NEW ORLEANS (Tuesday, February 21, 2012) – With the already announced defection of Ramona Bass’s morning-line choice Applauding from Saturday’s Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes, Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can is likely to assume the favorite’s mantle in this weekend’s $200,000 event for 3-year-old fillies that serves as the final designed local prep for the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks March 31.

After being the length and a half heroine of Fair Grounds’ $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes Jan. 21, Believe You Can obviously proved her mettle, but the brilliant but untested speed of Applauding did deserve a healthy measure of hand-clapping when handicapping the original seven Rachel Alexandra entrants.

With Applauding’s ability now a mute point, at least for this weekend, Believe You Can is expected to be the new choice in Saturday’s filly fixture. The daughter of Proud Citizen, who also sired Brereton Jones’s 2008 Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell, has been training with vigor for her trainer Larry Jones, most recently going a robust five furlongs in 1:00.60 Monday morning at Fair Grounds.

Defending jockey champion and current leading rider Rosie Napravnik, aboard Believe You Can in the Silverbulletday, returns in the irons Saturday.

However, one of those capable of providing strong competition for Believe You Can in the Rachel Alexandra, and originally the co-third choice in the projected line at entry-time, is the undefeated Table Three Ten, owned by Team Valor International of 2011 Kentucky Derby success, now trained by last year’s Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner Graham Motion and to be ridden Saturday by highly-regarded stakes jockey Javier Castellano.

Before winning her last start in allowance and $75,000 optional claiming company at Gulfstream by 2 3/4-lengths, Table Three Ten won her racing debut in the maiden ranks here at Fair Grounds by 5 1/4-lengths on Nov. 25 when trained by Mike Stidham.

Not to be discounted in the Rachel Alexandra are Gillian Campbell et al.’s Summer Applause, second behind Believe You Can in the Silverbulletday and to be ridden once again by Robby Albarado, Jake Ballis’s Inny Minnie, third in the Silverbulletday a nose farther back and to be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, and Tall Oaks Farm’s dangerous Avie’s Sense, who broke her maiden by 5 3/4-lengths at last asking here on Jan. 5 and will be have jockey James Graham aboard this weekend.

Naveed Chowhan’s Annaclone, with Miguel Mena named aboard, will round out the Rachel Alexandra field.