With stablemate Taraz having soaked up a lot of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) talk in recent weeks, attention shifts back to the head of the division, champion juvenile British Idiom, who kicks off her 2020 campaign for Brad Cox on Saturday in the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds.
The 1 1/16-mile Rachel Alexandra is the first Road to the Kentucky Oaks series prep to offer qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four, with the winner virtually assured to make the Oaks field on May 1.
A daughter of Flashback, British Idiom was 3-for-3 last season, with a blowout victory in the Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland preceding a much more challenging run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita, in which she just got up to defeat Donna Veloce by a neck. She won an overwhelming victory in the Eclipse Award poll, though, garnering the support of 222 voters.
“After the Breeders’ Cup we gave her some time off to just be a horse and put some weight on,” Cox said. “She’s really trained well in the past four or five weeks, she’s picked it up and each week she seems to be getting better and better.
“She’s coming into this race every bit as good as she was when she went into Breeders’ Cup. I’m really excited about how she’s training and I think she’ll run really well Saturday.”
During British Idiom’s downtime, Finite has emerged as a leading Oaks candidate for Steve Asmussen. However, the daughter of Munnings has had to dig deep to win her two-turn attempts of late, capturing the Golden Rod (G2) by a diminishing three parts of a length and then winning a stretch duel over Ursula by a neck in last month’s Silverbulletday S.
“She has earned everything she’s gotten,” said Asmussen, who also trained Untapable (2014) and Summerly (2005) to a Rachel Alexandra/Kentucky Oaks double for Ron Winchell.
Ursula, second to Finite and Taraz in her two stakes appearances, just edged Tempers Rising by a head for runner-up honors in the Silverbulletday, while His Glory adds blinkers after weakening to fifth in that Jan. 18 heat. Shipping in from Florida are the Kenny McPeek-trained pair of Swiss Skydiver and Impeccable Style.
“They’re two fillies that I think both have a lot of talent,” McPeek said. “Both want to go longer and are asking for a route of ground. I think it’s going to be a really good test for them as far as class and distance.”