When your older half-brother is a Kentucky Derby winner, it's natural for high expectations to carry over. Positive Spirit ended her 2-year-old campaign on a very promising note, and the first chapter of her sophomore season is about to be written in the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, to be run on Saturday, Feb. 16 – Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford.
Owned by Michael Ryan, the half-sister to 2017 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming has shown improvement in each of her four starts, the most recent of which was a stunning 10 1/2-length triumph in the Grade II Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 1, where she acquired 10 points on Churchill Downs' Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
Trainer Rodolphe Brisset began thinking big after her runaway victory in the Demoiselle, which was the daughter of Pioneerof the Nile's stakes debut. He hopes the Rachel Alexandra Stakes is the beginning of a highly successful campaign.
“We said after the Demoiselle that we felt like the ultimate goal would be to win a Grade 1,” Brisset said. “If we feel like she isn't ready to go there yet we could wait for the summer races for her at Saratoga. We are looking at the Rachel as the beginning and as of now it's the spot we're going to come back in.”
Bred in Kentucky by Santa Rosa Partners, Positive Spirit made her career debut at Saratoga last summer where she finished third. She broke her maiden at Churchill Downs on Nov. 8 going a one-turn mile over a fast main track.
“We got some luck when Mr. Ryan decided not sell her and sent her to us,” Brisset said. “We thought she was nice at Saratoga from there she proved to be a nice one. We saw what she did last year.”
Brisset stated that jockey Manny Franco would ship to Fair Grounds to pilot Positive Spirit. Franco guided her to victory in the Demoiselle last time out.
“I was happy with the ride that he gave last time,” Brisset said. “Manny is a nice jockey and a great kid. We're really happy he's coming and making the trip to ride her.”
Positive Spirit is out of the G3-winning In Excess (Ire.) broodmare Above Perfection. In addition to producing Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming she also is the dam of G1 winner Hot Dixie Chick.
The Rachel Alexandra Stakes is the second of three local preps on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks and awards the Top 4 finishers based off of a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Also representing the Brisset barn next Saturday in the Grade III $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap is Quip, who will make his first start since an eighth-place finish in the G1 Preakness Stakes behind eventual Triple Crown winner Justify.
The 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor gave Brisset his first graded stakes victory when he took last year's edition of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby at 19-1.
“Quip is doing very well,” Brisset said. “We have some nice workouts into him. It could be definitely be the right spot to start his 4-year-old campaign.”
Although Quip has yet to race over the Fair Grounds main track, he had trained over the New Orleans oval all winter last year.
“It seems that he likes the track,” Brisset said. “He has never raced over it but he did train there all winter last year and doesn't mind the track at all. I think everything lines up very well. The main thing is to let the horse tell us what he wants to do. We'll bring him competitive.”
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