Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rachel Alexandra will run in Woodward

David Grening, Daily Racing Form

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Superstar filly Rachel Alexandra will attempt to add another chapter to her already history-making 3-year-old campaign when she takes on older males in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga on Sept. 5, her connections announced Monday morning.

Meanwhile, her stablemate, Kensei, will try to enter contention for 3-year-old male honors when he runs in Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Kensei enters the Travers off of victories in the Dwyer and Jim Dandy.

Trainer Steve Asmussen announced the decision shortly after both horses put in workouts Monday over a muddy, sealed main track. Both Rachel Alexandra and Kensei are owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stable.

Kensei, who won the Dwyer and Jim Dandy, went four furlongs in 50 seconds at 5:30 a.m. before Rachel Alexandra went a flawless six furlongs in 1:11.84 shortly after 6 a.m.

"Off of discussions with Jess and how well Kensei is doing we felt that he deserved a chance in the Travers," said Asmussen, who made the announcement alongside Barbara Banke, Jackson's wife. "It could be a race that would mark his career. With that decision Rachel will be pointed towards the Woodward."

Rachel Alexandra has already defeated 3-year-old males twice this year in the Preakness and Haskell. This will be her first time meeting older males. No filly or mare of any age has won the Woodward.

"Legacy," Asmussen said. "Jess's sportsmanship about what they can do is quite obvious instead of just talking. No filly has won the Woodward. For everything else that she's done I think it's a showcase or a platform that she's worthy of."

An eight-horse field is now expected for the Travers, post positions for which will be drawn on Wednesday. The field, with riders, figures to include, Charitable Man (Ramon Dominguez); Hold Me Back (Julien Leparoux), Kensei (Edgar Prado), Mine That Bird (Mike Smith), Our Edge (Alan Garcia) Quality Road (John Velazquez), Summer Bird (Kent Desormeaux), and Warrior's Reward (Calvin Borel).

Rachel Alexandra's possible foes in the Woodward would be Asiatic Boy, Bullsbay, Cool Coal Man, Da' Tara, and It's a Bird.

In her workout, Rachel Alexandra just glided over the muddy sealed track going in fractions of 12.24 seconds, 24.39, 36.23, 47.86, and 59.60. She galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.58 and pulled up a mile in 1:41.89.

"I was talking to Barbara about it, you watch a lot of horses go and then you watch her go and it just simply looks better," Asmussen said.

Asmussen moved the works from the Oklahoma training track to the main track because he felt the main track was in better shape. Heavy rains after the races on Sunday left the Oklahoma training track saturated.

"Watching them walk back, watching how happy she was, is the best feeling I've had this week, he said. "Kensei went over the track good he was very playful coming back. That felt good."

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