Trainer Chad Brown could saddle as many as three runners in Saturday’s graded stakes at Belmont Park, with the British-bred Samitar expected to make her debut for Brown in the Grade 1, $300,000 Garden City at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf, and French-breds Kya One and Whipsaw City both under consideration for the Grade 3, $150,000 Noble Damsel run at a mile over the Widener course.
Samitar, a Group 1 winner in Ireland, was previously trained by Mick Channon, who sent the filly out for her North American debut in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes on July 25 at Saratoga Race Course, a race Brown watched with interest. The 3-year-old Rock of Gibraltar filly endured an eventful trip and was third in a blanket finish where less than 1 ½ lengths separated the top five.
“It wasn’t for me, though I did watch the race,” Brown said. “She got bumped around, and it was kind of a weirdly run race because she had no cover. I thought she fought well. Now, we’ve had her in our care and we’re getting to know her a little bit. She seems to be training well.”
Samitar is owned by Martin Schwartz, as is Whipsaw City, one of two fillies Brown is considering for the Grade 3 Noble Damsel. The 4-year-old daughter of Elusive City has not raced since finishing second by a half-length to Blue Maiden in the Glowing Honor overnight stakes on June 28 at Belmont.
“She had shed a frog and missed one race in Saratoga in the first book,” Brown said. “Then I put her in a sprint stake in the last book, and the race didn’t fill. So now I’m kind of looking for a race for her. She’s been training super, so we might take a shot at the one-turn mile here.”
Both of Whipsaw City’s North American victories came at a mile on turf at Gulfstream Park earlier this year. She was fifth over the artificial surface at Keeneland in the Grade 1, seven-furlong Vinery Madison on April 12 and sixth in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Violet Stakes on the grass on Memorial Day at Monmouth Park.
The Noble Damsel could be the North American debut for Mackie Racing’s Kya One, a stakes winner in France who has been in Brown’s care since late July.
“I maybe haven’t had her quite as long as I would like before debuting her here, but she’s doing well and I might put her in there and take a look,” Brown said. “We’ll see. It seems like she might be better at further distances, but in her works she seems like she has some turn of foot and it might be a good spot to get her started in. I’m still kind of learning a few things about her, but she is training well. It might be a good spot to get a race into her and see where we are.”
A 4-year-old One Cool Cat filly, Kya One was sixth, beaten 2 ½ lengths, in the Group 2 Prix Corrida at Saint-Cloud Racecourse outside Paris on May 28, her most recent start. That race was against fillies, but she competed against colts in her three previous starts, winning the Prix Jacques Laffitte Stakes at Maisons-Laffitte Racecourse on April 5.
“She’s got some decent running lines,” Brown said. “She kept good company over there and she’s been running with boys. The last one was against fillies, beat two [and a half] lengths, steadied repeatedly. She’s a pretty nice horse. Like I said, she might be better suited going longer though, so she’s not a definite for the race.”
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Trainer Christophe Clement is likely to have two runners in Saturday’s Grade 3 Noble Damsel, with British-bred Federation and Naples Bay both looking for their first stakes victories.
Owned by Guy Roxburghe, Federation dead-heated for victory with Prize Catch in a 1 1/16-mile turf optional claimer on August 27 at Saratoga, her first win since posting back-to-back scores at Tampa Bay Downs after arriving in the U.S. late last year. Edward Cox Jr.’s Naples Bay also exits a 1 1/16-mile turf optional claimer, having drawn clear to win by 4 ¼ lengths on August 17 at Monmouth Park.
“Both are doing well. It’s a little bit quick for Federation, but she’s doing well and we don’t have another race until mid-October,” Clement said. “Naples Bay had a very nice allowance win at Monmouth and deserves a shot in a stakes. [Joel] Rosario will be riding Federation and [Jose] Lezcano will be riding Naples Bay.”
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When Bombaguia was headed by Air Support at the wire in Saturday’s Grade 2 Bowling Green, it marked the third consecutive time trainer John Kimmel wound up on the losing side of a photo in a stakes.
“But on the other side of the coin, they all ran pretty good,” said Kimmel, who saw Agilion finish second by a head to Effie Trinket and Sailmate come up a half-length short of Fiddlers Afleet in a pair of overnight stakes at Saratoga.
Kimmel initially had not planned on running Bombaguia back on 13 days rest after he won an optional claimer at the Spa, but the GoldMark Farm gelding was doing so well the owners agreed to supplement him when the field came up small.
“He put in a good effort. He ended up being the controlling speed in the race, which gave us a bit of an edge,” said Kimmel.
The trainer said he would give Bombaguia a bit of a break and bring him back in a month or so, with the Grade 3 Knickerbocker on October 13 or the Grade 2 Red Smith on November 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack possible options.
Kimmel added he is looking forward to the return of two of his stable stars: multiple stakes winner Friend Or Foe and 3-year-old Fire On Ice, who is entered in the first race at Belmont on Thursday, a six-furlong optional claimer.
Friend Or Foe, unraced since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Whitney last year, had his first work at Belmont this year on Saturday, covering three furlongs in 37.12 seconds.
“He went in 37 and out in 49,” said Kimmel of the 2010 Empire Classic winner. “We’ll start some half-miles and see what happens. His legs are good, he looks good on the racetrack. We’ll look to bring him back maybe in October.”
Fire On Ice has made only a single start, but it was an eye-catching one. Last August, he rolled to a 10 ¾-length maiden win at the Spa, but then suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg while training for the Grade 1 Champagne. “He’ll have to shake a year’s worth of rust off,” said Kimmel. “He’s doing pretty good. His last few breezes have been good. He’s getting smart, though – when he outworks his company, he doesn’t even gallop out strong. He’s active, though; this morning he cleared out the shedrow.”