Rachel Alexandra easily takes Oaks

NEW ORLEANS -- Rachel Alexandra strengthened her status as the top filly in the Midwest as she turned in a dominating wire-to-wire effort to win the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks. Rachel Alexandra was three lengths clear in the stretch when jockey Calvin Borel began to wrap up on her at the sixteenth pole, and he began to celebrate with 40 yards to go.

In her first race over a sloppy track, Rachel Alexandra broke alertly and never let anyone get near as she traveled 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.55, finishing 1 1/2 lengths clear of Flying Spur, who moved forward as Borel geared down Rachel Alexandra.

Rachel Alexandra's final time was only .09 of a second slower than Louisiana Derby winner, Friesan Fire, who was ridden out across the finish line.

The strategy of getting clear early paid off, as Rachel Alexandra did not have to cope with mud flying back at her, as the main track had been inundated with rain in the hours leading up to the Oaks.

"We kind of wanted to do this because she had never had mud in her face," said trainer Hal Wiggins. "We said, if she breaks good, just let her get out there a little bit, without quarter-horsing her and using her a whole lot."

Rachel Alexandra broke well, and Borel let her go to the front, 1 1/2 lengths clear of the longest shot in the field, War Tigress. Once in front, Rachel Alexandra relaxed, going the first quarter in 23.40 and making the half-mile in 47.54.

Rachel Alexandra responded when Borel asked her coming around the turn, putting away War Tigress and the rest of field. Borel spent much of the stretch taking looks backward for competition that never arrived.

Borel was enthusiastic after the ride.

"She's every jockey's dream," said Borel. "I think she's the best thing in the country right now."

Rachel Alexandra came into the race having won her last two races in impressive fashion, and she was sent of as the odds-on favorite, paying $2.60 to win.

She earned $240,000 for her owners, the L and M Partners. Half of her ownership is Dolphus Morrison, who bred Rachel Alexandra, and ended up keeping her after her sales estimate fell below what he thought she was worth.

Wiggins said the pre-race plan was to run her in the April 5 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn, and indicated that she was still being pointed toward the Kentucky Oaks, though running her in the Kentucky Derby was a possibility.

"The Kentucky Derby will be in the discussion," said Wiggins. "We'll have to think about it."