05/09/2009 11:00PM

Rachel works sharp half-mile at Churchill

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rachel Alexandra could very well be on her way to the Preakness after breezing a sharp half-mile in 48.40 seconds early Sunday over a fast Churchill Downs racetrack.

In her first workout since her smashing Kentucky Oaks victory and since being purchased by a partnership headed by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables, Rachel Alexandra came onto the track with exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard at about 6:25 a.m. Eastern. Entering the backstretch, she was full of energy, and by the time she passed the half-mile pole, she was in full flight. She proceeded through fractions of 12.40 and 24.40 seconds, and down the stretch her ears were pricked with Terry high and virtually motionless in the saddle. She galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.

Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen have said that if Rachel Alexandra continues to flourish, she will make her next start Saturday in the 134th Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore. Asmussen said Sunday that a final decision had not yet been made.

"That's Mr. Jackson's discretion," he said. "Whatever timetable he wants to be on. We're just very fortunate to have her in our care, and we'll just communicate what we think we're seeing."

Asmussen said he thought the Sunday work "went beautiful. . . . I think she's doing extremely well. Every sight of her has been impressive, and I'm just very happy to get this light move in this morning under very good conditions."

Along with other Kentucky-based horses, including several other Preakness prospects, Rachel Alexandra is tentatively booked on a Tex Sutton charter flight to Baltimore on Wednesday morning.

Rachel Alexandra, a 20 1/4-length winner of the May 1 Oaks for her former trainer, Hal Wiggins, was bought for an undisclosed sum last week by Stonestreet and partner Harold T. McCormick. Because she is not nominated to the Triple Crown, the filly would have to be supplemented to the Preakness for a $100,000 fee.

Jockey Calvin Borel has chosen to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness over Mine That Bird, the gelding he rode to a 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby the day after the Oaks.

Asmussen said he has changed cell phone numbers because of the tremendous amount of interest generated by the sale of Rachel Alexandra and the possibility of her running against males in the Preakness.

In two other Sunday works for Preakness prospects at Churchill, Hull, the undefeated winner of the Derby Trial, went five furlongs in 59.40 seconds with Miguel Mena aboard, while Terrain covered the same distance in 1:02.60. Terrain, most recently fourth in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, was ridden by Jamie Theriot when going in company with Map of the World, ridden by Julien Leparoux. Trainer Al Stall Jr. has yet to name a Preakness jockey for Terrain.

Take the Points breezes at Belmont

At Belmont Park, Preakness longshot Take the Points worked five furlongs in 1:00.13 over the training track in company with the Grade 1 winner Monba.

Coming out after the second renovation break, a blinkered Take the Points was into the bridle as his rider, Hector Ramos, attempted to keep him slightly behind Monba, under Angel Cordero, leaving the five-furlong pole.

Take the Points quickly put his head in front, and the two were virtually head and head through three furlongs in 36.01 seconds. Turning into the stretch, Cordero slapped Monba with his reigns and Monba opened up about a half-length. But Take the Points was not discouraged and he closed strongly on his stablemate, finishing up about a half-length in front through a final quarter in 24.12.

Take the Points galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.29.

"He closed a little ground in the last quarter very easily and strode out well," said assistant Jonathan Thomas, who oversaw the work for trainer Todd Pletcher, who was attending a family function in Dallas. "He galloped out nice."

This was the third breeze Take the Points has had wearing blinkers, which were put on at the suggestion of Alex Solis, who rode Take the Points to a fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby. Pletcher has previously said that Take the Points will wear blinkers in the Preakness.

Edgar Prado, who is 2 for 2 on Take the Points - both in one-turn mile races on conventional dirt surfaces - will ride the colt in the Preakness.

Monba, who won the Blue Grass last year, is nominated to a pair of stakes on Saturday at Pimlico: the Grade 3 William Donald Schaefer on dirt and the Grade 2 Dixie Handicap on turf.

- additional reporting by David Grening