Friday, May 8, 2009

Jackson transfers Rachel Alexandra to Asmussen

Shawn Coady/Coady Photography

by Ed DeRosa

Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables, along with Harold T. McCormick, purchased Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Rachel Alexandra from breeder Dolphus Morrison and co-owner Mike Lauffer.

“Rachel Alexandra is one of the best horses in racing today,” Jackson said. “She is fast, strong, durable—the traits we should all be breeding into all future generations of racehorses. Her beauty and athleticism will thrill thousands of fans.”

Jackson arrived in Louisville on Thursday to see Rachel Alexandra in person, and tranfserred the filly to the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen, who conditioned two-time Horse of the Year Curlin for Jackson. Hal Wiggins previously trained Rachel Alexandra throughout her career.

A purchase price was not immediately disclosed. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the purchase price was between $3-million and $4-million. The filly was valued at $1.2-million in November, before she won her first stakes.

Jackson did not commit to supplementing Rachel Alexandra to the Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 16 at Pimlico Race Course. She is not nominated to the Triple Crown and could only get into the middle jewel of the Triple Crown if less than 14 horses are entered and her connections pay a $100,000 supplementary nomination fee.

An official with the Maryland Jockey Club confirmed Wednesday that a representative from Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables contacted the Maryland Jockey Club regarding the possibility of running Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.

The Oaks and Derby winners have never faced each other in the Preakness, though the Belmont Stakes (G1) has featured classic winners facing Oaks winners in recent years. In 1999, Oaks winner Silverbulletday faced Derby-Preakness winner Charimastic in the Belmont Stakes (G1). In 2007, Oaks winner Rags to Riches defeated Preakness winner Curlin in the Belmont. Jackson owned Curlin in partnership when the eventual two-time Horse of the Year won the Preakness and said that he would breed Rachel Alexandra to the Smart Strike stallion at the conclusion of her racing career.

Calvin Borel rode Rachel Alexandra to victory in the Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs and the next day won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands aboard Mine That Bird. Borel said after the Derby that Rachel Alexandra was the superior horse, but his longtime agent, Jerry Hissam, would not say on Wednesday who Borel would ride if both Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird were entered in the Preakness on May 16 at Pimlico.

“I’m not going to get myself into any trouble,” Hissam said. “They’re both great horses. If [Rachel Alexandra] goes in the Preakness then we have a decision to make. I haven’t heard anything official yet.”

Mark Allen, co-owner of Mine That Bird, said that the connections of his horse have not heard from Borel’s camp regarding his Preakness intentions should Rachel Alexandra enter that race.

“Calvin’s in a tough spot; Calvin has to take care of himself,” Allen said. “I wouldn’t blame him if he did choose [Rachel Alexandra]. He’s one heck of a rider, but there are other good riders out there. I know [trainer Bennie] Chip [Woolley Jr.] has heard from a few agents. I’d love to see Calvin ride our horse, but if he doesn’t, then he’s just doing what he thinks is best.

“I’d never say a bad word about him; he won the Derby for us.”

For video of Rachel Alexandra's win in the Kentucky Oaks, click here.