Filly smorgasbord on tap this weekend

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Jen Caldwell

June 26th, 2015

A pair of sophomore filly stakes and one juvenile miss contest are on tap this weekend around the country.

The biggest event is the Mother Goose S. (G1) at Belmont Park, which features the return of Eskenformoney (Eskendereya) and Wonder Gal’s (Tiz Wonderful) third try at a distance greater than a mile.

Eskenformoney gained attention over the spring with a 9 3/4-length maiden victory and a 3 3/4-length allowance/optional claiming score at Gulfstream Park. The dark bay miss would go on to closely place in both the Davona Dale S. (G2) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), but suffered her worse loss to date when 10th in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) last out on May 1.

The normally early running filly found herself squeezed back at the start of the Oaks and in last rounding the first turn and on the backstretch. Eskenformoney began her move circling the far turn but was obviously not going to get there. Jockey Javier Castellano saw the writing on the wall and didn’t persist but Eskenformoney still might have picked up a better placing if not for suddenly finding herself pinned down on the rail when a couple of rivals came over and squeezed her.

Call it race trouble or whatever, but Eskenformoney is better than that and will get the chance to prove it in the Mother Goose. She’ll be making her first start at Belmont in the 1 1/16-mile contest, but brings Castellano along for the ride.

Wonder Gal and Include Betty (Include) are just a couple of fillies looking to derail Eskenformoney’s return celebration.

The former is based at Belmont with trainer Leah Gyarmati and has plenty of experience over the track, breaking her maiden in the Lynbrook S. by 14 lengths last July and finishing second in the Frizette S. (G1). Wonder Gal also just missed by a length when third in Santa Anita Park’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and did the same exact thing last out in the Acorn S. (G1) at Big Sandy.

Include Betty managed to take eighth-place in the Kentucky Oaks for trainer Tom Proctor and rallied to be second most recently in the Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2). The gusty neck winner of the Fantasy S. (G3) earlier in the season will, like Eskenformoney, be trying Belmont Park for the first time in this spot.

Another who might have something to say in the Mother Goose is Embellish the Lace (Super Saver). The Tony Dutrow pupil will be making her stakes bow in the race off a pair of stellar wins. She broke her maiden by 10 lengths on December 13 at Parx Racing and just returned June 4 to take an allowance/optional claimer at Pimlico by 13 lengths.

That latter victory earned Embellish the Lace a nice 104 BRIS Speed rating, matched only by Eskenformoney’s same figure for her half-length third in the Davona Dale. In fact, Embellish the Lace, Eskenformoney and Wonder Gal (100 for BC Juvenile Fillies) are the only triple-digit BRIS Speed earners in the Mother Goose field.

Much later in the day on Saturday, a field of eight three-year-old fillies will line up in the Iowa Oaks (G3) at Prairie Meadows. The 1 1/16-mile contest usually isn’t on the radar, but has attracted a nice field this year.

Sarah Sis (Sharp Humor) is the main attraction off her wire job in the Panthers S. going a mile over the track on May 30. Prior to that, the dark bay miss was pulled up and vanned off in the Kentucky Oaks, which was won by a filly Sarah Sis had defeated by 4 1/4 lengths in a Keeneland allowance to close out her juvenile campaign.

The Oaklawn Park-based lass opened her sophomore season with a pair of close seconds against stakes rivals at her home track before taking the Honeybee S. (G3). In fact, besides her puzzling performance in the Kentucky Oaks, Sarah Sis’ only other non-top two effort came as a fifth in the Fantasy. The Ingrid Mason trainee looks primed and ready for the Iowa Oaks.

Also entered in the race are the respective runner-up and third-placers from the Panthers S., Sweet Opportunity (Distorted Humor) and Magnolia Street (Include), as well as Paige (Sky Mesa), who just opened 2015 with a second against allowance turf sprinters following a third in the Alcibiades S. (G1) last October, and Grade 2-placed Pangburn (Congrats), who returns to the main track following a second try on the turf.

The Debutante S. for two-year-old fillies is scheduled to take place at Churchill Downs just about 10 minutes before the Iowa Oaks. The six-furlong sprint drew a field of eight, all of whom are winners except for one. The Debutante is part of a series of races Churchill puts on for juvenile fillies, with the Golden Rod S. (G2) and Pocahontas S. (G2) set to take place during the track’s fall stand.

The past two scorers of the race are Promise Me Silver (Silver City), who just suffered her first loss from nine starts in the Acorn, and Grade 3 heroine Fiftyshadesofgold (My Golden Song). Farther back the Debutante boasts such champions as Chilukki, Silverbulletday, Golden Attraction and Hollywood Wildcat among its winners.

Photos: Eskenformoney (Adam Coglianese Photography)
              Sarah Sis (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)