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 super fillies Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra.
The proposed race, in late September or early October, would be held at Sam Houston Race Park. From the $2 million offered by Gallery Furniture, which would sponsor the event, the winner would receive $1.2 million and the other horse would get $800,000.
"I think it would be good for horse racing, and be good for Houston," McIngvale said Aug. 11. "And hopefully I can make some money on it."
McIngvale, who is known as "Mattress Mack" on his television commercials that are beamed to Houston-area audiences, said he would hope to profit from the match race by the exposure generated for his business. Among his previous promotions within horse racing, McIngvale in 1999 sponsored the Turfway Park stakes race now run as the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II). Previous to McIngvale’s one-year sponsorship, when it was run as the Galleryfurniture.com Stakes, the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep was the Jim Beam Stakes.
The owner said he selected Sam Houston for the race because it is his local track, because it is centrally located, and because it has a safe dirt surface.
McIngvale said he planned to contact the owners of both horses Aug. 11 to review his proposal. The proposed match race was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.
Based in California, Zenyatta has done most of her running on artificial surfaces. Following her victory in last weekend’s Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I), Zenyatta is undefeated in 12 career starts. Owner Jerry Moss has said this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at California’s Santa Anita Nov. 6-7 is the ultimate goal for Zenyatta. Last fall, Zenyatta won the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) on her way to championship honors as top older female.
East Coast-based Rachel Alexandra has won 10 of 13 lifetime starts and races for Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick. Jackson has said the filly, who has defeated colts in the BlackBerry Preakness (gr. I) and Haskell Invitational (gr. I), would not participate in the Breeders’ Cup because of the artificial Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.