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Rachel Alexandra Drills in Drizzling Rain Friday
Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, aiming once again for an anticipated confrontation with her older rival Zenyatta in Oaklawn’s Grade I Apple Blossom April 9, worked Friday morning at Fair Grounds in advance of her scheduled seasonal bow March 13 in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies at the Crescent City oval.
“We worked a couple of horses Thursday and the track was sealed very well, so we went ahead with her work this morning,” said Scott Blasi, cornerstone assistant to Eclipse Award winning trainer Steve Asmussen, of Rachel Alexandra’s five-furlong move accomplished in 1:03.80 over the race track rated sloppy. “She galloped out well. We wanted to keep her in her rhythm. We wanted to stay in our routine. I was very happy with how she was moving.”
With regular exercise rider Dominic Terry in the irons, Rachel Alexandra recorded the move with splits of 13.40, 26.20, 38.60 and 51.60.
“That means she did the last eighth in (12.20),” said Fair Grounds clocker Billy Pettingill. “She came on the track at 6:20 a.m. and was only out there a total of 11 minutes. She looked great doing the work and she looked great the whole time she was out there.”
Late Thursday afternoon, the connections of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta approved Oaklawn management’s six-day postponement of the Apple Blossom in order to give all parties involved sufficient time to prepare both horses for their 2010 debuts.
Rachel Alexandra’s prep race for her much anticipated match-up with Zenyatta is scheduled to come in the inaugural running of the aptly-named New Orleans Ladies – a race originally designed with the presently unfolding scenario in mind. The race for older fillies and mares is to be contested at 1 1/16-miles.
“The (New Orleans Ladies) is our intended (next) goal,” owner Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables told Fair Grounds by phone Thursday evening. “I believe she’s on schedule and she’ll get the race she needs before she goes to Oaklawn. There are other tracks that have offered to have us go, but right now we’d rather stay here.”
Fair Grounds vice president and general manager Eric Halstrom was quick to express his appreciation to Rachel Alexandra’s connections.
“We’re obviously thrilled by the news that Rachel Alexandra, already a legend based on her accomplishments last year, intends to make her 2010 debut at Fair Grounds,” Halstrom said. “We are already working to make sure March 13 will be a special day befitting racing royalty.”