05/01/2010 12:00AM

Asmussen not quitting on Rachel

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Justin Lane
Rachel Alexandra (right) failed to hold off Unrivaled Belle in the La Troienne on Friday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - While her legion of supporters may be pushing the panic button in the wake of Rachel Alexandra's shocking second-place finish to Unrivaled Belle in Friday's her trainer, Steve Asmussen, has remained calm and seemingly unconcerned over the reigning Horse of the Year's second defeat in as many starts in 2010.

"Naturally I'm disappointed she ran second, but I thought she ran fine, although perhaps not quite as good as we'd hoped," Asmussen said late Saturday morning. "She got a 100 Beyer in her previous race and a 103 yesterday, and ran into two mares who ran great races in both her starts. The important thing is that she came out of the race good and is doing fine this morning. Like I said yesterday, she's just a bigger, heavier mare now and at the moment not as explosive as she was last summer."

Asmussen said he was also unconcerned about Rachel Alexandra failing to change leads until near the eighth pole in the La Troienne.

"She's done that before; it's not an issue," Asmussen said. "We're very fortunate how sound she is."

Asmussen also declined to discuss an issue brought up at owner Jess Jackson's informal press conference the previous afternoon regarding Calvin Borel's ride in the La Troienne. As was the case in her first setback this year in the New Orleans Ladies, Borel kept Rachel Alexandra under a snug hold during the early stages of the La Troienne, after which she did not have enough punch to withstand winner Unrivaled Belle in late stretch. Borel guided Rachel Alexandra to all eight of her victories during her Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old campaign.

"She finished second and the excuses are obvious when you go to searching," was Asmussen's only comment.

Asmussen said if everything continues to go well, Rachel Alexandra will resume her regular training regimen this week. He also said that there were no specific races currently on the radar for her next start.

Unrivaled Belle also received a 103 Beyer Speed Figure in the La Troienne, a career best number.

Trainer Bill Mott mentioned the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis here on June 12 as an option for Unrivaled Belle's next start, although didn't rule out the possibility she could face Grade 1 competition.

"Our filly had a good trip and she really ran well," said Mott. "It was definitely her biggest win so far. The other filly should also be applauded for her race. It's always tough to be in the shoes of a favorite like that when they get beat."