Joe Drape's lede in his story for the Times on Rachel Alexandra's defeat reads:
This was supposed to be an exhibition for Rachel Alexandra, an opportunity for the reigning Horse of the Year to take a lap before an adoring public. [NY Times]Oh, I thought it was her first race in six months, intended primarily to help her get some conditioning, and to get ready for a more important race in four weeks. And if her connections do "reassess her schedule," as Steve Asmussen indicated (according to Drape) and decide to pass a meeting with the mighty Zenyatta on April 9, it will be simply because they want to, and nothing to do with the result of the New Orleans Ladies Stake. This filly needed a race, period.
Ridden in accordance with his instructions, Calvin Borel sat off a fairly quick pace, and Rachel continued under restraint as she took the lead turning for home at a time when, under other circumstances, she might have opened up lengths and discouraged the competition.
"I wanted to let her run her race early but they wanted me to wait. I wanted to go on past the speed horse early (Fighter Wing). I’d have got by her anytime and my filly could have gone on but they wanted me to wait and not get into her until the sixteenth pole. [Bloodhorse]If you instruct your rider to take a horse out of its game, and ride a race as if it's just a prep, don't then come crying to me about the horse not being dead-solid perfect if she happens to get beat. There was nothing wrong with Rachel Alexandra's race; she showed her class by fighting to the end, and still earned a Beyer of 100; not bad for an off day. The winner had dominated in her prior three dirt races (all in Brazil), and might just be very good. It's a race that can only benefit the defending Horse of the Year. "The filly's lacking fitness," said Asmussen. But horses get fit with tighteners like this, and I bet she'll be fitter for the effort in a few days. If she's not, they might as well retire her now.