02/12/2010 12:00AM

Rachel to make 2010 debut at Fair Grounds

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NEW ORLEANS - Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra will make her first start of the year in the March 13 New Orleans Ladies in preparation for her scheduled race against Zenyatta in the April 9 Apple Blossom.

Owner Jess Jackson told Fair Grounds officials Thursday night that Rachel Alexandra would be pointed to the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies, created by the Fair Grounds this season in the hope that Rachel Alexandra would use the race to begin her 2010 campaign.

"There are other tracks that have offered to have us go, but right now we would prefer to stay here," Jackson said.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has been conditioning Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds, and has given her two half-mile breezes in the last two weeks.

Rachel Alexandra has not raced since her victory in the Grade 1 Woodward on September 5, 2009.

While Jackson feels that Rachel Alexandra will be ready for both races, the unusually wet winter has her connections concerned about her ability to prepare for the upcoming races, and her first meeting with Zenyatta.

"It's not anyone's fault, but with the rain and the track conditions it's been a serious setback to Rachel's routine," Jackson said. "When you're training a horse, it's an animal that needs to have a regular routine and Steve's been hard-pressed to keep her going given the weather."

While Rachel Alexandra is scheduled to work again on Friday morning, the weather may work against the training schedule, with rain predicted to fall throughout Thursday night.