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Rachel Alexandra gets honor, and the potential to face rival

The filly is named horse of the year, but decisions on Zenyatta and track surface make a faceoff possible.

January 19, 2010|Bill Dwyre

This year, any Breeders' Cup matchup between the two super females -- a logical showdown destination -- never had a chance because Jackson and Asmussen refused to race Rachel Alexandra on synthetics. Trainer John Shirreffs, who raced Zenyatta on the synthetics and said he kept her mostly in the West because "her fans out here deserved to see her," may hate synthetics worse than Asmussen.

Asked his reaction to the likelihood that Santa Anita would do away with the synthetics, he responded with sarcasm.

"See this little crocodile tear in my eye," he said.

Even though the new surface won't be in at Santa Anita until the fall Oak Tree meeting, Jackson agreed that it is now conceivable that the two great horses could race at The Great Race Place.

"I can see repeated meetings between the two," he said, "which would be very exciting for the fans."

The coincidence of the timing of the Santa Anita announcement on the night of the Eclipse Awards was not lost on Shirreffs.

"A good question here," he said. "Did synthetics cost Zenyatta horse of the year?"

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