Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra worked six furlongs in company March 2, blowing past stablemate Depaul under regular exercise rider Dominic Terry near the eighth pole to finish the move in 1:13 3/5 over a fast main at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Fair Grounds clockers caught the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia D'Oro in fractions of :13, :25 3/5, :38 2/5, :51, and 1:02 1/5. Rachel Alexandra galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26 2/5, and one mile in 1:41 1/5. She posted a final quarter of :22 3/5 while passing the 3-year-old colt Depaul, who was ridden by jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. Depaul, who most recently finished fourth in a Feb. 15 first-level allowance, finished six furlongs in 1:14 4/5.
Although the final time was slower than trainer Steve Asmussen was looking for, he was pleased by his star filly’s 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, owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick, came onto the track at 10:30 a.m., a half hour after regular training hours, accompanied by assistant trainer Scott Blasi aboard his pony. Workmate Depaul, with a pony, stepped on to the track first, and led the quartet of horses as they jogged around the far turn and through the stretch. The ponies broke off near the finish line and Rachel continued to follow her stablemate, beginning about one length behind Depaul and picking up speed as they approached the three-quarter pole.
“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. The rider let her out at the three-sixteenths pole, and Rachel Alexandra responded by moving effortlessly to the lead and finishing the work about six lengths ahead of Depaul.
This was Rachel Alexandra’s first work in company this year. The decision was made to work the filly with Depaul to allow her to get more out of the work.
“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 workout before an expected start in the March 13 New Orleans Ladies Handicap will be an easy half mile on March 8, according to Asmussen.
“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 the previous night’s heavy rains prompted Asmussen and Fair Grounds vice president and general manager Eric Halstrom to devise an alternative scenario to provide the best possible conditions for Rachel Alexandra. Asmussen and Halstrom originally came to an agreement that would allow Rachel Alexandra to work in the afternoon to give the track surface more time to dry, but the track proved to be dry by the morning.
“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 expected to use the New Orleans Ladies as a stepping stone to the April 9 Apple Blossom Invitational (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park, where a meeting with undefeated champion Zenyatta would be worth a $5 million purse.
Rachel Alexandra wrote herself into the history books last year with wins in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the Haskell Invitational (gr. I), and the Woodward Stakes (gr. I). She is out of the Roar mare Lotta Kim.
Rachel Alexandra—2010 Workouts
Date, Fair Grounds track condition, distance, final time (fractional times, when available)
March 2, Fast, Six furlongs, 1:13 3/5 (:13, :25 3/5, :38 2/5, :51, 1:02 1/5)
Feb. 24, Fast, Six furlongs, 1:14 (:13, :25 1/5, :37 3/5, :49 4/5, 1:02)
Feb. 18, Fast, Five furlongs, 1:00 1/5 (:12, :23 4/5, :35 3/5, :47 3/5)
Feb. 12, Sloppy, Five furlongs, 1:03 4/5 (:13 2/5, :26 1/5, :38 3/5, :51 3/5)
Feb. 6, Fast, Four furlongs, :50 3/5
Jan. 31, Fast, Four furlongs, :52