Rachel Alexandra Beat by a Nose

Unrivaled Belle stuck a nose in front of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra just before the wire to complete a stirring stretch duel to score the $400,000 La Troienne Stakes in front of a disappointed crowd at Churchill Downs April 30.

Sent off at 1-5 in a field of 6, Rachel Alexandra suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in her career and remained winless during her 4-year-old campaign. The Medaglia d'Oro filly, who failed in her season debut last month at Fair Grounds, was racing at Churchill for the first time since her record-setting Kentucky Oaks win a year ago.

The two rivals hooked up at the top of the lane after Rachel Alexandra put away Be Fair, who ran step-for-step with the odds-on favorite through opening splits of :24.79 and :48.81. Unrivaled Belle came to take on Rachel Alexandra after advancing four-wide on the second turn, but narrowly trailed for much of the final furlong under Kent Desormeaux. With Calvin Borel aboard and racing along the rail, Rachel Alexandra was game throughout the stretch but could not hold off her rival, who got up in the final few jumps.

The final time for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track was 1:42.97. Morena was five lengths back in third.

Unrivaled Belle, a 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song , entered the La Troienne in good form, winning the Rampart Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths March 20 at Gulfstream Park for her first graded stakes victory. In her season debut a month prior, the gray/roan filly was a solid fourth in the La Canada at Santa Anita.

Overall, Unrivaled Belle won for the fifth time in eight starts, upping her earnings to $524,929.

Unrivaled Belle is a Kentucky homebred on Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler. The filly is out of the Bertrando mare Queenie Belle. Rachel Alexandra lost for the fifth time in 16 lifetime starts. In her previous start, returning from a more than five-month layoff, she was overtaken in the stretch by Zardana in the March 13 New Orleans Ladies Stakes. Zardana finished fifth in the La Troienne, just in back of Distinctive Dixie.

Future plans were immediately unclear for Rachel Alexandra, a winner of eight consecutive races during her historic 2009 season which included three grade I wins against males. This story originally appeared on BloodHorse.com.

About the Author

Jason Shandler

Jason Shandler is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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