Standing outside his barn at Saratoga the morning of Sept. 6, trainer Steve Asmussen was still basking in the glow of Rachel Alexandra’s historic victory in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) as he reported the filly came out of the race in good shape.
“I honestly don’t know (what her next race will be),” said Asmussen. “I heard Jess (Jackson) say (she might not run again this year) at the press conference. We’ll just worry about her health, and take her back to the track on (Sept. 9).”
Asmussen said that Rachel Alexandra, whose blanket of pink carnations adorned the rail outside her stall, was tired from her efforts in the Woodward, in which she set fast early fractions and then turned back the furious late charge from Macho Again to win by a head.
“She’s very physical,” Asmussen said. “She ran hard, cooled out, drank plenty of water; she’s a professional. She doesn’t rest on her laurels. She puts in the work. That’s what gives you so much confidence about her. She doesn’t just take the day off.”
Trainer Dallas Stewart is still amazed with the performance of West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again, who came up just short after rallying from last. The 2008 Jim Dandy (gr. II) winner spotted Rachel Alexandra as many as 15 lengths in the early stages of the Woodward.
Robby Albarado then helped Macho Again make up that ground around the far turn before guiding him between Bullsbay and Past the Point at the top of the stretch. Within the last 30 yards, Macho Again inched closer to Rachel Alexandra, closing the gap from a length to a head.
“She might be the best racehorse in the world, but we were just a head away from her,” said Stewart. “I think it took everything she had to keep him out. In another jump or two, it could have been different, but it didn’t turn out like that.
“I was screaming, jumping, and hollering all the way. I knew we were second, but I didn’t think we were that close. When I saw the replay, I was amazed. He made a big surge at her.”
The 4-year-old Macho Uno colt will continue to make his case for year-end honors in the older horse division in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Oct. 3 at Belmont Park.
“I am really happy with the way he came out of the race,” said Stewart. “We’re going to take him back to Churchill. He had been training so well there. We’ll evaluate him and see if he’s ready for the Jockey Club Gold Cup. That would be a race we would like to win with him.
“I think this shows he’s the best (in the division). He won the Stephen Foster. He came up here and finished second in two grade I races. This race shows he’s a champion himself. He’s got the courage and determination. He just ran into a Super Woman.”