Kentucky homebred Summer Applause bounced back from a loss in her first start of this year when she rallied to win the $194,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Feb. 25.
Bret Calhoun, who trains the filly for Gillian Campbell, R Group Management, and breeder Greenwood Lodge Farm, said the goal is the grade I Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in early May.
Summer Applause, ridden by Robby Albarado, wasn’t an early factor in the 1 1/16-mile Rachel Alexandra despite having shown early speed in her previous two races. The Harlan's Holiday filly rated in fourth behind front-running Avie's Sense, who was being tracked by Inny Minnie and favored Believe You Can.
Early fractions for the race were :24.16 for the opening quarter mile, :47.54 for the half mile, and 1:12.01 for six furlongs. Avie’s Sense proved a tough competitor through one mile in 1:36.78, but Summer Applause wore her down in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by one length in 1:43.30 on a fast track.
Inny Minnie held third, while Believe You Can, inside until the top of the stretch, failed to rally and finished fourth.
Summer Applause, who won her first stakes, paid $8.40 to win as the third choice. She finished second to Believe You Can in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds Jan. 21.
Calhoun after the race said he was nervous given the moderate pace in the Rachel Alexandra, but Summer Applause was able to overcome the trip.
“We’re just going to enjoy the moment and get the right (race) spacing for her,” Calhoun said. “The goal is the Kentucky Oaks.”
Summer Applause is now three-for-five lifetime with earnings of $202,906.