Always Carina streaks into G2 Mother Goose
by Keith McCalmont
Three Chimneys Farm homebred Always Carina, trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, will make her stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Mother Goose, a 1 1/16-miles test for sophomore fillies at Belmont Park.
Undefeated in two starts, Always Carina debuted with a four-length score in a key six-furlong maiden special weight on a muddy main track at Aqueduct Racetrack in April and followed with a widening 9 3/4-length score in a one-turn mile optional-claiming event at Belmont on May 20.
“It's a super race,” said Doug Cauthen, vice chairman of Three Chimneys Farm. “I think it's a good stepping stone as far as distance and now we'll see if she can handle the step up in class because it's clearly going to be a challenging race. We think she has talent and she deserves the chance to be in there.”
The well-bred daughter of Malibu Moon is a half-sister to the 2019 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Structor, who is also campaigned by Brown. She is out of the More Than Ready mare Miss Always Ready, who is a full-sister to 2010 Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf champ More Than Real.
“The dam was a really attractive and athletic filly purchased at the Keeneland April 2-year-old sale and showed quite a bit of talent, but had an injury that ended her career,” said Cauthen. “But whenever these well-bred good-looking fillies show talent, even if you don't get the black type, I've seen - and continue to see - a lot of success from those types of mares.
“She was bred to a Three Chimneys stallion and had great success with a Grade 1-winner in the first crop of Palace Malice,” added Cauthen. “The mare just keeps throwing very nice foals. Always Carina showed a lot of promise but had a setback and didn't get to run at two, but so far she's shown the talent we thought she had.”
Cauthen said Always Carina likely gets her main track talent from her sire, although her dam did run sixth in the 2014 Grade 3 Tempted on the Big A main track for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
“Todd thought enough of the mother to run her in the Tempted and although she didn't place, she showed talent on turf and dirt,” said Cauthen. “Obviously, with Malibu Moon, you see a lot of dirt. She very much looks like a Malibu Moon type physically and I wouldn't say he dominated the breeding, because the mare put some great genetics into it, but physically I think the sire is why she's handling the dirt.”
Cauthen said Miss Always Ready has produced three more fillies following Always Carina.
“She has a 2-year-old by Palace Malice, a nice yearling by Gun Runner and another full to Structor baby,” said Cauthen. “The 2-year-old had some issues and she may just be retained as a broodmare. The other two are in good order and will hopefully make the races.”
Cauthen said he is hopeful of a good result on Saturday as Always Carina steps up in class to face an experienced group that includes the graded-stakes winning Clairiere for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
“Whenever they put a graded stakes up in New York, you know it's going to be tough,” said Cauthen. “We have had high hopes for her for a long time but this will be the acid test to see what she's made of. Steve's filly, among others, will be very tough in there with a lot more seasoning.”
Flavien Prat has the call aboard Always Carina from post 2.
Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Clairiere, by Curlin, is out of the multiple Grade 1-winner Cavorting. Clairiere made her first four starts at 1 1/16-miles, capturing the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra in February at Fair Grounds at third asking.
Following a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, Clairiere finished fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks when stretched out to nine furlongs on April 30 at Churchill Downs.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. picks up the mount from post 3.
Reiko and Michael Baum’s Illiogami, trained by Rusty Arnold, will look to stay undefeated in 2021 as she steps into stakes company for the first time following a pair of late-closing wins at the Mother Goose distance.
A $400,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, the Kentucky-bred Tapit gray is out of the multiple Group 1-winning Falco mare Odeliz. Illiogami graduated at fourth asking with a head score at Keeneland on April 2 and followed with a 1 1/4-length win in an optional-claiming tilt on April 30 at Churchill Downs.
Arnold said the filly is at her best when she can sit and make one run.
“At Keeneland, she didn't get away good. We didn't think she'd be that far back, but she just got in a tangle and didn't get away,” said Arnold. “At Churchill, it was more what we were hoping for. We weren't going to rush her out of there and she gained momentum as she came on. We're really excited about her.”
Julien Leparoux retains the mount from post 5.
Gary Barber’s Make Mischief, trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, is the most experienced contender in the field with a record of 11-4-3-2 and purse earnings of $350,750.
Bred in New York by Avanti Stable, the Into Mischief bay completed the exacta in the Grade 3 Schuylerville and Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga last summer. Make Mischief launched her sophomore campaign with four starts at the Big A, including wins in an optional-claiming event in January, the Maddie May in February and an allowance tilt in March.
In her most recent two efforts, Make Mischief has completed the trifecta in the Grade 2 Eight Belles in April at Churchill and the Grade 1 Acorn in June on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
Eric Cancel, aboard for the Maddie May and allowance score at Aqueduct, returns to the irons from the inside post.
Shadwell Stable homebred Zaajel will look to make amends after a pair of off-the-board efforts.
Zaajel captured the Grade 3 Forward Gal at second asking in January at Gulfstream Park, but faltered to sixth in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in March. Last out, Zaajel failed to fire when last-of-7 in her turf debut in the Grade 2 Edgewood on April 30 at Churchill.
By Street Sense and out of the Daaher mare Asiya, Zaajel is a half-sister to her multiple graded stakes placed stablemate Ajaaweed.
Joel Rosario will pilot Zaajel from post 4.
The Mother Goose is carded as Race 8 on Saturday’s 10-race program. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
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