Horse Racing: Rachel Alexandra set to race at Monmouth Park

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Horse Racing: Rachel Alexandra set to race at Monmouth Park

The much anticipated showdown between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta at Monmouth Park couldn’t pan out but Monmouth still gets to see some action. While fans in New Jersey, home of the Monmouth Park Racetrack, are excited about the race scheduled for July 24th, there is disappointment in Saratoga where Rachel Alexandra arrived a day earlier from Louisville and was expected to race. Saratoga is to be Rachel Alexandra’s home for the summer. Rachel wasn’t scheduled to be shipped to Saratoga until later but a severe heat wave in Louisville forced her trainer, Steve Asmussen, to make the move earlier.

New York Racing Association was actually planning handing out baseball caps in honour of the 2009 horse of the year, expecting Rachel Alexandra to be racing this August at Saratoga Park. The announcement, unsurprisingly, came as a surprise to the NYRA. Why her owner would have her race at an ungraded event of the same length while she had performed so well last year at Saratoga is what Charles Hayward, President of NYRA, was wondering. Last year Rachel Alexandra trained for and ran the Woodward stakes beating colts for a second time at Saratoga.

Monmouth General Manager and Vice president, Bob Kulina, didn’t want to be seen as stealing Rachel Alexandra from Saratoga. "I look at it like I have a job to do," he said adding that he just wanted to put the best product he could on the Monmouth Park track and if Rachel stays in good health and suffers no mishaps, fans in New York could also get a chance to see her. Charles Hayward was also optimistic as far as a later return of Rachel to Saratoga was concerned.

Rachel Alexandra decimated the competition last year at Monmouth Park’s Haskell Invitational, winning against colts her own age and cementing the Horse of the year title for herself by 6 lengths. Monmouth General Manager and Vice president, Bob Kulina couldn’t be more pleased to have her return to the same venue. He said that Rachel Alexandra’s attendance would make for a great week at Haskell. They really wanted her to race at Lady’s Secret Stakes and pulled out all the stops to make sure they got what they wanted.

The Lady’s Secret Stakes, renamed to Zenyatta Stakes in honour of the undefeated two time winner of the stakes and the current speed record holder, was originally planned for the 1st of August. The organizers moved that up to the 24th of July and raised the purse from a respectable 150,000 dollars to a whopping 400,000 dollars just to make the event more attractive for Rachel Alexandra. The purse would go back to 150,000 if Rachel Alexandra can’t start but the date of the event would not.  

The suggestion of pushing up the race was presented last winter also according to Kulina. For the past few months he had been in contact with her owner and her trainer to get her to race at Monmouth. Kulina presented them with a few options and the 24th of July is what they wanted and were comfortable with. “It will allow them to keep her on a five-week race cycle,” Kulina said.

Jess Jackson too was excited about Monmouth. He said that he had a great experience competing at Monmouth last year and that he appreciated the overwhelming support fans had given them. Bob Kulina believed that Rachel coming back to Monmouth would be an exciting moment for racing fans in New Jersey.

Rachel Alexandra was named after the grandmother of her original owner. The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro won 12 of her 17 starts for over 3 million dollars.  The 2010 Season started off slow for Rachel, ending her winning streak for two races by finishing second, even if by the smallest margins, but she returned to her true glory after a commanding victory at Churchill downs.



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