Like most of us, former jockey Jerry Bailey, the all-time leading Breeders’ Cup winner with 15 victories, is disappointed Rachel Alexandra is not at Santa Anita this week to prepare for the $5 million Classic.
Yet Bailey is not ready to throw co-owner Jess Jackson under the bus because of his controversial decision to skip the Breeders’ Cup after two-time Horse of the Year Curlin finished fourth in last year’s Classic over Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface.
“He did step out last year and he brought Curlin against the desires of (trainer) Steve Asmussen, who didn’t think it was in his best interests at that time of the year to run him on the synthetic,” Bailey said on an ESPN conference call today. “But he did it anyway, so I got to tip my hat for him.
“Jess did put up a lot of money to buy this filly (a reported $10 million) and immediately took her outside of her division and ran against the boys in the Preakness and eventually in the Haskell, which it’s very unlikely the previous owners would have done. So he did contribute something to the game that I don’t think we would have seen had he not purchased this filly.
“But yeah, I wish she was here, because there would be nothing better than to see her against Zenyatta or both of them against the males. I am disappointed, but I am glad that (Jackson) wants to bring her back next year. So I am looking at the positive on that.”