L & M Racing’s Rachel Alexandra did nothing to diminish her status as the possible favorite for the 135th running of the Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) when what was planned as an easy work on Thursday at Churchill Downs became another sizzling display of her considerable talent.
The 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro had regular jockey Calvin Borel in the saddle as she zipped five furlongs on a “fast” track in :59.40 – which tied as the fastest of 21 works at the distance. Borel was motionless in the irons as Rachel Alexandra covered the distance in fractions of :12.60, :24.40, :36 and :47.60. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.60 and seven-eighth of a mile s in 1:24.20.
The breeze was the next-to-last piece of serious training before the May 1 Oaks. Trainer Hal Wiggins said she would probably breeze an easy half-mile on the Monday before the race.
“She does it so easy,” Wiggins said. “The main thing we want to do now is just keep her fresh and keep her ready.”
Rachel Alexandra won the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park last time out – her fourth consecutive stakes victory dating back to the Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs in November. She has six wins in nine career races and earnings of $621,440.
Other Kentucky Oaks candidates on the grounds at Churchill Downs include Arnold Zetcher, LLC’s Gabby’s Golden Gal, who scored a 13-length victory for Baffert in the Sunland Park Oaks for trainer Bob Baffert, and J. Paul Reddam’s Nan, fourth to champion Stardom Bound in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) for trainer Craig Dollase.
GOMEZ TO RIDE STARDOM BOUND IN OAKS – Stardom Bound, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2008, will have a new jockey when she attempts to get back on the winning track in the Kentucky Oaks. Eclipse Award winner Garrett Gomez.
Mike Smith had been aboard the champion throughout her career, including a third-place finish in the Ashland (GI) at Keeneland that snapped a string of five consecutive wins in Grade I stakes races.
IEAH Stables’ Michael Iavarone announced the rider change and said the filly, now trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., would ship to Churchill Downs next week.
McLAUGHLIN HAS PAIR OF OAKS HOPES
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has one of the favorites for the Kentucky Oaks in his care in West Point Thoroughbreds’ Justwhistledixie, but there’s a chance McLaughlin could saddle a pair of fillies in the big race on May 1 at Churchill Downs.
Justwhistledixie, who made Gulfstream Park’s recent Bonnie Miss (GII) her fifth consecutive victory, is considered definite for the Oaks. But McLaughlin is also looking at the Kentucky Oaks as a possible destination for Fitz Just Right, the runner-up in the Bourbonette Oaks (GIII) at Turfway Park.
“She is training so well,” McLaughlin said about Fitz Just Right. “We were hoping to go to the Black-Eyed Susan (Grade II at Pimlico on May 15) with a fresh horse, but she is doing so well, you have to take a look at it.”
Both fillies are scheduled to work Friday morning on Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface.