Thursday, May 7, 2009

Borel will ride Alexandra, not Derby winner, in Preakness if filly enters

The news feed is buzzing like a nest full of hornets right now. Soon after Jess Jackson was announced to have bought Rachel Alexandra, confirmation came that the filly had been moved to trainer Steve Asmussen's barn at 5:15am ET this morning.

In an interview with Blood-Horse, Hal Wiggins, her former trainer, had positive things to say about the deal and was graceful after having his champion filly ripped out of his hands overnight:

“My wife was hurt (when she heard that Rachel was sold), because she knew it
was hurting me,” said Wiggins. “I talked to her this morning, and I told her the
sun was going to rise just like it does every morning. Time does a whole lot no
matter what it is, and we have a lot to be thankful for, so we keep thinking
about that.
“When you walk by and see that empty stall, you can’t help but
think what was in there. It’s tough—it’s hard, but that’s just part of the game,
and we have to realize that, but we did have some great times with her, so we’re
appreciative of that.”

Wiggins expected, after the quick purchase of Rachel after her stunning Oaks victory, that Jackson would supplement the filly into the Grade I Preakness Stakes on May 16th.

My head is spinning like a top right now. I'm feeling sorry for Hal Wiggins and Rachel's previous connections, but am happy, on the other hand, that she will finally be given her shot to take on the boys. She deserves no less. The article also says IEAH had tried to buy her in the fall, but backed out because at that time, she had a bone chip in one of her ankles. I hope that doesn't mean she's prone to chips and injuries, but as I haven't heard anything else about her health conditions, she sounds pretty sound.

If Rachel does enter the Preakness, Mike Smith will likely board Mine That Bird. I know how racing fans will likely react to this news, but what about the public who is rooting for the underdog? Will the non-racing public root for a champion filly who's at the top of her game, or a longshot horse who will likely not be able to win a race like the Derby again without Borel in the stirrups?

For the sake of horse racing, let's hope the non-fans are titilated by this instead of being turned-off. Rachel has the opportunity to make the people put Eight Belles's tragic death behind us, and the industry could really use a boost like that right now.

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