“I’m not thinking beyond this race.”
Which is to say that Jackson is also considering the Jockey Club Gold Cup on the same day. The JCGC is the centerpiece of New York’s ultimate dress rehearsal for horses which may, or may not, be running in the Breeders’ Cup five weeks later.
“I have to consider all the options,” said Jackson on a national teleconference Tuesday. [After Saturday’s Woodward Stakes vs. older males] she will have 13 races at two and three. We want her healthy and well for a four-year-old campaign.”
Then would Rachel run in a race on neutral ground after the Breeders’ Cup, should the Beldame summit fail to materialize?
“It’s always her decision,” Jackson said.
No one knows how things will shake out for either great filly beyond Saturday‘s events, perhaps not even the camps themselves.
Zenyatta is to have one more race before the Breeders’ Cup; either a defense of her 2008 Ladies Classic title or the ultimate test, a run against the boys in the Classic.
That would depend in large measure on how Rachel does Saturday afternoon and beyond.
The feeling here is that racing fans in general and Rachel Alexandra fans, in particular, had better enjoy Saturday’s Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. It just might be the conclusion of the great filly’s extremely ambitious three-year-old campaign.
Should Rachel win the Woodward to become the first three year old filly to win the latter day classic for older horses, Zenyatta might need to ship to the red planet and defeat Martian males before any consideration is given to dethroning the conqueror of this year’s Kentucky Derby, Belmont, Travers Stakes and Whitney.
Not to mention her Preakness victory. A Woodward score certainly would demand that Zenyatta either ship to the Beldame or try to defeat Europe’s best males in the Classic including the extremely talented, multiple Group 1-winning Sea The Stars.
If Zenyatta shipped East for the Beldame and no summit took place, Rachel’s reputation would take a hit for ducking the challenge, the same way Zenyatta’s has because her people choice of an all-California campaign.
“Zenyatta is undefeated, very rare. She’s a champion, a great horse,” said Jackson. On the artificial tracks out West she’s proven to be one of the all time greats.
“John Shirreffs and the Mosses have engaged in a peerless campaign. I wish her well. Maybe [a meeting’s] not meant to be. It takes two to dance.
“Each camp has to take care of their horse. I hope fans appreciate two of the very best racing at the same time.”
With respect to the Beldame, Jackson said that in addition to the horse’s well being, there were “financial considerations,” such as the Beldame’s purse.
Sometime after Jackson committed Rachel Alexandra to the Haskell Invitational, the purse was raised considerably. Was that the case with the Woodward, raised from $500,000 to $750,000?
“If it were only about money Rachel would have run in the Travers, which was a million dollars. We had talks [with NYRA] about it. Raising the purse helps bring competition to the race, and I applaud that.”
Does Jackson have thoughts about owning the two highest North American-based money earners of all time, with Rachel Alexandra joining Curlin in the $10-million earnings club?
“This is the first time I’ve thought of that.”
A win in the 2010 Dubai World Cup would go a long way toward reaching that goal. “But they’re putting in an artificial surface at the new track [a Tapeta surface].
“Curlin was one of the few horses able to win again after running there. That’s a long way for a horse to travel.”
And that trip likely extracted a toll later in the season. Prior to Curlin’s defeat at Santa Anita came less than stunning victories in the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup.
***With a win in the Classic, Zenyatta, with current earnings of $2.6-million, would become North America's premiere money-winning female. Rachel’s Haskell win elevated her earnings to near the $2.5-million mark.
With a Woodward win and no potential summit with Zenyatta at Belmont Park, figure that you won’t see Rachel Alexandra until sometime in 2010, when Jackson will “try to give her more hurdles in the process of defining her greatness.”
***Earnings figures corrected 090209. Read comment #1 beneath post