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On to the Woodward…

More than most of her competitors will ever seeIt’s official – Rachel Alexandra will take on the bigger boys in the Woodward. The announcement was made this morning after another one of her ‘routine’ clocker-stunning workouts. While I’m a little disappointed I won’t be able to see her in person again for this one, I think it’s the more interesting move to make – beating older males says a lot more than trouncing the same set of 3-year-olds again (Quality Road notwithstanding – but more on that in a moment), at least from an historical perspective.

And while the argument can certainly be made that the current crop of older horses isn’t all that exciting, I don’t see Macho Again as an easy foe – he’s certainly done a lot more than the 3-year-olds. It’s true it makes the Travers easier for her stablemate, Kensei, but as their connections are attempting to plot out career-making paths for the two horses at once, it’s the most logical choice:

“Given how well Kensei was doing, I thought he deserved a chance in the Travers,” said [Steve] Asmussen. “It would be a race that would mark his career and with that decision, Rachel will be pointed towards the Woodward.”

I think Kensei is a nice horse, but it’s hard to translate that statement as anything other than ‘Rachel Alexandra would blow the doors off Kensei‘ – at least he’s in good company.

I’ll be discussing the Travers (which now looks like a much more attractive option for many other probable entrants with Rachel Alexandra officially out of the race) in more detail on Wednesday, but here’s a quick preview: I like Quality Road a lot now that his feet are back as they should be, but I wonder about the distance for him – there are some stamina influences in his pedigree, but his more recent breeding (even the Aussie part, which I admire a great deal) is more on the sprinter/miler side – I would not be surprised to see Kensei, Summer Bird or a post-surgery Mine That Bird run past him in the final eighth of a mile or so. I wouldn’t go so far as to predict that outcome, since he’s clearly a very talented colt and will likely be the deserving favorite, but it’s the one possible chink in his armor.

We’ll recap the rest of the weekend’s racing tomorrow, then feel free to tune in Wednesday for more Travers talk…

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