ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Christophe Clement will saddle group/graded stakes winners Call Me Love and Mutamakina in Sunday’s $150,000 River Memories, a 12-furlong Widener turf test for older fillies and mares on Closing Day of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park.
R Unicorn Stable’s Call Me Love, a 5-year-old Sea The Stars mare, won an optional-claiming event at Belmont last out traveling 1 1/16-miles over firm turf under Junior Alvarado on May 23.
The talented chestnut won the Group 3 Premio Verziere Memorial Aldo Cirla in October 2019 for former conditioner Alduino Botti. Transferred to Clement for a 4-year-old campaign, Call Me Love was winless in five starts all against graded company last year, completing the exacta in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Beaugay at Belmont along with a narrow neck defeat to multiple Grade 1-winner Starship Jubilee in the 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa in July at Saratoga.
Clement said he expects a prominent effort from Call Me Love, who will exit post 4 under Alvarado.
“We’ll stretch her out and she’ll be on the pace. She ran very well in the Ballston Spa,” said Clement. “She’s doing very well at the moment.”
Al Shira’aa Farms’ Mutamakina, a 5-year-old daughter of Nathaniel, launched her career in France with former conditioner Carlos Laffon-Parias, placing in a pair of Group 2 events in 2019.
Mutamakina joined the Clement stable last year, capturing the 11-furlong Grade 3 Long Island over good turf at second asking in November at Aqueduct Racetrack.
She has made a pair of starts this season at Belmont, including a runner-up effort in the 11-furlong Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay in May and a sixth last out in the 10-furlong New York over yielding turf on June 4.
“I thought she was a bit unlucky last time. She had a very wide trip,” said Clement. “This should be an easier race. She looks well. She’s training well.”
Joel Rosario has the call on Mutamakina from post 2.
Allen Stable homebred Civil Union, a 6-year-old War Front mare, will look to defend her River Memories title and earn her first win of the year after off-the-board efforts in the Grade 3 Beaugay in May and the Grade 2 New York last out.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Civil Union flourished last fall with back-to-back wins over My Sister Nat in the Grade 2 Glens Falls in September at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational in October at Belmont.
Civil Union will emerge from post 6 under Jose Ortiz.
Peter Brant’s Virginia Joy, a 4-year-old German-bred daughter of Soldier Hollow, captured the Group 3 Mehl-Mulhens Trophy last year for former trainer Marcel Weiss.
Virginia Joy was transferred to the care of four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown for her current campaign and the Group 1-placed filly responded with a three-quarter length score at first asking in a 10-furlong optional-claimer in April on the Belmont turf.
Last out, Virginia Joy finished a close fourth in the Grade 2 New York on June 4 at Belmont.
Manny Franco will pilot Virginia Joy from post 5.
Rounding out the field are Pallas Athene [post 1, Jose Lezcano], Luck Money [post 3, Javier Castellano], and Delta’s Kingdom [post 7, Luis Saez]. Thankful is entered for the main-track only.
The River Memories is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race Closing Day card. First post is 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
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Belmont Park Press Release
Photo: Mutamakina, (NYRA)