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Rachel Alexandra to run in Woodward

It's official.

3-year-old filly and talk of the track Rachel Alexandra will take to the Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, Sept. 5, to run in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward, trainer Steve Asmussen announced on Monday.

According to the New York State Racing Association, Rachel Alexandra will face older males as she attempts to become the first female to win the 1 1/8th mile Woodward. The horse is a leading contender for Horse of the Year.

In light of Monday's news, NYRA increased the purse for the Woodward from $500,000 to $750,000.

Raising the Woodward purse will help attract a top field to what will be a historic race, said NYRA Vice President and Director of Racing P.J. Campo in a statement. "In addition, we felt that to have a filly like Rachel Alexandra seeking to become the first ever female to win the Woodward warranted an increase in purse."

The announcement also puts a halt to speculation that the horse"owner of an eight-race winning streak that dates back to November 29, 2008"will participate in the Grade I, $1 million Shadwell Travers on Saturday, Aug. 29, or the or the Grade 1, $400,000 Personal Ensign the following day.

Instead, her stablemate, Jackson's Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner Kensei, who worked a half-mile in 50.00, will start Shadwell Travers.

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

A field of eight appears likely for the 140th running of the Shadwell Travers, including Kensei, Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, record-setting Amsterdam winner Quality Road, Warrior's Reward, Hold Me Back, Our Edge, and Charitable Man.

The Woodward, which will be run for the 56th time, could possibly attract Asiatic Boy, Cool Coal Man, Tizway, Bullsbay, It's a Bird, and Macho Again.

Rachel Alexandra made history by winning the becoming the first filly since 1924 to win the Preakness in May, defeating Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird by a length.

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