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'Rachel' Works Easy Half for Asmussen/Preakness Hopes Hull, Terrain Work
KENTUCKY OAKS WINNER RACHEL ALEXANDRA WORKS FOR NEW BARN – Possible Preakness candidate Rachel Alexandra, a record-smashing 20 ¼-length winner of the Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) tuned up for a possible bid for Saturday’s $1 million Preakness Stakes (GI) with an easy four-furlong work on Sunday at Churchill Downs.
The 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, working for the first time for new trainer Steve Asmussen, covered the half-mile distance over a “fast” track in :48.40. Exercise rider Dominic Terry was in the saddle as Rachel Alexandra turned out fractional times of :12.40 and :24.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02. The move ranked 13th among 81 works at the distance.
“I thought it went beautiful,” Asmussen said. “I’m surprised the racetrack dried out so well considering they cancelled (races) two days ago.
“She’s a beautiful filly. I think she’s doing extremely well. Every sight of her has been impressive and I’m just very happy to get this light move in this morning under very good conditions.”
Rachel Alexandra was transferred from the care of trainer Hal Wiggins to Asmussen when the filly was purchased for an undisclosed price early last week by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Farm and Harold McCormick. Jackson had indicated that the filly would be made a supplemental entry to the Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, if she continued to do well in her new barn. But Asmussen said on Sunday that a decision on Rachel Alexandra’s Preakenss bid had yet to be made.
“That’s Mr. Jackson’s discretion – whatever timetable he wants to be on,” said Asmussen. “We’re just very fortunate to have her in our care and we’ll just communicate what we think we’re seeing.”
Asmussen won the Preakness in 2007 with eventual “Horse of the Year” and 3-year-old champion Curlin, who rallied to edge Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Street Sense in that race. He declined to speculate where Rachel Alexandra fits among the males being toward Saturday’s race at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.
“I think it’s like all races – you only worry about what you can take care of,” he said. “The filly has proven what a tremendous mare she is. Mr. Wiggins has done a remarkable job with an amazing filly and we’re just very fortunate to be around her.”
Rachel Alexandra’s win in the Kentucky Oaks was her fifth consecutive victory – all in stakes competition – and lifted her career earnings to $958,354. Her career record stands at 7-2-0 in 10 races.
UNBEATEN HULL ZIPS FIVE FURLONGS IN PREAKNESS DRILL – Unbeaten Derby Trial (GIII) winner Hull tuned up for a possible run in the Preakness with a sharp five furlong work over a “fast” track on Sunday at Churchill Downs.
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Team Valor International and Gary Barber’s 3-year-old son of 1994 “Horse of the Year” Holy Bull covered the distance in :59.40. Jockey Miguel Mena was aboard for the “bullet” move that was the best of 35 at the distance.
The Dale Romans-trained colt covered the distance in fractions of :23.20 and :35.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.80.
“He worked really good – I had him in :59-flat,” Romans said. “It looked like he was doing it easy.”
Romans said there’s no final decision at this point on whether Hull will run in Saturday’s second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico. He said the status of Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra, who could be made a supplemental entry to the race, would be part of the discussion.
“It makes it a tougher decision to go,” Romans said. “We’re going to sit down and talk about it on Tuesday and see if we want to go up there and run against her. Right now, I think we’re still gonna go, but we’ll see what happens. She changes the dynamics of the whole race.”
Hull figures to be prominent from the start if he runs in the Preakness, but Romans said Rachel Alexandra would figure to be close by at all points of the race.
“She’s true speed that keeps on going,” he said. “She’s real quality. I don’t know it’s going to be for a filly to come back in two weeks – I think it’s harder for the fillies than it is for the colts. But I’m sure if Steve (Asmussen) takes her over there, then she’s ready to go.”
Romans had high hopes for Hull going into his stakes debut in the Derby Trial on April 25, which is run at Churchill Downs’ one-turn mile distance. He was impressed by the colt’s effort in that four-length win and that’s why the 1 3/16-mile Preakness is being considered so strongly.
“We knew he was good, but when you’re stepping up into stakes company for the first time there’s still some unknowns,” said Romans. “But he proved he can run with anybody, because that was a solid field of horses.”
TERRAIN WORKS IN COMPANY FOR PREAKNESS – Adele Dilschneider’s Terrain tuned up for a probable run in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes by working five furlongs in company with Map of the World in 1:02.60, 19th fastest of 35 at the distance.
With jockey Jamie Theriot up, Terrain broke off about two lengths behind Map of the World with Julien Leparoux up. Terrain drew even at the eighth pole and finished on even terms.
“I had worked a few horses earlier in the morning and the track was fast. I didn’t want any lights out work,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “He is ready to run. He got dialed in today. I told Jamie just to sit behind him and when he chirped to him, he was right on him and they finished heads up. Jamie was happy with him.”
Stall has not named a rider for Terrain for the Preakness.
The work was the third for Terrain since his fourth-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I) on April 11. He had worked in :47.60 in company for a half-mile on April 24 at Keeneland and then turned in a :50.40 half while working solo on May 3, also at Keeneland.
GENERAL QUARTERS TO BREEZE ON MONDAY MORNING – With exercise rider Justin Court up, General Quarters galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break.
Owner/trainer Tom McCarthy plans to work the 10th-place Kentucky Derby finisher an easy half-mile Monday morning before the break with Court up.
“I just want to give him a little bit of a maintenance move,” McCarthy said. “I will breeze him a slow half, just something to take the edge off.”
General Quarters, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I), is scheduled to leave early Tuesday morning by van to Pimlico for the Preakness.
BAFFERT GETS HIS DERBY … A WEEK LATE – “I got my Derby,” a smiling Bob Baffert said Sunday morning upon his return to Churchill Downs after a successful foray to Texas where Peachtree Stable’s Mythical Power won Saturday’s Lone Star Derby (Grade III) by 7 ½ lengths.
The Derby that eluded Baffert the week before was, of course, Kentucky Derby 135 in which his Pioneerof the Nile finished second to Mine That Bird.
With exercise rider George Alvarez up, Pioneerof the Nile galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break.
“It was great to gallop on a fast track,” Baffert said.
Pioneerof the Nile is scheduled to work Monday morning, most likely after the renovation break. Joe Steiner, who handled Pioneerof the Nile’s two pre-Derby works here, is flying in to Louisville on Sunday night and is slated to be aboard in the morning.
BOOKEND DERBY FINISHERS GALLOP EARLY SUNDAY -- Galloped Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and 19th-place finisher Flying Private both galloped before the renovation break Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.
Mine That Bird, owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, galloped a little more than two miles with exercise rider Charlie Figueroa up.
“He’s doing super, as good as ever,” said Figueroa, who has been the regular morning exercise partner for Mine That Bird since arriving in Kentucky on April 21. “I know he hasn’t backed off. There is no regression at all.”
Trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. was pleased to see the first “fast” track in the morning since Wednesday.
“I can’t believe how fast they can get it good here,” Woolley said of a track that went from “muddy” during the latter part of training hours Saturday to “fast” fewer than four hours later.
Mine That Bird is scheduled to train here the next two mornings and leave for Pimlico around mid-morning on Tuesday.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said that Flying Private, owned by Robert Baker and William Mack, would not train here Tuesday because of an early departure time by van for Pimlico.
BARN TALK – Stone Legacy, runner-up to Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks, worked a half-mile in :49.20 after the renovation break. The move was the 27th fastest of 81. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee leaves Tuesday for Pimlico where she is scheduled to run in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (Grade II).
Trainer Tom Amoss notched Churchill Downs career victory No. 299 in Saturday’s ninth race with a triumph by Double Espresso. Eight trainers have reached the 300-win plateau, led by Bill Mott’s 615. Amoss has three chances on Sunday’s card to join the club: Best Buddy in the second, I Know It’s True in the fourth and Mining for Silver in the eighth.