Reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra completed her serious preparation for a planned return to competition on Saturday with a half-mile work on a cool late spring Monday at Churchill Downs.
Now all that is left to be determined is which race she will be running in.
Stonestreet Farm and Harold McCormick’s 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro covered the distance over a fast track in :49.40 under restraint from jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
Rachel Alexandra, who is trained by Steve Asmussen, worked in fractional times of :12.60 and :25 and she galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.80.
“The weather’s great this morning – it’s a nice cool morning,” said Asmussen. “Everything seemed very comfortable.”
Stonestreet Farm’s Jess Jackson and Asmussen have yet to make a formal announcement on Rachel Alexandra’s next race. There are four options, including two at her home track in Saturday’s $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) and $200,000-added Fleur De Lis (GII). She would face males in the former, while the Fleur De Lis is limited to fillies and mares ages 3 and up. Her other options are the Ogden Phipps (GI) for older fillies and mares at Belmont Park and the Obeah (GIII) for the same division at Delaware Park. All of the races are scheduled for Saturday, June 12.
Rachel Alexandra’s work ranked as the 15th fastest of 45 on the morning work tab at Churchill Downs.
The champion filly has a career record of 11-4-0 in 16 races with earnings of $3,074,050. She is coming off a narrow loss to Unrivaled Belle in the $400,000 La Troienne (GII) on April 30 at Churchill Downs – her second loss in as many 2010 races following a perfect eight-race campaign in 2009.
She has raced seven times at Churchill Downs and is 3-3-0 in those races, with the highlight of her local races being a record-smashing 20 ¼-length victory in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks (GI). She also won Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod (GII) at two.
SATURDAY STAKES FIELDS TAKING SHAPE – While Rachel Alexandra holds the key to the field size for Saturday’s 36th running of the $200,000-added Fleur De Lis Handicap (GII), there is no shortage of horses lining up for a shot at the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) no matter what the reigning Horse of the Year does.
Churchill Downs racing officials list eight horses as probable and three as possible for the 29th running of the Stephen Foster at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Probable starters and their weight assignments are Arson Squad (120), Blame (120), General Quarters (120), Battle Plan (119), Duke of Mischief (116), Macho Again (116), Giant Oak (115) and Honest Man (115). The possible starters are No Advantage (117), Demarcation (115) and A.U. Miner (113).
Rachel Alexandra, assigned 118 pounds for the Stephen Foster and 124 for the Fleur De Lis, was assigned 123 pounds for the Ogden Phipps Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park on Saturday and would carry 117 pounds in the Obeah (GIII) at Delaware Park, the other races Saturday for which owner Jess Jackson said Rachel Alexandra possibly could run.
Possible Fleur De Lis starters, pending a Rachel Alexandra decision are Made for Magic (117) and Distinctive Dixie (114).
Three other graded stakes for 3-year-olds are on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Alumni Day card and plenty of sophomores are lining up for the two turf races: the 41st running of the $125,000-added Regret (GIII) for fillies at 1 1/8 miles and the 35th running of the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles.
Probables for the Regret include Ambitioness, Beautician, Caminadora, Dynazaper, Frances Gardner, It’s Tea Time, Jody Slew, Joharmony, Laura Babe, Queen of the Creek and Snow Top Mountain.
Probables for the Jefferson Cup include Asphalt, Connemara, Formulaforsuccess, Gleam of Hope, Our Douglas, Psychic Income and Scottkeith’skitten. Possible for the race is Don’t Tell Kitten.
The $125,000-added Northern Dancer (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles on the main track had only two probables as of Monday in Colizeo and Crider with Northern Giant considered as a possible starter.
MINE THAT BIRD TO WORK TUESDAY MORNING – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird is scheduled to work Tuesday morning at 8:30 with jockey Calvin Borel up.
It will be the third work for the 2009 Kentucky Derby (GI) winner since the gelded son of Birdstone joined the barn of D. Wayne Lukas on May 20.
Mine That Bird worked three furlongs in :35.20 under Dominic Terry on May 26 and then on June 2 worked a half-mile in :48 under Borel.
WORK TAB – Jay Em Ess Stable’s Arson Squad, winner of the Alysheba (GIII) in his most recent start, completed major preparations for a likely Stephen Foster Handicap start by working five furlongs in 1:04.60. … Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner
Tapitsfly worked a half-mile in :50.60. … Edgewood winner Dynazaper, prepping for a
probable start in Saturday’s Regret, worked a half-mile in :49. … Aristides (GIII) winner Riley Tucker worked a half-mile in :52.40. … Matt Winn and Iroquois (GIII) winner Thiskyhasnolimit worked six furlongs in 1:13.80.