Mother Goose features Rachel’s Valentina, Lewis Bay

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Jen Caldwell

June 29th, 2016

Three of the seven fillies entered in Saturday’s $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park took part in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 6.

While Mo d’Amour went on to compete earlier this month following her fifth-place Oaks finish, both Lewis Bay and Rachel’s Valentina will be making their first starts since finishing third and sixth, respectively, in the Run for the Lilies.

Rachel’s Valentina will probably garner most of the attention as the bay daughter of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra seeks her first win this season. The Todd Pletcher trainee broke her maiden and captured the Frizette Stakes (G1) before closing out her two-year-old campaign with a runner-up effort behind unbeaten champion Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Keeneland on October 31.

The Bernardini filly made her sophomore debut a close neck second in the Ashland Stakes (G1) back at Keeneland to stamp her ticket to the Kentucky Oaks, but suffered her worse finish to date when sixth in the 1 1/8-mile affair.

Rachel’s Valentina will be cutting back to 1 1/16 miles for the Mother Goose and gets John Velazquez returning to the saddle.

Lewis Bay did well in the Oaks with her third-place finish after scoring in the Gazelle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct one month prior. The Chad Brown pupil also won the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct as a juvenile and kicked off 2016 with a second in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park in early February.

Lewis Bay, also by Bernardini, keeps regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons for her return.

Mo d’Amour wasn’t given much chance in the Kentucky Oaks when sent off at 37-1, but still managed to beat stablemate Rachel’s Valentina by 2 3/4 lengths that day. The Uncle Mo filly ran third behind Lewis Bay in the Gazelle prior to that start, which followed a two-length decision in the Busher Stakes.

The dark bay miss will have Manuel Franco holding the reins as she tries to add a second stakes win to her resume.

In addition to Rachel’s Valentina and Mo d’Amour, Pletcher also has Off the Tracks entered in the Mother Goose. Unbeaten in three starts while running for trainer Roderick Rodriquez, including the Schuylerville Stakes (G3) and Margate Handicap, the Curlin lass has been unable to find the winner’s circle in her two races for Pletcher.

Off the Tracks finished third in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) over a sloppy, sealed track, then returned June 11 to run second in the Acorn Stakes (G1), both under Velazquez. With that rider sticking with Rachel’s Valentina, Off the Tracks will be piloted by Jose Ortiz on Saturday.

Lightstream is something of an unknown in the Mother Goose for trainer Brian Lynch. The Harlan’s Holiday sophomore is perfect in three starts, all at seven furlongs and over different tracks.

The bay miss earned a 104 BRIS Speed rating when breaking her maiden at Gulfstream Park in March, took the Beaumont Stakes (G3) at Keeneland in April, then captured Soaring Softly Stakes last out at Belmont Park while making her turf debut. Joel Rosario will be aboard for the first time as Lighstream attempts to continue her unbeaten mark in her first try at a distance.

"This will be a good test for her," Lynch said. "(To see) whether she fits with these sorts of horses in a Grade 1 and if she handles the distance, which I'm confident she will.

"She had a nice breeze over the weekend to set her up for the race. Rosario's been working her and everything seems like he's happy and she's happy. I think she'll get the mile and sixteenth. She's very rideable and she's got that turn of foot.

"She's been a great overachiever," Lynch added. “Any kind of hiccup she's had – whether she breaks a bit slow, or gets herself into some trouble – she’s been able to overcome everything so far. We're looking forward to running her."

Mom’s On Strike, fifth while making her stakes bow in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) last out, and Linda Mimi, a 3 1/4-length maiden winner in her most recent start on June 2, complete the Mother Goose field.

One race earlier, a field of 11 distaffers will take to Belmont’s Widener turf for the $100,000 Perfect Sting Stakes going a mile.

Rachel’s Valentina photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography