Ria Antonia Works, Aimed for Rachel Alexandra

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner to forgo start against boys in first race back.

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."