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Breeders' Cup 2017

You Go West Girl Tops Hettinger

Sunday’s $100,000 John Hettinger Stakes brings together a small but highly competitive group of New York-bred fillies and mares headed by You Go West Girl, who will be returning to defend her title in the 1 1/8-mile race on Belmont Park’s inner turf.


Beaten a combined half-length at Saratoga in a pair of state-bred stakes, the William B. Fasig and Yaddo, You Go West Girl has been a consistent performer at Belmont Park, compiling a mark of 3-1-1 from six starts including victories in the 2008 Hey Baba Lulu and the 2009 Ticonderoga.


“She always runs well at Belmont, and she has won three stakes here,” said trainer Tom Proctor of the 6-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley. “I like this spot for her. Plus this cooler weather in the fall suits her better.”


Favored on the morning line at 7-5 from post position 3, You Go West Girl will be ridden by Jose Lezcano in the John Hettinger, which will be run as the first of 10 races on the day’s card.


Winner of the Fasig at 25-1 odds, Exclusive Scheme is coming into the Hettinger after a troubled trip in the August 20 Yaddo, where she was steadied several times down the lane, ending up sixth.


“With this being a smaller field, I think we’re going to have a chance,” said trainer Billy Badgett of Exclusive Scheme, the Hettinger highweight under 120 pounds. “In the Yaddo, she got steadied at the half-mile pole and I thought that definitely cost her being in the money.”


At 8-1 on the morning line, the 4-year-old Saarland filly will leave from post position 4 and gains the services of Belmont Park’s leading rider, Ramon Dominguez.


Also coming off an eventful trip in the Yaddo is Paraiba, who broke from the outside in the field of 11 and was caught three-wide around both turns.

“The post and the fact that we were on the inner course and the temporary rail was up made it a tough trip,” said David Donk, who trains the 4-year-old Freud filly for William Punk, Jr. and Philip DiLeo. “And, the turf course was a little harder than she would prefer. So the race on Sunday should suit her a little better and we are looking forward to it.”


Paraiba, 8-1 on the morning line, will be ridden from post position 5 by John Velazquez, who was aboard for her two most recent starts.


The consistent Christophe Clement-trained Akilina is looking to duplicate the form she displayed at Belmont last fall, when she went 2-for-2 including a three-length win in the Shopping For Love Stakes. After finishing no worse than third in nine starts, including four victories, the Langfuhr filly showed some early speed in the Fasig, but retreated to fifth in the field of seven.


“She was not training as well in July and August because she was a little bit sore in her feet, but she seems to be doing better now, so we will see what happens,” said Clement of the 4-year-old Akilina, the 5-2 second choice who will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh from the rail.


Rounding out the field are Frivolous Buck, an entry-level allowance winner at Saratoga who will be making her first stakes start; Great Gracie Dane, who rallied from last to finish fifth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths, in the Yaddo; and Luna Charm, a 4-year-old filly making her fifth career start for trainer Will Phipps.


The undefeated Cody Samora, 3-for-3 over off tracks, is entered Main Track Only.

The field for the John Hettinger Stakes:











Akilina (NY)




R Maragh


C Clement



Frivolous Buck (NY)




J Castellano


G Weaver



You Go West Girl (NY)




J Lezcano


T F Proctor



Exclusive Scheme (NY)




R A Dominguez


W Badgett, Jr.



Paraiba (NY)




J R Velazquez


D G Donk



Great Gracie Dane (NY)




J R Leparoux


D S Ryan



Luna Charm (NY)




J F Chavez


W Phipps


Also Eligibles:


Cody Samora (NY) (MTO)




J Castellano


J Morrison






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