08/18/2012 2:13PM

Saratoga: Risky Rachel back at best distance in Union Avenue Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Risky Rachel will cut back to six furlongs in Monday’s $100,000 Union Avenue Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Risky Rachel looks like anything but a risky proposition in Monday’s $100,000 Union Avenue Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares at Saratoga.

Cutting back in distance and drawn sweetly toward the outside in a field laden with inside speed, Risky Rachel has trainer Juan Coronel quite confident she can return to her winning ways against six opponents.

“Six furlongs is a hundred percent better than seven,” said Coronel, who trains Risky Rachel for owner/breeder Sanford Bacon. “We’re very, very confident. She came out of the last race perfect, and we’re looking forward to this one.”

Risky Rachel has recorded four of her five career victories at six furlongs. Though she lost her last start at the distance, it came to the razor-sharp Roman Treasure, who came off a seven-month layoff to run six furlongs in 1:08.84, beating Risky Rachel by two lengths.

“I felt after the race as if she won the race because she tried so hard,” Coronel said of Risky Rachel.

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Last out, in the Fleet Indian at seven furlongs here Aug. 1, Risky Rachel finished second to Beautiful But Blue, who was winning her fifth straight dirt race.

“The other day it was seven, and she went a little fast and she gave up a little bit at the end,” Coronel said. “But no question, the filly that won that day is a nice filly.”

Risky Rachel has been successful from on or off the lead. She will be ridden Monday by Javier Castellano, who guided Risky Rachel to an off-the-pace victory in last year’s Iroquois at Belmont.

With Funky Munky Mama, Willet, and Final Mesa drawing the inside three posts – and the speedy Paper Plane in post 5 – the early pace figures to be swift.

“I think she’s going to break good like always and then [Castellano’s] going to decide what’s better for her,” Coronel said. “She’s very easy to ride.”

Superior Sarah is another in this field who would benefit from a contested pace. Since trainer Tom Albertrani equipped her with blinkers four starts back, Superior Sarah has a 6 1/4-length allowance win versus statebreds and three decent efforts against open company. She will break from post 7 under Cornelio Velasquez, the former rider of Risky Rachel.

“If the pace is right, hopefully she’ll be coming with a late run,” Albertrani said. “She prefers running on the outside. We added blinkers, and it seemed to make a little difference as well.”

Willet, a winner of three of four starts, has not raced since last December. She was scratched from an open-company allowance race here Aug. 5 when she flipped in the paddock. She has come back to work twice over the main track. Though this race is tougher than the allowance, trainer James Iselin said the filly “needs to run.”

Ramon Dominguez rides Willet.

Lady Vi, beaten 10 lengths by Risky Rachel in an allowance race here last year, completes the field.