Magic Attitude rallies impressively to win G2 Sheepshead Bay
by Keith McCalmont
Lael Stable’s Magic Attitude rallied from last-of-6 to capture Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay, an 11-furlong inner turf test for older fillies and mares, at Belmont Park.
Trained by Arnaud Delacour and patiently piloted by Trevor McCarthy, Magic Attitude saved ground at the back of the pack as graded stakes winner Antoinette led the field through splits of 25.27, 51.03 and 1:17.05 on the firm turf.
Mutamakina stalked from second position down the backstretch under Jose Lezcano but it was Always Shopping, with Joe Bravo up, who made the first run at the leader with a menacing move outside rivals into the final turn.
Antoinette was asked for more as pressure arrived from Always Shopping, and Mutamakina positioned off the rail to launch her bid. But it was Magic Attitude, angled off the rail inside of Orglandes and out to the center of the track, who saved her best run for last to pick off her rivals one-by-one for a powerful three-length score in a final time of 2:14.32.
Delacour said Belmont’s inner turf course is ideal for Magic Attitude, who entered the Sheepshead Bay from a close seventh in the Grade 2 Hillsborough on March 6 at Tampa Bay Downs.
“They weren’t going fast, but there’s no other way to really ride her,” said Delacour. “She needs to be switched off behind, and she has an explosive turn-of-foot, so it’s nice to train a filly of that caliber.
“She likes it at Belmont,” he added. “It’s more like the European style for her. She can take her time, get balanced, and then produce acceleration. Last time nothing really worked out for her that day. She was really edgy in the post parade and in the paddock. Usually, she is really relaxed, like she was here. I knew that wasn’t the best set up, but she probably needed that race.”
Magic Attitude launched her career in France with trainer Fabrice Chappet, capturing the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux at Longchamp last May and finishing second to Tawkeel in the Group 1 Prix Saint Alary at Chantilly in June.
Transferred to the care of Delacour in the fall, Magic Attitude made a winning North American debut under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational, part of NYRA’s Turf Triple Series for fillies, on September 19. She completed her season with a third in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October at Keeneland.
Saturday’s stylish score marked the fourth win on the card for McCarthy, who was full of praise for the talented filly.
“When Javier rode her, he didn’t get aggressive with her,” said McCarthy. “In the stretch, he just gathered her, let her run and get into her rhythm, which is what she loves. She impressed me today.”
Mutamakina, who stalled in mid-stretch, re-rallied to earn place money by a half-length over Always Shopping and My Sister Nat. Rounding out the order of finish were Antoinette and Orglandes.
Lezcano, aboard the runner-up Mutamakina, felt the slow pace hampered his chances.
“She broke very well. No one wanted to go to the front, so I let her be where she was,” said Lezcano. “When [Always Shopping] came around the backside, I had to push a little early. I think if the race had set up better for her, she may have beat the other filly.”
Bred in Great Britain by Katsumi Yoshida, Magic Attitude banked $110,000 in victory while improving her record to 10-4-1-2. She returned $11 on a $2 win wager.
Victory in the Belmont Oaks qualified Magic Attitude for considerable bonus money should she win the Grade 2, $750,000 New York, going 1 ¼ miles on June 4 at Belmont; or the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl, at 1 3/8 miles on September 4 at Saratoga.
The “New York Stakes Turf Bonus” will provide $315,000 to the owner and $35,000 to the trainer of any previous winner of the filly Turf Triple series races - Belmont Oaks, Saratoga Oaks or Jockey Club Oaks - who captures the 2021 edition of the New York.
Additionally, the “Flower Bowl Bonus” will provide $300,000 to the owner and $30,000 to the trainer of any previous winner of a filly Turf Triple series race who wins the Flower Bowl, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event offering a berth in the Grade 1 Filly and Mare Turf in November at Del Mar.
Live racing continues Sunday at Belmont with a nine-race card and a 1 p.m. Eastern first post. The slate is highlighted by the Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going one mile on the main track in Race 8 at 4:40 p.m.
Starting on May 1, Belmont Park re-opened to a limited number of spectators. All admission must be purchased in advance at nyra.com/belmont/tickets/.
For comprehensive information on health and safety protocols in effect for the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, please visit: https://www.nyra.com/belmont/visit/plan-your-visit.