Farrell Leads Fair Grounds Oaks Field Toward Wide-Open Run For the Lillies

Farrell, a daughter of Malibu Moon, wins the G2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds

Coffeepot Stables’ homebred 3-year-old filly Farrell is the class of an eight-filly 49th renewal of the Grade II $ 400,000 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks on Apr. 1, part of an eight-stakes – four graded – Louisiana Derby Day card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Fair Grounds Oaks has arguably been the most successful Grade I $ 1,000,000 Longines Kentucky Oaks prep since the turn of the century, with six winners going on to take said event, including Ashado, Summerly, Proud Spell, Rachel Alexandra, Believe You Can and Untapable. Additionally, winners of three of the last four Fair Grounds Oaks – Unlimited Budget, I’m a Chatterbox and Land Over Sea – have gone on to place in the Kentucky Oaks.

A daughter of Malibu Moon and half-sister to two Grade I winners, Farrell has won three consecutive stakes races by a combined 12¼ lengths, including last month’s Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes by 3½ dominant lengths. Overall, she has won four of six for three-time Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner Wayne Catalano and will break from post six under the only jockey she has known on race day, Channing Hill.

A pair of fillies who finished behind Farrell in the Rachel Alexandra return for another crack at their imposing rival. Big Chief Racing et al.’s Keith Desormeaux-trained maiden Majestic Quality (Richard Eramia, rail) has hit the board in half her eight starts and was a respectable runner-up in said event, while out-battling Grade I-placed Valadorna at the wire. Lee Mauberret’s Brendan Walsh-trained Wicked Lick (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post three) had to shift paths a few times during the final three furlongs of the Rachel Alexanda and looks to return to the form that saw her earn a solid runner-up finish two back to Farrell in the Listed $ 150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Jan. 21.

Daria’s Angel (Robby Albarado, post two) turned heads when she graduated on Feb. 18 by eight lengths for trainer Bret Calhoun and owners Wayne R. Sanders and Larry Hirsch. Well-regarded by her connections, the front-running filly could make things interesting in the early going for Farrell, who enters with a similar style. The identical connections also entered Queen Bernardina (Miguel Mena, post eight), who looks to return to the form that saw her defeat Valadorna in a September Churchill Downs maiden. Since then, she has shown little in three starts, including the Grade I Alicibiades. She makes her first start for Calhoun, who took over training duties for Donnie K. Von Hemel in February following a seventh-place finish in Oaklawn’s Martha Washington Stakes.

Three fillies ship in from out of town for the meet’s sophomore filly centerpiece, topped by Mark Casse-trained Summer Luck (Patrick Husbands, post seven), who was a gaining third last out in the one-turn one-mile Grade II Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park on Mar. 4. By Lookin At Lucky out of a Deputy Minister mare, the Gary Barber-owned charge has improved steadily and should appreciate her first attempt at two turns.

Casse and Barber, in conjunction with celebrity chef and multiple Grade I-winning owner Bobby Flay, also entered fellow Florida-based Corporate Queen (Florent Geroux, post four), who ran a bang-up second last out in seven-furlong allowance company to well-regarded Todd Pletcher trainee Nonna Bella. Said outing was only her second start and first since a January graduation for previous trainer Tim Keefe at Laurel on Jan. 15.

Vexatious (Kent Desormeaux, post five) comes in from California for top connections Calumet Farm and trainer Neil Drysdale. The half-sister to Grade I winner Creative Cause and Belmont Stakes runner-up Destin graduated over Majestic Quality two back to cap her juvenile season on Nov. 26. She returned to run an excellent third against the boys last out, including Triple Crown hopefuls Battle of Midway and Reach the World.

Racing – Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

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