I'm a Chatterbox looks to silence rivals
West Coast Belle and Angela Renee could maintain their spot in the top five of the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with good enough efforts in Saturday's $175,000 Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) at Fair Grounds.
The duo, both graded winners, have been assigned to carry the top weight of 122 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile affair but shouldn't have any problems with the impost having already toted that much in the past.
They'll be going up against some tough fillies in the race including, at least in West Coast Belle's case, some who have finished in front in the past.
West Coast Belle will be trying to get back to her winning ways after suffering her first loss when fourth in Fair Grounds' Silverbulletday on January 17. That was the gray filly's first start as a three-year-old after finishing 2014 unbeaten in three races.
Trained by Wayne Catalano, West Coast Belle broke her maiden at Monmouth Park in September before shipping to Churchill Downs to gain some valuable experience under the Twin Spires. She romped by 6 ¾ lengths in the Rags to Riches S. going a mile then stretched out even farther to take the Golden Rod S. (G2) in late November.
The filly was the 2-1 second choice in the Silverbulletday in her sophomore bow, but was no match for a loose-on-the-lead I'm a Chatterbox. The favorite from that race, Top Decile, could actually be off the Oaks trail after her poor sixth-place performance. Trainer Al Stall Jr. has mentioned he might shorten Top Decile up and they are regrouping as of now.
But getting back to the Rachel Alexandra, West Coast Belle will have to face I'm a Chatterbox once again on Saturday. That latter filly was making her first start for a new trainer after going 1-0-1 from three starts under Kenny McPeek's tutelage. Like West Coast Belle she closed out her juvenile campaign in the Golden Rod, finishing fourth at 18-1.
I'm a Chatterbox wasn't given much consideration in the Silverbulletday, sent off at 8-1, despite having a not-so-secret advantage: the chestnut miss had joined the barn of Larry Jones, who is undeniably good with the fillies.
One eight-length romp in the Silverbulletday merely bolstered that fact and I'm a Chatterbox probably won't get away at such high odds again on Saturday.
Angela Renee began her career on the East Coast – breaking her maiden at Belmont Park before placing in Saratoga's Spinaway S. (G1) and Adirondack S. (G2) – but celebrated her biggest win to date when taking Santa Anita Park's Chandelier S. (G1) on the West Coast in late September.
That race was a prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), but Angela Renee never factored in that contest after being bumped at the start and eased back at the three-eighths pole. Returning to New York for her juvenile finale, the bay filly wound up third, beaten 12 lengths, in the Demoiselle S. (G2) at Aqueduct in late November.
Angela Renee will get a fresh start on Saturday and has been working up a storm at Palm Beach Downs in Florida for trainer Todd Pletcher. She'll also be racing without blinkers for the first time since the Adirondack last August.
Ignore Steve Asmussen at your own risk. Like Jones, that conditioner is known for training some talented fillies, including the Rachel Alexandra's namesake as well as last year's Kentucky Oaks and Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) winner Untapable.
Asmussen will saddle Shook Up on Saturday straight out of his Fair Grounds barn. The gray filly dominated by 13 lengths in her maiden win over a muddy, sealed Fair Grounds track before running second 23 days later to the re-opposing Lovely Maria, who is one of three Jones fillies in the 10-strong field.
Freudie Anne actually ranks first in BRIS Prime Power for the entire field, but just barely over Angela Renee. The bay miss has faced nothing but state-bred rivals thus far, admittedly romping in her last two, but will have to prove herself against open competition this time around.
Forever Unbridled was best of the rest in the Silverbulletday, but still eight lengths behind I'm a Chatterbox. She and Harbour Island, a nice front-running winner in her past two, are out to demonstrate they belong this level but may come up just short.
White Clover and Pleasant Tales complete the field and are the only fillies in the race without prior stakes experience. While the Rachel Alexandra could be a good gauge for their talent level, it is an ambitious spot for the duo.