ELMONT, N.Y. – Graded stakes-winner Point of Honor has displayed consistency all year long, but seeks a first win of 2020 when taking on Grade 1-winner Dunbar Road in Sunday’s 80th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Beldame for older fillies and mares over the main track at Belmont Park.
The Beldame is named in honor of August Belmont, Jr.’s champion filly who earned 1904 Horse of the Year honors by winning prestigious races like the Alabama, the Gazelle and the Carter against males. The 1 1/8-mile test is one of three graded stakes carded for Sunday’s program which also includes the Grade 2, $150,000 Miss Grillo for juvenile fillies at 1 1/16 miles over the turf and the Grade 3, $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint for older horses going six furlongs over the turf.
The Beldame has seen numerous fillies and mares come through with victories en route to champion honors over the years including Champion Older Females Lady’s Secret (1986), Personal Ensign (1987-88), Hidden Lake (1997), Beautiful Pleasure (1999), Riboletta (2000), Ashado (2005), Fleet Indian (2006), Havre de Grace (2011) and Royal Delta (2012). Fillies such as Go for Wand (1990), Saratoga Dew (1992), Heavenly Prize (1994), Serena’s Song (1995) and Yank’s Music (1996) have won the Beldame against elders to became Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in their respective years. Other all-time great distaffers to have won the Beldame include Gallorette (1946), Cicada (1962), Gamely (1968-69), Shuvee (1970), Susan’s Girl (1972, 1975), and Desert Vixen (1973-74).
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing’s Point of Honor has been a hard-knocking filly in 2020, finishing in the money in all four of her starts this season but is still seeking her first victory of the year. The George Weaver trainee has not won since taking the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan last May at Pimlico and arrives at the Beldame off three straight placings against Grade 1 company. Her last effort was a third in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on August 1 at Saratoga, where she finished 6 ½ lengths behind Vexatious and 2019 Champion Older Filly Midnight Bisou.
“She seems to respond well to space in between races,” said Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “She’s been able to sustain a pretty solid campaign this season, and even though she hasn’t won, she’s run some pretty exceptional races.”
Point is Honor is by multiple champion-producing stallion Curlin, who also produced Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ three-time Grade 1 winner and 2015 Beldame runner-up Curalina.
“I’d say that they’re similar in the sense that they’re elite fillies with an incredible amount of class, intelligence, stay and can manage to put together incredible campaigns like the two of them did at three and four,” Wellman said. “We’re just fortunate to have had two daughters of Curlin of this caliber. We’ve campaigned Point of Honor ambitiously and she’s come so close to winning a Grade 1. It would be a huge honor to have a race like the Beldame on her resume.”
No plans have been made concerning a 5-year-old campaign from Point of Honor, but Wellman said that she has been nominated to go through the sales ring at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale on November 8.
“We keep an open mind as it relates to these types of situations with top tier fillies like Point of Honor,” Wellman said. “Right now, our main focus is the Beldame which is an important race and a historic race, and we would love to prove victorious there and take things step by step. In addition, we’d love for her to earn her way to the Breeders’ Cup, but for now the Beldame is our main focus.”
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, a three-time Beldame winner, has piloted Point of Honor in eight of her 10 lifetime starts and will return, riding from post 4.
“Javier knows her so well,” Wellman said. “She’s definitely a filly that strategically is more effective when you let her find herself early in the race. I think we’ll keep her with the same tactics employed and hopefully some speed manifests and sets it up. She was beaten a nose in the Ogden Phipps, which was a mile and a sixteenth. We get a little more real estate to work with this time around.”
Peter Brant’s Dunbar Road arrives at the Beldame off a three-length victory in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on July 11, where she won under a hand ride by jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. Trained by Chad Brown, who won the 2018 Beldame with Brant’s Chilean-bred Wow Cat, the 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road is unbeaten in both of her starts this season. Prior to the Delaware Handicap, she emerged from a 6 ½-month layoff to take the May 23 Shawnee at Churchill Downs, defeating Grade 1-winner She’s a Julie and graded stakes winner Chocolate Kisses.
Dunbar Road, who has been favored in seven of her nine lifetime starts, also will attempt to keep an unbeaten record over Big Sandy intact having bested a first-level allowance field last May en route to her first graded stakes score in the Grade 2 Mother Goose one month later. She subsequently struck Grade 1 gold in taking the Alabama over Point of Honor and next-out Grade 1-winner Street Band.
Only dollars short of millionaire status, Dunbar Road boasts the highest lifetime earnings in the field with $998,040 and a record of 9-6-1-1.
Jockey Jose Ortiz, who piloted Beldame winners Belle Gallantey (2014), Elate (2017) and Wow Cat (2018), will seek his sixth victory aboard Dunbar Road from post 2.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will saddle New Jersey-bred Horologist for the ownership group of There’s a Chance Stable, Parkland Thoroughbreds and Medallion Racing.
The 4-year-old Gemologist bay made her debut for Mott in style two starts back when taking the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher on July 18 at Monmouth Park while garnering a career-best 102 Beyer. While conditioned by original trainer John Mazza, Horologist won the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks last August en route to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx Racing. She arrives at the Beldame off a third in the Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill Downs, where she finished 4 ½ lengths to 2018 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Monomoy Girl.
Jockey Junior Alvarado will be aboard for the first time from post 5.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is tied for the most Beldame victories with former mentor Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas with five wins apiece, but a win with Nonna Madeline would make him the standalone winningest trainer in the race’s 80-year history.
Pletcher’s quintet of Beldame winners include Ashado (2005), Fleet Indian (2006), Unbridled Belle (2007), Life At Ten (2010) and Princess of Sylmar (2013).
Owned by Teresa Viola Racing Stables and St. Elias Stable, Nonna Madeline will attempt to make amends after a disappointing eighth as the lukewarm favorite in the Grade 3 Shuvee on August 30 at Saratoga. The two-time graded stakes placed daughter of Candy Ride won the restricted Summer Colony at the Spa two starts back over graded stakes winners Golden Award and Bellera.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Nonna Madeline is out of the multiple black type-producing Storm Cat mare Cool Storm and is a half sister to graded stakes winner Nonna Mela. Purchased for $130,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Nonna Madeline hails from the prestigious broodmare line of La Troienne and is a direct descendant of champion Numbered Account.
Jockey Manny Franco will make his debut aboard Nonna Madeline from post 3.
Completing the field is St. George Stable’s Letruska, who will attempt to mimic her victory in the Grade 3 Shuvee last out. Sure to show speed, the 4-year-old daughter of Super Saver won the Shuvee in gate-to-wire fashion and displayed the same front-running style in her triumphs in the June 27 Added Elegance at Gulfstream Park and the Copa Invitacional del Caribe on December 9 at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Fausto Gutierrez, Letruska was unbeaten when campaigned in Mexico, where she was a two-time Group 1 winner.
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche has the mount from post 1.
The Beldame is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s 10-race program, which offers a first post of 12:50 p.m. Eastern. America’s Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the fall meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete America’s Day at the Races broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule
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Photo: Point of Honor winning the 2019 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico. Credit: Maryland Jockey Club