· Farrell Has First Work Since Rachel Alexandra
· Honorable Duty On Course for New Orleans Handicap
· Valadorna Works Toward Ashland
· Worker to Watch: Hollywood Handsome
FARRELL HAS FIRST WORK SINCE RACHEL ALEXANDRA
Coffeepot Stables’ homebred star on the rise Farrell had her first work back since a huge effort in the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (Feb. 25) on Friday morning. Thirteen days after dispensing of the top local fillies by 3½ lengths under Channing Hill, the daughter of Malibu Moon returned to the track to continue her serious training, drilling a half-mile in 49.60.
“She looked great out there,” Catalano said. “It was just a little maintenance half-mile. I told (rider Jose Valdivia, Jr.) to just keep her steady and he did. He was happy with her.”
The half-sister to two Grade I winners and a winner of three consecutive stakes races, Farrell is aiming toward the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on Apr. 1 as a short-term goal and the Grade I $1,000,000 Kentucky Oaks as the major objective of the spring.
HONORABLE DUTY ON COURSE FOR NEW ORLEANS HANDICAP
Throughout the 2016-17 season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, few horses have improved as impressively as DARRS, Inc.’s Honorable Duty. The Brendan Walsh-trained son of Distorted Humor returned to the work tab on Friday morning for the first time since taking the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 25.
The gelded 5-year-old entered the season — his trainer’s first in New Orleans since going out on his own in 2012 — as a temperamental non-winner of three-other-than and goes into his next race as a two-time stakes winner. His conditioner credits two key equipment changes for his success: the removal of blinkers and the similar eradication required when gelding an equine.
Walsh reported Friday morning that he was very pleased with the bay charge’s work this morning, a half-mile drill in 49.40 — 41st out of 63 works at the distance. The conditioner also confirmed that Honorable Duty is on course for a run in the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on Apr. 1.
Another of said barn’s higher profile horses, Redesdale — co-owned by Walsh and bloodstock agent Chad Schumer — was also on the tab Friday morning. The impeccably bred son of Speightstown worked a leisurely half-mile in 50 flat (49th) and is on course for his stakes debut in the Grade III $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes over seven panels on Apr. 8 at Keeneland.
Redesdale, a son of seven-furlong graded stakes-winning specialist Harpia — a full-sister to Danehill — will be racing beyond three-quarters of a mile for the first time. He is undefeated in three starts and has earned Equibase Speed Figures of 95, 103 and 102 in said triad.
VALADORNA WORKS TOWARD ASHLAND
Stonestreet Stables’ Valadorna returned to the tab on Friday morning for the first time since disappointing as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra on Feb. 25. The daughter of Curlin worked a half-mile in 49.20 (36th best of 63) and appeared well within herself in the process.
Trained by Mark Casse, Valadorna will skip the (Grade II $400,000) Fair Grounds Oaks, in which Rachel Alexandra winner Farrell will likely be the favorite, and instead point toward the Grade I $500,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland one week later. The daughter of Curlin broke her maiden over the same course and 1 1/16-miles distance at said fixture by six lengths in October.
WORKER TO WATCH: HOLLYWOOD HANDSOME
The bullet for five furlongs (1:00 flat) went to a sophomore who appears to be improving at the right time, Mark Stanley’s Dallas Stewart-trained Hollywood Handsome. The good-looking son of Tapizar looked great on the track Friday morning and has improved in each of his last four starts in effort and speed figures, including a two-turn graduation in the mud on Jan. 21 and a hard-charging third — beaten less than a length — behind two well-regarded sophomores in Total Tap and Society Beau.