Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) victress Unlimited Budget has been pegged the 5-2 morning line favorite for the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Feb. 23, in what will be her season debut for Repole Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher.
The Rachel Alexandra, one of six stakes worth a total of $1,035,000 on Fair Grounds' Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford, is the final local prep for the March 30 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II). It will be run as race nine with an approximate post time of 4:25 p.m. CST. Five of the past eight Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to victory in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Unlimited Budget, the 122-pound highweight for the Rachel Alexandra, leads a field of 10 sophomore fillies hoping to continue on the road to the Kentucky Oaks, with the 50 points to be awarded to the Rachel Alexandra winner virtually guaranteeing a spot in the field for the $1 million race on May 3. The Rachel Alexandra runner-up will earn 20 points, with 10 points to third, and five points to fourth.
Unlimited Budget is a daughter of 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Street Sense
who will put a perfect 2-for-2 juvenile record on the line when starting for the first time in 2013. In the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle on Nov. 24 she went wire-to-wire and continued willingly late for a 1 1/4-length score under mild hand urging. Before that, she broke her maiden at first asking by 9 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct Racetrack
Fair Grounds' two-time defending jockey champion and current leading rider Rosie Napravnik will be in the saddle from post seven aboard Unlimited Budget; Napravnik became the first female rider in history to win the Kentucky Oaks last year aboard Believe You Can
The 7-2 second choice in the morning line for the Rachel Alexandra is Bret Jones's Dancinginthecircle
, who won the $100,000 By The Light Stakes at Delta Downs
in her only start as a 3-year-old by nine lengths on Jan. 4. The daughter of Divine Park
was third beaten a neck for the win in the Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III) at Arlington Park last September. She is trained by Larry Jones, who last year saddled Believe You Can to win the Fair Grounds Oaks and go on to victory in the Kentucky Oaks. The Brereton Jones-Larry Jones tandem also pulled off a Fair Grounds Oaks-Kentucky Oaks double with Proud Spell in 2008. Jockey Terry Thompson will be in the irons from post three.
Third choice on the morning line is Haynes Stable and partners' Every Way
, who has a third in Woodbine's Mazarine Stakes (Can-III), a fourth in the $75,000 La Senorita Stakes at Retama Park
, and two wins including her most recent allowance score from four lifetime starts. Jose Lezcano gets the mount on the Mike Stidham trainee from post eight.
Also bearing watching are the Tom Proctor-trained Midnight Ballet
, who exits a fifth-place finish on the all weather track at Betfair Hollywood Park
in the Dec. 8 Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I), and Kellyn Gorder trainee Finding More
, coming off a fifth in Fair Grounds' Silverbulletday Stakes after three straight wins including the local six-furlong Letellier Memorial Stakes in December.
$200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, approximate post 4:25 p.m. CST), fillies, 3YOs, 1 1/16 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Finding More (WA), J. Jacinto, 116, K Gorder
2. Alluring Lady (FL), R.E. Eramia, 116, R W Werner
3. Dancinginthecircle (KY), T.J. Thompson, 116, J L Jones
4. Neith (KY), J.K. Court, 116, D W Lukas
5. Blue Violet (KY), M. Guidry, 116, J L Jones
6. Promise Me More (KY), M. Mena, 118, W E Hawley
7. Unlimited Budget (FL), R. Napravnik, 122, T A Pletcher
8. Every Way (KY), J. Lezcano, 118, M Stidham
9. Midnight Ballet (KY), G.L. Stevens, 120, T F Proctor
10. Daddy's Song (KY), S. Bridgmohan, 118, J K Desormeaux