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ELMONT, NY – Lael Stables’ Magic Attitude will seek a return to winning form over familiar ground, taking on an all-graded stakes-winning field in Saturday’s $200,000 Sheepshead Bay (G2) for older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles over the inner turf course at Belmont Park.
Trained by Arnaud Delacour, Magic Attitude is the lone Grade 1 winner in the six-horse field, capturing her North American debut in last year’s Belmont Oaks Invitational in September.
The daughter of prolific international sire Galileo rallied from last of 5 in that race, displaying a powerful turn of foot in mid-stretch and crossing the wire a 2 1/2-length winner. The same late-running strategy was utilized next out in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) on October 10 at Keeneland, but she could not replicate the winning push of her prior start, finishing third, 1 1/4 lengths back to Harvey’s Lil Goil.
Magic Attitude arrives at the Sheepshead Bay off her 2021 debut in the Hillsborough (G2) on March 6 at Tampa Bay Downs, where she rode the rail throughout most of the journey, lacked racing room in upper stretch, and made a late bid in between horses to finish a close seventh.
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“She may have been a little short when we brought her back at Tampa,” Delacour said. “It didn’t work out well as far as the trip was concerned. She was down and on the inside and never got relaxed. I’m also not sure she likes the tight turns at Tampa either. So, we just regrouped after that race and we wanted to go where she’s been successful in the past to try and bring back her best form. We know she likes Belmont Park.”
Delacour noted that Belmont Park’s wider turns could play to his filly’s favor in the Belmont Oaks and hopes to see that play to her advantage on Saturday.
“She had a hard time with the tight turns. At Belmont, she had plenty of time to come gradually. She had balance and produced an explosive kick. We are looking for more stretch,” Delacour said. “The turns are wider at Belmont, and it was a slow pace when she won the Belmont Oaks, which gave her plenty of time to settle and come with a kick. We’ll see what the pace scenario is like, but likely she’ll take back and make one big run.”
Jockey Trevor McCarthy will pilot Magic Attitude from the inside post.
A victory in the Belmont Oaks qualified Magic Attitude for considerable bonus money should she win the $750,000 New York (G2), going 1 1/4 miles on June 4 at Belmont, or the $600,000 Flower Bowl (G1), at 1 3/8 miles on September 4 at Saratoga.
The “New York Stakes Turf Bonus” will provide $315,000 to the owner and $35,000 to the trainer of any previous winner of the filly Turf Triple series races – Belmont Oaks, Saratoga Oaks or Jockey Club Oaks – who captures the 2021 edition of the New York.
Additionally, the “Flower Bowl Bonus” will provide $300,000 to the owner and $30,000 to the trainer of any previous winner of a filly Turf Triple series race who wins the Flower Bowl, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event offering a berth in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) in November at Del Mar.
“The bonus is something that is definitely in the back of our minds,” Delacour said. “With a filly like her the main thing is to bring her back where she can win, and we know she loves Belmont Park. We’ll see how she does on Saturday.”
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Trainer Chad Brown seeks a fifth Sheepshead Bay win when he sends out My Sister Nat and Orglandes for their respective seasonal debuts.
“I think they’re both very classy fillies with a lot of potential. Both have very bright futures,” said Brown’s Belmont-based assistant trainer Dan Stupp. “They both wintered well, came up in great condition. They’ve trained well since they’ve been here.”
Owned by Peter Brant, My Sister Nat seeks a second graded stakes win in North America after winning the Waya (G3) going 1 1/2 miles on August 8 at Saratoga. The half-sister to 2018 Champion Turf Mare Sistercharlie trailed the field early on, inched her way into contention along the hedge midway down the backstretch, and swung four-wide in upper stretch for the win.
Following 2 graded stakes runner-up finishes to Civil Union, My Sister Nat finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on November 6 at Keeneland in her last start.
Stupp recalled My Sister Nat’s performance in the Long Island (G3) in November 2019 at the Big A, where she made up considerable ground only to miss a neck to Si Que Es Buena.
“When I first started working for Chad, she ran that huge race at Aqueduct where she just missed,” Stupp recalled. “After the race, we knew we were going to have a nice filly for next year. She continued to progress last year, just missing in the Grade 1 [Flower Bowl on October 3 at Belmont Park]. She’s got a nice year ahead of her, she’s just a late-blooming horse. She doesn’t look like her sister. She’s developed very nicely, it’s just taken her a while.”
While My Sister Nat seeks a return to winning form, Orglandes will look to pick back up where she left off after shipping to southern California for the Red Carpet (G3) on November 28 at Del Mar. The daughter of Le Havre made up considerable ground when traveling the 11-furlong distance to make a winning move in between horses in mid-stretch to win by a 1/2-length.
A dual winner in her native France, Orglandes earned her first trip to the winner’s circle in North America when travelling 9 furlongs over the inner turf course on October 9 at Belmont Park.
“That race last year in California got us excited for the year ahead,” Stupp said. “She’ll certainly be competing in the top stakes for older fillies on the grass throughout the year.”
Manny Franco has the call on My Sister Nat from the outermost post 6, while Orglandes will leave from post 3 under Eric Cancel.
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Al Shira’aa Farms Mutamakina also will make her 2021 bow looking to build on her triumph in the Long Island (G3) on November 28 at Aqueduct.
The 5-year-old daughter of Nathaniel originally was campaigned in France by trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias, for whom she placed in 2 Group 2 events, including to eventual Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sottsass.
She made her North American debut on October 31 over a yielding outer turf course at Belmont Park in the 12-furlong Zagora, where she was a troubled third for trainer Christophe Clement.
Saving ground in third along the hedge, Mutamakina was shuffled back around the far turn in the Zagora but made up considerable ground in the stretch to finish third, beaten a 1/2-length to winner Luck Money.
Mutamakina’s Long Island effort again displayed stalking tactics, where she maintained position around the far turn and confronted pacesetting stablemate Traipsing in the final strides to secure her first stakes win in North America by three-quarters of a length.
“She’s a very top class mare,” said four-time Sheepshead Bay winner Clement. “It’s ambitious running her there first time out, but she’s been doing very well. She ran a very good race in her North American debut, even though she got beat.”
Jockey Jose Lezcano will ride Mutamakina from post 2.
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Repole Stables’ Always Shopping will attempt to parlay her newfound affinity for turf marathon events when breaking from post 4 with Joe Bravo in the irons.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the daughter of Awesome Again out of graded stakes winner Stopshoppingmaria won the Gazelle (G3) on dirt at Aqueduct during her sophomore campaign in 2019, but a decline in winning form prompted her connections to give turf a try.
After a three-length win in the 1 1/8-mile Via Borghese in December at Gulfstream Park, she successfully stretched out to 1 1/2 miles in the La Prevoyante (G3) at Gulfstream in January, winning by the same margin. Always Shopping arrives off a close second place finish in the Orchid (G3) on March 28 at Gulfstream.
“She always breezed well on the dirt and when her progression sort of plateaued, we made the change to turf and it appears to have paid off,” said Pletcher’s Belmont-based assistant Byron Hughes.
Rounding out the field is Godolphin’s Antoinette, for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
The homebred daughter of Hard Spun made her 2021 debut a triumphant one when maintaining command the whole way around and drawing off to a 2 1/4-length win in the The Very One (G3) on February 27 at Gulfstream Park going 1 3/16 miles. Antoinette displayed similar frontrunning tactics when capturing the Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 8 at the Spa, which she won by a 1/2-length.
Through an 11-4-1-4 record, Antoinette boasts the field’s highest bankroll with earnings of $608,750.
Like fellow Sheepshead Bay contender Magic Attitude, Antoinette also qualifies for both the “New York Turf Bonus” and the “Flower Bowl Bonus.”
Breaking from post 5, Antoinette will be piloted by Edgard Zayas.
The Sheepshead Bay is slated as Race 10 on Belmont’s 11-race Saturday program, which also features the $200,000 Westchester (G3) at 1 mile over the main track and the $200,000 Fort Marcy (G2) for older horses going 9 furlongs over the inner turf. First post is 12:20 PM Eastern.
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