Unrivaled Belle beats Rachel Alexandra in G2 La Troienne

Unrivaled Belle made the most of her opportunity in the $418,800 La Troienne (G2), upsetting 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in a thrilling stretch-long duel with the reigning champion. Unrivaled Belle, a 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song, scored her second consecutive graded stakes victory; she took the Grade 3 Rampart S. at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/16-mile La Troienne on the main track was the most anticipated event on the stellar Kentucky Oaks (G1) undercard on Apr. 30 at Churchill Downs. The presence of Rachel Alexandra generated plenty of pre-race press, but the field of six had five graded stakes winners, including Zardana, who had beaten Rachel Alexandra last month at Fair Grounds.

Unrivaled Belle raced somewhat wide while never far off what turned out to be a moderate pace of :48 4/5 seconds for the half-mile. Kent Desormeaux asked his gray or roan filly to go after Rachel Alexandra as the field left the backstretch, and that duo battled for the final four furlongs.  Ultimately, Unrivaled Belle got her nose in front in the final sixteenth to win by a head. The final time was 1:42 4/5, earning Unrivaled Belle a 103 Beyer Speed Figure, a lifetime best.

Desormeaux was glowing in the limelight of such a special victory. “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.”

Mott, always much more subdued, was nonetheless pleased as well. “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.”

Unrivaled Belle earned $265,659 for the victory. She has now won five of eight starts, with two seconds and earnings of $524,929. She is owned by Vesgo and Gary Seidler.

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