The Brock Talk

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Final Rachel Alexandra Work Has A Look...

Trainer Steve Asmussen put 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra through her final serious work at Fair Grounds Monday in preparation for her first race of the year Saturday in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes. Going a half-mile in 49 seconds while under the careful hold of exercise rider Dominic Terry, Rachel Alexandra easily covered the first quarter of a mile in 25.20 before straightening away for the final quarter in 23.80 and galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.80.

Rachel Alexandra will be making her first start in the 1-1/16 miles Ladies since winning the grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes over older males Macho Again and Bullsbay at Saratoga Sept. 5 six months ago.

Asmussen has expressed concerns to the media regarding Rachel Alexandra's fitness coming into the New Orleans Ladies and I'm sure that concern is justified knowing how he manages his stable with precise timing of training regimes in relation to condition books and stakes schedules. In December and January, I doubt Asmussen was planning on a confrontation with Breeders' Cup Classic winner Zenyatta in early April.

But Rachel at 75% should be enough to win the Ladies and give her ample time to further prepare for her bout against Zenyatta in the $5 million Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in early April.

Based on Rachel Alexandra's demeanor during her assigned workout on Monday - I doubt she cares. As Terry guides her out of a gallop and into the work at the 5/8ths pole (the first green and white pole you see in the video), Rachel seems intent on the cantering horses to her outside, repeatedly turning her head towards them.

As the red and white four furlong pole passes and Terry asked Rachel to begin the work, her attention stays on her fellow thoroughbreds going about their more leisurely morning business to her outside, as if to say "come on!" Not until she leaves the busy morning backstretch, does she turn her attention toward her work. Just passed the trees, she passes the last galloper to her outside and begins to stride out without any urging from Terry, looking just as professional as possible, changing leads as if on script.

Through the stretch, Rachel Alexandra keeps her ears pricked as if asking Terry "when can we run?" until the finish line when she twist her ears in frustration as if knowing the work is done with no conquest. Then as she gallops out around the turn, Rachel Alexandra seems to offer one last challenge to a seemingly innocent galloping fellow equine galloping in the middle of the track. You can see Terry tug on the left reign telling Rachel "not today."

The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro has drawn post position number 2 in the New Orleans Ladies and will be facing just four other rivals.

John Sherriffs, the trainer of Zenyatta, will be shipping grade 2 Bayakoa Stakes winner Zardana from California to New Orleans for the Ladies and is the most likely challenger. In her most recent start, the Brazilian-bred Zardana finished fourth in the grade 2 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita.

The Ladies field also includes Unforgotten, a multiple stakes winner of $548,563; and Clear Sailing and Fighter Wing, the first two finishers respectively in the Pelleteri Stakes at Fair Grounds in February.

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