06/17/2009 12:00AM

Plans set for Rachel's comeback at Belmont


ELMONT, N.Y. - Rachel Alexandra will kick off the second half of her 3-year-old season by returning to face her own gender in the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes on June 27 at Belmont Park, her connections officially announced Wednesday.

The Mother Goose, a one-turn, 1 1/8-mile race restricted to 3-year-old fillies, will be Rachel Alexandra's first start since she defeated males in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 16. That victory came two weeks after she won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths, which prompted Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick to buy her privately from owners Dolphus Morrison and Mike Lauffer. The horse was then transferred from trainer Hal Wiggins to Steve Asmussen.

Rachel Alexandra has breezed four times since the Preakness, including a sharp six-furlong drill in 1:12 on Monday at Churchill Downs. She is scheduled to work again next Monday at Churchill before shipping to New York on Tuesday.

"Rachel is rested, healthy, and ready to run," Jackson said in a press release issued Wednesday morning. "On Monday, she turned in a very strong six-furlong work galloping out seven furlongs around the clubhouse turn in 1:24.80."

Rachel Alexandra has won all five of her starts this year and six straight overall going back to last November's Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs. Her presence in the Mother Goose will likely attract a few more fans to Belmont, but it will make the racing office's job of filling the race a bit more difficult.

The Mother Goose closed with 24 nominations. Among those who are already confirmed for the race are Godolphin Stable's Flashing, winner of the Nassau County Stakes; and Malibu Prayer, a Malibu Moon filly owned by Ed Evans and trained by Todd Pletcher who has won her last two races by a combined 20o1/4 lengths. Trainer Mark Hennig said he is seriously considering running Florida Oaks winner Don't Forget Gil as well. Hopeful Image, a recent second-level allowance winner, is possible.

Racing secretary P.J. Campo said he hopes to get at least a five-horse field.

"It's still a Grade 1, it's still $300,000, it's still a prestigious race - we're very happy to have her," Campo said. "There are some good fillies out there. Hopefully we can get five or six and go from there."

Only four horses ran in last year's Mother Goose, won by Music Note.