Budding star Hoosier Philly kicks off her sophomore campaign in Saturday’s $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds. The 1 1/16-mile feature is a key race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, worth points on an enhanced 50-20-15-10-5 scale to the top five. 
But if Hoosier Philly stays unbeaten, the discussion will turn to whether she tries the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail. Trainer Tom Amoss has expressed serious intent, and bettors took note by backing her into 11-1, the third overall choice, in Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager
Here are three talking points for the Rachel Alexandra.
1. Hoosier Philly has run faster than the boys, fueling hopes of a possible Derby bid.
Hoosier Philly has been visually impressive, drawing off in apparently effortless fashion, and the effusive comments from the level-headed Amoss have added to her appeal. But she has lent some substance to the hype by clocking faster times than males in comparable 1 1/16-mile stakes on the same days at Churchill Downs. Her win in the Oct. 30 Rags to Riches S. in the slop was faster than Two Phil’s in the Street Sense (G3) (1:46.90 versus 1:47.31), and in the Nov. 26 Golden Rod (G2) on a fast track, Hoosier Philly’s 1:43.94 was much better than the 1:45.25 posted by Instant Coffee in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). 
Different race dynamics played a role, so it’s too simplistic to project that she would have beaten the boys. And the rub is that the males were pretty slow, so even Hoosier Philly’s Brisnet Speed ratings aren’t overwhelming. Still, the very fact that she can argue these claims is significant, and the well-bred filly by leading sire Into Mischief has the scope to improve.
2. Chop Chop tops the field in Brisnet Prime Power and adds blinkers
Chop Chop actually comes out slightly ahead of Hoosier Philly on the Brisnet Prime Power metric (142.8 to 141.7). Partly that’s because the Brad Cox filly earned a field-best 95 Brisnet Speed rating in her stakes win on a yielding turf course at Kentucky Downs.
Yet Chop Chop has a couple of other points in her favor. She almost beat divisional champion Wonder Wheel in last fall’s Alcibiades (G1), making her the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Chop Chop flopped that day, but she bounced back with a strong second in the Jan. 21 Silverbulletday S. Thus she has the benefit of a prep race over the track, while Hoosier Philly resumes from a nearly three-month holiday. Chop Chop also adds blinkers, a 27% winning move for Cox.
3. Pretty Mischievous and Vahva might have progressed in the interim
Godolphin’s Pretty Mischievous was a wide, churning third to Hoosier Philly in the Golden Rod. That marked both her stakes and two-turn debut for trainer Brendan Walsh, and she learned from that effort. Next seen in the Dec. 26 Untapable S. at Fair Grounds, Pretty Mischievous was tactically sharper when driving to a 3 1/4-length victory. The Untapable runner-up, The Alys Look, came back to upset Chop Chop in the Silverbulletday. 
There’s also the possibility of interim improvement for others. The beaten favorite in the Untapable, Vahva, pretty much lost it at the start when stumbling out of the gate, and she did well to recover for third. With a clean break on Saturday, the daughter of Gun Runner has a right to contend.
Knockyoursocksoff, a fast-finishing second to Hoosier Philly in the Golden Rod, was making her dirt debut that day. Her first three starts came on turf, including a fourth to Chop Chop in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies S. and a second in the Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland. Knockyoursocksoff might be wiser in this dirt attempt. But her deep-closing style could be problematic, if likely pacesetter Miracle rations her speed to a steady, rather than fast, tempo.