September 26, 2023

Farrell faces Valadorna in Rachel Alexandra

Farrell wins the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday, January 21 (c) Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography

Saturday’s $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds is turning into a Silverbulletday Stakes rematch.

Four of the seven runners in the Rachel Alexandra exit that latter mile-and-70-yard contest, including the respective top three: Farrell, Wicked Lick and Gris Gris.

Farrell has a tough task ahead of her as she faces off against Valadorna for the first time in the Rachel Alexandra. The Wayne Catalano trainee has captured three of her five lifetime starts thus far, including the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. That 1 1/16-mile affair closed out her juvenile campaign and Farrell made a successful 2017 debut when taking the Silverbulletday by 2 3/4 lengths.

The dark bay daughter of Malibu Moon keeps Channing Hill in the irons as she goes for a stakes hat trick in this spot.

Valadorna took on the big guns in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) just one race after breaking her maiden by six lengths at Keeneland. The Curlin filly rallied from well back to just miss by three parts of a length in second and showed no signs of rustiness when scoring in her sophomore bow at Fair Grounds on January 27.

Julien Leparoux has been aboard the Mark Casse pupil for all four of her career efforts and retains the mount in this return to stakes company.

Wicked Lick and Gris Gris were no match for Farrell in the Silverbulletday but found themselves only separated by a head on the wire that day.

It was Wicked Lick’s head in front as the Brendan Walsh-conditioned chestnut was making just her second stakes start. Her previous try against black-type rivals resulted in a 10th-placing in the grassy Jessamine Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. In fact, Wicked Lick’s only win thus far has come on turf. Brian Hernandez Jr. will be holding the reins once again on the Maclean’s Music filly.

Gris Gris tried to lead all the way home in the Silverbulletday at 16-1 but was forced to settle for third once again. The Bernie Flint charge filled that same spot in her prior race, the Trapeze Stakes, and was fourth in the Golden Rod before that. James Graham has the return call.

Untapped also ran in the Silverbulletday, finishing fifth after recording a pair of easy wins to break her maiden and score in an allowance/optional claimer. She lines back up here under regular rider Florent Geroux for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Rounding out the Rachel Alexandra field are Shane’s Girlfriend, 13-length victress of the Delta Downs Princess (G3) but a well-beaten third to kick-off her sophomore campaign in the Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) on January 8, and maiden Majestic Quality.