Rachel rejuvenated for marquee match race

Rejuvenated champion Rachel Alexandra returned to Monmouth Park on Saturday and gave notice her Breeders’ Cup campaign is back on track with a stunning victory in the Listed Lady’s Secret Stakes (1800m).  She won under a tight hold and spaced the placegetters Queen Martha (Rahy) and Ask the Moon (Malibu Moon) by 10 lengths!

On her last visit to the Jersey Shore, Rachel Alexandra won the G1 Haskell Invitational on her way to the 2009 Horse of the Year award.  

She didn’t travel to Santa Anita to take on Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and doubts were raised about her immediate future when she was beaten twice earlier this year at Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs.

But the Medaglia d’Oro filly silenced the knockers with a 10 length triumph in the G2 Fleur de Lis Hcp under the Twin Spires in June and the follow-up at Monmouth Park was equally emphatic.  Her record now stands at 18: 13-4-0 for earnings over US$3.44 million.

The much-awaited clash between Rachel and Zenyatta has been postponed twice – in the BC Classic and the G1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in March – but a marquee match race is a distinct possibility in this year’s Breeders’ Cup which will be staged at Churchill Downs in 15 weeks.

Owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen will wait a week or two before announcing her next start but the timing of the Breeders’ Cup weekend on November 5-6 means connections can fit two more races in before her return to Churchill Downs.

Among the more obvious possibilities against her own sex are the G1 Personal Ensign Stakes or G2 Molly Pitcher Stakes on August 29 and the G1 Beldame Stakes on October 2.

The Kentucky-bred Rachel Alexandra is by Darley sire Medaglia d’Oro who will shuttle to Australia for the first time this spring.  His other top-class filly Champagne D’oro can land her second Group 1 in the Test Stakes at Saratoga on August 7.  She reached the elite level in the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park last month.

Zenyatta is training the house down at Hollywood Park in advance of her next start.  The Street Cry mare reeled off 1200m in 1.12.60s on Thursday in preparation for the G1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on August 7.

Zenyatta is undefeated in 17 career starts and won the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes in 2008 and 2009.  “It was brilliant,” jockey Mike Smith told Daily Racing Form.  “It reminded me of her work before the Classic.  She seems to be really back on.”

Zenyatta’s stablemate Scenic Blast was also out to make time for the first time since his unplaced North American debut in the Robert K. Kerlan Memorial on June 27.  The 2009 Australian Horse of the Year drilled 1000m in 59.80s on Hollywood’s Cushion Track.