Wednesday, August 12, 2009

'Rachel' Breezes at Spa; Next Start Unknown

From the New York Racing Association

Preakness Stakes (gr. I)-winning filly Rachel Alexandra put in her first work at Saratoga Race Course the morning of Aug. 11 in preparation for her as-yet-to-be-determined next start, covering a half-mile in :50.72 under exercise rider Dominic Terry.

With trainer Steve Asmussen, Barbara Banke (wife of Stonestreet Stable owner Jess Jackson), and a host of onlookers watching, the 3-year-old filly stepped onto the Oklahoma training track at about 6 a.m. for her first serious move since beating the boys again in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Aug. 2.

Clockers caught the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro in splits of :13.50 and :26.22, galloping out in 1:04.44.
“It was very Rachel-esque,” said Asmussen. “She did it very effortlessly, she was very comfortable, and happy when she came home.”

Four grade I races at Saratoga are among the possibilities being considered for Rachel Alexandra’s next start. Two are against females--the $600,000 Alabama Stakes Aug. 22 and the $400,000 Personal Ensign Aug. 30; and two are against males–the $1 million Shadwell Travers Aug. 29, and the $500,000 Woodward Sept. 5.

“I do think I am smart enough to watch instead of decide at this stage,” said Asmussen, who will also nominate Rachel Alexandra to the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Sept. 7. “I want to do the right thing; we won’t kid ourselves.”

Another factor in the decision-making process is that Jackson is also the owner of the rising 3-year-old colt Kensei, impressive winner of the Jim Dandy (gr. II), the traditional prep for the Shadwell Travers. Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird, Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird, and Quality Road, who set track records in his last two starts, including the Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II), are all at Saratoga training toward the 1 1/4-mile “Mid-Summer Derby.”

“There were a lot of witnesses to Kensei breezing yesterday and Rachel working today,” said Asmussen. “I feel like we’re still in a great position.

“Jess Jackson, Barbara (Banke), John Moynihan, myself and (assistant) Scott (Blasi) decided to go ahead nominate her to five races and let her train for a couple of weeks,” he added. “With Kensei in the barn as well, and how well he’s run lately, see how he does as well. We’ll try to do what’s best for both horses. We’ll do what we think is best for Rachel. She is the queen right now and we are very proud of what she’s done.”

Rachel Alexandra, 7-for-7 this year, has twice beaten 3-year-old colts, holding off Mine That Bird in the Preakness and beating Summer Bird by six lengths in the Haskell. Overall, she has won 10 of her 13 lifetime starts and earned $2,498,354.

Copyright © 2009 Blood-Horse Publications. All rights reserved internationally.


D.S. Williamson said...

Rachel Alexandra is a real joy to watch. She always puts on a good show and the crowd loves her. I try not to miss any races she is running in.

Anonymous said...

It's great to see a real champion.

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