(Maracuja / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Trainer Rob Atras said Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ Maracuja will breeze Saturday on the Belmont Park dirt training track in preparation for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on April 30 at Churchill Downs.

“She’ll work on Saturday morning and if everything goes good and she comes out of it well, she’ll leave for Kentucky on Sunday afternoon,” said Atras. “She’ll have a half-mile breeze. I don’t think she needs anything too serious. She puts a lot into her gallops and it’s not like she’s had a ton of time between races.”

The third time was the charm for the daughter of third-crop sire Honor Code, who broke her maiden sprinting 6 ½-furlongs by 3 3/4-lengths on February 21 at Aqueduct over a good track. 

Last out, Maracuja stretched out to two turns for the first time, closing from last-of-6 off a moderate pace to finish second to undefeated Search Results in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Gazelle on April 3 at the Big A.

“We were expecting her to run well, but we were asking a lot of her to come out of a maiden sprint,” said Atras. “I was happy with the way she settled. Unfortunately, it was a slower pace and that wasn’t to our advantage, but the winner was going to be tough to beat no matter what. I was really pleased with the way she finished up going two turns for the first time. She was really determined.”

Atras said the $200,000 purchase at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale has progressed well with race experience.

“She’s grown up physically. Not necessarily that she’s gotten bigger, but after a few races she’s toughened up a little bit,” said Atras. “She was a little bit soft last year and we had to stop on her a couple times. She’s more relaxed in her works and really all business. Mentally, she’s quite mature for a young filly. She really has come a long way.”

Sanford J. Goldfarb, Irwin Goldfarb and the Estate of Ira Davis’ American Power brings a four-race win streak into Saturday’s seventh race at Belmont, a $96,000 seven-furlong allowance optional-claiming sprint.

The 6-year-old Power Broker chestnut, claimed for $40,000 in July at Saratoga, launched his streak in October at Belmont with a claiming win travelling a one-turn mile over sloppy going and followed with a front-running score over returning rival Mihos in a seven-furlong optional-claiming event in December at Aqueduct.

American Power made the grade with a half-length score over Pete’s Play Call in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan in January at the Big A ahead of a one-length win over the same foe last out in the seven-furlong Caixa Eletronica on March 27 on New York Claiming Championship Day.

A deep field on Saturday includes Grade 1-placed Souper Stonehenge, stakes-winner T Loves a Fight and stakes-placed Lookin At Bikinis.

“That race is tougher than the starter stakes he was in last time and there’s a couple in there that would have been tough in the stakes he won before that, too,” said Atras, who entered American Power with a $100,000 tag. “It’s a very deep, competitive field. The race has a really nice purse, they upped the optional-claiming from $80,000 to $100,000. He’s kind of in between a stakes horse and an optional horse. He’s out of conditions so we had to put him in for the $100,000, but he’s not going over there as the heavy favorite. It will be a tough dash.”

Michael Dubb’s Chateau is working towards a possible start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Runhappy, a six-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up on May 8 at Belmont.

The 6-year-old son of Flat Out won the Grade 3 Tom Fool on March 6 at the Big A and set a swift pace last out before fading to fourth in the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap at seven furlongs on April 3.

Chateau, who has never won past 6 ½-furlongs, has proven to be a consistent sprinter with a record of 34-7-9-8 and purse earnings just shy of $500,000.

“We’ll definitely nominate to the Runhappy and go from there,” said Atras. “Nothing has been confirmed yet but he’s training towards it. We’re just trying to figure out the best thing for him going forward.”

Chateau worked a half-mile in 51.77 seconds on the Belmont dirt training track on April 18.

“He’s very good in the morning. For a sprinter, he’s not a run off,” said Atras. “He starts off his breezes easy and will pick it up and have a nice, long gallop out. In his past few starts – not necessarily last time – I think that’s helped him in carrying on the last eighth after going so fast early. I think it helps him stay sound and keep going being able to relax like that in the morning.”

Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables’ Saint Selby, a New York-bred sophomore son of Kantharos, earned a 67 Beyer Speed Figure in a dramatic nose debut score on March 13 at the Big A in a seven-furlong state-bred maiden special weight.

Bred by Fifth Avenue Bloodstock, Saint Selby was purchased for $75,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-Bred Yearling Sale. He worked a half-mile in 50.89 Wednesday on the Belmont dirt training track with a number of options under consideration, including the $125,000 Mike Lee at seven furlongs on turf for state-bred sophomores on May 31.

“We backed off on him after that first race. We worked him yesterday and we’re not sure what to do with him yet,” said Atras. “There’s not a lot of options for straight 3-year-olds, so we’re looking at an allowance race on May 1 on the turf or May 8 on the dirt. There’s also the Mike Lee a few weeks after that.

“We don’t want to push him too much,” added Atras. “He’s a young horse and we want to bring him into the race the best way possible.”

Dennis Narlinger’s Sadie Lady is likely to enter the $100,000 License Fee, a six-furlong turf sprint for 4-year-olds and up that was rescheduled from Sunday to Friday, April 30 due to inclement weather forecasted for the Elmont area.

With a record of 1-0-1 from five turf starts in 2019 for her former conditioner Arnaud Delacour, the 5-year-old Freud mare demonstrated marked improvement on the Big A main track over the winter winning her last two starts. The dark bay went gate-to-wire in both an optional-claiming sprint in December and the Correction last out on March 13.

Atras said he will talk to the connections before deciding if the mare will enter for the main-track only.

“Her form shows she’s run some good races on turf,” said Atras. “She really got good at Aqueduct and her Belmont races are so-so. I’m not sure what to expect. She might just have developed over time into a better filly.


“She may be able to handle the turf just as well. It would be interesting to see,” added Atras. “If she can sprint on turf here just as well as she did on dirt at Aqueduct, it would open up a lot more options for her this spring and summer.”


Bubbles On Ice could target G3 Wonder Again or G3 Soaring Softly

Trainer Christophe Clement said he was delighted to see Bubbles On Ice win her North American debut, holding off a late challenge from graded stakes winner Fluffy Socks to capture Sunday’s $100,000 Memories of Silver on Closing Day at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Owned by Cheyenne Stables, Madaket Stables and Glen Hill Farm, Bubbles On Ice arrived at the 1 1/16-mile stakes over the inner turf off of a respective sixth and fourth against Group 1 sprint company for former trainer James Stack in Ireland. The daughter of Starspangledbanner handled her first start for new connections with aplomb, winning from well off a slow pace under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano. Bubbles On Ice angled six-wide in upper stretch and established command nearing the furlong marker to win by a head. 

Clement said the Grade 3, $100,000 Soaring Softly on May 15 going seven furlongs or the Grade 3, $200,000 Wonder Again at 1 1/16 miles on June 3 at Belmont are both options. 

“She came out of her race in good shape,” said Clement, who trained 2019 Memories of Silver winner Feel Glorious. “She was working well at Payson Park and her last two works were very good. Javier gave her a great ride. We’ll see how she is the next two weeks and make a decision from there.”

Bubbles On Ice, an Irish-bred chestnut sophomore filly, is out of the Galileo mare Medicean Star. 

Clement said sophomore turf filly Plum Ali, who was third in the Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland on April 3, will target the Grade 3 Wonder Again. 

Owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables, the First Samurai filly won her first three starts, which included triumphs in the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park. 

“She’s been training very well at the moment, she’ll target the Wonder Again,” Clement said.

Purchased for $65,000 out of the Stone farm consignment at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Plum Ali is out of the Stroll mare Skipping, who is a half-sister to Maribel, a multiple turf stakes winner on the NYRA circuit. 


Civil Union looks to continue Belmont mastery in targeting G3 Beaugay

Allen Stable’s Civil Union won two graded stakes in 2020 and will make her first start of her 6-year-old campaign, with Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey pointing the War Front mare to the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the Belmont Park turf on Saturday, May 8.

Civil Union won four of her six starts last year, with all of those victories coming consecutively, encompassing back-to-back graded scores, with a one-length win in the 1 3/8-mile Grade 2 Glens Falls in September at Saratoga Race Course and the 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 Flower Bowl in October at Belmont.

In nine career starts dating to her debut, Civil Union has never posted a Beyer Speed Figure that was less than her previous start, commencing with a 78 for her first-out win in August 2018 and culminating with a personal-best 99 for a competitive fifth-place effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November at Keeneland going 1 3/16 miles.

Civil Union, who had been training at Payson Park in Florida, shipped to Belmont and recorded a four-furlong breeze in 50.33 seconds on April 18 over the main track.

“She’s been doing good; she had a work the other day,” McGaughey said.

Civil Union is 3-for-3 in her career at Belmont, including a win in last year’s River Memories, and will be looking to stay undefeated at the Elmont-based track despite going a little shorter than what McGaughey said is her optimal distance. 

“I think she likes the track. The mile and a sixteenth is not her gig, but we have to get her going somewhere,” McGaughey said. 

William Farish’s Bears Watching was third in his debut on February 6 before breaking his maiden in his second appearance with a 7 3/4-length score going seven furlongs on March 13 at Gulfstream Park. The sophomore Karakontie colt is a half-brother to five-time graded stakes-winner Code of Honor and continues to train at Payson Park in the Sunshine State as he preps for the progression of his 3-year-old year that could include shipping to New York in the future.

“He’s doing fine. We backed off of him a little after he won and we’re looking for a solid campaign for him,” McGaughey said. 

Greatest Honour will continue to rest after a promising start to his 3-year-old year. The Tapit colt started 2021 with wins in the Grade 3 Holy Bull and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park before running third as the favorite in the Grade 1 Florida Derby stretched out to 1 1/8 miles on March 27.

Owned by Courtlandt Farms, Greatest Honour had to abandon the Kentucky Derby trail, with McGaughey saying the Kentucky homebred needed a break to recapture his earlier form.

“Greatest Honour is stopped; he’s just a little banged up,” McGaughey said. “There’s no operations or anything, we’re just going to give him a little more time and reevaluate him in another couple of weeks and go from there.”


Souper Stonehenge heads third-level Saturday allowance

Following a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack, Souper Stonehenge will seek a fourth career win against six others in a seven-furlong third-level optional claiming event over the main track at Belmont Park.

Owned and bred by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation, Souper Stonehenge made his Grade 1 debut in the Carter Handicap, where he was forwardly placed in second but was no match for decisive winner Mischevious Alex, who crossed the wire in hand a 5 ½-length winner. 

Souper Stonehenge boasts a consistent 13-3-4-1 record with victories over both dirt and synthetic surfaces for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. He first garnered graded stakes black type when finishing second to multiple graded stakes-winning stablemate Ride a Comet in the Grade 2 Kennedy Road on November 20 at Woodbine. 

“I thought he ran well last time, and he should like the seven-eighths at Belmont,” Casse said. “Any time you’re in a three-other-than at Belmont, it’s not going to be easy, but he fits right in there with the rest of them. I like the timing of the race, he’s ready to run. I’m just hoping that this leads us to some bigger and better things.”

In Saturday’s race, Souper Stonehenge will face off against graded stakes winner American Power, who captured the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 30 at Aqueduct two starts back, stakes winner and last out winner Mihos, as well as stakes-placed Looking At Bikinis. 

Bred in Florida by his owners, Souper Stonehenge is out of the three-time stakes-winning Medaglia d’Oro mare Onepointhreekarats, making him a half-brother to stakes-winner and grade stakes-placed Tap It To Win. His grand dam Beaties For Real is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Ivanavinalot – the dam of two-time champion Songbird. 


Rookie Report: Ward sends two for New York’s first 2-year-old event of the year

Two-year-old racing on the NYRA circuit will commence in Friday’s opener with trainer Wesley Ward sending out fillies Poppy Flower and Dream Fly against the boys in a five furlong maiden special weight on the Belmont Park main track.

Ward, who wins at a 32 percent clip with first-time starters, will be represented by Armore Thoroughbreds’ firster Poppy Flower. The daughter of third-crop sire Lea has trained consistently at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida, recently breezing an easy half-mile in 49.20 seconds on April 17. 

“She’s a nice filly,” Ward said. “This looked like a nice spot for her.”

Poppy Flower will break from post 3 under jockey Jose Ortiz. 

Dream Fly will look to capitalize off prior racing experience. Owned, bred and trained by Ward, Dream Fly was second in her April 2 debut at Keeneland after being compromised by a slow start. She will exit the outermost post 5 Friday under Irad Ortiz, Jr. 

“She’s got the experience, which gives her a big edge,” Ward said of the daughter of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. “Last time, my filly had the issue of breaking slow from the gate. She was kind of looking around at the doors and as they flew open, she hesitated. We were lucky with the draw for this race and I’m happy we drew the outside.”

Dream Fly is out of the Afleet Alex mare Bombo Genesis, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winning turf horse Bound for Nowhere. She also comes from the same family as 2007 Champion Sprinter Midnight Lute.


Belmont Park spring / summer meet Week 2 probables

Friday, April 30

$100,000 Flat Out

Probable: Ajaweed (Todd Pletcher), Burning Bright (Jonathan Thomas), Irish Cork(John Servis), Musical Heart (Rob Atras), Rocketry (Jimmy Jerkens), Roman Empire (Todd Pletcher)

Possible: Noble Indy (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Olympic Runner (Mark Casse)

$100,000 License Fee (*rescheduled)

Probable: Caravel (Elizabeth Merryman), Flower Point (Shug McGaughey), I’llhandalthecash (Ray Handal), Introduced (Jorge Duarte, Jr.), Lady Lawyer (Chad Brown), Robin Sparkles (Bruce Brown), Sweet Melania (Todd Pletcher), She’s My Type (Christophe Clement)

Possible: Sadie Lady (Rob Atras)

Saturday, May 1

Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay

Probable: Always Shopping (Todd Pletcher), Antionette (Bill Mott), Magic Attitude (Arnaud Delacour), Mutamakina (Christophe Clement), My Sister Nat (Chad Brown), Orglandes (Chad Brown), Sorrel (Christophe Clement)

Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy

Probable: Rockemperor (Chad Brown)

Possible: Cross Border (Mike Maker), Pixelate (Michael Stidham)

Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester

Probable: Basin (Todd Pletcher), Creed (Shug McGaughey), Mr. Buff (John Kimmel)

Possible: Bal Harbour (Gregg Sacco)

Sunday, May 2

Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian

Probable: Gibberish (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Lady Kate (Eddie Kenneally), Lake Avenue (Bill Mott), On the Town (Shug McGaughey), Our Super Freak (Cherie DeVaux), Water White (Rudy Rodriguez)