Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has put together a $200,000 stakes race for older fillies and mares in hopes of luring Horse of the Year candidate Rachel Alexandra for her 2010 debut. The race, named the New Orleans Ladies Stakes, will be run March 13 at 1 1/16 miles.
Rachel Alexandra, trained by Steve Asmussen, has been stabled at the New Orleans track since last week. Last year, the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro was an easy winner of Fair Grounds’ Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) at the same distance.
“We’re delighted to have perhaps the greatest racehorse in the world training over our surface again this winter,” said Fair Grounds vice president and general manager Eric Halstrom. “Our hope is that once Rachel Alexandra is ready for a race she won’t have to travel any farther than the 100 yards from her stall door to our track. We’ll be cheering for her wherever she goes, but we would love to see her run here in New Orleans.”
Rachel Alexandra has been exercising over the Fair Grounds track on a daily basis since shortly after her arrival from Churchill Downs Nov. 27. Asmussen has said a specific race for Rachel Alexandra’s comeback won’t be discussed until she is closer to being ready, which he estimated as “no sooner than March.” Majority owner Jess Jackson is similarly not getting ahead of himself but was recently quoted as saying a race at the Fair Grounds was a possibility.
“If the timing is right for Rachel, we will do everything in our power to make the race attractive to her connections,” Halstrom said. “We’re ready to roll out the red carpet.”
The New Orleans Ladies is the richest race of the season for fillies and mares and serves as a counterpart to the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) for older horses.
“With a $200,000 purse we expect the New Orleans Ladies to become a regular fixture on the stakes schedule that will attract top females from throughout the region and perhaps beyond,” Halstrom said.