Chad Brown Seeks Fourth Straight Win in Sheepshead Bay
Although most handicappers this Saturday will have their eyes on Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, it could also pay to keep an eye on what transpires at Belmont Park.Three graded stakes races are on the agenda, including the $200,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (gr. II), an 11-furlong turf race for fillies and mares that has attracted a field of seven starters.
The two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer has won the Sheepshead Bay three years in a row and will be represented in the 2018 renewal by Santa Monica. The five-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman was an accomplished Group 3 winner in Ireland, and upon being brought to the U.S. and transferred to Brown’s care, Santa Monica unleashed a powerful late run to win a 12-furlong allowance race at Keeneland last month by four lengths, sprinting the final quarter-mile in less than :24 seconds. With that impressive victory under her belt, Santa Monica looms as the horse to beat in the Sheepshead Bay.
Her main competition could come from Holy Helena, the Canadian-bred daughter of Ghostzapper that beat colts in the prestigious Queen’s Plate Stakes last year. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Holy Helena is 2-for-2 on turf this year, most recently winning the 9.5-furlong The Very One Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park with a powerful finish in the homestretch. The Sheepshead Bay will be her longest race to date, but her class is undeniable and she could prove tough for Santa Monica to run down.
One accomplished mare looking to regain her winning ways is the seven-year-old Estrechada, who won the 12-furlong Waya Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga last August. She’s been beaten in her three starts since then, most recently a fourth-place finish in the Astra Stakes at Santa Anita in January, but her ample experience running long distances on turf could come in handy. Summersault, third in the Waya Stakes, is another with good form at long distances, having won both the 2017 Orchid Stakes (Gr. III) and the 2018 Soaring Softly Stakes going eleven furlongs at Gulfstream.
Rounding out the field are Lottie, runner-up in the Waya Stakes behind Estrechada and most recently fifth against males in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. II) last November; Peru, second behind Santa Monica in the latter’s allowance win; and Palinodie, a French-bred mare that finished third behind Holy Helena in the The Very One Stakes.
The Sheepshead Bay is the sixth race on Belmont’s Saturday card, with a projected post time of 3:30 p.m. Eastern.