ELMONT, N.Y. – An intriguing matchup between two top 4-year-old fillies is set to take place on Saturday at Belmont Park when Stonestreet Stables’s Cavorting and Phipps Stable’s Carrumba headline the 40th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian at one mile.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Cavorting, who picked up a pair of graded stakes wins last summer at Saratoga Race Course in the Grade 1 Test and Grade 2 Prioress before ending her 2015 campaign as an Eclipse Award finalist for Female Sprinter, will make her second start of the year in the Ruffian.
In her most recent race, the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 17, the daughter of Bernardini got shuffled back and stalked a tepid pace before finishing second. Encouraged by the performance, her first start in more than three months, McLaughlin looks forward to returning his star filly to Belmont, where she has two wins from three lifetime starts, and stretching her out to a mile for the race.
“We’ve always wanted to try a mile,” said McLaughlin. “She’s doing really well, and we haven’t stretched her out. She’s bred to go a mile so we’re going to give her a try. Last time out, she broke well and then Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] had to take her back, she got shuffled and had to come up the rail in a tight spot. We were second best that day, but we hope she comes off well from that run.”
Drawing the rail as the 8-5 morning-line favorite, Cavorting will depart with Javier Castellano aboard for the first time.
Carrumba, also a daughter of Bernardini, will be saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. She enters the Ruffian after capturing the Grade 3 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct on April 10 to make her 2016 debut. Previous to that race, she finished second by a head in the Grade 3 Comely Stakes at Aqueduct last November.
McGaughey is confident his filly is ready to show her ability and versatility in cutting back from 1 1/8 miles in her last two starts for the Ruffian.
“She had a very good winter and we were very pleased with the Top Flight,” said McGaughey of Carrumba, who is undefeated at a mile and is two for three at Belmont. “That’s not really my style to bring her back at a mile and an eighth around two turns off a layoff, but it was kind of the only place to run her. I didn’t know what I was going to do with her after that race but she seemed to come out of it so well, I elected to go on and point her to the Ruffian. Everything she’s done, she’s done well. She seems to be feeling good and doing good and we’re excited about running her Saturday.”
The morning-line second-choice at odds of 7-5, Carrumba will leave from the outermost post positon 6 with Jose Ortiz in the irons.
Entering for owners Tim Thorton and Brereton C. Jones is multiple graded stakes winner Include Betty for trainer Tom Proctor. Unbeaten in two starts at Belmont, last year she took top honors at Big Sandy in the Grade 1 Mother Goose. Last out on March 5, she overcame a troubled trip to finish third in the Heavenly Prize at Aqueduct.
Drawing post position 2 at odds of 5-1 on the morning-line, Include Betty will depart with Jose Lezcano in the irons.
Rounding out the field are Calamity Kate for owner George Hall and trainer Kelly Breen, most recently coming off a second-place finish in the Zia Park Oaks on November 25 at Zia Park; Spelling Again for trainer Brad Cox and Seajay Racing; and Welcome Aboard for owner Jerry Jamgotchian and trainer Eric Reed.