Gala Brand Eyes G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

October 13, 2023

Gala Brand victorious in the With Anticipation (G3) Aug. 31 at Saratoga (Chelsea Durand)

Poppy Flower Returns to Action in $125K Floral Park

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Despite finishing a troubled fourth as the favorite in last Wednesday’s Grade 2 Miss Grillo at Belmont at the Big A, Arnmore Thoroughbreds and Even Keel Thoroughbreds’ Gala Brand remains on target for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 3 at Santa Anita Park.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the chestnut Violence filly won on debut going 5 1/2 furlongs on August 3 over the Mellon turf at Saratoga Race Course and followed with a victory against males in the Grade 3 With Anticipation on August 31 at the Spa. In the last out Miss Grillo, Gala Brand broke from post 7 and was last-of-11 through the entire backstretch run. Although she was left with too much to do turning for home, she still managed to weave her way through traffic along the inside to finish fourth.

“I think that was a very unfortunate trip and post all the way around,” recalled Arnmore Thoroughbreds’ CEO Megan Jones. “I don’t think that race took anything away from her. We’ve got her back in Saratoga and she’s doing well. I think we’ll send her out to California for the Breeders’ Cup. She deserves to be there as much as any other filly in the race. I wouldn’t judge her based off her last race. She didn’t really get a chance to run that day.”

Jones said the Miss Grillo was a beneficial learning experience for her talented filly.

“It was good for her to have to come inside of horses. She still did the best she could with that little bit of ground,” Jones said. “It is what it is. We had a wonderful summer with her up in Saratoga and going into the Breeders’ Cup, I think she’s quite live.”

Jones said Gala Brand has already taken the Arnmore Thoroughbreds partners on a wonderful ride.

“I’m just very grateful to my partners,” Jones said. “They always show up for me and it’s lovely when that can be rewarded, especially with horses that don’t always have things their way that they still run their race and come with a big run at the end. I have an incredible group of partners that support me each year, and it’s nice to be able to reward them at Saratoga or the Breeders’ Cup.”

Poppy Flower captures the Intercontinental (G3) June 9 at Belmont Park (Joe Labozzetta)

Arnmore Thoroughbreds will be represented by graded stakes winner Poppy Flower in Saturday’s $125,000 Floral Park for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward at Belmont at the Big A.

A 4-year-old Lea chestnut trained by Mott, Poppy Flower has not raced since finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Caress on July 22 at Saratoga, which saw Roses for Debra defeat Wakanaka and returning rival Bubble Rock by 2 1/2 lengths. Poppy Flower defeated Bubble Rock by a nose in the Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 9 at Belmont Park one start after finishing a late-rallying second to Bubble Rock in the License Fee on May 7 at Belmont.

“It’ll be exciting for those two to renew that,” Jones said. “Poppy seems to be doing well. She’s coming off a little break now. She got a little sick at the end of Saratoga, so we took our time to bring her back and let her tell us when she’s ready to go again. She came back incredibly well. We’re looking forward to getting her back going on Saturday.”

Poppy Flower earned two stakes victories during her sophomore campaign, taking the Stormy Blues last June at Laurel Park two starts before a one-length win in the Galway last August at Saratoga.

“She’s a little bit trip dependent, but even when she doesn’t get the right trip she still shows up and tries her best. That’s the hard knocking kind of horse you want,” Jones said. “She comes back healthy every spring and develops forward. Now that she’s had that little break, we’ll keep going on her. We’ll just kind of see what happens, hopefully the weather holds up for us. Bill knows how to get them ready.”

@jonathanstettin major bias play, thanks j man!!!! Lol

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