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ELMONT, NY – Traditionally one of America’s premier races for sophomore fillies, Saturday’s $500,000 Acorn (G1) at Belmont Park attracted a compact, quality field including Dayoutoftheoffice and Search Results that will attempt to tackle Big Sandy’s one-turn mile.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival runs from Thursday through Saturday, June 5, culminating with the 153rd running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) presented by NYRA Bets. The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the “Test of the Champion” for 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown. First post on Belmont Stakes Day is 11:35 a.m. Eastern.
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Blazing Meadows Farm and Siena Farm’s Tim Hamm-trained Dayoutoftheoffice returns to the course and distance of her greatest triumph, last fall’s Frizette (G1), in what will be just her second start of the season. The daughter of Into Mischief defeated subsequently-crowned champion Vequist that day, just 4 weeks before their places were swapped in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
The Siena Farm homebred returned on Kentucky Oaks Day, April 30, to finish a game second to returning rival Obligatory in Churchill Downs’ Eight Belles (G2) over 7 furlongs. In 5 starts, she has never finished worse than second and has 3 victories.
“She’s doing great and coming in perfect,” Hamm said. “We worked her on Sunday morning and she went just as prescribed, doing exactly what we wanted. We are confident, but when you get to this level of racing, you need a good trip. She’s coming into the race in good shape.
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“She’s always been a mature filly, even at 2, and has been very good mentally,” Hamm continued. “She has put some body back on as a 3-year-old and the big thing about coming off the layoff with a filly is making sure they having the same ambition at 3. We circled the Acorn as a target.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the call from post 4.
“I think she’ll be close to the pace. She’s been tactical her whole career,” said Hamm.
Dayoutoftheoffice Still Perfect After Frizette
Klaravich Stables’ Search Results (post 6, Irad Ortiz Jr.) will hope to optimize her second top-level attempt after losing last month’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) by a neck to divisional leader Malathaat. Trained by Chad Brown, the daughter of Flatter went into the Classic undefeated from 3 tries, including the Gazelle (G3) at the Big A.
“It’s been 5 weeks, and (after the Kentucky Oaks) I said I’m going to point to the race under no pressure to run, and (owner) Mr. Klarman was fine with whatever I wanted to do,” Brown said. “She’s come back and worked really well. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that even if they work well, you’re going to find out how they’re really doing at the 1/4 pole and how much the last race did or didn’t affect them. I just can’t pass on a race where she would be favorite in a Grade 1 and she’s training this well. I am looking at the 5 weeks wishing I had a little more time for my own comfort, knowing what a hard stretch duel it was, but she’s doing well.”
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OXO Equine’s Brad Cox-trained Travel Column (post 1, Florent Geroux), a dual graded stakes winner, was sent off as the second choice in the Kentucky Oaks but faded to fifth after setting the pace. Topping this field’s price tags—$850,000 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga—the daughter of Frosted cuts back to one turn for the first time since graduating on debut over 6 furlongs in September.
“She’s a multiple Grade 2 winner and hopefully we can get her a Grade 1,” Cox said. “I like the cutback from a mile and an eighth to a one-turn mile. I think it’ll be a positive for her. She’s been training well. She’s had 3 nice breezes since the Oaks. With a good setup, she can make a big impression on Saturday.”
Favored Travel Column Flies In Fair Grounds Oaks
Gary Barber’s New York-bred Make Mischief (post 5, Tyler Gaffalione) was third in the Eight Belles after closing from mid-pack at long odds. The daughter of Into Mischief won the state-bred Maddie May Stakes at the Big A’s one-turn mile. Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, she is the most seasoned of the field, embarking on her 11th start.
“It’s coming up pretty tough, but she ran a great race last time,” Casse said. “She’s accomplished a fair amount already. She’s graded stakes-placed and a stakes winner, but she doesn’t have any Grade 1 type and that’s what we’re shooting for.”
Make Mischief saves best for last in late-rallying Maddie May score
Juddmonte’s aforementioned Obligatory (post 2, Jose Ortiz) enters in top form for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, landing her second career win from 4 starts in the Eight Belles. The homebred daughter of Curlin broke her maiden over a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park and appears well-suited to the trip.
Ruthless Stakes winner Miss Brazil (post 3, Javier Castellano) completes the field, seeking her fourth victory and exiting a one-sided, gate-to-wire Belmont sprint allowance tally on April 23. She was second to Search Results in Aqueduct’s Busher Invitational over a one-turn mile in March and posted a bullet-of-86 1/2-mile breeze in 47.40 last week.
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