Monday, August 17, 2009

Rachel ‘stronger than normal’ during workout

Photo: Rachel Alexandra turned in a solid workout Monday morning at Saratoga Race Course.

Not even the eerie mist of an early Monday morning could keep Rachel Alexandra from showing off her talent.

The Blackberry Preakness (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1) Stakes winner turned in another outstanding work at the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course., covering five furlongs in 1:00.37.

It was the fastest of 12 horses at the distance, including stablemate and multiple Grade 2 winner Kensei, who was clocked in 1:01.85 for trainer Steve Asmussen.

"She just looked beautiful," Asmussen said. "It was a pretty foggy morning and the clockers did a nice job of going across the infield to catch her breaking off for us. She looked beautiful coming down the lane."

Exercise rider Dominic Terry, who has been on Rachel Alexandra's back every morning since she was purchased by Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick in May, also was impressed.

"She was a lot stronger than normal," Terry said. "She was pulling me to the pole. She went really nice and galloped out really strong. I couldn't ask for more.

"It was just effortless, like she was galloping. It was absolutely amazing. The little bit you could see, you could tell. I'll have confidence in her anywhere they want to run her."

Asmussen said no race has been ruled out for Rachel Alexandra. After consulting with Jackson, a decision will come this week. Among the options are four at Saratoga — the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) on Saturday, the $1-million Shadwell Travers Stakes (G1) on August 29, the $400,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) on August 30, and the $500,000 Woodward Stakes (G1) on September 5— as well as the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) on September 7 at Philadelphia Park.

"We're not keeping anybody guessing. I just think it would be definitely delinquent of us to be obligating somebody who's accomplished as much as her," Asmussen said. "Rachel is a tremendous talent, and I think our responsibility is to keep her that way."

Kensei also is nominated to the Travers, Woodward, and Pennsylvania Derby.

Also pointing to the Travers is Warrior's Reward, the runner-up to Kensei in the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) on August 1 at Saratoga. Trained by Ian Wilkes, Warrior's Reward breezed five furlongs on Saratoga's main track in 1:00.26 on Monday under jockey Calvin Borel. The time was the fastest of 12 horses at the distance.

"It was a nice, solid work," Wilkes said. "The main thing is I wanted Calvin to finish down the lane a little. I wanted him to just pay attention to finishing, and he did it all himself. He galloped out strong.”