02/01/2010 1:00AM

Rachel has first work back


NEW ORLEANS - Rachel Alexandra worked Sunday morning for the first time since her Sept. 5 victory in the Woodward, going a half-mile in 52 seconds at Fair Grounds.

The 2009 Horse of the Year emerged from her barn at 6:25 a.m., with regular exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard and accompanied on pony by Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.

Accompanied by the pony, she walked the wrong way until past the finish line, where Blasi turned her around and accompanied her before turning her loose on the backstretch.

Terry kept her in the middle of the track at a slow gallop for the better part of the backstretch, as Rachel Alexandra seemed eager to get into gear, turning her head toward the inner part of the track. Terry allowed her to run in earnest between the half-mile pole and the three-eighths pole, and she worked to the wire.

The work was the first of what will be a series of weekly breezes for Rachel Alexandra, and pleased Blasi.

"Dominic does a great job, a perfect work," said Blasi. "You have to trick her into going that slow. I asked for a touch slower, but it's physically impossible for her."

For Terry the work was Rachel's usual professional effort.

"Perfect as always," said Terry. "She was relaxed and steady. Covered the ground great and galloped out very nicely."

Her 2010 campaign remains undetermined.

"We'll progress from here, and she'll breeze weekly from here on," said Blasi. "I am happy with how manageable she is, and how happy she is to be out there. You can tell by her body language."

Though she had not had a timed work since her victory in the Woodward, she has jogged for the past two months at the Fair Grounds, as Asmussen has brought her slowly back into training.

Rachel Alexandra won all eight of her races in 2009, including three victories over males, in the Preakness, the Haskell and the Woodward. She won the 2009 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year over Zenyatta, who has also returned to training. Whether they will meet has not been determined.