Rachel Alexandra, expected to be among the favorites for next month's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), drew the rail against four opponents in the $250,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park April 5.
Trained by Hal Wiggins for owners Mike Lauffer and Dolphus Morrison, who bred her, the impressive daughter of Medaglia d'Oro brings a three-race winning streak into the Fantasy, a 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-old fillies. Regular jockey Calvin Borel rides.
She is coming off a 1 3/4-length triumph in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) on a sloppy track in new Orleans March 14, a race she won while eased up in the final sixteenth of a mile by Borel.
If all goes well, Wiggins plans to send the bay filly to the Kentucky Oaks May 1 at Churchill Downs, where she is expected to be one of the leading contenders in the prestigious nine-furlong event.
Rachel Alexandra's presence in the Fantasy kept the number of entries way below normal. Winner of the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) by nearly five lengths at Churchill last November, the Kentucky-bred started her 3-year-old season with an eight-length romp in the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Feb. 15. She has won five of eight starts with two seconds while earning $471,440 for her connections.
Also signed on for the Fantasy are the first three finishers in Oaklawn's Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) on March 15 -- Just Jenda, Afleet Deceit and Bon Jovi Girl.
Trained by Larry Jones for his wife Cindy, Just Jenda pressed pacesetter Bon Jovi Girl in the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee before taking over in the stretch and sweeping to a three-length victory. The triumph was the second stakes win in three starts for the daughter of Menifee. She captured the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds Jan. 10. Overall, the chestnut filly has won four of six starts while earning $205,400.
Afleet Deceit overcame some early traffic issues in the Honeybee to rally from last to edge Bon Jovi Girl for second in willing fashion for trainer Terry Gestes. The Northern Afleet filly is no stranger to Rachel Alexandra, either, as the runner-up in the one-mile Martha Washington. William Stiritz owns the improving bay, who has just a maiden win to show for six starts but has posted three second-place finishes.
Bon Jovi Girl, romping winner of both Fairway and Blue Hen stakes at Delaware Park as a 2-year-old, was the 17-10 favorite in the Honeybee in her second start of the year. Trained by Timothy Ritchey, who is part owner along with Carol Zacney's Blaze of Glory Stable, the Malibu Moon miss began the year with a confident 2 3/4-length win over an optional claiming allowance field at Oaklawn Feb. 26. The dark bay filly has fashioned a career mark of 4-1-1 in eight starts with earnings of $199,420.
Rounding out the field is Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor's Cats, a daughter of Storm Cat who broke her maiden going six furlongs at Oaklawn in her sixth start on March 15. D. Wayne Lukas conditions the chestnut filly who claimed her victory by 1 3/4 lengths over a track rated good.
$250,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:11 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Rachel Alexandra (KY), 121, Calvin H. Borel
2. Afleet Deceit (KY), 117, M. Clifton Berry
3. Just Jenda (KY), 121, Gabriel Saez
4. Bon Jovi Girl (KY), 121, Jose C. Caraballo
5. Cats (KY), 117, Israel Ocampo