LOUISVILLE, KY (Friday, April 30, 2010) – Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler’s Unrivaled Belle outdueled reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra by a head to win the 25th running of the $418,800 La Troienne (GII) on Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux and trained by Bill Mott, Unrivaled Belle covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:42.97.
Longshot Be Fair and Rachel Alexandra alternated the lead in the run down the backside through early fractions of :24.79 and :48.81 with Unrivaled Belle tracking in third. Leaving the backstretch, Calvin Borel sent Rachel Alexandra to the lead, but turning for home she was joined on the outside by Unrivaled Belle.
The two raced as a team through the stretch with Unrivaled Belle inching away late. It was another five lengths back to Morena (PER) in third and eight lengths further back to Distinctive Dixie.
The victory was the second in the race for Mott, who saddled to Escena to victory in the race in 1998. It also was Desormeaux’s second victory in the race, having scored in 1995 with Fit To Lead.
Unrivaled Belle is a 4-year-old homebred daughter of Unbridled’s Song out of the Betrando mare Queenie Belle. The winner’s check of $265,659 increased Unrivaled Belle’s bankroll to $524,929 with a record of 8-5-2-0.
Unrivaled Belle returned $20.80, $3.40 and $2.80. Rachel Alexandra returned $2.10 and $2.10 with Morena returning $4.80 to show. Completing the field in order were Distinctive Dixie, Zardana (BRZ) and Be Fair.
LA TROIENNE QUOTES
KENT DESORMEAUX (Jockey, Unrivaled Belle, winner) -- “Oh, man, my mare was breathing fire today. Billy (trainer Bill Mott) put me on a good one today. I feel like the mouse that stole the cheese. I was hoping to be on the lead here today, but that spot was already taken. So I stayed where I was and waited. I made the lead and Rachel Alexandra passed me at the head of the lane. But my filly came again. Then Rachel passed me again at the eighth pole. But my filly fought back. What a race for her! She was special today.”
BILL MOTT (Trainer, Unrivaled Belle, winner) -- “I had confidence in my filly today; I thought she’s run very well. But I wasn’t confident we’d beat Rachel Alexandra. I mean we’re talking about a champion filly, the Horse of the Year. I told Mr. Vegso (co-owner Peter Vegso) to expect that we’d run well, but not that we were going to win. But here we are. My filly ran huge. She just ran great. And I don’t think it was that the other mare (Rachel Alexandra) ran poorly. She ran her race, too. We just outdid her. They were eyeball to eyeball there and my filly got her. I saw at the three-eighths (pole) that Kent (rider Kent Desormeaux) was sitting there with a lot of horse. I said ‘All right, we’ve still got something in the tank.’ She ran great through the lane – all heart.”
CALVIN BOREL (Jockey, Rachel Alexandra, second) – Borel’s agent Jerry Hissam: ''He's not going to make a statement. She ran a big race and just got beat. That's horse racing.''
STEVE ASMUSSEN (Trainer, Rachel Alexandra, second) – “She’s just not been as fast as last summer. She ran a good race, but not a great race. She does carry a lot more weight. Calvin (Borel) did absolutely nothing wrong today. I thought he got along with her great today. There’s an old adage in racing: You get paid for what you do, but you pay for what you do. I think there’s some hangover. What we have to realize is there has been improvement since her last race. We don’t need a knee-jerk reaction. The defeat last time put a lot of pressure on. You don’t run a horse expecting to get beat, especially Rachel.”
JOSE LEZCANO (Jockey, Morena, third) – “When I asked her, she gave me a big kick. She ran a good race today, especially when you consider who she ran against.”
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