Jess Jackson: Thanks, but no thanks

It didn’t take Jess Jackson, Rachel Alexandra’s co-owner, long to announce the inevitable — his star filly will not be running in the Breeders’ Cup, despite event officials trying to lure the princess of racing to the event by hiking the winner’s share of the $5 million Classic from $2.7 million to $3.7 million earlier Friday.

“Rachel already has completed a brilliant long campaign,” Jackson told The Associated Press. Jackson cites his strong distaste for synthetic surfaces as the reason he does not want the Medaglia d’Oro filly to run over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride track.

“These false tracks create potential for injury, a risk I am not willing to take with Rachel,” he said. “As to the Breeders’ Cup, my position has not changed. My concerns are well known about the tracks in California. … Bottom line, despite an increase in the purse, she will not race at the Breeders’ Cup this year.”

Two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, also owned by Jackson, finished fourth during his first try on a synthetic in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, prompting some to speculate that’s the reason he doesn’t want to send Rachel Alexandra to California for this year’s event despite the fact she scored an easy victory over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface as a 2-year-old.

Anyone who has read my columns and blogs knows I am not a fan of synthetics in the least, but I think Jackson is over-reacting in this instance. I can understand him not wanting Rachel Alexandra to be stabled at a track that has a synthetic and to run over the “false” track more than once, but the fact she already proved she can handle an artificial track and would be racing over it only once during Championship Weekend, well, I think his decision is wrong. I don’t think there’s that big risk he talks about in just one race. In fact, it might have been less safe for her to run on that sloppy track at Monmouth in the Haskell than over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride one time.

Bottom line: It’s his horse and he can do with her what he wants. But the fact he talks about her 2009 campaign in the past tense makes it seem less likely that Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta will ever hook up, even after the Breeders’ Cup at a neutral track like the Fair Grounds.

6 thoughts on “Jess Jackson: Thanks, but no thanks

  1. Every track creates a potential for injury. The sloppy mud that Rachel runs over often is the most dangerous kind of all. At the press conference Jackson held last year after Curlin’s public work at Santa Anita, he said something about how fast the tracks are and that might make turning more dangerous. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at where he pulls these ideas from. Does he even talk to his trainer Asmussen or other horsemen to get some input from people who might know what they’re talking about? Asmussen hasn’t said he’s a fan of synthetics, but at least he doesn’t pull opinions out of you-know-where.

  2. i so agree with MMM-and the Haskell type track is to me far more dangerous.
    Jess bought himself a wonderful horse–she existed before he bought her even tho he doesn’t remember that and she won easily on plastic. He is just punishing BC and Santa Anita because he is still po’ed that Curlin lost there–never mind Curlin lost on turf and more than once on dirt and his race in Dubai was the last one he looked all that great-to me anyway. Just like with Big Brown neither he nor Curlin looked quite as good after they came off steroids. It is a matter of testimony before Congress that Curlin was indeed on steroids and they took him off in time for Dubai.
    Jess does envision himself ruler of the world at times-even telling Obama what to do from the Eclipse Award stage when accepting an award. And one thing Jess does that he just is not called on often enough is complete double-speak.
    Example recently-note the dates–24 hours apart and a few days after saying oh well Dubai if he can be convinced-on one hand money is not the most important and next day he says ‘oh that purse is weak” all the while knowing that isn’t the purse if they showed up:
    Jess Jackson, principal owner of Rachel Alexandra, decided there are more important things than money when he chose Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward Stakes for her next start.

    He could have opted to have her face 3-year-old colts in the $1 million Travers last Saturday at New York’s Saratoga Race Course Course, which was won by Summer Bird, a horse she already defeated. But the temptation of giving her the opportunity to become the first filly to defeat older males in the Woodward’s 56-year history was too strong to resist.
    > “If the financial consideration were the primary thing, we would have gone to the Travers,” Jackson says. “We look to the race, we look to the horse, and we look to the legacy of the horse.” *Sept 4th*……..
    *Sept 5th*: the reporter put the facts in–that it will be a million if they go…this is the interview where Jess thought Gregory Peck would be the best choice to play him in a movie about himself but would settle for Tom Hanks since Peck is dead
    Q: Everyone is hoping to see a match up between Rachel and Zenyatta, the undefeated mare from the West. Do you think it will ever happen, perhaps at the Beldame at Belmont Park in October?

    A: I haven’t thought beyond this (Woodward) race. How she comes out of it would be very important. If Zenyatta had committed to the Beldame, *I’d consider it, but the purse at the Beldame ($600,000, but it would be pushed to $1 million if both horses go). is quite weak *I can’t commit that I would accept the Beldame but I think Zenyatta has to decide first and what’s in her best interest and I will never fault an owner for deciding to do what’s best for their horse.
    Bottom line for me is I used to love RA–followed her for well over 6mths before Jess’s purchase– but Jess and the same type of cocky fans that swallow everything Jess says as gospel and made a lot of us dislike hearing the name Curlin have taken a lot of the joy away for me–recently had one just blow up at me for saying ‘she about got beat but she didn’t and good grief i counted 21 times Calvin whipped her in the stretch”. Just BLEW up at me saying ‘oh no she did not about get beat, Calvin did not hit her, the weight allowance of 8lbs did NOT help RA and you are an idiot type of thing’–that did it for me—that is idiocy and RA deserves a bit of accuracy in her fans. So glad RA and Jess hopefully on the shelf for awhile so some other horses can get attn.

  3. Outlaw, at this point, I’d say the chances of Rachel and Zenyatta ever meeting on the track are slim and none — and slim just slipped out the back door. I was holding out hope they would meet after the Breeders’ Cup, and I thought it would happen, but looks like Rachel is being shut down for the year, and after eight races and a tough one in her last, well, that might be the best thing for the horse.
    My advice to you — if you were (are) a Rachel Alexandra fan, don’t stop liking the filly because you don’t like the owner. She can’t help who owns her. I’m a Texas Rangers baseball fan, I don’t like the owner. I think he’s made a mess of bad moves, but I still root for the team.

  4. The only reason that Rachel is not going to the Breeders is Zenyatta. That’s JJ decision and it’s his horse but to say it’s the track is ________. Rachel has no chance of beating the mare.

  5. Outlaw, bottom line is that you’re still a passionate fan of the sport and haven’t given up on on it despite the lack of leadership in the industry and its many problems. You’re obviously a very knowledgeable fan, and you should be proud of that.

  6. As you know I NEVER thought any match up would happen after the BC and prob not before either. I actually listen to Jess and know which line of stuff he is laying out usually and so far been fairly acurate–even to last year. People will tell you what they are up to but not all are up front about it.
    I would say to you on your advice is first thanks but I had the pleasure of loving her for 6mths before the sale and I treasure those months before all the BS and hype. I could not get anyone to talk about her last November. I was watching her and knew her greatness before Calvin ever got on her. And as I mentioned it is not just her owner-it is some of her fans too. So perhaps I am just done–a book that is finished for me is all. In general I try to ignore the people totally-I grew up in this sport. In this case I enjoy her for the time she is running in a race-period. The before and after not at all and never did I even hint it was the filly’s fault or that I root against her.
    However, I am excited about the return of Girolamo–I saw his debut race and ever race since. Very excited about him last year and kept him in my virtual stable all year. When I started getting works on him I was sure hoping he would be back soon. He has always looked like a budding superstar and maybe he will keep getting better and better. THAT is more exciting to me now.

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