandra, Tim Ice, Chip Woolley, Linda Rice, and more. Plus, feedback from viewers! Watch Now
Rachel Alexandra provided one of the great moments in the history of Saratoga when she scored a courageous head victory over older male rivals in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes Sept. 5.
Standing outside his barn at Saratoga the morning of Sept. 6, trainer Steve Asmussen was still basking in the glow of Rachel Alexandra's historic victory in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) as he reported the filly came out of the race in good shape.
Rachel Alexandra cemented herself as one of the best fillies of all-time in a race for the ages, as she set a suicidal pace and then was all out under Calvin Borel to hold off a bold charge from Macho Again to win the $750,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) by a head in electrifying fashion Sept. 5 at Saratoga.
Jason, Tom, and Rich Nilsen of twinspires.com preview the Woodward Stakes (gr. I). Plus picks for the Forego (gr. I). Watch Now
Please note the following analysis was written by someone with a glass-is-half-empty mentality and is not meant to frighten, upset, or antagonize Rachel Alexandra fans and zealots. So, read at your own risk.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
It seems 2009 would be a year for filly phenoms, and they're all the result of young, distance-loving sires.
On Sept. 5 at Saratoga, Rachel Alexandra will seek history when trying to become the first female to win the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) -- a feat that would almost certainly lock up Horse of the Year honors and stamp the 3-year-old as one of the best fillies of all time.
Majority owner Jess Jackson said on a national teleconference Sept. 1 that plans for Rachel Alexandra following Saturday's $750,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) are up in the air, and he did not dismiss the idea of putting her away for the year.
With her scheduled start against older males in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) Saturday, Sept. 5, Rachel Alexandra is taking a path seldom traveled by 3-year-old fillies.
The New York Racing Association is making special plans as "The Rachel Alexandra Show" comes to Saratoga Race Course for Saturday's grade I, $750,000 Woodward Stakes.
Rachel Alexandra, whose eight-race win streak includes four grade I stakes, turned in her final preparation for the Sept. 5 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) when she breezed four furlongs at Saratoga on the morning of Aug. 31.
Sara Louise, the last horse to defeat superstar filly Rachel Alexandra, returned from a nine-month layoff in sparkling fashion, coming from off the pace to score the $110,000 Victory Ride (gr. III) Aug. 29 at Saratoga.
Topics include Rachel Alexandra and Jess Jackson, the continued breakdowns at Del Mar, plus a look at the second season of Animal Planet's hit reality program, JOCKEYS. Watch Video
Sara Louise will race for the first time since November in the $100,000 Victory Ride (gr. III) Aug. 29 at Saratoga. She is the last horse to defeat Rachel Alexandra.
As soon as trainer Kiaran McLaughlin found out Rachel Alexandra would be running in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 5 he quickly contacted the owner of his Woodward hopeful Asiatic Boy, about the possibility of heading to California.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Aug. 24 that top 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra will run in the Sept. 5 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) and that stablemate Kensei would contest the Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I).
The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s August yearling sale broke slowly from the starting gate Aug. 24 in Central Florida, suffering downturns of more than 30% from 2008 in its gross revenue, average price, and median price. But a powerful-looking Medaglia d'Oro filly topped the select session by attracting a $275,000 final bid from Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation that surpassed last year's peak price for an individual horse of $200,000.
Online wagering companies TVG and Betfair have pledged an additional $400,000 to the New York Racing Association to invite Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta to participate in the Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 3.
Medaglia d'Oro, the leading sire this year by North American earnings and leading second crop sire, will be available to be bred on Southern Hemisphere time, beginning Sept. 1 at Sheikh Mohammed's Darley near Lexington.
After training horses for more three decades and having his career peak this year with the success of the sensational filly Rachel Alexandra, Hal Wiggins will ride off into the sunset of retirement at the end of Churchill Downs' fall meet in November.
Rachel Alexandra breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.37 on a foggy Monday morning on the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course, after which trainer Steve Asmussen said discussions would begin "in earnest" on where the filly would make her next start.
Quality Road, expected to be among the favorites for the $1 million Shadwell Travers (gr. I), turned in his first work since his record-setting victory in the Amsterdam (gr. II) Aug. 16 at Saratoga, covering six furlongs in 1:13.19.
Saratoga is already the only racetrack in the country where fans can catch a glimpse of all three 2009 classic winners, and on Friday, Aug. 21, three lucky individuals will win a chance to meet one of these great horses face-to-face.
Gulfstream Park added the name of unbeaten champion Zenyatta to the list of superstar nominees whose fees have been waived to the 2010 Donn Handicap (gr. I).
Lenny and Steve are back! Topics include night racing, breakdowns at Del Mar, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, Gio Ponti, and Bob Baffert's Hall of Fame induction. Watch Now
Although history would place them a generation apart, jockeys Ron Turcotte and Calvin Borel will be meeting new and old fans alike in public autograph appearances at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 15-16. Both riders will be appearing at the Secretariat.com booth set up for the weekend adjacent to the jockey silks display.
Looking ahead to a possible start on the grass in the fall, trainer Tim Ice had Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird galloped the morning of Aug. 12 over the Oklahoma turf course as part of his preparations for the $1 million Shadwell Travers (gr. I) Aug. 29 at Saratoga Race Course.
Gulfstream Park has waved the nomination fees for grade I winners Mine That Bird, Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird, and Quality Road to next year's Donn Handicap.
James McIngvale, a Houston horse owner known for his high profile promotions on behalf of his Gallery Furniture stores, is proposing a $2-million match race between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.
Preakness-winning filly Rachel Alexandra put in her first work at Saratoga Race Course the morning of Aug. 11 in preparation for her as-yet-to-be-determined next start, covering a half-mile in :50.72 under exercise rider Dominic Terry.
Stonestreet Stable's Rachel Alexandra was on Saratoga's Oklahoma training track Aug. 6 for a gallop and will return to the work tab next week, most likely Aug. 11, trainer Steve Asmussen said.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
The weekend brought a couple of new players to the 3-year-old scene and also underlined just how strong the second-crop sires are.
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