Like everyone, the announced sale of Rachel Alexandra on Wednesday evening was a shocker for me. I guess I should have seen it coming, but it never entered my mind until I heard the news.
My initial reaction was sadness. For me, part of what made Rachel Alexandra so special was her connections. Yes, her unbelievable talent is the main reason she has captured the racing world's attention, but the fact that she was trained by Hal Wiggins, one of the nicest and most genuine people in the sport, and was ridden by a throwback jockey like Calvin Borel, made it that much easier to root for the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro.
In the next few hours it will be announced that new owner Jess Jackson will move Rachel into the barn of Steve Asmussen. I have nothing against Asmussen. He is one of the best trainers in the game and seems to do right by his horses. But I can't get past my feelings that this incredible filly was taken from David and given to Goliath, kind of like Curlin was. Wiggins has waited 30 years to get a horse like this and in one stroke of a pen, she is gone.
"I know she'll make her new owners happy," Wiggins told Blood-Horse writer Esther Marr on Thursday morning. "We had her for a year and she never left our barn, so it's tough, but we'll get back into our same routine. My wife was upset, but I told her we could have sold her before the Oaks. We were fortunate to have had her as long as we did."
I'm guessing Wiggins will be compensated nicely for the sale and I know this is what happens in the business world, but it's still kind of sad. I'm wondering if any of you feel the same way.
This morning, after hearing the news that Rachel would likely be pointed to one or both of the remaining Triple Crown races, some of my feelings of disappointment turned to excitement. As much as I respected Dolphus Morrison and Mike Lauffer for sticking to their guns and deciding not to run Rachel against the boys, like many, I would love to see her try. Now it seems, the racing world will get that chance. In that respect, it could be very good for racing. If she runs in the Preakness and/or Belmont Stakes, racing might move back to the front pages (for the right reasons), at least for a few weeks.
Does the thought of Rachel running in the Triple Crown races top any feelings of disappointment you may have had upon hearing news of the sale? Food for thought.
Finally, in talking with colleague Tom LaMarra, we wondered how the sale of Rachel would shake up the riding situation. Will Asmussen keep Borel as her regular rider? If not, who will ride? Albarado? Bridgmohan? And if Borel does stay aboard, has there ever been a Derby winning rider who switched mounts for the Preakness? I would have to believe the answer is no to the latter question. Very interesting stuff. I'm sure we'll find out the answers to all of our questions in the next 24 hours. Stay tuned.