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Jared previews the 2023 Miss Grillo Stakes (G2) from Belmont at the Big A, then gives his top picks & long shots from this “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
The undefeated graded stakes champion Gala Brand tops the field of 12 entered for the 2-turn turf test, but can another horse pull off an upset? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Arnmore Thoroughbreds and Even Keel Thoroughbreds’ undefeated graded stakes-winner Gala Brand puts her perfect record on the line in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for juvenile fillies, at Belmont at the Big A.
The Miss Grillo, carded as Race 5, is one of two Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races slated for Sunday’s 10-race card, and offers the winner automatic entry to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 3 at Santa Anita Park. The card also features the Grade 2, $200,000 Pilgrim in Race 7, which offers automatic entry into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
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Gala Brand, a chestnut daughter of Violence, was last seen scoring her first stakes coup when defeating males in the Grade 3 With Anticipation on August 31 at Saratoga Race Course, rerouting to that race after the P.G. Johnson was rained off the turf the day prior.
Ridden to victory by Jose Ortiz, Gala Brand showed a strong turn of foot when rallying from last-of-7 in the 1 1/16-mile test, getting up just in time with an eight-wide move to best Carson’s Run by a half-length. Carson’s Run exited that race to win the Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine.
The With Anticipation victory gave Mott his second stakes victory in as many days that week at Saratoga, adding to a win the day prior with Magic Cross when the aforementioned P.G. Johnson was moved to the main track. Luckily for Gala Brand, Arnmore Thoroughbreds’ CEO Megan Jones had encouraged Mott to nominate the filly to both the P.G. Johnson and the With Anticipation.
“She seems to be doing well,” said Mott. “It couldn’t have worked out better this summer with her and Magic Cross. It was a great couple of days. Megan made sure we were nominated for both races and had that option. She was very smart.”
Gala Brand, who won her debut in similar fashion on August 6 sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs, has worked back twice since her breakout victory, most recently covering a half-mile in 50.85 seconds Saturday over Saratoga Oklahoma dirt training track.
A $30,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Gala Brand is out of the multiple graded/group stakes-winning Lord of England mare Olorda and is a half-sister to the stakes-placed James Aloysius.
Ortiz retains the mount from post 8.
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Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will have three chances to secure his third win in this event as he saddles maiden winner Life’s an Audible [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and the maiden pair of Appellate [post 1, Trevor McCarthy] and Later Darling [post 10, Dylan Davis].
Repole Stable’s Life’s an Audible enters from a rallying 1 1/4-length graduation at second asking on September 2 at Saratoga. The chestnut was 4 1/2 lengths back in fourth at the stretch call, but displayed a strong closing kick under Irad Ortiz, Jr. to inch clear down the lane and secure the victory. The effort garnered a 75 Beyer Speed Figure, a marked improvement from her debut in a one-mile off-the-turf event where she was given a 22 Beyer for a distant fourth-place finish.
Pletcher said he had originally considered the six-furlong Grade 3 Matron on October 8 here, but decided to try stretching Life’s an Audible out for the Miss Grillo. Her sire, the Pletcher-trained New York-bred Audible, was a multiple graded stakes-winner on dirt at distances up to nine furlongs, while her broodmare sire, Data Link, was a multiple graded stakes-winner on turf up to nine furlongs.
“She stepped up nicely on the grass, although it was only five and a half [furlongs],” Pletcher said of her debut. “She seems to really enjoy the grass, so we’ll see if she handles the mile and a sixteenth.”
Medallion Racing, Omar Aldabbagh, CMNWLTH, Mark Stanton, Lennie Rhoades and Barry Fowler’s Appellate was defeated a head in both of her starts this summer at the Spa, most recently in a September 3 maiden tilt going the Miss Grillo distance. There, she tracked the pace a close second through the first half-mile and dueled with Weigh the Risks from the top of the stretch to the wire to come up just shy and garner a 62 Beyer.
The dark bay daughter of Constitution came from off the pace in her July 23 debut and briefly led in the stretch, but was nailed by returning foe Hard to Justify at the wire.
“We’ll take a shot. If she had won by a nose, we’d be doing it,” said Pletcher. “I thought she ran well enough to earn a chance. In fairness, she ran hard and got beat by a couple of nice fillies it looked like.”
Appellate was a $250,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Grand Slam mare Leigh Court, the 2013 Sovereign Award-winner for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in Canada.
J and J Stables, It’s All About the Girls Stable, Paul Braverman and Timothy Pinch’s Later Darling finished a neck back of Appellate in the aforementioned September 3 maiden, closing from 9th-of-10 to secure show honors 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Sensing Flatter. The More Than Ready grey improved from a closing fourth in a key August 6 maiden that saw second and third-place finishers Weigh the Risks and It’s Hot in Here graduate next out.
The $175,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale purchase is out of the winning Rockport Harbor mare Froyo Star, a half-sister to the three-time Grade 1-winning millionaire Sweet Reason, as well as You Laughin, the dam of Group 1-winer Zenden.
R. T Racing Stable and Victoria’s Ranch’s Camila T [post 6, Carlos Olivero] was an impressive winner on debut for trainer Juan Avila, dominating a five-furlong maiden tilt on August 19 at Monmouth Park by 13 lengths. The Irish-bred No Nay Never bay led at each point of call under returning rider Carlos Olivero and drew off strongly down the lane to complete the course in 57.88 seconds. She was awarded a field-best 90 Beyer for the win.
Camila T sold for $115,309 at the 2022 Goffs Orby Yearling Sale and boasts a strong female family, with second dam being dual Group 1-winner Imagine. Along with Camila T’s dam, the unraced War Front mare Just Imagining, Imagine has produced Group 1 winners Horacio Nelson and Van Gogh, Group 2-winner Viscount Nelson, graded stakes-winner Point Piper, and multiple group-placed Red Rock Canyon.
Completing the field are:
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