Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes comes our way this Saturday, June 8 from Belmont Park in Elmont, New York as part of a very busy Belmont Stakes undercard. A nice purse of $500,000 will be on the line for fillies and mares three years old and upward willing to go one mile on Belmont Park's turf track.
A strong field of seven including five Grade 1 and two Grade 2 winners will line up in the Just a Game - race 8 on Belmont Park's extremely busy Saturday card. Post time is 3:58 PM. Let's take a brief glance into the credentials of all seven entries ahead of this Grade 1 stakes.
Mizdirection - had five starts in 2012 for trainer Mike Puype with four wins and a second place finish culminating in a win in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint over boys. The only blemish of 2012 was a second in the minor Great Lady M Stakes back in May. In his three starts of 2013 he has looked typically great - a convincing win in the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes January 6 was followed by another score in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths February 18 and a nice win last time out in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Stakes April 13 at Santa Anita. He has been worse than second just once in a 15-race career that includes 10 wins. She has nine wins and two seconds in turf and is unquestionably the horse to beat Saturday but the morning line odds that have her as the third choice - maybe because she has raced just once outside of California.
Stephanie's Kitten - had a very productive Juvenile campaign in which she won or placed in all five starts (three wins and two third place finishes). Among Stephanie's Kitten's impressive wins is the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and before that the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes. Stephanie's Kitten was a leading Juvenile filly on dirt and turf in 2011 and looked OK in 2012. She had a nice win in the Grade 1 Lake Placid Stakes in August to follow a fourth in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes on July 25 and a win in the minor Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs in May. She ended her 2012 campaign with a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 QE II Challenge Cup and then took 6 1/2 months off. She returned to the track May 4 to a great win in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile over Hungry Island. She is the morning line second choice although Centre Court appears to be Mizdirection's biggest challenger.
Centre Court - enters the Just a Game on a three race win streak - the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley last time out, the Grade 2 Honey Fox at Gulfstream March 16 and the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs four months earlier. Before that was a pair of good seconds - the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup ahead of Better Lucky in October and the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes in August. She had three straight wins in the summer including the Grade 2 Lake George, the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs before that and a Maiden Special Weight as well. Centre Court has six wins and four seconds in her last 10 starts - impressive indeed.
Hungry Island - won the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Mile last May and followed that up with a decent third in the 2012 version of this race a month after that. She was a disappointing fifth in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes in July but has placed in all four starts since. She was second in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa, third in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes and she won an Allowance at Keeneland April 7. Last time out was a respectable second in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile May 4. Hungry Island has placed in eight of her last nine starts and has been very competitive each and every time out the last 18 months.
Dayatthespa - won five of her six starts in 2012, three of the graded stakes variety - the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland October 13, the Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga August 31, the Grade 3 Appalacian back in April, the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes on March 11 and the Sweetest Chant Stakes on January 22 both at Gulfstream. Her last 2012 action came November 25 and was the only time she didn't taste victory last year - a disappointing fifth in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood Park. Dayatthespa has just one start in 2013 - a win in the minor You Go West Girl Stakes by four lengths at this distance at Belmont Park May 5.
Better Lucky - won the Grade 1 Matriarch to conclude her 2012 campaign but stumbled to a fourth in her only start of 2013 - in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes behind Centre Court among others at Keeneland April 13. Earlier in 2012 she finished fifth in the Grade 2 Lake Placid to follow a second to Centre Court in the Grade 2 Lake George and a win in the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park in May. She was an OK third in the Grade 1 QE II Challenge Cup at Keeneland behind Dayatthespa October 13.
Laugh Out Loud - British bred filly makes her North American debut Saturday having recorded four wins, a second and a third place finish in 10 career starts overseas. She won a Group 2 Stakes in June of last year for her best ever result and was third at Newmarket in September before a seven month layoff. Laugh Out Loud returned May 1 to a disappointing twelfth in the Grade 2 Prix du Muguet at Saint Cloud.
Race 8 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 3:58 PM.
||C. McGaughey III
||G. Arnold, II
||Laugh Out Loud (GB)