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ELMONT, NY – Despite only drawing five runners, Saturday’s $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park is filled with sharp 3-year-old fillies all gunning for glory in the one-turn dirt event.
The 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose is the eighth event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 4:40 PM. Also on the card is the 1-mile Wild Applause for 3-year-old fillies on turf.
Here’s a look at the full field for the Mother Goose:
1. Make Mischief 4/1 – The field’s most experienced entry with a record of 11-4-3-2, she exits a strong third-place finish in the local 1-mile Acorn Stakes (G1) won by Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up Search Results. The New York-bred Mark Casse trainee’s Beyer Speed Figures improved in each of her past 4 starts, peaking with a career-best 93 from the Acorn, and will likely press the favorite on the lead.
2. Always Carina 1/1 – She takes the logical step up to stakes company after completely dominating her rivals in her 2 prior starts, a muddy (sealed) 6-furlong Aqueduct sprint on debut (won by 4 lengths) and a one-turn local dirt mile against optional claimers (9 3/4 lengths). With a strong pace advantage on paper, expect the Chad Brown trainee to go off as a heavy favorite for the third straight time.
“It’s a super race,” said Doug Cauthen, vice chairman of Always Carina’s owner/breeder Three Chimneys Farm. “I think it’s a good stepping stone as far as distance, and now we’ll see if she can handle the step up in class because it’s clearly going to be a challenging race. We think she has talent and she deserves the chance to be in there.”
3. Clairiere 9/5 – She cuts back to a one-turn race for the first time in her career while having never finished worse than second in 4 tries at this distance, a mark that includes taking February’s Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. The regally-bred Curlin daughter out of multiple Grade 1-winner Cavorting exits her lone off-the-board effort when fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, beaten 3 lengths.
4. Zaajel 12/1 – She kicked off her career winning a pair of 7-furlong dirt sprints at Gulfstream Park including the Forward Gal Stakes (G3) but struggled in her next 2 tries, both at 1 1/16 miles: the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) (sixth) and the Edgewood Stakes (G2) (seventh) on turf. Cutting back to a one-turn event and returning to dirt should help her chances, but her career-best Beyer (73) is lacking.
5. Illiogami 6/1 – She steps up to the stakes ranks for the first time on the heels of back-to-back 1 1/16-mile dirt route victories at Keeneland and Churchill Downs. While her hot streak could be partially attributed to expected improvement at age 3, she also received race-day Lasix in each start, an assistance that she won’t get here, and her last-to-first running style could make winning this one tough.
“At Keeneland, she didn’t get away good,” said trainer Rusty Arnold. “We didn’t think she’d be that far back, but she just got in a tangle and didn’t get away. At Churchill, it was more what we were hoping for. We weren’t going to rush her out of there and she gained momentum as she came on. We’re really excited about her.”
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