(Love Reigns at Keeneland / Coady Media)

From the NYRA Media Team / Christian Abdo:

Stonestreet Stables’ Love Reigns is set to make her second start off the layoff in Friday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Intercontinental presented by MTV Solutions, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for older fillies and mares, on June 7 Day Two of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, at Saratoga Race Course.

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which spans Thursday through Sunday, is highlighted by the 156th edition of the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday, June 8. The four-day Festival will include 24 stakes races with purses totaling $10.25 million, the highest purse levels and number of stakes offered since the launch of the multi-day festival in 2014.

Trained by Wesley Ward, the 4-year-old U S Navy Flag bay finished second in her seasonal bow in the Grade 3 Giant’s Causeway to returning rival Roses for Debra, sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs for the sixth time in her seven-race career, on April 21 at Keeneland.

Love Reigns has breezed back three times since the place-effort, including a half-mile Friday over the Oklahoma turf training track in 52.80 seconds.

“​​She ran a big race at Keeneland, and she has good spacing now, so she’s ready to roll,” said Ward. “She worked good [Friday]. I was happy with that.”

The talented turf sprinter, a $187,123 purchase at the 2021 Goffs Orby Yearling Sale, was a top prospect since her juvenile campaign, where she graduated at first-asking by 9 3/4 lengths at Keeneland ahead of a trip to Royal Ascot to finish fourth in the five-furlong Group 2 Queen Mary.

She was victorious in her return to the states in Saratoga’s Listed Bolton Landing in August ahead of an off-the-board finish as the favorite in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint versus colts in November at Keeneland, under Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Hall of Famer Joel Rosario has been aboard in her three efforts since the Breeders’ Cup attempt, including a win in the Listed Limestone last April going Friday’s distance at Keeneland. Ward said he hopes the veteran can launch a closing trip from post 10.

“I think Rosario will be able to settle her and come with a run. She’s trained great,” Ward said.

Bred in Ireland by Patrick Grogan, Love Reigns, out of the Pivotal mare Humble And Proud, is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Glorious Empire, who won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer and Grade 2 Bowling Green in 2018 at Saratoga.

Ward will also be represented by Gregory Kaufman’s Kentucky homebred Kaufymaker [post 2, Luis Saez], who returns from a respite dating to an off-the-board effort in the 5 1/2-furlong Grade 2 Woodford in October at Keeneland.

The Jimmy Creed chestnut was winless in four efforts as a juvenile but well-regarded after Listed stakes placings in Kentucky Downs’ Juvenile Sprint and Keeneland’s Indian Summer en route to a third in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

Kaufymaker graduated in her lone start as a sophomore in an allowance in October 2022 at Keeneland before a layoff until last April. That year, she’d go on to piece together a campaign that included optional-claiming turf sprint wins in May at Churchill Downs and in August at Saratoga.

Trainer Christophe Clement has entered a pair of contenders in Roses for Debra [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Gal in a Rush [post 8, Flavien Prat], as he looks for his second Intercontinental-triumph to go along with Zindaya [2015].

Cheyenne Stable and John O’Meara’s Roses for Debra has won 8-of-12 lifetime outings, all sprints, and enters off a score in the aforementioned Grade 3 Giant’s Causeway. She is also under consideration for the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing, on June 8 Belmont Stakes Day.

The 5-year-old Liam’s Map gray earned a field-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure in a 3 1/4-length victory of the Listed Smart N Fancy in August at Saratoga ahead of two five-furlong events versus males, when third in the Grade 3 Turf Monster in September at Parx Racing and ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Santa Anita Park.

West Point Thoroughbreds and Chris Larsen’s Gal in a Rush was beaten a neck by stablemate Dontlookbackatall last-out in the Listed License Fee on May 5 at Belmont at the Big A. There, the 5-year-old Ghostzapper bay was embarking on her 5-year-old season after capping last year with a pair of allowance-level scores in July at Belmont Park and August at the Spa.

Gal in a Rush has hit the board in 10-of-14 starts, including a close runner-up effort a half-length back of multiple graded stakes-winner Bubble Rock in the Grade 3 Matron as a juvenile, and a close third-place effort in the Stewart Manor to close out that campaign, both sprinting six furlongs over firm Belmont turf.

Gary Barber’s Run for the Hills [post 1, Jose Ortiz] has been ultra-consistent for Hall of Famer Mark Casse, hitting the board in 9-of-10 starts versus winners including a last-out third in the 5 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Unbridled Sidney on May 3 at Churchill Downs.

There, the 5-year-old Runhappy bay came with a powerful seven-wide rally to nearly capture her first graded stakes, which came off an allowance win at the same distance on April 7 at Keeneland. Jose Ortiz, aboard for the strong past two efforts, retains the mount.

“Jose felt she broke a little flat footed [last-out] and they were running away from her. So, he just let her settle and she came with a big run,” said Casse. “She ran very well and if she can run back to that effort at Saratoga, I think she would run very well.”

Casse, who won the then-Grade 3 Intercontinental in 2017 with Mississippi Delta, added that sprint distances seem to suit Run for the Hills, who came from well off-the-pace in her last effort for show-honors.

“Now that she has a little different running style, maybe she can go a little farther,” said Casse. “She’s a filly that had some issues early on in her career and has just got better and better as she’s got older.”

R. Larry Johnson’s Maryland homebred Future Is Now [post 5, Paco Lopez] looks to make the grade after a 2 1/4-length score in the The Very One on May 17 over good turf at Pimlico Race Course for trainer Michael Trombetta. The 4-year-old Great Notion bay was awarded a 97 Beyer Speed Figure for the five-furlong stakes score.

Future is Now had previously finished fifth versus males in the King T. Leatherbury on April 20 at Laurel Park. Usually on or near the lead, as seen when second in the Captiva Island in March at Gulfstream Park, she employed new tactics when rallying from 2 1/2 lengths off-the-pace to her last-out score.

Rounding out the field are stakes-winner Lady Milagro [post 4, Luis Rivera, Jr.] for conditioner Carlos Martin; a pair of last-out optional-claiming winners in Everyoneloveslinda [post 3, Eric Cancel] for trainer Linda Rice and Spicybug [post 9, Manny Franco] for conditioner Michael McCarthy; and eight-time winner Medalla Match [post 7, Brian Hernandez, Jr.] who makes her second start in the barn of Cherie DeVaux.

The Intercontinental is slated as Race 9 on Friday’s stacked 12-race card that also features a trio of Grade 1 events, including the $500,000 Just a Game, a one-mile turf test for older fillies and mares in Race 10; the $750,000 New York presented by Rivers Casino, a 1 3/16-mile turf route for older fillies and mares, in Race 11; and the Grade 1, $500,000 DK Horse Acorn, a nine-furlong main track bout for sophomore fillies, in Race 12.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.belmontstakes.com/event-info/tv-schedu….