'Secretariat' Co-Star AJ Michalka Visits Racing's Superstar Rachel Alexandra

Oct 09, 2009 Darren Rogers

Amanda Joy “AJ” Michalka, the 18-year-old actress/singer who’ll portray Penny Chenery’s daughter Kate in Walt Disney Studio’s forthcoming motion picture “Secretariat”, took time between takes Thursday at historic Churchill Downs to visit superstar 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra at Steve Asmussen’s Barn 38.

“I’ve always loved horses and I’m a fan of horse racing,” said Michalka, a teen star who is best known as one half of the pop duo 78violet (formerly Aly & AJ) with her older sister Alyson. “To actually be here at Churchill Downs and film a movie about Secretariat with this tremendous cast and crew is truly exciting. But to meet Rachel Alexandra up close and personal was a special treat. She is so amazing; watching her run just gives you goose bumps.”

Michalka, also a Disney Channel regular who’ll make her motion picture debut in Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones” later this year, spent time chatting with Asmussen, his chief assistant Scott Blasi and Amy Kearns, who is part of Rachel Alexandra’s 24/7 security detail.

“My kids definitely knew her and thought it was pretty cool that she met Rachel,” Asmussen said.

Rachel Alexandra, owned by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick, returned to her Churchill Downs home base early Wednesday morning following a summer campaign on the East Coast.

The flashy filly, who put forth a Secretariat-like performance in this spring’s Kentucky Oaks with a 20 ¼-length romp in the Kentucky Oaks this spring, beat 3-year-old males in the Preakness Stakes and Haskell Invitational and, most recently, became the first female to beat older males in the prestigious Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 5. As a result, the winner of eight races in eight starts this year is the early favorite to be crowned the sport’s “Horse of the Year.”

Scenes for “Secretariat” shot at Churchill Downs and Louisville are expected to conclude Friday and production will move from Kentucky to the old Evangeline Downs racetrack in Lafayette, La. next week. A movie executive said filming was expected to last through November and the finished product would likely be released sometime in the fall of 2010.

“Secretariat”, the story about the one-of-a-kind, world-famous 1973 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winner and his owner, stars Diane Lane as Chenery, Secretariat’s owner, and John Malkovich as Lucien Laurin, the trainer of “Big Red”.

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