04/28/2009 12:00AM

Rachel Alexandra right next to 'Dixie'

Barbara D. Livingston
Justwhistledixie (above) drew right next to heavy favorite Rachel Alexandra for the Oaks.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rachel Alexandra has won four races in a row and is being touted as the second coming.

Justwhistledixie has won five straight races and is nothing better than a distant second choice to Rachel Alexandra for the Kentucky Oaks.

This disparity in the perceived abilities of the top Oaks contenders might well come to fruition when the filly classic is run Friday for the 135th time at Churchill Downs - but the connections of Justwhistledixie aren't conceding a thing just yet.

"She does everything right," said Neal McLaughlin, who has been overseeing the day-to-day training of Justwhistledixie as the assistant to his brother, Kiaran McLaughlin. "She dictates her own race, so that's really nice to have in a big race like this."

Rachel Alexandra, with Calvin Borel to ride, was assigned post 6 as the 3-5 morning-line favorite in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies entered Tuesday for the Grade 1, $500,000 Oaks. Justwhistledixie, pegged at 5-2 with Julien Leparoux riding, will start just to her inside from post 5.

The way the 1 1/8-mile Oaks unfolds should be critical to the outcome. Rachel Alexandra comes off front-running wins and a couple of sizzling works at Churchill and would appear the likely front-runner, but trainer Hal Wiggins insists the filly is tractable and does not necessarily need the front. In contrast, Justwhistledixie has consistently demonstrated a willingness to rate just off the lead, including in her latest victories in back-to-back Grade 2 stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Davona Dale and Bonnie Miss.

"In her races, she's more of a stalking filly," said McLaughlin. "If there's no pace, she can be up front. If there's pace, she can sit back. She dictates her own race."

Probably one other Oaks runner, Gabby's Golden Gal (post 4), has shown enough speed to figure into the early mix, but otherwise, it appears highly possible that the race could quickly boil down to a match between the two favorites.

The balance of the Oaks field includes a trio from the stable of D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time winner of the race. They are Tweeter, Be Fair, and Stone Legacy, who drew the 1, 2, and 3 post positions, respectively.

Nan (post 7) and Flying Spur (post 8) round out the cast.

The Oaks leads off a pair of two-day wagers: the Oaks-Derby double, and the Oaks-Woodford-Derby pick three.

After years of being telecast on ESPN or ESPN2, the Oaks is being shown this year on the Bravo cable network for the first time.

Post time for the Oaks, the 11th of 12 Friday races, is 5:45 p.m. Eastern. First post is 10:30 a.m.

Grade 1, $500,000 Kentucky Oaks

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 Tweeter D. Wayne Lukas Miguel Mena 30-1
2 Be Fair D. Wayne Lukas Rafael Bejarano 15-1
3 Stone Legacy D. Wayne Lukas Kent Desormeaux 30-1
4 Gabby's Golden Gal Bob Baffert Victor Espinoza 10-1
5 Justwhistledixie Kiaran McLaughlin Julien Leparoux 5-2
6 Rachel Alexandra Hal Wiggins Calvin Borel 3-5
7 Nan Craig Dollase Corey Nakatani 20-1
8 Flying Spur Bill Mott Garrett Gomez 8-1

All carry 121 pounds

Post time: 5:45 p.m. Eastern

Television: Bravo