ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Chad Brown is hoping a change of surface and a bit easier competition will help Wow Cat return to the winner’s circle in Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park.
Wow Cat was a Group 1 winner in her native Chile, capturing that country’s Triple Crown in 2017 as she won her first eight starts, seven against males. She made her North America debut in the Grade 3 Shuvee at Saratoga in July, finishing second, beaten a neck by Farrell, who will be one of her seven rivals in the Beldame, a one-turn 1 1/8-mile race that could be used as a stepping-stone to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.
Wow Cat made her second U.S. start in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, finishing third, 10 lengths behind Abel Tasman and Elate, who are not in the Beldame.
“She’s a difficult horse for me to evaluate because she’s only run at Saratoga, and that track’s not for everybody,” Brown said of Wow Cat. “The competition was very difficult, but also the surface. I never got the impression that she loved it. I was curious how she’d handle it. She ran okay in both starts. I’m curious to see what she’s going to do given the opportunity to run on a different surface.”
Brown said Wow Cat “has always trained well at Belmont.”
Wow Cat comes from off the pace, and while this Beldame lacks stars, it doesn’t lack speed. Farrell, Divine Miss Grey, and Come Dancing all appear to want to be on or near the lead.
Farrell is a five-time graded stakes winner seeking her first Grade 1 victory. Trainer Wayne Catalano said he could use this race as a prep for either the Distaff or the Filly and Mare Sprint.
Divine Miss Grey and Come Dancing are both coming off open-lengths listed-stakes victories.
Two interesting closers are Verve’s Tale and Teresa Z. Verve’s Tale is only 3 for 23, but she finished only a head behind Wow Cat in the Shuvee. She finished fourth in last year’s Beldame and then ran second in the Turnback the Alarm.
Teresa Z won the Monmouth Oaks last year and the Obeah Stakes this year. She has not run since finishing third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Elate, in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on July 14. Though he nominated Teresa Z to the Personal Ensign, trainer Anthony Margotta felt that race came up too tough. This race, seemingly with an abundance of speed, should set up well for Teresa Z, owned by Vinnie Viola’s St. Elias Stable and to be ridden by Joe Bravo.
“Hopefully, she’ll be finishing real well,” Margotta said. “Joe’s been riding really good right now. I think he fits her really well, and he’s been successful on St. Elias horses.”
In recent years, Bravo won the Grade 1 Champagne on Greenpointcrusader and the Grade 1 Carter on Army Mule for Viola.
Berned and Dreamcall complete the field.
Wow Cat, by Lookin At Lucky
◗ No match for Elate and Abel Tasman in the Personal Ensign after just missing to Farrell in the Shuvee, her first start off a 7 1/2-month layoff.
◗ Appears to prefer Belmont over Saratoga, at least in the mornings.
Teresa Z, by Smart Strike
Last 3 Beyers: 90-85-79
◗ Improving 4-year-old may have found the right spot to make a splash with a running style that should benefit from a contested pace.
◗ She has a regal pedigree, as her third dam is Personal Ensign, who won the Beldame twice as part of an undefeated career.
Verve’s Tale, by Tale of Ekati
Last 3 Beyers: 89-80-88
◗ She has a knack for picking up checks, as her combined 13 second- and third-place finishes suggest.
Divine Miss Grey, by Divine Park
Last 3 Beyers: 93-77-95
◗ Very dangerous when able to control the pace.
◗ She is 3 for 5 at Belmont Park and fired a bullet half-mile breeze over the main track Sept. 27.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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