SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Following another successful visit to the Jersey Shore, where she won the $400,000 Lady's Secret at Monmouth on Saturday, reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra returned to Saratoga just before 9 a.m. Sunday morning where she will be based for the remainder of the summer and, if all goes well, where she will most likely make her next start.
Jess Jackson, the majority owner of Rachel Alexandra, has previously said that he and trainer Steve Asmussen want to space Rachel Alexandra's races out five weeks apart between now and the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs in November. That, combined with a desire to run Rachel Alexandra 1 1/4 miles, makes the Grade 1 Personal Ensign here on Aug. 29 a likely next race for the 4-year-old filly.
While stopping just short of confirming the Personal Ensign as Rachel Alexandra's next race, Asmussen indicated he is looking forward to trying her at 1 1/4 miles to see if the Breeders' Cup Classic is a possible target.
"Yeah, I am, I definitely am," Asmussen said.
Rachel Alexandra will likely return to the work tab on Aug. 2 with an easy half-mile work before breezing weekly leading up to the Personal Ensign, a race that will likely feature Life at Ten, winner of six consecutive races including the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps and the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap.
"We have Rachel to worry about, not what anyone else is doing," Asmussen said. "You have no control over who runs. [Rachel Alexandra] is running very good, she was fabulously confident yesterday in the post parade."
In the sauna that was Monmouth Park Saturday - the heat index was 104 - Rachel Alexandra won the Lady's Secret Stakes by three lengths over Queen Martha, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.78 under Calvin Borel. Rachel Alexandra received a 105 Beyer Speed Figure -adjusted from a preliminary figure of 110 - for the effort. It was her second straight victory after two losses to begin the year.
Asmussen said the race was very similar to Rachel Alexandra's 10 1/4-length victory in June in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs, a race also run under extremely hot conditions.
"I loved her composure, how she acted," he said. "She wasn't aggravated at all by the heat, she was very relaxed in the race on a loose rein. First thing Calvin said when he came back was he loved how she came home. That's going to be key to what she gets done the rest of the year."
While it appeared that Rachel Alexandra may have veered in a step when she passed Queen Martha, a review of the head-on replay shows that Joe Bravo, aboard Queen Martha, wanted to get his filly off the rail and to the outside.
"When she cleared him he came out," Asmussen said of Bravo, before adding that Rachel Alexandra "ran straight as a string."
Rachel Alexandra looked quite healthy when she came off the horse van just before 9 a.m. Sunday. After a brief visit to her stall - where she buried her head in a bucket of water - she took a stroll around the walking ring to get her bath and then took a few more turns before returning to her stall where she perched herself at the back to look out a window.