Motion to saddle Sister Otoole and Mia Martina in Sheepshead Bay

May 4, 2022

LMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Graham Motion will send out a pair of contenders in Sister Otoole and Mia Martina in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay, an 11-furlong inner test for older fillies and mares, at Belmont Park.

The Sheepshead Bay, slated as Race 3, is one of three stakes on Saturday’s lucrative 11-race card, including the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy at nine furlongs on turf for older horses in Race 8; and the Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester, a one-turn mile for older horses on Big Sandy in Race 10. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Sister Otoole finished fifth in a pair of starts in January at Gulfstream Park, beaten six lengths in an off-the-turf edition of the Sunshine Filly and Mare Turf against fellow Florida-breds on January 22 and returned one week later in the 12-furlong Grade 3 La Prevoyante to finish just 2 1/4-lengths in arrears of the victorious Beautiful Lover. Sister Otoole, who sports a ledger of 14-2-4-3, finished fourth last out in the 12-furlong Grade 3 Orchid on April 2 at Gulfstream.

Motion said the late-running Sister Otoole will appreciate a return to the configuration of the Belmont turf.

“I feel bad for her that I haven’t had the best schedule for her over the winter. We pointed for a Florida-bred race and ended up running her back very quickly in a longer race. Clearly, she wants these longer races,” Motion said. “I think both her efforts in the longer races in Florida were solid. She was only beaten a couple of lengths and was a little unlucky not to get a piece of it on a course that doesn’t necessarily suit her. I’d like to think getting back to a track like Belmont is a little more her style and a slightly fairer turf.”

Sister Otoole launched her 4-year-old campaign last April with a close fifth-place finish in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint over good going at Keeneland, closing from last-of-12 to land just 2 1/4-lengths back of Ghosting Kim.

Motion subsequently stretched out the 5-year-old Amira’s Prince bay in a pair of starts at Belmont, besting multiple graded stakes placed High Opinion in a 10-furlong allowance over good turf in July ahead of a fourth-place finish in the 11-furlong Grade 3 Waya in October.

“She’s very difficult in the morning and would give you the impression that five furlongs wouldn’t be a problem hence that’s how we started her going short last year, but she really does want these longer races,” Motion said. “She’s not aggressive in her races like she is in the morning. I very rarely take her to the racetrack in the morning. We tend to train her in the fields at Fair Hill.”

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gianni Fittipaldi’s Mia Martina enters from an even fifth-place finish off an eight-month layoff in the 1 1/16-mile Distaff Turf on March 27 at Tampa Bay Downs.

The 4-year-old Not This Time bay finished fourth in her graded stakes debut last year, closing from last-of-10 in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at 1 1/16 miles at Tampa Bay Downs.

Mia Martina was a game fourth in the one-mile Hilltop in May at Pimlico Race Course ahead of a third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Christiana over soft going in July at Delaware Park. She closed out her campaign with a close fourth-place finish in an 11-furlong optional-claimer over good going at Saratoga Race Course in July won by returning rival Lovely Lucky.

Motion said a stretch out in distance will benefit Mia Martina.

“She just needs these longer races and I think this will suit her much better,” Motion said. “You really have to strike when you find a spot with these longer races because you can’t have confidence they will fill every time they come up, especially in the allowance conditions.”

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano has the call aboard Sister Otoole from post 3, while Mia Martina will emerge from post 2 under Junior Alvarado.

Peter Brant’s Virginia Joy, trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, made her seasonal debut a winning one last out, rallying to a one-length score over next-out Grade 3 Orchid-winner Family Way in the 11-furlong Grade 3 The Very One on March 5 at Gulfstream Park.

The 5-year-old Soldier Hollow bay was initially campaigned in her native Germany by Marcel Weiss, enjoying a strong sophomore season by winning the Group 3 Mehl-Mulhens Trophy at Hamburg along with a third-place finish in the Group 1 German Oaks at Dusseldorf and a runner-up effort in the Group 2 T. von Zastrow Stutenpreis at Baden-Baden.

Virginia Joy was transferred to Brown for a 4-year-old campaign that featured three starts on the Belmont turf, including a first-out optional-claiming score last April, a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 New York in June and a runner-up effort in the River Memories in July to close out her year.

Brown is tied with Hall of Fame trainers Woody Stephens and Bill Mott as well as conditioner Christophe Clement with a record four Sheepshead Bay wins and will look to secure the honor outright when Virginia Joy exits the outermost post 5 under Trevor McCarthy.

Catherine M. Wills’ multiple graded stakes placed Luck Money has made one previous start at Belmont, winning the 12-furlong Zagora in October 2020 over yielding turf.

Trained by Arnaud Delacour, who won last year’s Sheepshead Bay with Magic Attitude, the 5-year-old Lookin At Lucky dark bay has posted a record of 17-3-6-4, including runner-up efforts last year in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial in July at Delaware Park and the Grade 3 Dowager in October at Keeneland.

Hector Rafael Diaz, Jr. will pilot Luck Money in her seasonal debut from the inside post.

Elizabeth Mateo’s Lovely Lucky, a 6-year-old Lookin At Lucky bay, will make her second start of the season following a distant fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Hillsborough on March 12 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Trained by Tom Albertrani, Lovely Lucky graduated in a maiden claiming mile on the Belmont turf in June 2020 and followed with a prominent score over the Saratoga green one month later. She made her stakes debut in the 2020 Grade 2 Glens Falls later that summer at the Spa, finishing a close fourth.

Lovely Lucky won 1-of-5 starts last season, capturing the aforementioned 11-furlong turf test by a neck in July at Saratoga. Dylan Davis, currently leading the Belmont spring/summer meet with seven wins, will guide Lovely Lucky from post 4.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit

NYRA Press Release

Photo: Sister Otoole (NYRA Photo)

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