The 134th running of the Preakness Stakes will give Mine That Bird a chance to prove his 50/1 upset victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) was no fluke.
However, his path to the wire in the Preakness may have gotten tougher with the recent sale of Rachel Alexandra, the Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner.
The filly trounced her competition by more than 20 lengths in the Oaks and earned a higher Beyer Speed Figure than the Derby winner.
The victory was her fifth in a row, and she has won seven of her 10 career starts with earnings of $958,354.
The filly was purchased privately this week by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables and Harold T. McCormick for a reported $10 million.
The filly was previously owned by L&M Partners, LLC and was trained by Hal Wiggins.
Jackson campaigned two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, and Rachel Alexandra will eventually head to the breeding shed with a date with Curlin.
However, her racing career is far from over, the filly has been turned over to trainer Steve Asmussen, and the connections are seriously considering running her in the Preakness Stakes next Saturday.
No filly has won the Preakness Stakes since Nellie Morse in 1924. In fact, no filly has raced in the second leg of the Triple Crown since Excellent Meeting was eased in 1999.
Winning Colors, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1988 came back to finish third in the Preakness.
Can she have an impact on the Preakness and ruin Mine That Bird’s bid to win the Triple Crown?
Although she did not beat a very tough field in the Oaks, there is no doubt she has the credentials to be a major factor at Pimlico next Saturday, and some think she could have had a major impact had she run in the Kentucky Derby.
She went into the Oaks with three straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. Of the 19 three-year0olds that ran in the Kentucky Derby, none of the runners had hit the triple-digit mark twice in their careers.
14 of the Derby starters did not have a triple-digit Beyer on their resume going into the first Saturday of May.
The highest figure Mine That Bird had earned going into the race was a paltry 81.
If Jackson and Asmussen elect to run the filly in the Preakness, the real drama will just be starting.
Jockey Calvin Borel is on record saying Rachel Alexandra is the best horse he has ever ridden, but how could he take off the Kentucky Derby winner to ride the filly in the Preakness?
Perhaps Asmussen would make the decision for him by naming another ride on the filly. After all, Borel does not ride much for the barn. However, that seems doubtful to happen.
Before Rachel Alexandra runs in the Preakness, she will have to be nominated to the Triple Crown, which at this late date is a $100,000 supplemental fee.
That does not seem like it would be a problem for the deep pockets of Jess Jackson, who kept Curlin in training a year longer than many expected. He would have made more money in the breeding shed than on the racetrack with the colt.
So it seems like there is a good chance we will see the filly next Saturday in Baltimore taking on the boys.
That certainly will give one Cajun jockey and his agent, as well as a few cowboys from New Mexico, a few sleepless nights this week.