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Track offers $5 million showdown for ladies champions of horse racing

HORSES

Track offers $5M purse for Showdown of Lady Champions

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — The stage is set for the first ladies of racing. Now all Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta have to do is show up.

Oaklawn Park will try to entice the champion females who have yet to meet with a $5 million purse for the Apple Blossom on April 3.

Both horses were unbeaten last year, taking on males and females. Rachel Alexandra was the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years; Zenyatta became the first female to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. Rachel Alexandra was horse of the year.

"This is an event of a lifetime," Pat Pope, Oaklawn's racing secretary, said Thursday. "We're going to do everything to bring them to the state."

The Apple Blossom purse would be 10 times greater than usual. If the meeting fails to materialize — at a track where both horses have raced — the purse reverts to $500,000.

Oaklawn president Charles Cella said the owners of both horses are receptive to the idea, but there are no commitments yet.

"If she is in top form and it fits in our schedule, we will be there," said Jess Jackson, principal owner of Rachel Alexandra.

Oaklawn said if both horses enter, the field would be restricted to 10 fillies and mares, 4 years old and up. Regardless, the distance has been increased from 11/16 miles to 11/8 miles.

Rachel Alexandra is training at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Zenyatta had been set for retirement, but now she might run in the Santa Marga­rita Handicap at Santa Anita, Calif., on March 13.

Soccer

England coach to sort captaincy amid scandal

England coach Fabio Capello has returned to the country to determine whether John Terry can remain captain of the national team amid a sex scandal.

Capello refused to answer reporters' questions about Terry's future as he arrived at London's Heathrow Airport from Switzerland, where he had been recovering from a knee operation.

Capello is set to meet Terry today for the first time since allegations were made that the defender had a relationship with England teammate Wayne Bridge's former girlfriend.

More soccer: Forward Brian Ching and defender Michael Orozco have been added to the 23-man roster U.S. national team roster for a training camp ahead of a Feb. 24 World Cup warmup against El Salvador at Tampa. … The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland ruled that a FIFA transfer ban on Chelsea signing players must be lifted. Chelsea and French club Lens reached an agreement in their dispute over teenager Gael Kakuta's move to England in 2007.

ET CETERA

Olympics: American luger Tony Benshoof will compete in the upcoming Vancouver Games with three herniated discs in his lower back, choosing to endure the pain rather than get a third epidural cortisone injection. He has had two shots to help him deal with the pain during the World Cup season.

sailing: The New York supreme court has set a date of Feb. 25 to hear BMW Oracle's complaint that Swiss rival Alinghi breached America's Cup rules by having its sails made abroad. The best-of-three grudge match is still scheduled to start as planned on Monday in Spain. Talks to resolve the issue broke down several weeks ago. The 33rd edition of the sailing classic has been mired in legal fights since July 2007.

Times wires

Track offers $5 million showdown for ladies champions of horse racing 02/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 9:56pm]
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