Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and All the Rest
Posted by Brian Appleton on February 12, 2010
It’s old news now,
but still fresh and foremost in every racing fan’s mind. Two of the greatest female racers in history will meet in a battle of untold proportions in Oaklawn’s Apple Blossom Stakes on April 9th. After a Wednesday announcement by Jess Jackson in which he said that Rachel Alexandra would not be participating in the Apple Blossom, originally scheduled for April 3rd, disgust ran rampant from all corners of the internet. I didn’t get a chance to voice my disgust before things took a drastic turn on Thursday. Say hello to the highs and lows of the sport. Oaklawn Park president Charles Cella took the bull by the horns, put the sport, the fans and the athletes first when offering to push back the Apple Blossom by 6 days to the 9th in order to give Rachel Alexandra an extra week to prepare. This was in response to Jess Jackson’s comments that Rachel would only have three weeks after her only prep race sometime in mid-March. To exultant shock and surprise, Jess Jackson has said yes and Oaklawn is now in line to host the potentially greatest sporting contest in history. Of course we all know that nothing is sure in this sport, an injury could occur, either party could decide their horse isn’t fit enough to compete, a bevy of things could happen, but for now I am content to believe that this will indeed happen. One of the big questions now is: Who do you think is going to win the 2010 Apple Blossom Handicap? Rachel Alexandra is scheduled to return to the races on March 13 in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds, the same day Zenyatta will make her 2010 debut at Santa Anita in the Santa Margarita stakes.
Due to cancellations at Santa Anita last weekend a multitude of graded stakes with loaded fields will be running across the country. Life is Sweet makes her first return to the races since winning the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic in the Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita. She was scheduled to return last month, but was withdrawn because she was “twisted up” a couple days before the race. All lights seem to be green this time around and I fully expect to see the ultra-consistent mare win here once again. Her biggest threat could come from Mushka.
Stardom Bound returns from a second place running in the El Encino Stakes Bou(gr.2) on January 17th to contest the La Canada as the favorite once again. The flashy daughter of Tapit has only been unplaced once in her career and seemed to be closer to her old self when finishing second in the El Encino. She has yet to find her spectacular form of 2008 and early 2009 that won her 5 straight grade 1’s. For the first time in her career Mike Smith will not be on board as Julien Leparoux takes the mount instead.
The Sam F. Davis Stakes is headlined by Rule, winner of three straight races
including the Delta Jackpot on December 4th. He will load as the favorite here but is certainly no lock to win. His biggest threat would seem to be the undefeated Uptowncharliebrown. Although he is less experienced and has never raced against high-caliber runners, his two wins speak for themselves. His maiden win on December 26th came in the form of a 9 length romp, from there he went on to win the seven-furlong Pasco on January 16th as the favorite. Tristen’s Mambo, Schoolyard Dreams and Middle of the Nite complete the field.