ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Christophe Clement will have two chances to win his second Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental when he sends out Miss J McKay and Lady Edith in the six-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares over the Widener turf at Belmont Park.
Clement previously won the Intercontinental in 2015 with Zindaya for owner Regis Racing and will look to strike again as Miss J McKay enters from a last out stakes victory in the License Fee over the Belmont lawn.
The 5-year-old bay daughter of Hangover Kid stalked and pounced in the six-furlong License Fee on May 1, allowing Igloo to take a narrow lead before reeling her in under Irad Ortiz, Jr. and running away to a 3 1/4-length victory over returning foe Miss Majorette.
The win garnered a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure and was the first of the year for Miss J McKay. She finished fourth in her seasonal debut in the five-furlong Ladies Turf Sprint at Gulfstream ahead of an even third-place finish in the Captiva Island at the same course and distance.
“She won the stakes in early May and has trained well,” Clement said. “The Intercontinental will be a tougher race than the last one, but she deserves to be there. She’s done nothing wrong.”
Owned by Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, Tony Weintraub and Brandon M. Dalinka Miss J McKay was initially trained by Cathal Lynch for whom she broke her maiden at first asking. She went on to win the Anne Arundel County at Laurel Park during a sophomore campaign that saw her collect five other stakes placings.
Since transferred to Clement’s care in September 2021, Miss J McKay has since compiled a record of 6-3-0-1, including another stakes victory in the Abundantia at Gulfstream in her second outing for Clement.
“All along she’s been a nice filly. Sometimes she was a little unlucky with the draw, but she’s been very consistent,” Clement said. “She won a stakes in New York and in Florida. It’s all good.”
Joel Rosario picks up the mount from the outermost post 13.
The Estate of J. David Richardson and Sandra New’s Lady Edith will make her first start for Clement as she looks to build upon a last-out victory in the Wishing Well in January at Turfway Park.
Lady Edith, who was previously trained by Thomas Drury, Jr., was a debut winner sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on the Ellis Park green in 2020 and scored her first stakes win in the Mamzelle last year at Churchill Downs by a neck. The 4-year-old daughter of Street Boss did not win for the rest of her sophomore campaign, which she closed out with a close third-place finish over the Turfway synthetic in the Holiday Inaugural.
The Wishing Well marked the chestnut filly’s return to the winner’s circle after she closed from 14 lengths off the pace to inhale her foes down the stretch and post a one-length score over Wait for Nairobi. She equaled a career-best 85 Beyer for the effort.
The $370,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February Mixed Sale purchase most recently breezed a half-mile over the Belmont turf on Saturday in 49.65 seconds.
“Lady Edith is a new addition to the barn,” Clement said. “She’s had two works for us and both were nice. She looks like she deserves a shot in this race.”
Trevor McCarthy gets the call from post 3.
Starlight Racing and Glen Hill Farm’s Jouster will hope to regroup and land her first victory since the Grade 2 Appalachian last April at Keeneland.
Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Jouster arrives at the Intercontinental from a troubled sixth-place effort in the Giant’s Causeway at Keeneland where she broke slowly and trailed in last-of-13. The bay Noble Mission filly was able to make up some ground under Flavien Prat to finish five lengths in back of the well-regarded Campanelle.
“She didn’t get away well in her race at Keeneland, but she closed strongly,” Pletcher said. “She’s one that’s had some success going a little further, but we’re trying to find her specialty, so we’re giving six furlongs a try.”
Jouster’s lone start at six furlongs came in her August 2020 debut over the main track at Saratoga Race Course where she finished second before finding success going long on the turf with an open-lengths maiden score at 1 1/16 miles over the Gulfstream Park turf. She followed with an allowance victory and her Grade 2 Appalachian coup where she led every step of the way to win by 1 1/2 lengths over graded stakes winner Gift List.
Prat gets the call again from post 5.
Medallion Racing, Charles Deters, Parkland Thoroughbreds and Mike Olszewski’s The Grass Is Blue will look to earn her second win in as many starts for trainer Graham Motion.
The 4-year-old Broken Vow chestnut will make her turf debut in her 11thlifetime start and enters from an off-the-turf five-furlong sprint on May 14 Pimlico in her first outing for Motion. That effort was the first at a sprint distance since a well-beaten sixth-place finish in the 6 1/2-furlong Songbird in 2020 at Keeneland.
Motion said he believes returning to sprinting will work for The Grass Is Blue.
“I thought she won very well last time against a much lesser field than what she’ll face on Friday,” said Motion. “She’s very aggressive in the mornings, so it makes me reluctant to be in a hurry to stretch her out. And she sure handled five furlongs last time.”
The Grass Is Blue, who won the 2021 Busanda on dirt at Aqueduct, will also experience a new surface as she races on turf for the first time.
“It’s a good opportunity to sprint her on a really good turf course. Looking at her pedigree and talking to the owners about it, it’s something they want to do,” said Motion. “We train her on the grass here at Fair Hill. She’s quite a handful so we tend not to take her to the track. It’s a bit of an experiment, but it will help us the rest of the year deciding which way to go with her.”
Manny Franco, who rode The Grass Is Blue to her Busanda victory, will ride from post 2.
Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel and Madaket Stables’ Caravel will make her third start for trainer Brad Cox after finishing sixth against males in the Grade 2 Turf Sprint on May 6 at Churchill Downs where she rated in seventh in the compact field of 13 and briefly held third before fading to be defeated 3 1/4 lengths.
The daughter of Mizzen Mast made her first start for Cox a winning one when she took the Queen over Turfway Park’s synthetic surface on March 19. Caravel earned a Grade 1 placing for previous trainer Graham Motion when she finished a close third in the 2021 Highlander at Woodbine.
Caravel will emerge from post 7 with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons.
Michael Schrader’s graded-stakes placed New York-bred Robin Sparkles enters from a one-length victory in the Politely on May 21 at Monmouth Park for trainer Bruce Brown. The bay daughter of Elusive Quality led each step of the way to earn the win in her first start of her 5-year-old campaign.
Robin Sparkles, who was bred in the Empire State by Hibiscus Stables, earned a graded placing when she finished third behind returning rival Caravel in the Grade 3 Caress last summer at Saratoga. She boasts a record of 14-8-2-2 and total purse earnings of over $400,000.
Luis Saez will guide Robin Sparkles from post 6.
Rounding out the field are Star Devine [post 1, John Velazquez], Tobys Heart [post 4, Jose Ortiz], Assertive Style [post 8, Javier Castellano], Illegal Smile [post 9, Kendrick Carmouche], Flower Point [post 10, Jose Lezcano], Miss Majorette [post 11, Dylan Davis], and Nevisian Sunrise [post 12, Irad Ortiz, Jr.].
The Intercontinental is slated as Race 11 on Friday’s 11-race card. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Miss J McKay in License Fee by Chelsea Durand