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Rachel Alexandra Draws Post Two for Saturday's New Orleans Ladies
Based on her unprecedented success as a 3-year-old filly last year, Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra has been installed as the prohibitive 1-5 morning line choice when she faces four female rivals in Fair Grounds’ inaugural running of the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies this Saturday in the super filly’s first start of the 2010 racing season.
The Ladies will be contested at 1 1/16-miles over the main track at the historic Crescent City oval – the same venue where Rachel Alexandra underlined her initial 2009 success with a facile 1 3/4-length win in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks a year ago. It will go at 5:15 p.m. CST as Race 10 on an 11-race program with first post set for 12:40 p.m. CST.
Following her score in the 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks, Rachel Alexandra journeyed to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where she captured the Grade II Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park. After that, it was on to Churchill Downs, where she became the fourth of the last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners to go on and capture the Grade I Kentucky Oaks. However, her win under the Twin Spires was by 20 1/4-lengths with a dominant performance on the day before the Kentucky Derby.
That Kentucky Oaks win proved to be the genesis of a private sale to Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stable and his partner Harold McCormick, who redirected her campaign under their trainer Steve Asmussen toward a start against male rivals in the Grade I Preakness as the middle jewel of the 2009 Triple Crown. There she beat Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird by a length on May 16.
Back in against members of her own sex June 27 at Belmont Park, Rachel Alexandra was dominant again in the Grade I Mother Goose, winning by 19 1/4-lengths, a performance that set up a challenge against older males in the Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park Aug. 2. That time she defeated Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird by six lengths, setting up her final start of the year – again against older males in Saratoga’s Grade I Woodward Stakes – where she withstood last year’s Grade II New Orleans Handicap winner Macho Again by a head at the wire.
Her opponents Saturday in the New Orleans Ladies, where she will be ridden once again by regular rider Calvin Borel, are headed by Arnold Zetcher’s Brazilian-bred Zardana, fourth in Santa Anita Park’s Grade II Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 13 but winner of Hollywood Park’s Grade II Bayakoa Handicap before that. She will be ridden by Southern California jockey David Flores and is pegged at 5-1 in the morning line.
Next in the morning line odds in the New Orleans Ladies at 6-1 is Coteau Grove Farms’ Clear Sailing, heroine of Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Pelleteri Stakes Feb. 13 and a winner by 8 3 /4-lengths here before that in a first-level allowance race Jan. 17. Shane Sellers retains the mount.
Completing the New Orleans Ladies field is a pair of 15-1 long shots – Robert Adams’ Unforgotten, seventh in the Sunshine Millions Distaff at last asking Jan. 30 who will have Miguel Mena aboard; and Jim Tafel’s Fighter Wing, second behind Clear Sailing in the Pelleteri. She will have Corey Lanerie astride.
$200,000 New Orleans Ladies
Race 10 (5:15 p.m. CST) 1 1/16 Miles
For fillies and mares 4-years-old and upward
Post Position, Horse (Jockey, Trainer, Weight, Morning Line Odds)
1. Fighter Wing (Corey Lanerie, Greg Geier, 117, 15-1)
2. Rachel Alexandra (Calvin Borel, Steve Asmussen, 123, 1-5)
3. Zardana (David Flores, John Shirreffs, 121, 5-1)
4. Unforgotten (Miguel Mena, Dalas Stewart, 117, 15-1)
5. Clear Sailing (Shane Sellers, Glenn Delahoussaye, 117, 6-1)