Preakness (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra galloped about a mile and a quarter on Belmont’s fast main track early June 26, well in advance of a 9:30 a.m. EDT downpour.
On June 27, racing’s hottest star will be a heavy favorite against four rivals in the $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I). Admission is free for all women and pink bracelets with Rachel Alexandra’s name will be given away to the first 10,000 customers in support of owner Jess Jackson’s decision to donate a percentage of the filly’s future earnings to the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure” for breast cancer.
“We send her out with the second set,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “We don’t want her to be a guinea pig and we don’t want to send her out there when the track’s all torn up.”
The Mother Goose will be the second start that Asmussen has trained Rachel Alexandra for and already he is completely enamored with everything the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro does.
“She is a great pleasure to be around,” Asmussen said. “She’s very endearing in the way she looks and acts.”
While Rachel Alexandra has been installed as the 1-5 morning line favorite for the Mother Goose after beating Mine That Bird in the Preakness, the presence of the speedy Malibu Prayer and Flashing could make things slightly tricky for jockey Calvin Borel aboard the eight-time winner.
“I think it’s an extremely respectable race,” Asmussen said. “That said, our only concerns are what we can control. We have to take her over there in the right state of mind and right condition and hope she runs her race.”
In other news from Belmont, Charitable Man, fourth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), is a possible starter in the $200,000 Dwyer (gr. II) on July 4. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he wants to discuss the colt’s plan with owner William K. Warren.
“He’s just flying,” McLaughlin said of Charitable Man, winner of the Futurity (gr. II) and Peter Pan (gr. II)—both at Belmont. “He’s doing so well that it’s going to be hard to pass, but he’s already won two grade IIs, so what is there to gain? We want to have him at his best for the Travers (gr. I) and we have to figure out the best way to do that.”
McLaughlin said he was most likely to use the $500,000 Jim Dandy (gr. II) on Aug. 1 as a prep for the $1 million Shadwell Travers on Aug. 29, both at Saratoga.
Also, the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) is setting up as a huge rematch between millionaire Fabulous Strike and New York-bred Driven by Success. The two met in the Carter Handicap (gr. I) at Aqueduct, dueling from the start with Fabulous Strike holding on for second and Driven by Success third behind a perfect trip winner in Kodiak Kowboy.
Fabulous Strike was not originally being pointed to the Tom Fool, but now the 6-year-old gelding is likely to run.
“As long as he keeps acting well we’re looking at the Tom Fool,” trainer Todd Beattie said of the True North (gr. III) winner. “I don’t see any reason not to go. I’m not thrilled about the race being seven furlongs, but there is not another choice going six.”
Beattie added that Fabulous Strike, winless in three starts at seven furlongs, will work either June 28 or 29 at Penn National.
With Ramon Dominguez likely to ride Fabulous Strike in the Tom Fool, Driven by Success will need a new rider. Mike Luzzi was aboard for the Carter, but trainer Bruce Levine said he would look into John Velazquez’s availability.
Driven by Success comes off a game third-place finish in the Shadwell Met Mile (gr. I). After setting a quick pace, the 4-year-old was only beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Bribon.
“If he could have slowed down a little bit more between the half and three-quarters, he might have won.” Levine said of the gelding’s Met effort. “He had a rough trip in the Toboggan, but all his other races for us have been great.”
If Fabulous Strike does indeed run in the Tom Fool, that could have an impact on Woody Stephens (gr. II) winner Munnings, who was nominated to both the Tom Fool and Dwyer. His connections have yet to make a decision on his next start.