Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra to take vacation after historic Woodward Stakes victory
BY Jerry Bossert
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Monday, September 7th 2009, 4:00 AM
SARATOGA SPRINGS - With Rachel Alexandra peering out of her stall, trainer Steve Asmussen joked with reporters Sunday morning saying, "Are you going to ask me where she'll run next? Good luck."
Of course, racing fans want to know if the super filly will race again this year after her stirring head victory over Macho Again in Saturday's Grade I Woodward Stakes, but it doesn't appear as if she will.
"She needs, I think four or five months off," said majority owner Jess Jackson. "I'm leaning towards letting her take a long furlough. She needs a vacation. It's my instinct that she needs it. I think we're helping her more by keeping her fit and running her next year."
Jackson believes his filly was not 100% when she won the Woodward.
"You can tell she was slightly down going into the race yesterday, which I think is due to the fact that she's had a long campaign and she's been tested and she's met everyone of them," he said. "The result of that race yesterday with her being down must of exhausted her. She's going to need a long recoupment even if she should race."
One thing for sure is that she will not participate in the Nov.6-7 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, because of the synthetic Pro-Ride surface.
Even the Oct. 3 Beldame at Belmont Park is doubtful, despite the promise of a $1 million purse if both Rachel and the undefeated mare Zenyatta show up.
"Not at that purse level," the founder of Kendall-Jackson wines said. "I don't think even Zenyatta or Rachel should race. That wouldn't be enough. The NYRA has been very supportive and I don't want to sound like I'm not appreciative of what they've done, but in a real world it would be a major league and these purses would be $5 million not $500,000."
The connections of Zenyatta are pointing toward the Oct. 10 Lady's Secret at Santa Anita as her final prep before the Breeders' Cup.
Asmussen said Rachel came out of the Woodward a little tired, but she didn't appear any worse for wear.
"She ate up last night, but she was laying down when we came in this morning, but she lays down a lot," he said outside his barn on a cool upstate summer morning.
With victories over 3-year-old colts and now older colts, Rachel Alexandra has completed the most ambitious schedule for any 3-year-old filly perhaps ever in racing, and is undefeated in eight starts this year.
Despite almost 5,000 career wins, including two Preakness wins and a Breeders' Cup Classic victory with Curlin, Asmussen calls Rachel's Woodward win special.
"It's the most emotional victory I've ever had," Asmussen said, noting that his parents flew in from Texas to watch the race. "I think everything has different stages and different times. It meant a great deal. You want her to be that horse, and she is."
For now, Rachel is scheduled to resume training on Wednesday, and will remain in Saratoga until October.
"She's the gift that keeps on giving," the trainer said.