ELMONT, N.Y. – Dual stakes-winner Tobys Heart will jump back into graded stakes company against 10 sophomore fillies in Saturday’s seventh running of Grade 3, $100,000 Soaring Softly at Belmont Park.
The seven-furlong sprint over the Widener turf course is named in honor of the inaugural winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 1999.
Tobys Heart, owned by trainer Brian Lynch in partnership with Terry Hamilton and Gary Barber, showed promise with a 6 3/4-length debut victory last June at Churchill Downs. The dark bay Jack Milton filly parlayed that effort into a victory next out in the Bolton Landing on August 19 at Saratoga Race Course, where she saved ground until approaching the far turn and made a five-wide move in pursuit, eventually overtaking pacesetter Joy’s Rocket at the sixteenth-pole.
Tobys Heart made her 3-year-old debut off a six-month layoff in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park, running sixth in February, but cut back to 5 ½ furlongs last out in the Limestone Turf Sprint on April 9 at Keeneland. Tracking just off the pace in fifth, Tobys Heart saved ground before angling five-wide at the three-sixteenths pole to secure the win in the final strides.
Despite her lone defeat taking place at two turns, Lynch expressed no concern with distance limitations. Her conditioner added the one-turn Soaring Softly could set her up for two-turn events like the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George on July 23 at Saratoga.
“I’m not convinced that she wouldn’t get two turns,” said Lynch, who captured the Soaring Softly with Lightstream in 2016. “She had a bit of a wide trip that day, but she came back to run well at Keeneland and she acts like she wants to stretch out further, so the seven furlongs looks like it falls into the game plan. I’m confident she’ll get the distance and it could lead her into a race like the Lake George.”
Bred in Kentucky by Trackside Farms, Tobys Heart is out of the stakes-winning Lil’s Lad mare Pick of the Pack. Lynch said Tobys Heart is scheduled to arrive on the grounds on Thursday morning and will be stabled with trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
Breaking from post 6, Tobys Heart will be piloted by jockey Manny Franco.
Trainer Graham Motion will send two stakes-placed contenders in Invincible Gal and Candace O.
Mike Ryan, Jeff Drown and Team Hanley’s Invincible Gal will make her first appearance since running second by a length to Lovestruck in the Tepin on November 29 at Aqueduct. The daughter of Invincible Spirit was victorious on debut travelling 5 ½ furlongs over the Mellon turf course last August at Saratoga and made her stakes debut one calendar month later in the one-mile Sorority at Monmouth Park, where she rallied between horses in mid-stretch to finish second to Mischevious Dream.
She tracked a slow pace next out in the Selima traveling one mile over yielding turf at Pimlico Race Course in October. After making the lead at the stretch call, Invincible Gal was unable to fend off a rail-riding rally from Fluffy Socks, who won by 2 1/4 lengths.
Invincible Gal then drew into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland off the also-eligible list breaking from the outside in the field of 14, but was slow coming out of the gate and never factored.
“In retrospect, running in the Breeders’ Cup was asking a lot of her,” Motion said. “She drew the 14 hole which in and of itself was pretty compromising. It really prevented her from getting involved the race. We gave her a freshening over the winter, and I like the idea of coming back at seven-eighths.”
Jockey Trevor McCarthy will ride Invincible Gal from post 10 on Saturday.
River Oak Farm, Medallion Racing and Claret Equine’s Candace O arrives off a third-place finish to Adventuring in the Bourbonette Oaks on March 27 over the all weather surface at Turfway Park. Third time was the charm for the bay daughter of Declaration of War, who broke her maiden going 7 ½ furlongs on firm turf on December 30 at Gulfstream Park before finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant on January 30 at the South Florida oval.
Motion said Candace O relished the Tapeta surface at Turfway, which is why he brought her back to Fair Hill Training Center to train over the Maryland oval’s all-weather surface.
“That was one of the reasons we were wanting to get her back here,” Motion said. “We ultimately decided to run her at seven eighths in here. I think she’s a filly we question how far she wants to go. I’m not sure she’s a filly that wants to go much beyond a mile.”
Candace O, bred in Kentucky by Crosshaven Bloodstock, is a full-sister to graded stakes-winner Opry, who won the Grade 3 With Anticipation in 2018 at Saratoga. Both are out of the stakes-placed Speightstown mare That Voodoo Youdo.
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche will pilot Candace O from the inside post.
Trainer Christophe Clement will saddle a formidable pair in Bye Bye [post 11, Eric Cancel] and Hit the Woah [post 5, Junior Alvarado].
Fresh off a five-furlong maiden victory at second asking on March 21 at Gulfstream Park, Bach Stables’ Bye Bye said just that inside the final eighth of a mile, gliding home a 2 ¾-length winner over firm turf.
Hoolie Racing Stables and Madaket Stables’ Hit the Woah handled her first start around two turns on the grass with vigor last out in the Sanibel Island at Gulfstream Park, finishing third a half-length shy of victory in the one mile event. In November, the dark bay daughter of Vancouver won at second asking in an off-the-turf maiden over a sloppy and sealed track at Aqueduct over next-out winners Amalfi Princess and Into Vanishing.
Hall of Famer Mark Casse also sends out two runners in Sleek Lynx [post 2, Hector Rafael Diaz, Jr.] and La Libertee [post 7, Benjamin Hernandez].
Gary Barber’s Sleek Lynx will attempt to continue the upward trajectory which she displayed when third in the Memories of Silver on April 18 at Aqueduct. The daughter of War Front out of Grade 1-winning millionaire Sarah Lynx garnered black type in the 1 1/16-mile test and broke her maiden travelling six furlongs on October 17 at Woodbine.
Tracy Farmer’s La Libertee, a two-time winner sprinting on the grass, will try to make amends after finishing seventh in the Sanibel Island at Gulfstream Park, which was her first start at two turns.
Rounding out the field are Can’t Buy Love [post 3, Mike Luzzi], No Ordinary Time [post 4, Joe Bravo], Lexinator [post 8, Luis Rodriguez Castro], and Star Devine [post 9, Jose Lezcano].
Owned by Phillips Racing Partnership and trained by Jimmy Toner, Soaring Softly was a three-time graded stakes winner at Belmont Park, with all triumphs against graded stakes company. The Kris S. mare captured the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay, Grade 2 New York and Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational, all in 1999, en route to a Breeders’ Cup win and, subsequently, Champion Grass Mare honors.
The Soaring Softly is carded as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race program at Belmont Park. First post is 1 p.m.
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Belmont Park Press Release