ELMONT, NY – Trainer Graham Motion will saddle a pair of graded stakes winners as part of a seven-horse field of older fillies and mares in the $250,000 New York (G2) at 1 1/4 miles on Belmont Park’s inner turf on Saturday.
The New York is one of four graded stakes on a packed 11-race card, highlighted by the $250,000 Just a Game for fillies and mares going 1 mile on the Widener turf but also featuring the $150,000 True North (G2) for 4-year-olds and up going 6 1/2 furlongs and the $100,000 Vagrancy (G3) for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up contesting at 6 1/2 furlongs, also on the main track. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.
Among Motion’s trainees is Alex G. Campbell, Jr.’s Mean Mary, who has started her 4-year-old campaign with consecutive graded stakes wins in front-running fashion. The Kentucky homebred went gate-to-wire to win the 1 1/2-mile La Prevoyante (G3) in January over the Gulfstream Park turf and followed with another winning effort on the course by leading a 12-horse field through every point of call in the 1 3/8-mile Orchid (G3) on March 28, registering a personal-best 97 Beyer speed figure. She has won her last 3 starts overall, ranging from 1 1/8 miles to a mile and 1/2.
“Her career took off in Florida,” Motion said. “We thought from her first race that she was talented and it seems like she’s gotten better and better. The first time I ran her in the longer stake, it was more because of the circumstances and lack of options. I just thought it was something she could handle, but clearly it was something she was looking to do.”
A daughter of Scat Daddy, Mean Mary is 4-1-0 in 6 career starts, with her only off-the-board finish coming in her lone main track start when fifth on debut in September. Once Motion moved her to grass, she has won 4 of her last 5 and finished as the runner-up in the other contest, a 1-mile allowance at Aqueduct Racetrack, in November.
“She’s a filly who had shown some ability in the morning and handled dirt well enough, but it’s probably not a surprise that she improved on the grass.”
Luis Saez, aboard for the last three wins, will have the return call from the outside post.
Her stablemate, Andrew Stone’s Mrs. Sippy, will be making her first start since running ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) in November at Santa Anita.
After making her first 9 starts in Europe, Mrs. Sippy arrived in the United States last summer, where she promptly won her first appearance for Motion by rallying from last-of-seven to win the 1 3/8-mile Glens Falls (G2) by 1 3/4 lengths at Saratoga.
Just five weeks later, Motion ran her back in the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont, where she ran second to Sistercharlie. The Breeders’ Cup marked her third start in just more than two months, and Motion gave her time off in the Sunshine State to start her 5-year-old year in 2020.
Mrs. Sippy has been training at Fair Hill with Mean Mary, breezing in company on Sunday and going 6 furlongs in 1:13.00 on the all-weather training track.
“They had their last work together last weekend and she’s ready to go,” Motion said. “She wintered down in Florida. We had a couple of minor setbacks. She irritated her eye once and missed a couple of works, so it’s taken us a little bit longer but quite frankly, she didn’t really miss any opportunities with the whole Covid-19 situation. The timing is pretty good.”
Motion said the rest could be beneficial for later in the year as they attempt to keep the daughter of Blame firing for the biggest races towards the end of the campaign.
“We want to have her fresh for the fall. Last year, the Breeders’ Cup came at the end of a long year,” Motion said. “Hopefully, we’ll have her fresher for the fall this time around.”
Joel Rosario will have the call from post 6.
Feel Glorious will make her seasonal bow as one of two entrants for trainer Christophe Clement. Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Tango Uniform Racing, the English-bred 4-year-old enters off a win in the 1 1/16-mile Winter Memories in December at Aqueduct and was training in Florida at Payson Park before shipping to Belmont.
Jockey Junior Alvarado, who will be in the irons Saturday from post 2, has been working her in the mornings.
“Feel Glorious has been working well the past few weeks with Junior Alvarado,” Clement said. “There’s a small question mark with the distance, but we’re going to give it a try.”
R Unicorn Stable’s Call Me Love, a fellow English bred, was impressive in her first North American start last out, running second to Rushing Fall in the Beaugay (G3) on June 3 at Belmont. The 4-year-old garnered a 99 Beyer for that effort, running at 1 1/16 miles, and will return to the same distance as her last two starts in Italy, posting wins in a Group 2 and Group 3 contest, respectively, last fall.
“She’s doing very well,” Clement said. “She looked nice in her American debut and she worked well with Irad (Ortiz, Jr.) on Friday.”
Under Ortiz, Jr., she will depart from post 1.
Trainer Chad Brown will also saddle two contenders. Peter Brant’s My Sister Nat ended her 4-year-old year as the runner up in the Long Island (G3) in November at Aqueduct in her North American stakes debut. The French-bred half-sister to Sistercharlie drew post 3 with Jose Ortiz.
“She’s training well and seems to be improving,” Brown said. “They’re much different physically and Sistercharlie has a much bigger turn of foot.”
Wise Racing’s Fools Gold will also make her first start of the year, coming off a near eight-month layoff. The 5-year-old Medaglia d’Oro mare won the Grade 3 Waya last August at Saratoga before running out of the money in the Grade 2 Glens Falls and the Zagora.
Jockey Manny Franco, who won the Belmont Stakes (G1) aboard Tiz the Law last week, has the call from post 4.
“This filly I wanted to bring back in an easier spot but the change of schedules because of the virus, it never happened,” Brown said. “I think she’s training well enough. She’ll move forward exiting this race.”
Valiance, trained by Todd Pletcher, won her first three starts before an 11-month layoff. In her return, she ran third in the Power Break on May 16 at Gulfstream. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will pick up the mount for the first time, with the duo leaving from post 5.
The 77th running of the New York, slated as Race 8, will feature on America’s Day at the Races, produced by NYRA in partnership with FOX Sports, and airing live on FOX Sports and MSG+. Free Equibase-provided past performances are available for races that are part of the broadcast and can be accessed at www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.