OCEANPORT, N.J. - Calvin Borel let the defending Horse of the Year stalk in second before making his move entering the stretch turn. It took more than a furlong for Rachel Alexandra to go past Queen Martha, but once she put her head in front at the top of Monmouth Park's stretch, the Lady's Secret Stakes was over. It was Rachel's race to lose, and she didn't.
"No anxious moments," said Barbara Banke, wife of 80-year-old owner Jess Jackson, who watched at home in Northern California. And there were no worries for those who bet $1,234,515 to show on the 1-9 favorite or for the adoring crowd of 12,859.
Trainer Steve Asmussen liked how his star went about her business.
"She kept her composure and was in a very good rhythm," Asmussen said. "She was very relaxed laying off the other mare. The first thing Calvin said was how well she came home, and I think that will be the key to her future success."
The three-length margin over Queen Martha, a former European making her main-track debut, was solid but not dazzling. So was the time of 1:49.78 for 11/8 miles, with a final furlong in 12.75 seconds.
Last year, Rachel Alexandra would have blown away the pacesetter in two or three strides, and her second consecutive win over nobodies didn't prove she again is an all-conquering Amazon queen.
"She won very easily again," Borel said. "From the three-sixteenths pole to the quarter pole, I just shook my stick at her a few times and then hand-rode her in. I let her run a little bit in the stretch to make sure she got something out of the race, but I think we saved a little bit in the tank for next time."
That could be Aug. 29 in the Grade I, 1¼-mile Personal Ensign at Saratoga. If it is, Rachel Alexandra will be facing other Grade I stakes winners, not fillies and mares more suited to allowances and high-priced claimers.
The Lady's Secret was set up for her, with Monmouth agreeing to Jackson's requests to run it a week earlier at 11/8 miles instead of 11/16, and the purse was raised from $150,000 to $400,000.
Banke said Jackson stayed home "because the heat might have been too much for him."
Asmussen spoke to him before the trophy presentation and said: "Jess was very happy with how she looked. He'll be up to Saratoga to visit her this week and we'll sit down and talk about [her next race]. The plan is she'll have two more races before the Breeders' Cup, and the Personal Ensign was one that was mentioned.
"I love where her mind is at right now. She's more mature and carrying a little more weight. She's very focused and nothing surprises her."
Whenever she faces big-time rivals for the first time this year, Rachel Alexandra will need everything she has to prove the skeptics wrong. The racing world will be watching.
NYRA stewards to explain rulings. Nothing enrages horseplayers more than having a winner disqualified, especially when they're not sure why. They'll still seethe, but at least they'll get an explanation. The New York Racing Association announced Friday that from now on at Saratoga, Belmont Park and Aqueduct, stewards will give their reasons for a DQ on the simulcast feed and at nyra.com.