Rachel at the crossroads

Rachel Alexandra will return to racing this Saturday, however, connections are still weighing up several options for the reigning USA Horse of the Year.

Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) faces a stern test after two losses this year.  The champion filly was beaten in the LR New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds and the G2 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen have yet to make a formal announcement but they can keep the filly in Kentucky to race in either the G1 Stephen Foster Hcp or the G2 Fleur de Lis Hcp at Churchill Downs.  The other alternatives on Saturday are the G1 Ogden Phipps Hcp at Belmont Park and the G3 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park.

Rachel Alexandra has a career record of 16: 11-4-0 with earnings of $3.07 million.  She completed an 800m workout in 49.40s under the Twin Spires on Monday in preparation for this weekend’s outing.

While Rachel Alexandra is at the crossroads, her sire Medaglia d’Oro is going from strength to strength.  He claimed another Group 1 last Saturday when Champagne d’Oro won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont.

Champagne d’Oro (3f Medaglia d’Oro – Champagne Glow by Saratoga Six) caused a 40-1 upset in the Acorn.  Her only other win in 10 starts had been in a Fair Grounds maiden in February but she was coming off a narrow loss in the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks.

Bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm, Champagne d’Oro was purchased for $210,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale.  Her dam Champagne Glow was a G1 runner-up in the 1990 Frizette Stakes and second dam Champagne Ginny (L’enjoleur) was a stakes winning half-sister to Grand Canyon (Fappiano) who was a G1 winner of the 1989 Hollywood Futurity and Norfolk Stakes.

Meanwhile, Medaglia d’Oro colt Al Zir, who ran sixth in the English Derby, will be given a breather before returning to action later this year.  He raced in a prominent position under Kieren Fallon at Epsom Downs but was pushed along to keep in touch when Workforce made a winning move in the straight.

“He’s still a big baby and I think he’s more a horse for the future,” trained Saeed bin Suroor said.  Fallon was also upbeat.  “Al Zir will be a very good horse,” Fallon predicted.  “He just needs time.”

Al Zir (2c Medaglia d’Oro – Bayou Plans by Bayou Hebert) was a US$1.6 million buy for Sheikh Mohammed at the Fasig-Tipton 2yo Sale at Calder in March 2009.  He is a half brother to G1 winner and sire Midas Eyes and G3 winner Bayou’s Lassie.

Within weeks of buying the colt, Sheikh Mohammed purchased Medaglia d’Oro from Stonewall Farm.  

Medaglia d’Oro will shuttle to Darley’s Kelvinside property in NSW this year and will stand for a $88,000 (inc. gst) fee.  He has just finished covering his first book at Jonabell Farm for a US$100,000 fee.  He also covered 11 mares to southern hemisphere time at the Kentucky stud late last year.

“We are delighted Sheikh Mohammed has decided to bring Medaglia d’Oro to Australia,” Darley’s Australia’s managing director Henry Plumptre said.  “He is, quite simply, one of the best and most exciting stallions in the world.”

Medaglia d’Oro is a son of Champion Kentucky based sire El Prado (Sadler’s Wells).  He was a G1 winner of the Travers Stakes, Whitney Handicap and Donn Handicap and helped propel El Prado to Champion US sire honours in 2002.