'Rachel' Walks Pimlico, to School in Paddock

Rachel Alexandra was scheduled to school in the paddock May 14.

by Claire Novak

Rachel Alexandra, the impressive Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner and 8-5 morning-line favorite for the May 16 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), walked the shedrow at Pimlico Race Course the morning of May 14 and was expected to school in the paddock later in the day, according to assistant trainer Scott Blasi.

“We walked, but we have intentions of schooling her in the paddock today,” said Blasi, who is supervising the filly’s routine until trainer Steve Asmussen flies to Maryland. “We got in kind of late last night, and this is what we’d normally do. She ate great last night and she’ll gallop tomorrow.”

Transferred to Asmussen’s barn after her 20 1/4-length score in the May 1 Oaks and subsequent purchase by owners Jess Jackson and Harold T. McCormick, the former Hal Wiggins trainee has done nothing but impress her new connections. She schooled in the gate at Churchill Downs May 13 before catching a charter flight to Baltimore, and “didn’t turn a hair” during the trip, Blasi said.

“She’s looking great, believe me, walking her today is routine,” Blasi said. “She’s very fit and we don’t have to do a whole lot with her at this point. The job (Wiggins) has done with her is in black and white already.”

Rachel Alexandra, by Medaglia d'Oro , will start from the outside in post 13 in the Preakness under jockey Calvin Borel, who took off Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird to ride her in the Preakness. According to records dating back to 1909, no horse has ever won the second jewel of the Triple Crown from the 13 or 14 hole, and since pari-mutuel wagering began in 1941, horses are 0-for-10 from those posts in classics.

The filly, the first Kentucky Oaks winner to ever enter the Preakness, also makes her first attempt at taking on the boys. Her former owners, Dolphus Morrison and Mike Lauffer, did not nominate her to the Triple Crown series, but Jackson and McCormick put up a $100,000 supplemental fee to enter her in the upcoming race.

“Mr. Jackson has the best of intentions,” Blasi said. “We know that from the last champion (Curlin ) he owned.”

Rachel Alexandra, stabled in the stakes barn at Pimlico, will take to the Maryland track for the first time May 15 under exercise rider Dominic Terry.