Belmont Oaks Cheat Sheet: Hello Race Fans
By Dana Byerly, courtesy of Hello Race Fans, @helloracefans
The turf fillies are back in action at Belmont Park for the second running of the Belmont Oaks, a Win and You're In race for the Filly & Mare Turf.
The Wonder Again Stakes produced last year's upset winner, Minorette ($14.60), trained by Chad Brown. He'll try to win again with three entries, including undefeated morning line favorite, Lady Eli, but with a full field of 14 anything can happen!
Not sure who's running? Here's a thumbnail sketch of the 2015 Belmont Oaks field by post position and including the morning line odds.
1. Pine Needles (20-1) - The likely pacesetter is one of two entries by local turf trainer extraordinaire Christophe Clemente. Last out she set a slow, deliberate pace in the Wonder Again at Belmont Park and held on to finish third by half a length behind winner Lady Eli. The added distance should not be a problem given her pedigree but she would need some racing luck and big effort to step up here.
2. Lady Eli (2-1) - Undefeated in five starts, the Juvenile Fillies Turf winner comes out of an impressive win in the Wonder Again where she overcame traffic trouble in the stretch and displayed her devastating late kick to get the job done with little to no asking. While she does face a full field with some accomplished fillies, her biggest challenge may be the added distance. Given the ease of her last win it doesn't seem like an issue.
3. Sharla Rae (30-1) - The California Oaks winner never appeared to be in contention last out in the Grade 1 American Oaks, and despite being the most experienced runner in the field with 11 starts, she has yet to win on the turf. She did finish a decent second to Spanish Queen in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Stakes in early May and will lose the blinkers, a move trainer Doug O'Neill has had some success with.
4. Itsonlyactingdad (20-1) - She made a decent stakes debut last out, finishing a closing fourth behind Lady Eli in the Wonder Again. She was never a threat but she did run the final furlong slightly faster than Lady Eli. She's one to consider for your exotics given that the likely faster pace and the added distance are to her advantage.
5. Miss Chatelaine (30-1) - Last year's winner of the Chelsea Flowers Stakes was never in contention last out in the Wonder Again where she was making her seasonal debut. She does have a nice record at Belmont but seems unlikely to improve enough to make an impact.
6. Spanish Queen (7-2) - The lightly raced Grade 1 American Oaks winner is making her first start outside of California, where she's been nothing but impressive. If she can carry her good form to Belmont Park she should give Lady Eli a run for her money.
7. Consumer Credit (12-1) - Could the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant winner have won the Grade 1 American Oaks with a better trip? A furlong out she was a neck behind Spanish Queen but had to take up and alter her course, breaking stride and losing momentum in the process to finish third. Of course we'll never know if she would've won, but it was a nice showing at the distance and with a better trip she has upset potential.
8. Olorda (GER) (8-1) - One of two European shippers, this German-bred Group 3 winner in France comes in off a third place finish in Group 1 race at the distance. She gets the services of local jockey and Hall of Famer John Velazquez, and given that she was recently purchased by American owner Martin Schwartz who campaigned 2012 Filly & Mare Turf winner Zagora, we may continue to see her stateside with a good performance.
9. Gypsy Judy (30-1) - Last out was her first start on grass where she set a moderate pace in the Penn Oaks but was taken over by winner Strict Compliance in the final strides and finished third. All and all it was a respectable first turf effort but given her post position and presence of other front-runners she's unlikely to get that kind of set-up again.
10. Outstanding (IRE) (6-1) - Well-regarded trainer Aidan O'Brien sends this lightly raced Irish stakes winner, who comes in off a win at the distance. She appears to have raced exclusively over the softer footing that is more common abroad so her ability to take to firmer American turf remains a question, but she does get Lasix for the first time, which can lead to an improved performance.
11. Sentiero Italia (15-1) - This well-bred and lightly raced allowance winner comes in on a two-win streak. She appears to be flexible with regard to running style as well as having nice late kick. She's also beaten older fillies but this is a tough spot to make a stakes debut. That said, she might be worth considering for your exotics.
12. Daring Duchess (20-1) - Trainer Bill Mott sends this allowance winner, who, like Senteiro Italia, has a flexible running style. Last out she gained the lead early and dueled gamely for the win. She's definitely on the improve and doesn't need to lead to win, but she would need to really step up.
13. Lady Zuzu(20-1) - This maiden winner comes in on a decent second in the Grade 3 Regret where she was nipped on the wire after setting the pace. She likes to run on the lead but her wide position might make it a little harder for her to get a good spot early. She's another one who would have to really step up her game to get a piece.
14. Strict Compliance (10-1) - The lightly raced Penn Oaks winner comes into her first graded stakes effort on a three race winning streak. Last out she stalked an easy pace and outdueled Grade 3 Florida Oaks winner Quality Rocks. She's got a nice turn of foot and could be a good addition to your exotics.