July 18, 2024

Rescheduled Wonder Again, Jersey Girl make for four-stakes card with Tremont, Astoria

Chocolate Gelato wins the Frizette (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Belmont Park has doubled its Sunday stakes offerings to a grand total of four. The $200,000 Wonder Again (G2) and Jersey Girl S. were originally slated for Thursday’s card that was canceled due to dangerously poor air quality. Transferred to Sunday, those events for three-year-old fillies now join the $150,000 juvenile features, the 5 1/2-furlong Tremont S. and Astoria S., to make a four-stakes program.

When the Thursday stakes were redrawn, the Wonder Again retained all eight entrants. The Jersey Girl lost a pair of contenders, Eight Belles (G2) winner Red Carpet Ready and Girl Trouble, leaving a field of five.

Wonder Again (G2) – Race 10 (5:50 p.m. ET)

Chad Brown has already won the Wonder Again four times. If he can make it five on Sunday, he’ll be responsible for half of the winners in the turf race’s 10-year history.

Brown has strength in numbers, with three in this about 1 1/8-mile stepping stone to the July 8 Belmont Oaks (G1). Revalita, a two-time winner in the French provinces, has run well in defeat in both U.S. starts. A fast-finishing fourth in the Herecomesthebride (G3), she was most recently runner-up in the Edgewood (G2) at Churchill Downs. Jose Ortiz retains the mount. Brother Irad Ortiz Jr. is back aboard another French import, Venencia, who won her debut over Chantilly’s Polytrack and rattled home for third in a Keeneland allowance. Both fillies are from the first crop of the Mr. Prospector-line stallion Recoletos. Kentucky-bred Prerequisite just broke her maiden over this course and distance with Flavien Prat.

Unbeaten Spansive makes her stakes debut for Pletcher. The Karakontie filly wired a Gulfstream Park maiden as well as a Belmont allowance, defeating Florida Oaks (G3) third Juniper’s Moon in the latter. Juniper’s Moon, a daughter of Galileo and multiple Grade 1 dirt star I’m a Chatterbox, should appreciate the added ground here.

Another Florida Oaks alum, fifth-placer Allamericanbeauty, has since rallied in time in a 1 1/8-mile Keeneland allowance. Shug McGaughey conditions the well-bred daughter of Into Mischief, a $700,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Courtlandt Farms.

Be Your Best hasn’t lived up to her name since last summer at Saratoga, where she began her career with a pair of good-looking wins including the P.G. Johnson S. Third in the Miss Grillo (G2), ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), and seventh in the April 8 Appalachian (G2), the Mike Ryan homebred hopes that a step up in trip helps. Thirty Thou Kelvin likewise needs to improve from her belated fifth in the Hilltop S. at Pimlico.

Tremont S. – Race 9 (5:18 p.m. ET)

Ship Cadet goes turf-to-dirt for Mike Maker, having stormed from off the pace to win his debut over the Widener course.

Three were last seen at Churchill Downs. Six-length winner Frosty the Giant was previously fourth to Royal Ascot-bound American Rascal at Keeneland. Vitement has switched to Eddie Kenneally in the wake of his front-running debut score. Gold Sweep bids for a maiden-breaking victory after coming up a neck shy at first asking. The Steve Asmussen pupil, who sold for $285,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling, is a well-related son of Speightstown.

The remaining trio won on debut elsewhere – Yo Yo Candy at Parx, Jive at Gulfstream Park, and Jumpingjaggerflash in a $45,000 maiden claimer at Laurel (where he was not risked for the tag, as a Maryland-bred using the exemption).  

Jersey Girl S. – Race 5 (3:09 p.m. ET)

One of last year’s leading two-year-olds, Chocolate Gelato, makes her seasonal reappearance in the six-furlong Jersey Girl.

Chocolate Gelato was a smashing maiden winner at Saratoga in her last sprint start. Trained by Pletcher, the Repole Stable runner followed up over a mile in the Frizette (G1). Chocolate Gelato subsequently disappointed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), tiring to 12th, and headed to the sidelines. Regular pilot Irad Ortiz will guide her in the Jersey Girl, her launching pad to bigger objectives in the second half.

“She’s done well and has been breezing really well,” Pletcher said. “For her, it’s been a good transition from two to three, and we’re looking forward to getting her going again.

“Everything’s in play,” the Hall of Famer said about Chocolate Gelato’s future targets. “She handled the mile (in the Frizette), but didn’t run her race in the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll gradually try to stretch her out.”

Four others will try to challenge the established class. Aunt Becca crushed a second-level Keeneland allowance for Cherie DeVaux, suggesting that she’s ready for deeper waters. Xtra Heat S. scorer L Street Lady was a slow-starting third in the Miss Preakness (G3). Parx allowance romper Unified Alliance shortens up after a distant fourth in the off-the-turf Memories of Silver S., and recent Aqueduct maiden winner Wildhawk takes the biggest class hike.

Astoria S. – Race 2 (1:36 p.m. ET)

Four of the six fillies in the Astoria are stepping up from debut wins. Horseshoe Indianapolis winner Union Suit is the only one who flashed speed, sparking a private purchase and transfer to Graham Motion. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Madaket Stables have teamed up with Highlight Thoroughbreds to campaign the Union Rags juvenile.

Munnings filly Closing Act lived up to her name at Churchill for Asmussen. Living Magic, a daughter of Justify and multiple Grade 2 scorer Living the Life, rallied at Parx. So did Low Mileage, a Mineshaft filly from the family of Bodemeister, close to prevail at Laurel.

But the other two are worth a look as well. Hall of Famer Mark Casse unveils Golden Ghost, a $500,000 Keeneland September yearling by Medaglia d’Oro and out of Group 1 vixen Villa Marina. Living Magic’s stablemate from the Phil Schoenthal barn, Donate Life, just missed by a neck in third after altering course at Keeneland. By Munnings and out of a War Front mare from the immediate family of Medaglia d’Oro, Donate Life is a winner in waiting.