Unlimited Budget Heads Rachel Alexandra
By Graham Ross, Staff Writer
NEW ORLEANS (Monday, February 18, 2013) – Repole Stable’s undefeated Unlimited Budget, heroine of Aqueduct’s Grade II Demoiselle Stakes last Nov. 24 but unraced as a 3-year-old, has been pegged as the 5-2 early choice in the morning line for the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots this Saturday based on her perfect record as a juvenile filly last year.
The Rachel Alexandra, one of six stakes worth a total of $1,035,000 on Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford, is the final local preview of the upcoming Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks March 30 as part of the Louisiana Derby Day program. Five of the last eight Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to victory in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
The Rachel Alexandra is part of the elite “Kentucky Oaks Championship Series,” which starts Saturday, and is worth 85 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Oaks as part of the larger 35-race “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series. The 50 points to be awarded to the Rachel Alexandra winner virtually guarantees a berth into the $1 million race for 3-year-old fillies on May 3. The Rachel Alexandra runner-up will earn 20 points, with 10 points to third and five points to fourth.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Unlimited Budget made the pace throughout in the Demoiselle and continued willingly late for a 1 1/4-length score with mild hand urging. Before that the daughter of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense broke her maiden at first asking with a 9 1/2-lengths tally. Two-time defending jockey champion and current leading rider Rosie Napravnik will be in the saddle Saturday.
The 7-2 second choice in the morning line for Saturday’s Oaks is Bret Jones’s Dancinginthecircle, who won Delta’s $100,000 By The Light Stakes in her only start as a 3-year-old by nine lengths on Jan. 4 and was third beaten a neck for the win in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie last September. The daughter of Divine Park is trained by Larry Joneswho saddled Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can to win last year’s Fair Grounds Oaks and go on to victory in the Kentucky Oaks. The Brereton Jones-Larry Jones tandem also pulled off a Fair Grounds Oaks-Kentucky Oaks double with Proud Spell in 2008. Jockey Terry Thompson will be in the irons.
Third choice in the morning line for the Fair Grounds Oaks is Haynes Stable et al.’s Every Way, who has a third in Woodbine’s Grade III Mazarine, a fourth in Retama $75,000 La Senorita Stakes and two wins in her four lifetime starts. Jose Lezcano gets the mount on the Mike Stidham trainee.
Completing the Fair Grounds Oaks field, with respective jockeys and early odds, is Stoneway Farm’s Midnight Ballet, Gary Stevens (8-1); Daniel Kenny, Josh Kenny and Dan Robb’s Finding More, John Jacinto (8-1); Susan Knoll’s Blue Violet, Mark Guidry (8-1); Matthew Bryan’s Daddy’s Song, Shaun Bridgmohan (10-1); Gilbert Campbell’s Alluring Lady, Richard Eramia (12-1); Holt Racing, R. E. Orth and W.E. Hawley’s Promise Me More, Miguel Mena (12-1); and Calumet Farm’s Neith, Jon Court, (20-1).