The Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) draws a quality group of fillies looking to pick up points for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) the first high points (50-20-10-5) prep race of the season. That seems to be the draw for #1 CLAIRIERE and #8 TRAVEL COLUMN both making their sophomore debut this afternoon and the pair returning from the one-two finish in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on November 28th.
Starting with the winner of that race, Travel Column, as she projects to be favored off that Golden Rod (G2) win and the manner in which that was recorded. The trip was one of those more obvious troubled trips where an excuse could have been made multiple times had she not won. She did however win, she overcame traffic and trouble splitting horses and clearing rival Clairiere late. That effort is tough to knock and clearly showed a level of class to overcome the adversity. With that said, she can create those type of rough trips for herself as she does not break well as shown with the repeat SLOG in the Past 3 Runlines. Even on debut she was able to push forward through breaking a step slow, and that is just something to keep in mind with her going forward and especially as she projects to be favored here today.
Clairiere deserves a lot of credit for her place finish and likely the second choice in wagering this afternoon due to the result in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2). While her trip was not as obvious as Travel Column, her trip was more subtle and credible racing wide throughout, showing a move and well to stay on late. Timing also something to keep in mind and could have factored while making just that second start in graded stakes company. She made her debut on October 25th in a competitive field and overcame a challenge with the route distance, going two-turns first out. She raced wide throughout in that first start as well and recorded a solid speed figure (90 OptixFIG) over some good horses. The third place finisher, Will’s Secret, not only exited that Special Weight race to break her maiden in the following start here at the Fair Grounds, but she also went on to win the Martha Washington Stakes recording a 95 OptixFIG on January 30th at Oaklawn Park. That relates to Clairiere not only in terms of class and form lines, but also timing as she returned in the Golden Rod (G2) only 34-days after the solid debut. Clairiere will return here with some recovery and as planned to run in this spot for these connections (Stonestreet/Asmussen) for her journey towards the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
#2 SOUPER SENSATIONAL is worth mentioning here as she exits the prep for this race, the Silverbulletday Stakes on January 16th with upside from that place finish and worth upgrading due to trip. Tactically she was not placed to compete and for her first start on the main track and around two-turns, found herself in a different running style and dealing with trouble while against the flow. She ran on when getting into the clear behind Charlie’s Penny (scratched) and given a lot of credit to earn that placing given the trip. That trip/tactic is worth keeping in mind as Souper Sensational projects to be more forwardly placed this afternoon, a trip closer to where she is positioned on Standard over the Surface/Distance PLOT. As shown on Standard, Souper Sensational projects to track behind #5 BECCA’S ROCKET, #6 ZOOM UP and #7 LITTLESTITIOUS; with all three of those fillies as Circles, Souper Sensational should be able to position herself favorably today with that stalking Square right off that trio. #3 MOON SWAG finishing third in the Silverbulletday will return here and one that has been improving race-to-race. That progression is worth noting, and capable to find herself a share today, though has to not only continue moving forward, though also show a level of class that has still to be proven to be considered a top tier contender on this circuit. #4 OFF WE GO will make her first start around two turns this afternoon and needing to improve off her races to date, not just with the change in distance, but class as well moving up to graded stakes and is playing catch-up to some of her main rivals here. With that said, she has some ability, a noted place finish behind, Travel Column, when the two met on September 4th at Churchill Downs, both fillies making third debut.