An impressive 10-horse field that includes seven graded stakes winners will look to conquer the 1 1/4-mile distance on the inner turf track in Saturday's 40th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies on a Stars & Stripes Day card that will feature five graded stakes.
Carded as Race 8 with an approximate post time of 5:46 p.m., the Belmont Oaks will air nationally on NBC and will be followed by the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban for 4-year-olds and up and the Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational in Race 10.
Michael Dubb and Green Point Stables' Thewayiam, who is 5-2-1 in 10 career starts, has thrived since arriving in the U.S. last year, posting four wins and back-to-back second-place finishes in seven starts. The French-bred Thewayyouare filly won at her only start at more than a mile with a 1 3/4-length score in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride on March 3 at Gulfstream Park, and that experience, along with starting her career with three races in her native country, has made Motion optimistic that she can handle the increased distance.
Belmont Park will be the eighth track on which the Thewayiam has competed, with Motion stating that her ability to ship – and her experience on two continents – can be an asset heading into her first Grade 1 start.
“I think for the mile-and-a-quarter [experience] is very helpful,” Motion said. “I think seasoning helps going those longer distances, so I certainly feel good about that.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will have the call from post 8.
“She's a filly who gives you confidence because it always seems like she runs her race,” Motion said. “Her form has been pretty good. I think she'll lay a little closer going a mile and a quarter. She's going to put herself in the race.”
Significant Form and Mighty Scarlett – a pair of entries for trainer Chad Brown – are exiting Belmont's prep for the Oaks in good form after the duo finished second and third, respectively, in the Grade 3 Wonder Again on June 7 at 1 1/8 miles.
“They both ran well,” Brown said of his fillies' performance in the Wonder Again. “It was a bit disappointing for Significant Form as the favorite. She had every chance to win turning for home and it just wasn't her day. I'm confident given the way she's training that she can rebound off that effort.”
Stephanie Seymour Brant's Significant Form came off a more than five-month layoff following a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Del Mar to win the Memories Of Silver by 6 ¼ lengths on April 22 at Aqueduct Racetrack. She then made her first start at Belmont since winning the Grade 3 Miss Grillo on October 1 by finishing one length behind La Signare in the Wonder Again on Opening Day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Significant Form drew the rail with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.
Mighty Scarlett earned a piece of the purse in her first stakes start. After breaking her maiden at second asking on April 27 at Keeneland, the Scat Daddy filly rallied from fifth to finish a neck behind her stablemate in the Wonder Again, earning a 91 Beyer Speed Figure for her first stakes appearance.
“For it being her first try in a stakes race, I thought Mighty Scarlett ran really well,” Brown said. “I think more distance should help her.”
Jose Ortiz will have the call from the outside post.
Capla Temptress made her North American bow in impressive fashion, winning the Grade 1 Natalma on September 17 at Woodbine before running seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Shipping back to England, the Marco Botti trainee ran fourth in a Group 1 race at Longchamp on May 13.
Javier Castellano, a Hall of Fame jockey, will ride Capla Temptress in her first start at Belmont, departing from post 4.
La Signare enters off two strong efforts since arriving from her native France, finishing second to Toinette in her U.S. debut on April 11 at Keeneland before going gate-to-wire to win the Wonder Again, recording a 94 Beyer in the process.
In the Keeneland start, La Signare came from well off the pace, though trainer Brian Lynch said she might be served better being forwardly placed.
“We'll see what the pace scenario is,” Lynch said. “If there's no pace, I don't think we'll try and get too creative. We'll let her do her thing again. I don't know if they'll let her get away with pedestrian fractions like she got away with in the first half [in the Wonder Again]. But if there's a bit more pace, I wouldn't be surprised if she can sit off of them a little bit anyway.”
Joel Rosario, who was aboard for her first two starts since Lynch took over the training duties, will again have the jockey assignment from post 7.
Paved has never finished off the board, going 3-0-3 in six career starts. The Michael McCarthy trainee won her first graded stakes in her previous start, teaming with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens to win the Grade 2 Honeymoon by 3 ½ lengths on June 9 at Santa Anita.
In four career starts at 1 1/8 miles, the Quality Road filly has three wins and a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Providencia on April 7 at Santa Anita.
“It seems like these longer races are more to her liking,” McCarthy said. “I think a mile and a quarter will suit her, especially with the way she has been able to level off and finish in these races. A mile and a quarter is new territory for most of these fillies. Some of the fillies from Europe may have already experienced [a mile and a quarter], but we think the distance will play into our strong suits.”
Stevens, who won his only previous Belmont Oaks [then named the Garden City] aboard True Flare in 1996, will be looking for a return trip to the winner's circle in breaking from post 3.
Athena, trained by Aidan O'Brien, will race in the United States for the first time in her 10th career start. Bred in Ireland, she ran third in the Group 1 Pretty Olly on July 1 at Curragh.
Internationally acclaimed jockey Ryan Moore, who has won nine career Breeders' Cup races, will make the cross-Atlantic trip to ride from post 6.
The lightly raced French-bred Chipolata will be looking to make a splash in her first start since arriving from Europe. Trainer Christophe Clement said the Muhtathir filly arrived at Belmont after spending 30 days with his brother Nicolas, a prominent trainer in France.
“My brother likes her and said she had an easy work on the grass last week and looked great,” Clement said. “She's a good mover and very willing. Seeing the races where she finished well, she has a good turn of foot, so we'll just keep it simple.”
Chipolata has raced just twice, running fourth in a pair of races in September at Chantilly, including in the Group 3 Prix d'Aumale in her first race. She finished fourth out of 17 in the Haras de Bouquetot on September 30 at one mile.
“She's coming out of her last race in good shape and looking well,” Clement said. For sure, I think she'll [appreciate] the distance. I trained a filly by Muhtathir years ago who won the Beverly D., so she has the [pedigree].”
Manny Franco will be in the irons from post 2.
Rounding out the field is graded stakes winner Fatale Bere, a French bred who won the Grade 3 Providencia on April 7 at Santa Anita for trainer Leonard Powell, from post 9; and Toniette, who was won her last three starts, including the Grade 3 Edgewood on May 4 at Churchill Downs, for trainer Neil Drysdale from post 5.
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