12/09/2009 12:00AM

Fair Grounds still seeks Rachel start


A new race on the Fair Grounds stakes schedule will be called the New Orleans Ladies, the track announced Tuesday, while restating its hopes that the race will serve as a launching pad for Rachel Alexandra's 2010 campaign.

The $200,000 race, scheduled March 13 for 1 1/16 miles on dirt, was one of two new races in the older female route division created by the track this year. Fair Grounds also created the $100,000 Daily Racing Form Stakes on Dec. 19, bulking up a division long-neglected by the traditional stakes schedule.

While the new races help the overall Fair Grounds program, both were created with an eye toward specific circumstances. The track hinted that the December race could undergo a major purse boost if the connections of both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra expressed an interest in running. That hope always was the longest of shots, but the New Orleans Ladies could be a logical spot for Rachel Alexandra.

Rachel Alexandra currently is engaged only in light daily exercise, her first race since the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga apparently well off into the future. If her connections chose the Fair Grounds race, Rachel would be able to run out of her own stall, and if the Grade 1 Apple Blossom is a major early-season goal for the filly, the New Orleans Ladies could work timing-wise as a prep for that spot.

"If the timing is right for Rachel, we will do everything in our power to make the race attractive to her connections," the Fair Grounds' general manager, Eric Halstrom, said in a press release. "We're ready to roll out the red carpet."