Demoiselle, Remsen Stakes Mark Last Juvenile Showcase Of 2019 in New York
Road to The Kentucky Derby/Oaks Points Up For Grab
By Margaret Ransom
Twelve juvenile fillies are set to race nine furlongs in Saturday’s $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes (GII) at Aqueduct including two stakes winners – Maedean and Critical Value – and several others who will face winners for the first time.
The Demoiselle was first contested in 1908 and has been offered at varying distances, from sprints to the nine-furlong route it is today. And the connections of some of the most amazing and legendary fillies have taken home the winner’s trophy, including champions, grade 1 winners and/or millionaires Fluvanna, Now What, Bed o’Roses, Chris Evert, Genuine Risk, Goodbye Halo, Open Mind, Ajina, Better Than Honour (2007 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year), Jostle, Ashado, Stopchargingmaria, Wonder Gadot and Positive Spirit a year ago.
This year the Demoiselle is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks race series and offers points to make the gate for the May 1 fillies feature on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four finishers of the race.
Trained by Mark Hennig, Courtlandt Farms’ Maedean is coming off a 5 ½-length victory in the $150,000 Tempted Stakes on November 1 at Aqueduct in what was her third career start. The $450,000 daughter of Tapit, who is a mid-pack runner in the early going and will therefore like a quick pace in front of her, is the 7-2 morning line favorite and drew post position two. Luis Saez will be aboard.
“She’s doing excellent,” Hennig said “I would think she would be well regarded. She’s going to appreciate the stretch out. Her mother (Summer Solo) was a true mile and a half, mile and a quarter horse, so I’ve been looking forward to getting her around two turns. It helps to get that kind of race in the bank moving forward because you get a few (Kentucky Oaks) points, but also getting a good bottom in a horse. I just think in her case it’s going to be advantageous, but some of the others maybe not.”
Trainer Jeremiah Englehart entered a pair of talented runners in Critical Value for Ten Strike Racing and Daphne Moon for Gold Square and Double O Racing Stable.
Critical Value, a New York-bred daughter of Bodemeister, is coming off a two-race win streak, which includes a 5 ½-length score in the Maid of the Mist Stakes at Belmont Park on October 19. She makes her first start in open company for trainer Jeremiah Englehart and owners Ten Strike Racing and Irad Ortiz Jr. will be in the irons from post position six.
Englehart also sends out Gold Square and Double O Racing Stable’s Daphne Moon, a $525,000 2-year-old in training purchase out of the Ocala Breeders Sales April sale earlier this year. She broke her maiden by 3 ¼ lengths at Saratoga and returns to stakes action here after a troubled fifth-place finish in the Frizette Stakes (GI) in early October. Jose Ortiz will ride from post position ten.
Helen Alexander and K. Helen Groves’ Alandra, who broke her maiden at Saratoga and was then third in the Alcibiades Stakes (GI) at Keeneland in October, returns after a two-month break. Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey trains the daughter of Blame, who intentionally skipped the Breeders’ Cup in favor of this race.
“I’m not that big on taking 2-year-olds from east to west, especially if they’re lightly raced,” McGaughey said. “If she would have won we would have probably thought about it, but it’s pretty expensive when you don’t win. I pretty much said that we don’t have to worry about that, we’ll just worry about this race coming up.
“She’s proven going two turns. I think she’ll run that far and I think she needed to run again after she ran at Keeneland. She was a bit green and I told Helen that she needed to run again and then we’ll give her a bit of a break and bring her back at Gulfstream and hopefully have a good 3-year-old campaign.
Regular jockey Joel Rosario will be back aboard Alandra from post five.
The remainder of the field will be Fiftyshays Ofgreen (John Velazquez), Glass Ceiling (Eric Cancel), Miss Marissa (Dylan Davis), Jara (Joe Bravo), I Dare U (Manny Franco), Blame Debbie (Javier Castellano), Water White (Luis Reyes) and Lake Avenue (Junior Alvarado).
The Demoiselle the 8th race of the day with a post time of 3:13 p.m. ET.
Remsen Features Nine Early Derby Hopefuls
Nine juveniles in search of coveted Road to the Kentucky Derby points will line up and face the starter in the $250,000 Remsen Stakes (GII), the last graded stakes for juveniles in 2019 in the Empire State. Inaugurated in 1904, the Remsen was named for leading Revolutionary war colonel Joremus Remsen, who led Continental Army forces at the 1776 Battle of Long Island.
Some notable names to have won the Remsen over the years include Grey Lag, Johnstown, Phalanx, Carry Back, Northern Dancer, Damascus, Key to the Mint, Believe It, Plugged Nickel, Pleasant Colony, Java Gold, Pine Bluff, Go For Gin, Thunder Gulch, Coronado’s Quest, Bluegrass Cat, Court Vision, Honor Code, Catholic Boy and Maximus Mischief a year ago.
This year the winner will collect ten points toward the making the gate for the Kentucky Derby with a scale of 4-2-1 awarded to second through fourth. A field of nine will line up in the 109th renewal of the race, set at nine furlongs over the main track.
Paul Pompa’s Alpha Sixty Six was a debut winner at Belmont Park three months ago and then finished a troubled fifth after blowing the break as the favorite in the Champagne Stakes (GI) in early October. Todd Pletcher, who has saddled two previous Remsen winners (Overanalyze, 2012; Bluegrass Cat, 2005) trains this $400,000 son of Liam’s Map, who drew post position eight and will be ridden by John Velazquez, a four-time Remsen winner, from post eight.
“We feel that he can run all day,” Pompa said. “He missed the break in the Champagne. He ran incredible but he spotted the field six lengths and it’s hard to make up a lot of ground when you’re up against those type of horses. We watched his gallop out and he did so very well. The race won’t be a distance issue if he’s good enough.”
St. Elias Stables’ Chase Tracker makes his first start since a 13-length defeat when third in the Nashua Stakes (GI) five weeks ago. The son of Verrazano, who is also trained by Todd Pletcher, will lead the field to post under jockey Javier Castellano, who was aboard Honor Code for his Remsen victory in 2013.
Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey has saddled four Remsen winners so far (Fast Play, 1988; Coronado’s Quest, 1997; Saarland, 2001; Honor Code, 2013) and this year sends out Phipps Stables’ well-bred Amends off his nice 4 ½-length maiden score six weeks ago at Belmont Park. The son of Uncle Mo, who drew post position nine, will have Jose Ortiz aboard for the first time.
“He’s a big, nice-looking, sound 2-year-old,” McGaughey said. “He has a great way of going but he’s not a very good work horse so he’s hard to get a gauge on. His second race was a good race in the slop. He’s probably a true mile-and-an-eighth or farther type of horse. I hope the stretch out in distance and the blinkers made the difference. If they want to run around two turns, they’ll run around two turns. It doesn’t matter what you’ll do with him.”
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and Shadwell Stables won the 2015 Remsen with Mohaymen and this year send out Ajaaweed, who was fourth in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland last time out. The homebred son of Curlin is bred to like the extra distance, a fact not lost on McLaughlin. Joel Rosario will ride from post position four.
“He’s doing very well,” McLaughlin said. “He shipped to Kentucky last time but didn’t ship really well and wasn’t quite himself for a couple of days. He came back (to New York) and has been training very, very well, and he’s ready. We think he wants a mile and an eighth, so all is well. He has a really good closing kick. Going a mile and an eighth, he’ll probably come from off of it.”
Rounding out the Remsen field are Forza Di Oro (Junior Alvarado), Cleon Jones (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Informative (John Bisono), Shotski (Luis Saez) and Prince James (Manny Franco).
The Remsen is slated as Race 9 on Saturday’s 10-race card with a post time of 3:43 p.m. ET.