08/17/2009 12:00AM

Rachel Alexandra cuts through morning fog


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A sixteenth of a mile was long enough for trainer Steve Asmussen to realize just how well Rachel Alexandra is doing. Now, after he imparts that bit of knowledge to owner Jess Jackson, perhaps a decision on where the queen of American racing will make her next start will be forthcoming.

Though most of her work was not visible because of a thick fog that enveloped Saratoga Springs on Monday morning, Rachel Alexandra was flying through the stretch at the conclusion of a five-furlong workout timed in 1:00.37 over the Oklahoma training track. It was the most serious bit of exercise Rachel Alexandra has had since winning the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational by six lengths Aug. 2.

"Off an incredible performance, she's still doing tremendous," Asmussen said.

Rachel Alexandra was one of several 3-year-olds to put in serious works over a 24-hour period. Many of those 3-year-olds - Mine That Bird, Quality Road, Kensei, and Warrior's Reward - are pointing to the $1 million Travers on Aug. 29. Rachel Alexandra is also under consideration for the Travers, but she is also nominated to Saturday's Grade 1 Alabama, the $300,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 30, the $500,000 Woodward on Sept. 5, and the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 7. According to Asmussen, nothing's been eliminated.

"Discussions of where to run her and Kensei next will begin in earnest now," said Asmussen, who said he planned to talk with Jackson on Monday.

Kensei, the Dwyer and Jim Dandy winner, came out at 5:40 a.m. along with stablemate Schneerson, a 4-year-old maiden, and the fog was so thick and daylight still hidden that little could be seen. In an effort to get an accurate time of these works, clocker Bryan Walls left the clockers' stand with a walkie-talkie and went to the infield to track where the horses would break off from. As the horses got to the five-furlong pole Walls called out "ready, set, go."

Five furlongs later, after emerging from the fog, Kensei, under exercise rider Dominic Terry, was timed in 1:01.85, while finishing about a half-length in front of Schneerson.

"He went by great, with good energy, moving very well," Asmussen said. "Dominic thought that he felt super, that he was out very strong, and he seemed to cool out real well as well."

Fifteens minutes later, with the fog dissipating every so slightly, Rachel Alexandra, under Terry, walked onto the track, accompanied by her stable pony. Rachel Alexandra backed up to the eighth pole before turning around and getting into her work. Again, Walls alerted the clockers as the filly approached the five-furlong pole. She emerged from the fog like a speeding bullet and continued on out into the far turn.

"Clockers did a nice job to catch her. She looked beautiful coming through the lane," Asmussen said.

Not long after Rachel Alexandra worked over the training track, her regular rider, Calvin Borel, climbed aboard Jim Dandy runner-up Warrior's Reward and guided him through a five-furlong move in 1:00.26 over the main track. It was the fastest of 12 moves at the distance.

"I wanted to see him finish a little bit, I wanted to see him punch down the lane," said Ian Wilkes, trainer of Warrior's Reward. "The main thing I wanted was just a nice, solid work out of him today. I got him galloping out in 1:12 and two. Things are good. He's doing good."

After the renovation break, Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird worked a modest five furlongs in 1:03.83, though he came home the final quarter in 24.21 seconds under Jamie Theriot.

On Sunday, Quality Road, who may very well go off the Travers favorite, worked a strong six furlongs in 1:12.76 in company with the Grade 1-winning mare Unbridled Belle. It was his first work for Quality Road since he set a Saratoga track record for 6 1/2 furlongs when he won the Amsterdam Stakes here on Aug. 3.

Quality Road will be attempting to win the Travers at 1 1/4 miles with just one 6 1/2-furlong race and a few works in the interim.

"Up to this point right now, everything could not have gone better," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who took over the training of Quality Road on June 15.

Magical Affair done for the year

Magical Affair, expected to be one of the choices in Friday's Lake Placid Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, is out for the year after suffering a condylar fracture in her right foreleg following a workout last Friday, trainer Michael Matz said.