Brisnet Handicappers Edge Fair Grounds notes for 2/8/10.

Rachel breezes a half-mile at Fair Grounds

Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old filly RACHEL ALEXANDRA (Medaglia d'Oro) breezed four furlongs Saturday morning in :50 3/5 and galloped out five-eighths in 1:04, according to Fair Grounds clockers. Regular exercise rider Dominic Terry was aboard the four-year-old filly, who was accompanied by assistant trainer Scott Blasi on his pony while trainer Steve Asmussen also kept a watchful eye from horseback.

Rachel Alexandra entered the track from the half-mile gap at 6:31 a.m (CST). Following the same routine as her first official work of the year on Sunday, she backtracked more than a half-mile "the wrong way," clockwise, into the Fair Grounds stretch. Turning back with the traffic, Rachel Alexandra galloped a few paths toward the center of the track into the backstretch before Terry eased her to the rail and picked up speed approaching the half-mile marker.

Rachel Alexandra worked to the finish line before galloping out the extra eighth of a mile in an easy :13 2/5. She continued to jog down the backstretch to the start of the far turn and playfully reared up twice after being rejoined by Blasi and his pony to lead her off the track.

"She's very special," Asmussen said back at his barn shortly afterward. "I thought she looked beautiful. She went :50 3/5 today off of her :52 the other day. I think that's pretty much the progression that we're expecting."

Asked whether Rachel Alexandra could be ready for a race in the next two months, Asmussen reiterated that they would "do what's right by her." This morning's work, he said, was simply "the next step in the process."

Rachel Alexandra established herself as one of the all-time great fillies last year with historic wins in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Preakness S. (G1), as well as six other stakes races. Her three Grade 1 victories against the boys -- the Preakness, Haskell Invitational and Woodward -- helped to establish a new standard for excellence by a female racehorse in the modern era. 

Richard Rudolph's Illinois homebred ROYAL EXPRESS (Royal Academy) broke on top and never looked back in Saturday's $56,400 Black Gold S. at Fair Grounds, cruising home a 3 1/2-length winner under James Graham. Moved to the main track due to a rain-soaked turf course, the winning time for 5 1/2 furlongs over the fast strip was 1:04 1/5. This was the first stakes win for the three-year-old, who faded to a distant second after setting the pace in the Sun Power S. at Hawthorne last fall. The speedball never made the lead when a wide-trip last of seven in the Sugar Bowl S. in his Fair Grounds debut, but entered this off an 8-1 allowance upset. Conditioned by Spanky Broussard, Royal Express has bankrolled $111,391 from a line of 7-3-2-0...

 

 



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FAIR GROUNDS NOTEBOOK

FEBRUARY 5, 2010

by Frank Cotolo

Another 40 races are in the books for 2010 at Fair Grounds, with resounding public success wagering on the main course. Only one day was interrupted by foul weather when on Friday the track had to be sealed from Race 4 to the end of the nine-race card. But it was the beginning of a week where favorites were identified at the highest rate of any recorded week in our notebooks this meet.

The mostly fast surface produced 45-percent winners for the public. Involved in many of those finishes were close second choices. In other words, chalk ruled the week and choked a lot of bettors swinging for the fences.

On the first day of the racing week, when six races coped with the sealed track, five on the program still went to public choices. By Saturday, all was "fast" again, as well as the public was smart, adding six choices to the week. There were four on Sunday and the week ended on Monday with three.

On the surface

Though the "best" horses were winning an impressive clip all week, 51 percent of the overall winners came from off the pace to get their victories. Not all of them showed up late from out of the clouds, but they were far enough back at one point of call to not be stalkers.

Winners close to the pace won at a 30-percent race and wire-to-wire winners only grabbed 19 percent of the wins. Some might attribute the "sloppy" intervention early in the week to demoting speed as an important element ,but a lack of firm surprise winners is a better indication that the playing field was quite level.

There were only three turf races during the week, all of Monday, and they showed no sign of bias.

Trainers

The top names dominated the four-day race week. Steve Asmussen continued his barrage of winners, adding another five to his ledger. Bret Calhoun came close with four winners and Tom Amoss had three.

Doubling were Wesley Hawley, Edward Johnston and Michelle Lovell. We saw another winner from ex-jock Ray Sibille last week.

HORSES TO WATCH

Friday (1/29)

5TH -- STRIKE HAPPY (Service Strike) showed speed and led to the half at 21-1, which is a good sign for improving, especially holding well against a closer's track.

8TH -- HANDS ON (Friendly Lover) got into a duel to the three-eighths in the afternoon's early slop.

Saturday (1/30)

1ST -- BAKUBAH (Cactus Ridge) won a heavy duel midway while on the outside, took the lead and wound up fourth at 12-1.

4TH -- WHEELING WINI (Johanesburg), a first-time starter for David Carroll, closed well with promising strides.

10TH -- LIL RICK'S GAL (Macabe) had a messy trip with altered paths.

Sunday (1/31)

3RD -- INCALZANDO (Giant's Causeway) is a bet back from this win, taking it while wide to start getting command and drawing off against claimers.

7TH -- HEY MY BABY (Malibu Wesley) dueled with a 14-1 shot, put that one away, and had speed into the stretch at 18-1.

Monday (2/1)

1ST -- JAVA HONEY (Deputy Diamond) shot from a slow start to the lead, won a duel near the drive to lead and was beaten late to hold second.

4TH -- CERTIFIEDNBONEFIED (Twilight Agenda) challenged three wide three times during the event, impressive mini-battles for a 32-1 shot.

On the Louisiana worktab

Multiple Grade 3 heroine FOUR GIFTS (Even the Score), winner of the Charles Town Oaks in her three-year-old finale, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 over Fair Grounds' fast main track on Sunday.

Stars and Stripes Turf H. (G3) winner FREE FIGHTER (Out of Place), unplaced in the Sycamore S. (G3) to close out 2009, posted three panels in :37 3/5.

Derby Trial S. (G3) hero HULL (Holy Bull), unraced since suffering his first loss in the June 6 Woody Stephens S. (G2), breezed a half in :53 2/5.

Grade 3 winner TRANSDUCTION GOLD (Formal Gold), last seen running off-the-board in the May 23 Louisville H. (G3), traveled four furlongs in :52.

Sugar Bowl S. winner COOL BULLET (Red Bullet), fourth in the Lecomte S. (G3) last out, covered four furlongs in 1:02 1/5.

Last-out F.W. Gaudin Memorial S. victor CASH REFUND (Petionville), whose only career loss came as a second in the Matt Winn S., breezed four furlongs in :50 4/5.

Furl Sail H. scorer CATEGORY SEVEN (Gulf Storm) went a half-mile in :52 3/5.

Dual stakes winner COY CAT (Hold That Tiger), runner-up in the Dr. A.B. Leggio Memorial S. most recently, negotiated four furlongs in :51.

UTTERLY COOL (Smoke Glacken), a 10 1/4-length victor of the Cup and Saucer S. in his last race, posted four panels in :49 3/5.

UPPERLINE (Maria's Mon), third in the Golden Rod S. (G2) last out, traveled five-eighths in 1:01 2/5.

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