09/08/2009 12:00AM

Rachel 'not likely' to run again this year

Barbara D. Livingston
Rachel Alexandra edges Macho Again in the Woodward.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Rachel Alexandra will most likely not run again this year, but will be considered for a 4-year-old campaign in 2010, majority owner Jess Jackson said Sunday, the day after his superstar became the first female horse to win the in the 56-year history of the race.

"Not likely," Jackson said Sunday in his box seat at Saratoga when asked if Rachel Alexandra would run again in 2009. "She had a campaign since winter, this is the fall. She's raced more races in two years than most fillies ever run. She's done things that no fillies have ever done. She deserves a rest."

On Saturday, Rachel Alexandra won a dramatic renewal of the Woodward, racing on the lead while being tested through fast fractions and holding off the Grade 1 winner Macho Again by a head. She added the Woodward - against older males - to a resume that includes wins against 3-year-old males in the Preakness and Haskell Invitational and dominant victories against her own sex in the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose.

"To imagine what a 3-year-old filly's done - she's not a 3-year-old filly, she's Rachel," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "She's a very special horse. For the races that she's run recently and the way she did it yesterday under those circumstances, she proved her mettle."

Rachel Alexandra is 8 for 8 in 2009 - all stakes wins - and has won nine consecutive races and 11 of 14 for her career. She has earned $2,948,354.

Jackson said he could sense that Rachel Alexandra "was a little tired yesterday" even before the race. "What she won with was her determination and pure guts," Jackson said. "Every time they challenged her - and they challenged her four or five times - she responded."

Jackson said he would like to run Rachel Alexandra next year, but would not commit to doing so until he sees how she acts in the coming months.

"I want Rachel to continue to entertain fans and build her legacy through next year if possible, but that will depend on her," Jackson said.

Rachel Alexandra came out of her stirring head victory over Macho Again in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward victory in good order, but a little tired, according to Asmussen.

"She ate good last night, but she was laying down when we came in this morning, but she lays down a lot," Asmussen said Sunday morning.

Now that Rachel Alexandra has defeated older males in the Woodward, Jackson acknowledged that a showdown with the undefeated mare Zenyatta was less appealing to him.

"It was never high on my agenda because I don't think Zenyatta wants to run in the East and we're not going to run in the West," he said. "They have a hell of a horse, and if she finishes up never defeated that's a great result to shoot for."

The New York Racing Association was trying to stage a Zenyatta-Rachel matchup in the Beldame, by getting Betfair/TVG to sponsor a purse enhancement to the race that would have made it a $1 million race.

Asmussen said Rachel Alexandra would likely go back to the track on Wednesday, primarily because "she's a very physical animal. She's going to want to do something."

Rachel Alexandra will remain in Saratoga most likely until the end of September when Asmussen moves the bulk of his stable to Kentucky.

Rachel Alexandra earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 109 for the Woodward victory.

Woodward runner-up Macho Again came out of the race well, according to trainer Dallas Stewart, who was still smarting from the narrow loss.

"I ain't dealing with it too well," Stewart said Sunday morning.

Stewart said Macho Again would ship back to Churchill Downs on Wednesday and that a decision on his next start would be made after he trains. Following Macho Again's second-place finish in the Whitney, Stewart had initially thought about skipping the Woodward to await the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 3, a race that is still possible for him.

"If he goes home and trains good, and feels good and everything's in good order, we'll be ready to rock and roll," Stewart said. "But he's got to tell us."

Bullsbay, who was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Rachel Alexandra, will ship back to the Fair Hill training center in Maryland on Thursday, according to trainer Graham Motion. Motion was happy that Bullsbay ran so well, which helped validate his victory in the Whitney Handicap earlier in the meet.

"You're always thrilled to be that competitive, but there's a tinge of disappointment," Motion said. "I think he proved his Whitney wasn't a fluke. Him and Macho Again kind of traded races. They're very comparable to each other, and the filly's just extraordinary."

While Bullsbay's Whitney victory earned him an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Classic, to be run on the synthetic track at Santa Anita, Motion said he and his owners have yet to sit down and map out a fall campaign.

"It's a tough one because he seems to be a superior dirt horse," Motion said. "Whether we want to take on the Europeans on synthetic I don't know. I think the [Dirt] Mile is another option. We've really got to sit down and figure it out."