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Tarifa Gives Godolphin a Second Rachel Alexandra Win

Following a fairytale ending to 2023 that saw the mighty Godolphin operation sweep five Eclipse Awards, including the Horse of the Year title with Cody’s Wish  , the stable took a large step toward replicating last year’s success with Tarifia‘s victory in the Feb. 17 $291,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2).

In last year’s Rachel Alexandra Stakes, Godolphin’s homebred Pretty Mischievous  parlayed a hard-fought score under the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots lights to donning a blanket of lilies 11 weeks later in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Godolphin’s first title in the prize affair.

Tarifa may have been a little behind Pretty Mischievous at this stage, lacking that one’s stakes experience, but she showed enough potential in her debut and allowance wins to earn her spot in the starting gate for the Rachel Alexandra. The 1 1/16-mile contest for fillies, a race captured by five Oaks winners in the last 10 years, is worth 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

If her commanding performance Saturday was any indication, Tarifa stands a fair chance at duplicating Pretty Mischievous’ feat in the May 3 Oaks.

One of two entries for trainer Brad Cox, who had scratched Silverbulletday Stakes victress West Omaha  earlier in the day, Tarifa was sent to post as the second choice behind impressive Golden Rod Stakes (G2) winner Intricate . Although Intricate closed strongly from a relatively slow early pace, she had to settle for second in her 3-year-old debut. In an interesting twist of fate, Intricate is trained by Brendan Walsh, the trainer of Pretty Mischievous.

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Tarifa was ridden by Flavien Prat Saturday when regular rider Florent Geroux opted to pilot Untapable Stakes winner Alpine Princess  (fourth in the Rachel Alexandra) instead. Settling nicely behind the pacesetters, Tarifa ran a ground-saving trip along the fence and cruised into contention when angled three wide at the quarter pole. Under little encouragement, the Bernardini filly commenced the attack, charging down the sodden Fair Grounds stretch for a 2 3/4-length tally.

Tarifa ($7) stopped the timer in 1:45.28 over a sloppy (sealed) track. Intricate was three lengths clear of the front-running Perfect Shot  in third.

“She broke out of the gate well and I was able to have her rate just behind the leaders,” Prat said. “Turning for home by saving that energy I had a lot left and she came with a big kick. She’s a very nice filly, and will only get better as time goes on.”

Although Cox hadn’t hinted at where the filly would go next, he did praise Fair Grounds’ winter race series for 3-year-old fillies ahead of the Kentucky Oaks. The next stop in the series is the 100-point Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) March 23.

A homebred for Godolphin, Tarifia’s win makes her the newest stakes winner for the operation’s late stallion, Bernardini. With his death in 2021, Tarifa is a member of Bernardini’s penultimate crop to hit the track. Her dam, the Awesome Again mare Kite Beach, hails from the grade 2-winning Cee’s Tizzy mare Tizdubai, a full sibling to two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) hero Tiznow . Godolphin purchased Tizdubai for $950,000 at the 2001 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale after Tiznow’s second Breeders’ Cup triumph.

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