- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 30, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. | Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra will not run in the Belmont Stakes next week, 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 that the horse “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 that she simply needed rest after running - and winning - four graded stakes races since March 14, including a dominant 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 mount 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 on June 6, 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 be available again.

“We hate she’s not going to be in there for horse racing, but at the same time it’s maybe better for me,” Woolley said Friday. “It was a very strange year where you had two great horses and the same guy riding both of them.”

Borel was already planning to be aboard Mine That Bird on Monday at Churchill Downs for his final workout before shipping to New York. In a statement from the New York Racing Association, Borel thanked Woolley and Mine That Bird’s owners “for being so gracious and allowing us to wait for this decision.” Borel also praised Jackson for making the announcement earlier than expected.

“Now that the decision is made, I am excited to come to New York and ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes,” Borel said.

There was no immediate indication from Jackson on when or where Rachel Alexandra might race next, but the New York Racing Association said he had committed to a start at Belmont Park sometime this year.

Borel, who had won the Derby two years earlier aboard Street Sense, repeated the feat with Mine That Bird, even though at 50-1 he was one of the biggest long shots ever to win the most famous American horse race.

The horse nearly pulled off another upset in the Preakness with new jockey Mike Smith aboard, finishing second to Borel and Rachel Alexandra.

Among the possible challengers to Mine That Bird in the third leg of the Triple Crown are his half-brother Summer Bird as well as Chocolate Candy, Dunkirk, Flying Private, Brave Victory, Charitable Man, Luv Gov, Miner’s Escape, Mr. Hot Stuff and Nowhere To Hide.

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