FILLY MAY NOT BE ALLOWED IN PREAKNESS
MIGHT NOT BE ROOM IN FIELD FOR PROBABLE FAVORITE
AP - May 8, 2009
There may not be enough room in the Preakness field for filly Rachel
Alexandra, who would likely be the favorite if she is allowed to race.
Rachel Alexandra looks ready to challenge the boys in the Preakness.
Owner Jess Jackson, however, isn't sure his superstar filly will get the chance.
Jackson declared the Kentucky Oaks winner primed for the second jewel
of the Triple Crown following an easy four furlong workout on Sunday
at Churchill Downs.
Rachel Alexandra covered the half-mile in 48.40 seconds under exercise
rider Dominic Terry, a work trainer Steve Asmussen called "beautiful."
It was all the evidence Jackson needed to send the 3-year-old filly,
who he purchased last week for an undisclosed sum, to Pimlico for the
1-3/16th mile race.
The process of getting a horse into a Triple Crown race, however,
could leave Rachel Alexandra on the outside looking in when the field
heads to the starting gate on Saturday afternoon.
"Since it's Mother's Day, I wish I could announce to all mothers
everywhere that this incredible filly is entered to take on the boys,"
Jackson said in a statement. "But Triple Crown rules may prevent us
from sending her to Pimlico."
The Preakness is limited to 14 horses, with preference given to horses
pre-nominated to the Triple Crown. While Jackson is willing to pay the
$100,000 supplemental fee required to make Rachel Alexandra eligible
for the race, she may get bumped if 14 horses already nominated to the
series are entered.
Pimlico officials estimated Saturday that 13 horses, including
Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and runner-up Pioneerof the Nile,
were going to be entered, leaving one spot open for Rachel Alexandra.
Mine That Bird co-owner Mark Allen, however, told the Thoroughbred
Times he's considering entering another of his horses, Indy Express,
into the Preakness to keep Rachel Alexandra from running.
Allen said his motives are professional, not personal.
Jockey Calvin Borel, who guided the 50-1 long shot gelding to a
stunning 6 3/4-length win in the Run for the Roses, has already agreed
to pilot Rachel Alexandra for the rest of the year. Borel went along
for the ride as Rachel Alexandra won the Oaks by a record 20 1/4
lengths May 1.
"I just want my rider back," Allen told the publication.
Mine That Bird trainer Bennie Woolley Jr. has selected a backup rider
just in case, but plans on naming Borel the jockey during the
Preakness draw on Wednesday.
Pimlico oddsmaker Frank Carulli said he would make Rachel Alexandra
the morning line favorite if she enters. Nellie Morse in 1924 was the
last filly to win the Preakness.
Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winning Colors in 1988, who both came to
Baltimore as Kentucky Derby winners, went off as the betting favorites
in the Preakness but didn't win.
The most recent filly to go against the boys was Excellent Meeting in
1999. She finished last after being pulled up by jockey Kent
Jackson, who owned 2007 Preakness winner Curlin, remains optimistic
his stables' newest star will get a chance to run.
"I want the fans to know we are prepared to enter her and I am hopeful
that her entry will be accepted," Jackson said. "I know we all want
the thrill of seeing her race next weekend."
The last filly to enter a Triple Crown race was Eight Belles, who
broke both of her front legs moments after finishing second to Big
Brown in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.