Rachel Alexandra works at Churchill Downs on May 25.

Rachel Alexandra works at Churchill Downs on May 25.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Rachel Alexandra Works; No Belmont Decision

The Preakness Stakes (gr. I)-winning filly worked a half-mile in :50 1/5 at Churchill

BlackBerry Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra worked a half-mile in :50 1/5 over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs early May 25. Co-owner Jess Jackson explained that the filly is doing well but that no decision has been made over whether she will contest the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

The work, the first for the filly since her impressive victory over males in the May 16 Preakness, was highly anticipated because it had been indicated that owners Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick would use it in deciding whether the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro  would run in the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

The Belmont would be the second showdown between the filly, who also won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), and Mine That Bird, winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Adding more intrigue to the Belmont picture is the status of jockey Calvin Borel, who won the Derby with Mine That Bird and the Oaks and Preakness with Rachel Alexandra.

Following the workout, with exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard during a driving rain, Jackson said the filly is “right on course for being in top shape,” but that no decision has been on whether she will be pointed toward the Belmont. Jackson said a decision could come later this week or next Monday, when Rachel Alexandra is expected to work again at Churchill Downs.

“Our lady is doing great,” Jackson said, adding “It is up to her” on when the owners and trainer Steve Asmussen can decide on the Belmont.

“The Belmont would be a full press right now,” Jackson said, before adding quickly that the comment should not be taken as an indication he is leaning against running in the third classic. “The principal concern is the horse herself. We have to monitor that carefully.”

Jackson was unable to elaborate on what signs he or Asmussen and assistant trainer Scott Blasi will be looking for making a determination about the filly’s status.


The last time a filly won the Belmont was 2007 when Rags to Riches beat Curlin. After that race, Rags to Riches only ran one more time in her career.

If Rachel Alexandra does not run in the Belmont, Jackson said the June 27 Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) would be a viable option, especially considering the additional time between the Preakness and the race for fillies.

Jackson also said it is questionable whether Rachel Alexandra would be pointed toward the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita in the fall. He reiterated his dislike of artificial surfaces, such as the one at Santa Anita. If the filly did run in the Breeders’ Cup, Jackson indicated it would be in the Classic rather than the Ladies Classic, where she would likely face champion filly Zenyatta.

Rachel Alexandra has won eight of 11 starts and earned $1,618,354. She won the Oaks for breeder Dolphus Morrison and co-owner Michael Lauffer while being trained by Hal Wiggins before Jackson and McCormick purchased her prior to the Preakness.

“She is recovering nicely from the Preakness,” Jackson said. “The key thing is her attitude. She thinks can run through a brick wall. We have to pull her back because she wants to run.”

“She looked beautiful, like Rachel does,” Asmussen said of the workout.