Diverse field lines up for Saturday’s 12-furlong turf test in Zagora

October 28, 2020

by Brian Bohl

Martin Schwartz’s stakes-placed Olympic Games will look to notch her first victory in North America as one of two entrants for trainer Christophe Clement in Saturday’s $80,000 Zagora for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going 1 1/2 miles on Belmont Park’s Widener turf course.

The third running of the Zagora is one of three stakes on the final Saturday of the Belmont fall meet. Carded as Race 6 with a post time of 3:22 p.m. Eastern, the turf test joins the $80,000 Awad for 2-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the Widener course and the Grade 3, $100,000 Bold Ruler for 3-year-olds and up going seven furlongs on the 10-race card. First post is 12:40 p.m.

The French-bred Olympic Games won three races in six starts in her native country as a 3-year-old in 2019 before shipping to the United States. Transferred into Clement’s care, the daughter of Olympic Glory made her North American – and 4-year-old – debut in June, running second by a neck to La Australiana in the nine-furlong Treasure Coast on June 7 at Gulfstream Park.

Making her first start at Belmont, she ran a strong second to subsequent two-time graded stakes-victor Civil Union in the twelve-furlong River Memories on July 12. She enters the Zagora fresh after previously running fifth in the Grade 3 Waya going 1 ½ miles on the Saratoga Race Course turf on August 8.

“We gave her some time off after her last race. She seems to be doing well,” Clement said.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will have the call from post 5.

Al Shira’Aa Farms’ Mutamakina will make her first start in the country after posting a 2-2-1 ledger in nine career starts in France. The English-bred 4-year-old daughter of Nathaniel twice finished second in Group 2 contests as a sophomore and previously ran eighth in the Group 1 Darley Prix Jean Romanet going 1 ¼ miles over soft turf on the Deauville course in August for conditioner Carlos Laffon-Parias.

Shipped to the United States and placed in Clement’s care, Mutamakina will look to make an impression in her new surroundings, drawing post 2 with Joel Rosario aboard.

“She’s trained very well, she looks good,” said Clement, who said he passed on entering her in the Grade 1, 1 1/4-mile Flower Bowl on October 10 in favor of the Zagora. “At the time, she just arrived. I just wanted to train her a little bit. I thought the Zagora would be a good prep for a race like the [Grade 3] Long Island [on November 28]. She wants to go longer, so this is a good spot for her.”

Mark Anderson’s Beau Belle will gain class relief after three consecutive graded stakes appearances. After running third in the Grade 2 Glens Falls last month at the Spa, the 5-year-old Giant’s Causeway mare went wide in the stretch and failed to fire when sixth last out in the Flower Bowl.

Trainer Tom Albertrani said Beau Belle could handle softer turf if expected rain this week makes for less than firm going on the Belmont grass.

“She’s been training really well since her last race and hopefully we can make a little bit of an improvement,” Albertrani said. “She was in a good spot. She just didn’t really fire last time. She didn’t put up a big kick at the end like she would normally finish on. Hopefully, we can make amends in this race. The stretch out in distance should hopefully make a difference with her.

“It looks like we’ll get quite a bit of rain and it’ll be on the soft side,” he added. “She has handled yielding ground in the past, so I don’t think the conditions will be a factor for her.”

Luis Saez will be in the irons from the inside post.

Trainer Arnaud Delacour will send out a pair of consistent fillies looking to earn their first respective stakes victory. Owner and breeder Dr. Catherine Wills’ Luck Money bested allowance company going 1 1/8 miles on the Keeneland turf on October 2 and will be making her second appearance in a stakes in three starts, looking to build on a third-place effort in the Dueling Grounds Oaks on September 10 at Kentucky Downs in which she earned a career-high 91 Beyer Speed Figure in the longest race of her career at 1 5/16 miles. Harvey’s Lil Goil, runner-up in the Dueling Grounds Oaks, exited that event to win the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

Luck Money has never finished off the board in nine starts, going 2-3-4 with earnings of $180,200 while posting wins in Maryland and Kentucky. The Lookin At Lucky sophomore’s last seven starts have come at distances of 1 1/16 miles or further.

“Luck Money has been pretty consistent this year and I think she’s an improving filly,” Delacour said. “She can go the mile and a quarter and even though she’s never gone the mile and a half, I have no reason to think she will not be able to do it.”

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will pick up the mount, drawing post 6.

“I always liked her but I didn’t think she’d be a filly I could run against top competition in stakes. She’s surprised me,” Delacour said. “Last race, she faced some really good horses and was competitive with them.”

The Delacour-trained Cambeliza enters off a second-place effort against allowance company going the Zagora distance on October 8 over the Keeneland grass. Owned by Runnymede Farm and Catesby W. Clay Investment, the 4-year-old Curlin filly notched her first victory of 2020 when she was elevated to first after crossing the wire second on September 9 in a Kentucky Downs allowance.

Unraced as a 2-year-old, Cambeliza was 1-0-2 in four starts as a sophomore. Junior Alvarado will be in the irons for her Belmont debut, exiting from post 8.

“She’s improving and ran a really good race last time going a mile and a half at Keeneland, so I’m excited to run her,” Delacour said. “I have a bit of a question mark because she’s done her best on very firm turf and I’m not sure about the soft turf, so she’s more of a question mark.”

Sonata Stable’s Lucky Stride was third last out in the Violet going 1 1/16 miles at Monmouth Park in her turf debut. After making her first 12 starts on the dirt, the Michael Trombetta trainee earned an 86 Beyer for her first appearance on the grass, building on a competitive fifth-place effort in the Grade 3 Shuvee on August 30 over Saratoga’s main track. Manny Franco drew the assignment, breaking from post 7.

Gainesway Stable’s Cap de Creus has finished first or second in three of her last four starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, who is seeking a career milestone in entering Thursday with 4,996 career wins. Cap de Creus will have Hall of Famer John Velazquez’s services from post 3.

Rounding out the field is Hungry Kitten, off two straight wins for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey [post 9, Jose Ortiz]; and Lemon Zip, who was ninth in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel last out and finished third in last year’s edition of the Zagora for trainer Niall Saville [post 4, Dylan Davis].

America’s Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the 27-day fall meet, which concludes Sunday, on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete America’s Day at the Races broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.

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Photo Credit: NYRA

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