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
“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.”
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
“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