The Brock Talk

Monday, March 1, 2010

Louisiana Challengers Lining Up Against Rachel Alexandra

Challengers are lining up to take on Rachel Alexandra when she makes her seasonal debut in the $200,000 Ladies Classic at Fair Grounds in New Orleans in less than two weeks. The Ladies Classic will be the first start of 2010 for the Horse of the Year and will be used to prepare for a possible race against the undefeated Zenyatta in the $5 million Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park April 9.

According to, possible contenders include stablemates of both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. Trainer John Sherriffs is considering sending from California Bayakoa Handicap (gr. 2) winner Zardana while Steve Asmussen may enter Pleasantly Blessed, a recent second-place finisher in the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes at Sam Houston in Texas.

The local contingent seems plenty ready to meet the challenge as well with local stakes winners Clear Sailing and Double Espresso and locally stakes placed Fighter Wing and Unforgotten apparently scheduled to run as well.

Clear Sailing appears to have the best credentials coming off of a victory in the $60,000 Pelleteri Stakes at Fairgrounds over Fighter Wing and undefeated in three starts in New Orleans this winter. Double Espresso won the six furlong Pan Zareta Stakes Feb. 20 at Fair Grounds and will be stretching out to make the 1-1/16 mile distance of the Ladies Classic.

Asmussen sent Rachel Alexandra to the track Tuesday morning for a private work at 10:30 along side workmate Depaul. While the final time of the six furlong work was slow at 1:13.60, Asmussen did not appear to be troubled following the work, telling media "it was how fast [Depaul] was, and us wanting to keep her off of [him]."

According to Daily Racing Form reports, Rachel began the work some five lengths behind Depaul and was heavily restrained throughout the early part of the exercise before being allowed to stride out and easily pass Depaul. Rachel Alexandra's final quarter was significantly faster than the last. She started the first quarter of a mile in 25.60 seconds but ran the last quarter of the work in 22.60 seconds.

Backtalk Back On Derby Trail
A few of The Brock Talk favorites hit the winner's circle this past weekend with Backtalk winning the Sportman's Paradise at Delta Downs and Presious Passion taking the $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park Sunday.

Admittedly, we stumbled upon Backtalk (photo below) when we posted an update on young sire Speedy Jones' breeding career. Backtalk had just become the first winner of his class for the young sire but then followed up with a nice juvenile career that included wins in the grade 3 Bashford Mandor at Churchill Downs and the grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga. He stumbled late in the year with a fourth in the Hopeful (gr. 1) behind Dublin, Aspire and Aikenite and a sub-par race in the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October.

The Sportman's Paradise is not your typical prep race for the Triple Crown, but following the victory, trainer Tom Amoss said the next start for Backtalk will likely be a step up and into a major prep. Although Amoss did not speculate on a race, the grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park or the grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby both will be run March 13 before the Florida Derby (gr. 1), and the Swale Stakes (gr. 2) fall on the following week at Gulfstream Park.

Presious Prevails While Life Is Sweeter in Dubai
Presious Passion made a successful preperation for his planned trip to the Middle East with his win in the 1-3/8 Mac Diarmida for the second consecutive year. Add that to the United Nations (gr. 1T) at Monmouth Park and the W.L. McKnight Stakes (gr. 2T) on the list of races that Presious Passion has won twice. A notable accomplishment to say the least.

Trainer Mary Hartman said plans are to send Presious Passion to Dubai for the $5 million Sheema Classic (gr. 1UAE) at 1-1/2 miles at Meydan Race Course March 27.

In another significant Dubai development, Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. 1) winner Life Is Sweet appears headed to the $10 million Dubai World Classic where she may face the likes of Champion Turf Horse Gio Ponti, two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Vodka, Pacific Classic (gr. 1) and San Antonio Handicap winner Richard's Kid and Breeders' Cup Classic third Twice Over.

Life Is Sweet, a 5-year-old stablemate of Zenyatta's in the John Sherriffs barn, should have no trouble running against the boys having finished third against males in the grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup last summer, just over seven lengths behind winner Rail Trip.

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