L & M Racing’s Rachel Alexandra, a dominant winner of Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod (GII) and Oaklawn Park’s Martha Washington in her last two starts, will be the odds-on choice when she faces five rivals in Saturday’s $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (Grade II) at Fair Grounds.
If the Hal Wiggins-trained daughter of Medaglia d’Oro wins the 1 1/16-mile race, she will to emulate 2008 Fair Grounds Oaks winner Proud Spell, who went on to win the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (GI), America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, and earn the Eclipse Award that honored her as America’s finest 3-year-old filly.
Regular rider Calvin Borel will be in the irons aboard Rachel Alexandra, who is the odds-on favorite at odds of 4-5.
Heiligbrodt Stable’s Four Gifts, the Steve Asmussen-trained runner-up to injured stablemate War Echo in the Silverbulletday (GIII) at Fair Grounds, is the second choice at 5-2. Others in the field include Our Dahlia, African Skies, Flying Spur and War Tigress.
WEST/STARDOM BOUND LIKELY TO STAY WITH FILLIES, TARGET KENTUCKY OAKS – Although she scored a fifth consecutive victory in Grade I stakes competition, last week’s narrow victory by 2008 2-year-old filly champion Stardom Bound in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) was apparently not enough to keep her on course for a possible run against males in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) and, perhaps, a bid for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
Stardom Bound rallied to win the Santa Anita Oaks by a nose, but majority owner IEAH Stable had hoped to see more progress by the gray Tapit filly. IEAH President Michael Iavarone said Monday the champion would now be pointed toward the Ashland (GI) at Keeneland, and a big run there would likely earn her a shot at the May 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
“We have to think of her welfare and do what’s in her best interest,” said Iavarone. “What we were looking for in the Santa Anita Oaks and what we didn’t see is a leap forward.”
Third Dawn, the John Sadler-trained Santa Anita Oaks runner-up at odds of 35-1, is also being pointed toward the Ashland Stakes.
OAKS NOTES – Brereton Jones’ Proud Spell, winner of the 2008 Kentucky Oaks, was upset by Superior Storm in her debut as a 4-year-old on Thursday at Oaklawn Park. The Larry Jones trainee finished second as she could not catch the pacesetting winner over a muddy track. … Rags to Riches, the winner of the 2007 Kentucky Oaks who would later beat eventual ‘Horse of the Year’ Curlin, Hard Spun and other males in the Belmont Stakes (GI), delivered her first foal – a filly by Giant’s Causeway – on Monday at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.