03/13/2009 11:00PM

Rachel Alexandra looks like a special filly


NEW ORLEANS - Looking at Rachel Alexandra's form, it is hard not to start thinking ahead. After all, she not only beat quality fillies in the Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park, but also ran a full second faster than the top 3-year-old colt Old Fashioned did at the Arkansas track, albeit one day earlier.

Regardless of the validity of such time comparisons, Rachel Alexandra comes into Saturday's Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks a heavy favorite. Six 3-year-old fillies are entered in the $400,000 Oaks, which will be run at 1 1/16 miles and is carded as the sixth race.

In her last race, Rachel Alexandra came off a 2 1/2-month layoff to set a stakes record in the Martha Washington, covering the mile in 1:36.40. She won by eight lengths that day, and could easily have done more, as her jockey, Calvin Borel, wrapped her up once he had the race in hand.

"Calvin stood up with about a sixteenth to go and she still broke the stakes record," said her trainer, Hal Wiggins. "Calvin did a masterful job of getting her to relax and lay off the pace."

Rachel Alexandra has worked twice since the Martha Washington, turning in a solid five-furlong move on Feb. 26, and then going an easy four furlongs March 8.

"After the Martha Washington she showed me she was fit and ready," said Wiggins. "She has a good mind, and a good temperament, and that's going to help her with her new surroundings at the Fair Grounds."

The Oaks is arguably the biggest race of Rachel Alexandra's career and could more than double her $231,000 bankroll.

Her biggest threat looks to be the Steve Asmussen-trained Four Gifts, who has managed to earn more than Rachel Alexandra from the same number of starts.

Four Gifts's most important win came three races ago as she came from off the pace to win the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Princess at Delta Downs on Dec. 5. Two races ago, she finished third in the Tiffany Lass, and she made the lead in the stretch of her last race, the Grade 3 Silverbulletday, before tiring and finishing second.

"I thought she ran a solid race last time out, but she's going to have to add to it and run better," said Asmussen. "She has a very large task in Rachel Alexandra."