'Rachel' readies for Oaks with romp

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Rachel Alexandra established herself as the probable favorite for next month's Kentucky Oaks with a cruising, 8 3/4-length win in the Grade 2, $250,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park on Sunday. The score came one day after champion Stardom Bound was upset in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland.

The Fantasy was the fourth consecutive stakes win for Rachel Alexandra, and as the 1-9 favorite in a five-horse field she created a $3,382 minus win pool and a $227,722 minus place pool. There was no show wagering in the Fantasy.

Rachel Alexandra ($2.20) came into the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies off an easy win in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks. She broke well on a highly windy Sunday, rebuffed a brief challenge into the first turn from Afleet Deceit, and went on to control the race through fractions of 23.45 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.42 for the half-mile mark, and 1:12.57 for six furlongs before covering the distance on a fast track in 1:43.35.

It was another authoritative win from an authoritative filly, whose other stakes wins are the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs and the $50,000 Martha Washington at Oaklawn.

"I really don't know how good she is," said a jubilant Calvin Borel, who rode Rachel Alexandra for trainer Hal Wiggins. "She's never been pressured yet, and if she stays like she is, I don't know if she'll ever be pressured! She's just unbelievable."

Borel rode Rachel Alexandra out to the seven eighths-pole after the wire Sunday.

"I just wanted her to get something out of the race - she needed to," he said. "We're a little ways from the Oaks."

Wiggins said Rachel Alexandra would ship on Wednesday to Churchill Downs.

"She did everything we needed for her to do this race," said Wiggins. "I think she got something out of it, which is what she needed to do. She'll come back in a little bit less than four weeks and run at Churchill."

Rachel Alexandra has now won 6 of 9 starts and $621,440. She races for the L and M Partners of Mike Lauffer and Dolphus Morrison. Morrison bred Rachel Alexandra, who is a daughter of Medaglia d'Oro.

The Fantasy was part of the Racing Festival of the South at Oaklawn, when at least one stakes a day is run through the close of the meet Saturday. The festival continues on Wednesday with the $100,000 Bayakoa.

* Attendance on Sunday was 11,941. Handle on the 10-race card from all sources was $3,975,335.