Ria Antonia, an imposing daughter of Rockport Harbor who missed the Nov. 2 Juvenile Fillies by a nose but was declared the winner over eventual 2-year-old champion filly She's a Tiger, has been training at Fair Grounds since early January. She pleased conditioner Jeremiah Englehart with her final prep for the 1 1/16-mile Rachel Alexandra, to be the first start of her sophomore season, a half in :47 flat on Feb. 16, fastest of 95 moves at the distance on the day.
Ria Antonia carries co-topweight of 122 pounds with jockey Joe Talamo in the irons from post 6. She is matched in the weights with California invader Streaming from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, and with Untapable from the barn of Steve Asmussen.
Streaming, bred and campaigned by Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Edward McGhee, won the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I) on Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park last December in just the second start of her career. The Smart Strike filly opened her sophomore campaign with a closing second by half a length to Fashion Plate in the Feb. 1 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) going a mile at Santa Anita Park in her first dirt try. Jockey Martin Garcia gets the mount from the 2 hole.
Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings also has Got Lucky, bred and raced in partnership with Philip J. Steinberg. The A.P. Indy runner was second by a neck to fellow Todd Pletcher trainee Stopchargingmaria in the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack last November while still a maiden, and went on to win her first race by 5 1/4 lengths at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 29. Got Lucky will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith from the 5 spot.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Untapable won the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) last fall and finished third in the Hollywood Starlet, recovering well from an eighth-place finish in the Juvenile Fillies. A Tapit homebred, she makes her first run of the year with Rosie Napravnik in the irons from post 4.
Connie Apostelos' Shanon Nicole cannot be discounted. The daughter of Majestic Warrior began her career on grass but recently won her second race and first try on dirt by 4 1/2 lengths going 1 mile and 70 yards when the Jan. 10 Fair Grounds allowance was taken off the turf. Trained by Mike Maker, she will be ridden by Robby Albarado from the 3 hole and carries 118.
Completing the field for the Rachel Alexandra are Glockenburg's Army and L. T. B. and partners' Express Model.
The Rachel Alexandra, Fair Grounds' final designed prep for the March 29 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), is one of five stakes—four of them graded—that will be offered on Saturday's Louisiana Derby Preview Day program presented by Lamarque Ford.
The Rachel Alexandra provides points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers on the road to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I); five of the last nine Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win that prestigious event at Churchill Downs on the day before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
$200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, approximate post 4:25 p.m. CST), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Army (KY), A. Reznikov, 116, P Vashchenko
2. Streaming (KY), M. Garcia, 122, B Baffert
3. Shanon Nicole (KY), R. Albarado, 118, M Maker
4. Untapable (KY), R. Napravnik, 122, S M Asmussen
5. Got Lucky (KY), M.E. Smith, 116, T A Pletcher
6. Ria Antonia (KY), J. Talamo, 122, J C Englehart