Elusive Princess Preparing for Start in G1 QEII Challenge Cup
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Starlight Racing and Mark Grier’s recent two-turn maiden winner Fulmineo will put his skills to the test when taking on graded company for the first time in Wednesday’s rescheduled edition of the Grade 2, $200,000 Pilgrim for juveniles going 1 1/16 miles over turf at Belmont at the Big A.
Trained by Arnaud Delacour, Fulmineo was a distant third behind next-out Grade 1 Hopeful winner Nutella Fella in a July 26 maiden special weight going 5 1/2-furlongs over the Delaware Park main track. The son of second-crop sire Bolt d’Oro relished a change in distance and surface for his next start when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles over the Colonial Downs turf to break his maiden by 2 1/4 lengths on September 2.
But Delacour was not discouraged by his lone dirt effort and expressed hope that his graded stakes aspirant will eventually prove to be a dual surface horse.
“I’m not sure it was the surface as much as it was the distance,” Delacour said. “He’s still very efficient on the dirt, but I wanted to try more ground. He’s versatile as far as surface is concerned. It’s good to have options, so we’ll try him at a better level this time and see where we go.”
Delacour said the Pilgrim appears to be a wide-open race on paper. Other formidable contestants include maiden winner Agate Road and stakes-placed maiden Triple Espresso from the barn of Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, as well as open lengths maiden winner Tifareeh for trainer Brendan Walsh and graded stakes-placed maiden Spirit Prince for trainer Christophe Clement.
“All are pretty lightly raced 2-year-olds and he’s coming off of a good effort. I think he’s a quality horse that deserves a shot,” Delacour said.
Fulmineo, bred in Maryland by Country Life Farm and Starr of Quality, was a $90,000 purchase at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale.
“We liked him and thought he was very athletic,” Delacour recalled. “There were a few things that would need time, but it was nothing major. So, we took our time with him and he’s been doing everything right so far.”
Fulmineo is out of the stakes-winning First Dude mare Starr of Quality and is a direct descendant of Reine de Course mares Natashka, Vagrancy and Frizette.
Fulmineo will be ridden by Flavien Prat from post 8.
Delacour also spoke of Grade 1 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Oaks Invitational victress Elusive Princess, who is currently training for her Delacour debut in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 14 at Keeneland. The French-bred daughter of Martinborough was previously conditioned by Jean-Phillipe Dubois in her native country.
On Saturday, Elusive Princess went a half-mile in 48.80 seconds over the all-weather surface at Fair Hill Training Center.
“We gave her plenty of time between the two races just to make sure she doesn’t bounce. We’ve been very happy with her training,” Delacour said.