Race of the Week 2017

Strathnaver Attempts Consecutive Stakes Wins

Strathnaver wins 2013 Lady Baltimore Stakes.
Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Strathnaver will attempt to win consecutive stakes for the first time in her career when she competes at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Long Island Handicap, a 1 ½-mile turf race for fillies and mares.


A two-time winner in England, Strathnaver has won three of five races since being sent to trainer H. Graham Motion in the United States.


Strathnaver opened her stateside account with an optional claiming victory in March at Gulfstream Park, then doubled her tally with a score in the Grade 3 Bewitch in April at Keeneland. Following a pair of dull performances in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay in May at Belmont and in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap in July at Arlington Park, she rebounded to take the Lady Baltimore by a head on September 21 at Laurel Park.


The 1 1/16-mile Lady Baltimore was the shortest race in which Strathnaver has competed since her arrival in the U.S. Her Bewitch victory came at the Long Island's 1 ½-mile distance.


"In the Sheepshead Bay she didn't handle soft turf, and then at Arlington she didn't ship well," said Motion, who trains the 4-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream for Andrew Stone. "We wanted to get her back in winning form, and [running in the Lady Baltimore] was a last-minute idea. She trained well, but we wanted to make sure she was all right. It was a game effort, considering the race was a bit short for her. We talked about going to Canada [for the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor], but the ground came up soft and we didn't even enter."


Strathnaver is one of two entrants in the Long Island for Motion, who also trains Inimitable Romanee, a 5-year-old owned by Gallaghers Stud.


Inimitable Romanee has placed in six stakes for New York-breds and seeks her first black-type win. In her most recent start, she was eighth in the 1 1/16-mile Ticonderoga on October 19 at Belmont Park. Like Strathnaver, Inimitable Romanee began her career in England.


"She's been a little unlucky as it's been a strong group of [New York-bred turf fillies and mares] the past two years," said Motion. "She lost her chance [in the Ticonderoga] when she hit the gate at the start, which took her out of the game. I've always wanted to stretch out because she's seemed like a real galloper."


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Greg DiPrima has won 117 races since saddling his first starter in 2006 but has yet to capture a stakes in New York. The trainer hopes that will change on Sunday when he sends out Plainview in the $100,000 Three Coins Up overnight stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up that drew 10 horses and one main-track-only entrant.


Plainview, who has won three of six starts in 2013, enters the Three Coins Up off a pair of close calls in stakes at Belmont Park. The front-running 5-year-old gelding was fourth by a half-length in the Who's to Pay overnight stakes in September. In October, he was runner-up by 1 ¼ lengths in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker to Za Approval, who returned to finish second to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile.


DiPrima has trained Plainview since claiming the son of Street Cry for $25,000 on behalf of owners Michael Imperio and Jesse Iglesias out of a six-furlong conditioned claiming race on the turf in May 2012 at Belmont.


"He was a big, good-looking horse," said DiPrima, whose lone stakes win came in the 2009 P.G. Johnson at the Meadowlands with Thoroughly Holy. "Well bred. They were sprinting him, and I thought he wanted to go longer."


After stumbling and losing his rider at the start of a race last December at Aqueduct, Plainview was given time off before making a winning return in an optional claimer in May at Belmont.


Plainview was sixth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap in July at Belmont before going on to garner a pair of races at Saratoga Race Course: an optional claimer in July and a starter allowance/optional claimer in August.


"I thought giving him a break last winter helped him a lot," said DiPrima. "We sent him to Ocala and turned him out for a few months. We brought him back, and it seems like he enjoyed the time off."


DiPrima says the strategy for Plainview, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line, and jockey Jose Ortiz will be straightforward in the Three Coins Up.


"We know he likes it on the lead; there's no question about that," said DiPrima. "He has to like the turf. It has to be firm to good; if it's soft, I think it compromises him. If the turf is good for him and he gets comfortable on the lead, then he could be tough. Seven-eighths courses tend to help horses with speed. It tends to carry them a little bit."


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Ready for a return to the races in Sunday's $100,000 Three Coins Up is Goldmark Farm's Bombaguia, who has not seen action since an eighth-place finish over a yielding course in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap in June. Prior to that, the 5-year-old gelding finished an adventurous second in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in his second start of 2013.


"He's fit, he's ready, he's happy," said trainer John Kimmel of Bombaguia. "It took him a long time for whatever was ailing him; I had him shipped to Cornell and they never could put their finger on it. With some patience and time, he started coming around when he came back to Belmont [in September]."


Bombaguia has since had six published workouts, most recently converging a half-mile in 49.41 on November 4 Belmont's training track.


"He's been working lights out every time," said Kimmel. "He just seems to be a very happy horse right now. I thought he should have galloped in the Fort Marcy, but he had to [change course] four different times in the stretch. I'm really pleased with him and am expecting a good performance."


Bombaguia will leave from post position 6 at 8-1 on the morning line with Luis Saez aboard.





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