Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes comes our way from Belmont Park in Elmont, New York on Saturday, May 24. Fillies and mares four years old and upward will take to Belmont Park's inner turf track and go 1 3/8 miles searching for the winner's share of the $200,000 purse.
A field of seven older females plus three Main Track Only will take to the track in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes - race 9 on Belmont Park's Saturday schedule. Post time is 5:28 PM. Let's take a brief look into the past performances of all 10 possible entries for this Grade 2 stakes.
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2014 Sheepshead Bay Stakes Race Favorite Entries
Abaco - consistent Shug McGaughey trained mare really came on toward the end of 2013 with a 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 had a bit of a stumble to start her 2014 campaign - a fourth in the Grade 3 Marshua's River Stakes at Gulfstream January 4 but has since registered a pair of thirds in graded stakes action - behind Riposte 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 as well. She has five wins, seven seconds and four third place finishes in 21 career starts and is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Sheepshead Bay. John Velazquez gets the call from post 6.
Riposte - British bred filly made her North American debut in February and finished a good second in the Grade 3 Suwannee River Stakes at Gulfstream February 8 and has since raced to a respectable third in the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay and a second last time out as 8-5 choice in an Allowance at Keeneland April 11. She had six starts in Europe with two wins and a second place finish. Her biggest score to date came in the Grade 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, winning convincingly by 2 1/4 lengths which proves her class. Riposte's last three starts at home weren't great however - a pair of fifths last summer were followed by a seventh in the Grade 2 Qatar Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp October 5. Riposte has rebounded quite nicely and has placed in all three of her North American starts - hopes are she continues that trend Saturday and that the extra distance will be a benefit. Joel Rosario will be in the saddle from gate 2 as Riposte is sent off at 3-1 odds.
Sheepshead Bay Stakes 2014 | Remaining Contenders
Fitful Skies - Irish bred filly raced in North America for the first time in October and finished a good second behind Tannery in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine and followed that with a very disappointing ninth in her only start of 2014 - the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland April 12. Her last race in Europe was a nice win in the 1 3/8 mile group 1 Grosser Preis von German Tote Herbst Stutenpreis at Hannover September 29 after a second in the group 3 T. von Zastrow Baden Racing Stutenpreis at Baden Baden August 31. She has four wins and five seconds in 12 career starts and had three wins and four seconds in eight starts last year. She looks for a huge bounce back effort Saturday as she searches for her first North American score and is listed at 7-2 odds. Irad Ortiz rides from post 3.
Viva Rafaela - Brazilian bred Todd Pletcher trained mare had two wins and a second in six starts at home before shipping to North America including the Grande Premio Diana (G1)-a classic race for 3-year-old fillies. 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 looked much better in her next two graded stakes starts - a third in the Grade 1 The Very One Stakes in February was followed by a good second in the Grade 3 Orchid Stakes at Gulfstream March 29. Last time out she fell back to earth a bit - a fifth in the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland April 24. Viva Rafaela now has three wins, two seconds and a third in 13 career starts and will be looking for her first graded stakes score in North America. She leaves from the rail at 5-1 odds with Javier Castellano in the reins.
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Modernstone - intriguing European import has raced predominantly on synthetic surfaces in England. She makes her North American debut Saturday off two wins and three second place finishes in her last five starts overall - two straight runner-up finishes in February and March. She has three wins, four seconds and a third place finish in 10 career starts and looks ready for her American debut Saturday. She is 8-1 on the morning line and will have Christopher DeCarlo guiding her from post 8.
Irish Mission - Canada's top 3-year-old filly in 2012 hasn't looked great recently at all. Last time out was a seventh in the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes - her only start of this year after another seventh in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in October, an OK fourth in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer, a fifth in the Grade 2 Sky Classic and an Allowance score here July 24. She had some success early last year - a third in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream and a second in the Grade 2 Nassau on this track against the boys and she did win the Breeders' Stakes in Canada among her three victories in 2012 - so we know that she can run with the best. She looks to place in a race for the first time in five starts Saturday with Jose Lezcano aboard. Irish Mission starts from post 7 at 8-1 odds.
Caroline Thomas - Barclay Tagg trained filly has 14 career starts with three wins, a second and four third place finishes. She had eight starts in 2013 - on OK third January 27 in the minor Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream and a pair of fifths in graded stakes action - in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream March 2 and the Grade 2 Sands Point May 27. She had her best career performance August 18 however - an upset win in the Grade 2 Lake Placid over Watsdachances and Concise but fell back to seventh in the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park September. She has three starts in 2014 - an OK third in the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes last time out at Keeneland April 24 followed a fourth in the Grade 3 Orchid Stakes, a fifth in the Grade 3 Suwannee Stakes February 8 and an OK third in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland October 12 - her last 2013 start. Joe Rocco Jr. will be in the saddle from gate 9 at 10-1 odds.
Lady Cohiba - Main Track Only entry and Chris Clemente filly has five wins, two seconds and two third place finishes in 13 career starts and is coming off an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Gulfstream March 19 after a fifth in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap closed out her 2013 campaign in October. Lady Cohiba has placed in three of her last four starts overall and will go off as the 2-1 favorite - IF SHE RACES.
Belle Gallantey - Main Track Only entry has won all three starts of 2014 for trainer Rudy Rodriguez - an Allowance Optional Claiming last time out on this track May 1 followed a Starter Allowance score and a win in an Allowance. She has 39 career starts with seven wins, 12 seconds and seven third place finishes and will be 5-2 on the morning line if she starts Saturday.
Flash Forward - Main Track Only entry placed in five straight minor stakes starts in 2013 and debuted in graded stakes company November 30 finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Comely Stakes. The wins include a third in the Belle Cherie Stakes October 25 after a second in the Zafig Stakes and a win in the My Flag Stakes at Saratoga in August. She enters off a pair of OK thirds - the minor Cat Cay Stakes last time out April 6 and in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap March 1 after a second in a Ladies Handicap January 25. Flash Forward has three wins, four seconds and three third place finishes in 16 career starts. She is listed at 7-2 on the morning line.