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Belmont Park Notes - September 8, 2013

By NYRA Press Office | 09/08/2013 02:53 PM ET
Discreet Marq
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese


  • Big week ahead for Clement stable with Discreet Marq for G1 Garden City, Naples Bay for G3 Noble Damsel, and Lubash for Ashley T. Cole; Clement looks ahead with Bikini Beauty, Mystical Star
  • Mott hoping for smooth going for Emollient in G1 Garden City; Royal Delta on target for G1 Beldame
  • "Consummate professional" Hyper, winner of G2 Bowling Green, part of Brown's deep turf contingent
  • Gyarmati picks up at Belmont where she left off at the Spa
  • Fields taking shape for next weekend's stakes

With three horses confirmed for stakes at Belmont Park and another headed for Woodbine, next weekend promises to be a busy one for the Christophe Clement stable.

At Belmont, Clement has Discreet Marq for the Grade 1 Garden City, Naples Bay for the Grade 3 Noble Damsel, and Lubash for the Ashley T. Cole, all on the turf.

Discreet Marq, a Patricia Generazio homebred, brings a three-race winning streak into Saturday's Garden City, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies. In her most recent start, the New York-bred flew west to earn her first Grade 1 victory in the Del Mar Oaks on August 17.

Clement said that by running Discreet Marq in the Del Mar Oaks, the filly was guaranteed a start over firm turf and would also retain the option of running in the Garden City or the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October at Keeneland.

"It seems to me that year after year, you're always guaranteed to have firm ground in the Del Mar Oaks, but not always at Belmont or Keeneland," said Clement. "Let's go for the first one - at least we'll get firm ground. She ran very well, and obviously she did stay a mile and an eighth over firmer ground, and now we'll go for No. 2."

Edward Cox's Naples Bay has been training at Saratoga in preparation for Saturday's Noble Damsel, a race she won in 2012. She seeks her first win since last year's edition of the one-mile race for fillies and mares. She enters the 2013 Noble Damsel off a second in the Grade 3 Matchmaker on July 28 at Monmouth Park.

"She trains better there [at Saratoga] than at Belmont," said Clement. "She had her last work a few days ago (four furlongs on the Oklahoma training track in 51.22 seconds on September 4) there. She went well, came back in good shape. She'll be at Belmont Park on Friday and we'll school her."

Lubash also is aiming for a title defense, having won the 2012 Ashley T. Cole, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for New York-breds 3-years-old and up. On Sunday, he'll try for his first win since the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on May 4. Most recently, he was fourth in the West Point presented by Trustco Bank on August 15 at Saratoga.

"He's trained well [since the West Point] and had a decent work, so as of now he's a 'go' as well," said Clement, who trains the homebred for Aliyu Ben J Stables.

Live Oak Plantation's Za Approval, a multiple graded stakes winner, will carry the torch for the Clement barn on Sunday in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.

Clement had a successful Saturday, unveiling sharp debut winner Bikini Beauty at Belmont and capturing the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon Stakes with Mystical Star.

Bikini Beauty, a 2-year-old filly owned by L. Neil Jones, rallied from 10th to break her maiden by 3 ¾ widening lengths in a seven-furlong turf race. Clement said the Bernardini filly could make her next start in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo on October 6 at Belmont.

"She just won yesterday. Let's enjoy it for a few days," said Clement. "I will confer with my owner this week, but I keep her under consideration for the Miss Grillo."

Cheyenne Stables' Mystical Star was rerouted to Kentucky Downs after Saratoga's Grade 3 Glens Falls on Monday was transferred to the main track. She made a late surge to win the Ladies Marathon by a neck, and Clement said she could make her next start in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational on September 28 at Belmont, the Grade 1 Spinster on October 6 at Keeneland, or the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor on October 9 at Woodbine.

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Already a Grade 1 winner on synthetic, Juddmonte Farms' Emollient added a second Grade 1 score to her resume in her first try on turf in July, when she came from just off the pace to win the American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park. Saturday, the Empire Maker filly will attempt to garner another Grade 1 on the grass in the $500,000 Garden City on Belmont's inner turf course.

The filly tuned up for the 1 1/8-mile race Sunday morning by breezing six furlongs in 1:14.12 on the turf.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Emollient made her first five starts on dirt, beginning with two victories and two second-place finishes. Well-backed at 5-2 in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 30, she finished fifth, 30 lengths back, and Mott elected to try her one week later on the synthetic surface at Keeneland Race Course. She responded with a rousing nine-length romp in the Grade 1 Ashland. Back on dirt for the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico Race Course, she endured an eventful trip and finished sixth, beaten 21 ½ lengths.

"She'd run so well on the synthetic at Keeneland," said Mott of the decision to try turf in the American Oaks. "We'd worked her on the turf and that went extremely well. So we decided to try her away from dirt, since obviously that wasn't working out.

"Empire Makers seem to run very well on the synthetic, but they can be dirt or turf as well," he added. "They can do anything, you just have to test them out. You see a lot of them win at Keeneland when you put them on synthetic, which she did. She's been good enough to win on all three, but at this point in time I'd say she's best on turf, or synthetic."

Looking ahead to Super Saturday, September 28, Mott added that two-time Eclipse champion Royal Delta was doing well as she prepares to defend her title in the Grade 1 Beldame invitational. The 5-year-old mare returned to the worktab at Saratoga Friday for the first time since her resounding 4 ½-length victory on August 25 in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational Handicap.

"She's doing good," said Mott of Royal Delta, who has a chance to three-peat in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. "I might work her one more time and bring her down there. That way, she'd have a work over the track."

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Chad Brown showcased his tremendous turf division depth on Saturday when 6-year-old Hyper won the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap by a half-length, giving the trainer many options going into the fall.

The Bowling Green was Hyper's first graded stakes victory, and the triumph was particularly gratifying for Brown's assistant, Cherie DeVaux, who has worked with Hyper since he was a 3-year-old.

"He's so focused. He goes to the track, he has his ears up," said DeVaux. "He's such a cool horse. When he was 3, he jogged a bunch of days in a row and we were standing on the front side and somebody dropped a plate of silverware. All of these horses scattered, and here's this big, imposing horse who just turned around and looked at them. That's how he is. Nothing rattles him. He's all business, and he's always been like that."

Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution on Sunday breezed five furlongs in company on the turf in 1:03.12 in what DeVaux described as a "maintenance work." Both horses are exiting Grade 1 wins on August 17, with Big Blue Kitten taking the Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga Race Course and Real Solution being promoted to victory via disqualification in the Arlington Million.

On September 28, Belmont will host the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, a race that is likely to attract at least one member of the Big Blue Kitten, Real Solution and Hyper triumvirate. All three are Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebreds.

Brown also is loaded for next weekend's stakes as he has Watsdachances (four furlongs in 1:03.34 on the turf on Sunday) and recent European import Alterite (four furlongs in 1:02.03 on the turf on Sunday) for the Grade 1 Garden City and Laugh Out Loud (four furlongs in 49.24 on the training track on Saturday) for the Grade 3 Noble Damsel on Saturday. Shakeira (four furlongs in 50.33 on the training track on Wednesday) is possible for the John Hettinger for New York-bred fillies and mares on Sunday.

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Trainer​ Leah Gyarmati, who closed out her Saratoga meet by garnering her first Grade 1 in the Spinaway with Sweet Reason, made it 2-for-2 when she took the first race of Belmont's fall championship meet with New York-bred Smooth Bert.

Sweet Reason, a daughter of Street Sense who carries the colors of Treadway Racing Stable, was an eye-catching maiden winner on August 9 at the Spa, when she rocketed from last to first to score by 6 ¼ lengths at nearly 10-1. A well-regarded 5-2 in the Spinaway, she again came from far back as she rolled to a 5 ¾-length win, covering the seven furlongs in 1:23.42 while being ridden out.

For her Spinaway victory, Sweet Reason earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98, second this year among 2-year-olds only to Havana's 102 earned in a maiden race on August 23 at Saratoga.

"She's doing very well," said Gyarmati of Sweet Reason. "She ran huge in the Spinaway and came out of it very well. It seemed when she was cooling out it didn't faze her much at all."

The next main target for the filly, said Gyarmati, likely will be the Grade 1, $500,000 Frizette on October 5, a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Gyarmati is keeping her options open for Smooth Bert, who is now 3-3-3 in 10 starts versus fellow state-breds.

"We'll look at New York Showcase Day [October 19] or I might try him on the turf, which is something I've wanted to do," she said. "We'll see what presents itself."

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Four turf stakes highlight next weekend's racing action at Belmont Park, including the Grade 1 Garden City and the Grade 3 Nobel Damsel for fillies and mares on Saturday and the Ashley T. Cole and the John Hettinger for New York-breds on Sunday.

Multiple stakes winners Emollient, who took the Grade 1 American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park last time out in her first start on turf, and Discreet Marq, who made it three straight wins in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on August 17, headline the probables for the 1 1/8 mile Garden City, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Emollient also owns a victory in the Grade 1 Ashland over the synthetic surface at Keeneland Race Course, while Discreet Marq is 2-0-1 on Belmont's turf, including a win in the Grade 2 Sands Point on May 27 for conditioner Christophe Clement.

Among the 3-year-old fillies expected to line up against them are Caroline Thomas andWatsdachances, who were placed first and second via disqualification in the Grade 2 Lake Placid on August 18 at Saratoga Race Course; Concise, who finished fourth in that race; Summer of Fun andEffie Trinket, first and second in the Auntie Mame on August 10 at the Spa; Alterite, making her North American debut for trainer Chad Brown, and With Sugar On Top, an impressive winner of an optional claimer on August 22 at Saratoga.

The one-mile Noble Damsel for fillies and mares is likely to attract De La Rose winner Assateague;Better Lucky, second in the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game last time out; Hungry Island, fourth as the favorite in the Grade 2 Ketel One Ballston Spa on August 24; Laugh Out Loud, third in the De La Rose; My Perfect Ten, making her graded stakes debut; Peace Preserver, seventh in an optional claimer at Saratoga on July 22, and Naples Bay.

West Point presented by Trustco Bank winner Hangover Kid tops the likely starters for the 1 1/8-mile Ashley T. Cole. Expected to join him in the starting gate are Abilio, sixth in the West Point; 2011 West Point winner Compliance Officer, second in his only start of 2013; Idle American, fourth in an off-the-turf optional claimer last time out; Kharafa and Lubash, third and fourth, respectively, in the West Point; Majestic Raffy, and Street GameHear the Footsteps and Lawyer Jim are questionable.

Probable for the 1 1/8-mile John Hettinger are Dreaming of CaraInimitable RomaneeKibosh,Love Stanza ChanceWholelottashakinShakeira is possible.