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Sara Louise Returns in Gallant Bloom

Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom is the first Breeders’ Cup Challenge race of Belmont Park’s fall championship meet, featuring Sara Louise in her 2010 debut as she heads a field of nine fillies and mares vying for an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.


Second by a head in last year’s Gallant Bloom to Indian Blessing, the daughter of Malibu Moon went on to finish fourth in the 2009 Filly & Mare Sprint, and was last seen winning the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack in November. A series of minor issues delayed her return to the races as a 4-year-old, but she has been training steadily through the summer, most recently turning in a bullet half-mile move of 47.55 on Tuesday.


“We hoped to get her to race at Saratoga,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “We hoped that this would be her second race of the year and we could go into the Breeders’ Cup as her third of the year. She had some real good works up at Saratoga on the synthetic track and yesterday she worked really well here.”


Highweight under 119 pounds and Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, Sara Louise drew the rail and was tabbed the morning-line favorite at 2-1 in the 6 ½ furlong race.


“I think it’s a good field but I think the best of her form would hold up,” said Mettee. “She’d have to run really well to justify her second start of the year running in the Breeders’ Cup [Churchill Downs, November 5]. It should be an interesting race.”


A filly that could derail a victorious return to the track by Sara Louise is the 3-year-old Rapport, who has won three of her last four starts, most recently an impressive 3 ½-length triumph going wire-to-wire in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga on August 28.


“She’s a really nice filly and she worked well the other day and we’re very happy with where she’s at,” said her Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert. “You just never know when you’re going up against older mares. It’s a step up in grade, too, but I think she’s up to it.”


Martin Garcia will fly in from California to ride Rapport, 3-1 on the morning line from post position 8.


Saturday, Trainer Bobby Ribaudo will saddle Qualia to her third straight graded start. Second by a head in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses in July at Belmont Park, she was never a factor after having the saddle slip in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga on August 28.


“This will clear everybody’s mind if we get back on track,” said Ribaudo of Qualia, 5-1 on the morning line under Rajiv Maragh from post position 4. “We went into the Ballerina with the Breeders’ Cup in mind, and hopefully, this race will put it back in our minds.”


My Jen will be making only the third start of her 3-year-old campaign in the Gallant Bloom, having finished second in the Victory Ride off a seven-month layoff following a seventh-place performance in the Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park in January.


“She’s doing really well,” said Brendan Walsh, assistant to trainer Eddie Kenneally. “She had a good run in her last race coming off a layoff. Taking on older mares isn’t easy, but I guess we have to do it sometime. We’ll see on Saturday.”


At 8-1 on the morning line, My Jen will be ridden by Julien Leparoux from post position 5.


Supplemented to the Gallant Bloom is the Ken McPeek-trained Pretty Prolific, who lost all chance at the start of the Ballerina and finished seventh. Winner of the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl at Gulfstream Park, Pretty Prolific will be making her eighth straight graded-stakes appearance in the Gallant Bloom as she leaves from the outside under Calvin Borel at 12-1 on the morning line.


Rounding out the field are Moontune Missy, recent winner of an optional claimer; Lovely Lil, who was second, beaten a neck, in an allowance at Parx in her more recent start; and Devil by Design and First Passage, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Ballerina.


The field for the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom:








Lovely Lil (NY)

M Luzzi


M E Hushion



Sara Louise (KY)

E S Prado


S bin Suroor



First Passage (KY)

J Lezcano


M D Wolfson



Qualia (KY)

R Maragh


R Ribaudo



My Jen (KY)

J R Leparoux


E Kenneally



Devil By Design (KY)

D Cohen


W I Mott



Moontune Missy (KY)

A Garcia


E G Harty



Rapport (KY)

M Garcia


R Baffert



Pretty Prolific (KY)

C Borel


K G McPeek





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