Defending winner Mutamakina, stablemate La Dragontea meet again in G3 Long Island
by Ryan Martin
Trainer Christophe Clement sends out a strong trio of contenders in defending winner Mutamakina, graded-stakes winner La Dragontea and graded-stakes placed Sorrel in Saturday’s 64th running of Grade 3, $400,000 Long Island at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Clement, a three-time winner of the 12-furlong inner test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, notched the exacta last year when Mutamakina slid up the rail and collared pacesetting stablemate Traipsing in the last strides to the wire.
En route to Saturday’s engagement, Mutamakina captured a pair of graded stakes triumphs at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada going 10 furlongs.
Following a prominent score in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on September 24 over firm ground, Mutamakina squared off against La Dragontea in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor on October 17 fending off a late confrontation from her stablemate to win by a neck.
Mutamakina has been training forwardly since her last victory according to Clement, logging a four-furlong move in 50.10 seconds Saturday over the Belmont turf.
“She’s been training very well. I’m very happy with her,” Clement said. “She’s a top-class mare. She’s never trained so well than when she came back from Canada. Her last couple of works have been remarkable and I’m excited to run her back.”
Owned by Al Shira’aa Farms, Mutamakina is out of the Danehill mare Joshua’s Princess whose second dam was 1995 European Horse of the Year and Breeders Cup Mile winner Ridgewood Pearl.
Dylan Davis is 3-for-3 aboard the 5-year-old Nathaniel bay mare, who will break from post 7.
Since finishing second to Mutamakina in the E.P. Taylor, La Dragontea was sold to Rosemont Stud at the Keeneland November Sale for $1,375,000 but has remained in Clement’s barn. She is slated to shuttle to Australia next year.
“I’m delighted that she’s back in the barn. She’ll go to Australia for next year we’ll try to do the best we can with her,” Clement said.
La Dragontea made up considerable ground in the E.P. Taylor, where she was last at the top of the stretch before weaving her way through traffic and coming up just shy of victory. Prior to her last start, the 4-year-old Lope de Vega dark bay filly shipped to Woodbine and displayed stalking tactics when capturing her first stakes win in the Grade 2 Canadian on September 18 over good going.
A two-time winner on the NYRA circuit this season, La Dragontea made her North American debut a winning one in a 1 ¼-mile Belmont allowance on May 7, leading through every point of call under little urging in the stretch drive. She was a troubled sixth in her next effort cutting back to 1 1/16 miles five weeks later at Belmont.
“She was very impressive in her debut in America winning her allowance at Belmont,” Clement said. “We were very unlucky the time after that getting boxed in. She’s a very good filly and she never stops improving.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride from post 4.
Rounding out Clement’s contingent is Sorrel, who makes her first start since a troubled third to subsequent Grade 1 winner War Like Goddess in the Grade 3 Orchid on March 27 at Gulfstream Park.
Owned by George Strawbridge, Jr.’s Augustin Stable and James Wigan, the 4-year-old Dansili dark bay secured three straight victories for English conditioner Sir Michael Stoute overseas prior to transferring to Clement.
“She ran very well that day, she could have won with a better trip,” Clement said of her Orchid effort. “We gave her plenty of time and she’s come back well.”
Breaking from post 8, Sorrel will be ridden by Manny Franco.
Trainer Chad Brown will send out Orglandes, who recaptured her winning form last out when taking the Zagora on November 7 at Belmont. The 5-year-old daughter of Le Havre ended 2020 on a winning note when making up a dozen lengths to win the Grade 3 Red Carpet last November at Del Mar
Brown eyes his third Long Island score, having previously saddled Goldy Espony  and Lady Paname .
Eric Cancel will ride Orglandes from post 2.
Four-time Long Island winning trainer Graham Motion sends out Flaxman Holdings’ Harajuku, who will seek redemption following a seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Sands Point at nine furlongs on October 16. The effort was the first under Motion’s tutelage for the daughter of Deep Impact, who previously raced in France for trainer Andre Fabre. She made her North American debut when third in the 11-furlong Jockey Club Oaks Invitational in September at Belmont.
“She just got run off her feet a bit,” Motion said of her last effort. “I had questioned shortening her up a bit and obviously the result wasn’t what we were looking for. This distance is more of what she wants to do.”
Harajuku will leave from post 3 under Junior Alvarado.
Completing the competitive field is Summer In Saratoga [post 1, Luis Saez] – a last out winner of the Grade 3 Dowager at Keeneland, stakes-placed Candy Flower [post 5, Kendrick Carmouche], and multiple graded-stakes paced Luck Money [post 6, Trevor McCarthy].
The Long Island is slated as Race 9 on Saturday’s 10-race program, which also features the $150,000 Discovery, the $150,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship, and the $100,000 Central Park. First post is 11:50 a.m. Eastern.
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