Fans of Rachel Alexandra are invited to sign a 15-foot “Get Well Soon, Rachel” banner that will hang in the paddock area throughout the weekend at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks winner and Horse of the Year is recovering from abdominal surgery performed last week following complications from foaling. The Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies will be run at Fair Grounds on Saturday as part of Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford.
Fair Grounds guests can sign the banner anytime during this week’s live racing, Thursday to Sunday. First post on Thursday and Sunday is 1 p.m. First post for Friday’s Starlight Racing program is 5 p.m. and first post for Saturday’s 13-race card is 12:30 p.m. At the end of the weekend, the “Get Well Soon, Rachel” banner will be shipped to Barbara Banke, owner of the Stonestreet Farm that campaigned Rachel Alexandra from her Preakness win to retirement.
Rachel Alexandra was elected to the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame in 2011 on the basis of her impressive victory in the 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks, crossing the wire 1 ¾ lengths in front while being geared down by her regular jockey, Calvin Borel. She mounted a historic campaign that season, winning all eight of her races including the Preakness Stakes, becoming the first filly to win the Triple Crown’s middle jewel since 1924, and the Woodward against older males.
Rachel Alexandra made her 4-year-old debut at Fair Grounds (the first reigning Horse of the Year to start in New Orleans since Whirlaway in 1942), attracting a record crowd that would see her finish second in the New Orleans Ladies.
Following Rachel Alexandra’s retirement, Fair Grounds renamed the final prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks in her honor.
Now a 7-year-old mare, Rachel Alexandra is recovering at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington, Ky.
Rachel Alexandra delivered a 140-pound filly last Tuesday, after which she underwent exploratory surgery to determine the cause of excess fluid in her abdominal cavity. A damaged section of her small colon was discovered and was surgically repaired but a serious infection soon developed. The foal, by multiple Grade I winner Bernardini, is healthy and is with a nurse mare at Stonestreet near Lexington.