Saturday Racing Recap


Rachel Rolls In Fleur De Lis

Rachel nation is breathing a little easier on the afternoon of June 12 after last year's Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra scored her first win of 2010, drawing away from four overmatched rivals in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II).

Making her second start at Churchill Downs since her record-breaking 20 1/4-length romp in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), 4-year-old Rachel Alexandra looked a little more like her old self in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis.

Sent off at prohibitive odds of 1-10 while carrying 124 pounds, she shook off pace rivals Jessica Is Back and Distinctive Dixie near the three-sixteenths pole and romped home while geared down late by jockey Calvin Borel, who gave a look over his shoulder at the retreating field as he approached the wire. The official margin of victory was 10 1/2 lengths while the final time was a sharp 1:48.78 over a fast track on a muggy, hot day at Churchill.

“She’s just getting back," Borel said afterward. "You have to give her a chance. She’s a filly and she did the impossible when she was a 3-year-old. I think you’ll see a great future now. She did everything right today. I don't think she was ready before."

Her fans were getting antsy for this type of performance after Rachel Alexandra, who won all eight of her starts in 2009, began her current campaign with second-place finishes in the March 13 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds and Churchill's La Troienne (gr. II) April 30.

Steve Asmussen trains the winning daughter of Medaglia d'Oro --Lotta Kim, by Roar, for Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick.

“I’m very proud for everybody involved that she won," said Asmussen, who added that Rachel Alexandra "is a tremendously sound filly."

He added: "She’s a machine and she ran a great race today, and hopefully this is a step in the right direction for the rest of the year. It’s an honor to train a horse like her. We will take her back to the barn and there will be a lot of petting her, and peppermints, and loving on her.”

Distinctive Dixie, 18-1 in the five-horse Fleur de Lis field, edged Jessica Is Back by two lengths for second.

Breaking from the inside of Jessica Is Back, Borel maneuvered Rachel Alexandra to the outside of the second choice approaching the clubhouse turn, ensuring a clear path as she vied for the lead. Fractions were routine, Rachel Alexandra leading after a quarter-mile in :23.93, and Jessica Is Back, ridden by Garrett Gomez, slightly in front after a half-mile in :47.25 and six furlongs in 1:11.16.

Racing three wide, Rachel Alexandra put her head in front soon after, and with Distinctive Dixe closing in on the far outside for Robby Albarado, the champ found another gear entering the homestretch. With Borel shaking the reins a couple of times, she extended her lead to five lengths with a furlong to run and continued to widen while gathered up approaching the wire.

Rachel Alexandra secured her first win since defeating males in Saratoga's Woodward Stakes (gr. I) last September. She earned $132,680 for her 12th lifetime win in 17 starts and boosted her career bankroll to $3,206,730.

Distinctive Dixie, who was carried wide on the first turn when Rachel Alexandra shifted out, proved second best after failing to sustain her bid at the top of the lane. Jessica Is Back was 7 1/4 lengths clear in third, with Multipass and recent grade II winner Made for Magic trailing.

Rachel Alexandra, bred in Kentucky by Dolphus C. Morrison, paid $2.20 and $2.10. Bob and Beverly Lewis Trust's Distinctive Dixie, who ran a distant fourth in the La Troienne and has never won a stakes race, returned $5.60 while completing a $14 exacta. There was no show wagering

No Catching Life At Ten in Ogden Phipps

Life At Ten overcame a slight stumble at the start to record her fifth consecutive win and first grade I score in the $245,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park June 12.

With John Velazquez aboard, Life At Ten was not deterred after setting a fast pace in the 1 1/16-mile Phipps, opening up a big lead on 3-5 favorite Unrivaled Belle in upper stretch and finishing strongly to win by 2 3/4 lengths. The final time was 1:40.72 over a fast Belmont main track.

Todd Pletcher trains the winning 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon --Rahrahsixboombah, by Rahy, for owner Cynthia DeBartolo. The chestnut mare captured the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) for her first graded stakes win in her most recent start April 17.

Unrivaled Belle, who defeated 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in her last start, tracked Life At Ten throughout in second. She held off the late-running Funny Moon by a head for second.

Breaking from between Funny Moon, at the rail, and Unrivaled Belle to her outside in the compact field of five, Life At Ten was a step slow away after stumbling but of the gate. She recovered quickly, however, and held a narrow edge over Unrivaled Belle, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, after than opening quarter-mile of :23.22. Funny Moon dropped back to fourth, behind Manitoba Miss.

Life At Ten quickened the tempo to assume a one-length lead, taking them through a half-mile in :45.55 and six furlongs in 1:08.40. On the final turn, Funny Moon and jockey Alan Garcia began to cut into a seven-length gap but Life At Ten kept the pressure on, inching away from Unrivaled Belle, who had challenged at the quarter pole, when they reached the top of the stretch.

Velazquez had Life At Ten in control by three lengths mid-stretch and she kep to the task through the final furlong under steady right-handed encouragement.

“I gave her a little help at the five-sixteenths pole, she quickened up, and it was all the horse from there on,” said Velazquez.

Funny Moon appeared to be going right past Unrivaled Belle on the outside in the drive, but Unrivaled Belle held her off with determination to land the runner-up spot.

Unrivaled Belle, who was going for her first grade I win for trainer Bill Mott after upsetting Rachel Alexandra in the La Troienne Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs April 30, lost for the first time in three starts at Belmont. The grade I winner Funny Moon also suffered a rare loss at Belmont, where she has now won four of six races.

“I thought she was going to be able to handle the winner, but the winner was too good today,” said Desormeaux in reference to the beaten favorite.

Life At Ten, making her first appearance on Belmont's main track, recorded her fourth straight added-money tally. Her career mark improved to 6-5-1 in 13 races with earnings of $459,267 after collecting $150,000 for the Phipps victory.

“She’s been a very generous filly for us and I’m proud to have won a grade I with her,” said Jonathan Thomas, assistant Pletcher. “The main thing with her is not so much where she is, as just staying out of her way. She looked comfortable and really happy out there, and was never under any real pressure.”

Nickelback Farm bred the winner in Kentucky.

Sent off as the second choice, Life At Ten carried 116 pounds and paid $6.60, $2.70 and $2.10. The 119-pound high weight Unrivaled Belle returned $2.40 and $2.10 while completing an $11.40 exacta. Funny Moon, 2 3/4-length winner of the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) in her last start for Christophe Clement, was $2.10 to show.

Manitoba Miss and Pumpkin Shell trailed.

by Jack Shinar


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