Rachel's next start? A decision is 2 weeks away

Aug 3, 2009 - 9:20 PM SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.(AP) -- Back in her summer home at Saratoga, superstar filly Rachel Alexandra is set to begin training for her next race.

Which race that will be won't be determined for another two weeks, trainer Steve Asmussen indicated Monday as he watched the regal Rachel walk off a van just before 9 a.m.

Less than 15 hours earlier, racing's leading lady easily beat the boys for a second time in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park - her eighth straight victory and 10th in 13 career starts.

Asmussen said Rachel's co-owner Jess Jackson isn't likely to announce his filly's next start until mid-August.

"We'll see how much (the Haskell) took out of her; she's a very anxious horse," Asmussen said. "We'll see how she acts on the track. With Rachel, she is the topic of conversation all the time."

Options for her next race are plentiful, and they all appear to be at Saratoga Race Course. Among those under consideration are the Travers Stakes on Aug. 29 for a possible matchup of all three Triple Crown race winners; the Personal Ensign on Aug. 30 against older females; and the Woodward Stakes on Sept. 5 against horses 3 and older.

"She spoiled us with all her races and yesterday was more of the same," Asmussen said. "To say you expect that race is somewhat presumptuous. I very much want to enjoy what she just did and not think about (what comes) next.

"We're sitting here talking about a 3-year-old filly. The thinking (with Jackson) has been out of the box, that she didn't have to run just against fillies. She's eligible for a vast array of races and we'll nominate her."

Rachel Alexandra swept into the lead around the far turn over a sloppy track in the $1.25 million race. She pulled away for a six-length victory over Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird - a length shy of the Haskell's record margin of victory set by Bluegrass Cat in 2006. She won the Preakness by a length over Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

In her last two starts against fellow 3-year-old fillies, Rachel won the Kentucky Oaks by 20\\ lengths and the Mother Goose Stakes by 19\\ lengths.

While Rachel rules on the track, Asmussen is enjoying another phenomenal year. The nation's leading trainer swept the three major 3-year-old races over the weekend: His 23-1 long shot Soul Warrior upset Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby on Saturday and a few minutes later he watched Kensei win the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.

Mine That Bird also arrived at Saratoga on Monday after a seven-hour van ride from West Virginia. Trainer Chip Woolley is at the Spa for the first time, preparing his gelding for the Travers.

"I couldn't be more excited to be here. Driving through Saratoga, it looked beautiful," Woolley said.

As for a second shot at beating Rachel, Woolley said, "She ran a great race yesterday; I was ultra-impressed. If she comes, we'll run at her."

Summer Bird's trainer, Tim Ice, said plans call for his colt to arrive at the Spa on Tuesday.

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