Rachel Alexanda Stretches Legs in Wednesday Gallop
Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra returned to the track Wednesday morning for an easy gallop three days prior to her 4-year-old debut in Saturday’s $200,000 New Orleans Ladies. On Tuesday, the Medaglia d’Oro filly walked the shed row in trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn, the normal routine on the morning following a workout. Wednesday’s exercise came over a fast track on a breezy morning with temperatures in the low-60s.
“She came out at 6:20, turned and went the right way, then galloped about three-quarters of a mile,” said Fair Grounds clocker Billy Pettingill, who has observed Rachel Alexandra’s progression on a near-daily basis since the filly arrived at Fair Grounds in late November. “It was pretty easy. Then they picked her up with the pony and she was off the track at 6:28. They didn’t even gallop her a whole round, they just let her stretch her legs a little bit. They turned her loose about the three-eighths pole and she went from there, through the stretch, and back to about the five-eighths pole. Scott (Blasi, assistant trainer) picked her up and they let her jog out a little bit, then turned around and went off. She looked terrific.”
Aboard for the exercise was Dominic Terry, who continues to elicit praise from Rachel Alexandra’s connections as well as observers for his deft handling of a strong filly who has been eager to run this winter. “Dominic, man, he’s got her down pat,” Pettingill said, “she just about does whatever he needs her to do.”
New Orleans Ladies Post at 5:15 p.m. CST Coordinated to Fit with Zenyatta’s Santa Margarita
Saturday’s $200,000 New Orleans Ladies featuring Rachel Alexandra is Race 10 on Fair Grounds’ 11-race program and will go off at 5:15 p.m. CST, a time that was set in cooperation with Santa Anita Park, where Champion Older Female Zenyatta will make her 2010 debut in the Grade I Santa Margarita at 5:40 p.m. CST.
“Everyone involved agreed it would be best to have both races within the same hour,” said Fair Grounds Vice President and General Manager Eric Halstrom. “There is such intense interest in these two great females and we want to make it easy for racing fans all over the country to see both of them run.”
Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are expected to meet April 9 in the Grade I Apple Blossom Invitational, a race that would be worth $5 million if both superstars start.
Undercard Races Offer Quality Horses and Good Betting
Saturday’s New Orleans Ladies is the highlight of a very good overall card, with 105 horses entered for 10 other races, an average of more than 10 entrants per race. Two top-quality allowance contests for older horses at 1 1/16 miles, one on the main track and the other on turf, feature several stakes regulars. The dirt race, set as Race 6, includes Secret Getaway, second to Macho Again in last year’s Grade II New Orleans Handicap; Coragil Cat, a multiple Arlington Park stakes winner; and King Dan, last year’s Texas Mile runner-up. The turf race, carded as Race 9, features graded stakes winners Gran Estreno and Free Fighter.
NEW ORLEANS LADIES AND RACHEL ALEXANDRA FACTS AND FIGURES
Horse of the Year Winners at Fair Grounds
Rachel Alexandra is only the second reigning Horse of the Year to run at Fair Grounds, joining Whirlaway, who won the 1942 Louisiana Handicap. The other two Horse of the Year winners to have run at Fair Grounds were John Henry, the great gelding who raced in Louisiana many years before he evolved into a two-time Horse of the Year (1981 and 1984), and Mineshaft, who won two races at Fair Grounds en route to being named Horse of the Year in 2003.
Champions at Fair Grounds
Rachel Alexandra became the 28th Thoroughbred Racing Champion and/or Hall of Fame inductee (the awarding of year-end championships began in 1936) to have run at Fair Grounds when she was awarded Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year-Old Filly for 2009.
*Enshrined in Thoroughbred Racing’s Hall of Fame
Horse (Owner, Breeder, Trainer)—Listing is chronological
Pan Zareta* (J. Marrone, J.F. Newman, J.C. Kirkpatrick)—Hall of Fame filly won 76 times in 151 starts, including five wins carrying 140 pounds or more. Won four races at Fair Grounds in 1916.
Mar-Kell (Calumet Farm, Calumet Farm, Ben Jones)—Champion Handicap Mare in 1943 won three races at Fair Grounds in 1943, including the Washington’s Birthday Handicap.
Mioland (C.S. Howard, H.W. Ray, J.H. Stotler)—Champion Handicap Male of 1941 won once in four starts at Fair Grounds in 1943.
Miss Request (Mrs. B.F. Whitaker, Ben F. Whitaker, J.P. Conway)—Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 1948 won two allowance races at Fair Grounds that year and started at Fair Grounds three more times in 1949.
Whirlaway* (Calumet Farm, Calumet Farm, Ben Jones)—Horse of the Year in 1941 and 1942, Triple Crown winner and Champion Three-Year-Old Male of 1941 and Champion Handicap Horse of 1942 won the 1942 Louisiana Handicap at Fair Grounds.
Grecian Queen (Mrs. B.F. Whitaker, Ben F. Whitaker, J.P. Conway)—Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 1953 made her debut in 1952 as a 2-year-old at Fair Grounds, finishing fourth in a maiden special weight.
King Commander (Mrs. L.R. Troiano, Mrs. Joe W. Brown, E.E. Weymouth)—Champion Steeplechaser of 1954 won once in seven starts at Fair Grounds during the 1951-52 season.
Fast Attack (Har-Bar Ranch, Elcee-H Breeding Farms, Harry Wells)—Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 1969 began her career with four starts at Fair Grounds, including a debut maiden special weight win, in 1969.
Furl Sail (Mrs. E.K. Thomas, Mrs. E.K. Thomas, J. Winans)—Champion 3-Year-Old Filly of 1967 began her career with three starts at Fair Grounds, including a debut maiden special weight win, in 1966. Won three straight at Fair Grounds in 1967, including the Thelma Stakes and the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Chou Croute (Folsom Farms and Jones Jr., E.V. Benjamin III & William G. Clark, B. Dunham)—Champion Sprinter of 1972 won 13 of her first 14 races, including her first two at Fair Grounds in 1970 and another at Fair Grounds in 1971.
Davona Dale* (Calumet Farm, Calumet Farm, John Veitch)—Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 1979 won her only start at Fair Grounds, the 1979 Debutante, by seven lengths.
Smart Angle (Ryehill Farm, Ryeholl Farm, Woody Stephens)—Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 1979 finished second by a head in her only start at Fair Grounds, the 1980 Fair Grounds Oaks.
Top Bid (Mrs. Ogden Phipps, Wheatley Stable, D.M. Smithwick)—Champion Steeplechaser of 1970 finished sixth in the 1967 Louisiana Derby.
Before Dawn (Calumet Farm, Calumet Farm, John Veitch)—Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 1981 won the 1982 Fair Grounds Oaks by 2 1/2 lengths.
John Henry* (Dotsam Stable, Golden Chance Farm, Ron McAnally)—Two-time Horse of the Year (1981 and 1984, long after competing in Louisiana), racing’s most accomplished gelding started his career at Jefferson Downs and Evangeline Downs before coming to Fair Grounds, where he was winless in nine starts during the 1977-78 season.
Risen Star (Louie Roussel III & Lamarque Stable, Arthur Hancock III & Leone J. Peters, Louie Roussel III)—Champion Three-Year-Old of 1988, winner of that year’s Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, started his career at Louisiana Downs before making five starts at Fair Grounds during the 1987-88 season, including four wins: two allowance races, the Derby Trial and the Louisiana Derby.
Tiffany Lass (Aaron Jones, Aaron Jones, Laz Barrera)—Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 1986 won the first eight starts of her career, including four at Fair Grounds in her championship year: an allowance, the Thelma Stakes, the Davona Dale Stakes and the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Answer Lively (John Franks, John Franks, Bobby Barnett)—Champion Two-Year-Old Male of 1998 raced three times at Fair Grounds as a 3-year-old, finishing second in both the Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby.
Flat Top (Mrs. Henry Gerry, Landon Knight, Janet Elliot)—Champion Steeplechaser of 1998 and 2002 started his career in flat races, finishing eighth in his debut in a 1996 Fair Grounds maiden special weight.
Real Quiet (Mike Pegram, Little Hill Farm, Bob Baffert)—Champion Three-Year-Old Male of 1998 started his 4-year-old campaign with a second-place finish in the 1999 New Orleans Handicap.
Silverbulletday* (Mike Pegram, Little Hill Farm, Bob Baffert)—Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 1999 won that year’s Fair Grounds Oaks by three lengths before going on to win the Kentucky Oaks and four Grade I races overall.
Smoke Glacken (Kerkenny & Levy & Roberts, Perry Rosebrock, Henry Carroll)—Champion Sprinter of 1997 started his 3-year-old season in 1997 with a win in the Black Gold Handicap before finishing third in the Louisiana Derby.
War Emblem (The Thoroughbred Corporation, Charles Nuckols Jr. & Sons, Bob Baffert)—Champion Three-Year-Old Male of 2002 won an allowance race at Fair Grounds in 2001 and raced in the Lecomte Stakes and Risen Star Stakes before capturing the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
Mineshaft (Owners and breeders Will Farish, James Elkins Jr, & Temple Webber Jr., trainer Neil Howard)—Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male in 2003 won three of four starts at Fair Grounds during the 2002-2003 season, including the Diplomat Way Handicap and the New Orleans Handicap.
Ashado (Starlight Stable, Paul Saylor and Martin Johns; Aaron U. Jones and Marie D. Jones; Todd Pletcher)—Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 2004 and Champion Older Female of 2005 won the 2004 Fair Grounds Oaks by 3 ¾ lengths.
Indian Blessing (Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Bob Baffert)—Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 2007 and Champion Female Sprinter of 2008 won the 2008 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds before finishing second to Proud Spell in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Proud Spell (Brereton Jones, Brereton Jones, Larry Jones)—Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 2008 finished second to Indian Blessing in the 2008 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds before winning the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Rachel Alexandra (Stonestreet Stables & Harold McCormick, Dolphus Morrison, Steve Asmussen)—Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 2009 won that year’s Fair Grounds Oaks en route to a historic campaign in which she won the Kentucky Oaks, the Preakness and five other stakes races. She defeated male horses in Grade I races three times that year, in the Preakness, the Haskell Invitational and the Woodward.
New Orleans Ladies Field Statistics
Career records: Rachel Alexandra, 14-11-2-0; Rest of field combined, 67-19-12-6.
Career earnings: Rachel Alexandra, $2,948,354; Rest of field combined, $1,044,097.
Cumulative career earnings of New Orleans Ladies field: $3,992,451.
About the Race Name
The inspiration for the race name New Orleans Ladies comes from the 1978 song of the same title. Written by Hoyt Garrick & Leon Medica and originally recorded by Louisiana’s LeRoux, the South Louisiana rock band that still tours the country, “New Orleans Ladies” was a smash hit regionally.
Louisiana’s LeRoux was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in October. “New Orleans Ladies” was named “New Orleans Song of the Century” in a 1999 Gambit Weekly readers’ poll, beating out more widely known hits, including “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?”