The English-bred Magic Attitude wasn't a complete unknown entering Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, having won a Group 3 race in France and finishing second in a Group 1 before being shipped across the Atlantic.
But in her North American debut, the sophomore Galileo filly showed that her talents translate across the world, rallying from last-of-five for a 2 1/4-length victory in the 42nd running of the Belmont Oaks going 1 1/4 miles on the inner turf.
Magic Attitude earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in her first race since being transferred to the care of trainer Arnaud Delacour, who said she traveled well to her base back at Fair Hill in Maryland, where she recorded all four of her works before her Belmont Oaks triumph.
"It looks like she came out of the race very well, and she went back to Fair Hill and looked great this morning," Delacour said. "I was very happy with her. Yesterday, even the horse to her inside [Setting the Mood] was a little bit fractious in the gate and was rattling a little bit, and it didn't bother her even a little bit."
Bred in Great Britain by Katsumi Yoshida, Lael Stable's Magic Attitude is a full sister to 2018 Prix de Sandringham (G2) winner Mission Impassible, who is also multiple Grade/Group 1-placed. She came to North America with experience running against high caliber competition, winning the Prix Vanteaux (G3) in May at France's famed Longchamp course when racing off a nearly eight-month layoff for former conditioner Fabrice Chappet.
Magic Attitude, out of Group 1-winner Margot Did, then ran second in the 10-furlong Prix Saint Alary (G1) in June at Chantilly in a race won by the undefeated Tawkeel, who then captured the Prix de la Nonette (G2) at Deauville.
In her previous effort before her Belmont Oaks victory, she competed in the Prix de Diane (G1) at Chantilly, where she ran a strong fifth, defeated three lengths to Fancy Blue in the 1 5/16-mile test known as the French Oaks.
"She came with very precise and accurate instructions for her training and the way she runs," Delacour said. "Fabrice knew her well and gave us the right instructions, and everything has gone according to plan already."
Magic Attitude could potentially make a start in the in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 7 at Keeneland, with Delacour saying the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) on Oct. 10 at Keeneland could be a potential prep if she continues to train forwardly.
"The Queen Elizabeth could be a spot to bring her back in, but it's coming back a little quick, so everything would have to go right between now and then. But we'll definitely look at the race," Delacour said.
Delacour won his third career Grade 1 race, with his previous two both coming in 2016 with A.P. Indian, who won the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and the Forego during that campaign's summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.
"It's great and means a lot, because it's our first Grade 1 for Lael Stables and we've had a lot of seconds," said Delacour, referring to 2018 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint runner-up Chalon and 2017 Grade 1 First Lady runner-up Hawksmoor. "It means a lot to win a Grade 1."
Decorated Invader, Gufo on target
for Belmont Derby Invitational
In other news from Belmont Park, trainer Christophe Clement breezed a number of turf workers on Sunday morning, including the graded stakes-winning pair of Decorated Invader and Gufo, both of whom are targeting the $250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) at 10 furlongs for sophomores on Oct. 3 over the inner turf.
The two 3-year-old sons of Declaration of War worked in company, covering a half-mile in an easy 51.01 seconds over the inner turf.
"They both had a very good work together," Clement said. "They started slow but finished up great. They will be nominated to the Belmont Derby and we'll go from there. A back up race could be a race like the [$150,000] Hill Prince [G2, Oct. 12], but at the moment both are being trained to the Belmont Derby."
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader finished a close fifth in the Saratoga Derby Invitational on Aug. 15 as the beaten favorite, where Otter Bend Stables' Gufo finished a closing second, a head back to Domestic Spending.
A three-time graded stakes winner, Decorated Invader won last year's Summer (G1) at Woodbine before recording a productive sophomore campaign, with victories in the Cutler Bay on March 28 at Gulfstream Park, the Pennine Ridge (G2) on June 20 at Belmont and the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) on July 18 at Saratoga.
Never off the board in six lifetime starts, Gufo captured his stakes debut from well off the pace in the English Channel on May 2 at Gulfstream Park before capturing the Kent (G3) on July 4 at Delaware Park over next-out stakes winners Pixelate and Vanzzy.
Clement said City Man, who worked a half-mile in 50.66 seconds over the inner turf Sunday, also could target the Belmont Derby. Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, and Peter and Patty Searles, the son of Mucho Macho Man was a recent second in the Albany at Saratoga.
Bred in New York by Moonstar Farm, City Man is 2-2-1 in nine career starts.
Michael Dubb, Madaket Stable and Bethlehem Stable's Plum Ali logged her first work since winning the Mint Juvenile Fillies on Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs with a half-mile effort in 50.66 over the inner turf and will target the Grade 2, $150,000 Miss Grillo on Oct. 4.
"It was her first work since winning at Kentucky Downs. That was a half-million dollar race so it was a good race to win," Clement said. "The plan is to run her in the Miss Grillo. I wanted to run in Saratoga, but the P.G. Johnson came off the turf."
A 2-year-old daughter of First Samurai, Plum Ali won her career debut going 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon turf at Saratoga on July 23.
Clement also spoke of Space Launch, a first-out winner on Friday afternoon's program who broke his maiden by 1 1/2 lengths going one mile over the Widener turf and registered a 71 Beyer Speed Figure for the debut win.
"Space Launch is a nice horse," Clement said. "He's trained well and we have always liked him. He always trained better on the turf than on dirt. He's a well-bred horse. So far, he came back in good shape."
Owned by Athlone Racing, Daniel Burke and Jane Burke, the son of Bernardini is out of multiple black type-producing Awesome Again mare Spacy Tracy, who also produced main track graded stakes winners Benner Island and Victim of Love.
"That [main track graded-stakes winning progeny] was the reason I kept asking myself if I was doing the right thing by running him on turf," Clement said. "But his turf works were just so much better than his dirt works."
Clement said Space Launch could return to action in the $80,000 Awad on Oct. 31 at Belmont Park.
Mott-trained stars lining up for stakes starts;
Multiple GSW Blamed retired
Multiple graded-stakes winner Tacitus, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, continues to train forwardly at Saratoga in preparation for the $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) on Oct. 10.
Mott said Tacitus will look to secure his first career Grade 1 win in the 10-furlong test, which offers a berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
"That's our plan," said Mott. "He stayed in Saratoga to train up to it."
In July, Tacitus captured the Suburban (G2) at Belmont adding to a ledger that includes wins in last year's Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct.
The Tapit grey, out of Eclipse Award-winner Close Hatches, boasts a record of 13: 4-4-2 with purse earnings in excess of $2.9 million.
Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Channel Maker, a 6-year-old English Channel chestnut, continues to flourish after winning the Sword Dancer (G1) last out on Aug. 29 at the Spa.
In the victory, the Canadian-bred gelding matched a career-best 108 Beyer first achieved in his 2018 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational score.
Mott said Channel Maker will next make his fourth start in the $250,000 Joe Hirsch (G1), a 12-furlong turf marathon slated for Oct. 3. Channel Maker's previous Joe Hirsch efforts include a sixth in 2017 and a second last year when a half-length back of Arklow.
"It was a good run from him last out," said Mott. "Hopefully, he can repeat it."
Goldophin homebred Endorsed, a 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro colt, finished second to Spinoff last out in the nine-furlong Alydar on Aug. 8.
With four wins and three seconds from 11 starts, Mott said he might point Endorsed to the $150,000 Kelso Handicap (G2)on Oct. 3 to attempt a first career stakes score.
Juddmonte Farms' homebred Chaleur worked a half-mile in 49.05 Sunday on the Belmont dirt training track in preparation for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Noble Damsel at one-mile on the Widener turf.
"She went nicely on the dirt this morning. She's pointed to the Noble Damsel," said Mott.
The 4-year-old Dansili bay earned a 92 Beyer last out when second to probable Noble Damsel rival Feel Glorious in the 1 1/16-mile Perfect Sting on August 14 on the Saratoga turf.
Cleber Massey's Blamed, a 5-year-old Blame mare bred in Maryland by Sagamore Farm, has been retired.
"She's gone home to the farm and has been retired," said Mott.
Blamed finished third last out in the Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) on Sept. 6 at Saratoga.
The multiple graded-stakes winner posted a career record of 17: 9-3-1 with purse earnings of $618,065 led by wins in the 2018 Comely (G3) at the Big A and the 2019 Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable's maiden Repo Rocks, who got loose in the paddock ahead of Saturday's sixth race at Belmont, is in good order. The 2-year-old Tapiture colt, bred in Virginia by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III, was a $70,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
"He's fine," said Mott. "He had a nice tour of the barn area and was back on the track training this morning."
Stakes winners Officer Hutchy
and Battle Station on the work tab
Trainer Rob Atras enjoyed a strong end to the summer meet at Saratoga, winning a pair of restricted stakes races in the final week with Officer Hutchy scoring in the NYSSS Park Avenue on Sept. 3 and Battle Station firing strong in the Lucky Coin on Sept. 6.
Atras said the barn's late rally made up for a difficult start to the meet which they concluded with a record of 38: 7-6-9 and purse earnings of $388,367.
"It started out a little slow. We had a few horses that I thought should have won that narrowly got beat and then got claimed, so that was a little frustrating at the start," said Atras. "But we had a good run towards the end of the meet, which made up for it. The stakes wins really helped out."
Atras runs a barn of 34 horses at Belmont and already has a second and a third from two starters at the 27-day fall meet, which kicked off on Friday and runs through Nov. 1.
Both Officer Hutchy and Battle Station returned to the work tab on Sunday at Belmont with the Park Avenue-winner covering three-eighths on the main track in 37.47 seconds and Battle Station posting a half-mile in 53.53 on the dirt training track.
Sanford J. Goldfarb's Officer Hutchy, a 3-year-old Boys At Toscanova bay bred in the Empire State by Green Polka Farms, was claimed for $25,000 out of a winning effort on Aug. 16 in an open sprint on Aug. 16 at the Spa that garnered a career-best 89 Beyer.
Atras entered the filly straight back in the Park Avenue, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint on Sept. 3, and she gamely battled Spin a Yarn through the final furlong before pulling away to a half-length score that earned a 79 Beyer.
Atras said Officer Hutchy has come out of her first career stakes win in good order.
"She worked really nice. It was an easy three-eighths and we were just getting her back going again," said Atras. "She ran two races pretty closer together — 17 days apart — so I just wanted to ease her back into it."
Atras said Officer Hutchy is under consideration for the $125,000 Iroquois, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward which is part of the Empire Showcase Day card on Oct. 24, offering eight stakes worth $1.2 million.
"We have her nominated and we'll consider it, but nothing confirmed yet. We'll see how she's doing," said Atras. "It's definitely a step up and against older, but she's run two pretty big races. If she trains good over the next few weeks, we'll consider that race."
Atras said Officer Hutchy, who ran second in the 2019 NYSSS Fifth Avenue in her stakes debut, has shown talent during her brief time in the barn.
"She's been good since we claimed her and if she keeps improving just a little bit, she'll be able to compete with 3-and up," said Atras. "She ran an 89 Beyer [when claimed] and then maybe dropped off a little bit last time, understandably. She'll have to step up to compete against the older mares, there's some nice ones in the division."
RB Racing's Battle Station, a 5-year-old Warrior's Reward gelding bred in New York by Lansdowne Thoroughbreds, enjoyed a successful reunion with jockey Kendrick Carmouche last out in the Lucky Coin, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf course sprint for 4-year-olds and upward which had not won a stakes race in 2020.
Carmouche piloted Battle Station to victories in his first two career starts as a 2-year-old for former conditioner Wesley Ward. In the Lucky Coin, the duo enjoyed their first race together in 25 starts and nearly three full years, to keep a perfect winning record intact with a 1 1/4-length score at odds of 20-1 as the longest price in the field.
Despite the long odds on the board, Atras said he was confident going into the event after the dark bay endured a difficult effort just nine days earlier in an optional-claiming turf sprint at the Spa.
"He ran really big last time. We expected him to run good even though it was short rest," said Atras. "The race before he had a troubled trip but we thought he had it in him to compete at that level."
Atras said Battle Station put in a good work Sunday morning and will point to the $100,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational (G3), a six-furlong affair on Oct. 4.
"He breezed well this morning, and we're targeting the Turf Sprint Invitational," said Atras. "Off his last race and how good he ran, this is the next natural spot for him. We're hoping he'll run another big race for us."
Saturday's Cross Country Pick 5
returns $67K; handles $159K
Saturday's Cross Country Pick 5, featuring action from Belmont Park, Woodbine Racetrack and Monmouth Park, returned an impressive $67,665.25 for selecting all five winners for the 50-cent wager. The sequence's total pool was $159,212.
The wager, which featured two graded stakes from Woodbine, started with the first of two races at Belmont, when Batyah rallied from fourth in the stretch to draw away a 2 1/4-length winner in Race 7. Off at 7-1, Batyah won her debut in the maiden race for juvenile fillies going one mile on the turf. The Graham Motion trainee, ridden by Jose Lezcano, returned $17 on a $2 win wager.
Woodbine started the stakes action in Race 7 when Count Again held off Sir Sahib by 1 1/4 lengths to capture the Grade 3 Singspiel for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/4 miles on the turf. At 9-1, Count Again ($21.10) tracked Tiz a Slam's pacesetting trip, staying in eighth position at the half-mile mark before being urged up by jockey Luis Contreras. Trained by Gail Cox, Count Again improved to 3-1-2 in six career starts.
Monmouth took its turn in the third leg, when King of Spades won a starter handicap for 3-year-olds and up going 1 3/8 miles on the turf in Race 10. At 16-1, King of Spades paid $34.60 for edging Bold Daddy by a neck. Trained by Kelly Breen and ridden by Nik Juarez, King of Spades won for the first time in 12 starts.
Belmont hosted the penultimate leg, with Maxwell Esquire winning the seven-furlong turf sprint against allowance company in Race 9. Conditioned by Christophe Clement, Maxwell Esquire was the 2-1 favorite and hit the wire first under jockey Junior Alvarado, returning $6.10.
The finale marked the sequence's signature race when 7-year-old mare Starship Jubilee beat males in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in Race 9. The Canadian Horse of the Year, trained by Kevin Attard, was the oldest horse in the eight-horse field but posted a one-length winner under jockey Justin Stein on the turf course, securing an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Mile in November at Keeneland. Starship Jubilee, the 5-1 selection, paid $13.50 after defeating a talented field that included 2019 Grade 1 Preakness-winner War of Will and multiple graded stakes-winner March to the Arch, who finished second.
The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents. Every week will feature a mandatory payout of the net pool.
The Cross Country Pick 5 will continue each Saturday throughout the year.