Rachel Alexandra Plays It Cool With Easy Work on Muggy Monday

Jun 21, 2010 John Asher and Gary YIunt

CHAMPION RACHEL ALEXANDRA TAKES IT EASY ON MUGGY MORNING AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra returned to serious training after her 10 ½-length romp in the $200,000-added Fleur de Lis (Grade II) on June 12 with an easy half-mile work on a muggy Monday at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Steve Asmussen’s 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro breezed four furlongs over a fast track in :51.20.  Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan was in the saddle as Rachel Alexandra covered the distance in fractional splits of :12.40 and :25.20 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:05.20.

'She went fine,” said Asmussen.  “It’s a ridiculously hot morning, you know?  That’s a big concern.  It’s time to get out and go north.”

Asmussen had planned to ship Rachel Alexandra to New York’s Saratoga Race Course on July 5, the day after the 42-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs closes.   But as an unusually warm spring in the Louisville area turns the page to summer today, he is considering moving travel plans up a few days for Rachel Alexandra and other members of his Churchill Downs stable.

It was a humid 81 degrees when Rachel Alexandra breezed around 6:30 a.m. (all times EDT) and conditions were so humid that camera lenses immediately fogged up when lens caps were removed by photographers hoping to record the champion’s work.

“I think we’ve got to get out of this weather,” he said.  “The flag’s stuck to the pole today.”
Asmussen was concerned in the days after her victory on a hot afternoon in the Fleur De Lis that there might be some residual effect from her big effort in those conditions, but he said she appeared fine when she returned to training in the middle of last week.

“She acts like the rest of us do right now – it’s hot,” he said.  “Her weight’s good and she’s very sound, and her strength is good.  But it’s hot.  We’d all feel better if it was about 20 degrees cooler.”

Owned by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Farm and Harold McCormick, Rachel Alexandra’s has a career record of 12-4-0 in 17 races and has earned $3,216,730.  The Fleur de Lis victory was her first in three starts in 2010.

BARN TALK – Trainer Ken McPeek returned to the blast furnace that was Kentucky on Sunday night after 2 ½ weeks in England where he ran three horses at the Royal Ascot meet. “It was in the 60s over there and it was great for the horses,” McPeek said. “All three horses are doing well and will fly to New York on Wednesday.” Headlining the trio was fifth-place Kentucky Derby (GI) finisher Noble’s Promise, who ran fifth in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (GI) at a mile. McPeek’s other runners, both 2-year-olds, finished third: Tiz My Time in the six-furlong Group III Albany Stakes and Casper’s Touch in the Chasham Stakes at seven furlongs. First up on McPeek’s docket at Churchill Downs is Saturday’s Debutante Stakes (GIII), in which the trainer will seek his first victory in the race with Salty Strike. “She is a real nice filly and Calvin (Borel) will ride her,” McPeek said of the homebred filly owned by Craig Singer. Salty Strike broke her maiden in her first start on May 14, winning by 4 ¼ lengths in one of the faster five-furlong sprints of the meet (:57.79).  The two fillies right behind her that day, Blue Orleans and Le Mi Geaux, came back to break their maidens in their next starts. …

Trainer Tom Amoss said that plans are indefinite for Backtalk, who ran third Saturday night in the $400,000 Red Legend at Charles Town in his first start since finishing 20th in the Kentucky Derby. “He came out of the race fine and he is back here,” Amoss said. “The horse that won (Comedero) is a good horse and we knew that going in. We just took a chance.” …

Ready’s Rocket, one of only seven horses since 1976 to win eight times at Churchill Downs, gets his shot at No. 9 on Friday in the second race, a seven-furlong starter/allowance test.

WORK TAB – Hull, winner of the 2009 Derby Trial, worked a half-mile in :47.20 over a fast track, best of 54 at the distance. … Eight Belles (GIII) runner-up Visavis covered the same distance in :47.40, which ranked as the second-fastest half-mile work. … Other half-mile works of notes included Matt Winn winner Thiskyhasnolimit (:49), Aristides (GIII) winner Riley Tucker (:49.80), fifth-place Belmont Stakes (GI) runner Stay Put (:51.20) and four-time Churchill Downs stakes winner Acoma (:51.80). Grade I winner Hot Dixie Chick worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 and 2009 Jim Dandy (GII) winner Kensei worked six furlongs in 1:14.60.

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