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.