Rachel Alexandra puts in strong work for Personal Ensign

Aug 16th, 2010 | By TrackSide View | Category: Articles, Champions, Racetrack Reports

Jenny Kellner
NYRA/Saratoga Race Course

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – With Barbara Banke, wife of co-owner Jess Jackson, looking on from Saratoga Race Course’s historic grandstand, reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra turned in a strong six-furlong move over the main track this morning in preparation for the Grade 1, $300,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 29.

Under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, the 4-year-old filly went out shortly after 6 a.m. on a warm and cloudy morning, with NYRA clockers catching her in 1:13 1/5, galloping out in 1:25 4/5, with a double gallop-out in 1:39.

“I thought she did really well,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “Shaun did a great job with her away from the pole. She settled in nicely. It was a nice, solid, strong work, with a very big gallop-out, ideal for the mile-and-a-quarter that she is pointed towards.

“She was off (the first eighth) in :13, then she came off the bridle for him, very relaxed, her ears forward,  stuck in a bunch of :12 and changes, came home just a tad better the last quarter, and her gallop out was strong,” he added. “That rhythm, because of the 1¼ miles, is what we were looking for. That’s where she is … I feel she is more relaxed in the middle of her works than she was last year.”

Banke said she was delighted with the way Rachel went.

“It was tremendous,” said Banke, who noted the Personal Ensign falls on her birthday. “I loved watching her and loved watching the gallop-out, that was really fun. I think she’ll be ready.”

While Rachel’s first two works for the Personal Ensign were over the Oklahoma training track, Asmussen said the decision to have her go to the main track was due in part to the success she had following a similar schedule for last year’s Grade 1 Woodward.

“Last year before the Woodward, it was weather-related,” he said, adding that Rachel will have one more work next Monday before the Personal Ensign, her first start at 1¼ miles. “(But with the) success of that, (we) tried to follow the same pattern in some sense.”

With the Personal Ensign, Rachel’s first Grade 1 race of the year, less than two weeks away, Asmussen said he felt the atmosphere surrounding the filly was beginning to intensify.

“I definitely feel the buildup to it,” he said. “I thought her work last week was very good but you can tell the intensity from everybody has stepped up a notch with Mr. Jackson’s decision to run her in the Personal Ensign. I’m very comfortable with her condition leading up to it.”

In the Personal Ensign, Rachel will be returning to the site of one of her most dramatic victories. Last year at Saratoga, she completed a perfect 8-for-8 season with a historic win over older males and became the first filly to win the Grade 1 Woodward.

Fans of Rachel Alexandra can follow the 4-year-old filly as she readies for the Personal Ensign on her own website, “Rachel’s Sandbox,” a multimedia site which gives fans an interactive experience and allows them to keep up with the latest news and information.

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