07/05/2009 11:00PM

Rachel goes slow and easy at Saratoga

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rachel Alexandra covers four furlongs in 50.67 seconds Monday morning at Saratoga under exercise rider Dominic Terry.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Superstar filly Rachel Alexandra went back to work Monday morning, breezing a half-mile over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga as she prepares for her yet-to-be-determined next start.

Rachel Alexandra breezed a half-mile in 50.67 seconds shortly before 6 a.m. Monday with regular exercise rider Dominic Terry in the irons. Track clockers caught her first quarter in 25 seconds and had her galloping out five furlongs in 1:05.

The work was Rachel Alexandra's first since her record-setting performance in the Mother Goose, a three-horse race she won by a stakes record 19 1/4 lengths while running 1 1/8 miles in a stakes-record 1:46.33.

"It was pretty much a normal work back for us. We weren't out to impress anybody,'' said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. "She breezed well.''

Rachel Alexandra has won all six of her starts this year, including the Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths, and the Preakness, in which she defeated 12 males, including Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

Owner Jess Jackson, who was at Belmont Park on Saturday to watch Kensei win the Dwyer Stakes, said that day no decision had been made on Rachel Alexandra's next start.

The four most likely options, in chronological order, are the $1 million Delaware Handicap against older fillies and mares at Delaware Park on July 19; the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks against 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park on July 25; the $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2; and the $300,000 Go for Wand against older females the same day.

Haskell one possibility for Kensei

Should Jackson and Asmussen opt to pass the Haskell with Rachel Alexandra, they could still be represented in that race with Kensei, who successfully stretched out to win Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths. He earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

"Been waiting on him to do that. He always trained like an absolute monster,'' Asmussen said by phone Monday morning from Dallas. "We'll see how much this race took out of him, but he's been going in the right direction every race.''

Kensei, a son of Mr. Greeley, was sidelined with "minor issues'' according to Blasi, since his sixth-place finish in the Futurity here last Sept. 13. He did not return to the races until April 2 at Oaklawn, where he won a first-level allowance race before a runner-up finish in the Derby Trial and a troubled third-place finish in the Woody Stephens.

Both Asmussen and Blasi said stretching Kensei out around two turns in ether the Haskell or the $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Aug. 1 is an option.

Convocation and Warrior's Reward, second and third behind Kensei in the Dwyer, are both being pointed to the Jim Dandy, their connections said. Convocation, jumping into graded company out of the maiden ranks, rallied from eight lengths back after the opening half-mile to finish within 3 1/4 lengths of the winner. Perhaps more importantly, Convocation put in his most professional effort to date from paddock to post.

"He acted good and ran good,'' trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "We ran against the grain [of the track] pretty good, coming from that far out of it and losing ground around the turn.''

Warrior's Reward, meanwhile, suffered just minor cuts on his legs after stumbling at the start of the Dwyer, trainer Ian Wilkes said. Warrior's Reward was 18 lengths out of it after an opening half-mile, and was beaten 5 1/2 lengths at the finish.

"Calvin [Borel] said it took him a while to gets his legs under him and get comfortable,'' Wilkes said. "That forced him to be further back than I wanted. I wanted to be where Convocation was. I thought he did a tremendous job to get third. I'm pleased in that way, but disappointed your race is gone at the start.''

Warrior's Reward was to have flown back to Kentucky on Tuesday. Wilkes said Warrior's Reward and 12 other of his horses would ship to Saratoga on July 19.

Dry Martini has many options

Though Suburban Handicap winner Dry Martini will be nominated to the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 8, his connections will look at several options for the newly minted millionaire's next start.

The Whitney could be coming up tougher than did the Suburban with the likes of Commentator and Smooth Air pointing that way.

Robin Smullen, assistant to Dry Martini's trainer, Barclay Tagg, said Monday that since Dry Martini handled the 1 1/4 miles of the Suburban so well, two objectives for the fall are the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders' Cup Marathon. Smullen said the Breeders' Cup Classic is possible as well.

The Breeders' Cup is being held at Santa Anita, which utilizes a synthetic surface. While Dry Martini has never raced on synthetics, Smullen suspects the gelding would appreciate it.

"Horses that come from off the pace rally like the synthetics,'' Smullen said. "Plus, he's a little weaker behind than your average Joe.''

One potential spot for Dry Martini to try a synthetic surface is the $300,000 Washington Park Handicap at 1 3/16 miles on Sept. 5 at Arlington Park.

Meanwhile, Suburban runner-up Asiatic Boy will be pointed to the Whitney, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

Zensational may come east

While the Travers will get the bulk of the attention on Aug. 29, the Grade 1 King's Bishop could be shaping up a special event too.

Munnings, who beat older horses in Sunday's Grade 2 Tom Fool, is likely to make his next start in that Grade 1, seven-furlong race. Zensational, who beat older horses in the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday, is possible to show up there as well.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Monday that he is considering shipping Zensational to Saratoga this summer, but it's not definite. Baffert's main goal with this colt is the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Baffert said he's not sure that he wants to go back to the dirt with Zensational, who finished fourth to Kensei in his debut last summer at Saratoga, his only dirt start.

"My main concern is to keep him sound, keep him healthy for the Breeders' Cup,'' Baffert said. "I want him around next year too. Whatever my gut feeling is, we'll do.''

Baffert did say that Zensational would begin the summer stabled at Del Mar, but the only race for him there is the Grade 1 Bing Crosby against older horses on Aug. 8.

* Cornelio Velasquez will start a three-day careless riding suspension on Wednesday. The suspension was reduced from seven days for Velasquez waiving his right of appeal.