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Rachel Alexandra Finishes Fast in Six-Furlong Breeze
Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra worked six furlongs in company Tuesday morning, blowing past her stablemate nearing the eighth-pole and finishing in a final quarter-mile of :22 3/5 to post an official final time of 1:13 3/5, breezing, over a fast main track. Fair Grounds clockers caught fractions of :13, :25 3/5, :38 2/5, :51 and 1:02 1/5. The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly galloped out seven-eighths in 1:26 2/5 and one mile in 1:41 1/5.
Regular exercise rider Dominic Terry was aboard Rachel Alexandra, while Brian Hernandez Jr. was aboard workmate Depaul, a 3-year-old colt who most recently finished fourth in a Feb. 15 first-level allowance.
Rachel Alexandra, preparing for her first start of the year in the March 13 $200,000 New Orleans Ladies, came onto the track at 10:30 a.m., a half-hour after regular training hours and following a renovation break.
The final time was slower than trainer Steve Asmussen had been hoping for, but he was nonetheless delighted because of the fast yet effortless final quarter-mile.
“I was hoping she’d go a little quicker,” Asmussen said at his barn shortly afterward. “She settled off the other horse really nicely. She stayed with her left lead trying to stay with the other horse, then she switched to her right lead and accelerated. We’re happy with where she’s at. The main thing is she’s healthy and this is a step in the process to getting her back to her previous level.”
Rachel Alexandra and Terry came onto the track accompanied, as usual, by assistant trainer Scott Blasi aboard his pony. The workmate, accompanied by a pony with assistant trainer Jamie Radosevich aboard, stepped onto the track first and led the quartet as they jogged around the far turn and through the stretch. The ponies broke off near the finish line as Rachel Alexandra continued to follow her stablemate and ranged closer as they galloped around the clubhouse turn and picked up speed approaching the three-quarters pole. Rachel Alexandra started her work about one length behind the workmate.
“She was a little keen early,” Asmussen said. “She was very aggressive and hard-held early. For him (Terry) to still have control with one in front of her was very impressive. It was a little slower from the five-eighths to the three-eighths.”
Terry kept Rachel Alexandra behind her stablemate into the stretch but once she was allowed to roll at the three-sixteenths marker the filly effortlessly moved to the lead and hit the wire about six lengths in front of Depaul, who was timed for six furlongs in 1:14 4/5.
Today was the first time Rachel Alexandra has worked in company this year. “The concern was that her last work was so smooth and easy that she didn’t get enough out of it,” Asmussen said. “The other horse is a variable that ensures that she gets more out of it.”
Rachel Alexandra’s final official workout before the New Orleans Ladies will come Monday, according to Asmussen, and will be an easy half-mile. “We built up to this point and from here we need to back off and let her catch her breath,” he said. “We won’t be looking for speed, just fluid and relaxed.”
Rachel Alexandra normally works around 6:30 a.m. but concerns about the weather and track condition following last night’s heavy rains prompted Asmussen and Fair Grounds Vice President and General Manager Eric Halstrom to consider alternatives in order to provide the best possible surface for the superstar filly. An agreement had been reached to train Rachel Alexandra in the afternoon to give the main track more time to dry out, but the surface was in such fine condition by this morning that there was no need to wait.
“I can’t say enough about what the Fair Grounds has done,” Asmussen said. “A big thank you to Fair Grounds for allowing us to get this in. We’re still on course for the New Orleans Ladies and we’ll need to get something out of that to move forward.”
Rachel Alexandra is preparing not only for the New Orleans Ladies, but also the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 9, where a date with Champion Older Female Zenyatta would be worth a $5 million purse.
Rachel Alexandra established herself as one of the all-time great fillies last year with historic wins in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks and Grade I Preakness, as well as six other stakes races, including the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks. Her three Grade I victories against male horses—in the Preakness, the Haskell Invitational and the Woodward—helped to establish a new standard for excellence by a female racehorse in the modern era.
Rachel Alexandra—2010 Workouts
Date, Fair Grounds track condition, distance, final time (fractional times, when available), breezing or handily
March 2, Fast, Six furlongs, 1:13 3/5 (:13, :25 3/5, :38 2/5, :51, 1:02 1/5), breezing
Feb. 24, Fast, Six furlongs, 1:14 (:13, :25 1/5, :37 3/5, :49 4/5, 1:02), breezing
Feb. 18, Fast, Five furlongs, 1:00 1/5 (:12, :23 4/5, :35 3/5, :47 3/5), breezing
Feb. 12, Sloppy, Five furlongs, 1:03 4/5 (:13 2/5, :26 1/5, :38 3/5, :51 3/5), breezing
Feb. 6, Fast, Four furlongs, :50 3/5, breezing
Jan. 31, Fast, Four furlongs, :52, breezing