Based on her unprecedented success as a 3-year-old filly
last year, Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra has been installed as the
prohibitive 1-5 morning line choice when she faces four female rivals in Fair
Grounds’ inaugural running of the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies this
Saturday in the super filly’s first start of the 2010 racing season.
The Ladies will be contested at 1 1/16-miles over the main
track at the historic Crescent
oval – the same venue where Rachel Alexandra underlined her initial 2009
success with a facile 1 3/4-length win in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks a year
ago. It will go at 5:15 p.m. CST as Race 10 on an 11-race program with first
post set for 12:40 p.m. CST.
Following her score in the 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks, Rachel
Alexandra journeyed to Hot Springs,
where she captured the Grade II Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn
After that, it was on to Churchill Downs, where she became the fourth of the
last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners to go on and capture the Grade I Kentucky
Oaks. However, her win under the Twin Spires was by 20 1/4-lengths with a
dominant performance on the day before the Kentucky Derby.
That Kentucky Oaks win proved to be the genesis of a
private sale to Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stable and his partner Harold
McCormick, who redirected her campaign under their trainer Steve
Asmussen toward a start against male rivals in the Grade I Preakness as the
middle jewel of the 2009 Triple Crown. There she beat Kentucky Derby winner Mine
That Bird by a length on May 16.
Back in against members of her own sex June 27 at Belmont Park,
Rachel Alexandra was dominant again in the Grade I Mother Goose, winning by 19
1/4-lengths, a performance that set up a challenge against older males
in the Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth
Aug. 2. That time she defeated Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird by six
lengths, setting up her final start of the year – again against older males in Saratoga’s
Grade I Woodward Stakes – where she withstood last year’s Grade II New Orleans
Handicap winner Macho Again by a head at the wire.
Her opponents Saturday in the New Orleans Ladies, where she
will be ridden once again by regular rider Calvin Borel, are headed by
Arnold Zetcher’s Brazilian-bred Zardana, fourth in Santa Anita Park’s
Grade II Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 13 but winner of Hollywood
Grade II Bayakoa Handicap before that. She will be ridden by Southern
California jockey David Flores and is pegged at
5-1 in the morning line.
Next in the morning line odds in the New Orleans Ladies at
6-1 is Coteau Grove Farms’ Clear Sailing, heroine of Fair Grounds’
$60,000 Pelleteri Stakes Feb. 13 and a winner by 8 3 /4-lengths here before
that in a first-level allowance race Jan. 17. Shane Sellers retains the
Completing the New Orleans Ladies field is a pair of 15-1
long shots – Robert Adams’ Unforgotten, seventh in the Sunshine Millions
Distaff at last asking Jan. 30 who will have Miguel Mena aboard; and Jim
Tafel’s Fighter Wing, second behind Clear Sailing in the Pelleteri. She
will have Corey Lanerie astride.
the complete field for the inaugural running of the $200,000 New Orleans
Ladies, for fillies and mares, four-year-olds and upward, at 1 1/16 miles, from
the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): Fighter Wing (Corey
Lanerie, Greg Geier, 15-1); Rachel Alexandra (Calvin Borel, Steve
Asmussen, 1-5); Zardana (David Flores, John Shirreffs, 5-1); Unforgotten
(Miguel Mena, Dallas Stewart, 15-1); and Clear Sailing (Shane Sellers,
Glenn Delahoussaye, 6-1).