Brown, Clement each saddle multiple contenders in Saturday's Pebbles for sophomore fillies
by Brian Bohl
Trainer Chad Brown will saddle a pair of accomplished sophomore fillies, including multiple graded-stakes winner Seek and Destroy and multiple graded-stakes placed Blowout, in Saturday's 27th running of the $200,000 Pebbles going one mile on the Widener turf at Belmont Park.
E Five Racing Thoroughbreds' Seek and Destroy has notched a pair of graded stakes wins in her last three starts, rallying from last-of-eight to outlast fellow Pebbles contender Feel Glorious by a length in the Grade 3 Soaring Softly at seven furlongs on May 18 on Belmont turf listed as good, earning a personal-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure.
After running third in the Wild Applause at the Pebbles distance of one mile on June 22 at Belmont, Seek and Destroy won at the same distance last out in the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen on July 20 at Woodbine.
Returning to Belmont, Seek and Destroy, who was purchased for $425,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Sale, will pick up the services of Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano from post 4.
Blowout, owned by Peter Brant, has never finished off the board in six career starts, posting a 2-3-1 record. Unraced as a juvenile, the English-bred daughter of Dansili won her debut on January 23 at Tampa Bay Downs and ran second to Concrete Rose in her next appearance in a highly competitive Grade 3 Florida Oaks on the same track on March 9.
After running second in her first New York start next out in the Memories of Silver on April 19 at Aqueduct Racetrack, Blowout won her first stakes in taking the Wild Applause, earning a 92 Beyer. Brown returned her to graded stakes company for the Saratoga meet, where she ran second by a half length to stablemate Regal Glory in the one-mile Grade 3 Lake George in July and ran third, a neck behind Regal Glory and Varekna, who dead-heated in the Grade 2 Lake Placid on August 17.
Fellow Hall of Famer John Velazquez will be in the irons from post 2.
Trainer Christophe Clement will also send out two contenders, with English-breds Feel Glorious and East.
Katsumi Yoshida's East's only previous North American start was an impressive runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Churchill Downs, where she ran second to the Brown-trained Newspaperofrecord.
Clement assistant Christophe Lorieul said East, who ran third in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches in May at Longchamp in France before off-the-board finishes in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas in May and the Group 1 Prix Rothschild in July, has settled in well since her cross-Atlantic trek, recording two breezes at Belmont.
"East just came to us about five weeks ago and has been training forwardly," Lorieul said. "She's a small filly but she's a very, very good mover. She has run in this country before and she has a very good turn-of-foot. She's run here before and has been through that process, and now we're looking forward to a good performance."
Jockey Manny Franco will have the call from the outside post.
Feel Glorious, owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Tango Uniform Racing, raced in Europe as a juvenile under conditioner George Baker. With Clement taking over the training duties for her 3-year-old campaign, Feel Glorious returned from a more than four-month layoff to win her North American debut on March 9 at Gulfstream Park and followed with a win in the Memories of Silver.
Feel Glorious continued her successful deep-closer strategy, coming from off the pace to run second in the Grade 3 Soaring Softly. But after running fourth in the Wild Applause and sixth in the Grade 2 Lake Placid, Lorieul said they might employ a different strategy for her return to Belmont.
"Feel Glorious was at Saratoga and ran there, and the plan this time is to be closer to the pace," Lorieul said. "I don't know if we've been too conservative and keeping her at the back of the pack and expecting her to give that great turn-of-foot. But this time she should be closer to the pace, so we'll see what happens."
Junior Alvarado is set to ride from post 6.
Gary Barber's Eyeinthesky is a two-time stakes winner, including last out when the Sky Mesa filly recorded a victory by a head in the Galway on August 11 at Saratoga. The Mark Casse trainee also won the Mizdirection in April at the Big A and ran second in the Coronation Cup in July at Saratoga. Dylan Davis will ride for the first time, breaking from post 3.
Rounding out the field is Alasaayil, a runner-up in the Penn Oaks on June 1 at Penn National, for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin [post 1, Joe Bravo]; Passing Out, making her stakes debut for Hall of Fame conditioner Shug McGaughey [post 5, Jose Lezcano]; and Bellera, a first-time stakes starter for trainer Todd Pletcher [post 7], entered for the main-track only.
The Pebbles is slated as Race 10 on Saturday's 11-race card. First post is slated for 1 p.m.