by Ryan Martin
Sean Shay's Mominou will go after a second straight stakes victory when taking on a field of eight in Saturday's second running of the $100,000 Floral Park contested over Belmont Park's Widener turf course for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
The six-furlong event is one of two stakes events carded for Saturday, which also features the Grade 2, $200,000 Sands Point for sophomore fillies.
Trained by Jimmy Toner, Mominou arrives at the Floral Park off of a win in the Caress on July 21 at Saratoga. Off at 29-1, she went to the front, received her cue from jockey Kendrick Carmouche and drove away to win by 1 ¼ lengths over graded stakes-winners Morticia and Significant Form.
Toner expressed confidence going into her last effort, noting that she was only narrowly beaten by Morticia in her 2019 debut in the Captiva Island at Gulfstream Park.
"She was training well and I thought she would run well, but the fact of the matter is I didn't think she'd be that big of a price," Toner said. "The favorite was Morticia and we ran against her at Gulfstream and were only a length behind her, so I didn't see why we were 30-1. She broke well, made the lead and that was it."
Since her winning effort in the Caress, the 4-year-old Congrats bay has recorded a series of strong breezes, the most recent of which was a three-furlong drill in 37.88 seconds over the Widener turf on Sunday morning.
"She's doing really well, we've freshened her up since then and she's been training great," Toner said.
Mominou brags a consistent record of 4-2-1 in 12 career starts as well as $271,997 in lifetime earnings.
Bred in Florida by Woodford Thoroughbreds, Mominou is out of the Grand Slam broodmare Phannie Slam who has produce five other offspring of racing age, four of which have seen the track and are winners. She was purchased for $150,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Mid Atlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in May 2017.
Mominou will be reunited with jockey Kendrick Carmouche and breaks from post 7.
Attempting a second straight triumph in the Floral Park is Fire Key, who won the inaugural running of the event by three-quarters of a length.
Trained by Jim Ryerson, Backwards Stables' four-time stakes winner was second behind Mominou in the Caress three starts back and enters off a second beaten a half-length in Laurel Park's Sensible Lady Turf Dash on September 21.
With over $600,000 in the bank, the dark bay New York-bred daughter of Fresian Fire is a two-time stakes winner at Belmont. In addition to last year's Floral Park, Fire Key won the License Fee in April in her first start since joining Ryerson's contingent. Both races contested over yielding turf courses.
Never worse than second in 10 of 11 starts over the six-furlong distance, Fire Key boasts a consistent 9-4-3-0 record over the Widener turf.
Ryerson said that six furlongs appears to be the filly's ideal distance.
"I think that three-quarters is close to her best distance," Ryerson said. "Five to five and a half [furlongs] is a little bit tough for her and she lost going seven eighths to Chad's filly [Significant Form in the Grade 3 Intercontinental]. Three-quarters seems to hit her right in the head and really helps her. The turns are a little wider here which also helps her."
Her lone off-the-board effort this year was a fifth-place finish in the Smart N Fancy at Saratoga two starts back, where she was beaten 2 ¼ lengths to Oleksandra.
"Her second start at Saratoga was disappointing but she ran well," Ryerson said. "Then she came back and ran well at Laurel and we're excited about running her here this weekend."
Jockey Julian Pimentel piloted Fire Key in her last start and will be reunited with the filly when she emerges from post 1.
Trainer Jorge Duarte, Jr. will send out two 5-year-old mares owned by Colts Neck Stables in Goldwood and Misericordia.
A homebred Medaglia d'Oro dark bay, Goldwood, seeking her sixth straight victory, has been cross entered in Keeneland's Grade 3 Buffalo Trace Franklin County on Friday. A four-time winner against stakes company over the Monmouth Park grass, Goldwood shipped to Laurel Park last out where she bested Fire Key in the Sensible Lady Turf Dash.
A Kentucky homebred, Goldwood is out of the Rahy broodmare Crimson Maple, who is a half-sister to nine-time Grade 1-winning Hall of Famer Sky Beauty. Both are out of Maplejinksy who won the Grade 1 Alabama in 1988.
Should she opt for the Floral Park, veteran rider Jose Ferrer will ride from post 6.
While Goldwood attempts to keep her winning streak intact, her stablemate Misericordia will try and add a stakes victory to her resume.
Third against stakes company in her last trio of outings, the British-bred Dansili bay acquired graded stakes black type in her most recent effort in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters last month, where she was 63-1. She was third best to Goldwood in her prior start in the Unbridled Elaine at Monmouth Park.
Leaving from post 2, Manny Franco has the mount.
Completing the field are Fear No Evil [post 3, Joel Rosario], Dynatail [post 4, Jose Lezcano], Illhandalthecash [post 5, Dylan Davis] and Lady Mamba [post 8, Joe Bravo].
The Floral Park is Race 7 on Saturday's 10-race card with a post time of 4:07 p.m. Eastern. First post is set for 12:45 p.m.