ELMONT, N.Y. – R. A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Breeze Easy will look for her first stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Wild Applause for sophomore fillies travelling one mile over the Widener turf at Belmont Park,
Trained by Christophe Clement, Breeze Easy arrives from her May 28 North American debut when a close second in the Grade 3 Soaring Softly sprinting seven furlongs over the Belmont lawn. The daughter of Bated Breath was defeated a neck by Chardy Party after closing from fourth and needing to maneuver through traffic down the stretch under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano. She held on valiantly to stave off challenges on each side of her and hold onto place honors by a neck, earning an 84 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
Breeze Easy will make her first start at a mile after making each of her nine outings at six or seven furlongs, something Clement said is a bit of an unknown.
“She came out of that race in good shape. She looks good and I’m excited to see her run again,” Clement said. “I think she ran very well and she’s trained forwardly since. I’m trying her at a mile for the first time which is a small question mark, but I guess we’ll find out.”
Bred in Great Britain by Lofts Hall Stud and B. Sangster, Breeze Easy had previously been campaigned in her native England with trainer David Evans and broke her maiden at the allowance level in August 2021 over good turf at Carlisle. She earned two stakes placings when third in the Rockingham at York and runner-up in the Radley at Newbury. She was purchased for nearly $350,000 at the 2021 Tattersalls December Mare Sale.
Clement said he has liked what he’s seen from Breeze Easy since joining his barn in May.
“It’s a little too early to tell, but she seems to be a nice horse and she’s been working well,” said Clement. “It will be easier to assess her in the next two or three months.”
Breeze Easy had her final work in preparation for the Wild Applause on June 19 over the Belmont inner turf, breezing a half-mile in 51 seconds flat in company with graded stakes-placed Gal in a Rush [51.02]. Joel Rosario guided her through the breeze.
“She went well, and it was a good work,” Clement said. “Rosario rode her, and he was happy with it. It’s all good.”
Rosario picks up the mount from post 4.
Trainer Chad Brown will be represented by three runners including Oakhurst, Eminent Victor and Lakota Spirit.
Oakhurst, a dark bay Mr Speaker filly, enters the Wild Applause from tidy 2 1/4-length victory in her first start against winners in an April 14 allowance at Keeneland. Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Oakhurst showed great improvement from her maiden-breaking score at third asking at Gulfstream Park where she closed from fifth to graduate over the synthetic and earn a 49 Beyer. Her next-out allowance victory saw her improve her Beyer to a career-best and field-best 88.
Oakhurst will cut back to a mile for the first time in her four lifetime starts. She made her debut in November at Belmont Park and finished third before her lone off-the-board finish with a close fourth-place effort in December at Gulfstream.
Jose Ortiz will guide Oakhurst from the inside post.
The lightly-raced Eminent Victor will race with blinkers off for her sophomore debut and first start since earning graded black type with a third-place effort in the Grade 1 Natalma in September at Woodbine Racetrack.
Owned by Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Louis Lazzinnaro and Michael Caruso, Eminent Victor graduated on debut in July at Arlington Park sprinting five furlongs on the synthetic for trainer Michael Puhich. The chestnut daughter of Mr. Z stalked in fifth-of-9 before taking command at the stretch call and extending her advantage to 1 1/2 lengths and win at odds of 39-1.
The Kentucky-bred was then privately purchased and transferred to Brown, who sent her north to try a mile on the turf and Grade 1 company in the Natalma at Woodbine. She mirrored her maiden tactics and closed from well off the pace under Flavien Prat, but was forced seven-wide and managed to get up for show honors 3 1/2 lengths back of the victorious Wild Beauty.
Prat will retain the mount from post 5.
Peter Brant’s recent maiden special weight winner Lakota Spirit will make her first start against winners in stakes company as she looks to improve from a gritty nose victory at fourth asking on May 28 at Belmont.
The bay Curlin filly hit the board in her first three outings over the dirt, including two runner-up efforts at Gulfstream this winter before a brief freshening. She finished third in an April 15 maiden before switching surfaces and finding the winner’s circle at the Wild Applause distance and course under Irad Ortiz, Jr.
The $250,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase tracked in seventh under patient handling from Ortiz, Jr. before unleashing her run down the stretch and collaring Chaberton just in time to land the victory in a final time of 1:35.17 over the firm going.
Lakota Spirit is out of the multiple graded stakes placed Street Sense mare Milam, who is a half-sister to 2020 Champion Turf Mare and Chad Brown alumna Rushing Fall.
Manny Franco will ride Lakota Spirit for the second time from post 3.
Completing the field is Helen C. Alexander and Helen K. Grove Revocable Trust’s Al Qahira, who also enters looking for her first victory against winners.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Al Qahira was a 1 3/4-length winner last out under Jose Ortiz to graduate at fifth asking on May 4 going nine furlongs over firm Churchill Downs turf. A homebred daughter of Cairo Prince for Alexander-Groves Thoroughbreds, Al Qahira will cut back to a mile for the first time in her career.
Javier Castellano rides from post 2.
The Wild Applause is slated as Race 3 on Saturday’s 10-race card, which also features the Grade 2 Mother Goose for sophomore fillies on the dirt in Race 8. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Breeze Easy #2 lost the Soaring Softly to Chardy Party by a neck. (Walter Wlodarczyk)