Friday, May 29, 2009

Rachel out of Belmont; and ready for her close-up, Mr. Klein

It's official: Rachel Alexandra won't run in the Belmont Stakes.

If we needed a hint, it came earlier Friday when the fabulous filly spent more time posing for a photographer from Vogue than she did jogging over the track at Churchill Downs.

Granted, I don't know Rachel's normal work schedule under trainer Steve Asmussen. She might have been due for only an easy lap on Friday morning anyway.

What I was certain about is that a barn trying to make sure its newly-purchased star had her game-face on for a Grade 1 race at a mile and a half against colts and one high-soaring gelding was not likely to schedule an appointment with renowned fashion photographer Steven Klein, wake the filly from a comfy afternoon slumber, and traipse her in front of a 10x16 backdrop fashioned between Barns 36 and 38 at Curchill. The shots by Klein -- who has also photgraphed Madonna and "Brangelina," and whose work has been used in ads for Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana -- are to appear in August's issue of Vogue.

The idea to feature a horse in one of America's glitziest fashion mags popped into the head of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour after she was present to witness the filly's Preakness win. And I'll go on record as saying this kind of publicity will be absolutely awesome for horse racing.

But it didn't seem like Asmussen and Stonestreet Stable were terribly focused on the Belmont Stakes, nor interested in risking a June "beat" for Rachel in such a tough race when her photo spread won't be due on newsstands until August.

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