OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will send out an evenly-matched duo of Stuart S. Janney, III-owned contenders in Limited Liability and Celestial City for Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Hill Prince for sophomores going nine furlongs over the inner turf at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
Limited Liability, a four-time graded stakes-placed son of Kitten’s Joy, last found the winner’s circle in his 2022 debut when defeating winners in a 1 1/16-mile allowance on April 16 at Keeneland one start before finishing third in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge on June 4 at Belmont Park.
The gray colt enters off a troubled third in the Grade 3 Virginia Derby on September 6 at Colonial Downs where he raced at the rear of the field down the backstretch and came in tight quarters in upper stretch, but still managed to make up enough ground to secure show honors, finishing 2 1/4 length in arrears of the victorious Capensis.
“That was kind of a shame. I was pointing him for that race, so it was unfortunate he got the trip that he did,” McGaughey said. “He seems to be fine and he’s doing well, so we’ll see what happens here.”
Jose Ortiz, who won the 2015 Hill Prince aboard Takeover Target, has been aboard Limited Liability in all seven lifetime starts and will return to the saddle from post 10.
Stablemate Celestial City was a last out winner of a local 1 1/16-mile allowance on September 24. The Uncle Mo bay colt was twice graded stakes-placed at Saratoga this summer when third in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on August 5 and second in the Grade 3 Saranac on September 3 – a race won by next-out Grade 1-winner Annapolis.
The Hill Prince will be Celestial City’s first start past 1 1/16 miles.
“I think it’s a good spot for him. He had a good race last time. We’re stretching him out a little bit, which should help. I’m looking forward to running him,” McGaughey said.
Jose Lezcano will ride from post 1.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will be represented by Whisper Hill Farm’s homebred Grand Sonata, who seeks his first graded stakes win since taking the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy on February 5 at Gulfstream Park. The son of Medaglia d’Oro will receive a cutback in distance, entering off a runner-up finish beaten four lengths in the 10 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Dueling Grounds Derby on September 5 at Kentucky Downs. He previously was unplaced in two starts in the Caesars Turf Triple series when a close fourth in the Grade 1 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational and a distant eighth in the Grade 1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational.
Breaking from post 2, Grand Sonata will be ridden by Junior Alvarado.
Pletcher also sends out Repole Stable’s homebred Be Better for his turf debut. A two-time winner going two turns at Monmouth Park earlier this year, the son of Uncle Mo was a very distant eighth-and-last in most recent outing in the July 29 Curlin at Saratoga. Since then, Be Better has worked multiple times on the Oklahoma training turf course at Saratoga, most recently going a half-mile in 50.80 seconds on September 30.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. picks up the mount from post 6.
Alice Bamford’s homebred St Anthony will seek his first graded stakes triumph for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, following a fourth in the Gun Runner on September 14 at Kentucky Downs. The son of Noble Mission is a two-time stakes winner in California, capturing the Robert Dupret Derby on August 13 at Santa Rosa and the Alcatraz on May 29 at Golden Gate Fields.
“He likes to come from off the pace. He’s a little bit of an overachiever,” Drysdale said. “The other day at Kentucky Downs it was very speed-favoring, and he was a little slow out of the gate but did well to finish fourth. We’ll see if he likes the soft ground or not.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will pick up the mount from post 5.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will strive for his fourth Hill Prince coup with stakes-winner Unanimous Consent [post 8, Manny Franco] and Mackinnon [post 7, Flavien Prat].
Unanimous Consent (GB), winner of the Woodhaven in April at Aqueduct, will seek to provide owner Seth Klarman of Klaravich Stables with his record-extending fifth Hill Prince triumph, adding to scores with Subordination , Outperformance , Takeover Target  and Public Sector . The son of Almanzor enters off a pair of fourth-place finishes in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge and the Grade 3 Virginia Derby.
Mackinnon winning the Zuma Beach at Santa Anita Oct. 3, 2021.
ERJ Racing, Madaket Stables, and Dave Kenney’s Mackinnon, third in last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar, makes his debut for Brown in pursuit of his first triumph this year. The son of American Pharoah won last year’s Del Mar Juvenile Turf and the Zuma Beach at Santa Anita for his former trainer Doug O’Neill and enters off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on September 3.
Completing the field are Constitutionlawyer [post 3, Dylan Davis], who races with blinkers off; Nantasket Beach [post 4, Abner Adorno]; and Wicked Fast [post 9, Trevor McCarthy].
The Hill Prince honors the 1950 Horse of the Year who captured the Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Withers and Wood Memorial for trainer Casey Hayes and owner Chris Chenery. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.
The Hill Prince is carded as Race 7 on Saturday’s 10-race program, which also features the Grade 3, $150,000 Noble Damsel in Race 3. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
NYRA Press Office
Limited Liability winning a featured allowance at Keeneland April 15, 2022. Photo Keeneland/Coady