Marylou Whitney is my new hero.
It seems each day in the Rachel Alexandra-Preakness saga, there is a new whirlwind of developments. Today marked the day that Mark Allen, the co-owner of Derby winner Mine That Bird, tried to cook up a scheme to keep out Rachel Alexandra, the dominant Oaks winner, out of the Preakness.
It breaks down like this [in my own summarized words]: Mark Allen called up Ahmed Zayat, the owner of Pioneerof the Nile, and said, "Hey, I'm entering a horse in the Preakness in addition to Mine That Bird in order to keep out the filly, Rachel Alexandra. That filly is going to steal my jockey, and show up my Derby winner. We're the real stars in this race, we can't let her in. Will you also enter a second horse?"
Zayat thinks to himself, "The new owners of Rachel Alexandra are being disrespectful of America's greatest race for making history by putting the Derby-winning jockey on their filly in the Preakness. That filly shouldn't be in the Preakness, anyway, because fillies are weak and two weeks is too quick of a turn around. Besides, I want my horse to win, and he stands less of a chance if he has to meet that monster in a race. It's not fair for a newcomer like Rachel Alexandra to spoil my fun, so I'm going to enter another of my horses in the race so she won't be able to enter."
Then he changed his mind and said this (directly quoted from Bloodhorse.com): “Nevertheless, after talking to the president of the Maryland Jockey Club I have decided I don’t want to be viewed as not being a sportsman, so I am happy not to block her for the good of the game. Please understand this is not about me; this is about the industry, and although what is right is not very clear to me I am happy to reconsider my decision for the fans.”
Riiiight. Looks like you said enough to make yourself a villain, Mr. Zayat. (See the complete, long-winded quote in the full Bloodhorse.com article.)
Meanwhile, Marylou Whitney had a horse named Luv Gov she wanted to enter in the Preakness, oblivious to this Allen-Zayat scandal. The trainer for the horse, D. Wayne Lucas, called up the Maryland Jockey Club to enter the horse and found out that Luv Gov would be #13, and Rachel Alexandra would be #14 as the entrees stand. Only 14 horses are allowed to enter in the Preakness field, and Rachel Alexandra will need to be supplemented for $100,000 to enter the race and is not Triple Crown nominated. Triple Crown nominated horses have preference in the field and could kick her out of contention if the field was filled up to capacity.
Here is the direct quote of what her husband and racing manager, John Hendrickson, said upon discovering their position for Luv Gov in the Preakness: "If we are the deciding factor, we will not enter. [Rachel Alexandra] is good for the sport. For the sake of the sport, we will withdraw."
That right there brought tears to my eyes. THANK YOU, Marylou Whitney and everyone who holds the same standards as you in this game. How unsportsman-like for the owners of the top two finishers in the Kentucky Derby to want to keep out this amazing filly from the second jewel of the Triple Crown. It's a race, not a sure bet. Obviously, Rachel has them shaking in their boots if they were seriously considering entering dud horses in order to exclude this champion from taking part in the greatest tournament of sports. Ms. Whitney has a true contender with a legitimate chance of winning the race, yet she is sacrificing her horse's chance because she wants to see what's BEST for the sport. I applaud this First Lady of Racing. We shall see what hand karma deals, my friends.
Sunday night, Mark Allen decided not to enter his 0-for-9 maiden horse Indy Express in the Preakness after it was clear the bulk of the racing world was aghast at his sinister plan.
So now, we have seen the underbelly of the underdogs.