Rachel beaten at Churchill Downs

Rachel Alexandra suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in her career when she was beaten a head by Unrivaled Belle in the G2 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on Friday.  Unrivaled Belle was coming off a G3 victory in the Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park and she edged out the US Horse of the Year after a thrilling duel down the straight.

Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) was beaten first-up by Zardana in New Orleans on March 13 and her trainer Steve Asmussen admitted there is added pressure this year.  “You don’t run a horse expecting to get beat, especially Rachel,” he said.  “She’s just not been as fast as last summer.  She ran a good race, but not a great race.”

Unrivaled Belle is a Kentucky bred daughter of Unbridled’s Song who stands for a $100,000 fee at Taylor Made Stallions in Kentucky.  He shuttled to Arrowfield for three seasons in the late 1990s and sired 105 winners at an amazing 78% strike-rate.  Her dam Queenie Belle (Bertrando) was a G2 winner at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita and she is a half-sister to G3 Doncaster Cup winner Canon Can (Green Dancer).

Winning trainer Bill Mott was jubilant after his grey filly’s career-high victory.  “I wasn’t confident we would beat the Horse of the Year,” he said.  “I told the owner (Peter Vegso) to expect that we’d run well, but not that we were going to win.”

Future plans for Rachel Alexandra are unclear.  “I think there’s some hangover from last season,” Asmussen explained.  “There has been improvement since her last race and we won’t be making a knee-jerk reaction.”