NEW ORLEANS (February 25, 2017) – Coffepot Stables’ homebred Wayne Catalano-trained Farrell showed her considerable class in Saturday’s 37th running of the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes. Over 1 1/16 miles, the main track 3-year-old filly-restricted race was the second of three New Orleans stepping stones to the Grade I $1,000,000 Longines Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 5.
After breaking from post two in the seven-filly field, the daughter of Malibu Moon set fractions of 23.92 seconds for the quarter and 47.32 for the half over the fast track. Given a slight breather through six furlongs in 1:12.22, she was then challenged by Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Valadorna turning for home and repelled that challenge to roll home an easy 3½-length victress in 1:44.09 with Catalano’s son-in-law Channing Hill in the irons. Longshot Majestic Quality, a maiden, nipped Valadorna for the place by a neck, with another two lengths back to Wicked Lick in fourth. Favored Shane’s Girlfriend, Untapped and Gris Gris completed the order of finish.
“She’s really versatile, so I just let her have her way,” Hill said. “She did everything so well and settled really well on the backside, doing it all on her own. Down the lane I got after her a little bit and she went on with it and did it professionally. This filly is the real deal.”
“The way she’s running she should be one of the top choices (in the Kentucky Oaks), but there are a few more races to go,” Catalano added. “She was moving pretty good and I was happy when (Hill) said that she settled for him on the backside. Speed is always dangerous and pace makes the races and today was our race.”
“She works like she belongs here and today she proved it,” jockey Kent Desormeaux said of the runner-up, who is trained by his brother Keith. “That made the whole trip. Mission accomplished: she’s graded-placed. I liked her determination. All the way to the sixteenth she was third, but she fought like hell and got second.”
“We had a good trip,” jockey Julien Leparoux said of Valadorna, who was placed more forwardly than in her previous two runs. “She traveled good, nice and relaxed and made a move around the second turn pretty easily. When I got to the winner, that one re-broke. No excuses.”
“I thought we had a good trip and thought she ran well,” trainer Mark Casse said of Valadorna, whom he trains for Stonestreet Farm. “She just flattened out late and got beat by a good horse.”
A homebred, Farrell won her third consecutive stakes event and fourth race from six attempts. She earned $120,000 to increase his career bankroll to $361,357 for here three-time Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner.
Farrell returned $9.60, $4.80 and $3.20. Majestic Quality, 23-1, returned $15.60 and $5.40, while Valadorna returned $2.20 to show.