by Brian Bohl/Heather Pettinger
After back-to-back graded stakes appearances, Hope Jones' Party Boat will look to capitalize on class relief as part of a field of nine 3-year-old fillies in Saturday's $200,000 Pebbles on Belmont Park's Widener turf.
One of two stakes on the day's docket, including the 127th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity, the Pebbles, carded as Race 9, will feature Party Boat coming off a personal-best 91 Beyer Speed Figure in a third-place effort in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at 1 1/8 miles August 19 at Saratoga Race Course.
The Into Mischief filly will make her Belmont debut having finished on the board in her last five starts. The Graham Motion trainee was the runner-up by 1 ¾ lengths to Proctor's Ledge in the Grade 3 Lake George on July 21 and will be cutting back to Pebbles' distance of one mile for the first time since winning the Penn Oaks on June 3 at Penn National.
"She's done great, she's a very straightforward filly," Motion said. "I wanted to give her plenty of time off after her Saratoga efforts, and this will probably be her last start of the year. She's been really consistent and a real pleasure."
Since making her first two career starts on dirt, Party Boat is 3-2-2 in eight career turf starts. Joel Rosario, aboard for her last victories, will have the return call from post 4.
"I think the mile suits her a little better," Motion said. "I thought a mile and an eighth was a bit of a stretch, to be honest. I wanted to have her fresh for her first start of the year."
Don Alberto Stable's Rubilinda seeks her third win in four starts after winning the Christiecat on September 8 at Belmont. The Frankel filly broke her maiden in her first start on May 27 at Belmont before running second next out against allowance company. In moving up to stakes company, Rubilinda posted a 91 Beyer in the half-length win over Smiling Causeway. Rubilinda, trained by Chad Brown, will stretch out to a mile for the first time with regular rider Jose Ortiz, breaking from post 2.
Thais, the other Brown entrant, was second in an optimal claimer in her North American debut on September 2 at the Spa. After posting a 2-3-1 record in her first seven starts in her native France, Thais will be attempting to win for the third time in seven starts at a mile. Hall of Famer John Velazquez will be in the irons, exiting post 3.
Multiple stakes winner Bellavais will look to rebound from a ninth-place finish in the Indiana Grand on September 6 at Indiana Race Course and recapture the form that earned him a win by 2 ¾ lengths in the Drumtop on August 5 at Suffolk Downs. In five career starts at a mile, the Tapit filly has three wins. Trained by Jimmy Toner, Bellavais will break from post 7.
Jockey Manny Franco, who piloted Bellavais to a third-place finish in the Soaring Softly on May 20 at Belmont, will ride.
The ultra-consistent Adorable Miss rallied for third in her first Belmont start last out in the Christiecat. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the daughter of Kitten's Joy has three wins and a pair of third-place finishes in five career starts, all on the turf.
Adorable Miss, owned by Gary Barber and Madaket Stables, has registered Beyers of 80 or better in every start. Unraced until her 3-year-old campaign, she won her debut and followed that effort up with a win in the Honey Ryder on May 6 at Gulfstream Park. A three-quarter-length win in the Martha Washington on July 4 bolstered her credentials heading to her first race in New York. She will now look for her second win in four starts at a mile with Luis Saez aboard from the rail.
Dynatail will make her 10th start of the year and will look to notch her third stakes win, adding to her victory in the OBS Championship January 24 at Ocala and the Penn Oaks. Trained by Michael Dini, Dynatail will leave from post 8 in tandem with jockey Paco Lopez.
Rounding out the field is Lido, for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, from post 6; Scheme, for trainer H. James Bond in departing post 9; and Sylphide, for trainer Jane Cibelli out of post 5 with Junior Alvarado having the mount.
The Futurity, carded as Race 8, will feature a compact but competitive field of six juvenile sprinters.
Zayat Stable's Mojovation will lead the six-furlong charge as he looks to rebound from an off-the-board finish in the Grade 1 Hopeful for Pletcher.
Mojovation, by Quality Road, graduated in his July 29 unveiling in frontrunning fashion at six furlongs at Saratoga to earn a field-high Beyer Speed Figure of 86. He made the leap into stakes company in the Hopeful on September 4 at the Spa, contested over a good main track at seven furlongs, where he tired to a seventh-place finish. Mojovation will be ridden by Velazquez from post 4.
Also on tap for the Futurity are Woodford Racing's Engage, making his graded stakes debut following a half-length maiden win on September 4 at Saratoga for Brown; Group 2-placed Happy Like a Fool, returning stateside after two stakes bids in Great Britain for trainer Wesley Ward; Arlington Washington Futurity winner Barry Lee, making his first New York start since finishing eighth in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special for the Horacio DePaz barn; first-time-out maiden winner Red Peril for trainer Rohan Crichton; and LC Racing's Smooth B, winner of an optional claiming race on September 29 and a supplemental nominee for the Futurity from the barn of Robert Reid, Jr.