The last time she was seen racing at Churchill Downs, she was known as Rachel Alexandra. Now, to horse racing fans everywhere, she is just Rachel.
Starting for the first time in Louisville since her record-setting Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) a year ago, Rachel Alexandra headlines a field of six in the $400,000 La Troienne Stakes (gr. III). An undercard race on Oaks Day April 30, the 1 1/16–mile La Troienne is one of five graded stakes on the Churchill program.
It was in the 2009 Oaks that Rachel Alexandra had her coming out party, astounding the racing world by romping to a 20 1/4-length victory under Calvin Borel. That momentous win prompted Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick to buy the Medaglia d'Oro filly for a reported $10 million from her owner/breeder Dolphus Morrison.
Rachel’s new owners wasted no time charting an ambitious campaign for their new filly, one which began with a victory in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and ended with a score against older males in the Woodward (gr. I), ultimately earning her Horse of the Year honors.
Now 4, Rachel will try to get back on track after failing in her season debut March 13. Sent off as the 1-20 favorite, the bay filly was outfinished by Zardana in her comeback effort in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds. Trainer Steve Asmussen admitted his charge was not 100% fit for that race, but is now confident she will return to her old form after a series of solid works at Churchill.
Borel will stay aboard Rachel, who drew post 4 and will carry top weight of 124 pounds.
Zardana, a 6-year-old Crimson Tide mare, returns for the La Troienne and will try to upset Rachel once again.The Brazilian-bred won the New Orleans Ladies at 9-1 under David Flores for the second win in her last three starts.
Owned by Arnold Zetcher and trained by John Shirreffs, Zardana ended 2009 with a win in the Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park, and began her current campaign with a solid fourth in the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. II) in February. Flores keeps the mount.
Also entering off a stakes win is Gary Seidler and Peter Vegso’s Unrivaled Belle. The 4-year-old Unbridled's Song filly scored the March 20 Rampart Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park in wire-to-wire fashion for trainer Bill Mott. Unrivaled Belle sports a solid 4-2-0 record from seven starts and will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.
Completing the field is Be Fair, a distant third to Zenyatta last out in the Apple Blossom (gr. I); Morena, a graded stakes winner in Peru; and Distinctive Dixie, who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
$400,000 La Troienne (gr. II, Race 6, 1:26 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Be Fair (FL), T J Thompson, 118, D W Lukas
2. Morena (PER), J Lezcano, 118, M R Matz
3. Zardana (BRZ), D R Flores, 120, J A Shirreffs
4. Rachel Alexandra (KY), C H Borel, 124, S M Asmussen
5. Unrivaled Belle (KY), K J Desormeaux, 120, W I Mott
6. Distinctive Dixie (KY), J R Leparoux, 118, W A Dollase