Midlantic horses prominent in Belmont stakes
by Frank Vespe
Horses with mid-Atlantic connections of one sort or another could play prominent roles in a pair of closing day stakes at Belmont Park. Several horses bred or based in the region figure to be live in those two Sunday races.
The third race is the $100,000 Chelsey Flower Stakes for two-year-old fillies going a mile on the turf, and, with three on the also-eligible list, it figures to have a full starting gate, as long as the weather holds off. The eighth race, the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie Stakes, is a six-furlong, $100,000 test for older fillies and mares on the main track. Seven are scheduled to face the starter.
A pair of Midlantic-breds are slated to line up in the Pumpkin Pie.
Carded as Race 8, the fifth running of the Pumpkin Pie will feature Pennsylvania-bred Lucy N Ethel, a homebred for Jettany Thoroughbred Corp & J.A.G. Racing, Inc who won the 2016 Grade 3 Old Hat and Grade 2 Prioress after winning her first two tries, in 2015, at Parx Racing. The Todd Pletcher trainee is looking to rebound from back-to-back poor performances, including a 12th-place finish in the Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run to end her 3-year-old campaign in 2016 before finishing the last of six in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom last out on September 24 at Belmont.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride from post 2.
Also in the Pumpkin Pie is the ultra-speedy Bustin Out. The New Jersey-bred daughter of Bustin Stones has won three of four this year, all at Monmouth Park and all in front-running fashion and all as the favorite. Bred by Dianne Boyken, she is trained by Chuck Spina for Gayle Ioia and will have Manny Franco up.
Five races earlier, the grassy Chelsey Flower features the first- and third-place finishers from the $100,000 Selima Stakes at Laurel Park.
Wise Gal couldn’t have been much more impressive in winning the Selima, as she drew off to a four-length score in a solid 1:09 2/5 for the six furlong distance, and, as a daughter of Einstein, figures to be just fine with the added ground of this event. Though foaled in Kentucky, she’s a homebred for Eric J. Wirth and based at Laurel Park with trainer Dove Houghton. Wise Gal is two-for-two in her brief career and will have regular pilot Steve Hamilton in the irons.
The third-place finisher in the Selima was the Maryland-bred Eighty Six Mets, bred and owned by The Elkstone Group LLC. She won her turf bow going 7 1/2 furlongs at Delaware Park, but in the Selima, she loomed a threat before flattening out. Trained by Kelly Rubley, she’ll have Nik Jaurez up and may appreciate the added ground.
SATURDAY’S MIDLANTIC-BREDS IN BELMONT STAKES
- Queen Caroline (VA) is 20-1 on the morning line in the Grade 3 Athenia for trainer Michael Matz and owner Amy Moore;
- Firsthand Report (PA) is also 20-1 in the same race for trainer Todd Pletcher and StarLadies Racing;
- Green Gratto (NJ) is 30-1 on the morning line for the Grade 3 Bold Ruler for Gaston Grant, who trains the horse for himself and brother Anthony Grant.
- Tom’s Ready (PA) is 8-1 on the morning line in the Bold Ruler for trainer Dallas Stewart and G M B Racing;
- V. I. P. Code (MD) is 20-1 on the morning line in the $100,000 Awad Stakes for trainer Phil Schoenthal and Jeffrey Nielsen.