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2023 Gallant Bloom Stakes Preview | Beguine Seeks Breakthrough On The Graded Stage
Beguine (Maryland Jockey Club)

2023 Gallant Bloom Stakes Preview | Beguine Seeks Breakthrough On The Graded Stage

Charles T. Matses’ Kentucky homebred Beguine returns to New York from a two-month respite for Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Gallant Bloom, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Belmont at the Big A.

The Gallant Bloom is slated as Race 5 on Saturday’s lucrative 11-race card which is headlined by the first Grade 1 of the meet in the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/2 miles on turf. The card co-features the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodward at nine furlongs for 3-year-olds and up, and the $250,000 Vosburgh, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up that offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Santa Anita Park.

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Trained by Ned Allard, the 4-year-old Gun Runner chestnut has made two previous outings at Aqueduct Racetrack, completing the exacta behind Rossa Veloce in a November allowance to earn a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure and landing 1 1/4-lengths back of Betsy Blue in a key running of the Garland of Roses in December that the winner exited to win the Interborough and the third-place finisher, Disco Ebo, returned to win an allowance tilt.

Beguine was freshened after her Big A efforts and returned from a five-month layoff for a pair of starts at Belmont Park, romping to a 9 3/4-length allowance score in May over sloppy and sealed going ahead of a last-of-5 effort in the Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses in June. She was last seen notching a gate-to-wire score in the Alma North on July 29 at Laurel Park when 2 3/4-lengths better than next-out Timonium Distaff-winner Response Time.

Beguine is coming into the Gallant Bloom in fine fettle as she looks to improve upon her previous best graded effort when a close second to Yuugiri in last year’s Grade 3 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park for her former conditioner Daniel Peitz.

Allard said he could find no excuses for the ultra-consistent chestnut after the Bed o’ Roses effort and expects a better outing Saturday.

“I don’t think she was seasoned quite well enough to go after some top fillies,” Allard said. “I think we were a bit ambitious with her after her nine-length win in the mud. That said, she came back and won the Alma North very impressively. She caught a racetrack that was a little bit wet and it worked out very well for us.

“You have to be at the top of your game to beat that type of horse,” Allard added. “She’s a little more seasoned right now and freshened up a little bit. I’m hoping for a big race.”

Beguine has trained consistently at Delaware Park since the Alma North, including a six-furlong breeze in 1:14.40 on September 16 and a half-mile effort in 49.40 Friday.

“She’s been training super. The weather might be in our favor, too,” Allard said, noting the recent wet weather in New York. “The only time she ran in the mud she was very impressive at Belmont earlier this spring.”

Out of the Allard-trained stakes-winning Eltish mare Shananies Song, Beguine is a half-sister to graded-stakes winner Favorable Outcome and the multiple graded-stakes placed Bellamentary. Allard also trained Shannies Song’s damsire, the Peter Fuller homebred Shananie, who won the 1984 edition of the Engine One at Belmont Park.

Dylan Davis, aboard for the May allowance score over Big Sandy, has the call from post 4.

Godolphin’s dual graded stakes-winner Caramel Swirl [post 1, Junior Alvarado] sports a ledger of 15-5-4-3 and purse earnings of $642,450 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

The 5-year-old Union Rags mare made the grade in the 2021 Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland to cap her sophomore season. She made just two starts last year, taking an optional-claimer at Belmont ahead of a runner-up effort to eventual Champion Female Sprinter Goodnight Olive in the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.

Caramel Swirl has made four starts this campaign, winning the Grade 3 Vagrancy in May at Belmont and finishing third in a strong renewal of the Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses won by Goodnight Olive over next-out stakes winner Wicked Halo. She enters from a distant fourth in Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap won by Echo Zulu on August 26.

Mott said Caramel Swirl exited the Ballerina in good order, breezing back three times over the Oklahoma training track which includes a half-mile effort Saturday in 49.25 seconds.

“There were good fillies in front of her in the Ballerina,” Mott said. “She’s been a useful horse and has been just a tick shy of being a Grade 1 horse. She’s training well coming into here.”

Caramel Swirl is out of the Smart Strike mare Caramel Snap, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Frosted.

Mark T. Anderson’s multiple graded stakes-placed New York-bred Sterling Silver [post 2, Javier Castellano] will look to make the grade in her eighth attempt for trainer Thomas Albertrani.

The 4-year-old Cupid grey, who finished third in this event last year, placed in a trio of graded events in 2022 when third in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont and second in the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga.

Bred by Mallory Mort and Karen Mort, Sterling Silver, out of the Distorted Humor mare Sheet Humor, is a dual state-bred stakes winner with scores last season in the Franklin Square at the Big A and Bouwerie at Belmont. She has won 3-of-5 starts at Aqueduct, including a rallying allowance win here in April.

Rounding out a compact but competitive field are:

  • Dual graded stakes-placed Undervalued Asset [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown
  • Stakes winner Remain Anonymous [post 5, Manny Franco] for trainer Michelle Nevin
  • Stakes-placed Headland [post 6, Jose Lezcano], who races first off-the-claim for trainer George Weaver

First post is 12:05 p.m. Eastern.