My Miss Sophia tops large field for G1 TVG Acorn
By John Scheinman | 06/04/2014 04:54 PM ET
My Miss Sophia
There are few greater public displays of respect in racing than commanding morning-line odds, and that high compliment is exactly what NYRA linemaker Eric Donovan bestowed on My Miss Sophia when he made her the 6-5 favorite for the 84th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 TVG Acorn for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Belmont Park.
Even with a strong favorite, the TVG Acorn is loaded with talent: The 13-horse field has combined to amass seven graded stakes wins - four in Grade 1 races - and 10 total stakes victories.
The TVG Acorn, the sixth race on the stakes-laden Belmont card, kicks off a $1 million-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 6 that climaxes with the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
Mathis Stable's My Miss Sophia drew the No. 8 post position for leading trainer Todd Pletcher. She comes into the race off an excellent second-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race in which she took the lead with three furlongs to go before being caught and defeated by the sensational Untapable by 4 ½ lengths.
My Miss Sophia earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for the race - tops in the TVG Acorn field - and was six lengths clear of third-place finisher Unbridled Forever.
"I think in a 13-horse field I'm a little surprised anyone is that short of a price, but it's a very competitive race," Pletcher said. "She's run well in every one of her starts, and she's proven versatile at different distances."
My Miss Sophia began her career February 9, finishing second in a 5 ½-furlong sprint at Gulfstream Park. Pletcher then stretched her out to a mile, which, like the TVG Acorn, is one turn at Gulfstream, and she drew off to win by 11 lengths.
She followed that with an overwhelming 7 ¼-length score in the Grade 2 Gazelle on April 5 at Aqueduct, which set her up for the Kentucky Oaks.
Since then, Pletcher has worked My Miss Sophia twice, four-furlong breezes on May 18 and June 1.
"That was in a maiden race and this is a Grade 1," Pletcher said of the mile victory at Gulfstream, "but she's proven she can handle the distance effectively around one turn. She ran very well in the Oaks and was second best that day, and we trained her accordingly."
Pletcher also will run uncoupled 20-1 long shot Sweet Whiskey. The Alto Racing filly has sprinted in all six career starts, her best effort being a 2 ¾-length victory in the six-furlong Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream.
"She's run well every time," Pletcher said. "Stretching to a mile, it will be interesting to see how she handles it."
The speedy Artemis Agrotera, who has not raced since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last November, is second on the morning line at 5-1 for trainer Michael Hushion. The daughter of Roman Ruler won the Grade 1 Frizette last October at Belmont at the TVG Acorn mile distance in her second start.
"She was running so good [in the mornings], I didn't think she needed a prep," Hushion said of running off a six-month layoff.
Fiftyshadesofgold, a stalker like My Miss Sophia, enters the TVG Acorn off a sharp half-length score in the Grade 3 Eight Belles on May 2 at Churchill Downs. After finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, trainer Bret Calhoun opted to cut back to seven furlongs in the Eight Belles rather than go into the Kentucky Oaks.
"We were back and forth right up to entry day to run in the Kentucky Oaks or the Eight Belles," he said. "Going forward in the [TVG] Acorn, the mile suits us better than the seven-eighths does. We're pretty dialed in on these middle distances right here."
Unbridled Forever also has had success around one turn. She broke her maiden last November by 5 ¼ lengths going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs.
The filly is a daughter of Unbridled's Song and the mare Lemons Forever, who won the Kentucky Oaks in 2006 for her trainer, Dallas Stewart.
"It's kind of crazy," Stewart said of training both mother and daughter. "This filly is such a nice filly in her own right, and being around her mother was awesome."
Fashion Plate, a two-time gate-to-wire Grade 1 winner this year at Santa Anita, likely will be a prominent pace player. She was fractious in the gate in the Kentucky Oaks before racing in last place the entire way around the track.
The field will be completed by Grade 1 Spinaway winner Sweet Reason; two-time Grade 2 stakes-placed House Rules; Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan runner-up Vero Amore; multiple graded stakes-placed Euphrosyne; and allowance winners Lady Paradime, Risque Reality and Tiz So Sweet.
The field for the Grade 1, $750,000 TVG Acorn: