If not quite up to Aidan O’Brien’s tally of 19 Beresford (G2) wins, trainer Chad Brown extended his grip on the $200,000 Miss Grillo (G2) Sunday when Selflessly gave him his eighth victory in the Belmont Park stakes. Four of Brown’s winners have gone on to glory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), including 2018 star Newspaperofrecord.
Unlike Newspaperofrecord, fellow Klaravich Stables runner Selflessly entered the Miss Grillo as a maiden. The More Than Ready filly shaped with promise in her debut in a Saratoga turf sprint, beaten only a half-length by stablemate Jazzique in a less favorable trip. The two squared off again here, and Selflessly was convincing in revenge.
Beyond the intramural rivalry between the Brown fillies, however, was the question of how they would stack up against the one to beat, 2-1 favorite Crystalle. She had gotten away with an awkward start in the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga, but a similarly lackadaisical break at Belmont proved insurmountable off a slower pace.
The Brown duo settled in the second flight, the 5-1 Selflessly in third flanking the 9-2 Jazzique to her inside. Up front, Ava K’s Girl and 73-1 longshot Wicked Title vied through an opening quarter in :24.47 on the firm inner turf. Wicked Title opened up in :48.84 and 1:13.46, but came back to the field.
On the far turn, Selflessly continued to tread a wider path for Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, while Jazzique saved ground as they advanced. The shorter route to the wire didn’t help Jazzique, for Selflessly quickened clear in the stretch.
Crystalle gained belatedly, but Selflessly still had three-quarters of a length to spare. Jazzique just salvaged third by a nose from Sparkling Sky, who was bumped and pinched back at the break. English Breeze, the bumper, was another nose away in fifth. Next came My Sassy Sarah, Wicked Title, and Ava K’s Girl.
Completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.32, Selflessly paid $12.60 for her maiden-breaking win. The $190,000 Keeneland November weanling has earned $128,000 from her 2-1-1-0 record.
Selflessly, bred in Maryland by George Louis Doetsch Jr., is a half-sister to multiple Laurel stakes scorer Enchanted Ghost. They were produced by the Grand Slam mare Uniformly Yours, herself a half to Canadian stakes victress San Souci Island, the dam of multiple Grade 3 hero River Seven.
Further back, this is the family of English champion two-year-old filly and classic-placed Negligent, whose offspring include Group performers Songlark and Blatant. The best of Negligent’s descendants is four-time Group 1 star Sky Lantern, luckless in her trip to Santa Anita for the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Selflessly is not Breeders’ Cup nominated, but Brown indicated that owner Seth Klarman was likely to make her eligible. If so, she’ll advance alongside Juvenile Turf (G1)-bound stablemate Structor, who captured Saturday’s Pilgrim (G3) to kick off Brown’s weekend stakes double.
Quotes from Belmont Park
Winning trainer Chad Brown: “I think stretching out and the experience from that first start were the keys here. She ran a really good race on debut and was unlucky not to win She galloped out well in the race and she has really done everything right since her debut. With these two-year-olds, we get them started when they’re ready and let them come along at their own pace. She came into this race really training well, and I just treated the debut as if she won.”
On whether Selflessly would be supplemented to the Breeders’ Cup: “I think so. We’ll talk to the owner about it, but if she comes out of the race sound and doing well I’d be inclined to go.”
Winning rider Javier Castellano: “I had high expectations for her. She went 5 1/2 (furlongs) the first time and I don’t think that’s the right distance for her. Today, we stretched her out to a mile and a sixteenth, and I think she was in a more comfortable rhythm. I didn’t have to hustle her too much. I liked the way she did it today. Very professional; she has a great mind and great body. I think she’s a horse that’s Breeders’ Cup (caliber). She can handle it. She’s well-bred and has a great trainer in Chad Brown. I was very fortunate to be in this spot.
Trainer John Kimmel on Crystalle, runner-up as the favorite: “The slow pace didn’t help. She was so relaxed coming out of there and with a couple horses coming out of sprint races, you would think that the pace would have been a little quicker than what it ended up being. But, for her to close into three-quarters in 1:13 and change, was impressive.
“Another two jumps and she would have been in front everybody. Not only that, she had to give up some distance. I’m disappointed we didn’t win the race, but I’m certainly not disappointed in the filly.
“Regardless of what she does at the Breeders’ Cup going a mile, I think she has tremendous potential for next year. She looks like a filly that settles beautifully and will be able to run a mile and a quarter and be a factor in those nice Turf Tiara races.”