Stageplay tops Rachel Alexandra

Profile Picture: James Scully

February 14th, 2016

Multiple stakes winner Stageplay heads a field of nine fillies in Saturday’s $200,000 Rachel Alexandra (G3) at Fair Grounds. Part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, the 1 1/16-mile race awards points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Stageplay easily broke her maiden when making her debut at Keeneland in mid-October and followed with another facile tally in the Rags to the Riches at Churchill Downs three weeks later. The Curlin filly concluded her juvenile season with a runner-up to Carina Mia in the Golden Rod (G2) and came back this year to post a comfortable 1 ¼-length victory in the January 16 Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds.

Florent Geroux, who picked up the mount in the Silverbulletday, rides the expected favorite.

Asmussen will also sent out uncoupled stablemate Royal Obsession, who is unbeaten from two starts and making her stakes debut in the Rachel Alexandra. The gray Tapit filly sold for $1.15 million at the last Keeneland November sale while still unraced and broke her maiden in convincing fashion at Churchill Downs later the same month. She came back to capture a Fair Grounds allowance by a head on January 23 and John Velazquez will pick up the mount.

Forever Darling will try to provide stiff competition for Stageplay following a victory in the January 2 Santa Ynez (G2) at Santa Anita. Eighth when making her stakes debut in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) two back, the Richard Baltas-trained Congrats filly adds the services of Javier Castellano.

Silverbulletday runner-up Midnight On Oconee returns for Larry Jones and the Hugh Robertson-trained Lovable Lyss will try to improve upon a fourth as the second choice against Stageplay. Recent Oaklawn allowance winner Finley’sluckycharm is unbeaten from two starts and making her first stakes attempt, and Shaken will take a steep jump to stakes company off a good-looking debut score at Fair Grounds on January 30.

The Rachel Alexandra is one of five stakes races on the Risen Star (G2) undercard.

Chocolate Ride will make a title defense against eight rivals in the $125,000 Fair Grounds H. (G3). A former claimer, the 6-year-old gelding really came on last year at Fair Grounds, winning three times on the local course including the Mervyn Luniz Jr. H. (G2), and the Brad Cox trainee brings a two-race win streak into the 1 1/8-mile turf affair, capturing the January 16 Colonel Bradly (G3) most recently. Geroux has the assignment on the front-runner.

His main rivals include Departing, Roman Approval, String King and Wireless Future.

International Star and Eagle, the respective top two finishers in the January 16 Louisiana, continue a budding rivalry in the $125,000 Mineshaft H. (G3). International Star, who swept the 3-year-old Kentucky Derby preps at Fair Grounds last year, improved to 4-for-4 at the New Orleans track when defeating Eagle by 1 ¼ lengths last time. Eagle, winner of the December 19 Tenacious over the track, had a three-race win streak snapped last time but remains eligible to show more on Saturday.

The other three contestants in the 1 1/16-mile race are Jessica’s Star, Majestic Harbor and Point Piper.

Cinco Charlie and Clearly Now are top contenders in the $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner, a 6-furlong sprint that drew a field of seven. Street of Gold is a probable favorite in the $60,000 Daisy Devine following a victory in the January 16 Marie G. Krantz Memorial at Fair Grounds. Ten distaffers are entered in the 1 1 /16-mile turf affair.

Stageplay winning the Silverbulletday courtesy of Fair Grounds/Amanda Weir Hodges/Hodges Photography