Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year fresh off a grade II romp a week earlier, breezed a half-mile in :51 1/5 at Churchill Downs on June 21, as the weather in Louisville felt like it was the first full day of summer.
With jockey Shaun Bridgmohan aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was timed in fractions of :12 2/5 and :25 1/5 through the first quarter-mile and after the work galloped out five furlongs in 1:05 1/5.
"She went fine," Asmussen said of Rachel, who won the June 12 Fleur de Lis Stakes (gr. II) by 10 ½ lengths for her first win in three starts this year. "It’s a ridiculously hot morning, you know? That’s a big concern. It’s time to get out and go north."
Asmussen had planned to ship Rachel Alexandra to New York’s Saratoga Race Course on July 5, the day after the 42-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs closes, but considering the unseasonably warm and humid conditions that have already settled in Kentucky he could ship earlier.
According to a release from Churchill Downs, it was 81 degrees when the champion went to the track at 6:30 a.m. CDT.
"I think we’ve got to get out of this weather," Asmussen said. "The flag’s stuck to the pole today."
Asmussen had been concerned there might be some residual effect from her Fleur de Lis win in similar weather conditions, but he said she appeared fine when she returned to training in the middle of last week.
"She acts like the rest of us do right now – it’s hot," he said. "Her weight’s good and she’s very sound, and her strength is good. But it’s hot. We’d all feel better if it was about 20 degrees cooler."
Owned by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Farm and Harold McCormick, Rachel Alexandra has a career record of 12-4-0 in 17 races and has earned $3,216,730.