Kaleem Shah's multiple Grade 1 winner American Gal will be looking for her second straight graded stakes victory as part of a strong eight-horse field in the Grade 3, $250,000 Bed o' Roses Invitational for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up on Friday at Belmont Park.
The seven-furlong sprint is one of five stakes on the second day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which offers $9.4 million in purses through 18 stakes races over the three-day event highlighted by the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets, on June 9.
American Gal, a two-length winner of the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on the May 5 Kentucky Derby undercard, is making her third start of the year in the Bed o' Roses. She made her 4-year-old debut in the Grade 1 Madison on April 7 at Keeneland, and caught late by three others at the wire.
"She's doing really good," trainer Simon Callaghan said. "Were happy with the way she's coming into the race. She ran a good first race at Keeneland, not beaten far there, and then came back and won the Grade 1 at Churchill."
American Gal had only two races under her belt as a 3-year-old, winning the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont Park in her first start for Callaghan. She then went on to win the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga after she charged four-wide and closed through the stretch to draw off by four lengths.
"We gave her some time off [earlier in the year]," said Callaghan. "It was just a real minor thing. Then we decided to give her more time off and bring her back as a 4-year-old, but it seems she's come back as good as ever."
With five victories from eight career starts with a $904,980 bankroll, American Gal will break from post 2 and be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Corms Racing Stable's Divine Miss Grey will face American Gal for the second time, having settled for seventh in the Test.
She kicked off her 4-year-old year with a front-running 3 ¼-length in the Interborough on January 15 at Aqueduct and followed with a 6 ¾-ength win the Heavenly Prize at a mile on March 10. The Divine Park filly stepped up in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct to finish third but was moved up to second via a disqualification.
"She's doing really good," trainer Danny Gargan said. "Her last race was really tough. She went in, shuffled, and didn't get the best of trips. I backed off her a little bit because I gave her four hard races in a row, so I gave her a little time but she's doing really, really well. It's going to be a small field here, and I'm trying to get a race in her now. My goal is to stretch her out but it's tough to find anything right now. Not much options. Her numbers are good and competitive."
Divine Miss Grey drew post 5 and gets Kendrick Carmouche in the saddle.
Alpha Delta Stables' Lewis Bay is a multiple graded stakes winner who brings her own impressive resume with her. Still seeking a victory this year, the daughter of Bernardini was second in the Grade 3 Royal Delta, third in the Grade 1 Madison and third in the Humana Distaff.
"She's doing well," trainer Chad Brown said. "She emerged from the Humana Distaff with a quarter crack that we had to repair, so she did miss a little bit of time. She's come back with a couple of easy breezes. She seems to be moving fine."
Lewis Bay owns victories in the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct, Grade 3 Turn Back the Alarm at Belmont, and Grade 3 Rampart at Gulfstream Park and has earnings of $964,560 with a 5-5-3 record from 14 starts.
Lewis Bay will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. from post 6.
Others entered to run in the Bed o' Roses is Madaket Stables Ivy Bell for trainer Todd Pletcher with Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano from the rail; Lael Stables Chalon for trainer Arnaud Delacour and jockey Paco Lopez from post 3; Union Strike for owner and trainer Mick Luis and jockey Corey Nakatani from post 4; Heider Family Stable's Cairenn for trainer Graham Motion and jockey Jorge Vargas Jr., from post 7 and Chester Broman's Highway Star for trainer Rodrigo Ubillo and jockey Luis Saez from post 8.