Drop in class should help mares in Turnback the Alarm Handicap

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Alastair Bull

October 27th, 2017

Miss Sky Warrior wins the Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct. Photo: Coglianese Photos. 

Two mares well beaten by leading Breeders’ Cup Distaff contender Elate last month are hoping to gain some compensation in the 1 1/16-mile Turnback the Alarm Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park Oct. 28.

Eskenformoney (Eskendereya) and Verve’s Tale (Tale of Ekati) fought hard with Moneys’oncharlotte for the minor placings in the Beldame Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park Sept. 30. Money’soncharlotte took second by a nose from Eskenformoney, with Verve’s Tale a neck back fourth, all of them more than eight lengths behind Elate.

The Beldame was the second consecutive race that Eskenformoney had run into high-class opposition. She finished third in the Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Aug. 26 behind Forever Unbridled and Songbird – though she was a creditable 4 ¾ lengths behind the winner that day.

Both Eskenformoney and Verve’s Tale are graded stakes winners that haven’t quite got to that level in 2017 and are hoping to get one here with many of the best female gallopers getting ready for the Distaff next week.

Another in that boat is Birdatthewire (Summer Bird). She hasn’t won since the LaBrea Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita in December, 2015. She’s run four times this year, with her best performance a fourth-place finish in the seven-furlong Ballerina Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Aug. 26. The Turnback the Alarm Handicap is her first race beyond seven furlongs this year.

Running for the first time since an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) in May is Miss Sky Warrior (First Samurai). She went into that race as third favorite, having won five in a row, including the Tempted Stakes (G3), Demoiselle Stakes (G2), Davona Dale Stakes (G2), and Gazelle Stakes (G2). A return to that form would give her a great chance here.

Tejana (Curlin) and A Place to Shine (Tale of Ekati), second and fourth, respectively, in the Monmouth Oaks (G3) last year, contest their first stakes race for 2017. Tejana won an allowance at Belmont Park Sept. 28 after finishing out of the money in two prior allowances this year, while A Place to Shine’s only run this year was a four-length allowance victory at Parx Sept. 30.

Indian Paint (Uncle Mo), making her first graded stakes start following an allowance victory at Parx Sept. 23, completes the field.