Samantha Nicole, a full sister to the 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, finished second in her career debut today at Fair Grounds. Running for the familiar connections of Stonestreet Stables and trainer Steve Asmussen, the bay filly broke poorly under rider, Rosie Napravnik, and tracked the field back in last for the first part of the maiden race, before mounting a rally from the outside. Finishing with good energy, she was no match for the winner, but easily beat the rest to gain the place as the 1-2 favorite.
Meanwhile, the winner, Handmade was making her third start for trainer Neil Howard and looked good in winning off by 6 1/2 lengths as the 5-2 second choice. Final time for the 1 mile and 70 yards was 1:45.00. The three-year-old homebred daughter of Candy Ride, for owner Will Farish, exploited the advantage of having two races under her belt, including a good second place finish over this same trip last time. While all eyes were on Rachel’s little sister going in, it appears this one may be one to watch, as well.
As for Samantha Nicole, the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro looked a little too full of herself before the race, and the bad beginning from the gate was no way to expect to be a first-out winner. Having said that, the 2012 Keeneland November sales purchase of $700,000 got herself back into the race nicely on the backstretch. Her long, smooth stride looked good coasting into contention on the far turn. While she had no answers for the winner at the top of the lane, the fact that she kept running on well down the stretch is a good sign.
With a better break alone, she should be tough to deny in her next start against maidens, and any improvement after that, could move her towards being a nice filly.
Obviously the 6 1/2-length loss was not what Rachel maniacs were looking for, but overall, it was a decent debut to the first son or daughter of Lotta Kim to race since Rachel Alexandra retired in 2010. Keep in mind, her soon to be Hall of Fame full sister, five years her senior, did not win her first career start either.