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Kathmanblu Delivers in Rachel Alexandra Stakes

Five D Thoroughbreds & Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu, making her first start on dirt as a 3-year-old, established herself as a serious contender for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks with a convincing 1 ¼-length win over Donver Stables’ Inglorious in Saturday’s Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans.

The $150,000 Rachel Alexandra is the second in a three-race series for 3-year-old fillies which culminates with the March 26 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks, six weeks prior to the May 6 Kentucky Oaks.

Kathmanblu and jockey Julien Leparoux raced behind the early leaders down the backstretch, shifted out into the stretch and closed steadily, taking the lead near the eighth-pole and edging away. Inglorious broke a few steps slow but saved ground and closed well to get second, three-quarters of a length in front of Wayne R. Sanders & Larry Hirsch’s Gran Lioness, who had set the early fractions of 24.83 and 49.27.

“She relaxed very nice in the first turn and she got it done,” Leparoux said. “I got a clean trip and that was important.”

The final time was 1:45.13 for 1 1/16 miles. Kathmanblu, by Bluegrass Cat out of the Devil’s Bag mare Abba Gold, raised her earnings to $470,731 with her fifth win in eight starts.

“She’s all class,” said winning trainer Ken McPeek, who won two stakes on the afternoon. “I think she is a lot better than she ran today. We were a little conservative with her with her workouts coming into the race. There’s a lot of time between now and the Kentucky Oaks and that is obviously the bigger goal.”

McPeek declined to speculate about Kathmanblu’s next start, aside from throwing out the names of three logical possibilities: the Fair Grounds Oaks, the Gulfstream Oaks and Keeneland’s Ashland Stakes.

The order of finish was completed by Bouquet Booth, Chloe Kate and Tapit Dancer.

The odds-one favorite, Kathmanblu paid $3.20, $2.20 and $2.10, while Inglorious returned $3 and $2.60 and Gran Lioness was worth $2.60.