(Edited Churchill Downs report)
The morning of Friday, May 29, was decidedly not business as usual for Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra at Churchill Downs.
The first part of the morning was routine: a trip to the track at 6:20 for one time around the main track under exercise rider Dominic Terry.
Four hours later, the cameras were out and the backdrop was up between Barns 36 and 38 for a photo shoot of Rachel Alexandra by fashion photographer Steven Klein. His images of the Oaks and Preakness winner are set to be published in the August issue of Vogue magazine.
Klein may be best known for his striking photos of such pop icons as Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Britney Spears, Natalie Portman and Justin Timberlake. His work has appeared in Vogue and W magazines, and in ads for Calvin Klein and Dolce and Gabbana.
“I've done photo shoots before, but this is my first one for Vogue,” said Scott Blasi, the assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen who held the shank on the star filly while Klein shot his images just after noon.
Among those looking on were Barbara Banke, the wife of Stonestreet Stables’ Jess Jackson, who owns the filly in partnership with Harold McCormick.
Klein’s session with Rachel Alexandra grew out of a trip to the Preakness by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
“She was there at the Preakness and was inspired, like so many other women were,” said Carolina Shaw, senior vice president for public pelations of Family & Brand Communications for Jackson Family Enterprises.
A 10’x16’ plywood wall was erected next to the Asmussen barn to serve as the backdrop for the photo shoot of the Preakness winner, who had to be awakened in her stall when was time for her star turn before the camera.
Meanwehile, there were no photo shoots for Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner and Preakness runner-up Mine That Bird, who quietly went about his business of galloping twice around the main track under exercise rider Charlie Figueroa before the renovation break.
Trainer Chip Woolley said that co-owners Mark Allen and Leonard Blach may be at Churchill June 1 to watch Mine That Bird’s final work before the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) .
Woolley said Mine That Bird would work after the renovation break Monday morning and that jockey Calvin Borel would be aboard. Borel is leaving immediately after the work for a 10 a.m. flight to New York.
Woolley is scheduled to fly out at 7:15 Tuesday morning with Mine That Bird leaving on Wednesday, June 3.