Mother Goose Takes Saturday Spotlight at Belmont Park

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This year marks the 62nd running of the historic Mother Goose Stakes (GII), the second leg of the New York Filly Triple Tiara. Since Monomoy Girl, who won the Acorn Stakes (GI) back on June 9, won’t be in the Mother Goose gate, no filly will claim the tiara again this year. The last to do so was Sky Beauty (who also won the Alabama Stakes) in 1993.

The 1 1/16-mile Belmont Park main track test for 3-year-old fillies was not named for the fabled nursery rhyme, but rather for notable owner/breeder Harry Payne Whitney’s homebred, who is one of only 13 fillies in history to have defeated the boys in the historic Belmont Park Futurity.

Classic winner and Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra won this race by a record 19 ¼ lengths before being honored as the 2009 Horse of the Year and, in doing so, joined a list of winners that features some of the best sophomore fillies to have ever raced, including Dark Mirage, Shuvee, Chris Evert, Ruffian, Davona Dale, Life’s Magic, Mom’s Command, Open Mind, Go For Wand, Meadow Star, the aforementioned Sky Beauty, Serena’s Song, Ajina and, recently, Close Hatches and Untapable. To say the Mother Goose’s list of winners is star studded is an understatement.

Saturday’s weather forecast around the New York City area calls for very hot weather, but dry conditions, and highs reaching into the mid-90s. Post time for the Mother Goose, which has been carded as the day’s eighth and will leave the gate at 5:18 p.m. ET.

Grade 1 winner Midnight Bisou, making her first start for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, is the filly to beat. She ships in to New York off a solid pattern of works at Churchill Downs over the past month. While there’s not a ton of early speed in Saturday’s feature, this daughter of Midnight Lute has some tactical ability in that she can press the pace or sit off it, depending on what sets up in front. She’s undefeated in two tries at the distance and has never finished worse than the third.  Her pace, class and especially speed figures are more than sufficient to get the job done here. It doesn’t hurt that regular rider Mike Smith retains the mount, either.

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Midnight Bisou and jockey Mike Smith after winning the Santa Anita Oaks (photo by Ernie Belmonte).

Undefeated Road to Victory returns to dirt after winning her last — a stakes race — over the Woodbine turf course last out in what was her first start in six months. The expensive and well-bred filly has a lights-out work over this track a week ago and is in solid hands with trainer Mark Casse. Manny Franco picks up the mount and while the daughter of Quality Road has never won at the distance, she has a router’s pedigree and her dirt figures are solid. Plus, she’s making her second start off a layoff. She has some tactical turn of foot and, if the step up in class isn’t too much (it shouldn’t be), she’s a logical choice for the top part of exotics tickets.


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Courtlandt Farm’s My Miss Lilly was an attractive runner in the Kentucky Oaks off her nice Gazelle victory, but ran a very dull 11th in Louisville. The Gazelle Stakes (GI) winner is back on her home track of Belmont Park and has been training exceptionally well for the past two months. At her best the $670,000 daughter of Tapit fits with the top rung of horses here and if her Oaks performance is a toss, she’s shown to be an improving runner with even more to give. Flavien Prat picks up the mount for trainer Mark Hennig and the time off may have done her some good.

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My Miss Filly (photo by Susie Raisher).

Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) winner Coach Rocks was also well-beaten in the Kentucky Oaks, but returned to finish a nice second in the very soupy Black Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico. She has won both starts at this distance and has been training really well for Dale Romans at Churchill Downs for the past six weeks. She’s the likely pacesetter and if nobody goes with her, she could be dangerous.

Gio Game is Casse’s other runner and returns off a third in the Acorn. This is a jump in class and competition, but her numbers say she’s got the talent to be competitive her.

Mo Smart, who has won her first two starts, hails from the powerful Todd Pletcher stable and has shown a ton of potential. She romped by 13 in her last, which followed a 7 ½-length debut win, and if she handles this jump in class she will be dangerous.

Indy Union seems in a bit tough. She’s consistent so worth an extra look for exotics, but she’s probably better suited to slightly softer company.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.