ELMONT, N.Y. – Beach Haven Thoroughbreds, Medallion Racing, Parkland Thoroughbreds and Barry Fowler’s Grade 1 winner Maracuja will be pointed to the nine-furlong $250,000 Lady Jacqueline on June 25 at Thistledown Racino after an off-the-board finish in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap last out on April 23 at Oaklawn Park.
Maracuja breezed a half-mile in 48.98 seconds Sunday over the Belmont main track in company with unraced 2-year-old War Prince, posting an easier work than her half-mile drill in 48.72 last week.
“She breezed well,” said trainer Rob Atras. “It was kind of just a maintenance breeze this weekend. She put in a pretty serious work last week, so we were just going easy today. We’re on target for the Lady Jacqueline. We missed a few spots we were targeting, and this race came up – the timing is good. We thought we’d take a shot and try to get her back in form.”
Maracuja provided a stunning upset in last year’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga Race Course, defeating eventual Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Malathaat by a head at odds of 14-1 to give Atras his first career Grade 1 triumph.
The daughter of Honor Code finished her sophomore campaign with a pair of off-the-board finishes in Grade 1 company, finishing seventh the Alabama at the Spa and an even fourth in the Cotillion at Parx. She returned to winning ways in her 4-year-old debut with a two-length optional claiming score on April 1 at Oaklawn Park and followed with a distant fourth-place finish behind Champion Older Mare Letruska in the Apple Blossom.
“She was real flat that day and it was a pretty tough race. Those fillies all showed up,” Atras said. “She ran kind of unusually flat that day, so we gave her a little time after that to get straightened out and then brought her back to Belmont. She seems like with every work she’s gotten better and stronger. She’s coming around and is back to her old self again.”
Michael Dubb and Gandharvi Racing Stables’ Battle Bling finished a close second in the Obeah on June 8 at Delaware Park, the local prep for the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap for fillies and mares 3-year-old and up on July 9 at the Wilmington oval.
Battle Bling was claimed for $62,500 out of a close second-place effort on December 19 at Aqueduct Racetrack and has hit the board in all but one of her five starts since, including a win in the Ladies facing open company in January at Aqueduct and three close runner-up efforts in the Heavenly Prize Invitational, the Top Flight Invitational and the Obeah.
“She tries every time and has had some heartbreaking losses, but you can’t fault her. She runs good every time and we’re very happy with her,” Atras said. “[Dubb] has picked out some good ones and this is another one.”
The Obeah was a tough loss for the Vancouver filly, who stalked in fourth-of-6 before briefly taking command in the stretch and subsequently losing the lead to Claudio Gonzalez trainee Miss Leslie to be defeated a half-length. Miss Leslie had previously been defeated by Battle Bling by a neck in the Ladies.
“It was tough. I thought we had it turning for home, and that horse of Claudio’s came running down the lane and got us late at Aqueduct. We beat her by a neck, and this time she got us, so they’ve got a little rivalry going,” Atras said, with a laugh.
Atras said he’ll take his time in deciding if Battle Bling will try the Delaware Handicap.
“We’ll nominate her and kind of see how she comes along in the next couple weeks,” Atras said. “We like to keep our options open.”
Chateau winning the Gravesend at Aqueduct Dec. 19, 2021. (Susie Raisher)
Grade 3 winner Chateau finished a close third in a six-furlong optional claimer on Friday at Belmont after setting the pace and being collared by Happy Farm with a sixteenth to the finish.
The 7-year-old Flat Out gelding won the Gravesend in December at Aqueduct, where he also won the 2021 Grade 3 Tom Fool. He has finished in-the-money in his three starts this year, which include runner-up efforts in the Grade 3 Tom Fool at the Big A and Grade 3 Runhappy at Belmont.
“Chateau is good. He’s solid and shows up every time. He’s a nice horse to have,” said Atras. “He doesn’t always win, but he tries hard every time. We missed a little training with him through the winter, but he’s been on a regular schedule going into that last race. He ran tough.”
Atras said Chateau’s next race will likely come at Saratoga.
“As of right now, we don’t have a spot. Once the Saratoga book comes out, we’ll probably pick out a spot and point him towards that,” said Atras.
The Atras barn welcomed back Grade 3 winner American Power in May after the 7-year-old son of Power Broker enjoyed a winter vacation. Owned by Michael Dubb, Sanford J. Goldfarb and Michael J. Caruso, American Power won the Grade 3 Toboggan last year before finishing third to Firenze Fire in the Grade 2 True North. His season ended in September with a well-beaten fifth-place finish in an optional claimer at Saratoga that was won by subsequent Breeders’ Cup Sprint victor Aloha West.
“He had some time off and he’s back now. We’ll be looking for a race for him at Saratoga,” Atras said. “He had been going for a while and ran so hard, so we just decided to give him a little break to target the summer. The time off did him good, so
Belmont Park Week 9 stakes probables
Saturday, June 25
G2 Mother Goose
Probable: Favor (Todd Pletcher), Gerrymander (Chad Brown), Juju’s Map (Brad Cox), Nostalgic (Bill Mott), Shahama (Pletcher), Venti Valentine (Jorge Abreu)
Possible: Radio Days (Shug McGaughey), Republique (Saffie Joseph, Jr.)
$100K Wild Applause
Probable: Breeze Easy (Chirstophe Clement), Eminent Victor (Chad Brown), Lakota Spirit (Brown), Oakhurst (Brown), Sail By (Gyarmati)
Possible: Mac the Pee H Dee (Jorge Duarte), Skims (McGaughey)
Sunday, June 26
$100K Dancin Renee (NYB)
Probable: Bank Sting (John Terranova), Breakfastatbonnies (Danny Gargan), Byhubbyhellomoney (Bob Dunham), Letmetakethiscall (Keith O’Brien), Secret Love (John Kimmel), Snicket (David Duggan), Time Limit (Mike Maker)
Possible: Eloquent Speaker (Natalia Lynch), (Kept Waiting (Robert Falcone, Jr.)
NYRA Press Office
Main Photo: Maracuja besting Malathaat in the CCAO Oaks July 24, 2021. (Elsa Lorieul)