Sistercharlie, trained by Chad Brown, will look to add another Grade 1 victory to her robust resume on Sunday at Belmont Park when she contests the $500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf, a "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf on November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
The Flower Bowl is part of a sensational day of racing at Belmont on Sunday - the second day of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Racing Festival - that features two other Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" events: the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette [Juvenile Fillies] and the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity [Juvenile Turf Sprint]. The card will be broadcast live on America's Day at the Races from 2:00 - 5:30 p.m. Eastern on FS2, with regional coverage airing on MSG Networks from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
||Empressof the Nile
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
The brilliant Sistercharlie, who has finished out of the exacta just once in her 13-race career and amassed $3.7 million in earnings, enters the Flower Bowl on an incredible string of five straight Grade 1 victories, which began in July of last year in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga Race Course. The bay mare commenced her North American tour de force in 2017, when she finished a close second in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks in July after previously having raced in France, though she failed to make another start in her sophomore year.
In 2018, the daughter of Irish stallion Myboycharlie returned a much-improved animal, taking the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley in her seasonal bow before finishing a game second in the Grade 2 New York at Belmont. Following her Diana victory, she won the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park in August before capturing the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf to close out her 4-year-old campaign.
The Peter Brant color-bearer has followed a nearly identical progression in the second half of 2019, beginning her truncated season with dominant wins in the Diana and the Beverly D., but unlike last year she will make a stop at Belmont for the Flower Bowl before a possible date in the Filly and Mare Turf.
Sistercharlie drew post 2 in the seven-horse field and will be ridden again by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Sistercharlie will be joined on Sunday by a familiar face, her stablemate Thais, who set the pace in both the Diana and Beverly D. Also owned by Brant and trained by Brown, Thais will be ridden by Manny Franco and the pair will leave from post 5.
Looking to upset the presumptive heavy favorite, trainer Graham Motion will send out a pair of capable runners, Mrs. Sippy and Empressof the Nile, who will look to build off a one-two finish in the Grade 2 Glens Falls on August 31 at the Spa.
Making her North American debut in the Glens Falls, Mrs. Sippy was sent off at 6-1 odds but turned in a decisive, winning move to best her stablemate by three-quarters of a length.
The Andrew Stone homebred began her career running in Europe and showed some promise as a 3-year-old, winning a minor stake and finishing a close second in a Group 3, but her 2019 campaign did not get off on the right foot with out-of-the-money efforts in a pair of group stakes, which necessitated a change in scenery.
"I knew her European connections thought highly of her, but she had kind of lost her way a little bit," Motion said of Mrs. Sippy. "I tried to enter her in an allowance race first. I wanted to give her the easiest introduction I could to American racing, but the allowance race didn't go. I didn't want to run them against each other [in the Glens Falls] but they ended up finishing one-two, so it worked out."
Owned by Madaket Stables, Manganaro Bloodstock, and Robert Masiello, Empressof the Nile was purchased at last year's Keeneland November Sale for $300,000 and transferred to Motion's barn for her 5-year-old campaign. The Pioneerof the Nile mare began her year with an even fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on June 29 at Woodbine, but has improved in subsequent starts, taking a second-level optional claimer at Saratoga before her runner-up finish in the Glens Falls.
"I wasn't surprised at all by the way she ran in the Glens Falls," Motion said. "The race in Canada was a big ask off the layoff and we always thought she had that kind of talent. I had always planned to point Mrs. Sippy to this race, but Empressof the Nile had a bit of an unlucky trip last time and looked like she would be competitive. I was a little reluctant to run against Chad's filly [Sistercharlie], but my old boss taught me to never duck one horse."
Mrs. Sippy will leave from post 3 with Joel Rosario in the irons, while Empressof the Nile will break to her immediate outside under Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Trained by Rodolphe Brisset for Silesia Farm, Lantiz will attempt to take another move forward as she steps up sharply in class for the Flower Bowl, coming off an encouraging second-place finish in the Ramsey Farm Stakes at Kentucky Downs. The daughter of Tizway was transferred to Brisset's barn for 2019 and has won a pair of allowance races. Stretching out to 1 5/16 miles for the first time in the Ramsey Farm, the 5-year-old mare turned in a career-best effort, missing by just a half-length and earning a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.
Lantiz will be ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, and the duo will depart from post 6.
Rounding out the field are Ferdinanada, a six-length winner of the Brookmeade in her latest outing, and Beau Belle, a recent allowance winner at Saratoga for trainer Tom Albertrani.
The Flower Bowl is carded as Race 8 on the 10-race card. First post is 12:45 p.m.