Stonestreet Stables' Jess Jackson, majority owner of Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra, said in a wide-ranging media teleconference June 24 that the superb filly would not race in this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita but that there is a good possibility that she would return in 2010 for a 4-year-old campaign.
Jackson would not commit to the remainder of Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 summer campaign, although he did say he would like to race her at least one more time against males. He mentioned the Aug. 2 Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Monmouth Park and the Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers (gr. I) at Saratoga as possibilities. The daughter of Medaglia d'Oro is expected to face only four rivals in the Mother Goose (gr. I) June 27 at Belmont Park in her first race since winning the May 16 Preakness. Calvin Borel, who was also part of the teleconference, will have the mount.
Jackson, who along with Harold McCormick privately purchased Rachel Alexandra shortly after she won the May 1 Kentucky Oaks, made it clear he would not race the bay filly in this year’s Breeders’ Cup because he does not want to risk her on “plastic” surfaces. The Breeders’ Cup, which will take place Nov. 6-7, will be held for the second consecutive year at Santa Anita, whose main track is the synthetic Pro-Ride surface. Jackson referred to all synthetic surfaces, including Keeneland and Del Mar’s Polytrack, as “plastic” several times during the interview.
“I’m absolutely certain,” said Jackson when asked if he had made up his mind definitively on the Breeders’ Cup. “If I run her (as a 4-year-old) the Breeders’ Cup it is not that essential.
“I have a very strong dislike for plastic surfaces. I’ve seen dirt horses run on plastic – they struggle over it. Curlin did last year. I think plastic favors turf horses.”
When asked about the 2010 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, Jackson later added that he would “love to be there (with Rachel Alexandra).”
Jackson was asked several times about a potential meeting between Rachel Alexandra and champion mare Zenyatta, who will also race this weekend at Hollywood Park in the Vanity Handicap (gr. I). He said it would have to be outside of California, although on June 23 Zenyatta trainer John Shirreffs told The Blood-Horse that there were no plans to take Zenyatta outside of California as of now, and that she likely would not race as a 6-year-old next year.
“I would love to meet (Zenyatta),” Jackson said. “But they will have to bring her East or to a neutral track.
“I can’t criticize another owner for protecting their horse and doing what’s right for their horse. I would hope we’d meet, but if it’s not in the stars then it’s not meant to happen.”
Jackson did not say where Rachel Alexandra would race after this weekend’s Mother Goose, but mentioned several possibilities that would be determined by her soundness and the timing of the races. In addition to the Haskell and the Travers, he said she could race against females July 19 in the $1-million Delaware Handicap (gr. II); older fillies and mares) at Delaware Park, or July 25 in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Belmont. He also mentioned the Aug. 22 Alabama (gr. I) at Saratoga.
When asked what his top preference would be for Rachel Alexandra assuming she is completely sound, Jackson said, “I would love to bring her to the Travers. I think she can recover quickly enough (from a race between the Mother Goose and the Travers). We’ll see."
Also in the teleconference, Borel said he will likely have “one or two” mounts on the Mother Goose undercard at Belmont. Borel was criticized by some for not taking any mounts prior to the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in which he guided Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird to a third-place finish behind Summer Bird and Dunkirk.