Ria Antonia Works, Aimed for Rachel Alexandra

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Ria Antonia appears headed for a start in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Feb. 22 rather than facing males in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II).

Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing’s daughter of Rockport Harbor accomplished a five-furlong breeze in company Feb. 9 in 1:01 4/5 under the watchful eyes of trainer Jeremiah Englehart and principal owner Ron Paolucci. She seemed well within herself while under a good hold from her exercise rider Elizabeth Dobles while overtaking workmate Bump Bump, a 3-year-old maiden filly who was clocked 1:02 3/5.

"She (Ria Antonia) couldn't have done it much easier than that," said Paolucci. "She (Dobles) had a good hold on her and I really liked the way she galloped out."

Idle since her Breeders' Cup win, Ria Antonia had been originally penciled in to make her first start as a sophomore against male rivals in the Risen Star on Louisiana Derby Preview Day. But following three days of lost training during a rare cold snap in New Orleans that plan was abandoned.

"It looks like the Risen Star is going to come up with a big field," said Paolucci. "Since this will be her first start back, I thought the smaller field (in the Rachel Alexandra) might be a little easier on her."

At the conclusion of Sunday's move trainer Englehart, who first visited Fair Grounds several years ago but has been absent most of this winter, took a moment to survey the track's conformation before returning to the barn area.

"I remember realizing how long the stretch run was when I came here before," said Englehart, "and with the long stride this filly has I thought this would be the perfect place to bring her to get her started on her 3-year-old campaign. Of course, our real goal this season is three or four races down the road, so this race coming up will give us a chance to see exactly where we are with that plan."

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