Royal Obsession a Possible New Star in Rachel Alexandra
Royal Obsession a Possible New Star in Rachel Alexandra: Stonestreet Farms, with their plethora of quality horses, holds a special place in racing fans’ hearts. On Saturday, they hope to unveil another star in Royal Obsession, who starts her path on the Oaks trail in the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra (GII) at Fair Grounds. The winner takes home 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Steve Asmussen conditions the 3-year-old daughter of Tapit, and she did not come cheap. Royal Obsession sold for over $1 million last November, meaning expectations are high. Asmussen and Stonestreet Farms also campaigned the legendary Rachel Alexandra, who lives a quiet life retired from the racing and broodmare world.
Stonestreet’s bloodstock agent gave some interesting comments about Royal Obsession before she ever raced.
“She’s been training absolutely lights-out super and Steve’s high on her,” said agent John Moynihan in a Keeneland press release, before her career debut at Churchill Downs.
Her maiden win at Churchill Downs involved a five-wide rally, and her return at Fair Grounds two months later included another wide trip and she prevailed by only a head.
Royal Obsession can be forgiven for any slow figure earned in the Fair Grounds win, if only because of the pace. She ran fifth in the early going, or second to last, off a 24 and change opening quarter. Lemon Drop Belle, who competes in this field as well, finished second by a head probably because she ran closer to the pace.
To give more credit to Royal Obsession, no one can take speed figures too seriously right now for horses this young, especially if the horse has competent people and the breeding indicates further improvement. Royal Obsession’s damsire Tiznow gives evidence of this because Tiznow relatives tend to excel at longer distances.
Also, note how Stonestreet nominated this filly for the Triple Crown series. While several horses with no chance to win races such as the Kentucky Derby (GI), Preakness (GI) and Belmont (GI) are on the list each year, they must think highly of her for putting up the money. No other filly in the Rachel Alexandra was nominated to the series.
Royal Obsession starts from the outside post position nine, in a two-turn route, which is one negative factor to consider. Not convinced in her ability? Well, stablemate and expected favorite Stageplay breaks just to the inside.
Not many handicappers require explanation of Stageplay’s positive qualities. She owns plenty of tactical speed, a trait that helps runners in dirt racing. Plus, she won two stakes races and placed in a Grade II already.
Specifically, she finished second to Carina Mia, a daughter of Malibu Moon, in the Golden Rod Stakes (GII) at Churchill Downs on a sloppy dirt track. Perhaps Carina Mia ran a great race, but Malibu Moon progeny love the slop and she coasted on an uncontested lead. In a different scenario, maybe Stageplay wins. Who knows?
The other fillies must work out a good trip to defeat the top two.
From the rail, Shaken can jump up in her second career start for trainer Michael Stidham. Horses making their second overall start are liable to make a big jump because the first race acts as a learning experience.
Three spots right, Javier Castellano hops on board Forever Darling, who won the Santa Ynez (GII) at Santa Anita Park. Castellano-ridden horses always deserve a bit more consideration because of his excellent jockey skills.
Rounding out the major contenders, Midnight On Oconee attempts to avenge her loss to Stageplay and appears likely to gun from the sixth slot. She seems more probable to fade than hang on, but early speed is dangerous.
Narrowing down the field to Royal Obsession and Stageplay is the boring route to take, unfortunately. More clever handicappers will find a longshot choice and take their chances. Otherwise, pair the two Asmussen fillies with longshots in horizontal wagers and enjoy a couple of rising stars in the filly division!
TwinSpires.com Rachel Alexandra Stakes 2016 Post Positions & Odds
Race 9 4:23 PM CT
1 Shaken 12-1 Hernandez, Jr./Stidham
2 Finley’sluckycharm 12-1 Albarado/Calhoun
3 Venus Valentine 20-1 Lanerie/Amoss
4 Forever Darling 7-2 Castellano/Baltas
5 Lemon Drop Belle 12-1 Alvarado/Stewart
6 Midnight On Oconee 5-1 Graham/Jones
7 Lovable Lyss 8-1 Torres/Robertson
8 Stageplay 7-5 Geroux/Asmussen
9 Royal Obsession 8-1 Velazquez/Asmussen