Labor Day Saturdays at Saratoga belong to Rachel Alexandra and family. Six years to the day after the future Hall of Famer clinched a Horse of the Year title with an historic victory against older males in the Woodward (G1), her daughter, Rachel’s Valentina, earned what might be the first of several top-level prizes to come in the $350,000 Spinaway (G1).
In taking the seven-furlong test by a length over Tap to It, the Stonestreet Stables homebred became the first filly to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Keeneland on October 30.
Settled in third by jockey John Velazquez as stablemate Tonasah set a pace of :22.75 and :45.38, Rachel’s Valentina escaped a pocket entering the stretch, wore down pace presser Constellation inside the eighth pole and held off the second choice in a time of 1:23.10 over a fast track. She returned $5.50 as the favorite in a field of six.
A daughter of champion Bernardini, Rachel’s Valentina was her illustrious dam’s first starter when she won on debut by two lengths going six furlongs at the Spa on August 2. Her older half-brother, the three-year-old Curlin colt Jess’s Dream, followed suit later at Saratoga, winning in improbable fashion from well off the pace going nine furlongs.
“She put herself into the race a little more than I thought she would, but she seemed to be handling tracking those horses well, and getting a little dirt well,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.” I felt like turning for home, knowing her style and watching her train, that she was going to keep coming. I’ve always felt like the farther she goes, the better she gets. And I think that’s proven to be true.”
The two logical options for a final Breeders’ Cup prep are the $400,000 Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland on October 2, and the $400,000 Frizette (G1) at Belmont Park the following day. The Alcibiades is contested at 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the Juvenile Fillies, while the Frizette is a one-turn mile.
Tap to It ran a solid race and undoubtedly has a bright future herself. She trailed the field until the stretch and simply had too much ground to make up compared to the winner. She’s by Tapit out of Leave Me Alone, who recorded her signature win in the Test (G1) at Saratoga.
As popular as Rachel Alexandra was, it’s truly exciting to see her last offspring show the potential of being a champion herself. Rachel’s Valentina is racing’s princess, and her star is rising fast.
Photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography.