The Brock Talk

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monmouth Park Hits Another Homer With Rachel

With the opening of Del Mar in Southern California and Saratoga in upstate New York, there will be no shortage of reasons to be a racing fan this weekend. However, the two famous and favorite venues will have to back off the spotlight momentarily Saturday when 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra runs in the $400,000 Lady's Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. In fact, it is safe to say that Rachel Alexandra will probably draw the attention of race fans at Monmouth Park and possibly national television viewers on TVG Friday during the races when she is scheduled to school in the paddock at Monmouth Park.

The Lady's Secret was modified in recent months by Monmouth Park to accommodate Rachel Alexandra trainer Steve Asmussen and principal owner Jess Jackson to entice them to return to Monmouth Park with their star. The purse for the ungraded race was increased $250,000, the distance was extended an additional sixteenth of a mile to 1-1/8 miles and the date was moved up a week from the original Aug. 1 as published in the stakes book.

The field set to face Rachel Alexandra is far less than stellar as well with the most formidable of them listing ungraded stakes wins at the top of their list of accomplishments. There will be no foes with the qualifications of Zardana, who defeated Rachel Alexandra in her 2010 debut in the New Orleans Ladies in March; nor Unrivaled Belle, upset winner of the grade 2 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs April 30 over Rachel Alexandra.

But the race is just what the trainer ordered for a filly who is trying to solidify that she has her groove on again after winning the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. 2) in her last race by 10-1/2 lengths. Monmouth Park is also a track Rachel seems to like quite a bit having won the $1 million Haskell Invitational there last year over Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird and a cast of disheartened colts.

The race is just one more feather in the cap of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority which runs Monmouth Park. This year the track's executives have racked up enough feathers to start a pillow company with their double digit or better increases in attendance, handle and field sizes during their experimental Elite Summer Meet.

And with the 2010 Haskell looking to feature Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands winner Super Saver, Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky, Florida Derby winner Ice Box, Uptowncharlybrown and Trappe Shot among the likely starters, there are no signs of bumps in the Monmouth Park road for the foreseeable future.

And certainly the New Jersey fans are deserving of the appearance of Rachel Alexandra and all she brings to a day at the races. These fans have been showing up at a clip of more than 10,000 per day this summer and haven't been leaving their wallets, tip sheets and past performances at home.

So the race may have it critics, but that will mean little when the cameras begin to click, the hands begin to clap and fathers are pointing out Rachel Alexandra for their daughters.


John said...

The only reservation I have about Rachel's entry in this race is that lesser horses, who belong in here, will have virtually no chance of winning and will probably take a drubbing.

Best wishes to the entire field for safe trips.

The_Knight_Sky said...

The purse raise makes it worthwhile to compete for second or third money.

But let us not forget that Zenyatta was invited to this dance also. Rejected again from the west coast.

This of that...two horses at their peak (or near peak) and the race of the early century is not happening again.

Instead we're getting served The Clement Hirsch again. pfft. ;-)

RayeSource said...

I am glad to see her coming back into form without having to break another egg in her. She had to gut it out from her heart when she beat the boys last year. It takes time and confidence to get one back into top form.

Anonymous said...

It should be really interesting to see what kind of a crowd turns out to see her run again, especially if Monmouth is already attracting such big crowds on a regular basis.
Go Rachel Go!