Which was the bigger shock? A Jim Dandy-Curlin Stakes double both won by trainer Tony Dutrow or Jess Jackson announcing where his 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra will be racing three Wednesdays before entries are due?

Of course the answer is the latter, though the former was quite impressive, but just when your hopes get up, “That earns him a start in the Travers,” said Dutrow of Curlin Stakes winner Winslow Homer. “That’s what we were looking for. He was impressive and scooted away from them, and he loved the distance. We’re hoping he goes into the Travers as well as he did today. He’s bred to go the distance and I think that he proved today that the distance will be a friend.”

Then a condylar fracture to his left front will sideline him for the Travers. Such is life.

Back to Jackson. The wine magnate who wants to rename a Black Mountain to Alexander Mountain in Cali has seen the peaks. For example, when he announced that Curlin would race as a four year old at the Eclipse Awards. Then he sank to the valley when he pulled Rachel out of the Apple Blossom. The Sportsman was suddenly the Sportsman ... so-long-as-it-works-in-my-favor.
Even a year ago (as documented in the hopefully-soon-to-be-published Six Weeks in Saratoga) Jackson had the racing industry on a string. Rachel had been nominated to four races following her body slam-win in the Haskell: the Alabama, the Woodward, the Travers and the, gulp, Pennsylvania Derby won in 2008 by the demonstrative Anak Nakal.

Every week clicked by and the steam in the press box shot from the ears of turf writers, most notably Claire Novak, who was most prominent in her disdain among writers about Jackson’s vagueness.

The brass at the New York Racing Association suffered from impatience as well. Rachel deserved a good show—one being denied her by the short notice. And racing secretary P.J. Campo had trouble filling races since the presence or absence of Rachel determined where a slew of other horses would be running.

Whatever the reason Jackson decided to announce her next race in timely fashion. Perhaps he threw a bone to NYRA to give folks like Neema Ghazi, Dan Silver and Campo a chance to effectively do their jobs.

Also, in so doing, Jackson turned the table on Zenyatta’s owner, Jerry Moss. It was just a few months ago that the Apple Blossom was bumped to $5 million pending the attendance of both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra and eight other horses and a partridge and a pare tree.

Moss committed thus putting the pressure on Jackson. Jackson ducked (which, let’s face it, was the right move. Rachel wasn’t fit and she would have been demolished. Would she have hit the board???).

Not since “Charlie’s Angels” have two or more females looked so good together and the time is now. Why? Anything can happen to these athletes. If they are sound and fit, run them against each other now. We can’t bet that they’ll be ready or healthy in November (remember Big Brown v. Curlin?).

Jackson put the pressure where he likes it: on other people. And he put it right on Moss’s nose to bring his mare to New York sans Security Barns.

Meanwhile, Zenyatta’s trainer John Shirreffs readies his alpha mare for the Clement Hirsch.

So NYRA must also ratchet the pressure by making the Personal Ensign a run for $1 million. Should that lure both connections and handful of others, fans may have their dream race.

Too much can happen between now and November. Let us not forget that.

Thanks to Jackson, at least we actually have three weeks instead of three days to think about it.

Brendan O’Meara blogs about horse racing here at HRI and at The Carryover. He also blogs about narrative nonfiction and his book project “Six Weeks in Saratoga” at The Blog Itself. His Web site is http://www.brendanomeara.com.