06/15/2010 11:00PM

Whitney next up for Blame

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Blame will race three more times leading up to the Breeders' Cup Classic in November.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Al Stall Jr. said going into the Stephen Foster Handicap that he had Blame ready to run "in the 90th percentile." So in light of how Blame raced to an electrifying victory last Saturday in the Grade 1 Foster at Churchill Downs, it's not hard to understand Stall's enthusiasm as he plots out the rest of the year.

"After that race, he's got to be close to 100 percent," said Stall. "And that's exciting. He's just such a nice horse. He does everything right, and you don't have to do that much with him between races. We all know how very difficult it is in this game for everything to go just as you plan it, but he sure is making it look that way so far."

Blame, bred and owned by Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm, will race next in the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, a Grade 1 race also expected to get Quality Road and Mine That Bird.

"We'll send him up there in time to get two works over the track, so in terms of our travel schedule, we'll just work backward from that," said Stall.

The Whitney could be followed by the Woodward at Saratoga, then either the Jockey Club Gold Cup or the Hawthorne Gold Cup as a final prep before the Nov. 6 Breeders' Cup Classic, said Stall.

Blame earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in capturing the 1 1/8-mile Foster by three-quarters of a length over Battle Plan, who since has been sidelined with a soft-tissue injury sustained during the race. Some two hours earlier Saturday, Rachel Alexandra covered the same distance in winning the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap in 1:48.78, or .59 of a second faster than Blame. She got a 108 Beyer.

"As hot as it was, the track loosened up dramatically, no question about it, and poor Battle Plan paid the price," said Stall. "It wasn't anybody's fault. It's just what Mother Nature does, like when the track got as slow as it did [at Belmont Park] on Belmont Day.

"Nothing against Rachel. She's fast. And there's nothing wrong with running a couple ticks slower than her. But the track really did loosen up a lot as the afternoon got hotter."

Meanwhile, the connections of Rachel Alexandra said the 2009 Horse of the Year came out of her 10 1/2-length victory in good shape. No specific race has been announced as her next start although obvious options include the Grade 1 filly and mare races at Saratoga, the Aug. 1 Ruffian Handicap and the Aug. 29 Personal Ensign.