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Aug 20, 2010

Next-best thing to Rachel and Zenyatta

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Since it doesn't appear that Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta will race against each other before the Breeders' Cup in November, Saturday's meeting between leading three-year-old fillies Devil May Care and Blind Luck will have to do.

Devil May Care and Blind Luck are the featured fillies in Saturday's $500,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Each is ranked in the NTRA Thoroughbred Poll, eighth and seventh, respectively. Devil May Care has been made the 7-5 morning-line favorite with Blind Luck next at 8-5.

The two will take on four other three-year-old ladies.

Devil May Care, trained by Todd Pletcher, has the home field advantage for the event. She won last month's Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga by four lengths.

"She's held her form since the Coaching Club, which I don't think was a particularly taxing race for her, and so far everything is going to plan," said Pletcher. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Blind Luck, and I'm looking forward to the race. You're putting the two most accomplished fillies on the racetrack and that's what everyone wants to see."

Devil May Care also won the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park in June. Back in May the filly was part the of the 20 horse field in the Kentucky Derby. She finished 10th, right in the middle behind Super Saver, another Pletcher trainee.

Blind Luck comes into the Alabama from her home base at Santa Anita Park. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the filly won the Kentucky Oaks by a nose the day before the Run for the Roses. There is no word as to whether Devil May Care and Blind Luck met while both were stabled at Churchill Downs.

"I don't think this is to the level that Rachel and Zenyatta were at," Hollendorfer said about Saturday's meeting, "but, you know, I think this is a race that the fans want to see.

"I'm not looking at it as a two-horse race. And I don't believe that from what I read Todd Pletcher said, he's not either. And I've already run against another good horse (Havre de Grace) and barely beat her by Tony Dutrow. So, you know, I don't really look at it as a showdown. Everybody that's going in there thinks that they have a chance. And so we have to beat everybody, not just one horse."

Hollendorfer, who is a co-owner of Blind Luck, has sent his filly out 12 times in her short career. She's come back a winner eight times with two seconds and two more third-place finishes, earning better than $1.5 million.

Her most recent race was the Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park. Sent off as the 1-5 favorite, she needed every inch of the 1 1/16-miles to post a nose victory over Havre de Grace.

"Well, I think that my horse can run on any surface," Hollendorfer noted. "And, you know, she's run on the off track and on the synthetic and on dirt, so the only thing we haven't tried her on is turf.

"I think all of these fillies have to prove that they can run a mile and quarter and I'm going to throw out Devil May Care's race in the Kentucky Derby, that mile and quarter. That track wasn't in the greatest shape that day. I think you could throw that race out, so all of these are going to have to prove that they can do the mile and quarter."

Brothers Tony and Rick Dutrow will each be represented in the Alabama.

Tony has Delaware Oaks runner-up Havre de Grace and Rick sends out Black-Eyed Susan winner Acting Happy.

"We are over the moon about Havre de Grace," said trainer Tony Dutrow. "She's improved in every one of her starts. The Delaware Oaks, the first graded stakes of her career, I'm very, very proud of what she did. Now, she's going to go 1 1/4-miles against the very best of her generation.

"It's a mountain to climb, and we're going into it with our eyes wide open, but we're feeling very good about her and are going to give it a try. I think she'll run great, and I hope she runs great enough."

Acting Happy finished third to Devil May Care in the Coaching Club American Oaks.

"She's got to come forward, that's for sure, because (Devil May Care is) a very nice filly and so is Blind Luck," said Rick, the older of the Dutrow siblings. "So she definitely has her work cut out for her."

Tizahit and Connie and Michael completes the field for the 1 1/4-mile Alabama.

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