(Ryan Dickey, Ace Handicapper)
By Ryan Dickey, Ace Handicapper
The first 85-point race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks trail will take place this Saturday at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Fifty points will be awarded to the winner of the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (Race 11), going two turns at a mile and a sixteenth. Ten three year old fillies received a gate, but no more than nine will race for their share of the $200,000 purse as the 5-2 morning line favorite #10 Chasing Yesterday will not make the trip for trainer Bob Baffert.
Three of the contenders from the local prep for this race, the Silverbulletday, are represented in the Rachel Alexandra. The winner, #9 Needs Supervision (5-1), the place horse #8 Eres Tu (12-1) and fourth place finisher #5 Liora (12-1) have all run stakes routes at this track, while #7 Bell’s the One (8-1) won a sprint stake here as a two year old. #2 Street Band (20-1) is the only other filly in the field to have raced in New Orleans.
The early pace of the race should go through jockey James Graham and #3 Serengeti Empress (6-1) who should be followed closely by Street Band with Sophie Doyle at the helm. Needs Supervision and jockey Joe Rocco Jr. will probably be third early like they were in winning the Silverbulletday. Eres Tu and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. should see them all unless one of the other eight runners breaks very poorly.
The key to the early pace of the race could be determined by Doyle aboard Street Band, who possesses tactical speed. Should Doyle choose to make it a speed duel with Serengeti Empress (who is coming of a long layoff), she will have to hope her Istan filly has the requisite stamina in her longest start to date.
If Doyle rates behind Graham and Serengeti Empress she could wait until much later to make a bold move, hoping that the #3 horse “needs” this race coming off the shelf. Sophie Doyle is a mostly underrated rider, and I have a feeling she’ll rate nicely, giving herself a chance to be in contention late–and at a nice price.
Bell’s the One has never raced more than six furlongs, and her sire and dam both did best in sprints. She may not have the stamina to compete in this race, but she may throw a monkey wrench in the early pace by challenging for the lead like the race was a sprint. Woe to any jockey that tries to keep pace in that scenario.
The horse that’s most intriguing to me here is #6 Oxy Lady (6-1) ridden by Adam Beschizza. She finished fourth last out in a Grade 1 race (won by Rachel Alexandra defector Chasing Yesterday) at Los Alamitos. But two back, she captured the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct, going a mile and garnering a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. She tends to start her races in midpack, and makes a move late to improve her position. Although she finished off the board at this distance on December 8 of last year, she’s by all accounts looking strong in the mornings, firing off two bullet works over this track the last three times she breezed.
The wildcard in this race is Liora, ridden by Channing Hill. She beat a very good filly in Restless Rider two back in the slop, but didn’t follow that race with any improvement in the Silverbulletday. If she simply had a bad day in her last race, and moves forward from her Golden Rod victory, she could make some noise.
Another intriguing entry is #4 Positive Spirit (5-1). With Manny Franco aboard, trainer Rodolphe Brisset sends out a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming. A ten and a half length romp win for her in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct last December looked impressive.
#1 Molto Bella (10-1) drew the rail. Jockey Julian Leparoux rides for trainer Ian Wilkes. Molto Bella won a stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs last out, winning a seven furlong sprint by six and a half lengths. She finished fourth in the Demoiselle two back.
I’m going with Oxy Lady, the daughter of Oxbow out of an A.P. Indy mare named Renaissance Lady.to win the Rachel Alexandra. It will be a slight upset over most-probable post-time favorite Needs Supervision. I also think Sophie Doyle and Street Band will make a splash for trainer Larry Jones, as the duo finish second. Rounding out my top four selections are Positive Spirit and Needs Supervision.
Bet #6 OXY LADY to win and place
Bet EXACTA #6 over #2, #4, #9
Bet TRIFECTA BOX 2,4,6,9
SUPERFECTA PARTIAL: 6,9/2,4,6,9/2,4,6,8,9/2,4,6,8,9 ($36 for $1 bet)