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Kentucky Oaks 135 Monday Update - Rachel Alexandra Avoids Mishap, Sizzles

| Churchill Downs Communications | 04/29/2009 #

Follow your favorites for the 135th Kentucky Oaks daily at www.churchilldowns.com, where we provide updates on how each contender is progressing for the big race!

BE FAIR / TWEETER – Westrock Stables' Be Fair walked the shedrow at Barn 44 a day after working five furlongs in 1:00.20 in her final major drill for Friday’s 135th running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (Grade I).  Exercise rider Omar Golon was aboard for the work on Sunday.  Rafael Bejarano has the riding assignment Friday in Kentucky Oaks 135.

“She's doing excellent,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

Lukas’ other Oaks possibility, Marylou Whitney Stables' Tweeter, “breezed down the lane” according to the trainer. Exercise rider Taylor Carty was in the irons.

FLYING SPUR – Under exercise rider Joanna Trout, Flying Spur worked four furlongs in :48.40 and was timed in 1:01.80 galloping out another furlong.

“It looked nice,” trainer Bill Mott said. “We had a long wait before we worked, but she handled it well. It turned out OK. It was not a problem.”

Flying Spur’s breeze was scheduled to take place after the track reopened at 8:30 a.m. right after the renovation break, but was delayed when a loose horse ran into another horse in the stretch.  Garrett Gomez has the Oaks riding assignment on Mike Rutherford’s filly.

GABBY’S GOLDEN GAL – The morning after she worked five furlongs in 1:00.40, the Medaglia d’Oro filly’s exercise for the day was limited to walking the shedrow at trainer Bob Baffert’s barn.  Baffert said the Sunland Oaks winner was fine the day following the breeze.

“She came out great,” Baffert said. “She looked great today.”

Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Gabby’s Golden Gal will be ridden in the Oaks by Victor Espinoza.

Baffert said he was impressed by the unbeaten Rachel Alexandra, who worked Monday morning.  “Man, she just looks fantastic,” Baffert said. “What a racemare. She’s a superstar.”

JUSTWHISTLEDIXIE – After walking the shedrow for the previous two mornings, Justwhistledixie was sent to the track to gallop 1 1/2 miles just before the renovation break at Churchill Downs on Monday morning. Exercise rider Danny Wright was aboard the daughter of Dixie Union, who had worked four furlongs in :49 on Friday.

“She was happy today. She was fresh,” said Neal McLaughlin, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s assistant and brother. “She was excited. She didn’t want to stand and look like she normally does; she just wanted to get on with her gallop. That’ll get her back into her routine. (Tuesday) I’m sure she’ll stand longer and relax, but she’s real happy right now.”

Although exuberant about her morning exercise Monday, Justwhistledixie poses no problems for her connections.

“She’s really laid back. She’s really easy on herself. She’s not a difficult to train. She doesn’t try to do too much. She’s just very smart and very easy to train. She does everything right,” McLaughlin said. “In her races, she’s more of a stalking filly. If there’s no pace, she can be up front. If there’s pace, she can sit back. She doesn’t need anything, where a lot of other horses need the pace to themselves or other horses to go out there to set a lot of pace so they can close. She dictates her own race, so that’s really nice to have in a big race like this.”

Julien Leparoux, who was aboard Justwhistledixie for the first time during her victory in the Bonnie Miss (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park, has the return mount aboard the filly who will be seeking her sixth straight win in the Oaks.

NAN – J. Paul Reddam's Nan galloped 1 1/8 miles with exercise rider Jose Castanon aboard.

“She's doing very well,” Aimee Dollase said. Aimee is the sister and assistant to trainer Craig Dollase.

Aimee says she's enjoying the experience of Derby Week. It was Derby Week 1996 when she first came to Churchill Downs as a full-time employee in her family's stables. Her father, Wally, brought Alyrob to the Derby that year and they also had Jewel Princess, an Eclipse Award winner, running on Oaks Day.

“It was fascinating,” Aimee said. “Derby Week is like the Super Bowl. I was so caught up in all the excitement I thought it was like this all the time around here.”

RACHEL ALEXANDRA – Everything was ready to roll and Rachel Alexandra was preparing to break off for a half-mile work when the horn sounded signifying a loose horse on the track.

“Damn,” trainer Hal Wiggins muttered as he exited the clocker’s stand and headed to the track to take his stable star back to Barn 30.

A training accident closed the track for nearly 30 minutes, and during that time Rachel Alexandra cooled her heels back in the barn.

“I just wanted to keep her walking because I was worried she might tie up,” Wiggins said.

When the track reopened, Rachel Alexandra and jockey Calvin Borel returned to the track and sizzled a half-mile in :46.40, the fastest move of 26 at the distance over a track rated as “fast” on Monday morning.

Clockers caught Rachel Alexandra in fractions of :11.60, :23.20, :34.80, out five furlongs in :58.40 and six furlongs in 1:10.60.

“I had her in :46 and 2, :58 and 4 and 1:12 and 3,” said Wiggins, who was looking for a work in the 48-second range from the probable Kentucky Oaks favorite.  “I thought she went too fast, but Calvin swears she does that every time.  That is what she did at Oaklawn Park before the Fantasy; she worked in 47 and 3, but that’s just the way she is. I am glad to have one that can go that fast.”

Rachel Alexandra, owned by L and M Partners, is scheduled for a walk day on Tuesday and maybe Wednesday and then will gallop up to Friday’s race.

“At Oaklawn, I had postponed her work a day because the track was sloppy and I walked her two days after the work and then galloped the day before the Fantasy,” Wiggins said. “I’ll decide on Wednesday whether she’ll walk another day or go to the track."