As the 2009 Saratoga meet neared its climax there was one question on everyone’s mind: When is Rachel running here? The Alabama was considered a possibility but once it became clear that she was not headed here a new lady was the biggest story. Careless Jewel, a white filly by 2004 Wood Memorial winner Tapit, was coming into the Alabama off of a smashing win in the Delaware Oaks. She took the initiative right out of the gate in the Delaware Oaks and looked like a speedballer, so the demanding 10 furlong distance in this Grade I Saratoga staple would certainly prove a challenge.
The aformentioned Careless Jewel was trained by a woman whose name had become a bit more familiar to racing fans nationwide after her 2YO Springside won the Demoiselle nine months earlier. Josie Carroll was based in Woodbine but wanted to try Careless Jewel on dirt. Her effort in the aforementioned Delaware Oaks made it clear that if Carroll had a premonition that she’d be better on dirt then she was probably right. With the NY based 3YO fillies looking like such a rag-tag group beyond Rachel Alexandra, the Alabama was certainly a perfect spot for Careless Jewel to be tested, as Carroll had made it clear that this was their destination after the Delaware triumph.
Funny Moon entered the Alabama off of a win in the Coaching Club American Oaks where she was able to get up in the waning stages despite racing about ten paths off the rail on the far turn. She earned a pedestrian Beyer figure of 86 in the CCA Oaks and was certainly going to have to elevate her game to win another Grade I.
Milwaukee Appeal had knocked heads with males in the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales in Canada before coming to NY to try fillies once again. She was given plenty of support at the windows as her ability on dirt was pretty clear following the narrow miss in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Don’t Forget Gil was a bad trip away from being a Grade I winner herself and the Florida Oaks winner looked to be poised for a breakthrough performance in the Alabama. She had shown consistency from her 2YO season when she won the East View against NY breds and the distance looked like it would be well within her range.
After some surprising pre-race antics, Careless Jewel had her mind on business when the time arrived and she rated perfectly off of Be Fair early before jockey Robert Landry asked her to go at the half-mile pole. And go she did. In the blink of an eye she turned for home nearly six lengths in front and she wound up eleven lengths clear at the finish. She soundly defeated felow Canadian Milwaukee Appeal, who was a distant second and to no one’s surprise, the Coaching Club American Oaks played out as the poor race that it appeared to be when it was run. The 1-2 finishers finished 8-5 in the Alabama as neither were ever really in contention.
Careless Jewel went on to win the Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Philadelphia Park in September and was among the favorites in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. She didn’t take to the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita particularly well but really lost all chance when she ran off down the backstretch setting an impossibly fast pace.
Enjoy the Alabama:
See you tomorrow as the list moves on to #5!