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NEW ORLEANS, LA – OXO Equine’s Travel Column looms large as a serious threat to win her 2021 debut for trainer Brad Cox in Saturday’s $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds.
The Rachel Alexandra is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to 3-year-old fillies. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 13-race card and has a local post time of 5:47 PM.
The Rachel Alexandra is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. The winner will receive 50 points, second 20, third 10, and fourth 5.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Rachel Alexandra:
1. Clairiere 5/2 – She broke her maiden on debut by a 1/2-length, then led late in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) but couldn’t hold off Travel Column and had to settle for second by 1 length. Both times, she rallied from well off the pace going this same distance at Churchill Downs and should have plenty of tiring rivals to steer around in the stretch while charging toward the front.
2. Souper Sensational 8/1 – She won a pair of 7-furlong sprints on Woodbine’s synthetic main track last fall, including the Glorious Song Stakes that she took by 4 lengths. She resurfaced last month in the local Silverbulletday Stakes and rallied from last of six to take second, though there was no catching the winner, Charlie’s Penny, whom she faces again here.
“It wasn’t ideal circumstances (in the Silverbulletday) and she got squeezed back a bit at the start too,” said assistant trainer Dave Carroll. “But she didn’t worry about it, laid back and made the one run, and here we are. I think this race will tell us where we are going forward. If she can handle this two-turn trip again, it will give us a lot of options.”
3. Moon Swag 15/1 – She won a pair of dirt sprints at Albuquerque Downs last summer, including the Manzano Stakes, then transferred to current trainer Brendan Walsh’s local string. She finished fourth in the 6-furlong Letellier Memorial Stakes and third in the Silverbulletday while improving her speed figures, but she was also well behind Charlie’s Penny in both of those.
4. Off We Go 15/1 – Trainer Tom Amoss pushes her into the deep end for her routing debut after she put together a 4-1-2-0 record in dirt sprints. Amoss does well stretching runners out (15% sprint to route) and on dirt (25%), but her career-best 67 Beyer Speed Figure pales compared to most of these rivals. Amoss has won 24 of 86 starts this meet (28%), through Monday.
“Stretching out, we should be forward,” Amoss said. “It’s funny how you can look at one set of speed figures and see something totally different than another. The speed figures I use rate her last race very highly, but when you look at the Racing Form (which prints Beyers), it looks like just another race. I’ve been using my speed figures for a long time and I believe in them, so that’s what I’m going with.”
5. Becca’s Rocket 20/1 – She rides a 2-race win streak into her stakes debut after breaking her maiden in a sloppy (sealed) off-turf route here last November and defeating optional claimers at Sam Houston in January. 4 of her 6 starts came on turf (with a fifth intended for grass), but with rain forecast all week and into the weekend, her wet track success could give her a chance.
6. Zoom Up 6/1 – Amoss’ second entry began her career sprinting, finishing third, second, and first (respectively) in 6-furlong tests against several top prospects. Following her maiden-breaking effort over the local course, Amoss stretched her out to two turns here; she responded with a 2-length score against optional claimers. Amoss’ go-to jock James Graham rides.
“She ran really well, and it even surprised me a little bit, by how effortless it was to make the transition from one turn to two turns,” Amoss said. “She’s really improving and her race was impressive, so we’re looking forward to the Rachel Alexandra.”
7. Littlestitious 12/1 – Amoss’ third entry gives routing a second try after setting the Silverbulletday pace along the inside and eventually giving way to fifth. She has a 5-2-2-1 record in events shorter than a mile, so with her outside draw, her early turn of foot should allow jockey Colby Hernandez to place her where he wants. If you’re a fan of The Office, don’t dismiss her.
“I think, when you look back at the Silverbulletday, the pace was a real crawl, and her and the big favorite (Sun Path) were up on the front and neither one finished up at all,” Amoss said. “It was a bit of a head-scratcher. I’m left believing we didn’t run our style of race, which is to sit back and make a late run, so I would look for us to do that.”
8. Travel Column 2/1 – She makes her long-awaited seasonal debut after winning 2 of 3 starts as a juvenile, including the Golden Rod. Cox and jockey Florent Geroux are a lethal combination anywhere they go (26% winners), but especially at Fair Grounds (28%). Together, they won this race in 2018 with Monomoy Girl, who 2 starts later captured the Kentucky Oaks.
“She worked (6 furlongs January 31) in tandem with (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile [G1] champion) Essential Quality and has worked with him a lot, and it’s worked out well, they both get plenty out of it,” Cox said. “She holds her own, and for her to be able to do it with the 2-Year-Old Champion colt says a lot. She gets you excited, for sure.”
9. Charlie’s Penny 9/2 – The Silverbulletday winner will scratch and miss several months after trainer Chris Block found a hairline fracture in her shin Tuesday.
“It is not a career-ending situation but it will set us back, and hopefully she’ll be back at 100%,” Block told BloodHorse. “In one way, we’re fortunate to have caught something that could have become a lot worse had we not caught it, so I feel relieved. It is unfortunate because I was looking forward to Saturday. I felt she had a big chance. She would have had to take a big step up, but I feel she was capable of it.”
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