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2023 Natalma Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Ozara Ships From Saratoga To Woodbine
Ozara (Jason Moran/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

2023 Natalma Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Ozara Ships From Saratoga To Woodbine

Aaron previews the 2023 Natalma Stakes (G1) from Woodbine, then gives his top picks & long shots from this “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Ozara, an impressive debut winner at Saratoga, could give trainer Christophe Clement his 1st win in this race. Can she ship north of the border for the 1st time & win her way into the World Championships? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

Automatic Breeders’ Cup berths are on the line as compelling editions of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, bet365 Summer Stakes, and Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes headline Saturday’s Turf Champions Day card of racing at Woodbine.

The 27th running of the Mile, worth $1 million and contested over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course, has attracted an accomplished field of six hopefuls. The Mile and the Natalma will be showcased on a live broadcast airing on TSN from 5-6 p.m. ET. 

Under the terms of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series, the Woodbine Mile winner will be entitled to a fees-paid berth for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, to be run on November 4 at Santa Anita. The winner of the $500,000 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes, for 2-year-old fillies, will be entitled to a fees-paid berth for the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 3, while the winner of the $500,000 bet365 Summer Stakes, for 2-year-olds, receives the same opportunity for the $2 million Juvenile Turf, also on November 3.

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Trainer Charlie Appleby has a remarkable record at Woodbine, with his last seven starters here heading back to England with Grade 1 victories.

On Saturday, Appleby will be looking for his third success in the Grade 1 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes when he sends out Dazzling Star (GB) in the $500,000, one-mile turf race.

The Natalma also is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, a Grade 1 race over the same distance which will be run at Santa Anita on November 3. Fifteen fillies have been listed with four cross-entered for Saturday’s bet365 Summer Stakes.

“It is a race which we like to target each year, and she has a similar profile to our other fillies who we have run in the past with success,” said Appleby, whose previous Natalma scores came with Wild Beauty (GB) in 2021 and La Pelosa (IRE) in 2018.

Dazzling Star races for the powerhouse owner/breeder Godolphin, who have provided five of Appleby’s Woodbine winners. The daughter of Blue Point and Dancing Sands has seen action three times, all in six-furlong races, with the two most recent being straightaway turf runs.

Appleby, noting that the Natalma has been on Dazzling Star’s dance card since her last-out fourth-place finish in Ascot’s Group 3 Princess Margaret on July 29, acknowledges that the Natalma’s one-mile trip around one left-handed turn poses a new challenge for his promising charge.

“It is an unknown, but she settles well in her work at home and her half-brother (the 3-year-old Bold Act) has won over 10 furlongs,” said the trainer. “(The E.P. Taylor turf) is a fair track which should only help her.”

William Buick, who guided Modern Games to victory in last year’s Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and Mysterious Night to success in the same day’s Grade 1 Summer Stakes, will do the honours on the current pair of Appleby invaders, which also includes Woodbine Mile favourite Master of the Seas (IRE).

Ozara (IRE), a maiden winner over 1 1/16 miles of “good” Saratoga turf in her only career start on August 6, will be stepping into stakes company for owner Cheyenne Stable LLC and trainer Christophe Clement.

“To be completely honest, we’ve been looking at this race for her ever since she broke her maiden,” said Miguel Clement, son and assistant to the trainer. “We were strongly considering a Kentucky Downs race or the Natalma, and we decided to go with the Natalma and we’re probably a little more at ease with the Woodbine course than we were with Kentucky Downs.”

Although Ozara was sent off at 12-1 in that debut, Clement said her success was no huge surprise for her connections.

“We liked this horse from day one. She’d been working well on the grass, and we were actually quite confident in her,” he said. “She’s a gutsy little filly, with tactical speed and a turn of foot that makes her very dangerous.”

The Clement outfit finished second in the 2021 edition of the Natalma with Pizza Bianca, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Trainer Mark Casse will be looking for his eighth victory in the Natalma, the most recent coming with Victory to Victory in 2016 and has entered a quartet of Golden Canary, Go With Gusto, Ready to Jam and Dancing Duchess.

Golden Canary and Go With Gusto are cross-entered in the Summer Stakes, the Grade 1, one-mile turf race for 2-year-olds, which also is part of the “Win and You’re In” series.

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber, Golden Canary defeated males to win the Soaring Free over 6 ½ furlongs of turf here on August 20. Dancing Duchess finished a neck back as the runner-up.

Airosa, conditioned by Kevin Attard, won the Catch A Glimpse, a 6 ½-furlong turf race named in honour of Casse’s Natalma and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner.

Attard also has entered Bolt Enoree and Rhapsody, with Airosa and Bold Enoree cross-entered in the Summer.

Dea Matrona (FR), making her first North American start for new trainer Chad Brown, also will invade from south of the border along with Brocknardini, She Feels Pretty, Ms. Tart, and She’s Fire.

Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer  

1 – Dazzling Star (GB) – William Buick – Charlie Appleby

2 – Bolt Enoree – Patrick Husbands – Kevin Attard

3 – Dancing Duchess – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Mark Casse

4 – Brocknardini – Declan Carroll – George Weaver

5 – Ms. Tart – Antonio Gallardo – Todd Beattie

6 – Airosa – Rafael Hernandez – Kevin Attard

7 – Simply in Front – Jose Campos – Patrick Dixon

8 – Ready to Jam – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

9 – Go With Gusto – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Mark Casse

10 – She’s Fire – Addiel Ayala – Kevin Rice

11 – She Feels Pretty – John Velazquez – Cherie DeVaux

12 – Ozara (IRE) – Dylan Davis – Christophe Clement

13 – Dea Matrona (FR) – Joel Rosario – Chad Brown

14 – Golden Canary – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

15 – Rhapsody – Kazushi Kimura – Kevin Attard ​