Canterbury Park, Shakopee, Minn logo

NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra had her longest workout of the year Wednesday in advance of her anticipated season debut in the March 13 New Orleans Ladies. Rachel Alexandra breezed a businesslike six furlongs in 1:14 over a fast main track at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots yesterday with regular exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard. The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly accomplished the time through fractions of :13, :25 1/5, :37 3/5, :49 4/5 and 1:02. A stout gallop-out around the clubhouse turn was caught by Fair Grounds clockers in :13 for a seven-furlong gallop-out time of 1:27.

Rachel Alexandra’s two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, who observed from horseback, called the work “ideal” and “way easier” than her last move on February 18, when she went five furlongs, breezing, in 1:01 1/5 but was noticeably keen early on.

Asmussen said that Wednesday’s work was just what they were looking for as Rachel Alexandra prepares not only for the New Orleans Ladies, but also the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 9, where a date with Champion Older Female Zenyatta would be worth a $5 million purse.

Rachel Alexandra established herself as one of the all-time great fillies last year with historic wins in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks and Grade I Preakness, as well as six other stakes races, including the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks. Three of her Grade I victories last year were against male horses — in the Preakness, the Haskell Invitational and the Woodward.

Just weeks after the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl triumph, a couple from Pineville, La., registered a Louisiana-bred filly with The Jockey Club and named her Fleur de Leestown, which recognizes her sire Leestown and the white marking on her head that resembles the Saints’ fleur-de-lis logo.

The yearling filly is out of the mare Spicy Angelita and was bred by Richard R. Belgard Sr. and Beverly Belgard. The Belgards, longtime Saints fans who watch every game on television, were struck by the marking when they first laid eyes on the filly.

“When she was born, we immediately noticed the marking and began thinking of fleur-de-lis names on the spot,” said Beverly. “Given that her sire was Leestown, the name Fleur de Leestown seemed like the right fit.”
The Belgards, who keep five mares on their farm, plan to sell the filly at auction later this year.
(PHOTO by Pam Burlew)

Wayne Catalano gained the 2000th win of his training career yesterday when Dunscombe captured the third race at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, Ill.

Catalano began his racing career as a jockey and registered 1,792 victories in that pursuit, which concluded in 1983. But he has achieved his greatest fame as a trainer. Among his 2,000 wins as a conditioner are victories in both the 2006 and 2009 renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with two-year-old filly Champions Dreaming of Anna and She Be Wild, respectively.