Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson

Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson

Anne M. Eberhardt

Whitney Will Not Exclude Rachel Alexandra

John Hendrickson, husband and racing and breeding manager for Marylou Whitney said neither he nor Marylou have ever spoken to Ahmed Zayat, and although they plan on running Luv Gov in the Preakness (gr. I) at the request of trainer D. Wayne Lukas, they would withdraw him if it meant excluding Rachel Alexandra.


Also, Mark Allen, co-owner of Mine That Bird, told Sports Illustrated that he, like Ahmed Zayat, has changed his mind and will not enter a horse to keep Rachel Alexandra out.


Whitney owned and bred Mine That Bird’s sire Birdstone , who stands at Gainesway Farm, outside Lexington, Ky.


“I don’t know where this came from about promoting Birdstone, but we have never spoken to (Zayat) or anyone who works for him and have never met him, and Marylou would never do anything to hurt the sport; we don’t play those games,” Hendrickson said.


“Luv Gov has been Wayne’s favorite horse from the very beginning. When he finished second, he said this is our Preakness and Belmont horse. I told him let’s break our maiden first (which he did impressively on Derby Day). This morning, Wayne called and said, ‘How about the Preakness? The race would suit him just fine and we’ll have to run him again because he needs the race.’ I told Wayne, ‘You did great with Stone Legacy (second in the Kentucky Oaks-I), so do whatever you want to do, but don’t exclude Rachel Alexandra.’


Wayne said he called Pimlico and they said we’re 13 and she’d be 14. I called Wayne again and clarified our situation. It’s important for people to know that if we are the deciding factor that would exclude Rachel Alexandra, we will withdraw, period. We’re not going to hurt the sport; we love the sport. Marylou has been in it for 50 years; she’s not going to do this to the sport she loves. When I asked her this morning if she’d like to go to the Preakness with Luv Gov she got excited. We legitimately thought we had a shot. But for the sake of the sport we definitely will withdraw if people want to play these games in order to have Rachel run.


“She is a star and I want to see her run. We’ve only seen the back end of her. We’re craving for stars and she’s amazing to watch. I feel like we all own her. We don’t enter to exclude anyone; we enter because we think we can win. We think Mine That Bird is a legitimate horse. He won by almost seven lengths, and looks like an impressive horse.


“This whole episode is embarrassing. I don’t how this all got started, but this is so far from what Marylou is.”