Rachel Alexandra Goes Five Furlongs in 1:00 1/5
Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra continued to work forwardly Thursday morning in advance of the March 13 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, breezing five furlongs on a fast main track in 1:00 1/5 with regular exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard. The 4-year-old filly broke off rather keen from the five-eighths pole but settled into herself around the far turn, working through fractions of :12, :23 4/5, :35 3/5 and :47 3/5. The final time made it the second-fastest five-furlong move of 19 on the morning.
“I think we’ve got a little Goldilocks going on,” trainer Steve Asmussen said after the work, referring to the young girl in the fairy tale who needs a few tries to find the middle ground that is just right. “The racetrack was wet last week, and a little slow, and we were being careful. I thought she was overly aggressive today, a little quick, so hopefully we’ll level off.”
In her previous work, on Feb. 12, Rachel Alexandra breezed five furlongs in 1:03 4/5 over a sloppy track on a wet morning when only one other horse recorded a timed workout.
“I think with not letting her do too much last week it made her very keen,” Asmussen said. “I think she wants to be in a rhythm. Hopefully the weather will be as good as it was this morning and fairly consistent, and then I think we’ll be exactly where we want to be. She was just very aggressive all week and worked accordingly. She was off strong. From a timing standpoint there’s still time to get exactly where want to be.”
Rachel Alexandra has breezed every six days since her first workout of the calendar year on Jan. 31. If that pattern continues, she will have three more official works before the New Orleans Ladies, a $200,000 race for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Twenty-seven days after that, on April 9, Rachel Alexandra plans to meet Champion Older Female Zenyatta for what would be a $5 million purse in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park.
As per her usual routine, Rachel Alexandra came to the track with Asmussen’s second set of horses, entering from the half-mile gap at 6:40 a.m., accompanied by assistant trainer Scott Blasi astride his pony. Asmussen also was on horseback to observe the work.
Rachel Alexandra and Terry, along with Blasi and his pony, backtracked more than a half-mile “the wrong way,” clockwise, past the eighth-pole in the Fair Grounds stretch. Turning back with the traffic, Blasi stayed with Rachel Alexandra and Terry before sending them on their way near the finish line. Filly and exercise rider galloped into the backstretch before Terry picked up the pace coming to the five-eighths marker.
Rachel Alexandra worked to the finish line before galloping out an extra one-eighth of a mile in :14 1/5 for a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:14 2/5.
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 Stakes, 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.