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Barn Notes: Friday, February 16


•              Forever Unbridled ‘Excellent’ In Six Furlong Work

•              Calhoun Likes His Chances In Grade II Rachel Alexandra

•              Casse Sends Two For Albert Stall Memorial

•              Lookin At Lee, Hollywood Handsome Clash In Saturday Allowance



Charles Fipke’s 2017 Champion Older Mare Forever Unbridled is getting back into rhythm. On Friday morning the 6-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song breezed six furlongs in 1:12.40 over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots main track in an “excellent” work according to trainer Dallas Stewart.

Fair Grounds clockers caught Forever Unbridled in eighth mile fractions of :24.80 and :47.60 and galloped out seven-eighths in 1:25.80.

“The work was excellent,” Stewart said. “We’re just trying to cover all of our bases, getting her through it. She’s got three or four more works left.”

Stewart is still planning on running Forever Unbridled in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) at Meydan Race Course on Mar. 31, which will be her 2018 debut.

A five time Grade I winner, she won all three of her starts last year which took place in the Gr. II Fleur de Lis Stakes at Churchill Downs on Jun. 17, the Gr. I Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 26, and the Gr. I Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar on Nov. 3. She has $3,186,880 in career earnings.



Trainer Bret Calhoun expressed confidence in his two fillies entered in Saturday’s Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (50-20-10-5).

Emerging from post three at morning line odds of 6-1, Carl R. Moore Management LLC’s Classy Act is making her stakes debut fresh off of a wire-to-wire victory in an allowance optional claiming event over the Fair Grounds main track on Jan. 19. The daughter of Into Mischief broke her maiden at fourth asking on a yielding Stall-Wilson Turf Course in December. In two of her prior starts she finished behind eventual stakes winners Stronger Than Ever and Red Ruby.

“She bounced out of that race great,” Calhoun said. “She’s doing as well as she was before and maybe even better. She’s trained unbelievably well. I thought her last race was a pretty impressive race based on the early fractions they set. She just went on with it and I’m real happy for her.”

She will be ridden by Javier Castellano.

Patrona Margarita (post seven, 6-1, Brian Hernandez, Jr.) also comes into the Rachel Alexandra off of a win, but her victory took place back in September when she won the Gr. II Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, where she earned 10 points on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Oaks. She currently sits at No. 10 on the Leaderboard.

“She’s in a little bit of a disadvantage coming off of that layoff,” Calhoun said. “She’s trained very, very well too. The pace scenario sets up a little better for her. She’ll be off of it and it looks like there’s plenty of speed in there and that could help her out quite a bit. She’s trained extremely well and I got her as ready as she could possibly be off that layoff.”

The Texas-bred daughter of Special Rate won the Pocahontas at upset odds of 23-1.

“We were expecting a big effort that day but I’ll tell you I was surprised with the ease that she won,” Calhoun said. “She went by those horses at the eighth pole in a gallop.”



One race before trainer Mark Casse showcases Heavenly Love and Wonder Gadot in the Gr. II Rachel Alexandra Stakes, he will be represented by another pair of fillies in the $75,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes, where he trains Giada Vegas and Malibu Bonnie.

Owned by Dixiana Farms, Giada Vegas (post three, 6-1, Corey Lanerie) had her four-race win streak come to an end when being defeated by fellow Albert M. Stall Memorial entrant Mom’s On Strike in the Marie Krantz Memorial Stakes on Jan. 13. She entered the race off of a trio of wins over the Polytrack at Woodbine before winning her stakes debut in the Blushing K.D. Stakes over the local going on Dec. 16.

“She’s a prime example of getting confidence,” Casse said. “Right now, she has a great deal of confidence.”

Stonestreet Stable’s Malibu Bonnie (post eight, 8-1, Brian Hernandez, Jr.) defeated Giada Vegas two starts ago over the turf at Woodbine, where she also found her last victory on Oct. 20 against allowance optional claiming company.

“She’s a nice filly,” Casse said. “We gave her some time off after she won but now she’s going up against older horses. We’re just getting her going for a good season this year.”

Godolphin LLC’s Hallie Belle  will be looking for her fourth straight victory in the event. The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro won her stakes debut in her most recent start, which took place in the Dec. 31 Pago Hop Stakes. Her two efforts prior to that include a six-length maiden special eight victory over the turf at Keeneland in October and a local victory against winners on Nov. 24.

“It’s her first time against older (horses),” trainer Mike Stidham said. “She’s going to have to step up to beat them but she’s kind of climbing the ladder. I hope that she can take the next step.”

Joe Bravo has the mount aboard Hallie Belle who will break from post ten at 12-1 morning line odds.



The six stakes events may be getting most of the attention on Saturday, but the third race at the Fair Grounds – a mile-and-seventy-yard allowance optional claiming event on the main track – features two Triple Crown contenders from last year when Lookin At Lee and Hollywood Handsome make their first starts since the summer.

Trained by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, L and N Racing LLC’s Lookin At Lee was second in last year’s Gr. I Kentucky Derby behind Always Dreaming and went on to race in the Preakness Stakes (fourth) and the Belmont Stakes (seventh). The son of Lookin At Lucky has not raced since a well-beaten tenth in Saratoga’s Gr. I Travers Stakes on Aug. 26, which was won by West Coast. Corey Lanerie guided Lookin At Lee throughout the Triple Crown trail and will be reunited with the horse when he breaks from the three hole as the 5-2 morning line favorite.

“With Lookin At Lee being a decided a closer, I think that with who he is and how big of  a body he is, I feel that this race will save us four or five works,” Asmussen said. “He’s going to have a good year but he needs to get running.”

Mark H. and Nancy W. Stanley’s Hollywood Handsome ran in last year’s Gr. I Belmont Stakes, but was unplaced when jockey Florent Geroux lost the irons when aboard the son of Tapizar. His only start since then was a seventh-place finish in the Gr. II Indiana Derby on July 15. He broke his maiden at the Fair Grounds last January.

“He’s coming off a layoff, he had a little bit of a throat surgery deal,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “He seems like he’s been doing well with it. It’s tough and he’s coming off the bench but we’ll see what happens.”



Photos Courtesy of Hodges Photography