Rachel Alexandra Comes Back Fine, Will Ship to Oaklawn Monday

Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra was in good order Sunday, the morning following her second-place finish to Zardana in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies, and will ship to Oaklawn Park on Monday.

“She came back well,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “She ate last night, very sound this morning, walked the shed row well. I’m very pleased with that.”

Plans were already in place before the New Orleans Ladies for Rachel Alexandra to leave New Orleans on Monday for the Hot Springs, Ark., racetrack, where a $5 million purse awaits in the Grade I Apple Blossom Invitational if both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta start.

“She’ll walk Tuesday morning, go back to the track on Wednesday, and most likely her first breeze there will be on Monday,” Asmussen said.

The trainer reiterated that the Rachel Alexandra team will approach the Apple Blossom cautiously. “We don’t have any negative indications yet today,” he said. “Like anything, you want to be 100-percent and if you’re not you go from there. We don’t have any negative this morning other than the loss and the hurt feelings of yesterday. Our main concern is how Rachel feels and her well-being and we’re very pleased with her today.”

Reflecting on Saturday’s race, in which Rachel Alexandra stalked the early pacesetter and assumed the lead around the far turn before yielding to the eventual winner, Asmussen was still “disappointed” but remains steadfast in his belief that she simply was not fit enough to win and has much improvement ahead of her.

“We had talked about her being seventy-five or eighty-percent fit,” he said. “The filly got tired but she cooled out fine and came back well from it; it’s just a case if we can move forward in a positive direction fitness-wise, as well as with everything else. Yesterday’s race is over. We can analyze it all we want, but her physical condition and her state of mind are what we need to concern ourselves with and we’ll address that moving forward.”

Asked to expand on her state of mind this morning, Asmussen said: “I was pleased with it today. She was relaxed in her stall. She went to her tub when we fed her last night and cleaned up everything. Walked well this morning and seemed very comfortable in her stall this morning.”