07/21/2010 3:53PM

Six will take a shot against Rachel in Lady's Secret

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Rachel Alexandra will face six other fillies and mares in the Lady's Secret.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Rachel Alexandra will face six rivals Saturday in the $400,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park. The defending Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra drew post 5 with regular rider Calvin Borel aboard.

The winner of last year’s Haskell Invitational over the colts, Rachel Alexandra returns to Monmouth Park for the first time in a race customized to the specifications of trainer Steve Asmussen and owner Jess Jackson.

Originally slated for Aug. 1 at 1 1/16 miles, the Lady’s Secret was shifted to this weekend at 1 1/8 miles with $250,000 added to the purse.

Luring the champion was one thing. Rounding up a field to face Rachel Alexandra on short notice posed a challenge for stakes coordinator Dan Dufford.

Initial fears of a small field gave way to a representive turnout of seven, listed in post position order: Stage Trick, Queen Martha, Ask the Moon, Hark, Rachel Alexandra, Fabulous Babe, and Yes She’s a Lady.

Rachel Alexandra figures to again be a very short-priced favorite. She was the 1-10 choice most recently in her 10 1/2 length romp in the Fleur De Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs, her first win in three attempts in 2010.

The price should be in that same ballpark in the Lady’s Secret.

Rachel Alexandra returned to Monmouth on Tuesday morning following a final four-furlong workout Monday at Saratoga of 49.60 over the Oklahoma training track. With the serious preparations completed, Rachel Alexandra is expected to gallop up to the race. She is scheduled to school during Friday’s races.

Of the challengers, only Stage Trick and Ask the Moon exit stakes races.

Stake Trick, trained locally by Alan Goldberg, set the pace before settling for third in the Grade 3 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park. A 4-year-old, Stage Trick is 1 for 3 at Monmouth with the victory coming last fall in a second-level allowance.

Ask the Moon would love a wet track, where she is 4-0-1 in eight races for trainer Ned Allard. A 5-year-old, Ask the Moon is 1 for 9 at Monmouth, the victory coming in the Lighthouse Stakes last year in the slop.

Ask the Moon was seventh in the Lady’s Secret last year.

Queen Martha will make her first start on dirt. A 4-year-old, Queen Martha ran five times in England before finishing second on the turf in her U.S. debut, a second-level allowance here on May 30 for trainer Patrick Biancone.