Rachel fitter for Churchill Downs

Rachel Alexandra will be a long odds-on favourite when she faces just four other fillies and mares in Saturday’s G2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs.  The 2009 Horse of the Year winner will be seeking her first victory as a four year-old.

Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) will spotting all her opponents weight in a race that could overshadow the G1 Stephen Foster Handicap under the twin Spires.  Jess Jackson, the majority owner and managing partner in Rachel Alexandra, selected the Fleur de Lis over three other possible targets on Saturday, including the Foster.

“As long as she continues to progress, we intend to race her with the expectation that she will obtain her fitness level of last year,” Jackson said this week.  “Our ultimate goal and hope is to enter the Breeders’ Cup in November.”

Calvin Borel will be aboard Rachel Alexandra for the 12th straight time when the superstar filly hopefully gets back in the winning groove.  She won all her 8 starts last year to earn Horse of the Year honours over Zenyatta.  This year has been another stellar one for the Californian mare while Rachel has struggled with losses in New Orleans and Churchill Downs.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has lifted the training tempo noticeably since her last start loss in the La Troienne Stakes.  Rachel has had five sharp workouts at Churchill Downs since her last outing on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

Her sire Medaglia d’Oro will shuttle to Darley’s Kelvinside property in NSW this year and will stand for a $88,000 (inc. gst) fee.