Grade 2 Glens Falls winner Lady Montdore will try for her third straight win in a field of seven vying for a coveted Breeders' Cup spot in Sunday's Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational for fillies and mares on the inner turf at Belmont Park.
Lady Montdore is undefeated in two starts on American turf since moving to the Tom Albertrani barn this spring. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Medaglia d'Oro made her first five starts in France, including a third-place finish in the Group 3 Prix Minerve at 1 9/16 miles over soft ground at Deauville while under the care of Andre Fabre.
|Claude McGaughey III
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
She moved to Albertrani's barn in May and won her domestic debut impressively on August 6 with a 4 ½-length score in a turf allowance at Saratoga Race Course. She showed signs of heat distress immediately following the race, taking her time getting to the test barn, but the affliction proved to have no lasting effects, chalked up by her connections to an atypically balmy summer at the Spa, and Lady Montdore followed up with a front-running 2 ¼-length victory in the Glens Falls on closing weekend.
Both races at Saratoga were at 1 3/8 miles over an inner turf course listed as good. The 1 ¼-mile distance of the Flower Bowl, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf on November 3 at Churchill Downs, marks Lady Montdore's shortest race since running third in a one-mile maiden race in her first career start in October 2016.
"When I first got her, there wasn't too much to her," said Albertrani. "She's got a light frame and was just kind of light in general, but as I started to train her more and more, she started to get my attention. We got to really liking her as we got closer to starting her. Even before she ran the first time, I really thought she would run well. I think it just took some time for her to really mature.
"We were very lucky with the way she came out of her first race and were able to go on to win the Glens Falls, where she was impressive again," he added. "In her first race, Joe [Bravo] rode her and she rated kindly for him through the whole race. Last time, Joe had to go to Kentucky, so Manny picked up the mount. He just kind of inherited the lead with her and she just galloped around. It's nice to have that tactical speed, where, with a horse like Sadler's Joy, you've got to worry about him coming from 15 lengths back. It's good that she's got the kind of speed where she can place herself accordingly."
Lady Montdore will be ridden by Manny Franco, who piloted her to the Glens Falls win. The pair will break from post 2.
Trainer Chad Brown will send out a two-pronged challenge in the Flower Bowl with Fourstar Crook and Onthemoonagain.
A multiple graded stakes winner, the New York-bred Fourstar Crook is exiting a close runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Beverly D. August 11 at Arlington Park, where she rallied from midpack to finish a half-length behind stablemate Sistercharlie. The 6-year-old Freud mare hasn't been worse than second in four starts this year, registering wins in the Grade 2 Hillsborough in March at Tampa Bay Downs and the Grade 2 New York June 8 at Belmont, and finishing second by a head in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley in April at Keeneland.
Onthemoonagain, a 4-year-old by Cape Cross, will make her third start since transferring to Brown following a 2017 campaign in her native France. She was third to fellow Flower Bowl entrant Danceland in a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming race on the turf at Saratoga in August before running fourth in the Glens Falls, where she was beaten 3 ¼ lengths by Lady Montdore.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the mount aboard Fourstar Crook, who will break from the outside post 7. Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano will ride Onthemoonagain from the rail.
Stronach Stable's champion Ontario-bred Holy Helena will try to regain her form following a three-month layoff for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
Last year, the Ghostzapper filly put together solid victories over the Tapeta course at Woodbine, winning the Woodbine Oaks before putting away males in the Queen's Plate en route to being named Canada's champion 3-year-old filly in 2017.
Her connections opted to make a switch to the turf this winter, which produced three straight wins for the 4-year-old, including a 1 ¾-length score in the Grade 3 The Very One on March 3 at Gulfstream prior to winning the 1 3/8-mile Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay by a half-length at Belmont in May. She followed with a fifth-place finish in the New York before returning to Woodbine for the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, where she finished third as the 5-2 favorite last time out on June 30.
Junior Alvarado picks up the mount aboard Holy Helena and will ride from post 3.
Rounding out the field for the Flower Bowl are Lynn Ashby trainee Tricky Escape, entering on a three-race win streak, most recently recording a head victory on September 13 at Kentucky Downs; Danceland, third in the Glens Falls last time out for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey; and Feeling Bossy, returning two weeks after finishing seventh in the John Hettinger for New York-breds on September 23.
Holy Helena is primed for her New York return in the G1, $500,000 Flower Bowl
Stronach Stable's Canadian champion Holy Helena is primed for her New York return on Sunday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl following a three-month layoff, said trainer Jimmy Jerkens Friday morning.
"She's fresh, she looks good," he said. "She seems pretty strong right now."
Last year, the Ontario-bred Ghostzapper filly put together solid victories over the Tapeta course at Woodbine, winning the Woodbine Oaks before putting away males in the Queen's Plate en route to being named Canada's champion 3-year-old filly in 2017.
Her connections opted to make a switch to the turf this winter, which produced three straight wins for the 4-year-old, all over firm going, including a 1 ¾-length score in the Grade 3 The Very One on March 3 at Gulfstream prior to winning the 1 3/8-mile Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay by a half-length at Belmont in May. She followed with a fifth-place finish in the New York before returning to Woodbine for the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, where she finished third as the 5-2 favorite last time out on June 30.
Holy Helena has been installed as the 3-1 second-choice on the Flower Bowl morning line behind 7-5 favorite Fourstar Crook.
According to Jerkens though, the only question mark this weekend could be the potential for softer turf this weekend.
"Let's just hope she takes to the footing," said Jerkens. "She's kind of long and lanky and those loose-ended horses, when they plant their feet down, they want to be able to push off. It's not very economical when the ground doesn't cooperate with them. I don't really know because she hasn't run on it before, but just from what I think of her, I don't get the impression she'll really care for it. Hopefully a few days of nice weather will help."
Jerkens added that Rocketry exited his record-setting performance in Sunday's Temperence Hill in good order, where the 4-year-old colt by Hard Spun rallied from last of five for a 1 ½-length victory in his first try on the main track, breaking Man o' War's 98-year-old track record for 1 5/8 miles.
"He's really good," he said. "He doesn't change much. He's been even-keeled the two years I've had him. He was so slow [training on the dirt] when he started his career, you wouldn't even think of running him on the dirt, especially in Florida, where you knew he'd just trail all the way. Then, later on, he started breezing very well on the dirt, even against some decent horses. I wanted to try him on the dirt, but I had to find the right spot. It seemed like distance was never an object for him and this race came up. It worked out."