Fillies are in the spotlight at Belmont Park on Thursday, with the headline G2 Wonder Again Stakes on the lawn featuring the up-and-coming Revalita, who heads a strong entry from distaff king Chad Brown. The ungraded Jersey Girl is reckoned to be a two-horse war, with G1 winner Chocolate Gelato taking on G2 winner Red Carpet Ready in what could be a duel to savour.
Wonder Again Stakes
G2, $200,000, 1m 1f turf, 3yo fillies, 7.15pm ET
It will be a common refrain over the long Belmont Park weekend, but the place to start when assessing the distaff races – especially on the weeds – is Chad Brown’s habitual multiple entry, and that’s certainly the case in the Wonder Again Stakes, the highlight of Thursday’s action.
Brown – who has won this race a record four times, including 12 months ago – puts three in the gate and his main chance is morning-line favourite Revalita (5-2), a French import who has adapted quickly to life Stateside and was narrowly denied a stakes breakthrough when beaten three-quarters of a length in the G2 Edgewood over a mile-sixteenth at Churchill Downs last month.
She was rallying strongly and would have got there in a few more strides and this could be an easier spot, given that the third and fourth Mission Of Joy and Papilio filled the exacta in the G3 Regret last Saturday.
Her barnmate Venencia (7-2) – another arrival from France – is harder to get a handle on with only one start in the US, a good effort when third as favourite in a mile allowance at Keeneland after flunking the start and finishing off her race well – the winner was fourth in the G3 Regret next time, offering a collateral formline.
Irad Ortiz is an eyecatching booking and she may be a step ahead of third-string Prerequisite (6-1), who got off the mark at the second chance when bossing a maiden over course and distance in a very fast time, although the turf track was riding like lightning that weekend.
The main threat to Brown’s dominance is Spansive (7-2), unbeaten in two and a gate-to-wire winner of an allowance here over a mile-sixteenth, when she didn’t have to work too hard to turn back the rallying Juniper’s Moon (6-1) by a length and a quarter. Spansive finished a long way ahead of Prerequisite when they debuted at Gulfstream Park in April and is certainly ready for this move up, as there may be plenty more to come and trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race twice in the last three years.
In further collateral formlines, Juniper’s Moon previously ran a longshot pace-pressing third in the G3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs behind the aforementioned Mission Of Joy, beaten two and three-quarter lengths but a length and a half ahead of the rallying Allamericanbeauty (8-1) – a next-time-out allowance winner, beating the subsequent G3 Regret third – in fifth.
A watching brief may be best for Be Your Best (8-1), whose last two starts – admittedly in a G1 and G2 – have been pretty disappointing, while Thirty Thou Kelvin (30-1) is fully exposed and her zero-for-three record in stakes suggests this is too tough a spot.
Wonder Again Stakes Odds & Betting Pick
The form shown by REVALITA on her most recent start looked good at the time, has been very well boosted since, and she can continue on the upgrade.
|Horse||Jockey||Odds by Jazzsports|
|Venencia (FR)||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+350|
|Juniper’s Moon||Javier Castellano||+600|
|Be Your Best (IRE)||Manuel Franco||+800|
|Revalita (FR)||Jose L. Ortiz||+250|
|Thirty Thou Kelvin||Feargal Lynch||+3000|
Jersey Girl Stakes
Ungraded, $150,000, 6f dirt, 3yo fillies, 6.45pm ET
The Belmont racing secretary has the Jersey Girl down as a two-horse race with everything else disregarded, but as those two major players both have obstacles to overcome the race may not be as clear-cut as it seems on paper.
The slight favourite is Red Carpet Ready (6-5), who has a four-for-five count with her only defeat coming when stretched out to a mile in the G2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park, when she faded in the final furlong in the fashion of a non-stayer.
She did much better before and after, when winning the G3 Forward Gal at the same track over seven furlongs, after being close to the speed, and then when outfighting the previously unbeaten Munnys Gold to get the seven-furlong G2 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs by a head.
Red Carpet Ready has pace and class, and the question is whether she has enough pace to drop down a furlong. There’s early speed here, and that should help.
Her market rival Chocolate Gelato (7-5) took high rank last year when a willing winner of the G1 Frizette at Aqueduct over a mile, which made her a big noise in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland, but she dropped right out after showing up early and trailed home 12th of 13.
Now Chocolate Gelato has both a seven-month layoff and a sharp cutback to contend with, and given her G1 tag she may not be wound up 100 per cent for a mere stakes race on her comeback. She won her maiden over six furlongs but probably won’t be suited by what could turn into a burn-up.
There is potential in Aunt Becca (6-1), who came off synthetics to win a pretty weak six-furlong allowance at Keeneland on her main-track debut. She was a pace factor there and is likely to play the same role again, but she could run a career-best and finish third, such is the talent she faces.
L Street Lady (10-1) outran her 48-1 odds when keeping on late off a strong pace to show in the six-furlong G3 Miss Preakness at Pimlico. That likely flatters her considerably although a similar pace scenario could play here, while Girl Trouble (12-1), winner of two stakes races over six and seven furlongs at Parx over the winter, is fully exposed and seems to be regressing in any case.
Fellow Parx winner Unified Alliance (15-1), who romped gate-to-wire in a seven-furlong allowance by ten and a quarter lengths, was beaten out of sight when last of four in an Aqueduct stakes next time and may need an easier spot, while Wildhawk (30-1) is going in at the deep end after winning a four-runner maiden over six furlongs at Aqueduct.
Jersey Girl Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction
The market probably has this right and RED CARPET READY, who beat a rising star last time, can make her class, pace and race-fitness count.
|Horse||Jockey||Odds by Jazzsports|
|Red Carpet Ready||Luis Saez||+120|
|Unified Alliance||Javier Castellano||+1500|
|Chocolate Gelato||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+140|
|Aunt Becca||Joel Rosario||+600|
|Girl Trouble||Paco Lopez||+1200|
|L Street Lady||Manuel Franco||+1000|
**The G2T Wonder Again and the Jersey Girl will now be run on June 11th. Racing at Belmont has been cancelled on June 8th due to poor air quality**
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