ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Linda Rice will send out three runners apiece in the New York Stallion Series Spectacular Bid and the New York Stallion Series Cupecoy's Joy on Sunday at Belmont Park.
The Cupecoy's Joy, for 3-year-old fillies on the turf at seven furlongs, will feature the Rice-trained trio of Miss Narcissist, Champagne Ruby, and Bella the Bandit, none of whom have made a start over turf.
Miss Narcissist rose to prominence as a 2-year-old, when she took the Joseph A. Gimma on October 19 at Belmont by 5 Â¼ lengths, then followed that performance up with a win in the NYSS Fifth Avenue on November 23 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The bay filly has made only one start in 2014, a fifth-place finish in the NYSS Park Avenue.
"Miss Narcissist was injured in the starting gate in December [in the East View]," said Rice. "She has taken quite a bit of time to round back into form, but she seems to be turning a corner at this point. She's never been on turf, but she's a [daughter of] Freud, and most of them do well on the grass."
The second most accomplished of the Rice triumvirate, Champagne Ruby is exiting a sixth-place finish in the Bouwerie on May 31 at Belmont. In her only prior start of 2014, the chestnut daughter of Utopia finished second to Henry's Gal in the NYSS Park Avenue.
"Utopia's [progeny] have generally done well on the grass," said Rice. "I have been able to take her out to the turf and she did seem to like it."
Rounding out the Rice trio is Bella the Bandit, a two-time winner by Bustin Stones who finished fourth in the NYSS Park Avenue last out.
"Bella the Bandit ran pretty well in the Park Avenue on dirt," said Rice. "I've never had the opportunity to try her on grass but I've always felt that she'll like it."
Miss Narcissist, Champagne Ruby, and Bella the Bandit will be ridden by Joel Rosario, Taylor Rice, and Irad Ortiz, Jr., respectively.
In the Spectacular Bid, for 3-year-old colts at seven furlongs on the turf, Rice will saddle Mark My Way, Bambisfrostyracer, and A Marked Man.
Mark My Way has a win and two third-place finishes to his credit racing over turf. The win - a smashing five-length victory - came on November 10 at Aqueduct. The bay son of Noonmark's most recent outing was a third-place finish against older foes on May 25 at Belmont at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
"Mark My Way is proven on turf," said Rice. "He can't run a jump on dirt, but he's good on turf and we got a nice prep race into him [on May 25]."
Bambisfrostyracer, who has yet to run on turf, is coming off a 2 Â½-length maiden score on June 15 at Belmont Park, for which the Frost Giant colt earned a 78 Beyer Speed Figure.
"Bambisfrostyracer broke his maiden going a mile on dirt last Sunday; he's back on short rest and is unproven on the turf, but we thought we'd take a shot," Rice said.
Rice will also saddle A Marked Man, who is still a maiden through three career starts. The gelded son of Noonmark was most recently second in an off-the-turf race at Belmont.
"A Marked Man loves the grass," said Rice. "Jose [Ortiz] rode him at Aqueduct and he was very green. He is a maiden, so it's a step up in class, but I thought he deserved a shot."
Mark My Way, Bambisfrostyracer, and A Marked Man will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Irad Ortiz, Jr., and Jose Ortiz, respectively.
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