Two weeks ago, on August 21, my article on Horse Racing Business was titled “If I Owned Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta.” This was posted eight days before Rachel Alexandra was caught late in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga in which she finished a game second.

Jess Jackson now has three reasonable options for his popular filly Rachel Alexandra and two longer shot options, as follows:

1. Retire the filly immediately. This is a defensible course of action if trainer Steve Asmussen is convinced that Rachel will not return close to her 3-year-old form. Unless she does, she certainly has little business in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and will be challenged in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic by the likes of Blind Luck and Devil May Care.

2. Run Rachel Alexandra in an upcoming race in early October and evaluate how well she does. Use this barometer as the key in deciding whether to take Rachel Alexandra on to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic or retire her. She would need a convincing win to proceed on to Churchill Downs in early November.

3. Train her up to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic without another race. This decision would give the reigning Horse of the Year a chance to notch a Breeders’ Cup win before her retirement. There is little downside to doing so, as even if she were to be defeated, she would still be remembered for her stellar 3-year-old campaign, especially her win in the Preakness.

Lower-Probability Options

4. Go for the big prize and run Rachel Alexandra in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This would require her to last a mile and a quarter with Quality Road (and others) putting the pressure on early and Blame, Zenyatta and others coming late. It is difficult to see how Rachel Alexandra could win such a race, given that she could not hold off the aptly named filly Persistently in the Personal Ensign Stakes after putting away Life at Ten. This, in my view, is the worst option on the board.

5. Enter Rachel Alexandra in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. How she would do against premier European runners on the turf is problematic. It would be quite a feat if Rachel Alexandra could win this race, but trying her on the grass against top-class milers is really a roll of the dice. The distance is right, but the racing surface transition and the level of competition are formidable. However, if Asmussen knows that Rachel Alexandra has trained very well on the turf, then this might be a bold gamble worth taking…particularly at the distance of a mile.

The decision that makes the most sense from my perspective is to give Rachel Alexandra another race in early October and then decide what to do about the Ladies’ Classic. Yet the Breeders’ Cup Mile is appealing; if she could win this race, it would redeem her tarnished star.

Copyright © 2010 Horse Racing Business


  1. agree with your option. the reasoning offends me. In other sports competitors rise to their level in competition. As owner of RA i’d never give a thought to RA winning the BC Classic. If she does she does and the accolades will follow. Racing has regrettably and to its detriment become a money grubbing exercise. Nothing wrong with money. “Good business” in sports requires competing in all its dynamics and then letting chips fall where they may. What would Preston Burch eg. do with RA?

  2. I think the Personal Ensign broke Rachel Alexandra’s heart. When she tucked her tail inside the 1/16 pole I do believe she has had all the racing she wants. I seen Lady’s Secret get her heart broke and would not run at all. It’s a dam shame. They trying to recoup their money I understand that to a point but since they moved her she ain’t the same horse. Hell Mine That Bird got within two jumps of her. Rachel needs to have babies.

  3. I believe we have seen Rachel’s heart & her will to win, broken this year. She gave it all she had this year and my heart goes out to her. Whatever Jess & Steve plan next for her, I pray she stays healthy. I will always love & admire Rachel Alexandra 🙂

  4. retire her.
    she has nothing to prove.we will never see a filly have such a great 3 yr old campaign as rachel had. she has proven she is a hall of famer and a great champion let just leave it at that.