Close menu
Rachel Alexandra Stakes 2024 | Fair Grounds Picks [Kentucky Oaks]
Alpine Princess (Ben Breland/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Rachel Alexandra Stakes 2024 | Fair Grounds Picks [Kentucky Oaks]

Aaron previews the 2024 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) from Fair Grounds Race Course, then gives his top picks from this Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep race.

The Brad Cox-trained trio of Tarifa, Alpine Princess, & West Omaha are among the 7 sophomore fillies hoping to progress toward the 1st Friday of May. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

SMASH the *Thumbs Up* ~ HIT *Subscribe* ~ RING the *Notification* bell

The press release:

MJM Racing and Magdalena Racing’s V V’s Dream will make her sophomore debut on Saturday Feb. 17 in the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes presented by Fasig-Tipton (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

V V’s Dream and her 6 rivals will head to post at 5:48 p.m. (all times Central) in race 13. First post on the spectacular 14-race program that concludes with the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) is 12 p.m.

Run at 1 1/16 miles, the Rachel Alexandra Stakes will award the top 5 finishers qualifying points on a 50-25-15-10-5 scale towards a spot in the starting gate for the 150th running of the $1.5 million Longines Kentucky Oaks, run on Friday, May 3 at Churchill Downs.

Risen Star Picks

Risen Star 2024 Betting Bible

Get the 2024 Risen Star Betting Bible, featuring our EXACT race-by-race wagering plans at Fair Grounds on February 17, 2024!

Sitting in tenth with 18 points, V V’s Dream will face four other fillies in the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard top 20, as a field of seven sign on for the 44th running of a stake that has produced ten of the last 27 winners of the Kentucky Oaks.

Trained by Ken McPeek, V V’s Dream followed up her dominant one-turn mile Pocahontas score at Churchill Downs with a place-finish in the Alcibiades (G1) and a distant third in the Rags to Riches, both run at the Rachel Alexandra distance.

“I don’t think distance is a problem,” McPeek said. “The problem we had with her last year was that she got a little fever on us last summer after her second start. It seemed to knock her back a little bit. We were able to get her back to where we wanted for the Pocahontas and the Alcibiades, but she wilted on us later in the season and we needed to give her an extended break.”

With $433,105 in the bank, V V’s Dream is Mitole’s leading earner. Drawing post six and attracting Brian Hernandez Jr., the distinct gray filly out of the Tapit mare Quay will try to continue the success her trainer has already enjoyed in February, winning Oaks and Derby Preps on the same card at Oaklawn Park with Band of Gold and Mystik Dan.

“We’re really excited about (V V’s Dream),” McPeek said. “She’s been working super. She’s as strong as ever right now. Greg Geier (assistant trainer on the grounds) has got her here in good order. She’s really a high-level filly, and I’d love to think this is just one stepping stone to getting her to the (Kentucky) Oaks.”

A two-time winner of the Rachel Alexandra, McPeek is on the verge of a major career milestone with 1,998 lifetime wins (as of publication).

Another talented filly entered in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes is Bradley Thoroughbreds, Laura Leigh Stable, Scott Estes and Cambron Equine’s Golden Rod (G2) heroine Intricate.

Trained by Brendan Walsh, Intricate will be making the first start of her 3-year-old season in the Rachel Alexandra after being on the sidelines since her convincing 5 1 ⁄ 4-length score in the Nov. 25 Golden Rod. 

“I think she has been working very well,” Walsh said. “Exactly like one would like her to work going into a race like Saturday’s. She seems to be handling the track well in the mornings. She’s working a lot better this year–a good sign that she’s progressed. I think it’s a good race for her to come back in, there are some nice fillies in there.”

Earning 3-1 second-choice honors from oddsmaker and clocker Mike Diliberto, the chestnut daughter of Gun Runner will once again have the services of Tyler Gaffalione from post 4.

“I think we have her to where there will be a little improvement to come as well after Saturday,” Walsh said. “If things go reasonably well Saturday then you come back in the Fair Grounds Oaks and that should set her up perfectly for the (Kentucky) Oaks itself.”

Walsh and Gaffalione teamed up last year with Pretty Mischievous to win the Rachel Alexandra and eventually the Kentucky Oaks, as the Godolphin filly went on to be named 3-year-old Filly Eclipse Award champion.

“(Intricate) has got big shoes to fill but she looks like she’s intent on doing that,” Walsh said.

Loaded with a talented barn of 3-year-olds, trainer Brad Cox will take three shots at his third win in the Rachel Alexandra.

Full of Run Racing II and Madaket Stables’ Untapable-victress Alpine Princess ranks atop the trio in the morning line at 7-2. With four local works since her December stakes score, the Classic Empire filly out of the Curlin mare Le Moine has continued to impress her conditioner.

“She’s always been a pretty good workhorse,” Cox said. “That’s how she came to us back in the spring. She likes the track here. It’s a step up. We’ll give her another opportunity at the graded stakes level and hopefully she can get it done.”

Having given Alpine Princess a strong ride from the rail in the Untapable, Florent Geroux will get back in the irons and guide her from post 5.

Gary and Mary West’s talented 3-year-old filly West Omaha will continue her road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks. The West Coast filly out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Birthday Bash dominated last month’s Silverbulletday Stakes by five lengths as the heavy 4-5 favorite.

The homebred began her career at Churchill Downs and broke her maiden at second asking beneath the Twin Spires by four lengths. In her first start at Fair Grounds, West Omaha was defeated two lengths to her stablemate Alpine Princess in the Untapable.

Jockey Luis Saez will have the call in the Rachel Alexandra from post 7.

Godolphin’s Tarifa, who scored last out in an allowance on the “Road to the Derby Preview Day” undercard, will go from the rail under Flavien Prat for Cox, as she attempts her biggest distance test to date.

“I’m pretty confident she can handle the distance,” Cox said. “She won going three-fourths of a mile at Keeneland first out which oftentimes indicates a horse will stretch.”

Six-time Rachel Alexandra Stakes-winning conditioner Steve Asmussen entered the Silverbulletday place-finisher, Whisper Hill Farm’s Perfect Shot.

“We like how she has done but I feel that this race has come up very, very good,” Asmussen said. “But she’ll play Saturday. She’s a nice filly but she needs a big jump forward. She breezed today (Monday), 50 and 1. Everything went really well.”

A perfect two-for-two, Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Pennick will stretch out for the first time in the Rachel Alexandra. Having proven herself in a juvenile sprint at Woodbine, the Hard Spun filly trained by Gary Scherer beat a group of well-regarded fillies by open lengths in her sophomore debut, a local off-the-turf sprint on Jan. 26.

“I think she can go long,” Scherer said. “I think she’ll run hard–it’s just that she’s lightly tested. We’re going to give it our best go.”

Scherer is currently sitting tied for 8th in the trainer standings with 10 wins at a 22% clip. The Ulwelling father and son team account for seven of those and sit in third on the owner’s side of things. 

“I’d like for her to not (go to the lead),” Scherer said. “I don’t think she’s matured enough to know how to relax as much as she should. But if she’s out on the lead, I’m not going to worry too much because she doesn’t like stopping.”

Jareth Loveberry is named to ride the Canadian-bred who was purchased for $200,000 at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Here is the complete field for the Rachel Alexandra Stakes from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):

  1. Tarifa (Flavien Prat, Brad Cox, 5-1)
  2. Pennick (Jareth Loveberry, Gary Scherer, 8-1)
  3. Perfect Shot (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 10-1)
  4. Intricate (Tyler Gaffalione, Brendan Walsh, 3-1)
  5. Alpine Princess (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 7-2)
  6. V V’s Dream (Brian Hernandez Jr., Ken McPeek, 5-2)
  7. West Omaha (Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 9-2).