March 15, 2010 / 2:41 AM / 10 years ago

Rachel Alexandra will not face Zenyatta in Blossom

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rachel Alexandra will not run in the Apple Blossom Invitational next month, ending the highly anticipated match-up against undefeated 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Zenyatta.

Kentucky Oaks winner and Preakness hopeful, filly Rachel Alexandra is walked by Assistant trainer Scott Blasi at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore, Maryland May 14, 2009. REUTERS/Molly Riley

The move comes after Rachel Alexandra, the U.S. Horse of the Year in 2009, ran out of steam in the stretch in her first race in six months and finished a disappointing second to Zardana in the New Orleans Ladies on Saturday.

“Yesterday’s race while a disappointment, helped us define Rachel Alexandra’s racing condition,” owner Jess Jackson said in a statement on Sunday. “While she is healthy, just as I had anticipated, she is not in top form. Therefore, I decided today she will not be going to the Oaklawn Invitational on April 9.”

Jackson said he had discussed the situation with trainer Steve Asmussen.

“We now regret we tried to accelerate her training in order to meet the Apple Blossom schedule,” said Jackson. “We have a whole season before us to help define her greatness.

“She will tell us when her next race will be.”

Zenyatta, who won the $250,000 Santa Margarita Invitational on Saturday, will still head to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas for the Grade I Apple Blossom.

“We’re disappointed that we’re not going to be able to face each other in the Apple Blossom,” owner Jerry Moss said.

“Hopefully, we can meet down the line. We respect both Steve (Asmussen) and Mr. Jackson as horsemen and they’re going to do what’s right for their horse.

“That’s all anybody could ask for.”

Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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