Calvin Borel will remain aboard Rachel Alexandra when the reigning Horse of the Year shoots for her first win of the season in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) June 12 at Churchill Downs. She will face just four rivals in the nine-furlong event.
Majority owner Jess Jackson nominated Rachel Alexandra to four races June 12—the Fleur de Lis, the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park, the Obeah Stakes (gr. III) at Delaware Park, and the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I), which is later on the Churchill card.
The field for the Ogden Phipps includes Unrivaled Belle, who defeated Rachel Alexndra last out, while the Stephen Foster drew a stellar field of 11 older males, including Blame, Battle Plan, and Macho Again, who lost to Rachel Alexandra by a head in the 2009 Woodward Stakes (gr. I), which was her last victory.
Ultimately, Jackson chose the easier path for his filly. In a brief press release issued June 9 through a public relations person, Jackson said: “As long as she continues to progress, we intend to race her with the expectation that she will obtain her fitness level of last year. Our ultimate goal and hope is to enter the Breeders’ Cup in November.”
Though Borel has ridden Rachel Alexandra in her last 11 races, including all eight of her consecutive wins last year, there had been speculation that he would be taken off for her next race. However, Borel is back aboard and they will break from post 4. The daughter of Medaglia d'Oro—Lotta Kim, by Roar, will carry top weight of 124 pounds, giving eight to 11 pounds to her rivals.
The bay filly made her season debut in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds March 13, losing to Zardana by three-quarters of a length as the 1-20 favorite. On April 30, she was outdueled by Unrivaled Belle in the La Trioenne Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) when beaten a head at Churchill as the 1-5 choice.
Since the La Troienne, Rachel Alexandra has had five workouts at Churchill for trainer Steve Asmussen.
An earner of more than $3 million, Rachel Alexandra has recorded an 11-4-0 record from 16 starts. Co-owned by Harold McCormick, she is a five-time grade I winner.
The only graded stakes winner Rachel Alexandra will face is L-Bo Racing and Michael Lamb’s Made for Magic, who captured the Milady Handicap (gr. II) on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track May 16 in her last start. A former claimer, Made for Magic has already raced seven times in 2010, winning twice for trainer A.C. Avila. She finished fifth to Zenyatta in the March 13 Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita.
The 5-year-old Cape Canaveral mare has made nine of her 33 career starts on dirt, winning three of them. Omar Berrio has the mount.
Farnsworth Stables’ Jessica Is Back is cross-entered in the Obeah Stakes but is expected to start in the Fleur de Lis. The 6-year-old daughter of Put It Back, also a former claimer, will make the 43rd start of her career. She enters off a runner-up finish in the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) April 17 at Hawthorne. Garrett Gomez will ride for Marty Wolfson.
Completing the field are Multipass and Distinctive Dixie, both seeking their first stakes wins. The latter was fifth in last year’s Fleur de Lis.
HRTV will air the Stephen Foster and the other graded stakes on the June 12 Churchill card, including the appearance of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the grade II Fleur de Lis. The horse racing network will also air complete coverage of the June 11 "Downs After Dark" card at the Louisville, Ky. oval.
The Horse Racing Radio Network will broadcast live of the Stephen Foster during a two-hour broadcast will air from 4-6 p.m. ET that will include coverage of the Northern Dancer and Regret Stakes, and taped coverage of the Fleur de Lis. The broadcasts are available thorugh the various HRRN affiliates, and can be heard worldwide with free live streaming provided on the HRRN website. A complete list of affiliates is available on the HRRN site.
$200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II, Race 6, 3:26 p.m.), Fillies and Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Multipass (KY), J Lezcano, 113, E Kenneally
2. Made for Magic (KY), O A Berrio, 117, A C Avila
3. Distinctive Dixie (KY), R Albarado, 114, W A Dollase
4. Rachel Alexandra (KY), C H Borel, 124, S M Asmussen
5. Jessica Is Back (FL), G K Gomez, 116, M D Wolfson