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TORONTO, ON – Though still a maiden, Gary Barber’s Sleek Lynx will try to bring trainer Mark Casse his record eighth title in Sunday’s $250,000 Natalma Stakes (G1) at Woodbine.
“She’s a nice filly – probably should have won her first star,” Casse said. “She’s a filly we’ve been high on since we got her. I didn’t think there was any way she could get beat, but she did. But she’s trained well, and I would expect her to run well.”
The winner of the Natalma will receive an automatic position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Natalma is a one-turn turf mile open to juvenile fillies. The 2020 edition attracted a field of 7.
Let’s look at the full field:
#1 Stunning Princess – Another maiden, she came within a nose of victory last time out after finishing second by 2 lengths in her debut. She cuts back in distance after both prior starts were 1 1/16-mile routes on the Saratoga lawn and adds Lasix for the first time.
#2 Seasons – She won her debut, a 1 1/16-mile Saratoga turf route, by a neck while running greenly as the 4/5 favorite. Her dam, Winter Memories, won 8 of 12 career turf starts (including 2 at the Grade 1 level) and finished second in 2010’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
#3 Sleek Lynx – She took the lead in mid-stretch on debut at Gulfstream Park but slipped back slightly after her jockey lost the whip and missed by a 1/2-length. Casse and new rider Rafael Hernandez, the meet’s current leading money-earner, are succeeding at a 30% rate this year.
#4 Dreaming of Drew – After breaking her maiden at second asking over the local synthetic main track, she nearly captured the Catch A Glimpse Stakes last time out, leading until the final jump. Justin Stein, the meet’s current wins leader, hops aboard for the first time.
#5 Alda – She rallied strongly in the stretch to nail Dreaming of Drew at the wire in the Catch A Glimpse, her second straight score after a sharp maiden-breaking Belmont Park effort. Trainer Graham Motion has a 3-1-0-2 record at the meet but is still seeking his first Natalma title.
#6 Lady Speightspeare – She made every pole a winning one in her career unveiling, a 7-furlong local jaunt that she took by 3 3/4 lengths. She recently worked 5 furlongs in :58.60 over the Woodbine turf training course and will likely try to take them all the way home in this spot.
#7 Big Big Plans – She broke her maiden by 6 furlongs on debut in a local 5 1/2-furlong synthetic sprint while being risked for a $25k tag. Her connections show major confidence by running her back protected, especially in a top-level stakes, but this is the ultimate class test.
The Natalma serves as race 9 and is one of 2 stakes on the Sunday card at Woodbine, including the Summer (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Turf. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue Saturday with 5 events at Santa Anita Park and 1 at Belmont Park.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.
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