(British Idiom after winning the G1 Alcibiades Stakes / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Fair Grounds Media Team:
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner and Eclipse Award champion British Idiom will make her sophomore debut when facing six rivals, including Silverbulletday victress Finite, in Saturday’s $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton at Fair Grounds Race Course (race 11 at 5:05 p.m. CT).
Run at 1 1/16 miles and restricted to three-year-old fillies, qualifying points for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) will be distributed among top four finishers (50-20-10-5) in the Rachel Alexandra.
After an impressive sprint victory on debut at Saratoga in August, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group LLC (Stuart Grant), Madaket Stables LLC and Bethlehem Stables LLC’s British Idiomstretched out to the 1 1/16th mile distance successfully, taking the Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland by 6 ½ increasing lengths in October. In her most recent start, the daughter of Flashback outdueled the favored Donna Veloce to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita. On January 23 she was voted Eclipse Award Champion Two-Year-Old Filly by a wide margin (222 voting points to 12 over Bast).
“I thought we drew well,” trainer Brad Cox said of post six of seven. “Obviously we’re facing some really nice fillies who ran well here a month ago in the Silverbulletday. After Breeders’ Cup we gave her some time off to just be a horse and put some weight on. She’s really trained well in the past four or five weeks, she’s picked it up and each week she seems to be getting better and better.”
“She’s coming into this race every bit as good as she was when she went into Breeders’ Cup,” Cox continued. “I’m really excited about how she’s training and I think she’ll run really well Saturday.”
In 2018, Cox took both the Rachel Alexandra and Kentucky Oaks with eventual Eclipse Award winning Three-Year-Old Filly Champion Monomoy Girl.
Listed as Mike Diliberto’s 8-5 morning line favorite, British Idiom will be guided by regular pilot Javier Castellano.
Breaking just to British Idiom’s outside from post seven will be Winchell Thoroughbreds and J. R Thomas’ Finite. Second in the first two starts of her career while sprinting at Saratoga, the daughter of Munnings would break her maiden dashing on the Kentucky Downs grass in September. Since that time, she’s rattled off three consecutive stakes victories – the Rags to Riches and Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs and most recently the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds, a race in which she narrowly defeated Ursula and Tempers Rising, both of whom return for the Rachel Alexandra. Finite’s Silverbulletday score gave her trainer Steve Asmussen the 1,000th stakes victory of his career.
“What a quality filly,” Asmussen said after the Silverbulletday. “She is just another really special Winchell homebred. She has earned everything she’s gotten.”
Asmussen has won the Rachel Alexandra four times, with Winchell homebred’s Untapable (2014) and Summerly (2005) later taking the Kentucky Oaks.
Finite will once again be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. and is listed as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line.
Hoping to spring a minor upset, trainer Ken McPeek, a two-time winner of the Rachel Alexandra, has entered both Peter J. Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver and Gaineway Stable (Antony Beck), Catalyst Stable, Paul McInnis and Magdalena Racing’s Impeccable Style to post,
Swiss Skydiver (8-1 ML) will break from post three with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard and Impeccable Style (12-1 ML) is programmed in post four with Corey Lanerie astride.
“They’re two fillies that I think both have a lot of talent,” McPeek said. “Both want to go longer and are asking for a route of ground. I think it’s going to be a really good test for them as far as class and distance.”
Rounding out the field (with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds) will be Ben Rollins and Sheila Rollins’ His Glory (post one, Graham/Amoss at 10-1), Mt. Brilliant Stable LLC and Orrin Ingram’s Ursula (post two, Murrill/Stidham at 8-1), and Mark H. Stanley and Nancy W. Stanley’s Tempers Rising (post five, Leparoux/Stewart at 6-1).
Adding to its case to be upgraded to a Grade I, the Rachel Alexandra has produced the top two finishers in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) the past two years. In 2018 it was the winner Monomoy Girl and third place finisher Wonder Gadot comprising the Kentucky Oaks exacta, and last year Serengeti Empress and Liora were one-two in both races.
There are six other stakes on the 13-race “Louisiana Derby Preview Day” card, including split divisions of the Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln. Early first post will be at noon CT.