Well, well, well. Judging by the more than 400 responses on the previous blog, there are very strong opinions regarding Rachel Alexandra. Based on the latest revelations, I cannot wait to see the new responses.
Below is an excerpt from interviews done by HRTV with Pioneerof the Nile owner Ahmed Zayat and Mine That Bird co-owner Mark Allen. Basically, the gist of the interviews is that they each plan on entering a second horse in the Preakness so as to exclude Rachel Alexandra from the field.
In case you missed it, Rachel Alexandra was a late Triple Crown nominee and would therefore be unable race in the Preakness if 14 previously nominated horses are entered. If Zayat and Allen each enter another horse, the field would stand at 14.
If these statements are indeed true, I am absolutely flabbergasted by this. I sure hope the owners are a) either joking or b) have second thoughts before entries are drawn on Wednesday. If not, it might the most unsportsmanlike thing I have seen in a long time. It would also be a shame for racing fans all over the world if we didn't get to see Rachel run against the colts for this reason.
I'm sure we'll be hearing much more about this saga as the week goes on.
UPDATE: Since this blog was written, Zayat has changed his mind and decided not to block Rachel Alexandra. Allen later followed with a statement saying he would also not block her.
Carolyn Conley (HRTV host): As we progress toward the Preakness Stakes, a filly named Rachel Alexandra certainly has taken center stage. Now her previous owner said the Derby is for the stallions of the world of Thoroughbred racing to showcase themselves and they opted to stay with females. Now her new connections of Stonestreet Stable are considering taking on the boys in the Preakness Stakes. What are your feelings about that?
Ahmed Zayat: "I think she is a phenomenal filly, almost a super filly. I was there with my family, it was breathtaking. It was 'Wow, Wow!' Very, very impressive. Beautiful filly, you know, her connections did an incredible job of trying to do things. But what was most impressive for me was actually her previous owner. I don't know if you heard, uh, what he said, but in his moment of glory after 20 lengths plus (inaudible) they asked him should, is the filly now going to go against the boys or go on the Triple Crown and the man is such horseman, I was very impressed, and he said, 'Listen, you know we know what she's made out of, she's special, but also I understand the business and the game and I have a lot of respect for it,' and you can go and hear his words again, 'and I don't believe, I believe that the Triple Crown are designed to showcase our potential star 3-year-olds and our stallions and I don't think she belongs there.'"
"Him saying that gave me a different dimension. I'm very competitive. I want to go and beat her. But actually today in the morning I got a phone call that I wasn't familiar with the phone number of that particular person and that person keep calling and, lo and behold, it was the owner of the Derby winner, Mine That Bird, and he said, 'Mr. Zayat, you don't know me, I'm Mark Allen. Listen I have a request from you. I think this race is between me and you. You'd have been the favorite if Rachel Alexandra is not in the field and I'm looking for vindication that my colt was not a fluke and I'm sure you are looking to beat us also. I think this match is between us, it's a rivalry. I'm going to be entering a colt, an A.P. Indy colt, to fill the field. I understand you are the number one owner in number of nominations -- 22 colts -- can you please help us. It's good for the game.'
Conley: So what you're saying here, Ahmed, is that Mark Allen called you and said, "Please enter your horse in the Preakness Stakes. Our intentions are to race against you one more time and we'd like to exclude the filly from the field since she's a late nomination."
Zayat: "Frankly, yes, and let me just also add more. I have been bombarded -- my racing manager, myself, by fans, by owners, by others saying, 'You know this is all about business, this is stallions. Listen a gelding won the Kentucky Derby. Now possibly a filly. Uh, you've spent tens of millions of dollars you should really -- as someone who's really active in the business, you have to think of the industry as a business. And for all of us.' In fact the presenters from Birdstone's owner, Mrs. Whitney, called and saying now she's also very unhappy about the situation and she's going to be entering a colt also in the Preakness just to make sure that her stallion is being represented and gets his."
Conley: That's amazing.
Zayat: "So it's getting very, very interesting the situation."
Conley: It is. So now you said Mark Allen would enter a colt as well as Mine That Bird?
Conley: "And that you would in fact enter Pioneerof the Nile? And Marylou Whitney would enter a colt as well?"
Zayat: "Correct. I think the field will fill and perhaps overfill and people are pleading with me to enter more of my colts to make sure that would happen."
Zayat: "And the more I'm hearing fans, I'm hearing people, I mean, and debating it, I'm probably going to do that."
Conley: Right now we have Mark Allen joining us by telephone. Mark, nice to talk to you again, welcome to RaceDay America.
Mark Allen: "Thank you."
Conley: "Today the revelation that Ahmed Zayat gave us here on RaceDay America was the fact that you would enter not only Mine That Bird in the Preakness Stakes but perhaps a colt as well, as he would enter Pioneerof the Nile, the idea being to perhaps exclude Rachel Alexandra from the Preakness field because she is a supplemental entry."
Allen: "Yes ma'am."
Conley: So you will in fact enter Mine That Bird plus one other colt. Who is that colt, Mark?
Allen: "He's an A.P. Indy horse me and Joe Merrick are partners on. You know he's still a maiden but this horse does have talent. He's just coming into himself like Mine That Bird was."
Conley: What's his name?
Allen: "It's Indy Express."
Conley: Mark how do you respond to allegations that this perhaps is not a sportsmanlike gesture to exclude Rachel Alexandra from the field by entering more horses that are Triple Crown nominated?
Allen: "Well, um, I'll tell ya'. I don't think that we caused the uproar. I think that...this filly being bought and them supplementing her into this race caused the uproar. You know and I'd just like Calvin back on my horse 'cause it's his horse and I'd like, you know, Pioneerof the Nile and Papa Clem and them, they think they can outrun me on a good track and they want a shot at it. With the same, you know, with the same riders and everything. Heck, I'm glad to give 'em a shot at it."