by DICK POWELL
The Risen Star (G2) will get lots of attention on Saturday’s card from the Fair Grounds so I decided to concentrate on the Rachel Alexandra (G2) for sophomore fillies.
MONOMOY GIRL is the 8-5 morning line favorite and rightfully so. Her BRIS speed ratings dwarf the rest of the field and she is also the one to catch. After beginning her career with two wins on the turf, she tried dirt next out going a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs and she won the Rags to Riches by over six lengths in good time.
Next up was the Golden Rod (G2) and she missed by a neck in an erratic trip as the 9-10 favorite. She set a strong pace that day and unlike her two wins on the turf where she settled nicely, she has been headstrong on the dirt.
Off for 84 days, the daughter of Tapizar returns for Brad Cox, who is having a huge meet this season. His last 343 horses returning off similar rest show a flat-bet profit. Her workout pattern has been strong and she gets Florent Geroux back aboard.
The Silverbulletday was a prep for the Rachel Alexandra and WONDER GADOT ran second in it as the 111-10 favorite. Winner of the Demoiselle (G2) to finish up last season, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro already shows a win on turf, synthetic and dirt. A race over the track used to be a big factor here and she has a good one. Unfortunately, she has to spot two pounds to Monomoy Girl since she is a graded stakes winner.
Wonder Gadot looks to be, using today’s parameters, a workhorse. She had five starts last year, shipped to New Orleans to begin training and already has a race over the track. She has tracking speed and Johnny Velazquez will have to play the role of the stalker. If he pushes Wonder Gadot too early to keep Monomoy Girl company, it might work. If he doesn’t, Monomoy Girl goes gate-to-wire. From post four, Johnny might try to beat Geroux going into the first turn and then, it could get interesting.
HEAVENLY LOVE looked like she might develop into a good one last year. She won the Alcibiades (G1) in her two-turn debut at Keeneland then came back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar next out and did nothing from post one. Beaten by 25 lengths that day, she came back in the Silverbulletday and was bumped at the start and then raced in traffic.
Mark Casse has tightened the screws since then with a pair of very fast half-mile workouts here and Julien Leparoux rides back. She will improve but how much remains the question.
A filly not to be ignored is PATRONA MARGARITA. Bred in Texas, she almost ran down stakes foes going five furlongs at Lone Star Park in July. She came back two months later at Churchill Downs for her graded stakes debut while trying two turns for the first time. To make it worse, she drew post 11 and was dismissed at almost 24-1 by the bettors that day in the Pocahontas (G2).
Wide on the first turn, Brian Hernandez moved her up some down the backside but when he tried to go between horses, there was no room. He had to idle and wait for the outside flow to clear then went five wide around the far turn.
Thrown into the deep water in terms of class, distance and trip, she remarkably was able to swim. At the top of the stretch, she drew on even terms and kicked on to open up four lengths. The final margin was 3 3.4 lengths and her BRIS speed rating of 88 looks low, but remember this was a two-year-old filly going 1 1/16 miles on September 16. Throw in the ground loss and it was a huge effort.
154 days later, Bret Calhoun brings her back to the races and doesn’t hesitate to try her against good company. I like the back-to-back six-furlong breezes here and if she can get any help with the pace, I think she can run this group down in the deep stretch.
Patrona Margarita is the only graded stakes winner her sire Special Rate has produced but she is a half-sister to Texas Chrome, who won the Super Derby (G3) and Oklahoma Derby (G3) on his way to over $1 million in earnings.
(Patrona Margarita: Coady Photography)