Discreet Marq hopes to make presence felt in G1 Just a Game
By Sean Morris | 06/04/2014 05:16 PM ET
Discreet Marq will attempt to give trainer Christophe Clement a Grade 1 winner earlier on the Belmont Stakes Day card in the $750,000 Longines Just a Game, three races before he saddles Tonalist in the Belmont Stakes.
The Longines Just a Game is part of an enhanced Belmont Stakes Day program comprising 10 stakes races - nine of which are graded - and featuring six Grade 1s, culminating with the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes.
Discreet Marq, owned by Patricia Generazio, was most recently second in the Jenny Wiley in her 2014 debut. The daughter of Discreet Cat became a Grade 1 winner last year in the Del Mar Oaks on August 17, and finished second in a pair of Grade 1s - the Garden City at Belmont and the Matriarch at Hollywood Park, losing the latter by a nose.
"She's a better horse today than when we ran in the Jenny Wiley," said Clement. "She looked a little wintery, which she does not look now, and she's been training very well. It's exciting."
Discreet Marq, the 5-2 morning line favorite, will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. and the pair will depart from post position 9.
Second choice on the morning line at 3-1, Better Lucky will look to avenge her loss to Stephanie's Kitten in last year's edition of the Just a Game. Trained by Tom Albertrani for Goldolphin Racing, the Ghostzapper mare has won two Grade 1 stakes in her career - the 2012 Matriarch and the 2013 First Lady at Keeneland - and came within a half-length of winning another two - the 2013 Matriarch and the 2013 Just a Game. In her 2014 debut, Better Lucky finished second to Judy the Beauty in the Grade 1 Madison sprinting over the Keeneland Polytrack.
"We think she's a horse whose best distance is between seven furlongs to a mile," said Albertrani. "We wanted to try something different [in the Madison] and we got exactly what we were looking for from her. We're looking for a good effort from her in the Just a Game."
In the event the Widener turf course comes up less than firm, Better Lucky has proven she can handle all sorts of ground, according to Albertrani.
"She's won on firm and she's won on soft," said Albertrani. "She's very versatile, so I don't think course condition will be an issue for her."
Better Lucky will break from post 10 will Joel Rosario aboard.
Trained by Michael Matz, Somali Lemonade will attempt to win her second undercard race of the Triple Crown series, as she captured the Grade 3 Gallorette in front-running fashion on Preakness Day at Pimlico.
"I don't know if this is too big of a step for her," said Matz, "but we wanted to try her in a Grade 1 and the timing was good."
Since adding blinkers three starts back, the bay mare has won two of three races, including the Gallorette, and finished second in the Grade 3 Marshua's River at Gulfstream.
"It sure looks like the blinkers have helped her out," said Matz. "I was surprised she went to the front in the allowance race at Keeneland, but when it works out, it's great. I'm just going with the flow."
Luis Saez will ride Somali Lemonade, 8-1 on the morning line, and the duo will break from post 4.
Trainer Chad Brown will send out a pair of dangerous runners in the Just a Game: last year's winner Stephanie's Kitten and Waterway Run.
Unraced since finishing third in the Grade 1 Diana on July 27 at Saratoga Race Course, Stephanie's Kitten returned in the Jenny Wiley, in which she finished eighth in her first start with Brown. The bay mare, 4-1 on the morning line, previously won the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs and the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga, along with the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez and break from post 6.
In her most recent start, Waterway Run captured the Grade 3 Beaugay at Belmont by a neck - her first win of 2014 after missing by a nose and a neck to kick off the year. The 4-year-old Arch filly will break from post 8 with Jose Lezcano aboard, and sits at 6-1 on the morning line.
Rounding out the field are Ready Signal, most recently third in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs; Strathnaver, fourth in the Grade 2 Doubledogdare at Keeneland in her last start; Dame Marie, runner-up in the Distaff Turf Mile; Coffee Clique, winner of the Distaff Turf Mile last out; and Unlimited Budget, a 20-1 shot from the barn of Todd Pletcher and Mike Repole, who ran sixth in the 2013 Belmont Stakes and will be trying turf for the first time.
The field for the Grade 1, $750,000 Longines Just a Game: