JC / Railbird

Lady’s Secret Stakes

A Matter of Perspective

Which recap best captures Rachel Alexandra’s three-length win as the 1-10 favorite in the ungraded Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth this afternoon?

Rachel Alexandra has to work in Lady’s Secret victory (Blood-Horse)
… it was not a walkover for the reigning Horse of the Year …

Rachel Alexandra cruises in the Lady’s Secret (Thoroughbred Times)
Rachel Alexandra turned in a performance befitting a Horse of the Year …

Rachel Alexandra takes care of business (Daily Racing Form)
… a solid win, considering the conditions.

I’m partial to the last. She tracked an unexciting pace, responded when asked, looked comfortable, despite the heat. She won by open lengths, even if not by a great margin. (And really, what would have been gained by a blowout?)

Final time for the nine furlongs was 1:49.78 (final furlong :12.75).

With Rachel Alexandra running, Monmouth racked up phenomenal handle numbers, taking in a record $11,421,794 on its 12-race card. The WPS pool in the Lady’s Secret hit $1,593,662, the exacta pool $343,968.

At Saratoga today, first-timer Wine Police turned heads with a wire-to-wire win in the seventh, a 5 1/2 furlong maiden special, which the 2-year-old Speightstown colt took by 7 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:03.36 (watch the replay). He’s the latest addition this summer’s buzz babies list.

7/25/10 Addendum: A Beyer speed figure of 110 for Rachel Alexandra in the Lady’s Secret, 105 for runner-up Queen Martha. That’s a big number for ‘Martha, who was making her second US start and her first on dirt. Rachel Alexandra’s BSF revised to 105, per Mike Watchmaker (DRF+).

‘Rachel’ Returns to Monmouth

The day after Rachel Alexandra settled into her Saratoga stall for the summer, Monmouth Park tweeted that the reigning Horse of the Year would make her next start at the track on July 24, causing some confusion since there was no suitable stakes race scheduled for that Saturday. After looking at the schedule on the Monmouth website, and then checking for nominations on Equibase, I assumed she was starting in the ungraded Lady’s Secret Stakes on August 1, which would have been especially fitting, coming one year after the filly’s victory in the G1 Haskell.

I was half-right. The race was the nine-furlong Lady’s Secret, moved to the week before, as reported by Jeff Lowe. Majority owner Jess Jackson confirmed the planned start through a press release:

“We had a great experience at Monmouth Park … and we appreciate the overwhelming show of support the fans there have given us. It’s the perfect place to start what we hope will be another championship run.”

It’s strikingly strange that Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen would choose an ungraded race for distaffers, even one with a purse bumped to $400,000 from $150,000 (as long as Rachel Alexandra starts) for a filly chasing a second HOTY [or even champion older female honors], but Monmouth general manager Bob Kulina told the Thoroughbred Times it was all about timing:

“They’re very interested in keeping Rachel [Alexandra] on a five-week schedule,” Kulina said. “They worked back from the Breeders’ Cup because that’s their objective, and July 24 worked well for Steve’s pattern. The distance of 1 1/8 miles was what they wanted. We had contact with them long before this and told them we’d do whatever to make a race work with their schedule.”

The track also tried to entice Zenyatta to New Jersey, according to the Times, without success. Said racing manager Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs:

“They were nice about it, and they did call, but at this point in time it didn’t fit into what we want to do at this point in time.”

The SoCal star could start next at Del Mar.

So close! At this point, it’s starting to look like the only time Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta could meet is in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. That’s a daring plan, if it’s what Jackson is thinking. But you have to wonder if he really is — running Rachel Alexandra in an ungraded stakes after her win in the G2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs last month isn’t much of a vote of confidence.

7:10 PM Update: NYRA reacts:

“We are puzzled and disappointed that Rachel Alexandra, who performed so well at Saratoga last year, is passing up the Grade 1 Ruffian to run in a non-graded race at Monmouth over the same distance,” NYRA president Charles Hayward said in a prepared statement. “We remain hopeful that the Saratoga fans will have the opportunity to see Rachel later in the meet.”

Maybe she’ll appear at Belmont.