2023 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont Park

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Edited NYRA Press Release
Updated: May 03, 2023

Atomic Blonde & Amazing Grace headline Sheepshead Bay

Stakes action returns to Belmont Park on Friday, May 5 as trainer Christophe Clement will saddle a pair of formidable contenders in Atomic Blonde and Amazing Grace to headline a compact field of five older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf in the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay to help highlight the second day of the spring/summer meet.

The 64th running of the Sheepshead Bay, slated as Race 4, is one of two stakes on the day with the grass marathon joining the Grade 3, $175,000 Westchester for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on Big Sandy in Race 8. First post for the nine-race card is 1 p.m. Eastern.

2023 Sheepshead Bay Stakes Field & Odds

Race 4 at Belmont Park on Friday, May 5 - Post 2:36 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Mylady (GER) 7-2 Dylan Davis
120 Lbs
Chad Brown
2 Atomic Blonde (GER) 6-1 Eric Cancel
120 Lbs
Christophe Clement
3 Virginia Joy (GER) 7-2 Jose Gomez
122 Lbs
Chad Brown
4 Higher Truth (IRE) 5-2 Manuel Franco
118 Lbs
Chad Brown
5 Amazing Grace (GER) 8-5 Kendrick Carmouche
122 Lbs
Christophe Clement

Moyglare Stud Farm's Amazing Grace, like her stablemate Atomic Blonde, made her North American debut last out in the Grade 3 Orchid on April 1 at Gulfstream Park. The German-bred 5-year-old Protectionist chestnut showed late-closing speed, rallying from seventh-of-eight to post a half-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile marathon over firm turf, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

Amazing Grace made her first 15 outings in Europe, including a 3-1-4 record in her previous eight starts for her former conditioner Waldemar Hickst. Her overseas form is led by a close runner-up effort in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen in July at Munich ahead of a win in the Group 2 T. von Zastrow Stutenpreis in September at Baden-Baden.

Atomic Blonde, owned by Michaela Faust, West Point Thoroughbreds and Heather Winters, ran third - just 1 3/4 lengths off Amazing Grace - in her first start across the Atlantic, registering a 96 Beyer. The 4-year-old daughter of The Grey Gatsby was a Group 3 winner in Italy over soft going in October, which could be valuable experience if forecasted rain at Belmont comes to fruition.

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Both Amazing Grace and Atomic Blonde acclimated to their new surroundings while training with Clement's contingent at Payson Park Training Center in Indiantown, Florida. The pair breezed five-eighths in 1:04.40 Friday over the Payson Park turf.

"They are both doing great. They had an easy work at Payson. I kept them in Florida for as long as I could because the weather was great," Clement said. "Amazing Grace had a very good trip last time, but she's a very good filly and trained very well before the race.

"Atomic Blonde ran a good race as well," Clement added. "She may have moved a touch early but she's trained very well since the race and they both deserve a shot. There's rain in the forecast and they both run well on softer turf."

Kendrick Carmouche will ride Amazing Grace, drawing post 5, while Eric Cancel will have the call aboard Atomic Blonde in breaking from post 2.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Chad Brown will saddle a trio of challengers, including Virginia Joy [Jose Gomez, post 3], Mylady [Dylan Davis, post 1], and Higher Truth [Manny Franco, post 4].

Peter Brant's multiple graded stakes-winner Virginia Joy is looking to repeat in the Sheepshead Bay after a 14 1/4-length triumph in last year's edition. The German-bred made her 6-year-old bow with a fourth-place effort behind the victorious Mylady in the Grade 3 The Very One in March at Gulfstream, which marked her first race since running eighth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November at Keeneland.

That Breeders' Cup appearance closed a 2022 campaign that saw the Soldier Hollow mare record wins in that year's The Very One and a gate-to-wire domination in the Sheepshead Bay as part of a four-horse field that earned her the lone triple-digit Beyer of her career with an even 100 figure. A third-place finish in the Grade 2 Glens Falls at Saratoga Race Course preceded a win by a neck over War Like Goddess in the Grade 2 Flower Bowl at the Spa, which propelled Virginia Joy to the Breeders' Cup.

Faust's Mylady gave Brown a victory in The Very One for her first North American win in her second attempt, building on a fifth-place finish elevated from sixth via disqualification in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor in October at Woodbine for her former conditioner Markus Klug. After a five-month freshening, the German-bred tallied a 95 Beyer for her three-quarter length victory over Higher Truth for a Brown-trained exacta.

The 4-year-old daughter of The Grey Gatsby was a Group 3 winner last April in her native Germany and earned a Group 1 placing in August when three-quarter lengths shy of the victorious Toskana Belle in the German Oaks at Dusseldorf.

Team Hanley, Jeff Drown and Michael Ryan's Higher Truth has been knocking on the door in graded stakes for Brown, starting with a third-place effort in the 2021 Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational and continuing with runner-up efforts in both the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational and the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational that year.

Overall, the 5-year-old Galileo mare is 0-2-2 in four career graded stakes starts but will be returning to the track where she last won, notching a 4 1/2-length score against optional claimers going 1 3/8 miles in July.

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