Independence Day weekend sees a lot of high quality stakes racing with top billing going to Belmont Park’s Mother Goose Stakes, a grade 1 event for 3 year old fillies over a mile and a sixteenth.
7 runners face the starter for this fascinating race and the Morning Line and the pundits make it very much a four horse race between Rachel’s Valentina, Lewis Bay, Lightstream and Off The Tracks.
Each horse has her plus points. Rachel’s Valentina is very consistent and has plenty og grade 1 form under her belt including a second to Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and she runs well after a break. Lewis bay showed a good turn of foot to hit the front in the Kentucky Oaks but she did fade to finish 3rd. Lightstream is unbeaten and on the upgrade having already posted some good Beyers but this is a big step up in class.
Off The Tracks ran a great race in the very hot Acorn Stakes to finish second to Carina Mia after a less than perfect trip. If she is still in that form, she may well be the one to beat in this race but it looks to me to be a race to watch and enjoy.
Next we go to Gulfstream Park’s Summit of Speed card and a quality bill is topped by two grade 2 sprints, each worth $250,000.
The first of these is the Smile Sprint Handicap over 6 furlongs, with the winner getting an expenses paid entry to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The two Morning Line favorites are both shippers in the form of Limousine Liberal (2/1) and Delta Bluesman (5/2).
Delta Bluesman is in great form having passed the post first in his last 3 races (disqualified in the Decathlon Stakes) and has wired the field on each occasion. He’s a course winner and has got the plum draw in the one box and should win with a decent start.
Limousine Liberal has been consistent without winning at this sort of level and was beaten at odds on in the Grade 3 Aristedes at Churchill Downs last time out. In my opinion, he will need to up his game if he is to beat Delta Bluesman.
The next Grade 2 is the Princess Rooney Handicap over seven furlongs, which will give the winner an expenses-paid entry to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Birdatthe wire is the Morning line favorite at 8/5 in an eight-strong field and it is not difficult to see why she is favored. She has run three times here (all in Grade 2s) and has won twice and was second on the other occasion when she didn’t have the best of trips. She has won over 7 furlongs and over an extended mile so she will be staying on strongly at the finish. I find it difficult to see beyond her but Spelling Again has a decision over her although she started very slowly on that occasion.
For the final race in our preview we head to Canada’s Woodbine for the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes, known as the run for the spuds. A quality field of 9 face the starter for this $200k race over a mile of the turf track.
The 2/1 Morning Line favorite is Full Mast, trained by Bill Mott. The horse is a Group 1 (= Grade 1) winner in France as a two year old and has started his US career with an allowance optional claiming win at Belmont, earning a Beyer of 101. If he still retains his 2 year old ability, it is difficult to see him beaten in a turf race such as this.
The other shipper is Smoken Kitten trained by Mike Maker. He comes here after a two month lay-off having won the Miami Mile at Gulfstream and has been working well.
An interesting home contender is Tower of Texas, who won the 2015 renewal of this race. He has been off since getting injured in the Woodbine Mile last September but will be very interesting if he is fully tuned up for this contest.