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Rachel Alexandra Back at Churchill Downs
Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), Preakness (GI) and Woodward (GI) winner Rachel Alexandra – the 3-year-old filly who is a front-runner for honors as America’s “Horse of the Year,” returned to her home base at Churchill Downs early Wednesday.
Owned by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has settled into familiar surroundings in trainer Steve Asmussen’s Barn 38 following a long van ride from Saratoga, where she spent much of the summer and the early days of fall. She arrived at Churchill Downs around 4 a.m. (EDT).
“She walked the shed this morning,” Asmussen said. “It was a little cool here this morning, but it feels great. She’s in her stall resting comfortably.”
Rachel Alexandra has no racing objectives on her near horizon. Jackson has reiterated his stance that she will not compete in the Breeders’ Cup early next month at Oak Tree at Santa Anita and Asmussen said his superstar filly has been taking it easy since her dramatic victory over Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) winner Macho Again and other males in the Woodward on Sept. 5.
“We’re just trying to keep her happy,” he said. “I’m very pleased with her attitude and her weight and how she’s doing. I think the time in Saratoga with everything gone was very beneficial to her. It just took a lot of the pressure off.”
The filly has won all eight of her starts in 2009, with three of those wins coming at the expense of males. She defeated Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Mine That Bird in the Preakness as well as Belmont Stakes, Travers (GI) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) winner Summer Bird in the Haskell Invitational (GI) at Monmouth Park. Her Woodward win was the first by a female in that prestigious fixture, a race in which she was pressed on a hot pace throughout and fought off the late charge by Macho Again.
“After reading all the quotes, I thought (trainer) Graham Motion’s quote summed it up as he said, ‘She had 10 reasons to lose and didn’t use any of them,’” Asmussen said. “I don’t think anything will ever do it justice unless you were there.”
If Rachel Alexandra does not race again this year, Jackson has indicated she will compete next year as a 4-year-old. After her perfect eight-race campaign thus far in 2009 her career record has improved to 11-2-0 in 14 races with earnings of $2,948,354.