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Rachel Alexandra Reigns in 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks
NEW ORLEANS, LA (March 14, 2009) – L & M Partners’ Rachel Alexandra justified her role as the 3-10 odds-on favorite in the $400,000 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks by drawing off for a 1 3/4-length victory Saturday at Fair Grounds.
Based on the impressive nature of her local score, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro stamped herself as a worthy candidate to follow in the footsteps of last year’s Fair Grounds Oaks winner Proud Spell, who went on to capture the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes and an eventual Eclipse Award as 2008’s top 3-year-old filly.
If Rachel Alexandra was to parlay her Fair Grounds Oaks win to one in this spring’s Kentucky Oaks, she would be the fourth of the last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners to pull off that prestigious graded stakes double.
Ridden by regular rider Calvin Borel and trained by veteran conditioner Hal Wiggins, Rachel Alexandra paid mutuels of $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10, toured the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.55 over the sloppy going and increased her career earnings to $471,440 with her fifth career victory in eight lifetime starts.
Coincidentally, the dominant filly Silverbulletday won the Fair Grounds Oaks 10 years ago this weekend over a similarly sloppy track, returning a $2.60 straight mutuel before going on to capture that spring’s Kentucky Oaks.
“Calvin set she was just picking her ears and doing it so easy,” said Wiggins, “just like she did it when she took the lead when she won the Golden Rod last fall at Churchill. She kind of surprised us when she took the lead that day but today we kind of wanted her out there so she didn’t get mud in her face on her first time over that kind of surface. But I really think she can be anywhere we want her to be.”
Flying Spur, always well placed, continued willingly late to be easily second best, returning $4.40 and $3.20 while finishing 11 lengths to the good of Our Dahlia, who paid $3.60 in the show position.
“She is a jockey’s dream,” said Borel. “She does whatever I want her to do.”
Despite the sloppy going, Rachel Alexandra recorded early splits of 23.40 and 47.54, and the running time (1:43.55) was the fastest since Ashado’s win in 2004 when she covered the distance in 1:43.07.
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation’s third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and nine off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds’ 137th Thoroughbred season will run from Nov. 14, 2008, through March 29, 2009, and its inaugural Quarter Horse meet was conducted from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.