Sports Outside the Beltway

Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra won’t run in Belmont Stakes

While horse racing fans may have reason to be disappointed, I understand the most likely reason for this decision. I think the filly’s owners are just being cautious with their investment. From AP-

Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra will not run in the Belmont Stakes, opening the way for jockey Calvin Borel to return to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in his quest for a personal Triple Crown.

Jess Jackson, Rachel Alexandra’s co-owner, said Friday the spectacular filly “deserves a well-earned vacation.”

Rachel Alexandra, the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years, had been set to work out Monday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, and no announcement was expected until after that. But Jackson explained she simply needed a rest after running — and winning — four graded stakes races since March 14, including a dominating victory in the Kentucky Oaks.

“We know the media and many fans would have liked to see her run in the Belmont Stakes — we feel the same,” Jackson said in a statement. “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.”

Borel was the jockey aboard for both Mine That Bird in the Derby and Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness and Oaks. He was set to ride her again in the Belmont, but Mine That Bird’s trainer Chip Woolley had said he was prepared to wait — even into next week — if there was a chance Borel could become available again.

As I noted previously, changes of drivers from race to race isn’t unusual in harness racing. With Rachel Alexandra out of the Belmont, I pick Mine that Bird to win the Belmont. The horse knows how to close, and the Belmont is the lengthiest of the three Triple Crown races.

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