03/16/2009 11:00PM

Fantasy likely for Rachel Alexandra

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Will Kenser/Coady Photography
Rachel Alexandra has won three consecutive stakes, including last Saturday's Fair Grounds Oaks, Oaklawn's Martha Washington (above), and the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill on Nov. 29.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Rachel Alexandra will follow one of two paths to the Grade 1, $500,000 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 1, according to her trainer, Hal Wiggins. She will either train up to the 1 1/8-mile race following her dominant win last Saturday in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, or she will have her final prep April 5 in the Grade 2, $250,000 Fantasy at her home track of Oaklawn Park.

"I think we're 90 percent going in the Fantasy," said Wiggins, who trains Rachel Alexandra for Dolph Morrison and Mike Lauffer.

Rachel Alexandra has won three consecutive stakes dating back to the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill on Nov. 29, for which she earned a Beyer Figure of 99. From there, she rolled to an eight-length win in the $50,000 Martha Washington at Oaklawn on Feb. 15, earning a career-best Beyer of 100. She was then a strolling winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks, wiring the field in the slop for a Beyer of 97. The performance last Saturday told Wiggins where he stands as the Oaks gets closer and closer for Rachel Alexandra.

"She was definitely ready for the race, and we've got her fit enough," he said. "The main thing we've got to do is just kind of hold her where she is.

"Her last two races, the Martha Washington and the Fair Grounds Oaks, I couldn't have wanted any more out of her. She's just a tremendous racehorse, and she's making it easy on me."

Rachel Alexandra's dominance, coupled with winning times that are either better than or compare favorably to some of her male counterparts, has led to questions about a possible start in the Kentucky Derby, but Wiggins said the goal for the strapping filly is the Kentucky Oaks.

"Talking with Mr. Morrison and Mr. Lauffer after the Fair Grounds Oaks, they're saying strongly, 'Let's keep her on the filly trail,' " said Wiggins.

Rachel Alexandra is a daughter of Medaglia d'Oro. She returned to her Oaklawn base on Sunday.

Win Willy on deck for Arkansas Derby

Mac Robertson now has more in common with Larry Jones than the fact that both trainers married excellent horsewomen of the same name - Larry to Cindy and Mac to Cyndi. He has also got a roan colt on the road to the Arkansas Derby.

Robertson sent out Win Willy to a 56-1 upset win over the Jones-trained roan, Old Fashioned, in the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel here last Saturday. Robertson said Win Willy emerged from the race in good order and will target the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby on April 11.

"With a million-dollar race a month away, obviously we want to be in it," said Robertson, who trains Win Willy for Jer-Mar Stables.

Win Willy came into the Rebel off a sharp optional claiming sprint win at Oaklawn. He was making his first start in a dirt route Saturday, and for the effort earned a career-best Beyer of 102.

"I really thought the horse was a route horse all along," Robertson said. "We took him to Remington to try and stretch him out, couldn't get a dirt race going long, and tried him on the grass going long and it didn't work out.

"He came here, trained great. I didn't get to run him quite as soon as I wanted to, but when I did run him he ran an impressive sprint race and galloped out strongly, and finally, I got to run him two turns on the dirt."

Win Willy, a son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, gave Robertson his first graded stakes win from six such starts. Robertson is the 34-year-old son of top Midwest-based horseman Hugh Robertson.

Losing mount fee negotiations to continue

Negotiations to increase losing mount fees for Oaklawn-based riders will continue this summer, according to representatives for both the local riding colony and the Arkansas Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. An agreement between the parties had been expected to be presented to the Arkansas Racing Commission for approval last Saturday, but the riders decided to withdraw from a scale that horsemen had recently voted to adopt, according to Johnny Beech, a regional manager for the Jockeys' Guild.

"What we came up with didn't quite meet the expectations of the guild," said Earl Bellamy, the president of the Arkansas HBPA.

"In the long run, it will be a better deal," said Perry Compton, a director of the guild.

Both parties said they also felt that having a new scale in place before the start of the 2010 meet rather than late in the current meet might be more advantageous. Beech said negotiations to increase losing mount fees are also ongoing in Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

* There is a $22,155 pick six carryover for Thursday.