ELMONT, N.Y. – Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will saddle a formidable duo in McKulick and Kinchen for Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for juvenile fillies, at Belmont Park.
A pair of Grade 1, $500,000 stakes highlight Saturday’s card at Belmont with the Woodward for 3-year-olds and up going a one-turn 1 1/8 miles on Big Sandy; and the Champagne for 2-year-olds running one mile in a prestigious race, affording a spot in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to the winner. The lucrative card is bolstered by the Miss Grillo along with the Grade 3, $200,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs on the grass.
Brown, who recently secured his 100th graded stakes win at Belmont Park, is vying for his ninth Miss Grillo score following past success with Maram , Watsdachances , Testa Rossi , Lady Eli , New Money Honey , Significant Form , Newspaperofrecord , and Selflessly .
Klaravich Stables’ McKulick and e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ Kinchen worked five-eighths in company Sunday over the Belmont inner turf in 1:02.09.
“We’re very pleased with her,” Brown said regarding McKulick. “It was a very good work.”
The filly is named for the late Mary McKulick, a longtime office manager and bookkeeper for Brown and the first person the trainer hired when he launched his operation in 2007.
McKulick, by Frankel and out of the Makfi mare Astrelle, graduated on debut in a 1 1/16-mile turf maiden on August 8 at Saratoga with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up. The victory garnered a field-best 73 Beyer Speed Figure.
Kinchen, by Lope de Vega and out of the Galileo mare Miss Nouriya, rallied to finish second in her August 29 debut at 1 1/16 miles on the Saratoga inner turf under Tyler Gaffalione.
Exiting post 3 in her maiden voyage, Kinchen was off slow and took up an inside position. Gaffalione angled the filly three-wide into the stretch run before dropping back inside and then shifted outside again to split rivals inside the final sixteenth, missing by three-quarters of a length to Miss Grillo rival Hail To.
“I felt if she could have got out to the clear, she probably would have won. The break dictated to settle – which most of my horses will do – and she kicked on nicely,” Brown said. “She just found herself with some traffic inside and she probably would have been a little braver if we could have got her clear, but that happens in maiden races. We’ll turn the page and hopefully she gets a better trip in this.”
Kinchen is named in honor of the late Ralph Kinchen, father of America’s Day at the Races analyst Jonathon Kinchen.
Ortiz, Jr. will pilot McKulick from the outermost post 6, while Gaffalione has the call aboard Kinchen from post 4.
Woodslane Farm’s Hail To, a full sister to multiple Grade 1-winner Sadler’s Joy, lit up the tote board when breaking her maiden at second asking at 20-1 odds for trainer Tom Albertrani. The Kitten’s Joy chestnut, out of the Dynaformer mare Dynaire, settled in fifth position under Ricardo Santana, Jr. before rallying six-wide down the lane to best Kinchen.
Hail To has breezed four times since her maiden score, including a half-mile work in 50.03 on Big Sandy on Tuesday. Santana, Jr. retains the mount from post 3.
Tracy Farmer’s Philly Eagles was a half-length victor in a maiden weight-for-age contest going seven furlongs on June 26 at Doncaster with Alice Haynes as her conditioner.
The daughter of Havana, now in the care of Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, was slated to make her North American debut in the P.G. Johnson on September 2 at Saratoga but scratched when the race came off the turf.
The Irish-bred bay breezed five-eighths in 1:01.75 on September 19 over the Belmont inner turf in preparation for her belated debut. Dylan Davis has the call from post 5.
Treadway Racing Stable’s multiple stakes placed Sail By graduated in June at first asking in a six-furlong maiden special weight on the Belmont turf. The Astern bay, bred in Kentucky by Jeff Treadway, followed with a runner-up effort in the five-furlong Colleen on August 1 at Monmouth Park. She enters from a pace-setting third in the P.G. Johnson, contested at seven furlongs on a fast main track.
Junior Alvarado retains the mount from the inside post.
Rounding out the field is Judy Hicks’ homebred Charlee O, a maiden winner at first asking sprinting six furlongs over the Belmont turf on July 11. The Tourist bay followed with a sixth in the 5 1/2-furlong Bolton Landing, contested over yielding Saratoga turf on August 18.
Manny Franco has the call from post 2.
The Miss Grillo is slated as Race 4 on Saturday’s 11-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Keith McCalmont/NYRA Press Office
Photo: McKulick breaks her maiden at first asking at Saratoga on August 8, 2021, Irad Ortiz, Jr., up. (NYRA/Coglianese)