Rachel’s Valentina will be the first starter produced by 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra when she takes to the track for Sunday’s second race at Saratoga, an $83,000 maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
Rachel’s Valentina was made the 6-5 morning line favorite and will be ridden John Velazquez.
“She’s trained very well and she’s as ready as we can have her,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “This one’s six furlongs and the next one [in the condition book] is 5 1/2 and I preferred the six. She’s not super quick away from the gate, [so] it’s probably not her ideal distance but it’s a good starting point to build on.”
A daughter of Bernardini, the 2006 champion three-year-old colt, Rachel’s Valentina is a homebred racing for Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stable. Banke and her late husband, Jess Jackson, in partnership campaigned Rachel Alexandra, who became the first three-year-old filly to win Horse of the Year honors in 64 years.
During that 2009 memorable campaign, Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) by more than 20 lengths; became the first filly in more than 80 years to win the Preakness (G1); defeated three-year-old colt champion Summer Bird by six lengths in the Haskell Invitational (G1); and was the first female winner of the prestigious Woodward (G1) against older horses.