08/10/2009 11:00PM

Rachel has first work since Haskell

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rachel Alexandra draws a crowd Tuesday at Saratoga as she works for the first time since her win in the Haskell.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A decision on where leading Horse of the Year contender Rachel Alexandra will make her next start won't be announced for at least another week. On Tuesday, however, the superstar filly gave an early indication that she will be ready to run whenever and wherever owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen wish.

In her first work since defeating the boys in the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2, Rachel Alexandra worked four furlongs in 50.72 seconds Tuesday over the Oklahoma training track. Under regular exercise rider Dominic Terry, Rachel Alexandra went her first quarter in 26.22 and her last quarter in 24.50 while galloping out five furlongs in 1:04.47 and pulling up six furlongs in 1:20.18.

"I was very pleased, she went great as usual," Terry said. "She gave me goose bumps just like she does every week. I told [assistant trainer Scott Blasi] you could run her right now."

When Rachel Alexandra won the Haskell - beating the boys for the second time this year - it was her seventh win from as many starts this year and eighth straight overall dating back to Nov. 29. Terry marvels at how well the filly has handled her campaign.

"I wonder when she's going to get tired and lose that energy level, honestly," Terry said. "Especially after that last race, you'd think she'd be a little flat at some point, and she's just not, and that's what makes her different. That's what makes her special, and that's why we have the confidence in her we do."

Trainer Steve Asmussen reiterated that Rachel Alexandra would be nominated to four races at Saratoga - the $600,000 Alabama on Aug. 22, the $1 million Travers on Aug. 29, the $300,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 30, and the $500,000 Woodward on Sept. 5 - in addition to the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 7.

The Alabama, Travers, and Personal Ensign are at 1 1/4 miles, while the other two are at 1 1/8 miles. Asmussen said he would feel comfortable running Rachel Alexandra at 1 1/4 miles.

"Absolutely," he said. "The further you go, the more the race sorts out. The more the race sorts out, I think the better it is for her."

Asmussen indicated that part of the decision on where Rachel Alexandra runs will be predicated on where he and Jackson opt to run Kensei, the Jim Dandy winner, who also will be nominated to the Travers, Woodward, and Pennsylvania Derby. Asmussen said that in discussions he has had with Jackson, he has been led to believe that Rachel Alexandra and Kensei will not run in the same race.

Both Rachel Alexandra and Kensei are scheduled to work next Monday, and a decision on where each runs could be made soon after those moves are evaluated.

Rachel Alexandra worked at 6 a.m. on the Oklahoma track with an ever-growing legion of fans and media following her from the barn to the track. Conditions Tuesday morning were cloudy and humid, but dry as forecasted showers never materialized.

"I thought the weather was the big concern this morning," Asmussen said. "She's looked beautiful all week. I feel very good about where she's at."