OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Michael J. Caruso’s Plum Ali will look to kick off her 4-year-old campaign on a high note in Saturday’s $100,000 Plenty of Grace for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going one mile over the inner turf at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Christophe Clement, the daughter of First Samurai was last seen ending a year-long losing streak when going gate-to-wire in the 1 1/16-mile Winter Memories on November 14 at the Big A. The win was her first since she swept her first three career starts, including the Mint Juvenile Fillies at Kentucky Downs and the Grade 2 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park.
Plum Ali demonstrated good form throughout her sophomore campaign, finishing a close second in the Grade 3 Wonder Again going nine furlongs at Belmont and third in the one-mile, Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland.
Clement said the Plenty of Grace is a good starting point for Plum Ali, who finished no worse than four lengths from the winner in each of her losses as a sophomore.
“She had been a bit unlucky,” Clement said. “The question mark is if the mile is too short for her, but it’s a good race to come back and we’ll go from there.”
Plum Ali’s Winter Memories victory came on the heels of a good fifth in the Grade 2 Sands Point in October at Belmont where she stalked the pace and was beaten 1 3/4 lengths. She tried front-running tactics for the first time in the Winter Memories, maintaining command by a half-length with Invincible Gal pressing her to the outside. Plum Ali dug down and continued to find more under urging from Manny Franco, taking a two-length advantage at the top of the lane and holding off charges from White Frost and Miss Dracarys to win by three-quarters of a length.
“That was a very rewarding win because she had been running from spring to November,” Clement said. “It’s nice when they last all year long. She was unlucky once or twice so it was the right win at the right time.”
Franco will retain the mount from post 3.
Grade 3 winner Alms enters from a disappointing sixth last out in the Grade 3 Honey Fox on March 5 at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Michael Stidham for Godolphin, the 5-year-old City Zip bay showed her talent with a strong juvenile campaign in which she was undefeated, picking up a pair of Grade 3 victories in the Matron at Belmont and the Jimmy Durante at Del Mar.
Her most recent win came in February 2020 in the Shantel Lanerie Memorial at Fair Grounds Race Course, rating from off the pace under Paco Lopez to take command at the top of the stretch and easily extend her advantage to 4 1/4 lengths. Alms has earned three more stakes placings since, finishing a close third in the Grade 2 Appalachian in July 2020 at Keeneland; second in the Joseph R. Peluso Memorial in November at Fair Grounds; and second in the Grade 3 Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational in January at Gulfstream, finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind Grade 1 winner Regal Glory.
Michael Banahan, bloodstock director for Godolphin, said he is hoping for a turnaround in form after the Honey Fox effort.
“She’s a talented filly. Just circumstantially the race didn’t play out for her,” Banahan said. “Whereas in the Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf, she ran really well that day and we hope she runs a similar race to that. Hopefully, she’ll be able to strut her stuff here. There will be plenty of opportunities for her down the road, but she’s talented.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano picks up the mount from post 1.
Multiple graded stakes-winner Technical Analysis will look to give trainer Chad Brown his sixth consecutive win in the Plenty of Grace. Brown has scored wins in five of six runnings, saddling Mrs McDougal , Light in Paris , Uni , Fifty Five  and Regal Glory  to victory. The Plenty of Grace was not run in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bay Kingman filly, Technical Analysis will be making her first start since a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland where she was defeated five lengths by stablemate Shantisara.
Owned by Klaravich Stables, the lightly-raced 4-year-old has finished off the board just once in seven starts and earned dual graded wins at Saratoga Race Course last summer, taking the Grade 3 Lake George from off the pace and the Grade 2 Lake Placid in front-running fashion over stakes-winner Runaway Rumour.
Dylan Davis gets the call from post 6.
Steve Feiger’s Flower Point will kick off her 6-year-old campaign for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey after a five-month layoff. The daughter of Point of Entry was a last-out winner of the Forever Together going 1 1/16 miles over the Big A turf, battling to the wire with returning foe Giacosa and securing the win by a neck.
The versatile bay has posted five wins from 16 starts ranging from five furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. Jose Lezcano rides from post 5.
Rounding out the field is Bond Racing Stable’s Giacosa, who also returns for the first time since her runner-up effort in the Winter Memories. Trained by Jim Bond, the consistent New York-bred daughter of Tizway has won or finished on-the-board in 8-of-13 starts, topped by a win against fellow state-breds in the Yaddo Handicap in August at Saratoga.
Trevor McCarthy will pilot Giacosa from post 2.
The Natalia Lynch-trained Halo City, a four-time winner, is entered for the main track only for owner Rich Spiesman.
The Plenty of Grace, named for the multiple graded stakes-winning daughter of Roberto, is slated as Race 4 on Saturday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: Susie Raisher