The Kentucky Derby had the most unlikely winner in nearly 40 years.
The Preakness had the winners of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby separated by 1 length at the finish line.
Next Saturday's Belmont Stakes will have the Derby winner again, but won't have the filly that won the Preakness.
Rachel Alexandra won't run in the Belmont, her owner Jess Jackson announced in a press release late yesterday afternoon.
So there will be no showdown between Derby winner Mine That Bird and the filly that he chased to the wire in the Preakness. At least, not at Belmont Park next Saturday.
"Rachel Alexandra is an incredible thoroughbred who has proven to be the best 3-year-old in racing today," Jackson said. "We are elated by all the attention her wins in the Oaks and Preakness has garnered the sport. The many letters and e-mails we have received from young girls and racing enthusiasts lets us know that many fans are proud of Rachel. When we purchased Rachel, our goal was to restore the sport's vitality and grow its fan base by extending the racing career of its stars."
Jackson's decision frees Calvin Borel to ride the Derby winner and go for a personal Triple Crown. The jockey opted to ride the filly in the Preakness after winning the Derby on Mine That Bird.
"Now that this decision is made, I am excited to come to New York and ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes," Borel said.
Rachel had won her races against fillies this year with ease. The Preakness was much more difficult. Her schedule had been quite busy this year, so passing the Belmont will be looked as a judicious decision, even if disappointing to those who would liked to have seen a Belmont with a similar plot line to the Preakness.
"We know the media and many fans would have liked to see her run in the Belmont Stakes," Jackson said. "We feel the same. But all of us sincerely interested in the horse must agree that we only want to see her run when it is best for her.
"While she is in great shape, having strong works, and recovering well from her amazing performances, we feel Rachel deserves a well-earned vacation. Since March 14, Rachel has won four graded races with just 2 weeks rest between her last two victories. We will always put her long-term well-being first. And, of course, we want to run her when she is fresh.
"Rachel, her owners, her trainers and her fans can continue to anticipate an exciting campaign. All major races will be considered as we look to the rest of Rachel's racing career."
Translation: Rachel did not come out of the Preakness as strongly as she went into it. So, she will get a longer rest before her next race.
The June 27 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park, a race limited to 3-year-old fillies, could be next for Rachel. Or she might need a longer vacation and be pointed for major midsummer and fall races on the way to the Breeders' Cup. *