Rachel Alexandra did what the fans at Monmouth Park came to see her do—win the $412,000 Lady’s Secret (VIDEO). But unlike what many expected, it was not a walkover for the reigning Horse of the Year, as she was made to work by pacesetter Queen Martha, who was game all the way before finishing three lengths short.
Facing six rivals—none of them with a graded stakes win to their credit—Rachel Alexandra was the star attraction in the July 24 Lady’s Secret, which had its purse increased by $262,000, distance lengthened to nine furlongs, and date pushed up a week to accommodate majority owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen. A crowd of nearly 13,000 was on hand to see the 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly win for the 13th time in 18 lifetime starts on a hot afternoon.
With regular rider Calvin Borel aboard, Rachel Alexandra had a near-perfect trip behind Queen Martha, a 4-year-old Rahy filly making her second start in the United States with Joe Bravo in the irons. Queen Martha broke sharply from post 2 and was sent straight to the lead. Stage Trick was up close early too, but Borel would not let the leaders get away and raced just to their outside while in stalking position.
Queen Martha clicked off splits of :23.93 and :47.92 and midway on the far turn it looked like she was going to be engulfed by Rachel Alexandra, who had moved right alongside. But Queen Martha found more and still narrowly led after three-quarters in 1:12.30. It was not until they were inside the quarter-pole that the champion went by her rival, and she took a 1 1/2-length into the stretch.
Lugging in a bit in upper stretch, Rachel Alexandra had to work to put Queen Martha away while ridden energetically by Borel to the finish. The bay filly hit the wire in 1:49.78 on the fast dirt track. Queen Martha was 7 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place Ask the Moon.
“I let her run a little bit in the stretch to make sure she got something out of the race, but I think we saved a little bit in the tank for next time," Borel said.
Sent off at odds of 1-10, Rachel Alexandra paid $2.20, $2.10, and $2.10. Winning for the second time in four starts this season, she upped her career earnings to $3,446,730. The winner was bred in Kentucky by Dolphus Morrison and is out of the Roar mare Lotta Kim.
A winner of eight consecutive races during her historic 3-year-old season when defeating males three times, Rachel Alexandra began 2010 with a pair of runner-up efforts. She turned things around last out when romping in the June 12 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs.
She has yet to take on males this year. Asmussen hinted earlier in the week that the Personal Ensign (gr. I) on Aug. 29 against fillies and mares at Saratoga might be a logical next spot for his charge, though there are a few other choices, including the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) on Sept. 4. She won the race she won a year ago.
Rachel Alexandra was returning to Monmouth for the first time since she won the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) by six lengths last summer.
“I’m very pleased with how she went today,” said Asmussen. “I was happy with how she looked. She was very relaxed. I love where her mind is at right now. She’s more mature and she’s carrying a little more weight.”
Queen Martha, trained by Patrick Biancone for Robert Trussell, helped fill out an exacta (5-2) worth $8.20. The trifecta (5-2-3) returned $18.60 for $1.
Wagering on the card totaled $11,421,794, a new record for Monmouth Park outside of a Breeders’ Cup or Haskell Day. The previous mark of $9,787,620 was set on July 3 this year.