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Pilgrim, Miss Grillo offer berths to Breeders' Cup

Granny Mc's Kitten will once again face off against Duff One in the Miss Grillo (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Belmont Park will play host to three stakes on Sunday, two of which are Grade 3 contests carded for 1 1/16 miles on the turf and will award the winners automatic berths in the Breeders' Cup.

The Pilgrim for juveniles and Miss Grillo restricted to two-year-old fillies are the main attractions on the day, with a nine-strong entry in the former and 12 expected to line up in the latter event. The $100,000 Duck Dance for three-year-olds and up drew nine runners going seven furlongs on the main track.

In the Pilgrim, which is a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Marvin's Miracle is one of the top draws off a third-place run in the With Anticipation going the distance at Saratoga on August 29. The Juan Coronel-trained gray actually broke his maiden at 8 1/2 furlongs just 21 days earlier at the Spa, and was a close second in his career debut at Belmont in July.

Luis Saez has the call on the son of Cosmonaut.

Bobby's Kitten is also exiting runs at Saratoga, breaking his maiden last out on August 24 for trainer Chad Brown by 2 3/4 lengths. The Kitten's Joy colt has been working well at Belmont in the interim and gets jockey Javier Castellano in the irons on Sunday.

Due Diligence and Shadow Banking could make some noise in the Pilgrim off easy debut maiden wins. The former, who is also trained by Brown, was 6 1/4 lengths clear of his nearest rival in a September 11 maiden over course and distance. Jose Ortiz was aboard that day and retains the mount.

Shadow Banking also broke his maiden for Brown, drawing off for a 7 1/2-length score on August 12 at Saratoga while going 5 1/2 furlongs. He has since been transferred to Todd Pletcher's shedrow and will get a jockey switch from Castellano to Jose Lezcano for the Pilgrim.

Once race later in the Miss Grillo, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Brown will saddle likely favorite Granny Mc's Kitten off a 1 3/4-length win in the 1 1/16-mile P. G. Johnson at Saratoga on August 28. Prior to that, the Lemon Drop Kid lass was a nose second in her racing debut under those same conditions in July. Castellano will be back in the saddle.

Duff One and Miss Frost were second and third, respectively, in the P. G. Johnson, and each will do her best to turn the tables on Granny Mc's Kitten. The former is still looking for her first win on turf, having broken her maiden in an off-the-turf contest in early August, while Miss Frost didn't get her first win until transferring to the green for a nose score on July 28.

Emma-Jayne Wilson will be aboard Duff One for trainer Gary Contessa while regular rider Edgar Prado stays in the irons on the Tom Albertrani-conditioned Miss Frost.

An interesting prospect in the Miss Grillo comes in the form of French-bred Testa Rossi, who will be making her U.S. bow in the race. The Dr Fong juvenile filly is 3-1-0 from five starts in her native land and will get first-time Lasix as she makes her debut for Brown's barn with Lezcano holding the reins.

Before either of the turf stakes go off, multiple Grade 2 victor Caixa Eletronica will try to get back to his winnings ways in the Duck Dance. The Pletcher-trained eight-year-old visited Saratoga's winner's circle on July 27 but has dropped his past two, running fifth in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and second in an optional claimer.

Sunday's race appears the perfect confidence booster as the son of Arromanches will only face the likes of stakes scorer Spa City Fever and Star Harbour, the latter of whom is making his third stakes try off a 12-length victory against claimers.

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