The Mother Goose Stakes (gr.1) will be run for the 55th consecutive time on Saturday at Belmont Park and heralds the return of Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty. Inaugurated in 1957, The Mother Goose is one of the most prestigious races in the nation for three-year-old fillies. Listed among the race’s illustrious roster of winner are such great names as Shuvee, Ruffian, Davona Dale, Cicada, Go For Wand, Serena’s Song and of course Rachel Alexandra. From 1957-58 the Mother Goose was run at a distance of 1 1/16 miles before being run at the 1 1/8 mile distance for the next 50 years until 2010 when the race was removed from the Triple Tiara series and reverted to its original 1 1/16 mile distance. Named for well known thoroughbred breeder/owner H. P. Whitney’s famous filly, Mother Goose, who defeated the males in the Belmont Futurity Stakes, the important event has been held at Belmont Park all but four times when the race was run at Aqueduct (1963, 1967, 1969 and 1975).
Three fillies were originally scheduled to make their first starts in the Mother Goose since running in the Kentucky Oaks (gr.1) on May 6th but Oaks winner Plum Pretty was declared from the race today by trainer Bob Baffert due to a fever. That makes the second high-profile defection from the race as Black-Eyed Susan Stakes winner Royal Delta was also withdrawn from consideration Monday morning after trainer Bill Mott announced his charge has a bruised foot. This pretty much leaves the race open for Joyful Victory to steal if she is up to the task.
[Joyful Victory ranks #15 on HRN's 3-year-old fillies rankings page, should she be higher?]
Joyfuly Victory disappointed as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, finishing fourth, but that performance was preceded by huge wins in the Fantasy (gr.2) and Honeybee Stakes (gr.3) at Oaklawn Park. Her biggest threat could come from the improving Buster’s Ready who last finished second to Royal Delta in the Black-Eyed Susan after winning an allowance race at Aqueduct. Both fillies have advantages from the black and white perspective. Joyful Victory has far more experience against tough competition and already has two graded stakes wins and a placing. She also turned in a bullet five furlong work on Monday at Delaware Park, getting the distance in 1:00.40 and produced an identical time exactly one week earlier. Buster’s Ready on the other hand turned in one of the slowest four furlong works of the day at Belmont on Sunday, finishing up in a very slow :51.97. Last Monday she completed a bullet :47.46 move so the slower time this week is understandable but still not encouraging. Todd Pletcher trains Buster’s Ready and is second only to D. Wayne Lukas in having the most Mother Goose wins under his belt, currently standing at three. He most recently won with the ill-fated Devil May Care in 2010.
More on the Mother Goose will be coming later in the week but for now two of the big three have dropped out which puts the standings thus; duck (Plum Pretty), duck (Royal Delta), goose (Joyful Victory). No ducking going on but still, it’s all up to Joyful Victory now.
In other news Awesome Feather continued her promising progress on Tuesday morning with her second consecutive five furlong work. She completed the move in a strong time of 1:00.98 at Belmont Park, ranking as the second fastest of 17 horses working the distance. Still no word yet as to when R Heat Lightning might be returning to the track.