08/23/2010 9:00AM

Rachel Alexandra has final drill for Personal Ensign

Barbara D. Livingston
Rachel Alexandra comes back after working before daybreak at Saratoga's Oklahoma training track.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Despite less than ideal conditions, Rachel Alexandra got in her final workout for Sunday’s Grade 1 Personal Ensign when breezing a half mile in 48.80 seconds over a muddy and sealed Oklahoma training track on Monday morning.

Trainer Steve Asmussen sent jockey Shaun Bridgmohan out to work a maiden 2-year-old named Malibu Cougar shortly after the training track opened to get a feel for the footing. Once assured the surface was safe, Asmussen then brought Rachel Alexandra out at her usual work time shortly before 6 a.m.

With Bridgmohan aboard, Rachel Alexandra broke off at the half-mile pole and went at an even pace throughout, posting opening and final quarter-mile splits of 24.40 before galloping out five-eighths in 1:03.18.

“I was very concerned about the weather but they did a good job with the racetrack,” Asmussen said as Rachel Alexandra cooled out back at the barn. “It was safe and she went over it well. Shaun did a great job getting her away from the pole and into a rhythm. She seemed really happy.”

Rachel Alexandra opened her 2010 campaign with a pair of narrow losses in the New Orleans Ladies and Grade 2 La Troienne. But she’s bounced back with easy wins in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap and Lady’s Secret at Monmouth Park. The reigning Horse of the Year turned in the most memorable performance of her career here last summer when outgaming Macho Again and a field of males to capture the Grade 1 Woodward.

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“I’m very pleased with her right now,” said Asmussen. “She’s a year older now and carries a little more weight than she did when she ran here last summer. She’s more relaxed, happy, and loose. She knows what her job is now. Her last race was very good and hopefully this race will be a building block, a bridge, towards the rest of the year.”

Rachel Alexandra is expected to face her stiffest test in the Personal Ensign from Grade 1 winner Life At Ten. The two favorites will head a compact lineup that is also expected to include Miss Singhsix and Classofsixtythree. Both Milwaukee Appeal and Persistently are listed as possible starters.
Trainer Scott Fairlie said he would likely cross-enter Milwaukee Appeal in both the Personal Ensign and the Molly Pitcher, which is to be run the same day at Monmouth Park.

“I’m still considering the Personal Ensign, although at this point I’m probably leaning towards going to Monmouth,” Fairlie said on Monday.

In her only previous start at Saratoga, Milwaukee Appeal finished a distant second last summer behind Careless Jewel in the Grade 1 Alabama.