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Aaron previews the 2022 Glen Cove Stakes at Belmont at the Big A, then gives his top picks and longshots. Already a 2-time stakes winner, Poppy Flower hopes to make her last start of her 3-year-old campaign a winning one for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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Arnmore Thoroughbreds’ Poppy Flower will vie for her third career stakes victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in Friday’s second running of the $120,000 Glen Cove, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for sophomore fillies, at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
A daughter of Lea, Poppy Flower enters from a close fifth-place finish in the 6 1/2-furlong Music City on September 13 at Kentucky Downs where she angled out in the stretch run after closing from 11th-of-12 and came up 2 3/4 lengths short of victory.
“She got a little far back,” said Mott. “We’ll run her this one more time and then give her a little break.”
The Music City was Poppy Flower’s fifth start for Mott after starting out with conditioner Wesley Ward for a juvenile campaign that saw her earn two stakes placings with a runner-up finish in the Bolton Landing at Saratoga Race Course and a third in the Ainsworth at Kentucky Downs. After a seven-month respite, she made her seasonal bow for Mott in May with a distant fourth-place finish in an off-the-turf allowance at Belmont Park en route to her first stakes score in the Stormy Blues in June at Laurel Park.
After a game runner-up finish to Empress Tigress in Saratoga’s Coronation Cup on July 15, Poppy Flower returned to the Spa to display an impressive turn of foot with a one-length score in the Galway on August 11. The chestnut filly was sixth at the stretch call but responded to urging from Jose Ortiz to pick off her rivals and complete the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.09. The effort garnered a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure.
“She’s had a good year already,” Mott said. “She’s won a couple and has been running really well. When we got her, she was a fresh horse, so that helps. I didn’t have her last year, but she improved having had the time off over the winter. Hopefully she has another good one in her.”
Poppy Flower will emerge from the inside post with Ortiz in the irons.
Mott will also be represented by LNJ Foxwoods’ maiden winner Wonka [post 10, Junior Alvarado], who enters from a close fifth-place finish in the restricted Riskaverse on August 25 at the Spa. A maiden winner at second asking sprinting seven furlongs this March at Gulfstream Park, the daughter of Twirling Candy was fourth, beaten just one length, in the Grade 3 Soaring Softly in May at Belmont.
Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Girl With a Dream, who will make her turf debut, enters as one of two fillies in the field to boast a graded stakes victory on her resume. Trained by two-time Eclipse Award-winner Brad Cox, the daughter of Practical Joke went wire-to-wire to post a one-length victory in the Grade 3 Forward Gal in February at Gulfstream Park. She has been away from the races since a well-beaten sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Davona Dale over the same course in her next outing. The chestnut filly also won the Letellier Memorial in December at Fair Grounds Race Course.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the call from post 7.
Sail By [post 4, Javier Castellano], the other graded stakes winner in the field, will look to improve from a last-out eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Pebbles on September 18 at Belmont at the Big A where she was defeated three lengths in a bunched up field of nine.
Owned and bred by Treadway Racing Stable and trained by Leah Gyarmati, Sail By is searching for her first victory since a one-length score in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo last October at Belmont. Her two best finishes this year from four starts were a pair of third-place efforts in the Memories of Silver in April at Aqueduct and the Grade 3 Soaring Softly in May at Belmont.
Conditioner Christophe Clement will also be represented by two contenders with Infinity Nine Horses’ Zelda [post 8, Flavien Prat] and West Point Thoroughbreds, Chris Larsen and Titletown Racing Stables’ Gal in a Rush [post 6, Dylan Davis].
Zelda, a bay Zelzal filly, will make her stateside debut after arriving from the barn of trainer Jean-Claude Rouget in her native France. There, she earned three victories that were capped by a stakes triumph in the Prix Saraca sprinting seven furlongs over soft Chantilly turf last October. Zelda has posted a series of works over the Belmont inner turf since mid-September, most recently breezing a half-mile in 50.16 seconds on Saturday.
Clement said Zelda, who won on debut sprinting six furlongs last July at Saint-Cloud, will likely stretch out in the future.
“She’s training well. She’s a little bit high mentally, but physically she’s done very well,” Clement said. “I think six furlongs is a nice place to bring her back. She probably wants to go a bit further, but starting her at six makes sense.”
Gal in a Rush, a daughter of Ghostzapper, has yet to cross the finish line first in seven starts, but broke her maiden last September at Belmont when elevated to first after the disqualification of subsequent graded stakes winner Haughty from a one-mile maiden special weight. Since then, the bay filly has scored three stakes placings, including a runner-up effort in last year’s Grade 3 Matron when defeated a half-length by Bubble Rock. Her latest effort was an even fourth-place finish in a first-level optional claimer on August 12 at Saratoga.
Clement said he hopes for a better trip for Gal in a Rush, who has been forced at least four-wide in five of her seven lifetime outings.
“She’s training well,” said Clement. “She’s a nice filly, she’s just been a bit unlucky this year.”
Trainer Michael Trombetta will seek a second consecutive win in this event with Ironhorse Racing Stable’s Half Is Enough after taking last year’s inaugural edition with Aug Lutes. Half Is Enough, a daughter of Frosted, was a dominant 7 3/4-length winner on debut in a six-furlong maiden last September over the Monmouth Park main track. She followed with two allowance level victories before being defeated three-quarters of a length by Hot Peppers in the Grade 3 Victory Ride in July at Belmont.
Half Is Enough, who arrives from a distant fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Prioress on September 2 at the Spa, has made only one outing over the turf, finishing seventh-of-9 in the Galway 8 1/4 lengths behind Poppy Flower.
Trevor McCarthy picks up the mount from post 5.
Completing the field are the Eddie Barker-trained Everyoneloveslinda [post 2, Kendrick Carmouche] for owners Rudina Stable and K Five Stable; Alex Kazdan’s stakes-winning Music Amore [post 3, Eric Cancel] for conditioner Robert Klesaris; and Shadwell Stables’ homebred stakes-placed Tasweya [post 9, Andrew Wolfsont] for trainer Michael Pino.
The Glen Cove is slated as Race 8 on Friday’s nine-race card. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
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