NEW YORK --- Jess Jackson wasn't sure how much Rachel Alexandra's stirring victory against the boys in the Preakness took out of her, so he wound up keeping the superstar filly out of the Belmont Stakes.
Three weeks later, Jackson will finally see whether the 3-year-old that captured America's imagination has recovered from the pounding surface of Pimlico. Rachel Alexandra will face a short field in today's $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes, a 1e-mile race for 3-year-old fillies around one sweeping turn at Belmont Park.
"She gave a brilliant race the last time, but the turf was giving away at the Preakness and we thought she needed a good rest," Jackson said earlier this week. "The Mother Goose was always a prospect, and it's a nice place to have her return to New York."
The last time she ran against her own gender, Rachel Alexandra romped to a 201/4-length win in the Kentucky Oaks. That scared off most of her rivals, leaving only Florida Oaks winner Don't Forget Gil, Hopeful Image, Flashing and Malibu Prayer to test her.
While the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro was made the early 1-5 favorite, the field isn't without credentials. Flashing, the winner of the Grade 3 Nassau County, belongs to the highly talented Godolphin Stable and has her own three-race win streak, while Todd Pletcher-trained Malibu Prayer has won two in a row by a combined 201/4 lengths.
"The main focus is to get a good race in her," jockey Calvin Borel said.
Borel said her final work Monday at Churchill Downs went flawlessly. Rachel Alexandra went four furlongs in 49.80 seconds over a fast main track under exercise rider Dominic Terry, then galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.40.
"Her work was unbelievable, she's doing so good," Borel said. "She's very versatile. I'm just going to go ride my filly with the confidence I have in her."