What Rachel Alexandra means for Preakness

May 15, 2009

If you’ve read today’s story on how Maryland horse racing got to where it is today, then you know about the tradition of resistance the industry has shown when it comes to change. An analyst I spoke to for the article pointed out that Rachel Alexandra’s story is one snapshot this year that illustrates that sentiment perfectly.

After the 3-year-old filly blew away her competition by winning by 20 1/4 lengths in the Kentucky Oaks, racing fans and the sports world in general began calling for her to run in the Preakness Stakes.

But there’s a technicality: in order to be eligible to run in one of the Triple Crown races (the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and the Belmont Stakes) a horse has to be nominated before the racing series begins. Rachel Alexandra, who did not run in the Derby, couldn’t enter the Preakness unless there was a spot free after nominated horses’ owners had staked their claim. At one point after the Derby, it looked like horse owners — nervous about competing with the filly — were going to rally together to exclude her from the field.

That kind of behavior, according to Louisiana-based analyst Tim Rice, is just plain “repulsive”:

“If Rachel Alexandra goes there’s a good chance for higher ratings...

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