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NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.

Rachel Alexandra, the three-year-old filly who won the May 1 Kentucky Oaks by 20 ¼ lengths, has been purchased by a group led by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables. As a result of the sale, care of the filly has been transferred from trainer Lon Wiggins to Steve Asmussen, who campaigned 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin for Jackson and his partners following a private purchase in early 2007.

“Rachel Alexandra is one of the best horses in racing today,” said Jackson. “She is fast, strong and durable — the traits we should all be breeding into all future generations of race horses. Her beauty and athleticism will thrill thousands of fans. “

The main questions now circulating in the racing world is when that next display of athleticism will take place, and who will be on her back when it does.

The regular rider of Rachel Alexandra has been Calvin Borel, who is also the rider of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. Should Rachel Alexandra’s new owners decide to wheel her back in the May 16 Preakness for a showdown with Mine That Bird, Borel and his agent Jerry Hissam would be faced with a difficult decision. Borel has previously proclaimed that Rachel Alexandra is the best horse he has ever ridden.

“It’s a possibility; it could happen,” said Mine That Bird’s trainer Chip Woolley about the prospect of losing Borel to Rachel Alexandra. “But I don’t think I will have a hard time finding a rider if it happens.”

Jackson says his purchase of Rachel Alexandra does not guarantee that his new filly will run in Baltimore in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown”

“The ink is not even dry yet,” Jackson said. “The only decision was to bring her to Steve’s barn. No decision has been made on any race or a rider.”

Jackson did indicate that when Rachel Alexandra’s racing career concludes, he will breed her to Curlin.

“We are tremendously excited by the prospect of one day seeing the offspring of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra,” said Jackson. “But for now, the story of this filly is still being written.”

NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was the most viewed Kentucky Derby in 20 years according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research. The race portion of the telecast (6:09-6:57 p.m. ET) averaged 16.3 million viewers, two million more than last year’s 14.2 million (up 15 percent) and the most since 1989 when Sunday Silence won the Derby (18.5 million).

“In this time of a fragmented television landscape, amassing this large audience is a real accomplishment, a testament to the common vision we share with Bob Evans and his team at Churchill Downs and a shared strategic approach between partners to execute that vision,” said Dick Ebersol, Chairman NBC Universal Sports and Olympics.

Saturday’s race coverage notched a 9.8 national rating and a 23 share, the highest rating in 17 years and an 11 percent increase over last year’s race (8.8/21) that featured an impressive win by Big Brown.

Fresh off an appearance on this week’s cover of Sports Illustrated perched atop Mine That Bird, jockey Calvin Borel is now slated to head West to visit The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Borel is scheduled to join Dennis Miller and singer Kelly Clarkson as Leno’s guests on the Tuesday, May 12 program on NBC.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno airs nationally after the late, local news. Check local listings for times in your area.

Calvin Borel, Chip Woolley and Mine That Bird are not the only newly-minted media stars resulting from the 50-1 upset at last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
So is Bowen Ross Wallace, a 41-year-old Thoroughbred owner and trainer from Tilden, Tex., who was one of 23 people to cash a winning Derby superfecta ticket worth $278,503. Interviewed Monday on CNBC, Wallace said he placed a five-horse superfecta box at Retama Park, and used Mine That Bird because he did not want to leave Borel out of his wager. “Calvin Borel is a very good jockey,” he said to CNBC interviewer Darren Rovell.
Wallace, whose biggest prior betting score totaled $1,900, says he plans to buy a few more horses with his winnings and perhaps provide some competition to those Derby owners and trainers whom he has, up to now, only watched on television.