Dolphus, Rachel Alexandra's half-brother, wins debut at Fair Grounds
Dolphus was bet down to 8-5 favoritism in his unveiling in Sunday’s 6TH race at Fair Grounds, largely on the strength of being a half-brother to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, and the regard of high-percentage trainer Joe Sharp. The juvenile son of Lookin at Lucky took a while to pick up, but ultimately did them both proud.
Named in honor of Rachel Alexandra’s breeder Dolphus Morrison, who raced her earlier in her storied career, Dolphus is a homebred campaigned by Dede McGehee. The sturdy chestnut was ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., who came in from Churchill Downs for the eagerly anticipated debut.
Sharp had cautioned beforehand that Dolphus shaped as a real routing type, and he lived up to that description for much of this six-furlong maiden. Racing a little more than two lengths off a contested pace through splits of :22.38 and :46.33 on the fast track, he was niggled along to improve his position. Favorite backers were kept in suspense as he was still grinding his way through upper stretch. As the early leaders began to implode past midstretch, Dolphus was finally hitting his best stride. Staying on relentlessly on the outside, admittedly through a slow last furlong (:13 territory), he prevailed by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:12.24.
Roman’s Chance, last at the first call, knifed between foes to get up for second. Biblical Strength fared best of those involved in the pace scrum in third.
Considering that Dolphus is viewed a two-turn prospect, this was a satisfactory introduction. He will have learned something from the experience, which was a positive one that shouldn’t have been too hard on him.
It was fitting for Dolphus to break his maiden at Fair Grounds. Rachel Alexandra aired in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) prior to her heroics in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Preakness (G1), Mother Goose (G1), Haskell (G1) and Woodward (G1) during her Hall of Fame-worthy campaign. And their dam, the Roar mare Lotta Kim, earned her stakes win in the Tiffany Lass at the historic New Orleans oval in 2004.
Rachel Alexandra has been in the news of late as a broodmare. Her juvenile daughter Rachel’s Valentina (by Bernardini) won her first two starts at Saratoga, notably the Spinaway (G1), and finished best of the rest behind the freakish Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). And her three-year-old son by Curlin, Jess’s Dream, was an impressive last-to-first winner of his only start so far, also at the Spa. Now we’ve got Rachel’s baby half-brother to watch as well.
We’ll know more about Dolphus when he stretches out and faces winners. For the moment, hopes and dreams will remain in the stratosphere for a horse of his profile.