Rachel Alexandra, under a confident ride by Calvin Borel, toyed with her four rivals in Saturday's Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs.
Jessica Is Back broke on top from the outside post under Garrett Gomez. At that point, Borel eased Rachel to the outside to contest the pace. The reigning Horse of the Year took charge around the far turn and shook off a brief challenge from Distinctive Dixie.
The Steve Asmussen trainee coasted across the wire under wraps and stopped the clock in 1:48.78. She paid $2.20 to win.
Jess Jackson's talented filly was not ready to begin her 2010 campaign at Fair Grounds in March but she was on an accelerated schedule to make the Apple Blossom. She was not up to facing Zenyatta and her loss to inferior competition in the New Orleans Ladies prompted her connections to back off.
Rachel shipped to Churchill Downs to prepare for the La Trioienne and was beaten a head by Unrivaled Belle in another uncharacteristic flat effort.
The third time proved to be the charm as she appeared fit while displaying the brilliance and turn of foot that was evident throughout 2009.
Distinctive Dixie finished second and was followed across the line by Jessica Is Back, Multipass, and Made For Magic.
FLEUR DE LIS HANDICAP QUOTES
CALVIN BOREL (jockey, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, winner):
“She’s just getting back. 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. (Trainer) Steve (Asmussen) told me just to
run my race and see where were at. She showed up today. She felt the
same. I just don’t think she was ready before. Steve knows what he’s
doing. She showed up today. She was perfect and
we couldn’t ask for more.”
STEVE ASMUSSEN (trainer, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, winner):
“I’m very proud for everybody involved that she won. We are all
grateful that (co-owner) Mr. (Jess) Jackson and (Jackson’s wife)
Barbara (Banke) put a Horse of the
Year back in training and take all the advice or criticism or whatever,
but she is a tremendously sound filly. 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.”