Trainer Chad Brown will attempt to win the Grade 1
Flower Bowl Invitational for a second straight year when he sends out Zagora
and Dream Peace on Saturday at Belmont Park in the $600,000, 1 ¼-mile turf race
for fillies and mares.
Last year, Brown captured the Flower Bowl with Stacelita, who like
Zagora and Dream Peace began her career in Europe.
Zagora has competed 11 times since arriving in the United States, while Dream Peace
has made one stateside start.
Zagora, winner of the 2011 Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga Race Course, is
4-0-1 in six starts this year. After finishing third in the 2012 Diana on July
28 off a two-month layoff, the 5-year-old regained winning form with a 1
½-length triumph in course-record time in the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa
presented by Jose Cuervo on August 25 at the Spa.
Following the Ballston Spa, Zagora’s connections had to choose
between stretching her out for the Flower Bowl Invitational or having her try a
synthetic track for the first time in the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Spinster in
October at Keeneland. She is 1-1-1 in three starts at the 1 ¼-mile Flower Bowl
distance, including a win in a French Group 3 stakes and a runner-up effort in
the 2011 Grade 2 New York.
“She can go 1 ¼ miles,” said Brown. “She’s done
it over in Europe, she’s done it here.
The question is, can she run her best race at 1 ¼ miles? Is she a Grade 1 horse
at 1 ¼ miles? After the [Ballston Spa] I was leaning towards the Spinster, but
when I watch her moving, I think she’s absolutely in career form right
now, physically, so I’m willing to try 1 ¼ miles again because she is
doing so well. The distance of the Spinster looks appealing, but I’d
rather take my chances on the turf and go a little farther than she wants to go
than go for the unknown on the Polytrack.”
Zagora will attempt to give owner Martin Schwartz his second Flower
Bowl trophy as he also campaigned Stacelita.
Ramon Dominguez will ride Zagora, tabbed at 7-2 on the morning line,
from post position 7.
The Flower Bowl will be Dream Peace’s first start for Brown. She
was previously campaigned by Robert Collet, for whom she won a Group 2 event in
and finished third by a head in Woodbine’s Grade 1 E.P. Taylor in 2011.
This year, the Etreham Farm color-bearer has finished fourth in the Group 3
Prix Allez France in April
at Chantilly, eighth against males in the
Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup in May at Kranji, and second in
“She came to me in excellent shape,” said Brown. “Along
with that, she has blended into our program and the American way of training
horses. She’s done everything we’ve asked her to do. I
haven’t seen any negatives in her game. I’m expecting her to run
Dream Peace, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, will leave from the rail
with Julien Leparoux in the irons.
Flower Bowl entrants I’m A Dreamer and Nahrain also have a
European provenance. I’m A Dreamer has returned to the United States
after flying in to win the Grade 1 Beverly D. on August 18 at Arlington Park,
with Nahrain set to make her first start on this side of the Atlantic since a
second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf last November
at Churchill Downs.
In 2011, Andrew Stone’s I’m A Dreamer captured a Group 3 at
missed by a head when second in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor. This year, the
5-year-old was third in the Group 2 Middleton and fourth in the Group 3
Brigadier Gerard Stakes in England
before going on to report home third in the Group 1 Pretty Polly in Ireland
and take the Beverly D.
I’m A Dreamer, the 3-1 morning-line second choice for trainer
David Simcock, will depart from post 4 with Hayley Turner aboard. Turner will
attempt to become the first female jockey to win the Flower Bowl since Hall of
Famer Julie Krone guided Gaily Gaily to victory in 1988.
Nahrain won the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera last October at Longchamp
before she came up three-quarters of a length short in the Breeders’ Cup
Filly & Mare Turf. She seeks her first win of 2012, having finished ninth
in the Group 2 Windsor Forest and eighth in the Group 1 Nassau this summer in England and third in the Group 2 Blandford on
September 9 at the Curragh in Ireland.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Nahrain, 5-1, from post 8. Roger
Varian trains Nahrain for Sheikh Ahmed al Maktoum.
Hessonite, a six-time stakes winner against New York-bred or restricted
company, steps up in class for the Flower Bowl off a 5 ¼-length romp against
statebreds on September 9 at Belmont. Saturday’s race will be her first
start beyond 1 1/8 miles.
“I think the mile and a quarter suits her,” said David
Donk, who trains Hessonite for William J. Punk, Jr. and Philip DiLeo. “She’s
in good form. Obviously it’s a big step up in class. There’s a
little rain in the forecast; that doesn’t hurt. She’ll appreciate
any give in the ground. We’ve looked forward to trying her at [1 ¼ miles]
at some point, but we didn’t know it was going to be this kind of
Jose Lezcano takes over on Hessonite, who drew post 2 and was installed
at 20-1 on the morning line.
Hit It Rich, winner of the Grade 3 Glens Falls; Starformer, victorious
in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial and second in the Waya; Bizzy Caroline,
second in the Glens Falls; and Halo Dolly, triumphant in the Grade 2 Yellow
Ribbon Handicap, complete the Flower Bowl field.