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ELMONT, NY – Defending champion Horologist seeks a repeat in the $250,000 Beldame Stakes (G2) and Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has a formidable duo set for the $150,000 Knickerbocker (G3) on Sunday’s card supporting the Futurity (G3).
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Reigning New Jersey-bred Horse of the Year Horologist will attempt to add her name to a list of prominent distaffers to secure back-to-back victories in the 81st running of the Beldame, a 9-furlong main track challenge for fillies and mares 3 and up.
As one of the most prestigious events on the racing calendar for fillies and mares, the Beldame has seen 15 horses capture the event en route to Eclipse Award honors for Champion Older Female at the end of the year. Eight sophomore fillies bested their elders in the Beldame to subsequently earn an Eclipse for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly honors at the end of their respective seasons.
Horologist is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, a three-time winner of the Beldame, and boasts a record of 25-9-3-4, including three graded stakes victories and lifetime earnings of $892,939.
In addition to last year’s Beldame, which she captured by three lengths over graded stakes winners Point of Honor and Dunbar Road, the 5-year-old daughter of Gemologist won the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks in August 2019 over Eclipse Award-winner Jaywalk and the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher last July at Monmouth Park in her first start for Mott.
Should Horologist win the Beldame, she would join an elite group of fillies and mares to win consecutive runnings, including Fairy Chant [1940-41], Gamely [1968-69], Desert Vixen [1973-74], Love Sign [1980-81], Lady’s Secret [1985-86], Personal Ensign [1987-88], and Sightseek [2003-04].
A Beldame victory would also likely result in another Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff endeavor after finishing a distant ninth in last year’s edition held at Keeneland.
Cameron Beatty, who races as There’s A Chance Stable, has owned Horologist since her eye-opening career debut in August 2018 at Monmouth, which she won by 20 ¾ lengths garnering a 63 Beyer Speed Figure for trainer John Mazza. The late New Jersey-bred conditioner saddled Horologist to five of her nine lifetime victories, including stakes wins in the Smart N Classy for New Jersey-breds and the Monmouth Oaks, both in the summer of 2019.
After Beatty sold shares to owners Medallion Racing, Parkland Thoroughbreds and Abbondanza Racing, Horologist was transferred to west coast-based conditioner Richard Baltas for whom she went winless in five starts. She recaptured her winning form when joining Mott’s stable, adding four stakes victories over as many racetracks to her resume.
Horologist arrives at the Beldame off a gate-to-wire win in the restricted Summer Colony on August 22, contested at nine furlongs over a good and sealed main track at Saratoga Race Course.
“When we ran her first out, she ran extremely well but didn’t come back with the strongest Beyer. Once we stretched her out, she was beautiful,” Beatty said. “She loves the mile and an eighth and luckily, the Beldame happens to be a mile and an eighth. Not to say that she couldn’t go further, but the distance is perfect for her.”
Beatty expressed excitement in the possibility of back-to-back Beldame scores.
“It’s definitely going to be incredible,” Beatty said. “With just the excitement of being there, nothing gets better than that. It’s never an easy task to ask for a horse to win back-to-back graded stakes, but she’s training well. Yesterday, I went over to go see her and I don’t think she’s ever looked better.”
Following last year’s Beldame coup, Horologist was supplemented to the Breeders’ Cup
“If she runs well, we won’t have to come up with another supplemental fee,” Beatty said. “There’s a chance we may head out west, no pun intended.”
Beatty and company have enjoyed the ride that Horologist has taken them on, which will end following a possible Breeders’ Cup endeavor. Horologist will be sold at the Keeneland November Sale as Hip No. 200 through the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment.
“Someone will be an extremely lucky buyer. She looks like an unbelievable specimen. I’ll miss her. It’ll be a bittersweet end to her journey,” Beatty said.
Junior Alvarado aboard for last year’s win, will return to the irons from post 4.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a trio of fillies in pursuit of a sixth Beldame triumph. He shares a record of five wins with his former mentor and fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.
Robert and Lawana Low’s Spice Is Nice will seek a second graded stakes victory, having captured the Grade 3 Allaire duPont Distaff on May 15 at Pimlico two starts back. The 4-year-old Curlin filly, out of the Grade 1-winning Bernardini mare Dame Dorothy, arrives at the Beldame off a four-month layoff and was last seen racing fifth to division leader Letruska in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis on June 27 at Churchill Downs.
“She’s a filly we’ve always thought a lot of and hopefully she can take a step forward,” Pletcher said.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who has piloted Spice Is Nice to all four of her victories, will ride from post 7.
After winning Sunday’s Grade 2 Pilgrim with Annapolis, Pletcher will try to give Bass Stables another graded stakes-winner at Belmont with Thankful. The 4-year-old American Pharoah bay will attempt her first win after making her seasonal bow a winning one in the Ladies on January 17 at Aqueduct.
Kendrick Carmouche will ride from post 1.
Shadwell Stables’ Zaajel will face elders for the first time, entering off a distant seventh in the Grade 1 Longines Test on August 7 at Saratoga.
The daughter of Street Sense will try to add a third graded stakes victory to her ledger. Two starts back, she made amends from two distant unplaced performances at graded stakes level, when taking the Grade 2 Mother Goose on June 27 over the Belmont main track. She won her stakes debut in the Grade 3 Forward Gal in January at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 3, Zaajel will be ridden by Manny Franco.
Veteran trainer Jimmy Ryerson will saddle Miss Marissa in pursuit of a third graded stakes triumph. Owned by Cammarota Racing, the 4-year-old gray or roan daughter of He’s Had Enough captured the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan last October at Pimlico, narrowly defeating graded stakes winner Bonny South by a neck.
Two starts ago, Miss Marissa recaptured her winning form when taking the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap in July en route to a distant eighth in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti on August 28 at Saratoga.
“We were really disappointed in her last effort, but Letruska is a beast,” Ryerson said. “Hopefully, we rebound from that and give a good account for ourselves. It will be a competitive race, but we have a nice filly. It’s in her backyard and we’re going to see if we can rebound.”
Jose Lezcano will ride from post 6.
Trainer Chad Brown will vie for his second Beldame victory when saddling Royal Flag [post 8, Joel Rosario] and Gold Spirit [post 5, Jose Ortiz].
A William S. Farish homebred, Royal Flag earned a second graded win two starts back capturing the Grade 3 Shuvee on August 1 at Saratoga en route to securing Grade 1 black type when a late-closing third in the Personal Ensign, where she earned a career-best 100 Beyer.
Royal Flag is by Candy Ride out of the Mineshaft mare Eagle, making her a half-sister to five-time graded stakes winner Catalina Cruiser and full-sister to graded stakes-winner Eagle.
Sumaya U.S.’s Gold Spirit, a Group 1-winner in her native Chile, makes her second start in North America. After a troubled fourth in the Shuvee, she showed an improved effort when second in the Summer Colony.
Completing the field is Stetson Racing’s So Darn Hot, a stakes-placed daughter of Ghostzapper who finished third in the Summer colony two starts back. Trained by George Weaver, So Darn Hot is out of the Tiznow mare Tizahit, who produced Grade 1-winner Come Dancing.
So Darn Hot will leave post 2 under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.
Pletcher is set to saddle No Word and En Wye Cee in the Knickerbocker, a 9-furling inner turf test for 3-year-olds and up.
Wertheimer and Frere’s homebred No Word, a 4-year-old Silent Name colt, competed in both legs of last year’s Turf Triple series, finishing third in the 1 3/16-mile Saratoga Derby Invitational and second in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.
No Word made both of his two starts this year at Saratoga Race Course, including a wide-traveling eighth in an optional-claimer in August ahead of a game second last out in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap, contested over yielding ground on September 6.
“First start back he had a bad trip and was hung out wide the whole way,” Pletcher said. “I thought he ran much better next time, but unfortunately didn’t have much of a pace to run at. He ran well in spite of that.”
Out of the A.P. Indy mare Listen A.P., No Word is a full brother to multiple graded-stakes winner Silentio.
“He’s a horse we always thought had graded stake ability, so we’re giving it another try,” Pletcher said.
Waterford Stable’s homebred En Wye Cee, a 5-year-old son of Declaration of War, finished a prominent third in last year’s Knickerbocker to close out his 2020 campaign.
The lightly-raced bay, who sports a ledger of 8-3-0-4, made his seasonal debut with a third-place finish to Knickerbocker-rival L’Imperator in a nine-furlong optional-claiming tilt on August 4 over firm footing at the Spa. He was scheduled to run in the Bernard Baruch but was scratched following an afternoon rainstorm softened the sod.
“He’s a consistent horse. He got a little unlucky and had to scratch with the soft turf the other day, so hopefully the ground remains firm and he gets a chance to do his thing,” Pletcher said.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will pilot En Wye Cee from post 8, while Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will guide No Word from post 9.
Phipps Stable’s homebred Breaking the Rules finished fourth as the mutuel favorite in last year’s Knickerbocker.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who won back-to-back editions of the Knickerbocker with Boisterous in 2012-13, the now 6-year-old Breaking the Rules will look to make the grade while making his third start of the campaign.
Following an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January at Gulfstream Park, the multiple graded-stakes placed son of War Front returned off a seven-month layoff to best Knickerbocker-rival Sacred Life in a one-mile optional-claimer contested over firm footing at the Spa.
Joel Rosario has the call from post 2.
Flying P Stable’s Temple, a 5-year-old Temple City gelding, will look to go from claim-to-fame for trainer Tom Morley.
The dark bay was haltered for $80,000 out of a fifth-place finish in June at Belmont and after an off-the-board effort in the restricted Lure in August at Saratoga, Temple posted a solid one-length score in a 10-furlong optional-claiming event which garnered a 93 Beyer Speed Figure.
Kendrick Carmouche picks up the mount from post 5.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will saddle Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Robert V. LaPenta’s L’Imperator and Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael J. Caruso’s Sacred Life.
A 4-year-old French-bred son of Holy Roman Emperor, L’Imperator launched his career in France winning two of four starts. He joined Brown last year and finished seventh in the Grade 3 Saranac last August in his lone sophomore start.
L’Imperator opened his campaign with a 1 3/4-length score in a nine-furlong optional-claiming tilt on August 4 at the Spa and finished an even third last out in the Bernard Baruch.
Sacred Life, a 6-year-old French-bred Siyouni ridgling, will look for his first win of the campaign while stepping up in distance from a pair of competitive efforts at one mile at the Spa, finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple in July and a closing second last out in an optional-claiming event on August 29.
Manny Franco will guide L’Imperator from post 4, while Sacred Life will emerge from post 3 under Jose Ortiz.
Rounding out the field are Corelli [post 6, Junior Alvarado], winner of the Grade 3 Singspiel in August at Woodbine; multiple graded stakes winner Field Pass [post 1, Dylan Davis]; and graded-stakes placed Epic Bromance [post 7, Jose Lezcano].
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