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Likely Oaks Favorite Rachel Alexandra Zips; 'Pioneer', Chocolate Candy Due To Arrive Early Thursday Afternoon
Trainer Hal Wiggins was looking for an easy work on Thursday for L & M Racing’s Rachel Alexandra, the likely favorite for the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs on May. But ‘easy’ is a relative term when it comes to describing the training activity of the star of Wiggins’ stable.
Rachel Alexandra zipped five furlongs in :59.40 over a “fast” track with jockey Calvin Borel in the irons. The move, which came just after the break for track maintenance, tied as the fastest of 21 at the distance.
Churchill Downs clockers caught Rachel Alexandra in fractions of :12.60, :24.40, :36 and :47.60. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.60 and seven-eighths in 1:24.20.
Despite the rapid time, Borel said the winner of the Fantasy (GII) and Fair Grounds Oaks (GI) completed her task with ease and without urging.
“I’ve never asked her – it’s scary,” said Borel. “I’ve been on her all the time and I’ve never asked her. She’s just unbelievable, and she just gets better and better and better and better. I don’t know how good she can be.”
“As usual, she went a little bit faster than I really wanted, but she does it so easy,” Wiggins said. “The main thing we want to do now is just keep her fresh and keep her ready.”
Wiggins said Rachel Alexandra would have “a little easy breeze” on Monday, April 27 and that would complete her serious preparation for the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies. He said that work would likely be a four-furlong move.
Rachel Alexandra is on a four-race winning streak, all in stakes races, and her recent romp in the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park improved her record to six wins in nine races with earnings of $621,440.
Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) with Street Sense in 2007, has been aboard Rachel Alexandra for that string of wins that started last fall in the Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs. He said she was good then, but is a much better filly now.
“I’d say she’s about 40 percent better, just because of the way she’s blossomed,” Borel said. “Now she’s got so much power, it’s just unbelievable. I don’t know how good she is, to tell you the truth. She’s an awesome filly.”
Other Kentucky Oaks candidates on the grounds at Churchill Downs include Arnold Zetcher, LLC’s Gabby’s Golden Gal, who scored a 13-length victory for Baffert in the Sunland Park Oaks, and J. Paul Reddam’s Nan, fourth to champion Stardom Bound in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) for trainer Craig Dollase.
PIONEEROF THE NILE, CHOCOLATE CANDY ARRIVE THIS AFTERNOON FOR DERBY 135 – The 1-2 finishers in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) – Zayat Stables’ Pioneerof the Nile and the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust’s Chocolate Candy – are scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Thursday afternoon.
The flight carrying the horses from Southern California is scheduled to touch down in Louisville at 11:50 a.m. (all times EDT). Vans carrying the two horses should arrive at Churchill Downs sometime around 12:30 p.m.
Pioneerof the Nile is trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, while Chocolate Candy is trained by Northern California training legend Jerry Hollendorfer.
Barn 33, the regular home for Baffert’s horses at Churchill Downs, will be the destination for Pioneerof of the Nile, while Chocolate Candy and three Hollendorfer-trained stablemates will be stabled in Barn 42.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – New Orleans Handicap (GII) and 2008 Derby Trial winner Macho Again breezed four furlongs in :51.20. … Secret Gypsy, winner of the Distaff (GII) at Aqueduct breezed four furlongs in :48.40, the second fastest of 33 moves at the distance. The Ronny Werner trainee is scheduled to run next in the Humana Distaff (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day. … Three-time Louisville Handicap (GIII) winner Silverfoot breezed a half-mile in :50 … Arlington-Washington Lassie (GIII) winner C.S. Silk breezed five furlongs in :59.80.