Rachel Alexander was among 24 nominations to Saturday’s 53rd Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Stakes. But it appears only four fillies will challenge the Preakness champ in the one-turn Grade 1 at 1 1/8 miles.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin nominated three fillies, but nary a one will run. On Monday, he announced multiple graded stakes winner Justwhistledixie would instead be pointed to another Grade 1 -- the seven-furlong Test Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 8.
He had hinted earlier Dream Play might be entered if the field was small, but apparently changed his mind. I’m a bit puzzled because with the race bumped up 20 percent to $300,000, sixth place is worth $6,000.
Well, the small field does not surprise me since Music Note scored on a DQ in a four-horse field last year.
I thought this was horse racing and the top dogs were supposed to race against each other going for the big bucks.
Justwhistledixie, who scratched out of the Kentucky Oaks the afternoon of the race because of a bruised foot, had her five-race winning streak snapped when she finished second as the 4-5 favorite to Gabby’s Golden Gal wire-to-wire victory in the Acorn on June 7.
“It’s a little quick back for her, and we’re trying to pick the ideal spot for her,” McLaughlin said. “(The) Test should set up perfect for a come-from-behind sprinter.”
Prior to the Acorn, the daughter of Dixie Union won the one-mile Davona Dale and 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Miss, both Grade 2 stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Gabby’s Golden Gal was also nominated, but is skipping the race, too. She and Rachel Alexandra, going for her sixth straight triumph, have one thing common: same sire Medaglia d’Oro.
The three challengers are Don’t Forget Gill, two-time stakes winner that includes the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs; Flashing, victorious in the Nassau County going for her fourth consecutive win; Hopeful Image, who took her last at Belmont; and Malibu Prayer, who captured her last two races by a combined 20 ¼ lengths – the exact margin of Rachel Alexandra’s Kentucky Oaks score.
On Monday before shipping to Belmont Park, Rachel Alexandra breezed a half-mile in 49 4/5, galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 at Churchill Downs.
“The filly went beautiful this morning,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “She looked very happy.”
There’s no reason to believe she won’t run beautifully and look happy Saturday afternoon winning her ninth in a dozen starts, failing to hit the board only once in her career debut.
Meanwhile, the majority owner in a Wednesday teleconference announced the filly won’t race in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in the fall, but there’s a good chance she’ll run as a 4-year-old.
Jess Jackson said a BC appearance is out because he abhors synthetic tracks and saw too many dirt horses struggle over those surfaces.
When asked about the 2010 BC at Churchill Downs, Jackson said he’d “love to be there (with her.).”
In addition, he said he’d like to see Rachel Alexandra take on the boys again, maybe in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on Aug. 2 or in the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 29.