Grade 2 Lake Placid winner Sentiero Italia won't have a walk in the park when she looks to replicate her recent success, facing a contentious mix of American and European turf specialists in the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point for 3-year-old fillies , the first graded stakes of Belmont Park's fall meeting.
Boasting three wins from five starts on the grass, and a 2-for-2 mark at the 1 1/8-mile Sands Point distance, the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro is slightly favored among the 11 inner-turf entrants at 3-1 on the morning line. Sentiero Italia, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, waded into deep waters in her first stakes attempt in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks on, in which she was unable to save ground from her outer post position but held on to dead-heat for fourth, 3 ½ lengths behind multiple Grade 1 winner Lady Eli.
"In the Oaks, she was post 11 and got hung wide the whole way," McLaughlin said. "She ran more ground than Lady Eli, who was pretty wide too."
The Godolphin Racing homebred benefited from a much cleaner trip in her next try, overtaking four rivals in the Lake Placid at Saratoga on August 14 to win by 1 ¼ lengths and earn a field-high 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
"She's trained very well since her last race," McLaughlin said of Sentiero Italia, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario from post 5. "She couldn't be better, but there are some really nice European fillies that will be pretty tough."
Leading the army of European invaders is Osaila, who will be making her first U.S. start since finishing third in last year's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, five lengths behind eventual Eclipse Award winner Lady Eli. The Irish-bred filly by Danehill Dancer went on to post a nose victory in a pair of stakes races in Great Britain, including a Group 3 in April at Newmarket, and most recently finished a close second in the Group 3 L'Ormarins Queen's Plate at Goodwood on.
With all five of her career wins coming at a mile or less, Osaila will look to stretch out for trainer Richard Hannon. She is set to leave from post 9 as the 4-1 second choice with Javier Castellano aboard.
Making their respective North American debuts are Group 3-placed Blond Me (10-1), who will be ridden by Junior Alvarado for trainer Andrew Balding; recent Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes winner Malabar (8-1), with Rafael Bejarano in the saddle for trainer Michael Channon; and Iromea (15-1), who has finished in the money in all five of her lifetime starts and will be ridden by Italian champion flat jockey Cristian Demuro for trainer Francois Rohaut.
Sentiero Italia may face her hardiest local challenge in fellow Medaglia d'Oro offspring and last-out winner Mrs McDougal, who edged graded stakes winner Feathered to win the Grade 2 Lake George by a half-length at Saratoga on.
Slated to leave from post 11, Mrs McDougal, 8-1, will have the riding services of the Spa's newly-minted leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Miss Temple City, second to Sentiero Italia in the Lake Placid, will look to turn the tables on her rival for trainer Graham Motion. Installed at 5-1, the daughter of Temple City will break from post 2 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard.
Rounding out the field for the Sands Point are Marabea (12-1), making her second start for Christophe Clement after a two-length allowance victory on; Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks runner-up Her Emmynency (10-1), for Michael Stidham; Cara Marie (20-1), third in the Lake George, for Kellyn Gorder; and Tapitry (15-1), for Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey. Multiple graded stakes-placed Pangburn is entered for main track only for trainer Tony Dutrow.
Also on tap foris the $200,000 Temperence Hill for 3-year-olds and up at the unique distance of 1 5/8 miles on the main track.
Leading the field is last year's Grade 1 Travers winner V. E. Day, favored at 4-5 on the morning line. The son of English Channel, trained by Jimmy Jerkens for Magalen O. Bryant, has had an inconsistent 2015 campaign that began with a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on turf. The chestnut colt followed up the race with a near-miss second in the Grade 2, 1 ½-mile Brooklyn Handicap on at Belmont, and then finished a distant fifth in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga off a two-month break.
V. E. Day will break from the rail with Javier Castellano aboard.
Initially pointed to the Brooklyn to make his North American debut, Tacticus relished the opportunity to go long on dirt in his latest start, the 1 ¾-mile Birdstone at Saratoga. After having spent the majority of his career running over synthetic tracks in Great Britain, Tacticus made his first start stateside onat the Spa, finishing fourth in a 1 1/8-mile prep for the Birdstone. The son of A.P. Indy did not disappoint in his main objective, tracking the pace and wearing down Turco Bravo to prevail by 2 ½ lengths to pick up his first stakes win.
Joel Rosario will get the return call on Tacticus, 7-5 on the morning line, and the duo will depart from post 3.
Rounding out the field are Slim Shadey (12-1), who has been predominantly a turf horse in his career but boasts a record of 2-0-1 from four starts on the main track, and Indycott (8-1), winner of an high-priced claiming race at the Spa in his most recent start.
Source: NYRA Communications