In other racing news, Oaklawn Park owner Charles Cella announced today that Oaklawn would increase the purse of the April 3 Apple Blossom (gr. I) to $5 million should both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra start in the race. Cella has been known as a hardy sportsman: in 2004 he put up a one-time, $5 million bonus for any horse that could sweep the Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby, and Kentucky Derby, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Oaklawn Park. A short while later a horse called Smarty Jones raced onto the scene and nailed down each of the three contests. Cella happily paid up.
I commend Cella for once again stepping up to the plate and trying to do a good deed for the sport. While the chances look very good for Zenyatta to show up at Oaklawn on April 4, Jess Jackson had previously stated that Rachel is unlikely for the Apple Blossom. This brings me back to my thoughts when Zenyatta's "unretirement" was announced, and thoughts of a face off began whirling around. Call me the pessimist on this one, and I desperately hope I am wrong, but I will believe these two mares will compete together the moment I see them break from the gate, and not before. Someone always has a reason or excuse not to meet, and for that reason, I believe these two horses will stay apart. In summary, how many times do I predict Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra will compete in the same race: Zero.
Zenyatta at Santa Anita the day before he win in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I)
Photo by Me!