Possible Zenyatta & Rachel Alexandra Showdown
Last year all everyone could talk about was how great it would be to see the best fillies in action against each other. But just as racing fans began to lose hope that they would be able to witness a showdown between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, Oaklawn Park Racecourse has put an offer on the table that most horse owners would not refuse. Unfortunately, the owners of both these magnificent horses are not easily swayed by purse money, yet there have been positive responses from both camps, making the faceoff between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra a very good possibility.
The officials at Oaklawn Park, have decided to push the purse of the Apple Blossom Stakes up from $500 000 to $5 million should both fillies compete in this year’s event, which is being held on 3 April 2010. If only one were to show up, or neither, the purse amount would revert back to its initial amount. Also, should these superstars decided to compete against each other, the race will be run as an invitational and the race length increased to nine furlongs.
Rachel Alexandra, foaled in 2006, is trained by Steve Asmussen and has a spectacular list of victories to her name, including the Fantasy Stakes, Woodward Stakes, Preakness Stakes and Golden Rod Stakes. She is also the 2009 Horse of the Year, and the 2009 American Champion Three Year Old Filly. The unbeaten Zenyatta on the other hand, trained by John Shirreffs, has won races such as Breeders’ Cup, Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic and the Apple Blossom Handicap. She has also been honored by having the Zenyatta Stakes named after her, and being crowned American Champion Older Female Horse in 2008 and 2009.
Jess Jackson, owner of Rachel Alexandra, expressed his desire to attend the Apple Blossom Stakes, however, he did remind the media that as always he will only allow Rachel Alexandra to race if she is ready. Jackson, who has always been critical of synthetic surfaces, has always ensured that his horses race on dirt or turf tracks, even holding Rachel Alexandra back from the Breeders Cup due to Santa Anita having a synthetic track. Zenyatta owner, Jerry Moss, also told the media that even though he finds the idea of racing Zenyatta against Rachel Alexandra exciting, he too will decide on her attendance depending on her readiness. Zenyatta will possibly be opening her season with the Santa Margarita Handicap on 13 March, while Rachel Alexandra is yet to have her first race confirmed.