05/07/2009 11:00PM

Look out boys, Rachel's coming

Barbara D. Livingston
Calvin Borel, who had his choice of mounts for next weekend's Preakness, will stick with the super fully Rachel Alexandra and take off Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra will face male rivals in the Preakness Stakes next Saturday "if she continues to be in perfect condition," according to a release issued Friday from the connections of the filly. Jockey Calvin Borel has agreed to ride her in all of her races this year.

Jess Jackson, whose Stonestreet Stables purchased Rachel Alexandra this week in partnership with Harold T. McCormick and turned over the filly to trainer Steve Asmussen at Churchill Downs, said in the release that retaining Borel "came down to the facts that he knows and loves this horse, that he knows how to get the most from her. We think this is a perfect match of rider and horse."

The decision by Borel to stay with Rachel Alexandra means he will become the first jockey ever to take off a Derby winner to ride a different horse in the Preakness. Borel rode Mine That Bird to a 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby last Saturday for trainer Chip Woolley, who said shortly after the Stonestreet announcement came out that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is "one of a few guys we're taking a look at" to replace Borel for the 134th Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown run at Pimlico in Baltimore.

"Mike's on our list," said Woolley. "We're not exactly sure what's going to happen right now. We're just going to see what happens."

Woolley, who trains Mine That Bird for Double Eagle Ranch and Bueno Suerte Equine, said one reason he and the owners are in no hurry to name a replacement jockey is in case Rachel Alexandra - who was not nominated to the Triple Crown and therefore would have to be supplemented to the race for a $100,000 fee - does not make the field, which is limited to 14 starters. Woolley has said he would prefer to keep Borel on Mine That Bird if given that option.

Triple Crown Productions officials on Friday clarified the race conditions of the Preakness by issuing a release saying that any Triple Crown nominee will be allowed to run at the exclusion of a supplemental entry in case the race overfills. As of Friday, 14 horses, including Rachel Alexandra, were known to be under consideration for the race, although Conservative and Tone It Down are only possible starters.

Assuming she runs, Rachel Alexandra, a 20 1/4-length winner of the May 1 Kentucky Oaks, will try to become the fifth filly to win the Preakness and the first to run in the race in 10 years.

* Besides Mine That Bird, only one other Preakness prospect, Terrain, was without a confirmed riding assignment as of Friday afternoon.

* If he runs well enough in the Preakness to merit a start three weeks later in the Belmont Stakes, Mine That Bird most likely will return to Churchill to train after the Preakness, said Woolley.

"I like it here, and the horse really likes it here," said Woolley, who normally is based in New Mexico. "The way he trains, the whole setup . . . it's all been really good for us. I think it'd be better for us to come back here than either going straight to New York or staying at Pimlico."

Mike Hargrave, the stall superintendent at Churchill, was making arrangements Friday morning with Woolley to accommodate a return by Mine That Bird to Barn 42.

* Even with Papa Clem scheduled to leave for Pimlico after training Saturday morning, half of the 14 prospective Preakness starters still will be stabled at Churchill through the weekend. Depending on weather, four of those seven were scheduled to breeze before departing: Hull on Saturday, Rachel Alexandra on Sunday or Monday, Terrain on Sunday, and Pioneerof the Nile on Monday.

Some of the Churchill horses will ship by van to Baltimore, most notably Mine That Bird after training on Tuesday, while the balance will be on a Wednesday charter flight out of Louisville International Airport.

- additional reporting by Brad Free

and David Grening