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Zardana Spoils Rachel Alexandra's Star Turn
$200,000 New Orleans Ladies
Fillies & mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, inaugural running
Jockey David Flores (Zardana, winner): “We had a picture-perfect trip. The strategy was simply to get her to relax and John (Shirreffs, trainer) said she would get the job done. I got after her pretty hard coming home but she is a real warrior.”
NOTE: Winning trainer John Shirreffs was at Santa Anita Park to saddle Zenyatta, who won the Grade I Santa Margarita.
Jockey Calvin Borel (Rachel Alexandra, second): “My little filly tried hard. She needed the race, that’s all. She needed the race more than anything. I wanted to let her run her race early but they wanted me to wait. I wanted to go on past the speed horse early (Fighter Wing). I’d have got by her anytime and my filly could have gone on but they wanted me to wait and not get into her until the sixteenth pole. You know how I know she’s a real racehorse? She was beat when that other horse went by her – but she didn’t quit. She dug in and fought right back and stayed with the winner the rest of the way. That’s the kind of racehorse she is. My little filly tried her heart out. She just needed the race.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen (Rachel Alxandra, second): “She was strong early and got tired. Very disappointing that she lost. You hate to be in that position, but now that it’s over you know it’s not something we got away with.
“I’m just disappointed she didn’t win today. It was a lack in fitness and it’s our job to have her there and I didn’t do it.”
Was it enough to go on to the April 9 Grade I Apple Blossom? “Well, if I thought she’d get beat I wouldn’t have run her today, so I’m definitely going to be cautious.”
Did Calvin Borel give you any indication of how she felt? “There’s no way to talk with everyone around. I’m sure we’ll go back and think about it and talk. It’s impossible to ask the right questions or talk with everybody around. We just want to do what’s right by the mare. You know Calvin and how strongly he feels about her and we’ll go from there.”
Did she move forward with that effort? “How tired she is off of that will be established in the coming days … She’s not where I thought she was and if I had thought she’d get beat she wouldn’t run. You take her back, you evaluate her, you see how her mood is, her diet, how she goes back to the racetrack, how she breezes. No crystal ball could see that far ahead.
It was a concern that she might not be able to relax early. “I thought she got to run in the first couple jumps a little more than I was hoping today, where we felt we were at.”