Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes is on tap for Belmont Park in Elmont, New York on Saturday, September 27 - as part of a stacked Super Saturday card. Fillies and mares three years old and upward will take to Belmont Park's main track and go 1 1/2 miles searching for the winner's share of the very nice $600,000 purse.
A field of nine will take to the track in the Flower Bowl - race 7 on Belmont Park's stacked Saturday card. Post time is 4:07 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all nine entries for this Grade 1 stakes.
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) - wins include the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the 2011 Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes. She was a leading Juvenile filly on dirt and turf in 2011 and looked OK in 2012 as well. She had just three starts in 2013 - a great win in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile over Hungry Island, another impressive score over Better Lucky in the 2013 Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes and a third in July in the 2013 Dania Beach Stakes. Stephanie's Kitten has four starts in 2014 and hadn't looked great before her last two starts - a very disappointing eighth in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland was followed by a fifth in the Just a Game Stakes June 7 at Belmont Park and consecutive seconds - the Grade 1 Beverley D Stakes last time out and the Grade 1 Diana Stakes before that. She looks as though she is over her mini-slump and will start from the outside post as the 5-2 morning line favorite with John Velazquez aboard.
Strathnaver - H. Graham Motion pupil had two wins and a second place finish in nine starts in Britain before shipping. Her American debut was a good one - an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Gulfstream last March 16 in record time for 1 3/16 miles on turf. She followed that with another impressive win in the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at 18-1 odds at Keeneland April 25 of last year. She has been up and down since with good seconds in the Grade 1 Just a Dame Stakes on this track and in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stakes last time out being her best results. Strathnaver has been up and down the last year but seems to be in good form heading into Saturday. Joel Rosario will guide the 4-1 second choice from post 4.
Abaco - consistent Shug McGaughey trained mare had a nice win in the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs November 9 after a second in the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes October 12 and another second in the minor Lady Baltimore Stakes in September. She was fourth in the Grade 3 Marshua's River Stakes at Gulfstream January 4 but has since but has recently placed in four of five stakes tries - the last being a nice win in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa. She finished second two back on this track - in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes in May and before that registered a pair of thirds in graded stakes action - in the Grade 3 Suwannee River Stakes February 8 and in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland April 12. Abaco also had a nice four race win streak (no stakes) at the end of 2012. She has been in every race the last year and is expected to be so again on Saturday. She lines up from the rail at 7-2 odds with Jose Ortiz in the saddle.
Viva Rafaela - Brazilian bred Todd Pletcher trained mare had two wins and a second in six starts at home before shipping to North America. She recorded her first win in three starts state-side in an Allowance Optional Claiming November 11 after an eighth and a fourth respectively in similar races at Saratoga. She was a disappointing eighth in the Grade 3 Marshua's River Stakes January 4 but has placed in five of six starts since - a second last time out in the Grade 3 Glens Falls Stakes followed a second in the minor Fasig-Tipton Waya Stakes August 3, a third in the Grade 2 New York Stakes on this track in June, a third in the Grade 1 The Very One Stakes in February, a good second in the Grade 3 Orchid Stakes at Gulfstream March 29 and an unfortunate fifth in the Grade 1 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland April 24. Viva Rafaela is still looking for her first graded stakes score in North America and has been knocking on the door as of late. Javier Castellano has the call from post 3 at 5-1 on the morning line.
Alterite - French bred filly has not been good lately - an eleventh last time out in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park followed an eighth as favorite in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga in July - her only starts this year. Those poor results followed a third in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf for trainer Chad Brown. She made her North American debut last September 14 - a terrific win in the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park and followed that with a good second in the Grade 1 QE II Challenge Cup at Keeneland October 12. She had nine starts at home with three wins, two seconds and a third place finish - the other results were not great. Alterite seems to be trending downward and leaves from post 7 at 8-1 odds with Irad Ortiz in the reins.
Watsdachances - Chad Brown trained Irish bred filly started her career in Europe but it wasn't until she hit North American soil that she emerged a contender. Watsdachances won her first two starts in America including the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park October 8, 2012 and followed that with a very good second behind Flotilla in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November. Since the Breeders' Cup she has been pretty good - fourth in the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland April 18, 2013 an OK third in the Grade 3 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park May 27, seconds in the Grade 2 Lake George July 24 and the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes, a fourth in the Grade 1 Garden City and a win in the listed Summer Secretary Stakes at Aqueduct November 9. Last time out was a familiar fourth in the Grade 3 Glens Fall Stakes August 31 which followed a third in the Grade 3 Matchmaker in July and a second in the Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap in May. She has placed in 11 of 14 career starts and is competitive every time out. Joe Bravo will be in the saddle of the 8-1 shot from post 6.
Tannery - defending runner-up in this race made her 2014 debut with a good win in the minor Miss Liberty Stakes at Monmouth Park May 26 and followed that with a good second in the Grade 2 New York Stakes June 28. Since then Tannery has been a disaster - consecutive tenth place finishes - in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes and the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes. She did win the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine October 27 and last year's Grade 3 Sheepshead Bay but has not looked good since. Tannery has 24 career starts with seven wins, five seconds and two third place finishes. Jose Lezcano will be in charge from gate 8 at 15-1 on the morning line.
Maximova - Christophe Clement trained filly has eight career starts with four wins, a second and a third place finish but has just one graded stakes start - a seventh in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga in July of last year. She finished her 2013 campaign with a second in the minor Summer Secretary Stakes and has raced three Allowance Optional Claiming races in 2014 - a win last time out August 15 followed a third in July and a seventh on this track in May. Cornelio Velasquez has the mount aboard the 20-1 shot from gate 2.
Starstruck - Larry Jones trained mare won the Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes at Monmouth Park July 27 - a race that she won two years in a row. It was the only time she's placed in her last four starts overall. Last time out was a fifth in the Grade 3 Violet Stakes at Monmouth August 23 and before the Matchmaker score was an eighth and a fifth in graded stakes action. She has 19 career starts with just four wins, two seconds and three third place finishes and enters in so-so form. Kerwin Clark rides from gate 5 at 20-1 odds.
Race 7 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:07 PM.
||C. McGaughey III
||Viva Rafaela (BRZ)
||I. Ortiz, Jr.