Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, who raced to a 20 1/4-length win in last year’s Kentucky Oaks, returns to Churchill Downs tomorrow as the 3-5 favorite in the $400,000 La Troienne Stakes.
Rachel Alexandra will run the 1 1/16 miles against Zardana, who beat the four-year-old filly by three-quarters of a length in the New Orleans Ladies at the Fair Grounds on March 13. It was Rachel Alexandra’s first race in six months after going undefeated in 2009 with wins in the Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell and Woodward stakes.
Rachel Alexandra, who will break from the fourth post position, will leave the starting gate next to Zardana, who drew No. 3.
Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to a Kentucky Derby win last year and then gave up his mount to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, will be in the saddle tomorrow. David Flores will ride Zardana, a stablemate to undefeated mare Zenyatta.
Rachel Alexandra’s victory in the La Troienne may renew interest for the filly to challenge 6-year-old Zenyatta, who has won 16 straight races. The two might have met for the first time in this year’s Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Park, where the purse would have been raised to $5 million from $500,000 if they competed.
Owner Jess Jackson withdrew Rachel Alexandra from contention at the Hot Springs, Arkansas, track after she lost in New Orleans.
Also running in the La Troienne are Be Fair (20-1), Morena (20-1), Unrivaled Belle (4-1) and Distinctive Dixie (8-1).
To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org