09/28/2010 6:24PM

Rachel Alexandra, 2009 Horse of the Year, is retired

Barbara D. Livingston
Rachel Alexandra was pronounced in foal to Curlin.

Rachel Alexandra, who was unable to return to her 2009 Horse of the Year form, has been retired from racing, her connections announced Tuesday afternoon.

After winning all eight of her starts - including defeating males three times - as a 3-year-old filly in 2009, Rachel Alexandra won only 2 of 5 starts in 2010. Most recently, she was beaten one length by Persistently in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Though she had worked three times at Saratoga since then - presumably to run in Saturday’s Grade 1 Beldame Invitational at Belmont Park - owner Jess Jackson decided to pull the plug on Tuesday.

"As you know, despite top training and a patient campaign, Rachel Alexandra did not return to her 2009 form," Jackson said in a news release. "I believe it’s time to retire our champion and reward her with a less stressful life. We are delighted that she will retire healthy and happy to our beautiful farm in Kentucky."

Jackson said he would breed Rachel Alexandra to his two-time Horse of the Year Curlin next year.

Jackson, and business partner Harold McCormick, purchased Rachel Alexandra privately from owner/breeder Dolphus Morrison, his partner Mike Lauffer, and trainer Hal Wiggins following her 20 1/4-length victory in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks. Fifteen days later, Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness Stakes, holding off Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird by one length.

Following a historic victory in the Mother Goose at Belmont Park - her 19 1/4-length margin of victory eclipsed the previous mark of 13 1/2 lengths held by Ruffian - Rachel Alexandra defeated the boys in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park and then became the first filly to defeat older males in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga in September 2009.

"Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 campaign was one for the ages - one that racing fans will remember throughout time," Jackson said.

It took Rachel Alexandra a long time to get over that campaign. In fact, perhaps she never truly did. Rachel Alexandra was campaigned modestly earlier in the year, not running in a Grade 1 race until Saratoga. She finished second to Zardana in the New Orleans Ladies in March, a result that ultimately canceled a proposed meeting with the undefeated older mare Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn in April.

Rachel then lost to Unrivaled Belle in the La Troienne at Churchill Downs before winning the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill and the ungraded Lady’s Secret at Monmouth in July.

"Rachel Alexandra owes us nothing," Jackson said. "As a 3-year-old, she set standards and records that no filly before her ever achieved. And I suspect it will be quite a while before a 3-year-old filly ever equals or surpasses her achievements. Although her fans were thrilled by a series of spectacular victories, I believe they, as we, were simply awed time and again by her sheer beauty, courage and athleticism."

Trained early in her career by Wiggins, Rachel Alexandra was moved to Steve Asmussen following Jackson and McCormick’s private purchase.

"I have been blessed to have been part of history," Asmussen said in the release. "We are all very fortunate that Rachel carried the banner following Curlin’s amazing success story. The fans adored her, we all did. She had the most fluid and beautiful stride of any horse I have ever seen. It’s been quite a ride."

Rachel Alexandra retired with a race record of 13 wins and 5 seconds from 19 starts with career earnings of $3,506,730.