Home of the Louisiana Derby

Foggy Day No Problem for Rachel Alexandra's Monday Gallop

Horse  of the Year Rachel Alexandra, expected to post her next serious work Wednesday morning, was kept to her normal routine gallop once around the oval Monday morning despite dense early morning fog at Fair Grounds.

“She just came out there and did her usual thing,” said Fair Grounds clocker Billy Pettingill. “The fog was no problem for her. She was happy as a clam out there. You just can’t keep her down when she gets out there on the track.”

Rachel Alexandra, who has been stabled at Fair Grounds since shortly after the local season began, is being prepared for her first start of the year in Fair Grounds’ inaugural running of the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies March 13, a mile and a sixteenth affair for older fillies and mares.

That race in New Orleans will be used to set her up for an eventual internationally-anticipated confrontation with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Zenyatta in Oaklawn Park’s Grade I Apple Blossom on April 9. Should those two members of the distaff set face off at Oaklawn, the central Arkansas oval has pledged to boost the purse of the Apple Blossom to $5 million to make it the richest Thoroughbred race in history restricted to fillies and mares.

Louisiana Derby Possible for Tempted to Tapit
Gainesway Farm’s Tempted to Tapit could not match strides with Grade II Risen Star Stakes winner Discreetly Mine Saturday, but continued willingly in the late stages to save the second spot by a neck, an effort that greatly pleased those Gainesway staffers who made the trip to New Orleans to witness last weekend’s prep for the $750,000 Louisiana Derby March 27.

“We were not disappointed whatsoever with his run,” said Gainesway vice president Charlie Aker Monday morning, speaking over the phone while back in central Kentucky. “Coming off a race in maiden company and running second in a Grade II race like that let us know he really belongs with those kinds of horses. We’re going to give him about a month or so and then see what might be the best spot for him.”

Would that possibly be the Grade II Louisiana Derby?

“I don’t think that’s really been decided yet,” said Aker. “We’re shipping him back to Gulfstream Park (Monday) and we’ll see what shapes up as the best race for him to make his next start. But the Louisiana Derby is certainly a possibility. We all had a wonderful time down there at Fair Grounds and enjoyed our weekend in New Orleans. I do know that it will be a least four weeks for before he makes his next start.”

Dubious Miss’s Runner-Up Run in Fair Grounds Handicap Leaves McGee Pleased
Trainer Paul McGee was pleased with all three of his Louisiana Derby Preview Day stakes contestants when asked about their welfare Sunday morning at Fair Grounds.

“I thought they all ran well, and they all came back well,” said McGee. “I was particularly pleased with the way Dubious Miss ran. Naturally, I would have liked it better if he had won, but I thought he ran well.”

David Holloway’s Dubious Miss was settled just behind the early leaders by jockey Pat Valenzuela in Saturday’s Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap as the final local prep for the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap March 27. The 7-year-old gelding took clear command at the furlong grounds but could not withstand the late surge of the favored Blues Street, owned by Anita Subotnick and trained by Todd Pletcher, but remained easily second best, 4 1 /2-lengths in front of the third-place runner.

Jay Em Ess Stable’s Coy Cat finished third in Saturday’s Pan Zareta Stakes and that same ownership’s Worldly finished seventh in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes for McGee.

Invaders Exit Fair Grounds Monday Morning
A horse van assigned to take the South Florida-based invaders to the airport for their return equine charter to the Sunshine State was moments from being loaded shortly after 9 o’clock Monday morning.  

Its occupants were expected to include Risen Star Stakes winner Discreetly Mine, owned by the Paul Robsham Stable; Fair Grounds Handicap winner Blues Street, owned by Anstu Stables; Tempted to Tapit, owned by Gainesway Stable and runner-up in the Risen Star; WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer, fourth in the Risen Star; and Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care, fifth in the Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes.

Apple Martini Headed to Saturday’s Featured Allen LaCombe Memorial Handicap
Virginia Tarra’s Apple Martini, a full sister to that same ownership’s Mineshaft Handicap third-place finisher Giant Oak, will be among the contestants for Saturday’s featured Allen LaCombe Memorial Handicap for older fillies and mares over the Stall-Wilson turf course.

“We have no delusions of grandeur,” said trainer Neil Pessin Monday morning of the mare who has not started since winning the Illinois Princess Handicap at Hawthorne last Oct. 31. “She needs a race and there’s nowhere else to run her. She’ll be ready for the next one.”