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Summer Applause Rowsing in Rachel Alexandra

Gillian Campbell et al.’s Summer Applause got rave reviews from her rider Robby Albarado after she proved clearly best in Saturday’s Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes as the final prep for the upcoming $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks March 31.

“(Summer Applause) was a great ride from the start to the end,” said Albarado, seven-time Fair Grounds jockey champion Albarado in the winner’s circle after the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra. “She rated kindly on the backside.  We thought we’d be third or fourth and we were.  I was just trying to be a good passenger. I got clear turning for home and she ran home nice.  She’s grown up rapidly in the last couple of weeks.”

The race unfolded as Albarado explained it, with eventual runner-up Avie’s Sense, owned by Tall Oaks Farm, setting early fractions of 24.16 and 47.54 while being rated by jockey James Graham. Summer Applause challenged her in the late stages and drew clear by a length at the wire, returning mutuels of $8.40, $4.40 and $2.80 while increasing her career earnings to $202,906 with her third victory in five lifetime starts. The daughter of Harlan’s Holiday got the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.30.

Avie’s Sense, who broke her maiden at last asking, could not stay with the winner late but was easily second best, paying $8.20 and $4.40 while finishing 3 1/2-lengths to the good of Jake Ballis’s Inny Minnie, who returned $3 to show.

What’s next for Summer Applause?

“We are going to enjoy the moment,” said winning trainer Bret Calhoun. “We want to get the right spacing for her. Obviously, the ultimate goal is the Kentucky Oaks and we want to figure out the best way to get her there.”