08/18/2009 11:00PM

Eight dodge Rachel bullet

Barbara D. Livingston
Don't Forget Gil, who has been training strongly at Saratoga, was second by a neck to Funny Moon in the CCA Oaks.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Much to the relief of eight other trainers, Rachel Alexandra, as expected, was not entered in Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

That leaves for an interesting albeit star-lacking Alabama for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles. Funny Moon and Don't Forget Gil, the one-two finishers in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park last month, figure to take the bulk of the money, but two Canadian invaders - Careless Jewel and Milwaukee Appeal - could make the race interesting.

The last time Careless Jewel left her Canadian base, she waltzed to a 7 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks on July 18. It was her first start on dirt after making three starts on synthetics.

"I thought she'd run very well, but obviously when a horse runs exceptional like that you're always delighted and surprised," said trainer Josie Carroll, whose only other Saratoga starter was Brushed Halory, seventh in the 1999 Alabama.

Now that Careless Jewel has answered the question of whether she could handle dirt, she must now prove that she can handle 1 1/4 miles.

"Obviously, never having gone a distance like that, it's a big unknown for her," Carroll said. "When we first stepped up from sprinting to a mile and a sixteenth, we thought this filly would stretch out. This is another test, and until she does it we don't know."

Milwaukee Appeal, a daughter of Milwaukee Brew trained by Scott Fairlie, raced competitively against males in Canada. She finished third, beaten a neck, in the Queen's Plate and then was beaten a nose in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie. In her last start against fillies, Milwaukee Appeal won the Woodbine Oaks.

Careless Jewel, a daughter of Tapit, will break from post 5 under Robert Landry.

Milwaukee Appeal drew the outside in the eight-horse field, and has the services of John Velazquez.

Careless Jewel figures to have company on the front end with the likes of Be Fair and Wynning Ride in the field.

That could set things up for horses like Funny Moon and Don't Forget Gil, who were separated by a neck in last month's Coaching Club American Oaks. Funny Moon, a daughter of Malibu Moon trained by Christophe Clement, has won 4 of 6 starts overall and would definitely move up on a wet track.

Don't Forget Gil, a New York-bred daughter of Kafwain trained by Mark Hennig, has been training exceptionally strongly at Saratoga and has proven to be very adept in two-turn races.

Casanova Move, fourth in the CCA Oaks, and Sweet and Flawless, runner-up in the Arlington Park Oaks, complete the field.