03/02/2010 12:00AM

Rachel Alexandra has six-furlong work

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Lynn Roberts
Rachel Alexandra and Dominic Terry pass stablemate Depaul and Brian Hernandez Jr. during her work in company Tuesday at Fair Grounds.

NEW ORLEANS - Though the Fair Grounds track had closed for training, most of the trainers remained Tuesday morning, lining the backstretch rail to watch Rachel Alexandra work in company.

They were not disappointed, as Rachel Alexandra put in her last major move before her March 13 return to racing, working in company and going six furlongs in 1:13.60.

Trainer Steve Asmussen was pleased with the work, though it was a little slower than 1:12 he was aiming for.

"I was hoping she would go a little quicker," said Asmussen. "The main thing is that she is healthy and this is a step to getting her back to her previous level."

At 10:30 am, after the track had been harrowed and closed to other horses, Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year, arrived with regular rider Dominic Terry aboard, and assistant trainer Scott Blasi on a pony. Rachel Alexandra was preceded to the track by workmate Depaul, and Asmussen trailed on pony.

Blasi accompanied Rachel Alexandra to the finish line, where he turned her loose, more than five lengths behind workmate Depaul.

The two galloped toward the three-quarter pole, then began to work in earnest.

With Depaul a length in front, Rachel Alexandra, under heavy restraint by Terry, went through slow early fractions of 13.00, 25.60, and 38.20 seconds, before Terry let her begin to catch her workmate.

"It was how fast her company was, and us wanting to keep her off of it," said Asmussen, explaining the time of the work. "It was a little slower from the five-eighths to the three-eighths, but Dominic was restraining her."

As the two entered the turn, Rachel Alexandra began moving forward, drawing even in midstretch, and blowing by just before the eighth pole. She finished six lengths in front of Depaul.

For Terry, the work was Rachel Alexandra's usual professional work.

"She was a little keen, but she sat off that horse really nicely," said Terry. "She stayed with her left lead, trying to stay with the other horse, then switched and went past."

Asmussen said that Tuesday's move was likely to be the last intense workout before Rachel Alexandra runs first race as a 4-year-old.

"We built up to this point," said Asmussen. "From here we need to back off, let her catch her breath. Her last workout will be a half-mile, and we won't be looking for speed, just fluid and relaxed."

The track was in good condition after being inundated by rain Monday night, and Asmussen was glad to get the work in and remain on schedule for the March 13 New Orleans Ladies. The race is meant as a prep for Rachel Alexandra's scheduled meeting with Zenyatta in the April 9 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn.

"We are still on course for the New Orleans Ladies," said Asmussen. "We'll need to get something out of that race to move forward."