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Stakes Advance: Grade III Rachel Alexandra



Invaders from New York and Florida – highlighted by Siena Farm’s Grade I winner Angela Renee – will take on a talented group of local fillies in the Grade III $175,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Feb. 21.  Going as the 10th of 12 races on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford, the Rachel Alexandra is contested at 1 1/16 miles and has produced four of the last ten Kentucky Oaks winners.

Todd Pletcher-trained Angela Renee, the beaten favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall, will look to get back on track after two consecutive losses, including a disappointing third last out in the Grade II $400,000 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 29.  A full-sister to multiple Grade I winner To Honor And Serve, the Kentucky homebred will be reunited with Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard the daughter of Bernardini when she took the Grade I $300,000 Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita three starts back.  The pair break from post six. 

The adept stable of trainer Eddie Kenneally will try to slip Freudie Anne into the winner’s circle in what would be a third consecutive victory for owners Marc Detampel, Fergus Galvin et al. Victorious last out on Dec. 14 in the restricted $100,000 East View Stakes at Aqueduct going a mile and 70 yards, the bay New York-bred will be running in open company for the first time.  The three-time winner has posted competitive speed figures, including an 86 Beyer in the aforementioned 9¾ length romp, and has shown early speed – both of which could make her a factor in this spot.  Mike Smith comes in from California and rides from post seven. 

Locally based trainer Larry Jones sends out three fillies, including Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s romping Listed $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes winner I’m a Chatterbox.  The chestnut daughter of Munnings should vie for favoritism as she hopes to once again go gate-to-wire for her connections.  This time, instead of having the rail post under Florent Geroux, the pair will break from the far outside post 10.  Jones also sends out Brereton C. Jones’ improving charge Lovely Maria.  A sharp winner of an optional claimer last out, the daughter of Majesticperfection has arguably been training as well as any horse on the grounds recently, including a bullet on Monday morning in :59.60.  Kerwin Clark rides from post five.  The last of the Jones triad is Calumet Farm’s White Clover.  Wheeling back on short rest after a failed grass attempt on Feb. 8, the full-sister to Grade I winner and Kentucky Oaks runner-up Ermine should appreciate the return to dirt from post two under Jose Riquelme. 

Another who has been working very well toward her second race of the year is the Wayne Catalano-trained multiple stakes winner West Coast Belle.  A Gary and Mary West homebred, the daughter of Tapit blitzed a half-mile in :47.20 on Feb. 7 at Fair Grounds and looks to improve upon a fourth-place finish in the Silverbulletday – the lone blemish on her four-race record.  As a juvenile, the gray filly impressively annexed the $62,000 Rags to Riches Stakes and Grade II $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes in succession at Churchill Downs.  Shaun Bridgmohan rides from post four.

One to watch in the Rachel Alexandra is Regis Racing’s Steve Asmussen trainee, Shook Up.  By Tapit out of Grade I-winning mare Sugar Shake, she was second last out to Lovely Maria after racing greenly in the stretch.  One race prior, she romped in a local maiden by 13½ lengths, earning the second-highest two-turn Beyer Speed Figure (93) for any filly in America – trumped only by I’m a Chatterbox’s 94 in the Silverbulletday – thus far in 2015.  Robby Albarado rides from the rail.

The remainder of the highly contentious Rachel Alexandra field is completed by Spendthrift Farm’s Al Stall, Jr.-trained two-time winner Harbour Island and Charles Fipke’s Dallas Stewart-trained homebred duo of Pleasant Tales and Forever Unbridled – both sharp two-turn winners at the meet.  Harbour Island, post nine, will have the return riding services of Miguel Mena in her first attempt beyond six furlongs.  Pleasant Tales, post three, will be reunited with Forest Boyce and try to make it two in a row after her Jan. 23 maiden victory.  Forever Unbridled and partner Brian Hernandez, Jr. will try to improve upon their runner-up effort in the Silverbulletday when they break from post eight.