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Rachel Alexandra will not run in Belmont Stakes

Owner says Preakness winner  Rachel Alexandra, with Calvin Borel up, needs a break after her string of victories.

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Owner says Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, with Calvin Borel up, needs a break after her string of victories.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — 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 that the filly had earned a "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 the horse simply needed a rest after running — and winning — four graded stakes races since March 14, including a dominating victory May 1 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 11/4-mile Derby, and Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness (13/16 miles) and Oaks (1⅛ miles). He was set to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Belmont, but Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley said he was prepared to wait if there was a chance Borel could become available.

"It was a very strange year where you had two great horses and the same guy riding both of them," Woolley said.

Borel now plans to be atop Mine That Bird on Monday in Louisville for the gelding's final workout before shipping to New York.

"We're going to get the job done," Borel said during a news conference at Churchill Downs.

The jockey also said he thinks Jackson made the right call with Rachel Alexandra: "I think Mr. Jackson is all about the horse, not the races. It's not the money. It's his horse."

Borel, who won his first Derby in 2007 aboard Street Sense, repeated the feat with Mine That Bird, at 50-1 the second-biggest winning payout in Derby history.

There was no immediate word from Jackson on when Rachel Alexandra might race next.

The filly had become a popular favorite, even posing Friday for a photo spread for Vogue fashion magazine. The shoot grew out of editor Anna Wintour's trip to the Preakness on May 16.

Friesan Fire sidelined: The Kentucky Derby favorite who finished 18th, then 10th in the Preakness, has a stress fracture in his left foreleg and will have surgery to repair a chip in his right front ankle, so the horse will be out for a couple of months, Vinery Stables announced.

FAST FACTS

Belmont Stakes

When/where: 6:27 p.m. (approximate post) June 6; Belmont Park, Elmont, N.Y.

Distance/surface: 11/2 miles; dirt

Post draw: 11 a.m. Wednesday

TV: Noon, ESPN; 5 p.m., Ch. 28

Rachel Alexandra will not run in Belmont Stakes 05/29/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 29, 2009 10:34pm]
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