ELMONT, N.Y. – On paper, Saturday’s $100,000 Floral Park Stakes for female turf sprinters at Belmont Park came up a strong race. Owing largely to Mother Nature, it remains to be seen how strong the race will play out on the track.
Lady Alexandra, who would have been a major player in the Floral Park, is going to scratch and run in the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine, trainer Graham Motion said. Lull, a multiple graded stakes winner, will scratch if the turf course is soft. An inch of rain was expected Thursday into Friday.
If neither of those two run, Tillie’s Lily and Fire Key appear to be the headliners.
Tillie’s Lily won her first four starts, including an allowance race here in June. She got sick at Saratoga and missed the Caress Stakes in July, then had a meltdown in the paddock and finished sixth in the Smart N Fancy Stakes at the Spa on Aug. 26.
“If you could have scratched in the paddock, I would have scratched in the paddock,” trainer Jonathan Thomas said. “She got badly wound up, then she broke poorly and went from last to second down the backside and blew up.”
Thomas said the Floral Park became the target for Tillie’s Lily following that debacle. Thomas also entered Orecchiette, who has won her last three starts over Belmont’s turf course. In between, she finished second in a stakes race at Suffolk Downs.
Thomas’s biggest concern is that both of his fillies have similar front-running styles, something jockeys Manny Franco, on Tillie’s Lily, and Dylan Davis, on Orecchiette, will have to figure out.
Fire Key made up for a disastrous trio of races by rallying from off the pace to win the Sensible Lady Stakes at Laurel last out. Fire Key had some excuses for her three losses, which came by a combined 58 1/2 lengths. She caught a bog in the Caress, then got bumped around in an off-the-turf allowance race. Lastly, she had to avoid a fallen horse in the Smart N Fancy.
Following the Sensible Lady, Fire Key came back with a solid work on the turf here Sunday.
“She feels good, acts good. I think she’s sitting on another [big] race if the turf is to her liking,” trainer Pat Kelly said.
Tillie’s Lily, by Distorted Humor
Last 3 Beyers: 84-90-89
◗ Blew out swiftly, three furlongs in 35.53 seconds, here on Monday.
Fire Key, by Friesan Fire
Last 3 Beyers: 90-28-46
◗ Pulled off an 11-1 upset in the Sensible Lady.
◗ Was really reaching out nicely in the stretch of her most recent workout, which came over the turf course here Sunday.
Jc’s Shooting Star, by Miracle Man
Last 3 Beyers: 70-75-83
◗ Was basically eliminated in the Smart N Fancy Stakes when she had to avoid a fallen rival nearing the top of the stretch.
◗ Three of her five wins have come at Belmont.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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