03/11/2010 12:00AM

Rachel visits gate, gallops in fog


NEW ORLEANS - Regardless of how little she might be doing, it's always entertaining merely seeing the charismatic filly Rachel Alexandra go through her daily paces during morning training hours.

The trick Thursday at Fair Grounds was seeing her at all.

When Rachel left trainer Steve Asmussen's barn and headed out to the racetrack just before 7 on Thursday morning, Fair Grounds was enshrouded by fog so dense that the finish line could not be seen from the clockers stand at the half-mile pole.

Out in the murk, Rachel backtracked the wrong way from the half-mile gap, around the clubhouse turn, and down the homestretch, stopping at the starting gate that is set up every morning in the short chute at the top of the stretch. There, Rachel stood in a gate stall for a couple minutes before being backed out and galloping a mile under Dominic Terry. Her training session Thursday took place about 35 minutes later than usual because of the gate visit.

Asmussen said Rachel Alexandra appeared completely comfortable visiting the starting gate, her third such schooling session this winter in New Orleans. Rachel has been overly eager to run during morning exercise, but was relaxed in the gate and on a trip to the paddock during the races Monday, which Asmussen called "tremendous."

"She carries herself with a lot of confidence," Asmussen said.

Rachel Alexandra has one final day of training left Friday before making her 2010 debut in the New Orleans Ladies on Saturday. Asmussen said she would be schooled in the paddock again before Friday's fourth race.