05/10/2009 11:00PM

Plans to block Rachel are scrapped

Barbara D. Livingston
The owners of the first two finishers from the Kentucky Derby were considering entering extra horses to keep Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra out of the Preakness.

The specter of superstar filly Rachel Alexandra had horsemen prepared to go to desperate measures on Sunday to try to keep her from running in Saturday's 134th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

By the end of a whirlwind day, however, it appeared as though Rachel Alexandra, the dominant winner of the Kentucky Oaks, would still make it into the field of 14 for the Preakness. Entries for the Preakness are to be taken and post positions assigned on Wednesday.

The field is limited to 14 starters, and Pimlico and Triple Crown officials say that original nominees have preference over supplemental nominees even though that specific language is not included in the race conditions. Rachel Alexandra, purchased last week by Jess Jackson, is not Triple Crown nominated and would have to be supplemented to the Preakness for a fee of $100,000.

The day began with the owners of the first two finishers from the Kentucky Derby saying in separate interviews on HRTV that they would each enter an extra horse in an effort to keep Rachel Alexandra out. Later in the day, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, already planning to run Derby last-place finisher Flying Private in the race, said he too would enter a second horse, Luv Gov, hoping to keep out Rachel Alexandra.

But late Sunday, a representative of Zayat Stable - which owns Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile - said Zayat would not enter a second horse. Mark Allen, a co-owner of Mine That Bird, the Derby winner, also backed off the plan by Sunday night. A representative of Marylou Whitney - owner of Luv Gov - said Luv Gov would not be entered if it meant keeping Rachel Alexandra from running.

"We love this sport," John Hendrickson, the husband of Marylou Whitney, told the New York Daily News. "If we are the deciding factor we will not enter. [Rachel Alexandra] is good for the sport. For the sake of the sport we will withdraw."

Sobhy Sonbol, racing manager for Ahmed Zayat, told Daily Racing Form Sunday night: "We are only going to run Pioneerof the Nile in the Preakness. If [Rachel Alexandra is] in there, she's in there, if she's not, she's not."

Earlier in the day, Zayat said he had received a call from Allen, who suggested that Allen and Zayat each enter a second horse. Allen, who owns Mine That Bird with Dr. Leonard Blach, told HRTV he planned on entering the 0-for-9 maiden Indy Express in the race.

When asked about the uproar that plan might create if it meant keeping out Rachel Alexandra, Allen said, "I don't think we caused the uproar. I think that this filly being bought and them supplementing her into this race caused the uproar."

Later on Sunday, Allen had reversed course.

"My decision to enter Indy Express in the Preakness was strictly business, but after consulting with my dad and Doc Blach, I have decided to withdraw Indy Express to prevent any further misunderstandings," Allen said. "Their advice to me was just to do what's right, because arrogance and greed isn't right.

"So, we'll meet everyone in Baltimore, ready to run," said Allen.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman