February 23, 2010

News Release - 50,000 Trading Cards of Rachel Alexandra/Zenyatta to be Printed

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Fifty thousand trading cards of champions Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta will be printed Wednesday, February 24, to provide free souvenirs of the $5 million Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming on April 9.

The cards — 25,000 of each horse — are being printed by the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau to help maximize the impact for Oaklawn, the city and Arkansas of this once-in-a-lifetime event, said Steve Arrison, the CVB’s CEO.

“We’ve done a series of trading cards in the past,” Arrison said. “Most of those have featured President Bill Clinton and his connection to his hometown of Hot Springs. We did a card featuring the racehorse Smarty Jones, which proved tremendously popular with the public.

“The cards carry the message that Hot Springs has a link to the subject of the cards, and they’ve gone all over the globe publicizing Hot Springs.”

The cards are being printed at a cost of $2,395, Arrison said, at Arkansas Graphics in Little Rock.

The first public distribution of the cards will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 2, at the downtown Visitor Center in Hill Wheatley Plaza on Central Avenue at the southern end of Bathhouse Row. One copy of each card will be given free to all who attend, Arrison said.

Oaklawn also will distribute free copies of the cards on Saturday, March 6.

The cards will be given away as long as supplies last, Arrison said.

“The Apple Blossom Invitational has already attracted unprecedented attention around the globe for Oaklawn, Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas,” Arrison said. “These Apple Blossom trading cards will give people a free souvenir of a great time at a great racetrack in a great city in a great state.”

Calling it “one of the most important moments at Oaklawn and in Arkansas sports,” Oaklawn President Charles J. Cella announced earlier this month that Oaklawn is increasing the purse of the Grade I Apple Blossom to $5 million, the largest purse for a filly and mare race in the history of North American thoroughbred racing.

Cella said the owners of both Rachel Alexandra (Jess Jackson) and Zenyatta (Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss) had agreed to bring their horses to Oaklawn for the April 9 race, which will also feature eight other invited fillies and mares.

Rachel Alexandra (Three-Year-Old Filly) and Zenyatta (Older Filly or Mare) were unanimous Eclipse Award winners in their respective divisions in 2009 and were the only finalists for horse racing’s highest honor – The Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. In one of the closest ballots in recent memory, Rachel Alexandra was named Horse of Year.

Oaklawn has long been perceived as the ideal neutral ground for the dream matchup, because both have used the Arkansas oval as a launching pad to future success.

As a lightly-raced but promising 4-year-old in 2008, Zenyatta captured her first Grade 1 victory in that year’s Apple Blossom, beating then reigning champion Ginger Punch among others in her only start outside of California and only start on a conventional dirt surface. She has since gone on to post a perfect record, highlighted by her victory in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic and her victory against males in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, in what was believed at the time to be the final race of her career. Rumblings about Zenyatta’s “un-retirement” began to be felt in December and Moss made it official Saturday, Jan. 16.

Rachel Alexandra kicked off her three-year-old campaign at Oaklawn with a pair of eye-popping stakes wins in the Martha Washington and the Fantasy Stakes. Her record victory in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Kentucky Derby clearly stamped her as the best three-year-old filly in the nation. She proved more than that in her next start when she became the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes in 85 years. Rachel Alexandra beat three-year-old colts again in the Haskell and became the first three-year-old filly to win the prestigious Woodward Stakes against older males in September.

“We have always pursued a goal of bringing the world’s best racing to Arkansas,” Cella said. “That is what led us to create the Racing Festival of the South more than 30 years ago. We have been even more fortunate in recent years. That gives us the opportunity to fulfill the promises we continually make to our fans, our horsemen and all of our supporters — and it will most certainly fulfill every promise made.”


Sarah Grice said...

Looking forward to my Rachel trading card!

Kimness said...

I don't think they're making enough!! Wonder if they will be showing up on E-bay!

Ciarán said...

haha kimness, was jus gonna say 'wonder how much they'll make on ebay!'

Brian Zipse said...

One way or another, you can be sure they will be on ebay.

mvlach77 said...

Brian, I have not heard a peep about any other horse being in this race. I know the money is good for whoever enters no matter where they finish, but who else may be there?

Anonymous said...

They'll be on Ebay just like the Rachel bobbleheads were. Wish I would have gotten a bobblehead when they first put them on Ebay. They are getting harder to find!!

MH said...

So 1980s.

Anonymous said...

The cards are a great idea but distributing them only around Oaklawn isn't in my opinion.
If Oaklawn wants to get more than just a huge crowd (which is a given) they should try to work out a deal with someone like McDonalds, Burger King or YUM brands stores (they already sponsor the Derby). Create a few different Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta figures from say, three of their biggest victories and give a trading card with each “happy/kids” meal you buy. That would really garner some attention and get a tremendous viewership.

Brian Zipse said...

mvlach77, I have not heard much as far as the rest of the field. Pure Clan, Sweet Repent, and Just Jenda seem like the most likely so far...we shall see.

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