The Championship portion of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks kicks off Saturday with the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, and the 1 1/16-mile affair will award a total of 85 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) starting gate.
Vying for the winner’s share of 50 points will be seven fillies, including four from the January 21 Silverbulletday Stakes over the track. Farrell continued her juvenile success in that mile-and-70-yard test, which came two months after she closed out 2016 with a six-length triumph in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.
The Wayne Catalano trainee has partnered with Channing Hill throughout her five-race career and the duo will be back together again in the Rachel Alexandra.
Valadorna tries stakes rivals for only the second time in this spot, but her previous attempt resulted in a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) in her juvenile finale on November 5. The Curlin filly sandwiched that championship event between a six-length maiden win at Keeneland in October and a half-length allowance/optional claiming score in her sophomore bow on January 27 at Fair Grounds.
Julien Leparoux has been aboard for all of Valadorna’s races thus far and has been tabbed to be in the saddle once again by trainer Mark Casse.
Shane’s Girlfriend will be looking for a return to the winner’s circle after a well-beaten third behind Unique Bella in the Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) on January 8. That was the first loss for the Doug O’Neill pupil, who broke her maiden by 5 3/4 lengths and captured the Delta Downs Princess (G3) by 13 lengths during her two-year-old campaign. Mario Gutierrez will be aboard the Adios Charlie miss for the first time in the Rachel Alexandra.
The total distribution of points in the Rachel Alexandra will be 50-20-10-5 to the respective top four finishers. Wicked Lick and Gris Gris will do their best to earn part of that after being separated by only a head when second and third, respectively, in the Silverbulletday last out. Untapped also ran in that race, finishing fifth after breaking her maiden and taking an allowance/optional claimer by a combined 9 1/2 lengths.
Majestic Quality is the final entrant in the Rachel Alexandra and is 0-1-2 from seven starts so far.
(Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography)