Kent Desormeaux riding Unrivaled Belle (5) passes Calvin Borel riding Rachel Alexandra to win the La Troienne Stakes today.
LOUISVILLE, Ky.-- Rachel Alexandra lost again.
The reigning Horse of the Year was beaten by a head in her return to Churchill Downs on Friday, losing a stretch duel to Unrivaled Belle in the $400,000 La Troienne Stakes.
It was the 4-year-old filly's second loss this year, both times as the heavy favorite. Rachel Alexandra was sent off at 1-5 odds, but came up short under Calvin Borel.
She was upset as the 1-20 favorite in her season debut in New Orleans last month, causing co-owner Jess Jackson to pull her out of a matchup with female rival Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park.
Zardana, Zenyatta's stablemate, won by three-quarters of a length in New Orleans with Rachel second. The California-based mare was the 5-1 second choice Friday, but finished fifth in the six-horse field.
A year ago to the day, Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks by an astonishing 20¼ lengths, then went on to beat the boys in the Preakness Stakes and win her next four starts.
Unrivaled Belle covered 1 1-16 miles in 1:42.97. She paid $20.80, $3.40 and $2.80 at 9-1 odds. Rachel Alexandra returned $2.10 and $2.10, while Peru-bred Morena paid $4.80 to show.
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux and trained by Bill Mott -- both Hall of Famers -- Unrivaled Belle won her second straight stakes. She won the Rampart at Gulfstream Park last month.
Before the race, Unrivaled Belle appeared anxious. She broke away from the traditional post parade, galloped up the far turn by herself and arrived at the starting gate well before the others. She circled several times behind the gate while waiting to load.
Whatever pre-race jitters she had disappeared once the gate opened.
Rachel Alexandra broke sharply and got into a back-and-forth duel with Be Fair. Rachel took a brief lead heading into the backstretch and they continued to battle until Rachel regained the lead midway on the final turn.
But she immediately had company as Unrivaled Belle came up to challenge. Those two went head-to-head through the stretch, with Borel on the rail going to a left-handed whip on Rachel Alexandra.