Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Ria Antonia, who was expected to face males in the February 22 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, will instead stay in her own division in the Rachel Alexandra on the same day, connections announced via Twitter Monday.
Co-owner Loooch Racing Stable and trainer Jeremiah Englehart each noted that this change of plan for her sophomore debut does not affect their major goal of pitting Ria Antonia against males on the Kentucky Derby trail.
"After discussing races with Jeremiah," Loooch Racing Stable tweeted, "Ria Antonia will race in the Rachel Alexandra before tackling the boys.. Doing right by Ria!
"We didn't have enough time to get the work done we needed" because of "weather!"
"Boss man @LooochRacing wants to run Ria Antonia in the Rachel Alexandra on 2/22 for her first start back," Englehart tweeted. "Boys still on radar!"
Ria Antonia was awarded the victory in the November 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies upon the disqualification of She's a Tiger for interference. A 32-1 upsetter that day in first-time blinkers, the daughter of Rockport Harbor returned to the worktab with a three-furlong move in :36 3/5 at Belmont on January 5.
Subsequently shipped to Fair Grounds, Ria Antonia turned in her first local work on January 18, touring a half-mile in :49 3/5. She came back Sunday to breeze the same distance in company in :48 2/5, the second-best time of 107 at the New Orleans oval.
Both the Risen Star and the Rachel Alexandra are contested over 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds. They serve as respective preps for the Louisiana Derby and the Fair Grounds Oaks, scheduled for March 29.
In other Derby contenders news:
Hopeful hero Strong Mandate, last seen finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, drilled five-eighths in a bullet 1:00 2/5 over Oaklawn's fast track on Monday. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee posted the best of 57 moves at the distance as he tunes up for the February 17 Southwest Stakes.
Two of Steve Asmussen's notable sophomores stretched their legs at Fair Grounds. Kentucky Jockey Club winner Tapiture fired a bullet six furlongs in 1:13, while Gold Hawk, third as the 6-5 favorite in the Lecomte, covered a half-mile in :50 1/5.
At Santa Anita, Sham victor Midnight Hawk negotiated five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 for Bob Baffert, and Sham runner-up Kristo zipped four panels in :47 4/5 for John Sadler.