Ria Antonia Gearing Up for Run Against Boys

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6:57 pm EST

What's up with the plan for filly Ria Antonia to run against boys in the Risen Star Stakes? Her barn thinks she's improving all the time, and the assistant charged with her care says she loves it at Fair Grounds.

The Risen Star would be Ria Antonia's first race  since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies via disqualification of of She's a Tiger.

She arrived in New Orleans Jan. 11 after going to Florida and New York first. The daughter of Rockport Harbor breezed a half-mile in :49.60 at Fair Grounds Jan. 18 and will breeze four furlongs again Saturday.

“She loves it here,” said trainer Jeremiah Englehart’s assistant Elizabeth Dobles, a 23-year-old from the Finger Lakes area of New York State.

She's been getting on Ria Antonia and handling her since she came to Englehart’s barn last fall. “The best day of training we’ve had here so far was yesterday,” she said on Friday, “and today was just as good. She’s on a schedule where we breeze her once a week and then walk, jog and gallop successively in the days after her works.

“’Ria’ was just an average filly when she came to us,” Dobles said, “but about a week before the Frizette at Aqueduct last fall, she started to show us what kind of filly we had. Then we went out to California for the Breeders’ Cup, and she ran a very good race there.

The weather has been pretty cold in New Orleans lately, but Dobles said it's not a problem.

“She kind of takes to anything. It was warm in California when we went there last fall, and since it’s gotten so cold here at Fair Grounds lately she enjoys that, too," Dobles noted.

“Two weeks after California we gave her about 30 days off in Florida,” Dobles said. “I went to Hong Kong with our horse King Kreesa, but I got back with ‘Ria’ at Belmont and we breezed her three-eighths there (on Jan. 5) before coming down here.

“She’s really very fresh right now,” Dobles said, “but she’s usually a laid back kind of filly. When she first goes out on the track she starts playing a little bit, but once she really starts going, she’s all business.”

“I’ve been working for Jeremiah for four years, now,” said Dobles. “When I first started exercising horses I thought I wanted to be a jockey, but now I realize I’d much rather be an assistant working with the horses and communicating with them. It doesn’t matter to me whether they are worth $4,000 or $4 million. I treat them all the same, but naturally there’s a lot more pressure with a horse like her.”

“Jeremiah will be coming down here Feb. 8,” Dobles concluded.

Edited Fair Grounds release