Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra Works A Sharp Five Furlongs

May 24, 2010 John Asher

Reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra worked a strong six furlongs on Monday in her second major training move since her return to her home base at Churchill Downs.

Stonestreet Stable and Harold McCormick’s reigning Horse of the Year covered the distance over “fast” footing in 1:12 under regular training partner Dominic Terry.  The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro worked in fractional times of :12.80, :25.40, :37.20, :48.40 and 1:00.20.  The Steve Asmussen-trained champion galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.20.

The move was easily the fastest of seven at the distance.  In terms of comparison, two other Asmussen-trained stars – the brilliant 3-year-old filly Hot Dixie Chick and 2009 Louisiana Derby (GII) and beaten Kentucky Derby 135 favorite Friesan Fire also breezed six furlongs. Hot Dixie Chick was timed in 1:13.40 and Friesan Fire covered the distance in 1:12.80.

”I was very pleased with her work,” Asmussen said.  “She looks happy and she cooled out great.  It was a very strong move.”

Rachel Alexandra, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Oaks (GI) by a record 20 ¼ lengths over the same track nearly a year ago, turned in a solid five-furlong work in 1:00.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 a week earlier in her first work at Churchill Downs since last fall.  But Monday’s move was stronger throughout and Asmussen said his team would be looking at how she recovers from it as the filly’s next racing step is assessed.

“I’m very anxious to see her attitude off of the work,” he said.  “How she acts, how she rests in her stall and if she’s comfortable with everything we’re doing.  From a work standpoint it was very impressive and fast, which she is.”

Asmussen said there is still no decision on the race that will mark Rachel Alexandra’s return to competition.  She has raced only once since a victory over males last fall in the Woodward (GI) at Saratoga – the first win by a female of any age in that prestigious race.  But she lost her only race this year when she surrendered the lead in the stretch to eventual winner Zardana in a runner-up finish in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies on March 13 at Fair Grounds.  The defeat resulted in the scrapping of plans for a match between Rachel Alexandra and the unbeaten Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI)-winning mare Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom (GI) at Oaklawn Park, a race the latter won with ease at the Hot Springs, Ark. track last Friday.

So Rachel Alexandra’s response from Monday’s strong six-furlong workout at Churchill Downs will be significant as her team considers her next move.

“We’re trying to get her back in the rhythm that she had success with last year,” Asmussen said, “because we were very unsuccessful in trying to alter that.”

GENERAL QUARTERS WORKS – Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, 10th in the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and second to Battle Plan in the recent New Orleans Handicap (GII) at Fair Grounds, worked five furlongs in :50.20 over a “fast” track around 9 a.m. ET on Monday.

Jockey Robby Albarado was in the saddle for the work, which ranked 19th among 28 at the distance.  The 4-year-old son of Sky Mesa is preparing for a run in the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day.  General Quarters won the 2009 rrenewal of the Toyota Blue Grass (G) at Keeneland, but has not won since.

WORK TAB (Track – FAST) — In other Monday morning works, multiple stakes winner Acoma breezed four furlongs in :48.80 … Hightap breezed four furlongs in :49.80 … Kensei worked five furlongs in 1:02.20.

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