Rachel's Valentina, the 2-year-oldBernardini filly out of championRachel Alexandra, looks to take a step up for Stonestreet Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher in the $350,000 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 5 at Saratoga Race Course.
One of just two foals produced by Rachel Alexandra, and raised by a nurse mare after her dam required multiple surgeries post-delivery, Rachel's Valentina impressively broke her maiden going six furlongs Aug. 2 at Saratoga, surging to a two-length win after a five-wide rally.
NOVAK: Rachel's Valentina Sparkles in Debut
Rachel's Valentina is the 5-2 favorite in a group of six juvenile fillies for the seven-furlong Spinaway, and will leave post 2 with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons. She will be joined by fellow Pletcher trainee Tonasah, the Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Malibu Moon who runs for StarLadies Racing.
Tonasah is the wiley miss who was entered in the June 5 Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park for her debut, but dumped jockey Javier Castellano coming onto the track and then proceeded to lead outriders in a spirited chase up and down the stretch of the 1 1/2-mile track before she was finally captured several minutes later.
Entered back July 2 at Belmont, she aired gate-to-wire by 5 1/2 lengths going five furlongs, this time with Castellano firmly aboard. Tonasah was the runner-up to Just Wicked in the 6 1/2-furlong Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 15 at Saratoga after setting the pace in her second start. Castellano gets the return call from post 3.
Horses that are not from the Pletcher barn include three solid winners last out: Tap to It, for trainer Ralph Nicks; Anna Rae, for trainer Jeremiah Englehart; and the Steve Asmussen trainee Constellation.
Tap to It made a brave Aug. 16 debut for Whisper Hill Farm, recovering from being steadied and shuffled back to draw clear by two lengths when closing in a six-furlong maiden special weight. Joel Rosario has the return call aboard the daughter of Tapit and the duo leaves from the rail.
Anna Rae, by Tiz Wonderful, aired by 11 1/2 lengths Aug. 14, after closing from fifth in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at the Spa, her first start for owner Neal Allread. Luis Saez will ride again from post 4.
Constellation, the most expensive purchase in the field at $800,000 from the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March sale of 2-year-olds in training, when spotted by Alex Solis II and Jason Litt, was a 4 1/2-length victress Aug. 9 for LNJ Foxwoods going 5 1/2 furlongs after pressing the pace and edging clear. Irad Ortiz Jr. sticks with the Bellamy Road filly from the 5 hole.
Completing the field is Mark Dodson's Banree, who won at first asking at Keeneland in April for trainer Wesley Ward, but since then was fourth in the June 5 Tremont Stakes and second in the July 24 Schuylerville (gr. III). Rafael Hernandez has been aboard the daughter of Macho Uno for all three starts and returns from the outside.