Saturday's Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park
isn't a part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series (not sure what list I was looking at but the Gallant Bloom is definitely a Win and You're In race for the F&M Sprint) but it's about as good of a prep race for the Filly & Mare Sprint that you'll find over the next month and a half. A field of ten, led by Judy the Beauty, C C's Pal, Emma's Encore, Musical Romance and Turbulent Descent, will contest the 6 ½ furlong sprint over Big Sandy's main track (Post time: 5:06pm Eastern; TV: TVG & HRTV).
9-Musical Romance (5/2) is the defending Breeders' Cup Filly & Sprint champion and has notched a pair of stakes victories in 2012 (G1-Princess Rooney and G2-Inside Information). She went through just a tad of an inconsistent stretch earlier in the season but appears to be rounding back into top form just in time to defend her title at Santa Anita in November.
7-Emma's Encore (8/1) comes into the Gallant Bloom off of back-to-back graded stakes victories in the G3-Victory Ride at Belmont and the G1-Prioress at Saratoga. This will be her first time facing older fillies in stakes company (she ran against older three races back at the OC/N1X level), and if she can get a third straight win she'd be one of the favorites heading into the Breeders' Cup.
5-C C's Pal (8/1) has raced under the radar just a bit during 2012; she's won a pair of Grade 2 events this season (G2-Honorable Miss and G2-Vagrancy Handicap), but she's yet to face grade 1 fillies and mare and hasn't beaten the best of the division at this point. That being said, this mare is just churns out professional performance after professional performance and she's been quite effective over the Belmont main track in her career (3-2-0-1).
4-Judy the Beauty (6/1) is as lightly raced as you can be when facing older fillies and mares (just six lifetime starts), but she's quickly displayed a high talent level and an ability to run with the best in her crop. She lost by just a nose to Emma's Encore in the G1-Prioress last time out and she was defeated by Grace Hall by only 1 ¾ lengths in the G1-Spinaway as a juvenile. She also won a non-group race at Chantilly in France last spring. This is a tough spot for her given the strength of the field; she will likely need to improve a couple of lengths off that last effort but, as her past performances indicate, she runs well fresh and she's been burning up the track in recent morning works.
10-Turbulent Descent (9/5) has been one of the best filly sprinters since she first set foot on the track at Oak Tree Hollywood in October of 2010. The only two poor races of her career came in last year's BC Filly & Mare Sprint where she got roughed up a bit out of the gate and had to race wide off the turn, and the G1-LaBrea where, again, she didn't have the best of trips. She's been back to her best in the last two races and she figures to be the one to beat in this spot.
|G2-Gallant Bloom; Post time: 5:06pm Eastern / TV: TVG & HRTV|
|1||Roman Treasure||J. Lezcano||M. Hushion||20/1|
|2||Island Bound||E. Prado||I. Wilkes||20/1|
|3||Dust and Diamonds||J. Leparoux||S. Asmussen||12/1|
|4||Judy the Beauty||J. Rosario||W. Ward||6/1|
|5||C C's Pal||A. Garcia||R. Dutrow||8/1|
|6||Mildly Offensive||C. DeCarlo||T. Pletcher||20/1|
|7||Emma's Encore||R. Napravnik||H. Jerkens||8/1|
|8||Risky Rachel||J. Castellano||J. Coronel||12/1|
|9||Musical Romance||J. Leyva||W. Kaplan||5/2|
|10||Turbulent Descent||J. Velazquez||T. Pletcher||9/5|