Deja Vu! Godolphin's 'TDN Rising Star' Tarifa Best in Rachel Alexandra

Tarifa | Hodges Photography


Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: a 3-year-old filly in the Godolphin blue captured the GII Rachel Alexandra S. at Fair Grounds to earn 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

So far, Tarifa (f, 3, Bernardini–Kite Beach, by Awesome Again) is following the script laid out last year by Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief) perfectly. Like her year-older fellow Godolphin homebred, she, too, was named a 'TDN Rising Star' on debut. In a replay of last year, she, too, won the Rachel Alexandra for her first graded score. Will she follow suit with a GI Kentucky Oaks win and ultimately an Eclipse championship after a stellar 3-year-old campaign?

Over a sloppy and sealed Fair Grounds track darkened by both the weather and the hour, Tarifa bounded cleanly out of the inside gate. She held on to her rail spot as Flavien Prat restrained her lightly in third while letting SP Perfect Shot (Gun Runner) and Untapable S. winner Alpine Princess (Classic Empire) lead the way through :24.37 and :48.55 early quarters. With positions unchanged going into the turn, GSW & GISP V V's Dream (Mitole), also a 'TDN Rising Star', joined Tarifa to the outside briefly until Tarifa was let loose. She tipped out with great energy, swapped to her wrong lead for several strides as her momentum carried her past the leaders, and quickly refocused when corrected back to her proper lead. She found another gear to finish a much-the-best, 2 3/4-length winner over GSW Intricate (Gun Runner). Final time for the 8 1/2 furlongs was 1:45.28.

“She jumped very well and showed some early speed. From there we got to the first turn and I was able to get myself to the pocket,” said Prat. “She traveled well all the way around and kicked home.”

Tarifa made her sophomore debut Jan. 20 over a fast Fair Grounds surface at a mile and 70 yards with an 86 Beyer Speed Figure with Florent Geroux in the irons and blinkers removed. Geroux, who had ridden her in all three previous starts, stuck with Tarifa's Brad Cox-trained stablemate, Alpine Princess, Saturday. Sandwiched between that Jan. 20 win and her ultra-impressive, six-length 'Rising Star' Keeneland debut in October, Tarifa had finished flat in an off-the-board November optional allowance at Churchill.

“She acted like she could run before we debuted her at Keeneland,” said Cox. “I thought running her on the Beard Course made sense for her. The second race at Churchill going a mile was a head scratcher. She responded well here in January. She jumped out well, got a good early position, tracked the leaders, and really stretched out well. The Rachel Alexandra has been a great path to the Kentucky Oaks and we've had some success with that route. This is a good filly and we will keep marching forward.”

As has been well documented, four winners of the Rachel Alexandra in the past decade have won the Kentucky Oaks. The Rachel Alexandra offers 105 qualifying points for the Oaks, with the first five finishers earning points on a 50-25-15-10-5 scale. While Godolphin's win in the Rachel Alexandra last year was with trainer Brendan Walsh, who trains runner-up Intricate here, Cox previously won the race in 2022 with Turnerloose (Nyquist) and in 2018 with Monomoy Girl (Tapizar). The latter was one of the four who pulled off the Rachel Alexandra/Kentucky Oaks double in the last 10 years.


Pedigree Notes:

Classic winner, Eclipse champion, and leading sire Bernardini, a Darley homebred who stood at Darley's Jonabell Farm in Central Kentucky before his death at 18 due to complications from laminitis, is the sire of 87 worldwide black-type winners. While Tarifa is the first Rachel Alexandra winner among his 53 graded winners, he is the sire of the lone filly out of the race's namesake and that daughter–Rachel's Valentina–won the 2015 GI Spinaway S. Bernardini has top-class winners in nearly all categories and is also well established as one of the sport's leading broodmare sires. His final crop will race this year.

Although Tarifa is Bernardini's first stakes winner out of an Awesome Again mare, he has three graded winners out of daughters of Awesome Again's sire, Deputy Minister. They include Grade I winners To Honor and Serve and Angela Renee. Awesome Again has 102 stakes winners out of his own daughters.

Kite Beach, the unraced dam of Tarifa, was a Godolphin homebred after her dam, GSW Tizdubai (Cee's Tizzy), was purchased by the operation for $950,000 at the Keeneland November sale of 2001. Tizdubai is a full-sister to Horse of the Year and two-time GI Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow, as well as to MGSW and Classic runner-up Budroyale. Kite Beach was sold twice after Tarifa was born and most recently went to Calumet Farm for $115,000 at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed sale. She has a 2-year-old full-sister to Tarifa named Josie's Girl, who was sold to Matthew Davis for $105,000 at last summer's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale, and a yearling Knicks Go colt. She was bred to Calumet's Lexitonian for 2024.

Saturday, Fair Grounds
RACHEL ALEXANDRA S. PRESENTED BY FASIG-TIPTON-GII, $291,000, Fair Grounds, 2-17, 3yo, f, 1 1/16m, 1:45.28, sy.
1–TARIFA, 122, f, 3, by Bernardini
           1st Dam: Kite Beach, by Awesome Again
           2nd Dam: Tizdubai, by Cee's Tizzy
           3rd Dam: Cee's Song, by Seattle Song
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. 'TDN Rising Star'. O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-Brad H. Cox; J-Flavien Prat. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 4-3-0-0, $278,925. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Intricate, 122, f, 3, Gun Runner–Complex Analysis, by Distorted Humor. ($200,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP; $280,000 2yo '23 OBSAPR). O-Bradley Thoroughbreds, Laura Leigh Stable, Scott Estes and Cambron Equine, LLC; B-LBD Stable, LLC (KY); T-Brendan P. Walsh. $60,000.
3–Perfect Shot, 122, f, 3, Gun Runner–Meister Legend, by Bodemeister. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($135,000 Ylg '22 KEEJAN; $285,000 Ylg '22 FTSAUG). O-Whisper Hill Farm, LLC; B-Sierra Farm (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $30,000.
Margins: 2 3/4, 3, 3 1/4. Odds: 2.50, 1.70, 17.60.
Also Ran: Alpine Princess, V V's Dream, Pennick. Scratched: West Omaha.
Click for the chart or the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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