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THURSDAY, JULY 2, 2015

Racing Headlines

Summit of Speed boasts Work All Week, competitive fields

Work All Week (right) denied defending champion Secret Circle in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Sprint (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Gulfstream Park plays host to the $1.175 million Summit of Speed program on Sunday featuring 12 races, including the $250,000 Smile Sprint S. (G2) and $250,000 Princess Rooney S. (G2) sending runners six furlongs.

Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) hero and Eclipse champion Work All Week (City Zip) figures to be the most accomplished performer in the Smile Sprint while Merry Meadow (Henny Hughes) returns to the site of her Hurricane Bertie S. (G3) tour de force in the Princess Rooney. Each race is a "Win & You're In" to their respective Breeders' Cup sprint divisions for the winners.

Work All Week is seeking a return to the winner's circle after bruising a foot while running second in his 2015 debut, the Aristides S. (G3), on May 30 at Churchill Downs. The six-year-old gelding went 5-1-0 from six starts last year, including victories in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and Phoenix S. (G3), and will be making his Gulfstream bow in this spot under Florent Geroux for trainer Roger Brueggemann.

The homebred chestnut, who is campaigned by Richard and Karen Papiese's Midwest Thoroughbreds, readied for the Smile Sprint with a swift :46 1/5 breeze on June 28 under the Twin Spires, his second straight bullet move after going in :59 2/5 on June 21.

"We weren't looking for him to work that fast, but he did it all on his own," Richard Papiese said. "We hope it's an indication that he is going to run a big race this weekend."

Also of note in the Smile Sprint is Alsvid (Officer), who defeated Work All Week when taking the Aristides by two lengths. The Chris Hartman-trained gelding brings a three-race win streak into the event after taking an allowance/optional claimer in March prior to a three-quarter length score in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) about two weeks later.

Chris Landeros has been aboard for Alsvid's current win streak and retains the mount.

Grande Shores will be competing over his home track in the Smile Sprint, having recorded 13 in-the-money finishes from 16 career tries at Gulfstream. The seven-year-old Jacks or Better homebred seemingly has gotten better with age after his career had been compromised by a chronic digestive disorder that is under control but still demands constant monitoring.

"I know he's going to run his heart out," trainer Stanley Gold said. "There's going to be plenty of speed in it and he'll be coming. I'd rather see it be seven (furlongs) instead of six. He's going to have to be coming faster and start sooner. He's earned the shot. You hate to possibly get overmatched, but I can't say he is overmatched."

Eddie Castro, who rode Grande Shores to a three-quarter length victory in the Parrot Key S. last out, has the call.

Merry Meadow is no stranger to winning at Gulfstream (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)
The Princess Rooney takes place one race before the Smile Sprint and has attracted Merry Meadow, who will ship in from New York following a subpar sixth in the seven-furlong Inside Information S. (G2) on March 21.

"It was the distance and the way the race unfolded," trainer Mark Hennig revealed about the Inside Information. "She isn't really one that wants to be up there fighting for the lead. It's not her style. Knowing it was seven-eighths, it was the worst-case scenario. I think for her to get seven-eighths, she has to have an ideal trip, and she had a less-than-ideal trip at a less-than-ideal distance."

The five-year-old bay will cut back to her ideal distance of three-quarters while returning from a more than three-month freshening under Javier Castellano. The two paired up one race after Merry Meadow captured the Sky Beauty S. last November to take both the Sugar Swirl S. (G3) and Hurricane Bertie.

"She's been doing great," Hennig said. "It was the timing, more than anything else, and the distance, and it's on a familiar racetrack. Gulfstream making the accommodations to get there and back helped as well.

"She's always held her form," the conditioner added. "She's never really ever needed any one set track. She's traveled well and run on all kinds of surfaces. She's always been a pretty consistent runner. We were able to give her a little breather after (the Inside Information), and she's always run well fresh."

Earlier on the Summit of Speed program, 10 sophomore colts and geldings will go seven furlongs in the $150,000 Carry Back S. (G3) while nine three-year-old fillies take part in the $150,000 Azalea S. (G3) at the same distance.

Barbados (Speightstown) enters the Carry Back off a more than five-money break, having last been seen recording his third straight win in the Hutcheson S. (G3) over track and distance. The Azalea features the respective top three -- Huasca (Tiz Wonderful), Dogwood Trail (Awescome of Course) and Fond of Sarah (With Distinction) -- from the track and distance Tangelo H. on June 6, as well as Jostle S. vixen Warriorscmoutoplay (Warrior's Reward).

Five other stakes are carded for the day as well. Eight juveniles have been entered in the $75,000 Birdonthewire S. going 5 1/2 furlongs to kick off the stakes action, followed one race later by the fillies equivalent, the $75,000 Cassidy S., which drew nine runners.

The $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint attracted a field of nine to go five furlongs on the turf, while the $75,000 Miesque's Approval S. and sister race $75,000 Spook Express S. will each send contestants 1 1/16 miles on the green. The former will see 10 line up while the Spook Express boasts 15, including one main-track only entrant.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Summit of Speed boasts Work All Week, competitive fields

Work All Week (right) denied defending champion Secret Circle in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Sprint (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Gulfstream Park plays host to the $1.175 million Summit of Speed program on Sunday featuring 12 races, including the $250,000 Smile Sprint S. (G2) and $250,000 Princess Rooney S. (G2) sending runners six furlongs.

Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) hero and Eclipse champion Work All Week (City Zip) figures to be the most accomplished performer in the Smile Sprint while Merry Meadow (Henny Hughes) returns to the site of her Hurricane Bertie S. (G3) tour de force in the Princess Rooney. Each race is a "Win & You're In" to their respective Breeders' Cup sprint divisions for the winners.

Work All Week is seeking a return to the winner's circle after bruising a foot while running second in his 2015 debut, the Aristides S. (G3), on May 30 at Churchill Downs. The six-year-old gelding went 5-1-0 from six starts last year, including victories in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and Phoenix S. (G3), and will be making his Gulfstream bow in this spot under Florent Geroux for trainer Roger Brueggemann.

The homebred chestnut, who is campaigned by Richard and Karen Papiese's Midwest Thoroughbreds, readied for the Smile Sprint with a swift :46 1/5 breeze on June 28 under the Twin Spires, his second straight bullet move after going in :59 2/5 on June 21.

"We weren't looking for him to work that fast, but he did it all on his own," Richard Papiese said. "We hope it's an indication that he is going to run a big race this weekend."

Also of note in the Smile Sprint is Alsvid (Officer), who defeated Work All Week when taking the Aristides by two lengths. The Chris Hartman-trained gelding brings a three-race win streak into the event after taking an allowance/optional claimer in March prior to a three-quarter length score in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) about two weeks later.

Chris Landeros has been aboard for Alsvid's current win streak and retains the mount.

Grande Shores will be competing over his home track in the Smile Sprint, having recorded 13 in-the-money finishes from 16 career tries at Gulfstream. The seven-year-old Jacks or Better homebred seemingly has gotten better with age after his career had been compromised by a chronic digestive disorder that is under control but still demands constant monitoring.

"I know he's going to run his heart out," trainer Stanley Gold said. "There's going to be plenty of speed in it and he'll be coming. I'd rather see it be seven (furlongs) instead of six. He's going to have to be coming faster and start sooner. He's earned the shot. You hate to possibly get overmatched, but I can't say he is overmatched."

Eddie Castro, who rode Grande Shores to a three-quarter length victory in the Parrot Key S. last out, has the call.

Merry Meadow is no stranger to winning at Gulfstream (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)
The Princess Rooney takes place one race before the Smile Sprint and has attracted Merry Meadow, who will ship in from New York following a subpar sixth in the seven-furlong Inside Information S. (G2) on March 21.

"It was the distance and the way the race unfolded," trainer Mark Hennig revealed about the Inside Information. "She isn't really one that wants to be up there fighting for the lead. It's not her style. Knowing it was seven-eighths, it was the worst-case scenario. I think for her to get seven-eighths, she has to have an ideal trip, and she had a less-than-ideal trip at a less-than-ideal distance."

The five-year-old bay will cut back to her ideal distance of three-quarters while returning from a more than three-month freshening under Javier Castellano. The two paired up one race after Merry Meadow captured the Sky Beauty S. last November to take both the Sugar Swirl S. (G3) and Hurricane Bertie.

"She's been doing great," Hennig said. "It was the timing, more than anything else, and the distance, and it's on a familiar racetrack. Gulfstream making the accommodations to get there and back helped as well.

"She's always held her form," the conditioner added. "She's never really ever needed any one set track. She's traveled well and run on all kinds of surfaces. She's always been a pretty consistent runner. We were able to give her a little breather after (the Inside Information), and she's always run well fresh."

Earlier on the Summit of Speed program, 10 sophomore colts and geldings will go seven furlongs in the $150,000 Carry Back S. (G3) while nine three-year-old fillies take part in the $150,000 Azalea S. (G3) at the same distance.

Barbados (Speightstown) enters the Carry Back off a more than five-money break, having last been seen recording his third straight win in the Hutcheson S. (G3) over track and distance. The Azalea features the respective top three -- Huasca (Tiz Wonderful), Dogwood Trail (Awescome of Course) and Fond of Sarah (With Distinction) -- from the track and distance Tangelo H. on June 6, as well as Jostle S. vixen Warriorscmoutoplay (Warrior's Reward).

Five other stakes are carded for the day as well. Eight juveniles have been entered in the $75,000 Birdonthewire S. going 5 1/2 furlongs to kick off the stakes action, followed one race later by the fillies equivalent, the $75,000 Cassidy S., which drew nine runners.

The $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint attracted a field of nine to go five furlongs on the turf, while the $75,000 Miesque's Approval S. and sister race $75,000 Spook Express S. will each send contestants 1 1/16 miles on the green. The former will see 10 line up while the Spook Express boasts 15, including one main-track only entrant.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Danish Dynaformer aims to give Attfield record ninth Queen's Plate

Plate Trial winner Danish Dynaformer rates as the 3-1 favorite on the morning line (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Charles Fipke's Danish Dynaformer (Dynaformer), Stronach Stables' Shaman Ghost (Ghostzapper) and Bear Stables' filly Academic (Henny Hughes) head an ultra-competitive field of 14 for the C$1 million Queen's Plate, Canada's most famous horse race, Sunday at Woodbine.

Now in its 156th edition, the Plate is the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America. The classic for Canadian-foaled three-year-olds is held over 1 1/4 miles on the Polytrack.

At the Queen's Plate breakfast on Thursday morning, the selection order for post positions was drawn first via the traditional "pill-pull," followed by the choosing of post positions by the connections for each horse, a system which has been in place for the Plate since 1998.

Danish Dynaformer, one of two (Billy's Star [Perfect Soul] is the other) trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, will try to give his conditioner a record ninth Plate win and has been established as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite. Attfield chose post 7 with the second selection.

The Fipke homebred scored an impressive three-quarter length victory over Conquest Curlinate (Curlin) in the June 14 Plate Trial, his third win in six career starts. It followed a close third place finish to Plate rival Shaman Ghost in the Marine S. (Can-G3) on May 16. Twenty-five Plate Trial winners have gone on to win the King/Queen's Plate since 1944, the last being Big Red Mike in 2010.

"He's a really nice horse, no question about it," Attfield said. "He's got a big turn of foot and a huge cruising speed. He's a very versatile horse."

Attfield is currently tied with Harry Giddings Jr. for most Plate wins. His previous winners were Not Bourbon (for Fipke) in 2008, Regal Discovery (1995), Peteski (1993), Alydeed (1992), Izvestia (1990), With Approval (1989), Market Control (1987) and Norcliffe (1976). Peteski, Izvestia and With Approval all went on to win the Canadian Triple Crown.

Danish Dynaformer will be ridden by Patrick Husbands for the first time, since Luis Contreras, aboard for the Trial, was previously committed to Ami's Flatter (Flatter). Husbands has won the Plate twice, in 2003 with eventual Triple Crown winner Wando, then last year with filly Lexie Lou (Sligo Bay). The last jockey to win back-to-back Plates was Eurico Rosa da Silva in 2009-10, with Eye of the Leopard and Big Red Mike, respectively.

Billy's Star (15-1), with the aforementioned Rosa da Silva, currently Woodbine's leading rider aboard, finished a troubled sixth in the Trial, yet only five lengths behind his stablemate, after breaking his maiden in May at Woodbine over 1 1/16 miles. Also bred by Fipke but now owned by Perfect Timber Partnership, he was a $161,177 Canadian Select yearling purchase.

Shaman Ghost was last seen landing the Marine (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Stronach Stables' homebred Shaman Ghost (7-2) hasn't raced since his winning effort in the 1 1/16-mile Marine, when overcoming traffic with a powerful late stretch charge. Trained by Brian Lynch, Shaman Ghost will be ridden by Rafael Hernandez, who has piloted the colt to three consecutive wins, including the Marine.

"Winning form is the best form and he's won three in a row," said Lynch, who didn't have to pick a post when he drew number 14 in the selection order, and only the rail was left. "He's been doing everything well in those last three, really fighting to the wire in all of them. I like the way he doesn't give up. He just keeps on battling. Hopefully, he brings that same great fight with him to the Plate."

Stronach is a two-time Plate winner (Basqueian, 1994 and Awesome Again, 1997), while Lynch just missed winning the 2008 Plate with Stronach's filly Ginger Brew, finishing a head behind Not Bourbon.

Bear Stables' Academic (5-1), with Justin Stein aboard, scored a 66-1 shocker three weeks ago when wiring her rivals in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks. It was just the second start of the year for the filly. Her 1 1/8-mile time of 1.48.86 was a track record and almost one second faster than it took Danish Dynaformer to win the Trial a race before. Her connections drew the first post selection and picked post 4.

Academic, the field's leading money winner with $293,141 after being bought for $54,000 at the Ocala Two-Year-Olds In training Sale, will try to become the 36th filly to win the Plate since 1860, the eighth since 1956 and the seventh to sweep both the Oaks and the Plate, joining Flaming Page (1962), La Lorgnette (1985), Dance Smartly (1991), Dancethruthedawn (2001), Inglorious (2011) and Lexie Lou (2014).

Stein rode Strait of Dover to victory in the 2012 Plate, while Bear Stables and trainer Reade Baker, who will also saddle Bear At Last (Marchfield) and Breaking Lucky (Lookin at Lucky), finished third last year with Asserting Bear.

Breaking Lucky (20-1), owned by Gunpowder Farms, broke his maiden at Woodbine in April, then was second and seventh in two subsequent route allowance races. The son of 2010 Preakness (G1) winner Lookin At Lucky will be ridden by Jim McAleney, who has twice finished second in the Plate, aboard I And I in 2000 and Anglian Prince in 2002. Bear Stables' Bear At Last (30-1), a one-time winner in 11 outings to be ridden by Rico Walcott, was most recently seventh in the Plate Trial.

Academic takes on the boys after her track record-setting victory in the Woodbine Oaks (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Queen's Plate winterbook favourite Ami's Flatter (6-1), trained by Josie Carroll for owner-breeder Ivan Dalos, disappointed as the 3-5 favorite in the Marine, finishing seventh, five lengths behind Shaman Ghost. That result came after a competitive run on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, which saw him finish second to Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) in the Tampa Bay Derby (G1) at Tampa Bay Downs and third to Materiality (Afleet Alex) in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. The field's second leading money winner with $232,231 will be ridden by Contreras from the outside post 14.

Dalos, Carroll and Contreras teamed to finish second with Ami's Holiday (Harlan's Holiday) in last year's Plate. Carroll, though, has won two Plates -- Edenwold (2006) and Inglorious (2011) -- and is the only female trainer to even win the Plate while Contreras was aboard Inglorious for his first Plate score.

Seven-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer Mark Casse, who saddled last year's winner Lexie Lou, will try to win a second consecutive Plate with Conquest Stables' Conquest Boogaloo (Scat Daddy) and Bill and Vicki Poston's Oakton (Macho Uno). The last trainer to win back-to-back Plates was Mark Frostad in 2000-2001.

Conquest Boogaloo (8-1), a $190,000 Keeneland yearling buy, finished a closing troubled third in the Plate Trial, just two lengths behind Danish Dynaformer. He also encountered a difficult trip in the Marine, when eighth to Shaman Ghost. He's won two of seven, including last year's Swynford S., and will be handled by Alan Garcia. Oakton (20-1), a one-time winner in six starts, will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Pizarro, who finished second for Casse in the 2011 Plate aboard Hippolytus.

Chiefswood Stable's homebred Portree (Niigon) (12-1), trained by Stuart Simon and ridden by Gerry Olguin, finished an excellent fourth in the Plate Trial, just 2 1/2 lengths behind winner Danish Dynaformer, after leading in midstretch. It was just his third career start after winning his first two outings earlier this year. He'll try to become the eighth Plate winner since 1956 to be sired/foaled by a Plate winner. Chiefswood won the 2004 Plate with their homebred Niigon.

Trainer Mike Keogh will send out Gus Schickedanz's homebred Sweet Grass Creek (Wando) (20-1), a one-time winner in five starts. Keogh and Schickedanz teamed to win the 1999 Plate with Woodcarver, then captured the Triple Crown with Hall of Famer Wando in 2003. Jesse Campbell, who took the 2013 Plate aboard front-running Midnight Aria, has the mount.

Ami's Flatter, the winter book favorite, looks to restore his reputation (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Tucci Stables' Easy Indygo (Marchfield) (30-1), also purchased at the Ocala Two-Year-olds in training sale for $60,000, has won once in seven starts. Tucci Stables' won the 2013 Plate with Midnight Aria, while trainer Nick Gonzalez conditioned both Midnight Aria and 2010 Plate winner Big Red Mike. Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson is the only female rider to win the Plate in 2007 with Mike Fox.

Canyon Farms' British Columbia homebred Ault (English Channel) (30-1) will try to become the fourth horse since 1952 to break his maiden in the Plate, the latest to do so being Scatter the Gold in 2000. To be ridden by David Moran for trainer Dan Vella, he has been a close second in his three Woodbine Polytrack appearances, but out of the money in two grass attempts at Gulfstream Park this winter.

Canyon Farms won the 2012 Plate with another homebred, Strait of Dover, also a son of English Channel, while Vella, in addition to training Strait of Dover, won the 1994 Plate with Basqueian. Moran finished third in the 2010 Plate aboard Oaks winner Roan Inish.

Preston Stables' Milwaukee Mist (Milwaukee Brew) (30-1) has campaigned at Turfway Park, Keeneland and Churchill Downs, winning one of six starts. Trained by Pavel Matejka, Milwaukee Mist will be ridden by Gary Boulanger, who won the 2001 Plate with Oaks winner Dancethruthedawn.

Of the 14 starters in this year's Plate, 12 have connections (owner, trainer and/or jockey) who have previously won the Plate. Four horses in the field - Breaking Lucky, Milwaukee Mist, Oakton and Portree -- did not start at two. Eye of the Leopard (2009), Scatter The Gold (2000) and Awesome Again (1997) are the latest Plate winners who did not race as two-year-olds.

The Queen's Plate is the first leg in the Canadian Triple Crown. The second leg is the C$500,000 Prince of Wales S., at 1 3/16 miles on Tuesday, July 28, at Fort Erie, while the C$500,000 Breeders' S., at 1 1/2 miles on the grass, August 16 at Woodbine, comprises the third and final leg. There have been seven Triple Crown winners since the concept was inaugurated in 1959, the first being New Providence in 1959, the latest being Wando in 2003.

Since 1956, the stakes record for the Plate is 2:01 4/5, set by Izvestia in 1990, when he also won by the largest margin, 13 lengths. Strait of Dover, the 2012 winner, owns the fastest Polytrack time since 2007 of 2:01.99. The longest-priced winner in the modern era (since 1956) is T J's Lucky Moon ($166) in 2002 while Maternal Pride is the highest-priced winner of all time, paying $193.35 in 1924. Since 1956, favorites have won 22 of 59 runnings (37.2 percent). However, Wando in 2003, and Eye of the Leopard in 2009, are the only Plate favorites to win in the last 20 editions.

Three other stakes, all of them on the grass, will be part of the Queen's Plate Day undercard -- the C$200,000 Dance Smartly (Can-G2), at 1 1/8 miles at 3:02 p.m., the C$150,000 Singspiel (Can-G3) at 1 1/2 miles at 4:18 p.m. and the C$200,000 Highlander (Can-G2) at six furlongs at 4:53 p.m. First race post time is noon.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Danish Dynaformer aims to give Attfield record ninth Queen's Plate

Plate Trial winner Danish Dynaformer rates as the 3-1 favorite on the morning line (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Charles Fipke's Danish Dynaformer (Dynaformer), Stronach Stables' Shaman Ghost (Ghostzapper) and Bear Stables' filly Academic (Henny Hughes) head an ultra-competitive field of 14 for the C$1 million Queen's Plate, Canada's most famous horse race, Sunday at Woodbine.

Now in its 156th edition, the Plate is the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America. The classic for Canadian-foaled three-year-olds is held over 1 1/4 miles on the Polytrack.

At the Queen's Plate breakfast on Thursday morning, the selection order for post positions was drawn first via the traditional "pill-pull," followed by the choosing of post positions by the connections for each horse, a system which has been in place for the Plate since 1998.

Danish Dynaformer, one of two (Billy's Star [Perfect Soul] is the other) trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, will try to give his conditioner a record ninth Plate win and has been established as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite. Attfield chose post 7 with the second selection.

The Fipke homebred scored an impressive three-quarter length victory over Conquest Curlinate (Curlin) in the June 14 Plate Trial, his third win in six career starts. It followed a close third place finish to Plate rival Shaman Ghost in the Marine S. (Can-G3) on May 16. Twenty-five Plate Trial winners have gone on to win the King/Queen's Plate since 1944, the last being Big Red Mike in 2010.

"He's a really nice horse, no question about it," Attfield said. "He's got a big turn of foot and a huge cruising speed. He's a very versatile horse."

Attfield is currently tied with Harry Giddings Jr. for most Plate wins. His previous winners were Not Bourbon (for Fipke) in 2008, Regal Discovery (1995), Peteski (1993), Alydeed (1992), Izvestia (1990), With Approval (1989), Market Control (1987) and Norcliffe (1976). Peteski, Izvestia and With Approval all went on to win the Canadian Triple Crown.

Danish Dynaformer will be ridden by Patrick Husbands for the first time, since Luis Contreras, aboard for the Trial, was previously committed to Ami's Flatter (Flatter). Husbands has won the Plate twice, in 2003 with eventual Triple Crown winner Wando, then last year with filly Lexie Lou (Sligo Bay). The last jockey to win back-to-back Plates was Eurico Rosa da Silva in 2009-10, with Eye of the Leopard and Big Red Mike, respectively.

Billy's Star (15-1), with the aforementioned Rosa da Silva, currently Woodbine's leading rider aboard, finished a troubled sixth in the Trial, yet only five lengths behind his stablemate, after breaking his maiden in May at Woodbine over 1 1/16 miles. Also bred by Fipke but now owned by Perfect Timber Partnership, he was a $161,177 Canadian Select yearling purchase.

Shaman Ghost was last seen landing the Marine (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Stronach Stables' homebred Shaman Ghost (7-2) hasn't raced since his winning effort in the 1 1/16-mile Marine, when overcoming traffic with a powerful late stretch charge. Trained by Brian Lynch, Shaman Ghost will be ridden by Rafael Hernandez, who has piloted the colt to three consecutive wins, including the Marine.

"Winning form is the best form and he's won three in a row," said Lynch, who didn't have to pick a post when he drew number 14 in the selection order, and only the rail was left. "He's been doing everything well in those last three, really fighting to the wire in all of them. I like the way he doesn't give up. He just keeps on battling. Hopefully, he brings that same great fight with him to the Plate."

Stronach is a two-time Plate winner (Basqueian, 1994 and Awesome Again, 1997), while Lynch just missed winning the 2008 Plate with Stronach's filly Ginger Brew, finishing a head behind Not Bourbon.

Bear Stables' Academic (5-1), with Justin Stein aboard, scored a 66-1 shocker three weeks ago when wiring her rivals in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks. It was just the second start of the year for the filly. Her 1 1/8-mile time of 1.48.86 was a track record and almost one second faster than it took Danish Dynaformer to win the Trial a race before. Her connections drew the first post selection and picked post 4.

Academic, the field's leading money winner with $293,141 after being bought for $54,000 at the Ocala Two-Year-Olds In training Sale, will try to become the 36th filly to win the Plate since 1860, the eighth since 1956 and the seventh to sweep both the Oaks and the Plate, joining Flaming Page (1962), La Lorgnette (1985), Dance Smartly (1991), Dancethruthedawn (2001), Inglorious (2011) and Lexie Lou (2014).

Stein rode Strait of Dover to victory in the 2012 Plate, while Bear Stables and trainer Reade Baker, who will also saddle Bear At Last (Marchfield) and Breaking Lucky (Lookin at Lucky), finished third last year with Asserting Bear.

Breaking Lucky (20-1), owned by Gunpowder Farms, broke his maiden at Woodbine in April, then was second and seventh in two subsequent route allowance races. The son of 2010 Preakness (G1) winner Lookin At Lucky will be ridden by Jim McAleney, who has twice finished second in the Plate, aboard I And I in 2000 and Anglian Prince in 2002. Bear Stables' Bear At Last (30-1), a one-time winner in 11 outings to be ridden by Rico Walcott, was most recently seventh in the Plate Trial.

Academic takes on the boys after her track record-setting victory in the Woodbine Oaks (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Queen's Plate winterbook favourite Ami's Flatter (6-1), trained by Josie Carroll for owner-breeder Ivan Dalos, disappointed as the 3-5 favorite in the Marine, finishing seventh, five lengths behind Shaman Ghost. That result came after a competitive run on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, which saw him finish second to Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway) in the Tampa Bay Derby (G1) at Tampa Bay Downs and third to Materiality (Afleet Alex) in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. The field's second leading money winner with $232,231 will be ridden by Contreras from the outside post 14.

Dalos, Carroll and Contreras teamed to finish second with Ami's Holiday (Harlan's Holiday) in last year's Plate. Carroll, though, has won two Plates -- Edenwold (2006) and Inglorious (2011) -- and is the only female trainer to even win the Plate while Contreras was aboard Inglorious for his first Plate score.

Seven-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer Mark Casse, who saddled last year's winner Lexie Lou, will try to win a second consecutive Plate with Conquest Stables' Conquest Boogaloo (Scat Daddy) and Bill and Vicki Poston's Oakton (Macho Uno). The last trainer to win back-to-back Plates was Mark Frostad in 2000-2001.

Conquest Boogaloo (8-1), a $190,000 Keeneland yearling buy, finished a closing troubled third in the Plate Trial, just two lengths behind Danish Dynaformer. He also encountered a difficult trip in the Marine, when eighth to Shaman Ghost. He's won two of seven, including last year's Swynford S., and will be handled by Alan Garcia. Oakton (20-1), a one-time winner in six starts, will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Pizarro, who finished second for Casse in the 2011 Plate aboard Hippolytus.

Chiefswood Stable's homebred Portree (Niigon) (12-1), trained by Stuart Simon and ridden by Gerry Olguin, finished an excellent fourth in the Plate Trial, just 2 1/2 lengths behind winner Danish Dynaformer, after leading in midstretch. It was just his third career start after winning his first two outings earlier this year. He'll try to become the eighth Plate winner since 1956 to be sired/foaled by a Plate winner. Chiefswood won the 2004 Plate with their homebred Niigon.

Trainer Mike Keogh will send out Gus Schickedanz's homebred Sweet Grass Creek (Wando) (20-1), a one-time winner in five starts. Keogh and Schickedanz teamed to win the 1999 Plate with Woodcarver, then captured the Triple Crown with Hall of Famer Wando in 2003. Jesse Campbell, who took the 2013 Plate aboard front-running Midnight Aria, has the mount.

Ami's Flatter, the winter book favorite, looks to restore his reputation (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Tucci Stables' Easy Indygo (Marchfield) (30-1), also purchased at the Ocala Two-Year-olds in training sale for $60,000, has won once in seven starts. Tucci Stables' won the 2013 Plate with Midnight Aria, while trainer Nick Gonzalez conditioned both Midnight Aria and 2010 Plate winner Big Red Mike. Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson is the only female rider to win the Plate in 2007 with Mike Fox.

Canyon Farms' British Columbia homebred Ault (English Channel) (30-1) will try to become the fourth horse since 1952 to break his maiden in the Plate, the latest to do so being Scatter the Gold in 2000. To be ridden by David Moran for trainer Dan Vella, he has been a close second in his three Woodbine Polytrack appearances, but out of the money in two grass attempts at Gulfstream Park this winter.

Canyon Farms won the 2012 Plate with another homebred, Strait of Dover, also a son of English Channel, while Vella, in addition to training Strait of Dover, won the 1994 Plate with Basqueian. Moran finished third in the 2010 Plate aboard Oaks winner Roan Inish.

Preston Stables' Milwaukee Mist (Milwaukee Brew) (30-1) has campaigned at Turfway Park, Keeneland and Churchill Downs, winning one of six starts. Trained by Pavel Matejka, Milwaukee Mist will be ridden by Gary Boulanger, who won the 2001 Plate with Oaks winner Dancethruthedawn.

Of the 14 starters in this year's Plate, 12 have connections (owner, trainer and/or jockey) who have previously won the Plate. Four horses in the field - Breaking Lucky, Milwaukee Mist, Oakton and Portree -- did not start at two. Eye of the Leopard (2009), Scatter The Gold (2000) and Awesome Again (1997) are the latest Plate winners who did not race as two-year-olds.

The Queen's Plate is the first leg in the Canadian Triple Crown. The second leg is the C$500,000 Prince of Wales S., at 1 3/16 miles on Tuesday, July 28, at Fort Erie, while the C$500,000 Breeders' S., at 1 1/2 miles on the grass, August 16 at Woodbine, comprises the third and final leg. There have been seven Triple Crown winners since the concept was inaugurated in 1959, the first being New Providence in 1959, the latest being Wando in 2003.

Since 1956, the stakes record for the Plate is 2:01 4/5, set by Izvestia in 1990, when he also won by the largest margin, 13 lengths. Strait of Dover, the 2012 winner, owns the fastest Polytrack time since 2007 of 2:01.99. The longest-priced winner in the modern era (since 1956) is T J's Lucky Moon ($166) in 2002 while Maternal Pride is the highest-priced winner of all time, paying $193.35 in 1924. Since 1956, favorites have won 22 of 59 runnings (37.2 percent). However, Wando in 2003, and Eye of the Leopard in 2009, are the only Plate favorites to win in the last 20 editions.

Three other stakes, all of them on the grass, will be part of the Queen's Plate Day undercard -- the C$200,000 Dance Smartly (Can-G2), at 1 1/8 miles at 3:02 p.m., the C$150,000 Singspiel (Can-G3) at 1 1/2 miles at 4:18 p.m. and the C$200,000 Highlander (Can-G2) at six furlongs at 4:53 p.m. First race post time is noon.

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Belmont Oaks comes up tough for Lady Eli

Lady Eli will look to subdue her Belmont Oaks competition just like she did in the Wonder Again (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Despite the presence of undefeated Eclipse Award-finalist Lady Eli (Divine Park), Saturday's $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) came up with a full field of 14 runners to go 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's inner turf.

Lady Eli is tops in the field but faces some strong competition from the likes of American Oaks (G1) heroine Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule) and Irish invader Outstanding (Galileo).

The Chad Brown pupil opened her account with a nose win at Saratoga last August before shifting over to Belmont to take her stakes bow in the Miss Grillo S. (G3). She then shipped cross-country to Santa Anita Park for a decisive 2 3/4-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

That was enough for Lady Eli to be named a finalist for champion two-year-old filly, but she lost out to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway), who wrapped up the Eclipse when taking both the Delta Downs Princess S. (G3) and Starlet S. (G1) to end 2014. Lady Eli, on the other hand, didn't reappear in competition until April, when she captured the Appalachian S. (G3) at Keeneland.

The dark bay miss enters the Belmont Oaks Invitational off a half-length score in the nine-furlong Wonder Again S. at Belmont and will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has been aboard for all of Lady Eli's starts and retains the mount on Saturday.

California-based Spanish Queen will try to take a bite out of the Big Apple while visiting Belmont for the first time (Benoit Photos)
Spanish Queen has started even fewer times than Lady Eli, racking up a 3-1-0 mark from four career races. In the saddle for each of those was jockey Brice Blanc, who has the call back following a three-quarter length win in the 1 1/4-mile American Oaks at Santa Anita.

The Richard Baltas-trained Spanish Queen, who also took the Honeymoon S. (G2) following a close neck second in the Providencia S. (G3) at Santa Anita, will be joined in the gate by fellow American Oaks runners Consumer Credit (More Than Ready), who finished third, and fifth-placer Sharla Rae (Afleet Alex).

Outstanding is one of two international shippers in the Belmont Oaks and makes her U.S. debut for trainer Aidan O'Brien. The bay miss will be getting Lasix added for the first time, and brings a two-for-two 2015 record into the race under Colm O'Donoghue. Olorda (Lord of England), the other shipper, won't be adding Lasix in her stateside bow for trainer Micahel Figge but will get a local jockey in the form of John Velazquez in the saddle.

Some in the race have faced off already -- i.e. Spanish Queen, Consumer Credit, Sharla Rae -- and others are also looking to turn the tables on rivals. Among them are Pine Needles (Giant's Causeway), Itsonlyactingdad (Giant's Causeway) and Miss Chatelaine (Pulpit), the respective third, fourth and sixth behind Lady Eli in the Wonder Again, while Gypsy Judy (Kitalpha), third in the Penn Oaks, will be taking on that race's winner, Strict Compliance (Into Mischief), yet again.

Completing the Belmont Oaks Invitational field are Lady Zuzu (Dynaformer), who just missed by a head in the Regret S. (G3) most recently at Churchill Downs, and last-out allowance scorers Sentiero Italia (Medaglia d'Oro) and Daring Duchess (Arch), who are both making their stakes debuts in the race.

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Belmont Oaks comes up tough for Lady Eli

Lady Eli will look to subdue her Belmont Oaks competition just like she did in the Wonder Again (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Despite the presence of undefeated Eclipse Award-finalist Lady Eli (Divine Park), Saturday's $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) came up with a full field of 14 runners to go 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's inner turf.

Lady Eli is tops in the field but faces some strong competition from the likes of American Oaks (G1) heroine Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule) and Irish invader Outstanding (Galileo).

The Chad Brown pupil opened her account with a nose win at Saratoga last August before shifting over to Belmont to take her stakes bow in the Miss Grillo S. (G3). She then shipped cross-country to Santa Anita Park for a decisive 2 3/4-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

That was enough for Lady Eli to be named a finalist for champion two-year-old filly, but she lost out to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Take Charge Brandi (Giant's Causeway), who wrapped up the Eclipse when taking both the Delta Downs Princess S. (G3) and Starlet S. (G1) to end 2014. Lady Eli, on the other hand, didn't reappear in competition until April, when she captured the Appalachian S. (G3) at Keeneland.

The dark bay miss enters the Belmont Oaks Invitational off a half-length score in the nine-furlong Wonder Again S. at Belmont and will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has been aboard for all of Lady Eli's starts and retains the mount on Saturday.

California-based Spanish Queen will try to take a bite out of the Big Apple while visiting Belmont for the first time (Benoit Photos)
Spanish Queen has started even fewer times than Lady Eli, racking up a 3-1-0 mark from four career races. In the saddle for each of those was jockey Brice Blanc, who has the call back following a three-quarter length win in the 1 1/4-mile American Oaks at Santa Anita.

The Richard Baltas-trained Spanish Queen, who also took the Honeymoon S. (G2) following a close neck second in the Providencia S. (G3) at Santa Anita, will be joined in the gate by fellow American Oaks runners Consumer Credit (More Than Ready), who finished third, and fifth-placer Sharla Rae (Afleet Alex).

Outstanding is one of two international shippers in the Belmont Oaks and makes her U.S. debut for trainer Aidan O'Brien. The bay miss will be getting Lasix added for the first time, and brings a two-for-two 2015 record into the race under Colm O'Donoghue. Olorda (Lord of England), the other shipper, won't be adding Lasix in her stateside bow for trainer Micahel Figge but will get a local jockey in the form of John Velazquez in the saddle.

Some in the race have faced off already -- i.e. Spanish Queen, Consumer Credit, Sharla Rae -- and others are also looking to turn the tables on rivals. Among them are Pine Needles (Giant's Causeway), Itsonlyactingdad (Giant's Causeway) and Miss Chatelaine (Pulpit), the respective third, fourth and sixth behind Lady Eli in the Wonder Again, while Gypsy Judy (Kitalpha), third in the Penn Oaks, will be taking on that race's winner, Strict Compliance (Into Mischief), yet again.

Completing the Belmont Oaks Invitational field are Lady Zuzu (Dynaformer), who just missed by a head in the Regret S. (G3) most recently at Churchill Downs, and last-out allowance scorers Sentiero Italia (Medaglia d'Oro) and Daring Duchess (Arch), who are both making their stakes debuts in the race.

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Bolo brings turf game to Belmont Derby

Bolo has posted convincing wins from his last three turf attempts  (Benoit Photo)
Bolo (Temple City) traveled outside of California two months earlier, weakening to 12th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), an unsurprising outcome given he's never won on a dirt track. His best form is on turf, with the Carla Gaines trainee rebounding to easily capture a May 29 allowance in his first turf performance since December, and the stakes-winning colt is eligible to make a major impact shipping in for Saturday's $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1), one of six graded stakes on a strong Independence Day program.

A 2 3/4-length maiden winner on Del Mar's turf in late November, Bolo followed with a smashing 4 1/2-length decision in the grassy Eddie Logan at Santa Anita a month later. That led connections to try the main track and the dark bay sophomore earned a Kentucky berth with a pair of third-place efforts in the San Felipe (G3) and Santa Anita Derby (G1), stalling his development as a turf specialist. He's back on course presently, rolling to a 2 3/4-length decision in the aforementioned 1 1/8-mile turf allowance last time, and Saturday's 1 1/4-mile trip looks like no impediment given his stout bloodlines.

Rafael Bejarano retains the mount in the nine-horse field.

Divisidero has never run a poor race from four career starts (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Divisidero (Kitten's Joy) looms as a formidable opponent, following a fine tally in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs with a neck decision in the May 30 Pennine Ridge at Belmont Park. The late runner has captured three of four career starts for trainer Buff Bradley, the only setback being a troubled third in the Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream, and regular rider Rafael Hernandez will be up.

Takeover Target (Harlan's Holiday) just missed in second when making his stakes bow in the Pennine Ridge and is eligible to keep improving for trainer Chad Brown. Irad Ortiz Jr. sticks with the stalker, who has made all three career outings on Belmont's turf. Brown will also send out the Grade 2-winning juvenile Startup Nation (Temple City), who finished a respectable third when making his three-year-old debut in the Pennine Ridge. John Velazquez rides.

Force the Pass (Speightstown) will attempt to carry his winning form forward from the May 30 Penn Mile (G3) for Alan Goldberg and Joel Rosario will be back aboard the chestnut. Granny's Kitten (Kitten's Joy) missed by less than a length in the third after closing boldly in the Penn Mile, sustaining his first setback in his third career outing, and the bay colt will attempt to rebound in his second stakes appearance for Mike Maker. Julien Leparoux has the call.

Closing Bell (Tapit), a last-out maiden winner for Bill Mott, rounds out the U.S. contingent.

Canndal (Medicean), Group 2-placed in France, and Irish stakes winner Postulation (Harlan's Holiday) are international raiders for trainer Mikel Delzangles and Dermot Weld, respectively. And based on BRIS Class ratings, both colts merit serious respect on Saturday. Regular riders Christophe Soumillon (Canndal) and Patrick Smullen (Postulation) have also made the overseas journey.

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Bolo brings turf game to Belmont Derby

Bolo has posted convincing wins from his last three turf attempts  (Benoit Photo)
Bolo (Temple City) traveled outside of California two months earlier, weakening to 12th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), an unsurprising outcome given he's never won on a dirt track. His best form is on turf, with the Carla Gaines trainee rebounding to easily capture a May 29 allowance in his first turf performance since December, and the stakes-winning colt is eligible to make a major impact shipping in for Saturday's $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1), one of six graded stakes on a strong Independence Day program.

A 2 3/4-length maiden winner on Del Mar's turf in late November, Bolo followed with a smashing 4 1/2-length decision in the grassy Eddie Logan at Santa Anita a month later. That led connections to try the main track and the dark bay sophomore earned a Kentucky berth with a pair of third-place efforts in the San Felipe (G3) and Santa Anita Derby (G1), stalling his development as a turf specialist. He's back on course presently, rolling to a 2 3/4-length decision in the aforementioned 1 1/8-mile turf allowance last time, and Saturday's 1 1/4-mile trip looks like no impediment given his stout bloodlines.

Rafael Bejarano retains the mount in the nine-horse field.

Divisidero has never run a poor race from four career starts (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Divisidero (Kitten's Joy) looms as a formidable opponent, following a fine tally in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs with a neck decision in the May 30 Pennine Ridge at Belmont Park. The late runner has captured three of four career starts for trainer Buff Bradley, the only setback being a troubled third in the Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream, and regular rider Rafael Hernandez will be up.

Takeover Target (Harlan's Holiday) just missed in second when making his stakes bow in the Pennine Ridge and is eligible to keep improving for trainer Chad Brown. Irad Ortiz Jr. sticks with the stalker, who has made all three career outings on Belmont's turf. Brown will also send out the Grade 2-winning juvenile Startup Nation (Temple City), who finished a respectable third when making his three-year-old debut in the Pennine Ridge. John Velazquez rides.

Force the Pass (Speightstown) will attempt to carry his winning form forward from the May 30 Penn Mile (G3) for Alan Goldberg and Joel Rosario will be back aboard the chestnut. Granny's Kitten (Kitten's Joy) missed by less than a length in the third after closing boldly in the Penn Mile, sustaining his first setback in his third career outing, and the bay colt will attempt to rebound in his second stakes appearance for Mike Maker. Julien Leparoux has the call.

Closing Bell (Tapit), a last-out maiden winner for Bill Mott, rounds out the U.S. contingent.

Canndal (Medicean), Group 2-placed in France, and Irish stakes winner Postulation (Harlan's Holiday) are international raiders for trainer Mikel Delzangles and Dermot Weld, respectively. And based on BRIS Class ratings, both colts merit serious respect on Saturday. Regular riders Christophe Soumillon (Canndal) and Patrick Smullen (Postulation) have also made the overseas journey.

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Tonalist, Texas Red, Private Zone top Belmont dirt stakes

Tonalist will attempt to pull off the increasingly rare Belmont-Suburban double on Saturday (Joe Labozzetta/Adam Coglianese Photography)
While three-year-old grass horses are the focal point of Belmont Park's Stars and Stripes Day program Saturday, there will be stars aplenty participating in four graded stakes on the main track.

Tonalist (Tapit), last year's Belmont S. (G1) winner, will be a prohibitive favorite to become the first Belmont winner to come back and win the $500,000 Suburban H. (G2) since Lemon Drop Kid scored the double in 1999-2000.

The Christophe Clement trainee, who also captured the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and Peter Pan (G2) at three, kicked off his four-year-old campaign with a scintillating 3 3/4-length victory in the May 2 Westchester (G3) over a mile, but suffered his first defeat on the Belmont main track when second in last month's Metropolitan H. (G1), won in marvelous style by Honor Code (A.P. Indy).

Tonalist, who will race without blinkers for the first time this season, will face five others in the 1 1/4-mile test. Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle the uncoupled pair of Coach Inge (Big Brown), who took the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn (G2) by a neck in his stakes debut, and the classic-placed Mylute (Midnight Lute), who won first out for the trainer in a one-mile allowance May 29. Coach Inge could be the controlling speed in the Suburban.

Effinex (Mineshaft) was a game winner of the Excelsior (G3) at Aqueduct in April, but was pulled up in the June 6 Brooklyn after getting out on both turns of the one-lap event around Belmont's oval. Street Babe (Street Sense), unplaced twice since taking the Mineshaft H. (G3) at Fair Grounds in only his third career start, might show speed from post 1, while Brooklyn fifth-place finisher Neck 'n Neck (Flower Alley) seeks his first win since the Ack Ack H. (G3) at Churchill Downs in October 2012.

The $500,000 Dwyer (G3), a one-mile event for three-year-olds, marks the return to action of Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red (Afleet Alex), who was sidelined with foot problems following a second-place effort in the February 1 San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita and missed the classics.

Recovered from his foot issues, Texas Red gets back to work in the Dwyer (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Narrowly edged by American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in Eclipse Award voting as the nation's top two-year-old male following his 6 1/2-length Breeders' Cup romp, Texas Red will be guided by regular Kent Desormeaux, brother of trainer Keith Desormeaux.

Pletcher has a strong pair in the Dwyer as well, with Futurity (G2) and Nashua (G2) winner Blofeld (Quality Road) looking to rebound from his first career defeat in Churchill's $100,000 William Walker on April 25, and Tommy Macho (Macho Uno) exiting a sharp allowance win on the Belmont S. undercard.

Other notables in the field are Speighster (Speightstown), who has won two races by a combined 10 1/2 lengths for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, and the stakes-winning Bridget's Big Luvy (Tiz Wonderful).

Private Zone (Macho Uno), a two-time winner of the Vosburgh (G1) as well as last year's Cigar Mile (G1), shortens up to seven furlongs for the $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3). Third last out in the Met Mile, the Jorge Navarro charge was narrowly beat by Honor Code in the Gulfstream Park H. (G2) over a mile in his season debut before taking the seven-furlong Churchill Downs (G2) by more than four lengths.

Among his primary rivals are 2014 Belmont Sprint Championship winner Clearly Now (Horse Greeley), unplaced in three of four subsequent outings; last year's King's Bishop (G1) hero The Big Beast (Yes It's True), fourth in the Carter H. (G1) when last seen in April; and the stakes-winning Stallwalkin' Dude (City Place), runner-up in the True North (G2) and Donald LeVine Memorial last month.

The Grade 3-winning Texas-bred Promise Me Silver (Silver City), who saw her perfect eight-for-eight record end with a 10th-place finish in last month's Acorn (G1), hopes to get back on the winning track in the $150,000 Victory Ride (G3), a 6 1/2-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies.

Multiple stakes winner Enchanting Lady (Tale of the Cat), runner-up in the $150,000 Jersey Girl June 5, figures to attract support as will Beaumont S. (G2) vixen Miss Ella (Exchange Rate) and Miss Preakness (G3) winner Irish Jasper (First Defence).

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Tonalist, Texas Red, Private Zone top Belmont dirt stakes

Tonalist will attempt to pull off the increasingly rare Belmont-Suburban double on Saturday (Joe Labozzetta/Adam Coglianese Photography)
While three-year-old grass horses are the focal point of Belmont Park's Stars and Stripes Day program Saturday, there will be stars aplenty participating in four graded stakes on the main track.

Tonalist (Tapit), last year's Belmont S. (G1) winner, will be a prohibitive favorite to become the first Belmont winner to come back and win the $500,000 Suburban H. (G2) since Lemon Drop Kid scored the double in 1999-2000.

The Christophe Clement trainee, who also captured the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and Peter Pan (G2) at three, kicked off his four-year-old campaign with a scintillating 3 3/4-length victory in the May 2 Westchester (G3) over a mile, but suffered his first defeat on the Belmont main track when second in last month's Metropolitan H. (G1), won in marvelous style by Honor Code (A.P. Indy).

Tonalist, who will race without blinkers for the first time this season, will face five others in the 1 1/4-mile test. Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle the uncoupled pair of Coach Inge (Big Brown), who took the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn (G2) by a neck in his stakes debut, and the classic-placed Mylute (Midnight Lute), who won first out for the trainer in a one-mile allowance May 29. Coach Inge could be the controlling speed in the Suburban.

Effinex (Mineshaft) was a game winner of the Excelsior (G3) at Aqueduct in April, but was pulled up in the June 6 Brooklyn after getting out on both turns of the one-lap event around Belmont's oval. Street Babe (Street Sense), unplaced twice since taking the Mineshaft H. (G3) at Fair Grounds in only his third career start, might show speed from post 1, while Brooklyn fifth-place finisher Neck 'n Neck (Flower Alley) seeks his first win since the Ack Ack H. (G3) at Churchill Downs in October 2012.

The $500,000 Dwyer (G3), a one-mile event for three-year-olds, marks the return to action of Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red (Afleet Alex), who was sidelined with foot problems following a second-place effort in the February 1 San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita and missed the classics.

Recovered from his foot issues, Texas Red gets back to work in the Dwyer (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Narrowly edged by American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in Eclipse Award voting as the nation's top two-year-old male following his 6 1/2-length Breeders' Cup romp, Texas Red will be guided by regular Kent Desormeaux, brother of trainer Keith Desormeaux.

Pletcher has a strong pair in the Dwyer as well, with Futurity (G2) and Nashua (G2) winner Blofeld (Quality Road) looking to rebound from his first career defeat in Churchill's $100,000 William Walker on April 25, and Tommy Macho (Macho Uno) exiting a sharp allowance win on the Belmont S. undercard.

Other notables in the field are Speighster (Speightstown), who has won two races by a combined 10 1/2 lengths for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, and the stakes-winning Bridget's Big Luvy (Tiz Wonderful).

Private Zone (Macho Uno), a two-time winner of the Vosburgh (G1) as well as last year's Cigar Mile (G1), shortens up to seven furlongs for the $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3). Third last out in the Met Mile, the Jorge Navarro charge was narrowly beat by Honor Code in the Gulfstream Park H. (G2) over a mile in his season debut before taking the seven-furlong Churchill Downs (G2) by more than four lengths.

Among his primary rivals are 2014 Belmont Sprint Championship winner Clearly Now (Horse Greeley), unplaced in three of four subsequent outings; last year's King's Bishop (G1) hero The Big Beast (Yes It's True), fourth in the Carter H. (G1) when last seen in April; and the stakes-winning Stallwalkin' Dude (City Place), runner-up in the True North (G2) and Donald LeVine Memorial last month.

The Grade 3-winning Texas-bred Promise Me Silver (Silver City), who saw her perfect eight-for-eight record end with a 10th-place finish in last month's Acorn (G1), hopes to get back on the winning track in the $150,000 Victory Ride (G3), a 6 1/2-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies.

Multiple stakes winner Enchanting Lady (Tale of the Cat), runner-up in the $150,000 Jersey Girl June 5, figures to attract support as will Beaumont S. (G2) vixen Miss Ella (Exchange Rate) and Miss Preakness (G3) winner Irish Jasper (First Defence).

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Gimme Da Lute, Kentuckian highlight five-horse Los Alamitos Derby

Kentuckian has posted a pair of runaway victories and is bred to handle Saturday's added ground  (Benoit Photo)
Gimme Da Lute (Midnight Lute) and Kentuckian (Tiznow) each registered triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings pocketing graded stakes tallies at Santa Anita last time out, Gimme Da Lute earning a 101 for the June 7 Affirmed (G3) and Kentuckian a 101 in the May 10 Laz Barrerra (G3), and the promising sophomores will square off in Saturday's $350,000 Los Alamitos Derby (G2).

The 1 1/8-mile event features only a handful or three-year-olds, but San Felipe (G2) and Affirmed runner-up Prospect Park (Tapit) adds further quality to the five-horse cast.

Gimme Da Lute registered his first stakes tally in the restricted Echo Eddie in early April, rolling to a 5 1/4-length decision for Bob Baffert, and after a couple of placings versus open rivals in the Pat Day Mile (G3) and Chick Lang, the California-bred colt put it all together last time, earning his first graded tally by a half-length margin. Martin Garcia will be back aboard.

Kentuckian won his career debut by 11 lengths at Golden Gate Fields in early March and after finishing third as the odds-on favorite in the San Pedro at Santa Anita a month later, the $610,000 yearling purchase strode to an impressive 6 1/4-length tally in the seven-furlong Laz Barrerra. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gray colt will make his two-turn debut and return from a 55-day layoff with Mike Smith.

After a fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Prospect Park was being readied for a Kentucky Derby (G1) bid before an illness derailed those plans. He was redirected to the June 7 Affirmed, finishing second as the 3-5 choice, and the dark bay colt is eligible to show more Saturday for Cliff Sise Jr. Tyler Baze picks up the mount.

Runner-up in the Pat Day Mile two back, Pain and Misery (Bob and John) returns to graded company after a wire-to-wire victory in the June 6 Charles Taylor Derby at Albuquerque. Flavien Prat rides the likely front-runner. Rounding out the field is Follow Me Crev (Quality Road), who was claimed for $50,000 from a third-place effort last time and will make his stakes debut for new trainer Vladimir Cerin.

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Gimme Da Lute, Kentuckian highlight five-horse Los Alamitos Derby

Kentuckian has posted a pair of runaway victories and is bred to handle Saturday's added ground  (Benoit Photo)
Gimme Da Lute (Midnight Lute) and Kentuckian (Tiznow) each registered triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings pocketing graded stakes tallies at Santa Anita last time out, Gimme Da Lute earning a 101 for the June 7 Affirmed (G3) and Kentuckian a 101 in the May 10 Laz Barrerra (G3), and the promising sophomores will square off in Saturday's $350,000 Los Alamitos Derby (G2).

The 1 1/8-mile event features only a handful or three-year-olds, but San Felipe (G2) and Affirmed runner-up Prospect Park (Tapit) adds further quality to the five-horse cast.

Gimme Da Lute registered his first stakes tally in the restricted Echo Eddie in early April, rolling to a 5 1/4-length decision for Bob Baffert, and after a couple of placings versus open rivals in the Pat Day Mile (G3) and Chick Lang, the California-bred colt put it all together last time, earning his first graded tally by a half-length margin. Martin Garcia will be back aboard.

Kentuckian won his career debut by 11 lengths at Golden Gate Fields in early March and after finishing third as the odds-on favorite in the San Pedro at Santa Anita a month later, the $610,000 yearling purchase strode to an impressive 6 1/4-length tally in the seven-furlong Laz Barrerra. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained gray colt will make his two-turn debut and return from a 55-day layoff with Mike Smith.

After a fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Prospect Park was being readied for a Kentucky Derby (G1) bid before an illness derailed those plans. He was redirected to the June 7 Affirmed, finishing second as the 3-5 choice, and the dark bay colt is eligible to show more Saturday for Cliff Sise Jr. Tyler Baze picks up the mount.

Runner-up in the Pat Day Mile two back, Pain and Misery (Bob and John) returns to graded company after a wire-to-wire victory in the June 6 Charles Taylor Derby at Albuquerque. Flavien Prat rides the likely front-runner. Rounding out the field is Follow Me Crev (Quality Road), who was claimed for $50,000 from a third-place effort last time and will make his stakes debut for new trainer Vladimir Cerin.

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Baker hoping to strike Queen's Plate gold with trio of runners

Academic schooling ahead of Sunday's Queen's Plate (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Trainer Reade Baker will saddle a trio of top contenders in Sunday's $1-million Queen's Plate at Woodbine, led by Woodbine Oaks-winning filly Academic (Henny Hughes) and the maiden-winning colts Bear At Last (Marchfield) and Breaking Lucky (Lookin at Lucky).

Academic, with Justin Stein up, romped to a 66-1 score in the Woodbine Oaks in just her second start of the year. In the process, the bay miss also set a new track record of 1:48.86 for nine furlongs, nearly one second faster than it took Danish Dynaformer (Dynaformer) to win the Plate Trial one race before.

"She came out of it great," Baker said. "We'll bring her over there on race day and hope for the best."

Academic made three juvenile starts, topped by a neck second on October 12 in her first run around two turns. She graduated in her sophomore debut with a smart neck score prior to her Oaks shocker.

Sending a longshot into the Oaks didn't phase Baker.

"It was a huge opportunity," he said. "She wasn't really ready for her race last year against (Oaks rival) Shez a Masterpiece (Mast Track), who was supposedly one of the better fillies around here. I thought we could have beat her (Shez a Masterpiece) that day, but we were maybe a little green or not fit enough. If you make her equal to her (Shez a Masterpiece), why not give her the opportunity in the Oaks. It's a one shot chance just like the Plate."

Baker believes Academic, with Stein returning, is capable of another surprise score on Sunday.

"I've had luck with small fillies," the horseman stated. "Size wise, she's comparable to Bear Now and she made $1.3-million."

Bear At Last, a one-time winner in 11 outings, will be piloted once again on Sunday by Rico Walcott. The dark bay finished seventh in the Plate Trial, a race in which he was shuffled back at the turn.

"He was definitely compromised, but I don't know what it means as far as the results go, because there were lots of horses compromised," Baker noted. "If you watch close, at the end of the race he's going as fast as anyone else and wasn't beat that far.

"He's bred to go the distance, so we'll give him a chance. Rico thinks it's a good idea, so we'll bring him out and try again."

With 11 races under his belt, the rallying Bear At Last will be, by far, the most experienced horse in the Plate field.

"He's certainly fit enough, we don't have to worry about that," Baker remarked. "It's nice to have a horse with a different kind of style, because you don't know how the track will play that day."

Breaking Lucky broke his maiden at Woodbine in April, then just missed by a head when second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer. Last out, with Antonio Gallardo up, the chestnut colt finished a disappointing seventh in an allowance going the same distance while facing older company.

"He was rank around the first turn, he kept throwing his head," Baker explained. "I don't mind the regression in the last race, we're looking for a booming race this time. We're looking for his lifetime best and I think we'll get it."

At press time, Baker had yet to decide who will ride the chestnut in the Plate. 

With three contenders in the mix, Baker is quietly optimistic of earning his first Plate score in Sunday's test. However, the trainer is also most wary of another veteran horseman when assessing the Plate field.

"You always have to worry about Roger Attfield in the Plate. He's won the race eight times," he said.

And as for his own chances?

"I've been here at Woodbine a long time, almost 50 years. I came with my sister to watch Northern Dancer win the Plate in 1964," Baker smiled. "It's been a long time. If it's in the cards, it's in the cards. You can't worry about horses getting beat. Secretariat got beat, it happens."

In other Queen's Plate news:

He'll be a longshot when the gates open for the 156th running of the Queen's Plate, but Milwaukee Mist (Milwaukee Brew) has certainly shown a penchant for outrunning his odds. The bay gelding broke his maiden at Turfway Park on January 3 at 29-1, ran fifth in the in the 96Rock S. at 24-1, then filled the third spot in the John Battaglia Memorial S. at 66-1.

"He's taken on some pretty tough competition here in the U.S.," trainer Pavel Matejka said. "I really think he's going to like the (Plate distance of) 1 1/4 miles. Hopefully, we can get an outside post, get him to settle and then make a nice run when he's called on."

Gary Boulanger, who won the Plate in 2001 with filly Dancethruthedawn, will pilot Milwaukee Mist in Sunday's "Gallop for the Guineas." The sophomore enters the race off a trio of turf starts in Kentucky, including a runner-up effort at Keeneland in April

"We're all very excited to be part of this race," Matejka added. "We freshened him up with some nice works and we feel good about how he's coming into the race. Hopefully, our first chance to be in the Queen's Plate is a memorable one."

Ault will attempt to become the first maiden to win the Queen's Plate since 2000 (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
In 2012, trainer Dan Vella won the Queen's Plate with Strait of Dover, a Canyon Farms homebred son of English Channel. Vella returns on Sunday with the same connections with yet another son of English Channel, the improving chestnut Ault.

The British Columbia-bred colt has yet to break his maiden, running second in a pair of sprints as a juvenile before heading to Florida for the winter. Following a pair of off-the-board results on the Gulfstream turf, Vella returned to Woodbine hoping to race the colt into the Plate.

"The Plate was really our plan right from the start. We took him to Florida and we were hoping that we could accomplish something on the turf down there and push him forward," Vella explained. "Unfortunately, that didn't work out so it put us back a step and then we got back to Toronto and he had a bruised foot for a while which set us back a bit more."

The patient Vella brought Ault back to the races in a June 6 maiden versus older company. Sent to post at odds of 8-1, and sitting 10 lengths off the pace at the second call, Ault dug down deep to finish a rallying second behind the five-year-old Impetuous Act (Harlington).

"We thought he ran a huge race and really thought he improved a lot and decided to go ahead (to the Plate)," Vella said. "He's very versatile, that's what is best about him. He can show a bit of speed if you want. He can show a turn of foot to run well going short but he'll turn off if you want him to. He's versatile and that's an asset in a big field."

Vella isn't too concerned about starting a maiden in the Plate.

"He got beat a neck last time or we wouldn't be having that discussion," he stated. "I don't think it matters. He was closing hard on much older horses on a day that the pace favored the older horse...we think he'll improve a lot off his last race. I don't think he knows any different."

Ault, should he win, would be the fourth maiden to win the Plate since 1952, the last maiden Plate winner being Scatter the Gold in 2000.

Thursday's Queen's Plate morning draw from the Woodbine walking ring will be streamed live at www.queensplate.com.

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Baker hoping to strike Queen's Plate gold with trio of runners

Academic schooling ahead of Sunday's Queen's Plate (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
Trainer Reade Baker will saddle a trio of top contenders in Sunday's $1-million Queen's Plate at Woodbine, led by Woodbine Oaks-winning filly Academic (Henny Hughes) and the maiden-winning colts Bear At Last (Marchfield) and Breaking Lucky (Lookin at Lucky).

Academic, with Justin Stein up, romped to a 66-1 score in the Woodbine Oaks in just her second start of the year. In the process, the bay miss also set a new track record of 1:48.86 for nine furlongs, nearly one second faster than it took Danish Dynaformer (Dynaformer) to win the Plate Trial one race before.

"She came out of it great," Baker said. "We'll bring her over there on race day and hope for the best."

Academic made three juvenile starts, topped by a neck second on October 12 in her first run around two turns. She graduated in her sophomore debut with a smart neck score prior to her Oaks shocker.

Sending a longshot into the Oaks didn't phase Baker.

"It was a huge opportunity," he said. "She wasn't really ready for her race last year against (Oaks rival) Shez a Masterpiece (Mast Track), who was supposedly one of the better fillies around here. I thought we could have beat her (Shez a Masterpiece) that day, but we were maybe a little green or not fit enough. If you make her equal to her (Shez a Masterpiece), why not give her the opportunity in the Oaks. It's a one shot chance just like the Plate."

Baker believes Academic, with Stein returning, is capable of another surprise score on Sunday.

"I've had luck with small fillies," the horseman stated. "Size wise, she's comparable to Bear Now and she made $1.3-million."

Bear At Last, a one-time winner in 11 outings, will be piloted once again on Sunday by Rico Walcott. The dark bay finished seventh in the Plate Trial, a race in which he was shuffled back at the turn.

"He was definitely compromised, but I don't know what it means as far as the results go, because there were lots of horses compromised," Baker noted. "If you watch close, at the end of the race he's going as fast as anyone else and wasn't beat that far.

"He's bred to go the distance, so we'll give him a chance. Rico thinks it's a good idea, so we'll bring him out and try again."

With 11 races under his belt, the rallying Bear At Last will be, by far, the most experienced horse in the Plate field.

"He's certainly fit enough, we don't have to worry about that," Baker remarked. "It's nice to have a horse with a different kind of style, because you don't know how the track will play that day."

Breaking Lucky broke his maiden at Woodbine in April, then just missed by a head when second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer. Last out, with Antonio Gallardo up, the chestnut colt finished a disappointing seventh in an allowance going the same distance while facing older company.

"He was rank around the first turn, he kept throwing his head," Baker explained. "I don't mind the regression in the last race, we're looking for a booming race this time. We're looking for his lifetime best and I think we'll get it."

At press time, Baker had yet to decide who will ride the chestnut in the Plate. 

With three contenders in the mix, Baker is quietly optimistic of earning his first Plate score in Sunday's test. However, the trainer is also most wary of another veteran horseman when assessing the Plate field.

"You always have to worry about Roger Attfield in the Plate. He's won the race eight times," he said.

And as for his own chances?

"I've been here at Woodbine a long time, almost 50 years. I came with my sister to watch Northern Dancer win the Plate in 1964," Baker smiled. "It's been a long time. If it's in the cards, it's in the cards. You can't worry about horses getting beat. Secretariat got beat, it happens."

In other Queen's Plate news:

He'll be a longshot when the gates open for the 156th running of the Queen's Plate, but Milwaukee Mist (Milwaukee Brew) has certainly shown a penchant for outrunning his odds. The bay gelding broke his maiden at Turfway Park on January 3 at 29-1, ran fifth in the in the 96Rock S. at 24-1, then filled the third spot in the John Battaglia Memorial S. at 66-1.

"He's taken on some pretty tough competition here in the U.S.," trainer Pavel Matejka said. "I really think he's going to like the (Plate distance of) 1 1/4 miles. Hopefully, we can get an outside post, get him to settle and then make a nice run when he's called on."

Gary Boulanger, who won the Plate in 2001 with filly Dancethruthedawn, will pilot Milwaukee Mist in Sunday's "Gallop for the Guineas." The sophomore enters the race off a trio of turf starts in Kentucky, including a runner-up effort at Keeneland in April

"We're all very excited to be part of this race," Matejka added. "We freshened him up with some nice works and we feel good about how he's coming into the race. Hopefully, our first chance to be in the Queen's Plate is a memorable one."

Ault will attempt to become the first maiden to win the Queen's Plate since 2000 (WEG/Michael Burns Photography)
In 2012, trainer Dan Vella won the Queen's Plate with Strait of Dover, a Canyon Farms homebred son of English Channel. Vella returns on Sunday with the same connections with yet another son of English Channel, the improving chestnut Ault.

The British Columbia-bred colt has yet to break his maiden, running second in a pair of sprints as a juvenile before heading to Florida for the winter. Following a pair of off-the-board results on the Gulfstream turf, Vella returned to Woodbine hoping to race the colt into the Plate.

"The Plate was really our plan right from the start. We took him to Florida and we were hoping that we could accomplish something on the turf down there and push him forward," Vella explained. "Unfortunately, that didn't work out so it put us back a step and then we got back to Toronto and he had a bruised foot for a while which set us back a bit more."

The patient Vella brought Ault back to the races in a June 6 maiden versus older company. Sent to post at odds of 8-1, and sitting 10 lengths off the pace at the second call, Ault dug down deep to finish a rallying second behind the five-year-old Impetuous Act (Harlington).

"We thought he ran a huge race and really thought he improved a lot and decided to go ahead (to the Plate)," Vella said. "He's very versatile, that's what is best about him. He can show a bit of speed if you want. He can show a turn of foot to run well going short but he'll turn off if you want him to. He's versatile and that's an asset in a big field."

Vella isn't too concerned about starting a maiden in the Plate.

"He got beat a neck last time or we wouldn't be having that discussion," he stated. "I don't think it matters. He was closing hard on much older horses on a day that the pace favored the older horse...we think he'll improve a lot off his last race. I don't think he knows any different."

Ault, should he win, would be the fourth maiden to win the Plate since 1952, the last maiden Plate winner being Scatter the Gold in 2000.

Thursday's Queen's Plate morning draw from the Woodbine walking ring will be streamed live at www.queensplate.com.

Bet Horseracing Free Online at TwinSpires.com

Coffee Clique, Testa Rossi headline Penny Memorial

Grade 1 winner Coffee Clique is the most accomplished entrant in the Dr. James Penny Memorial (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Graded stakes winners Coffee Clique (Medaglia d'Oro) and Testa Rossi (Dr Fong) each seek to halt losing streaks in Saturday's $200,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial H. (G3) at Parx Racing, a 1 1/16-mile grass event for fillies and mares.

Coffee Clique, who went three-for-three in an abbreviated 2014 campaign with wins in the Just a Game (G1) and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), has dropped her first three outings this year. Third in the March 28 Honey Fox (G2) following a layoff of more than nine months, she was subsequently second and sixth, respectively, when defending her Distaff Turf Mile and Just a Game titles.

Testa Rossi, who has not crossed the wire first since taking the 2014 Florida Oaks (G3), was elevated to first in the January 31 Endeavour (G3), also at Tampa Bay Downs, but was fourth in the Santa Ana (G2) and fifth in the Beaugay (G3) in her two most recent starts for trainer Chad Brown.

Another mare with a graded win to her credit is the five-year-old Nellie Cashman (Mineshaft), who took the 2013 Virginia Oaks (G3). Fourth in the Penny Memorial last year, she took the $100,000 Dahlia at Pimlico in mid-April and was most recent fifth in the $82,000 Miss Liberty at Monmouth Park.

Others likely to attract support are the multiple Grade 3-placed Photo Call (Galileo), who was cross-entered to the $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont on Friday; Baffle Me (First Samurai), who has won multiple stakes at Gulfstream and Belmont in recent seasons; and Distorted Beauty (Invasor), who's placed in the Pebbles and Intercontinental at Belmont.

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Coffee Clique, Testa Rossi headline Penny Memorial

Grade 1 winner Coffee Clique is the most accomplished entrant in the Dr. James Penny Memorial (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)
Graded stakes winners Coffee Clique (Medaglia d'Oro) and Testa Rossi (Dr Fong) each seek to halt losing streaks in Saturday's $200,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial H. (G3) at Parx Racing, a 1 1/16-mile grass event for fillies and mares.

Coffee Clique, who went three-for-three in an abbreviated 2014 campaign with wins in the Just a Game (G1) and Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), has dropped her first three outings this year. Third in the March 28 Honey Fox (G2) following a layoff of more than nine months, she was subsequently second and sixth, respectively, when defending her Distaff Turf Mile and Just a Game titles.

Testa Rossi, who has not crossed the wire first since taking the 2014 Florida Oaks (G3), was elevated to first in the January 31 Endeavour (G3), also at Tampa Bay Downs, but was fourth in the Santa Ana (G2) and fifth in the Beaugay (G3) in her two most recent starts for trainer Chad Brown.

Another mare with a graded win to her credit is the five-year-old Nellie Cashman (Mineshaft), who took the 2013 Virginia Oaks (G3). Fourth in the Penny Memorial last year, she took the $100,000 Dahlia at Pimlico in mid-April and was most recent fifth in the $82,000 Miss Liberty at Monmouth Park.

Others likely to attract support are the multiple Grade 3-placed Photo Call (Galileo), who was cross-entered to the $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont on Friday; Baffle Me (First Samurai), who has won multiple stakes at Gulfstream and Belmont in recent seasons; and Distorted Beauty (Invasor), who's placed in the Pebbles and Intercontinental at Belmont.

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In brief

Displaying less early speed than usual worked out for Red Rifle (Giant's Causeway) in Wednesday's $122,942 Dominion Day (Can-G3) at Woodbine. A tracking sixth early in the 1 1/4-mile event on Polytrack, the five-year-old gelding swooped to the lead by midstretch and fended off an inside bid from Florida Won (Birdstone) to win by 1 1/4 lengths as the 2-1 favorite. Owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables and trained by Todd Pletcher, Red Rifle completed the distance in 2:01 4/5 under Alan Garcia. This was the first stakes win of the year for Red Rifle, who placed in the Mineshaft H. (G3) and Excelsior (G3) but was out of the money in the New Orleans H. (G2) and Belmont Gold Cup earlier this term. He was a three-time stakes winner previously, including a wire-to-wire score in the 10-furlong Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) last November. His record now stands at 18-6-5-1, $546,306...

Earlier in the Canada Day program at Woodbine Wednesday, Endless Light (Pivotal) posted a 10-1 upset of the $84,682 Sweet Briar Too, defeating odds-on choice Hillaby (Distorted Humor) by three-quarters of a length in the seven-furlong, Polytrack race for fillies and mares. Owned by Jal Dastur and trained by Mark Frostad, the five-year-old mare took her stakes debut in a time of 1:21 4/5 under Emma-Jayne Wilson. Second three times before breaking her maiden on turf at Leicester in England in 2013, the lightly-raced chestnut preceded this victory with two runner-up finishes in grass allowances at Gulfstream and Woodbine. From two wins and five seconds, she's now earned $73,466...

Friday's $150,000 Molly Pitcher (G3) at Monmouth Park, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, features a rematch between Stiffed (Stephen Got Even) and Got Lucky (A.P. Indy), the one-two finishers in the $97,000 Monmouth Beach on May 24. On that day, Stiffed rallied from 10 lengths back to post a 34-1 upset by a half-length over Got Lucky, a multiple Grade 2-placed four-year-old who was among the betting favorites. Also among the field of seven is Shayjolie (Indian Charlie), a stakes winner at Aqueduct in March who has gone unplaced in two starts since finishing a narrowly-beaten third in the Top Flight H. (G3)...

Trainer Christophe Clement will send out a pair of top contenders, Zindaya (More Than Ready) and Marbre Rose (Smart Strike), in Friday's $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont Park. The four-year-old fillies finished one-two in the June 4 Intercontinental, with Zindaya improving her mark to three-for-three on Belmont's turf with the 2 1/4-length decision over her favored stablemate. Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir), last seen winning the My Charmer (G3) at Gulfstream Park West in late November, will make her first appearance for trainer Chad Brown in the one-mile turf affair and Grade 2 heroine Emotional Kitten (Kitten's Joy), most recently second in the Gallorette H. (G3), is also part of the 10-horse field...

Jack Disney, a longtime sports writer with the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner, who went on to serve as Director of Publicity at Hollywood Park and who was an integral part of Santa Anita's publicity efforts for many years, passed away at his home in Irvine, California, on Monday at the age of 80 following a long bout with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (C.O.P.D.). "Jack's love and enthusiasm for sports was evident in all of his reporting," said former Santa Anita General Manager George Haines. "Jack built thousands of relationships over the years here in L.A. and these were of great benefit to him and all of us here at Santa Anita. He was just a class act and he was very well liked by our jockeys and horsemen. He will be sorely missed and my best wishes go to his wife and family." Disney enjoyed some of his greatest success late in life -- as a Thoroughbred owner. Calling upon his close ties to the sports community, Disney and his twin brother, Doug, formed "Indizguys" Stable about 10 years ago. The stable's best horse was On the Acorn, a claim that went on to win the 2007 San Juan Capistrano H. (G2) and the 2007-08 editions of the Jim Murray Memorial H. (G2). In addition to his wife, Emily, and brother, Doug, Jack Disney is survived by his sons, Rick and Mitchell, and two grandchildren. Services are pending...

Jim Rome -- a prominent Thoroughbred owner and the host of "The Jim Rome Show" on CBS Sports Radio and "Jim Rome On Showtime" -- will deliver the keynote address when OwnerView, The Jockey Club, and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) host the second Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Hallandale Beach, Florida, in January 2016. The conference will be held at Gulfstream Park from January 11-14 during the week leading up to the 45th annual Eclipse Awards Dinner, which is scheduled for January 16. Rome has experienced significant success campaigning horses under the name of Jungle Racing LLC. Mizdirection (Mizzen Mast) was a two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner and earned more than $1.7 million. Shared Belief (Candy Ride), the 2013 Eclipse Award-winning champion two-year-old male, has won five Grade 1 events and 10 of 12 races overall, including the Santa Anita H., and is currently ranked behind only Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in the weekly NTRA National Thoroughbred Poll. Attendees at the owner conference will enjoy two days of conference presentations, a welcome reception at Gulfstream Park's paddock, a gala dinner at Turnberry Isle Resort, a day of racing, and multiple opportunities to network with panelists and industry personnel alike. Gary Player -- a legend in the golfing world and a long-time owner, breeder and advocate of Thoroughbred aftercare -- delivered the keynote address at last year's conference. Conference details, including the schedule of events, online registration, host hotel information, other tourism tips, are available at ownerview.com...

The catalog for the inaugural Barretts Select Yearling Sale is now online and will be mailed soon. The auction of 68 yearlings will be held on the grounds of the Del Mar Racetrack August 15 starting approximately 30 minutes after the last race. Barretts has instituted for the first time an "Also Eligible List" which begins with Hip No. 70 in the catalog and will allow horses to "scratch into the sale" if a yearling numerically below them (in terms of hip numbers) is withdrawn. The yearlings will be stabled inside the Del Mar Horse Show Arena adjacent to the Sales Pavilion.

In brief

Displaying less early speed than usual worked out for Red Rifle (Giant's Causeway) in Wednesday's $122,942 Dominion Day (Can-G3) at Woodbine. A tracking sixth early in the 1 1/4-mile event on Polytrack, the five-year-old gelding swooped to the lead by midstretch and fended off an inside bid from Florida Won (Birdstone) to win by 1 1/4 lengths as the 2-1 favorite. Owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables and trained by Todd Pletcher, Red Rifle completed the distance in 2:01 4/5 under Alan Garcia. This was the first stakes win of the year for Red Rifle, who placed in the Mineshaft H. (G3) and Excelsior (G3) but was out of the money in the New Orleans H. (G2) and Belmont Gold Cup earlier this term. He was a three-time stakes winner previously, including a wire-to-wire score in the 10-furlong Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) last November. His record now stands at 18-6-5-1, $546,306...

Earlier in the Canada Day program at Woodbine Wednesday, Endless Light (Pivotal) posted a 10-1 upset of the $84,682 Sweet Briar Too, defeating odds-on choice Hillaby (Distorted Humor) by three-quarters of a length in the seven-furlong, Polytrack race for fillies and mares. Owned by Jal Dastur and trained by Mark Frostad, the five-year-old mare took her stakes debut in a time of 1:21 4/5 under Emma-Jayne Wilson. Second three times before breaking her maiden on turf at Leicester in England in 2013, the lightly-raced chestnut preceded this victory with two runner-up finishes in grass allowances at Gulfstream and Woodbine. From two wins and five seconds, she's now earned $73,466...

Friday's $150,000 Molly Pitcher (G3) at Monmouth Park, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, features a rematch between Stiffed (Stephen Got Even) and Got Lucky (A.P. Indy), the one-two finishers in the $97,000 Monmouth Beach on May 24. On that day, Stiffed rallied from 10 lengths back to post a 34-1 upset by a half-length over Got Lucky, a multiple Grade 2-placed four-year-old who was among the betting favorites. Also among the field of seven is Shayjolie (Indian Charlie), a stakes winner at Aqueduct in March who has gone unplaced in two starts since finishing a narrowly-beaten third in the Top Flight H. (G3)...

Trainer Christophe Clement will send out a pair of top contenders, Zindaya (More Than Ready) and Marbre Rose (Smart Strike), in Friday's $100,000 Perfect Sting at Belmont Park. The four-year-old fillies finished one-two in the June 4 Intercontinental, with Zindaya improving her mark to three-for-three on Belmont's turf with the 2 1/4-length decision over her favored stablemate. Daring Kathy (Wildcat Heir), last seen winning the My Charmer (G3) at Gulfstream Park West in late November, will make her first appearance for trainer Chad Brown in the one-mile turf affair and Grade 2 heroine Emotional Kitten (Kitten's Joy), most recently second in the Gallorette H. (G3), is also part of the 10-horse field...

Jack Disney, a longtime sports writer with the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner, who went on to serve as Director of Publicity at Hollywood Park and who was an integral part of Santa Anita's publicity efforts for many years, passed away at his home in Irvine, California, on Monday at the age of 80 following a long bout with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (C.O.P.D.). "Jack's love and enthusiasm for sports was evident in all of his reporting," said former Santa Anita General Manager George Haines. "Jack built thousands of relationships over the years here in L.A. and these were of great benefit to him and all of us here at Santa Anita. He was just a class act and he was very well liked by our jockeys and horsemen. He will be sorely missed and my best wishes go to his wife and family." Disney enjoyed some of his greatest success late in life -- as a Thoroughbred owner. Calling upon his close ties to the sports community, Disney and his twin brother, Doug, formed "Indizguys" Stable about 10 years ago. The stable's best horse was On the Acorn, a claim that went on to win the 2007 San Juan Capistrano H. (G2) and the 2007-08 editions of the Jim Murray Memorial H. (G2). In addition to his wife, Emily, and brother, Doug, Jack Disney is survived by his sons, Rick and Mitchell, and two grandchildren. Services are pending...

Jim Rome -- a prominent Thoroughbred owner and the host of "The Jim Rome Show" on CBS Sports Radio and "Jim Rome On Showtime" -- will deliver the keynote address when OwnerView, The Jockey Club, and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) host the second Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Hallandale Beach, Florida, in January 2016. The conference will be held at Gulfstream Park from January 11-14 during the week leading up to the 45th annual Eclipse Awards Dinner, which is scheduled for January 16. Rome has experienced significant success campaigning horses under the name of Jungle Racing LLC. Mizdirection (Mizzen Mast) was a two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner and earned more than $1.7 million. Shared Belief (Candy Ride), the 2013 Eclipse Award-winning champion two-year-old male, has won five Grade 1 events and 10 of 12 races overall, including the Santa Anita H., and is currently ranked behind only Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in the weekly NTRA National Thoroughbred Poll. Attendees at the owner conference will enjoy two days of conference presentations, a welcome reception at Gulfstream Park's paddock, a gala dinner at Turnberry Isle Resort, a day of racing, and multiple opportunities to network with panelists and industry personnel alike. Gary Player -- a legend in the golfing world and a long-time owner, breeder and advocate of Thoroughbred aftercare -- delivered the keynote address at last year's conference. Conference details, including the schedule of events, online registration, host hotel information, other tourism tips, are available at ownerview.com...

The catalog for the inaugural Barretts Select Yearling Sale is now online and will be mailed soon. The auction of 68 yearlings will be held on the grounds of the Del Mar Racetrack August 15 starting approximately 30 minutes after the last race. Barretts has instituted for the first time an "Also Eligible List" which begins with Hip No. 70 in the catalog and will allow horses to "scratch into the sale" if a yearling numerically below them (in terms of hip numbers) is withdrawn. The yearlings will be stabled inside the Del Mar Horse Show Arena adjacent to the Sales Pavilion.

Features

HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

JULY 3, 2015

by Dick Powell

The second annual Stars and Stripes Festival is this Saturday at Belmont Park and the fireworks begin in race six on the Fourth of July racecard. Luckily, the heavy rain that hit the New York metropolitan area is over and the races should be conducted under Fast and Firm conditions.

Race six is the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track for three-year-old fillies. Next comes the $500,000 Dwyer Stakes (G2) for three-year-olds going a mile on the main track.

The marquee event of the day, the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1) for three-year-olds at a mile and a quarter, is race eight. Despite the large purse and efforts to entice international shippers, this year's Derby only drew nine entrants with just two coming in from overseas.

CANNDAL (Medicean) is from the powerful stable of the Aga Khan and won his first race the second time out this year, traveling Saturday's distance on good turf at Longchamp in Paris. He came back with a good third going 11 furlongs on soft turf in a Group 2, setting the pace from the start and leading to deep stretch. The second-place horse that day came back to run seventh and 10th in his next two starts. Canndal exits a troubled second versus listed rivals, elevated one spot by the stewards after being sawed off in the stretch, and will not use the diuretic Lasix.

POSTULATION (Harlan's Holiday) ships in for Juddmonte Farms with decent form in Ireland. He won his last race going this distance at The Curragh and his best race might have been his career debut when beaten only four lengths by Gleneagles (Galileo), the highest rated miler in Europe.

Trainer Dermot Weld is a legend in Ireland but familiar to race fans all over the world. In 1990, he won the Belmont Stakes (G1) with Go and Go (Be My Guest). He's won the Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1), Australia's most important race, twice, sending out Vintage Crop (Rousillon) in 1993 and Media Puzzle (Theatrical) in 2002. When Weld ships, as Woody Stephens used to say, he's here for a reason, not the season.

In the $1 million Belmont Oaks (G1), 14 three-year-old fillies are entered for the 1 1/4-mile race on the inner turf course but only two international shippers made the trip. OLORDA (Lord of England) is from the powerful international stable of Martin Schwartz, who has won major stakes in America with Euro shippers Stacelita (Monsun), heroine of the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) and Flower Bowl (G1); Alterite (Literato), who won the Garden City Stakes (G1); Zagora (Green Tune), winner of the Diana Stakes (G1) and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1); and Samitar (Rock of Gibraltar), who won the Garden City.

All were trained over here by Chad Brown and Olorda has similar credentials, with the above fillies all improving once in America. She won a Group 3 two starts back going nine furlongs on soft turf at Longchamp, her first start out of Germany, and came back to finish third in a Group 1 last time, going Saturday's distance on good turf. The winner came back to run 11th in the Prix Diane (Fr-G1) next out but had an excuse after breaking impossibly from post 17.

The other international runner in the Oaks is OUTSTANDING (Galileo), who appears to be rounding into form for Aidan O'Brien. After running poorly in two starts last year, she's captured both attempts in 2015. Even though she missed the Classics in Europe this year, Outstanding has the look of a filly that will continue to improve.

She broke her maiden going a mile on yielding turf in a 20-horse field at Naas in Ireland, returning off a six-month layoff in her seasonal bow, and Outstanding came back at Saturday's distance to win by almost three lengths last time, making all the running on a good turf course. She adds Lasix and should get ground that she favors.

O'Brien not only dominates European racing but is equally dangerous when he ships to North America. He almost won the Belmont Derby last year with Adelaide (Galileo), who went on to win the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park; Cape Blanco (Galileo), winner of the Joe Hirsch Invitational Stakes (G1), the Man o' War Stakes (G1) and Arlington Million (G1); George Vancouver (Henrythenavigator), who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1); and Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winners St. Nicholas Abbey (Montjeu) and Magician (Galileo).

Outstanding is a full-sister to Magician and looks ready to take another move up the class ladder. She draws outside and if the race is run slowly, she will be losing ground every step of the way.

One interesting point in the Belmont Oaks is that all but one filly is nominated for the Breeders' Cup. The one that is not, Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule), is also the only starter to win going 10 furlongs at the Grade 1 level, capturing the American Oaks (G1) last out. The $535,000 winner's purse could go a long way to get her supplemented.

Finally, the one to beat in the Oaks is Lady Eli (Divine Park) who is undefeated in five starts. Last year, I was not that strong on her in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (G1) after a pair of rather slow wins beforehand. She looked great with her explosive kick in the stretch at Santa Anita and has come back this year with two easy wins, but neither was very fast.

In the Oaks, against 13 other rivals, Lady Eli draws inside with Irad Ortiz Jr. and the question facing her surrounds her finishing kick; will she have the same explosion going 10 furlongs as she's displayed at middle distances? At a short price I am betting she doesn't.

Results

NORTH AMERICAN GRADED STAKES RESULTS

DOMINION DAY S. (CAN-G3), WO, $122,942, 3YO/UP, 1 1/4M, 7-1.
5—RED RIFLE, g, 5, Giant's Causeway--May Night, by Gulch. ($250,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC, B-Twin Creeks Farm, Tom Clark & Nancy Clark (KY), T-Todd A. Pletcher, J-Alan Garcia, $72,036.
1—Florida Won, c, 4, Birdstone--Grand Portege, by Grand Slam. ($385,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Live Oak Plantation, B-Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd (KY), $24,012.
4—Pender Harbour, g, 7, Philanthropist--Uproar, by Hail the Ruckus. ($15,782 '09 ONTSEP). O-Andrews, Dennis, Lazaruk, Sandra and Giffin, Rob and Roberta, B-Gardiner Farms Limited (ON), $15,848.
Also Ran: Patrioticandproud, Smooth Stone, Midnight Aria, Mystery Train (ARG).
Winning Time: 2:01 4/5 (ft)
Margins: 1 1/4, 2HF, 3 3/4.
Odds: 2.20, 3.45, 2.90.

NORTH AMERICAN NON-GRADED STAKES RESULTS

SWEET BRIAR TOO S., WO, $84,682, 3YO/UP, F/M, 7F, 7-1.
5—ENDLESS LIGHT (GB), m, 5, Pivotal (GB)--Celeste (GB), by Green Desert. O-Jal Dastur, B-Cheveley Park Stud Ltd (GB), T-Mark R. Frostad, J-Emma-Jayne Wilson, $48,024.
9—Hillaby, m, 5, Distorted Humor--Sealy Hill, by Point Given. ($500,000 2014 FTKJU2). O-Stonestreet Stables LLC, B-Eugene Melnyk (ON), $19,210.
4—Midnight Ballet, m, 5, Midnight Lute--Buzz Song, by Unbridled's Song. ($100,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Stoneway Farm, B-SyBon Racing Stable, LLC (KY), $8,804.
Also Ran: On Rainbow Bridge, Sweater Weather, Unspurned.
Winning Time: 1:21 4/5 (ft)
Margins: 3/4, 6, 2.
Odds: 10.15, 0.75, 14.95.

Spot Plays/Highlights/Weather

SPOT PLAYS

For Thursday

TRACK   (RACE) HORSE, MORNING LINE
Arlington Park   (5th) Silent Ronin, 5-1
    (7th) Awalkinthemoonlite, 4-1
Belmont Park   (7th) Breach of Duty, 5-1
    (9th) Saturday's Charm, 5-1
Belterra Park   (6th) Elusive Male, 4-1
    (8th) O What a Dream, 4-1
Canterbury Park   (5th) Congrats Seattle, 5-1
    (7th) Flashy Jewel, 3-1
Evangeline Downs   (2nd) Washboard Willie, 5-1
    (3rd) Jenjensgrasshopper, 4-1
Finger Lakes   (1st) Dublin Red, 7-2
    (6th) Flash Tips, 4-1
Los Alamitos   (2nd) Artic Warrior, 4-1
    (3rd) Esmeralda Belle, 3-1
Louisiana Downs   (1st) Septennial, 3-1
    (3rd) D'boldest, 9-2
Oak Tree @ Pleasanton   (4th) Pressure Time, 3-1
    (5th) Imperial Badger, 10-1
Penn National   (1st) Literary Lady, 7-2
    (5th) Turks and Chaos, 10-1
Prairie Meadows   (7th) Otter Cove, 5-1
    (8th) Frederico, 4-1
Presque Isle Downs   (1st) This is Eliza, 3-1
    (4th) Moon Ridge, 7-2

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

Announcements

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Results

NORTH AMERICAN ALLOWANCE RESULTS

BEL, 8TH, AOC, $80,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/4MT, 7-1.
*7—SELENITE, f, 4, Cosmonaut--Offhand Remark, by Western Expression. ($11,000 '12 FTMOCT; $20,000 2013 OBSJUN). O-Punk, Jr, William J and DiLeo, Philip, B-Flying Zee Stables (NY), T-David G. Donk, J-John R. Velazquez, $48,000.
1—Fresh Feline, f, 4, Kitten's Joy--Merry Me in Spring, by Wekiva Springs. ($215,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Lazy F Ranch (Corbett), B-Mr & Mrs Robert Horton & Charles Middleton III (KY), $16,000.
6—Agawa, m, 5, Curlin--Silver Adventure, by Silver Deputy. O-Wachtel Stable, B-Sam-Son Farm (ON), $8,000.
Winning Time: 2:05 (gd)
     ***Evidently finished first but was disqualified and placed fifth.
 
WO, 2ND, AOC, $66,646, 3YO/UP, 1 1/16M, 7-1.
4—DOOGIE, g, 4, Pioneerof the Nile--Celtic Craft, by Danehill. ($30,000 '11 KEENOV; $100,000 '12 FTKOCT). O-Laconian Racing Stable, B-Spring Farm (ON), T-Josie Carroll, J-Omar Moreno, $35,922.
5—Asserting Bear, c, 4, Bear's Kid--Star Guest, by Assert (IRE). (C$50,000 '12 ONTSEP). O-Bear Stables, Ltd, B-John Carey (ON), $15,960.
1—Millioninthemaking, g, 5, Saffir--Pretoria, by Great Gladiator. (C$32,000 '11 ONTSEP). O-Wolsley Finch, B-Spring Farm (ON), $8,778.
Winning Time: 1:43 1/5 (ft)
 
BEL, 6TH, ALW, $62,000, 3YO, F, 1 1/16MT, 7-1.
1—CAPRIANA, f, 3, Street Boss--Dynamism, by Dynaformer. ($55,000 '13 FTNAUG). O-Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Frankel, Ronald, B-MDS Farms, LLC (NY), T-Todd A. Pletcher, J-John R. Velazquez, $37,200.
4—Where's the Risk, f, 3, Kitalpha--Howl at the Moon, by Dynaformer. ($7,500 2014 FTMMAY). O-Michael E Gorham, B-Dan Bearden (NY), $12,400.
9—Amazing Anne, f, 3, Freud--Plinking, by Talkin Man. O-Winter Park Partners, B-Anthony Grey (NY), $6,200.
Winning Time: 1:42 3/5 (gd)
 
BEL, 3RD, ALW, $60,760, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6F, 7-1.
2—TRICKY ZIPPY, f, 3, City Zip--Honky Tonk Trick, by Phone Trick. O-Newman Racing, B-Donald Newman (NY), T-Carlos F. Martin, J-Rajiv Maragh, $37,200.
3—Literata, f, 4, Read the Footnotes--Personal Wealth, by Personal Flag. ($30,000 '12 FTKOCT; $18,000 '12 OBSAUG). O-Roy Sedlacek, B-Meadow View Thoroughbreds, LLC (NY), $12,400.
5—Awesome News, f, 3, Congrats--Awesome Bull, by Holy Bull. ($40,000 '13 FTNAUG). O-Black Swan Stable, B-Edition Farm (NY), $6,200.
Winning Time: 1:12 2/5 (my)
 
WO, 9TH, ALW, $50,056, 3YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/16MT, 7-1.
10—BUTTON DOWN (GB), f, 4, Oasis Dream (GB)--Modesta (IRE), by Sadler's Wells. (65,000gns 2014 TATDEC). O-Greenwood Lodge Farm, Inc, B-Juddmonte Farms Ltd (GB), T-Josie Carroll, J-Luis Contreras, $28,142.
2—Ice Festival, f, 3, Awesome Again--Phil's Pill, by Cozzene. O-Stronach Stables, B-Adena Springs (ON), $11,254.
4—Rejoiceful, m, 5, Corinthian--Ethan's Car, by Cat Thief. ($60,000 '11 KEESEP). O-James Perron Racing Stable, B-Josham Farms Limited (ON), $5,159.
Winning Time: 1:44 (gd)
 
GP, 7TH, AOC, $36,400, 3YO/UP, 1 1/16MT, 7-1.
3—HOLLYWOOD IDOL, c, 4, Smart Strike--Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush. ($650,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Whisper Hill Farm, B-George Krikorian (KY), T-Ralph E. Nicks, J-Jose C. Caraballo, $21,600.
6—Tale of the Heart, g, 5, Tale of the Cat--Dancing Josefina, by Belong to Me. ($35,000 '11 KEESEP). O-Sheila-Matt Stable and Aventura Stable, B-JiCo, Inc (KY), $7,560.
8—Ringold, g, 4, Exchange Rate--Maliziosa, by Dynaformer. ($80,000 '12 KEESEP). O-Carolyn Wilson, B-Haras Santa Maria de Araras S A (FL), $4,000.
Winning Time: 1:40 2/5 (fm)
 
IND, 6TH, ALW, $36,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 6F, 7-1.
9—DO I DARE, m, 5, Equinox--Devant, by Honour and Glory. ($2,700 '11 KEEJAN). O-Jody Guida, B-Billings Ranch, LLC (IN), T-Luke Guida, J-Thomas L. Pompell, $21,600.
2—Hay Little Bit, f, 3, Article of Faith--Shadow Vale, by Beautiful Indy. O-Robert Hyden, B-Roxanne Hyden (IN), $7,200.
6—Banksy, f, 3, Concord Point--Orchid Lane, by Giant's Causeway. ($23,000 '12 KEENOV; $95,000 '13 KEESEP). O-Ice Wine Stable, B-Stone Gate Thoroughbreds LLC (IN), $3,600.
Winning Time: 1:10 3/5 (ft)
 
DEL, 7TH, AOC, $32,760, 3YO/UP, 1 1/16M, 7-1.
1—OUR CARAVAN, g, 4, Daaher--Alwaan, by Elusive Quality. ($190,000 '12 FTSAUG). O-Anstu Stables, Inc, B-Hare Forest Farm, LTD (KY), T-Michael Dilger, J-Alex Cintron, $21,600.
3—Normandy Invasion, h, 5, Tapit--Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor. ($230,000 2012 KEEAPR). O-Fox Hill Farms, Inc, B-Betz/Kidder/Gainesway/Graves/DJ Stable/Cole (KY), $7,200.
6—Gray Beau, g, 5, Imperialism--Please Pick Me, by Mi Selecto. O-Elaine M Vinson, B-Verbarctic Farm (FL), $3,960.
Winning Time: 1:43 (ft)
 
TDN, 7TH, ALW, $27,000, 3YO/UP, 1M 40Y, 7-1.
2—BELVIN, g, 5, Empire Maker--Midway Squall, by Storm Bird. O-Brett Bresser, B-Donald R Dizney (FL), T-David Ashcraft, J-Ricardo Feliciano, $17,550.
6—Condestable, g, 4, Rock Hampton--Incontestable, by Touch Gold. O-MCR Stable, Inc, B-Luisa Degwitz & Ric Deg Farm (FL), $5,400.
1A—Rankhasprivileges, g, 4, Einstein (BRZ)--Scrape, by Mr. Prospector. ($33,000 '12 FTKOCT). O-Catherine Angelo, B-C Kidder & N Cole (KY), $2,700.
Winning Time: 1:40 3/5 (ft)

North American Maiden Winners
Majestic Warrior--Ebony Breeze (MG3$1,039,922), by Belong to Me; EBONY WARRIOR, g, 2, HST, Msw, 7-1, 6f, 1:12 4/5. B-Kinsman Farm (KY.). $50,000 '14 KEESEP.
Malibu Moon--Quanah County by Valid Expectations; TONASAH, f, 2, BEL, Msw, 7-2, 5f, :58 2/5. B-Smart Angle, LLP (PA.). $170,000 '13 KEENOV; $250,000 '14 KEESEP. *1/2 to Quantum Miss (G3 $251,950).
Mauk Four--Hunsa by Swain (IRE); HUNSA'S MAGIC, g, 2, LAD, Msw, 7-2, 4 1/2f, :54 1/5. B-R. & W. Srygley Partnership (LA.).
Thunder Gulch--Love and Lies by Broken Vow; DELICATE LADY, f, 2, AP, Msw, 7-2, 4 1/2f, :52 2/5. B-William & Dianna Shaffer (IL.).
Bluesnclues--Ideal Story by Tale of the Cat; BLUES STORY, c, 3, BTP, Mcl 15000, 7-2, 5f, :59 . B-Golden Eagle Investment, L.P. (IN.).
Cat Dreams--Dakini by Nureyev; TIKINI, f, 3, IND, Mcl 5000, 7-1, 1m, 1:39 4/5. B-Carmalley Valley Farm, LLC (IN.).
Congaree--Western Desire by Rodeo; FRENCH CRULLER, f, 3, FL, Mcl 12500, 7-2, 5 1/2f, 1:08 . B-Barone's Sunny Crest , Corey Hedderman, & Banahan Farm (NY.). $7,000 '13 FTMSEP.
Curlin--Sugar Britches by Dixieland Band; DANETTE, f, 3, BEL, Msw, 7-2, 1 1/16m, 1:43 3/5. B-Alexandra Gross, Peter Gross & Alfon Mazzetti (KY.). $45,000 '13 KEESEP.
Discreetly Mine--Grand Shock by Grand Slam; GRANDISCRETION, g, 3, BTP, Mcl 3500, 7-2, 5f, :59 1/5. B-Clifford J. Grum (KY.).
Eskendereya--Career Oriented by Cat's Career; BUSINESS CASUAL, f, 3, PID, Mcl 7500, 7-2, 6f, 1:12 4/5. B-D.J. Stable, LLC (KY.).
Giant's Causeway--Taxable Deduction by Prized; GIANT DEDUCTION, f, 3, AP, Msw, 7-2, a1mT, 1:41 1/5. B-Team Block (IL.). *1/2 to Stumbling Block ($386,889) *1/2 to Corrupt (MG3P $281,600) *1/2 to Free Fighter (MG3 $628,191) *1/2 to Suntracer (G3 $812,736) *1/2 to Leading Astray (G3 $287,982).
Mister Dance--Don'tforgetmom by Silky Sweep; DON'T LOOK NOW, f, 3, LAD, Mcl 5000, 7-1, 5 1/2f, 1:08 2/5. B-Penny Scarberry (LA.).
Mr. Nightlinger--Come With Thunder by Thunder Gulch; N C C JOEY, g, 3, FMT, Mcl 10000, 7-1, 6f, 1:15 1/5. B-Mr. & Mrs. Lake Newcomb (OK.).
Pulpit--Silverinyourpocket (G3), by Silver Deputy; SILVERINALLPOCKETS, c, 3, FL, Mcl 5000, 7-2, 1m 70y, 1:48 . B-Randal Family Trust, R David & Maryl Randal Trustees (KY.).
Reformer Rally--Falun Dafa by Editor's Note; RALLYONMARION, f, 3, LAD, Mcl 12500, 7-2, a7 1/2fT, 1:36 1/5. B-Gulf States Racing Stables (LA.).
Sorcerer's Stone--Almostastar by Almostashar; SHE'S A PENALTY, f, 3, EVD, Mcl 7500, 7-1, 1m, 1:43 2/5. B-Bar A Racing Stable & Troy Lewis (LA.).
Stormy Atlantic--Fruhl's Gold by Crafty Prospector; BUDDONS, g, 3, AP, Mcl 7500, 7-2, 5 1/2f, 1:05 4/5. B-Liberation Farm & Brandywine Farm (KY.). $47,000 '12 KEENOV; $57,000 '13 KEESEP.
Tiz Wonderful--Let Joy Reign by Awesome Again; JAI ALAI, g, 3, BEL, Mcl 40000, 7-2, 6f, 1:11 2/5. B-Spendthrift Farm LLC (NY.). $70,000 '13 FTNAUG.
Dixie Chatter--Wild Momentum by Wild Again; WILD ABOUT DIXIE, g, 4, FMT, Msw, 7-1, 1m, 1:41 1/5. B-Fleming Thoroughbred Farm LLC & Dr. Dorothee Kieckhefer (CA.).
Kafwain--Natural Route by Mud Route; AIKMAN JEWEL, f, 4, BOI, Mcl 4000, 7-1, 6 1/2f, 1:21 . B-Jerry Dutton & Harry Bettis (CA.).
Lucky J. H.--Super High (MSW$669,668), by High Brite; LUCKY JACK, g, 4, OTP, Mcl 5000, 7-2, 1m 70y, 1:43 4/5. B-Harris Farms (CA.).
Rossini--Handfullofmints by Key to the Mint; ROSSINI'S RUBY, g, 4, EVD, Mcl 7500, 7-1, 6 1/2f, 1:20 1/5. B-Michele Rodriguez (LA.).
Stroll--My Papoose by Northern Baby; PRAM, f, 4, PID, Msw, 7-2, 1m, 1:40 . B-Jonathan Sheppard & William L.Pape (PA.).
Unbridled Energy--Comes the Storm by Storm Boot; EAST VIEW, f, 4, PEN, Mcl 15000, 7-1, 1m, 1:41 1/5. B-Larry Ciletti (PA.).
Pretty Wild--Aly's Joyce by Capote; PLAY FOR PLAY, m, 5, PID, Mcl 12500, 7-2, 6 1/2f, 1:18 4/5. B-Daniel McGlothin (PA.).
Miraculous Hand--Elvira Jane by Home Run Trot; OUR WANDERER, g, 6, BOI, Msw, 7-1, 6 1/2f, 1:20 2/5. B-Mr. & Mrs. Gerald R. Wehrli (ID.).

Features

HANDICAPPING INSIGHTS

JULY 3, 2015

by Dick Powell

The second annual Stars and Stripes Festival is this Saturday at Belmont Park and the fireworks begin in race six on the Fourth of July racecard. Luckily, the heavy rain that hit the New York metropolitan area is over and the races should be conducted under Fast and Firm conditions.

Race six is the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track for three-year-old fillies. Next comes the $500,000 Dwyer Stakes (G2) for three-year-olds going a mile on the main track.

The marquee event of the day, the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1) for three-year-olds at a mile and a quarter, is race eight. Despite the large purse and efforts to entice international shippers, this year's Derby only drew nine entrants with just two coming in from overseas.

CANNDAL (Medicean) is from the powerful stable of the Aga Khan and won his first race the second time out this year, traveling Saturday's distance on good turf at Longchamp in Paris. He came back with a good third going 11 furlongs on soft turf in a Group 2, setting the pace from the start and leading to deep stretch. The second-place horse that day came back to run seventh and 10th in his next two starts. Canndal exits a troubled second versus listed rivals, elevated one spot by the stewards after being sawed off in the stretch, and will not use the diuretic Lasix.

POSTULATION (Harlan's Holiday) ships in for Juddmonte Farms with decent form in Ireland. He won his last race going this distance at The Curragh and his best race might have been his career debut when beaten only four lengths by Gleneagles (Galileo), the highest rated miler in Europe.

Trainer Dermot Weld is a legend in Ireland but familiar to race fans all over the world. In 1990, he won the Belmont Stakes (G1) with Go and Go (Be My Guest). He's won the Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1), Australia's most important race, twice, sending out Vintage Crop (Rousillon) in 1993 and Media Puzzle (Theatrical) in 2002. When Weld ships, as Woody Stephens used to say, he's here for a reason, not the season.

In the $1 million Belmont Oaks (G1), 14 three-year-old fillies are entered for the 1 1/4-mile race on the inner turf course but only two international shippers made the trip. OLORDA (Lord of England) is from the powerful international stable of Martin Schwartz, who has won major stakes in America with Euro shippers Stacelita (Monsun), heroine of the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) and Flower Bowl (G1); Alterite (Literato), who won the Garden City Stakes (G1); Zagora (Green Tune), winner of the Diana Stakes (G1) and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1); and Samitar (Rock of Gibraltar), who won the Garden City.

All were trained over here by Chad Brown and Olorda has similar credentials, with the above fillies all improving once in America. She won a Group 3 two starts back going nine furlongs on soft turf at Longchamp, her first start out of Germany, and came back to finish third in a Group 1 last time, going Saturday's distance on good turf. The winner came back to run 11th in the Prix Diane (Fr-G1) next out but had an excuse after breaking impossibly from post 17.

The other international runner in the Oaks is OUTSTANDING (Galileo), who appears to be rounding into form for Aidan O'Brien. After running poorly in two starts last year, she's captured both attempts in 2015. Even though she missed the Classics in Europe this year, Outstanding has the look of a filly that will continue to improve.

She broke her maiden going a mile on yielding turf in a 20-horse field at Naas in Ireland, returning off a six-month layoff in her seasonal bow, and Outstanding came back at Saturday's distance to win by almost three lengths last time, making all the running on a good turf course. She adds Lasix and should get ground that she favors.

O'Brien not only dominates European racing but is equally dangerous when he ships to North America. He almost won the Belmont Derby last year with Adelaide (Galileo), who went on to win the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park; Cape Blanco (Galileo), winner of the Joe Hirsch Invitational Stakes (G1), the Man o' War Stakes (G1) and Arlington Million (G1); George Vancouver (Henrythenavigator), who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1); and Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winners St. Nicholas Abbey (Montjeu) and Magician (Galileo).

Outstanding is a full-sister to Magician and looks ready to take another move up the class ladder. She draws outside and if the race is run slowly, she will be losing ground every step of the way.

One interesting point in the Belmont Oaks is that all but one filly is nominated for the Breeders' Cup. The one that is not, Spanish Queen (Tribal Rule), is also the only starter to win going 10 furlongs at the Grade 1 level, capturing the American Oaks (G1) last out. The $535,000 winner's purse could go a long way to get her supplemented.

Finally, the one to beat in the Oaks is Lady Eli (Divine Park) who is undefeated in five starts. Last year, I was not that strong on her in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf (G1) after a pair of rather slow wins beforehand. She looked great with her explosive kick in the stretch at Santa Anita and has come back this year with two easy wins, but neither was very fast.

In the Oaks, against 13 other rivals, Lady Eli draws inside with Irad Ortiz Jr. and the question facing her surrounds her finishing kick; will she have the same explosion going 10 furlongs as she's displayed at middle distances? At a short price I am betting she doesn't.

HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.

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