Rumors are rife that the $5 million purse race proposed by Oaklawn's Charles Cella for top fillies Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta is back on, but not for the April 3 Apple Blossom stakes. The owner of Rachel Alexandra had nixed Cella's original offer and talked of a series of races.
UPDATE: It's confirmed. Charles Cella announced today the horses would meet April 9, the second-to-last-day of the Oaklawn racing season.
OAKLAWN NEWS RELEASE
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Feb. 10, 2010) – Following conversations with Jess Jackson and Jerry Moss, the Grade I $5,000,000 Apple Blossom Invitational is back on, Oaklawn President Charles J. Cella announced Thursday. The race, which was increased to a total purse of $5,000,000 provided both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta start, will now be held Friday, April 9, the day before the Grade I $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn’s traditional closing day.
“The most important day in Arkansas sports history has now become the most important two days in Arkansas sports history,” Cella said. “This is truly a race for the ages.”
Cella reported that he began discussions Wednesday night with both Jackson and Zenyatta owner Jerry Moss, immediately upon hearing that the original date of April 3 was not feasible, and that those discussions continued Thursday morning.
“I understand the concerns of all competitors in needing a prep race and properly preparing for a race of this magnitude, especially in light of the weather we’ve been experiencing recently around the country,” Cella said. “Both parties want this to happen when their champions are at their absolute peak. This date makes that possible.”