Wayne Catalano dared to speak highly of one dark bay filly early on, even in the days when potential could be fleeting and less could go right than wrong.
Finally, down the stretch at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Feb. 25 in the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2), jockey Channing Hill—also the trainer's son-in-law—felt that next-level greatness as he rode Coffeepot Stables' Farrell home. Picking up her third consecutive stakes score, the Malibu Moon filly aired by 3 1/2 lengths after showing the way from the start through solid fractions in the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-old fillies.
It was homebred Farrell's second win on Fair Grounds' Road to the Kentucky Oaks, and she vaulted to the top of the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard, where she now has 70 points. She cleared by 2 3/4 lengths in her season debut, the Jan. 21 Silverbulletday Stakes.
"Wayne has been telling me since the first day he got her that this filly's the real deal, and now I finally believe him," Hill said in the winner's circle. "She's pretty versatile, so I was really just playing it by the break. She settled so nice, she does everything so well."
Off at odds of 7-2 from post 2 in a field of seven peers, Farrell opened several lengths on her rivals through opening fractions of :23.92 and :47.32. Stonestreet Stables' 3-2 choice Valadorna loomed from fifth with a strong outside move as three-quarters went in 1:12.22, but flattened at the top of the lane while Farrell kicked clear through a 1:37.18 mile. The final time on a fast track was 1:44.09.
"Very happy with the performance she gave me today," Catalano said. "She was pretty good. I was happy when (Hill) said she settled for him down the backside. Today was our race."
As was the race before, and the race before, when Farrell began her win streak with a victory in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. A logical next step for the talented filly would be the April 1 TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), New Orleans' final prep for the May 5 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).
"We'll talk about it and see what we're gonna do," Catalano said.
The winner returned $9.60, $4.80, and $3.20. Majestic Quality, a Quality Road maiden sent off at odds of 23-1, returned $15.60 and $5.40 after edging Valadorna ($2.20) for second. Wicked Lick, Shane's Girlfriend, Untapped, and Gris Gris completed the order of finish.
Farrell was bred in Kentucky out of the Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams, and improved her record to four wins and a third from six starts, for earnings of $361,357.