ELMONT, N.Y. – Wertheimer and Frere’s Grade 1-placed Alda will be in search of her third career stakes score in Saturday’s $100,000 Wild Applause, a one-mile Widener turf test for sophomore fillies at Belmont Park.
Trained by Graham Motion, the Munnings chestnut enjoyed a productive juvenile campaign, graduating at second asking under Hall of Famer John Velazquez in a six-furlong maiden special weight in July on the Belmont turf.
Alda then traveled to Woodbine for a pair of starts, winning the Catch a Glimpse by a nose in August ahead of a runner-up effort to Lady Speightspeare in the Grade 1 Natalma in September.
Alda completed her 2-year-old campaign with an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Keeneland.
“She had always acted like one of our most precocious 2-year-olds,” said Motion. “Johnny finished third on her first time out and then she came back and won. She didn’t do too much wrong from then on. Maybe the Breeders’ Cup was one race too many, so we gave her a little break after that.”
Following a close sixth in her seasonal debut when sprinting 5 1/2-furlongs in the Limestone Turf Sprint on April 9 at Keeneland, Alda stretched back out to a mile for a rallying neck score over Seasons in the Hilltop on May 14 at Pimlico Race Course.
“I experimented by sprinting her first time back to get a race into her and I thought she could probably handle sprinting, but clearly a mile is more what she wants to do. I thought her last race was probably her most impressive race,” said Motion.
Motion said Alda is training well into Saturday’s test, including a recent five-furlong breeze in 1:01.60 in company with graded-stakes placed Invincible Gal, who is entered in Saturday’s Tepin at Churchill Downs.
“She’s had a couple of good works since the Hilltop,” said Motion. “Her and Invincible Gal have went together the last two times. They make a pretty good pair. They’re very different fillies but good workmates. They’re looking to do similar distances, so luckily we can keep them apart.”
With Velazquez in Kentucky to ride at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Flavien Prat will pilot Alda from the inside post.
Hall of Famer Bill Mott will saddle a pair of contenders in Godolphin homebred Lovestruck and Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and TOLO Thoroughbreds’ Alwayz Late.
Lovestruck, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winner Scat Daddy, is undefeated in two career starts, including a length score in the Tepin in November.
Alwayz Late graduated at fourth asking in February on the Gulfstream turf and followed with an optional-claiming score traveling nine furlongs on the same course in March.
Following a distant fifth in the Grade 3 Gazelle on the Big A main track in April, Alwayz Late returned from a freshening to finish seventh in the Grade 3 Wonder Again at nine furlongs on the Belmont turf on June 3.
Junior Alvarado will pilot Lovestruck from post 3, while Benjamin Hernandez has the call aboard Alwayz Late from post 5.
Christophe Clement will saddle stakes winners Bye Bye and Bubbles On Ice.
Bach Stables’ Bye Bye, an Into Mischief bay purchased for $140,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, enters from a neck score over Invincible Gal in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Soaring Softly on May 15 at Belmont.
Glen Hill Farm, Madaket Stables and Cheyenne Stables’ Bubbles On Ice, an Irish-bred daughter of Starspangledbanner, began her career in her native country for trainer James Stack which included a maiden score over soft going at Killarney.
Bubbles On Ice made her North American debut a winning one by capturing the 1 1/16-mile Memories of Silver in April at Aqueduct ahead of a flat fifth last out in the Hilltop.
Bye Bye will exit post 7 under Joel Rosario, while Eric Cancel will pilot Bubbles On Ice from post 6.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will also saddle a pair of contenders in Bradley Thoroughbreds, Iris Smith Stable and Rigney Racing’s Minaun and Alpha Delta Stables’ Nevisian Sunrise.
Minaun launched her career in her native Ireland where she captured the Group 3 Marble Hill, a six-furlong turf sprint at Cork over good going. Last out, she made her North American debut a winning one with a three-length allowance score sprinting six furlongs against older fillies and mares.
Manny Franco will pilot the daughter of Zoffany from post 2.
Nevisian Sunrise, by War Front and out of the graded-stakes winning Unbridled’s Song mare My Miss Sophia, graduated at third asking on the Keeneland turf in April. Last out, she closed to finish second to Caldee in a one-mile optional claiming event on the Belmont turf on May 28.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. retains the mount from post 4.
Rounding out the field are Sussex Garden [post 8, Julien Leparoux], making her North American debut for trainer Arnaud Delacour; and Runaway Rumour [post 9, Jose Lezcano], an undefeated New York-bred daughter of Flintshire making her stakes debut for Jorge Abreu.
The Wild Applause is carded as Race 9 on Saturday’s 10-race program. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Belmont Park Press Release
Photo: Alda, (Chelsea Durand)