Rachel Alexandra works four furlongs

Rachel Alexandra, 2009 Horse of the Year, had her second official work at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Saturday since returning to training. The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro breezed four furlongs in 50 3/5 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 1:04, according to the track’s clockers.

Regular exercise rider Dominic Terry was aboard Rachel Alexandra, who was accompanied by assistant trainer Scott Blasi while trainer Steve Asmussen watched the proceedings from horseback.

“She’s very special,” Asmussen said afterward. “I thought she looked beautiful. She went :50 3/5 today off of her :52 the other day. I think that’s pretty much the progression that we’re expecting.”

Asked when the filly will be ready to race, Asmussen said the horse’s connections will continue to “do what’s right by her.” He said Saturday’s work was “the next step in the process.”

Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., has offered to raise the purse for its Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 3 from $500,000 to $5 million if both Rachel Alexandra and the unbeaten Zenyatta enter the starting gate.

Zenyatta is tentatively scheduled to make her 2010 debut in the $250,000 Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 13 at Santa Anita and the 6-year-old mare’s connections have said they would like to run in the Apple Blossom if Zenyatta is ready to go.

Rachel Alexandra has not raced since beating older males in the Woodwood Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 5. The Fair Grounds has written a $200,000 stakes race for her return that is scheduled for March 13, but neither Asmussen nor owner Jess Jackson has said when or where Rachel Alexandra will make her first start of the year.

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