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Barn Notes: Friday, February 14

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Rachel Alexandra's Full Sister Debuts Sunday at FG; Early Look at Fair Grounds' Grade III Mineshaft 'Cap Probable Starters; Early Look at Fair Grounds' Grade III Mervin Muniz Memorial 'Cap

Samantha Nicole, a full sister to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, is set to make her career debut in Sunday’s fourth race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

The sophomore daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is out of the Roar mare Lotta Kim and a bay like her elder sibling – now an 8-year-old mare. The 3-year-old filly most recently breezed a half-mile in :51 flat on Monday.  Before that she drilled a bullet five-furlong move Feb. 3 in one minute flat.

Samantha Nicole, who arrived at Fair Grounds Jan. 23, is owned by Stonestreet Stable, who purchased her out of a Keeneland sale for $700,000.  She is being conditioned by Fair Grounds’ 13-time trainer champion Steve Asmussen and will be ridden in Sunday’s mile and 70 yard test for 3-year-old maiden fillies by Fair Grounds’ three-time defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik.

Rachel Alexandra is one of five of the last nine Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks winners to go on and capture Churchill’s Grade I Kentucky Oaks on the day before theKentucky Derby.

Following her Oaks win, recorded under the tutelage of trainer Hal Wiggins, Rachel Alexandra was sold by owner-breeder Dolphus Morrisonto Stonestreet Stable, who stepped her up successfully against male rivals in Pimlico’s Preakness Stakes in the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown under her new trainer Asmussen. 

Following her Preakness tally, Rachel Alexandra won Belmont’s Grade I Mother Goose and then successfully challenged male rivals two more times in Monmouth’s Grade I Haskell Invitational and Belmont’s Grade I Woodward to conclude her Horse-of-the-Year sophomore season.

EARLY LOOK AT FAIR GROUNDS’ GRADE III MINESHAFT ‘CAP PROBABLE STARTERS—The 28th renewal of the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap Feb. 22 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots serves as a designed prep for the Grade II New Orleans Handicap – the premier race for older horses each season at the Crescent City oval.

Jim Tafel’s Fordubai, trained by Greg Geier and the hero of the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap here Jan. 18, is expected to head a potentially explosive Mineshaft field that suddenly might include Mike Pegram et al.’s California invader Governor Charlie, runner-up in Santa Anita’s Grade II Strub Stakes on Jan. 18.

Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Governor Charlie who won last year’s Grade III Sunland Derby before disappointing in last spring’s Preakness Stakes.

Repole Stable’sMicromanage, conditioned by Eclipse Award-winner trainer Todd Pletcher, was third in last year’s Grade I Haskell Invitational and third in the Grade III Discovery Handicap and is expected to ship into New Orleans for the Mineshaft.

Another likely for the Mineshaft is Maggi Moss’s Grand Contender, conditioned by 10-time Fair Grounds’ trainer champion Tom Amoss who was beaten a length by Fordubai when runner-up in the Louisiana Handicap but was the winner of the $150,000 Delta Mile last fall.

Others presently penciled in for the Mineshaft include the Steve Asmussen-trained duo of Zayat Stables’ Prayer for Relief, third in the Louisiana Handicap and Marc Ferrell’s Called to Serve, third in last year’s Grade I Santa Anita Handicap.

Completing the field of Mineshaft probable starters is Joseph Sutton’s Bradester, Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras and Average Joe Racing’s Silver Lining John.

EARLY LOOK AT FAIR GROUNDS’ GRADE III MERVIN MUNIZ MEMORIAL ‘CAP —The 28th running of the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap Feb. 22 serves as the local prep for next month’s Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap, showcase race for grass-favoring older horses over the Stall-Wilson turf course here each season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Cathy and Bob Zollars’ Daddy Nose Best and Diamond Racing et al.’s Adios Nardo, who finished a head apart respectively in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap Jan. 18 as the first leg of the local lawn series, are expected to match strides once again in the Fair Grounds ‘Cap.

Others being considered at this time for next week’s upcoming grass test on Louisiana Derby Preview Day include Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Gentleman’s Kitten, Dreamchaser Thorobreds’ Hard Aces, Michael Ruelas’ Potomac River, Calumet Farm’s Skyring, Jer-Mar Stable’s Slip and Drive, and Robert Evans’ Unitarian.