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.
Superstar Rachel Alexandra will be honored with her own line of limited wines, which will be available during the holiday season.
A story about Rachel Alexandra seems out of place in a column about the Breeders' Cup, but who cares. That's between Jess Jackson and the Breeders' Cup decision makers. Even though there will be no launching of the Rachel rocket on Nov. 7, it's still fun to "count down" to the imaginary blast off.
Rachel Alexandra turned in yet another dominating performance in a campaign for the ages when she captured the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) on a sloppy track at Monmouth Park Aug. 2.
Favored Hot Dixie Chick showed she was more than a speed freak in the $111,000 Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III), rating patiently just off the pace before grabbing the lead and then pulling away to a 6 1/4 length victory July 29, the opening day of the Saratoga meeting in upstate New York.
A sore foot could keep Atomic Rain from taking on BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird in the Aug. 2 Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
The training halter worn by Rachel Alexandra prior to her historic victory in the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) was purchased by an Ohio man for $2,859.99 in an online auction that will benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Jess Jackson might as well have said "read my lips," when he stated emphatically on a national teleconference July 28 that Rachel Alexandra will not run in the Breeders' Cup, regardless of how much pressure is put on him.
While America's 3-year-old sweetheart Rachel Alexandra is frolicking at the Jersey Shore Aug. 2 in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park, and a deep, well-matched group of colts gather in the Adirondacks for the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga, the winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! brands (gr. I) for the first time in history will be out in the Appalachians, showing off in front of the Mountaineer Park crowd in the West Virginia Derby (gr. II).
BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra had her final workout July 27 at Saratoga as she continues to prepare for her next start in the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park on Sunday, Aug. 2.
Mine That Bird breezed through a four-furlong workout at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort on July 27. The track's clockers recorded a time of :49 4/5 as the Kentucky Derby winner continued his preparations for Aug. 1, $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. II).
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird put in his final work for the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), breezing five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 July 26 with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard.
Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Stable, the new owner of Atomic Rain, has officially decided to take on Preakness Stakes (gr. I)-winning filly Rachel Alexandra and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Aug. 2.
Monmouth Park announced the purse for the 42nd running of Haskell Invitational (gr. I) on Aug. 2 has been boosed by $250,000 to now total $1,250,000.
Jerry Moss, owner of undefeated champion Zenyatta, said July 22 that he has not made a decision on the mare's next destination after her try in the Aug. 9 Clement Hirsch Stakes (gr. I), but he reiterated that he still wants to do "something different" with the rest of her 2009 campaign.
Edward Evans' homebred Quality Road worked five furlongs in 1:01.41 July 17 at Belmont Park and is on track to make his first start in more than four months in the $150,000 Amsterdam (gr. II) at Saratoga on Aug. 3.
The winner of the BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I) is in top condition and ready for the $1 million, grade I stakes Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park, which could include Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird.
Payton d'Oro and Bon Jovi Girl, who took turns beating each other in their last two starts, will do battle once again in the $250,000 Delaware Oaks (gr. II) July 18 at Delaware Park, where they will meet a solid group of 3-year-old fillies.
BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra worked five furlongs in 1:01.38 over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Racecourse July 13.
California vintner Jess Jackson has privately acquired the Medaglia d'Oro filly Dashing Debby, who won her career debut, the July 11 J J'sdream Stakes at Calder Race Course, in commanding fashion by 10 1/4 lengths.
- By Steve Haskin
Not to be a killjoy, but the fact is some of the best horses in the country will not be showing up at the Breeders' Cup this year.
Jockey Calvin Borel, who rode the winners of this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I), will be a member of the Saratoga Preview panel on Monday, July 27 at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
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