McKulick vies to double up on Spa stakes scores in G2 Flower Bowl
by Mary Eddy
Klaravich Stables’ multiple graded stakes-winner McKulick will attempt her second graded stakes win this summer at Saratoga Race Course in Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Flower Bowl, a 1 3/8-mile inner turf test for older fillies and mares.
The Flower Bowl, slated as Race 3, offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and is one of four stakes on Saturday’s loaded 12-race card, co-featuring the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup in Race 11, the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress in Race 5 and the $150,000 Harvey Pack in Race 8. First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.
McKulick enters from a determined neck score in the Grade 2 Glens Fall on August 3 for four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Chad Brown, claiming the victory from 4 1/2 lengths off the pace under regular pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. The daughter of Frankel was fourth at the top of the lane, but showed a tremendous turn of foot to sweep past multiple Grade 1-winning multimillionaire War Like Goddess in the final yards and complete the course in 2:27.05. She was awarded a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
“She looks good,” said Brown, who pursues a record-extending eighth Flower Bowl victory and second consecutive after sending out Virginia Joy to capture last year’s running. “I’ve been really happy with her training and we penciled this in right after that race [the Glens Falls]. She seems to run well at Saratoga.”
The consistent McKulick is 2-for-3 lifetime at Saratoga, beginning with a win on debut traveling 1 1/16 miles in August 2021. She returned to the Spa the next summer to finish second in the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational in between victories in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational in June and the Grade 3 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational in September at Belmont at the Big A, the latter her only start at the Flower Bowl distance.
“She’s come around and was a little slow to come into form this year, but now I think she’s doing better than ever,” said Brown. “She needed a little more fitness and such, and this time of year, she’s at her best physically. She’s carrying the most weight I’ve seen her carry and she’s really loving the summer. I think it’s leading to her success.”
A winner at all three NYRA tracks, McKulick also earned Grade 1 placings when a closing second to stablemate Gina Romantica in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in October at Keeneland and third in the New York in June at Belmont. She has banked over $2.1 million in total purse earnings through an 11-4-4-2 record.
Ortiz, Jr. retains the mount from post 2.
Trainer Christophe Clement will be represented by two contenders in Moyglare Stud Farm’s Amazing Grace [post 4, Joel Rosario] and West Point Thoroughbreds and Dream With Me Stable’s Parnac [post 1, Dylan Davis].
Amazing Grace is in search of her first win since taking the Grade 3 Orchid in April at Gulfstream Park for her North American debut after beginning her career in France and Germany with trainer Waldemar Hickst. The German-bred daughter of Protectionist closed from seven lengths off the pace to run down her rivals in deep stretch of the 1 1/2-mile Orchid, securing a half-length score that produced a 98 Beyer.
The chestnut mare finished fourth in both the 1 3/8-mile Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay and two-mile Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup before a last-out third-place finish with a troubled trip in the Glens Falls behind McKulick. There, she raced on the inside under Tyler Gaffalione and was checked at the three-eighths pole, causing her to lose substantial ground and fall seven lengths back of the pace after coming within 2 1/2 lengths of the front at the one-mile call. Despite her troubled trip, Amazing Grace dug in down the lane and got up in time for show honors by a head over Sopran Basilea.
“She’s doing very well and she was unfortunately a victim of her last trip,” said Miguel Clement, son and assistant to Christophe Clement. “She checked on the inside of McKulick and it cost her a couple of lengths. Nevertheless, I think she ran a great race and she’s trained forwardly since then, so I’m looking forward to the race.”
Clement added that a cutback from the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup to the 1 1/2-mile Glens Falls was appreciated by Amazing Grace, who was a dual Group 2-winner in Germany going 1 1/4 miles and 1 1/2 miles, respectively.
“She’s an honest, hard-knocking filly and I believe if anything she’s really hitting her best stride at the moment, so we’re expecting a better performance,” said Clement. “She’ll like the cutback here and she looked like a winner at the top of the stretch in the Gold Cup, but she didn’t get the distance. I think this mile-and-three-eighths or mile-and-a-half will really be her ball game.”
Parnac, a 4-year-old Zarak bay, finished a close third in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial last out on July 1 at Delaware Park, defeated just three-quarter lengths in a tight finish with the victorious Sopran Basilea and her runner-up stablemate Ever Summer. She visited the winner’s circle two starts back in a second-level optional claimer going the Flower Bowl distance on June 11 at Belmont, capturing a neck triumph from off the pace under Flavien Prat.
The Flower Bowl will be Parnac’s third try at 1 3/8 miles after making her first six stateside starts at distances of one-mile or 1 1/16 miles. She was a stakes-winner sprinting seven furlongs in Germany in October 2021, taking Hannover’s Grosser Preis der Mehl-Mulhens-Stiftung.
Amazing Grace and Parnac breezed in company over Saratoga’s Oklahoma turf training course on Thursday, covering a bullet five-eighths in 1:02.66.
“She’s training well and both did it effortlessly, both helping each other,” said Clement. “I think the extra distance has shown her a new dimension this year. She went a mile and three-eighths at Belmont and then she ran in the stake at Delaware, and I thought those were her two best performances to date. She should relish the distance. We’ve always liked her.”
Completing the field is Andrew Rosen and Linda Shanahan’s Tamarama [post 3, Javier Castellano], who is cross-entered in a 1 1/16-mile allowance on Friday at the Spa. Trained by Jack Sisterson, the daughter of Muhaarar looks to make her North American debut after finishing a distant 15th in a handicap on June 21 at Ascot for previous conditioner Ralph Beckett. Tamarama is a four-time winner in her native Great Britain, led by a three-quarter-length handicap triumph traveling one-mile in June at Kempton.
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