OCEANPORT, N.J. - Rachel Alexandra is headed for a Jersey Shore encore.
According to Jess Jackson, who owns Rachel Alexandra in partnership with Harold McCormick, the defending Horse of the Year is scheduled to make her next start at Monmouth Park in the $400,000 Lady's Secret Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on July 24.
The Lady's Secret, an ungraded race, was originally scheduled for Aug. 1, Haskell Day, with a purse of $150,000 and at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. The purse increase is contingent on her running in the race. The date of the stakes will be moved, regardless of her participation.
Rachel Alexandra was a dazzling four-length winner in the slop here last summer, beating colts in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.
"We had a great experience at Monmouth Park," Jackson said, "and we appreciate the overwhelming show of support the fans there have given us. It's the perfect place to start what we hope will be another championship run."
Now 4, Rachel Alexandra has run three times this season. She was beaten three-quarters of a length by Zardana in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Ground on March 13 and then was second by a head to Unrivaled Belle in the La Troienne at Churchill Downs in her next start. She romped by 10 1/2 lengths most recently in the Fleur De Lis at Churchill Downs, her first victory of 2010.
"Having Rachel return will be an exciting moment for racing fans in New Jersey and would undoubtedly be one of highlights of our season," said Bob Kulina, Monmouth's vice president and general manager.
The Lady's Secret serves as a prep for the Monmouth meet's premier race for older fillies and mares, the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 29. The Molly Pitcher has a scheduled purse of $300,000.
Rachel Alexandra is currently stabled at Saratoga after having shipped from Churchill Downs on Wednesday. The new date of the Lady's Secret corresponds with opening weekend of the Saratoga meet. Saratoga has a Rachel Alexandra hat giveaway scheduled for Aug. 8.
NYRA officials expressed disappointment that Rachel Alexandra would not be running in the Grade 1, $250,000 Ruffian at 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga on Aug. 1. Rachel Alexandra capped her perfect Horse of the Year campaign in 2009 with a rafter-shaking victory in the Woodward against older males.
"We are puzzled and disappointed that Rachel Alexandra, who performed so well at Saratoga last year, is passing up the Grade 1 Ruffian to run in a non-graded race at Monmouth over the same distance," NYRA president Charles Hayward said in a prepared statement. "We remain hopeful that the Saratoga fans will have the opportunity to see Rachel later in the meet."
Mike Dempsey, the racing secretary at Monmouth Park, said, "There are no appearance fees for anyone involved, and there is not a charity involvement at this time, even though something could come together later on."
Last year when Rachel Alexandra ran in the Haskell, Monmouth donated $20,000 to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a breast cancer organization.
- additional reporting by David Grening