In an attempt to give racing fans around the country the matchup they covet, Rachel Alexandra vs. Zenyatta, the Breeders’ Cup Board today said the winner’s share of the $5 million Classic will be increased from $2.7 million to $3.7 million if both distaffers start in the race on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meet — making it the richest winner’s share in the world this year.
Jess Jackson, Rachel Alexandra’s co-owner, has already said he will not send his star 3-year-old filly to the Breeders’ Cup because he does not like artificial tracks. Santa Anita has a synthetic Pro-Ride suface that was used last year when Curlin, also owned by Jackson, finished fourth in the Classic after taking the lead at the head of the stretch.
Earlier this week, Jackson said Rachel Alexandra, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro who is 8 for 8 this year and has won five consecutive Grade 1 stakes, might be finished for the year after a hard-fought victory over older males in last Saturday’s Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in which she was all out to hold off Macho Again after setting some swift fractions.
“Racing fans around the world have made it clear that they would like to see Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta face each other and the best horses from the U.S. and Europe in the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” Breeders’ Cup president Greg Avioli said in a statement. “While we respect that the race has not been under consideration by Rachel Alexandra’s connections, we wanted to make sure that the Breeders’ Cup did everything in its power to make the prospect of competing at Santa Anita in November as attractive as possible.”
Zenyatta, unbeaten in three starts this year and 12-0 in her career, is currently being prepared to run in the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Oak Tree on Oct. 10. She is then expected to try to defend her Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic title on Nov. 6, although the 5-year-old mare’s connections have not ruled out a start in the Classic the following day instead.
An earlier offer by TVG and Betfair Ltd. to add $400,000 to the purse of the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 3, raising it to $1 million if both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta start, was considered by the Zenyatta folks, who then decided they did not want to put their standout through the rigors of the NYRA’s detention barn. Jackson has left open the option of running Rachel Alexandra in the Beldame if Zenyatta were to start in the Grade 1 race.
Bottom line: Rachel Alexandra will not be coming to Arcadia for the Breeders’ Cup and is likely done for the year unless a race is set up for after the Breeders’ Cup at a venue like the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.