Not at her best when third in last month’s Ballerina (G1), Lewis Bay could prove more formidable Sunday in the $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park, a 6 1/2-furlong prep for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
The Chad Brown-trained mare has placed only once in two tries at the Spa, but has found the sweeping turns at her home base of Belmont Park more to her liking. In five local tries, she’s won three times and placed second twice. Her last Belmont appearance was more representative than not when she captured the June 8 Bed o’ Roses Handicap (G3) by more than five lengths over Highway Star.
The latter is seeking to become only the second filly or mare to win the Gallant Bloom twice, the first being champion Indian Blessing in 2008-09. Winner by a neck last term, Highway Star has run second three straight times this season. She’s five-for-nine at Belmont with four placings, but has not raced since the Bed o’ Roses.
“She’s doing as well as she was last year, which was her best year,” trainer Rodrigo Ubillo said. “Everything is the same, so I’m happy.
“In the past, she’s run good off a layoff, so I don’t see it as a problem. I’m not her though, so I can’t speak for her, but she’s dealt with it just fine before, so I’m assuming it won’t be a problem this time.”
The lightly-raced Still There finished a clear second in the Ballerina in just her fifth career start, while Grade 1 veteran Union Strike makes her second start for Steve Asmussen following a fourth in the Ballerina.
Kirby’s Penny and Holiday Disguise captured the Vagrancy Handicap (G3) and Distaff Handicap (G3), respectively, earlier this year, while Your Love exits a one-length score in the restricted $100,000 Shine Again at Saratoga.