For April 9 at Arkansas's Oaklawn Park, the long-awaited showdown between 4-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra, winner of the 2009 Preakness and reigning horse of the year, and undefeated 7-year-old mare Zenyatta, champion of November's Breeders' Cup Classic. The two horses have never competed against each other, mostly because Zenyatta rarely leaves California's synthetic track surfaces (her lone trip: a win at Apple Blossom in '09), and Rachel's connections have refused to race her on anything but dirt. Enter Oaklawn president Charles Cella, who is dipping into his own fortune to increase this April's Apple Blossom purse from $500,000 to $5 million. "I see this as a sporting event rather than a commercial enterprise," he says, adding that ticket demands "melted down" his facility's phone system. "But I hope I'm proven wrong."
A Football League Championship match between Coventry City and Nottingham Forest, Amy Fearn, who became the first female head official in English soccer's second-highest division. On Feb. 9, Fearn, 31, left her line judge position to take the reins from that game's referee, Tony Bates, who had suffered a calf injury. Whereas female officials have become increasingly common in the big four North American sports, English soccer refereeing had long been an all-male preserve, making Fearn, an assistant of four years, somewhat of a lightning rod. In 2006 Luton Town manager Mike Newell was fined for referring to her as "tokenism for politically correct idiots." After Fearn's first game in charge ended without controversy, she declared, "Football should be about the players, not referees."