May 25, 2024

Be Your Best looking for first win of the season in Sands Point

Be Your Best wins the P. G. Johnson Stakes (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

With another rainy afternoon in the forecast for New York on Saturday, Aqueduct has carded its two turf features during the front half of the 10-race program, presumably hoping to get both in before the worst of the inclement conditions arrives and saturates a course that has taken a lot of rain already over the past month.

The most lucrative is the $200,000 Sands Point (G2) for three-year-old fillies over 1 1/8 miles, a consolation prize of sorts with the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland scheduled later in the day. There is one horse, Be Your Best, cross-entered in both.

Be Your Best’s form has blown and hot and cold through four starts this term. Although she missed by a neck in the Wonder Again (G2) in June and was most recently runner-up in the Del Mar Oaks (G1), the bay never factored in her other two starts, the Appalachian (G2) and Belmont Oaks (G1).

“We just came back too quick in the Belmont Oaks,” said trainer Horacio De Paz, who told NYRA publicity that Be Your Best would race at Aqueduct instead of Keeneland. “She regressed and that told us she just needs more time between races, which showed when we went out to California.”

Eternal Hope and Neecie Marie, who were separated by a neck when finishing first and second in the 1 3/8-mile Jockey Club Oaks (G3) last month, are logical contenders. Also exiting the Jockey Club Oaks are Highland Grace, Quarrel, and Stephanie’s Charm, all of whom were unplaced.

Other notables are Virginia Oaks runner-up Root Cause; Alpha Belle, who missed narrowly in a pair of graded stakes in Florida last winter; and the Grade 2-placed Soviet Excess. Leave No Trace, last year’s Spinaway (G1) who later finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), has fared poorly in two outings this year.

The $125,000 Floral Park S., for older fillies and mares over six furlongs, is led by Poppy Flower and Bubble Rock. The pair traded decisions at Belmont Park during the spring, with Poppy Flower taking the License Fee S. by a half-length and Bubble Rock the Intercontinental (G3) by a nose.