Jess’s Dream, the first foal from 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and by 2007-08 Horse of the Year Curlin, will make his highly-anticipated career debut in Monday’s sixth race at Saratoga.
Owned and bred by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee will face seven rivals in the 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight test. John Velazquez rides.
“It’s exciting,” McLaughlin said. “To be honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever run a horse a mile and an eighth first time out. (At Saratoga) it’s either 6 ½ (furlongs), seven (furlongs) or a mile and an eighth. He’s not a sprinter.
“It’s a tough distance and he might get a little tired, but we’re excited to get him in the gate and go from here. He’s got a bright future.”
Jess’s Dream is named for Banke’s late husband, Jess Jackson, who in partnership campaigned Rachel Alexandra during her memorable 2009 season.
Rachel Alexandra romped by 20 lengths in the Kentucky Oaks (G1); became the first filly in 80 years to capture the Preakness Stakes (G1); easily defeated three-year-old champion Summer Bird in the Haskell Invitational (G1); and concluded her remarkable sophomore campaign with a victory over older males in the prestigious Woodward Stakes (G1). She earned more than $3.5 million from a 19-13-5-0 career record.
However, Jess’s Dream won’t be the first starter from Rachel Alexandra: his juvenile half-sister, Rachel’s Valentina, won at first asking on August 2 at Saratoga, taking a six-furlong maiden special weight by two lengths as the even-money favorite. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Rachel’s Valentina is a daughter of 2006 champion three-year-old Bernardini and rates as one of the early favorites for the Spinaway (G1) on September 5.
Curlin, a four-time Eclipse winner, was represented by a champion in his first crop, Palace Malice, and his progeny are really flourishing in 2015. Daughter Curalina will seek her third straight Grade 1 win in Saturday’s Alabama at Saratoga and the three-year-old filly Stellar Wind is another Grade 1 scorer this season for the Lane’s End Farm stallion. And Curlin has been represented by juvenile graded stakes winners Exaggerator and Off the Tracks during the current Saratoga meet.
Photo of Jess’s Dream courtesy of Susie Raisher/Coglianese Photography