by Najja Thompson
Trainer Linda Rice, second in the Belmont Park spring/summer-meet standings, will be represented by a pair of formidable contenders for Saturday's $100,000 Dancin Renee, a six-furlong sprint for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward.
Headlining the charge from Rice, who had 13 wins entering Wednesday, is Lady Sheila Stable's graded stakes-winner Holiday Disguise. A 5-year-old Harlan's Holiday mare, she captured the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct in April 2018 before going on to finish third in the Grade 3 Vagrancy at Belmont and winning the Critical Eye.
Kicking off her 2019 campaign with an impressive 4 ¼-length victory in the Broadway on February 16 at Aqueduct, Holiday Disguise returned to graded stakes company for the first time since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom last September, finishing fifth in this year's edition of the Distaff on April 5 at the Big A.
Last out, Holiday Disguise finished fifth in the Grade 3 Vagrancy. Rice said the talented bay will appreciate a return against fellow New York-breds on Saturday.
"We were looking to try to get some class relief for her coming out of those graded stakes," said Rice. "She's coming into this well and she's been training forwardly since the Vagrancy, so we hope it all works to her benefit on Saturday."
With regular rider Jose Lezcano named to ride, Holiday Disguise will leave from post 2.
The other half of Rice's tandem is 4-year-old Midnight Disguise, a half-sister to Holiday Disguise out of dam Thin Disguise and sired by Midnight Lute. Owned and bred by Dr. William B. Wilmot and Dr. Joan M. Taylor, Midnight Disguise has five wins from 11 career starts, including stakes victories last year in the Bouwerie at Belmont and the Busher and Busanda at Aqueduct.
Midnight Disguise started her year with a second-place finish in the Biogio's Rose, followed by a fourth-place finish in the Heavenly Prize and a fifth-place running in the Top Flight Invitational.
Last out, she ran second in the Critical Eye at a mile on May 27. Making her first start at six furlongs since winning an allowance race as a juvenile at Aqueduct, Rice said she is looking forward to running her again at Belmont, where she has one win and one second-place finish from two starts.
"She seems to appreciate one-turn races and she's also training into this race well," said Rice. "It might be a little short for her distance wise, but we like her enough going one-turn to take our shot."
With Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons, Midnight Disguise will leave from post 5.
Looking to improve off a 10th-place finish on the turf in the Mount Vernon on May 27 for Shooting Star Stable and conditioner David Donk is stakes winner Jc's Shooting Star.
A 7-year-old mare sired by Miracle Man, she has made 43 career starts, accumulating over $600,000 in earnings. She was victorious in her previous start on dirt, taking an optional-claiming race on January 1 at the Big A.
Donk said he is hoping for a big improvement on Saturday.
"She's always been consistent," said Donk. "Her last race on the dirt in January at Aqueduct was a good effort and she was wide on the turf in the Mount Vernon. Hopefully, we can work out a better trip and move up switching surfaces."
Drawing the rail, Jc's Shooting Star will be ridden by Manny Franco.
Owners Chester and Mary Broman will be represented by a pair of contenders including Out of Orbit and Pauseforthecause.
Trained by Phil Serpe, Out of Orbit boasts a record of 3-5-5 from 18 career starts. The 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly will leave from post 3 under Luis Saez.
Pauseforthecause, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, has posted a career record of 4-4-6 from 18 starts. The 4-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway will leave from post 6 under Rajiv Maragh.
Completing the field is My Purple Haze Stables' Leah's Dream. Trained by Chris Englehart, the 5-year-old Astrology mare is a 10-time winner from 26 starts and arrives at Saturday's test on a two-race win streak. Junior Alvarado has the call from post 4.
The Dancin Renee is slated as Race 9 on Saturday's 10-race card. First post is 1:30 p.m.