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Clear Sailing for Rachel in New Orleans Ladies

Will Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra enjoy clear sailing in Fair Grounds’ upcoming $200,000 New Orleans Ladies March 13 when she makes her first start of the 2010 racing season?

Not necessarily. Among those possible to challenge “Rachel” in the inaugural running of the 1 1/16-mile test for older fillies and mares is a filly named Clear Sailing, trained by Glenn Delahoussaye and owned by Keith and Ginger Myers of Coteau Grove Farms.

Clear Sailing, a 4-year-old daughter of 2003 Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, is an undefeated three-for-three this season at Fair Grounds, with her most recent tally coming in the $60,000 Pelleteri Stakes at the 1 1/16-mile distance on Feb. 13.

“She’s doing great,” said Delahoussaye of Clear Sailing Monday morning while speaking over the phone from his headquarters at the Evangeline Training Center. “She’s going to work Wednesday and we’ll see how she works and how she comes out of it and take things from there. We’re working her Wednesday with the intention of running her in the New Orleans Ladies.

“The way I see it, right now we’ve got two options,” said Delahoussaye. “She’s already nominated to the (Grade III) Azeri at Oaklawn (March 6) and also the New Orleans Ladies, but the New Orleans Ladies fits our schedule a little better. Right now we’re trying to keep our filly’s races at least a month apart, because my owners have this dream of winning a stakes races at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week. The New Orleans Ladies would keep us on a schedule for Churchill’s (Grade II) La Troienne Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day. That’s our long term goal.

“Now, I don’t think there’s any trainer in the world who’s insane enough to say he’s looking forward to running his horse against Rachel Alexandra,” said Delahoussaye, “but for me this race is not about whether it’s ‘Rachel’ or ‘not Rachel’ in there against our horse. The New Orleans Ladies fits the progression about where I wanted to be at this point in time when I set up the whole progression plan for our filly a long time ago when I was keeping that Kentucky Derby week goal in mind.”

New Orleans Ladies Probables
Nominations for the New Orleans Ladies closed Saturday with 16 fillies and mares on the list. Of those, seven are considered probable with a few others still mulling it over. In addition to Rachel Alexandra and Clear Sailing, the probables, according to stakes coordinator Scott Jones among other sources, include the Brazilian-bred Grade II Bayakoa Handicap winner Zardana, owned by Arnold Zetcher and trained by John Shirreffs, the conditioner of Zenyatta; Gold Mark Farm’s Double Espresso, winner of Fair Grounds’six-furlong Pan Zareta Stakes Feb. 20; Robert Adams’ Unforgotten, second in Fair Grounds’ $100,000 Daily Racing Form Distaff  Dec. 19; Jim Tafel’s Fighter Wing, second by a neck to Clear Sailing in the Pelleteri; and Steve Asmussen’s Pleasantly Blessed, second in Sam Houston’s $50,000 Jersey Lilly Jan. 30.

Monday’s Rachel Alexandra Report
Stonestreet Stable’s Rachel Alexandra received her usual glowing report from Fair Grounds clocker Billy Pettingill Monday morning, one day prior to her scheduled Tuesday work in preparation for Fair Grounds’ upcoming inaugural running of the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies March 13.

“She came out on the track about 6:20 this morning,” said Pettingill, “and she really took over the bit. She was really rolling when she came by us. She was very happy doing her thing out there. It’s a good thing she’s working tomorrow (Tuesday).

“I’ve noticed over the last several mornings they’ve had a figure 8 (bridle) on her as part of her equipment,” said Pettingill. “They say it helps to relax her. They say she seems to be more settled when she has it on.”

Tizaqueena May Be Bayou Handicap Bound
Darley Stable’s Tizaqueena, best by three-quarters of a length in Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial Handicap Feb. 27, came out of her winning effort in good order, according to trainer Mike Stidham, who also said the daughter of Tiznow remains a possibility for Fair Grounds’ upcoming $100,000 Bayou Handicap for older fillies and mares scheduled for about a mile and a sixteenth over the Stall-Wilson turf course on Fair Grounds Oaks Day March 26.

“We’re going to take a hard look at (the Bayou) for her,” Stidham said, “but we’re also looking at a couple of races at Keeneland for her.”

Darley Stable’s Tybalt, who gave Stidham a training double on that same day, is being considered for Fair Grounds’ Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day March 27, the trainer said.  

“However, we’d prefer a firm turf course that day like he had when he ran in California,” Stidham added. “If it looks too soft (for the Muniz Memorial) we probably wouldn’t run him.”

Oh, Canada – First in Hockey – then the Louisiana Derby?
Sam-Son Farm’s Hotep, the full brother to last year’s Queen’s Plate winner Eye of the Leopard, ran a disappointing 10th in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes here Feb. 20, but was handicapped by an outside post position as well as a troubled trip.

Was the son of A. P. Indy still under consideration for the Grade II Louisiana Derby March 27?

“It (the $750,000 Louisiana Derby) is still a possibility for us,” said trainer Mark Frostad Monday morning at Fair Grounds. “We’ll just keep truckin’ along with him and see how he does leading up to the race.

“Actually, the post position didn’t bother us as much as it could have,” said Frostad of the Risen Star disappointment. “Robby (Albarado, jockey) did a good job getting him over as quick as he did, but he had to use him a little bit and then he got knocked around some. Basically, our horse (Hotep) was done at the head of the stretch. We’ll see how he trains before we make a (Louisiana Derby) decision.”