Trainer Bill Mott’s Gala Brand the One to Beat on Saturday

source: NYRA.com

Arnmore Thoroughbreds and Even Keel Thoroughbreds’ Grade 3-winner Gala Brand is set to return from an over seven-month layoff in Saturday’s Listed $150,000 Wild Applause, a one-mile inner turf test for sophomore fillies, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the Violence chestnut displayed talent over the turf from the beginning of her juvenile campaign, coming from 14 lengths back in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint to win on debut ahead of a rallying score against males in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 With Anticipation, both in August at Saratoga Race Course.

Gala Brand exited her wins at The Spa to finish off-the-board in a pair of events won by Champion 2-Year-Old Filly-runner up Hard to Justify, including a closing fourth from last-of-11 when favored in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Miss Grillo in October at Belmont at the Big A. She next attempted the one-mile Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Santa Anita Park.

The promising juvenile returned to the tab as a sophomore on April 19 and has recorded weekly workouts since, most recently breezing a half-mile in 49.65 seconds over Saratoga’s Oklahoma dirt training track on June 17.

“We freshened her. She was kind of worn out by the time we ran in the Breeders’ Cup. She needed a rest and we gave her a rest,” said Mott. “She’s been back and had several good works. We just feel this is the time to start back up.”

Megan Jones, managing partner of Arnmore Thoroughbreds, said she observed strong physical development over the course of the freshening.

“She has grown up and filled out, I’m looking forward to getting her back up and started again,” said Jones. “She is a tall filly and last year against the boys in the With Anticipation she measured taller. I’d even call her gangly at points in time, but I think she has filled out and gotten stronger from age two to three.”

A $30,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Gala Brand is out of the multiple graded/group stakes-winning Lord of England mare Olorda and is a half-sister to the stakes-placed James Aloysius.

“When I bought her and coming along as a yearling to two-year-old, I actually thought she’d be the one in the group to really develop with age. I think she did what she did first-out and in the With Anticipation with raw ability,” said Jones. “She is thicker and stronger this year, whereas last year she was a taller, ganglier horse, certainly not awkward by any means, but I’m looking forward to seeing her now.”

Mott captured the Wild Applause in June 2015 at Belmont Park with multiple graded stakes winner Celestine, who went on to win the Grade 1 Just a Game there one year later.

Jose Lezcano, who was aboard for Gala Brand’s victorious debut, will look to engineer a winning trip from post 1 carrying a field-high 122 pounds.

Four time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will saddle a trio of promising maiden-winners in search of a record-extending fifth Wild Applause win in Grayosh [post 7, Manny Franco, 118 pounds], Chantilly Road [post 8, Joel Rosario, 118 pounds], and Oversubscribed [post 9, Flavien Prat, 118 pounds].

Brown seeks a Wild Applause “three-peat”, capturing last year’s edition with Liguria and 2022’s with Eminent Victor, building on past scores of Blowout [2019] and Ancient Secret [2016].

Flanagan Racing’s Grayosh holds the highest Beyer of the Brown-trainees, earning an 82 for a 1 3/4-length victory over Chantilly Road in a 1 1/16-mile maiden tilt here on April 20. The victory marked a third-out graduation for the Yoshida gray after losing her rider the race prior when going nine-furlongs in March at Gulfstream Park.

Grayosh finished fourth last-out in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Wonder Again on May 27 here, where she found herself last-of-six in the stretch and unable to reel in the victorious Segesta, who is also trained by Brown.

CHP Racing’s Chantilly Road enters off a fourth-out graduation traveling 1 1/16 miles here on May 18, earning a 77 Beyer in the effort. The Quality Road dark bay nearly matched her career-best 78 Beyer from her turf debut in the aforementioned second to Grayosh. Her two prior starts were made over the dirt and yielded off-the-board results, including at one-mile in February at the Big A and six furlongs in January at Tampa Bay Downs.

Chantilly Road, a $390,000 purchase at the 2023 OBS March Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training, is a half-sister to dirt graded stakes-winner Five Star General. She is out of the winning Bernardini mare Party of Interest, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-winning turfer Criminologist.

Klaravich Stables’ British-bred Oversubscribed dead-heated to win her debut going 1 1/16 miles on February 10 at Tampa Bay Downs. There, the Too Darn Hot bay traveled in sixth position and found herself behind a wall of horses in the stretch, but was able to dive down through a tight opening along the rail and get up in the nick of time.

Oversubscribed was slow away from the gate in her second start, made here traveling 1 1/16-miles versus optional-claiming company on May 5, in need of another late rally from nine lengths back, but this time she was forced to check around the three-eighths pole. She settled for second as the beaten favorite to returning rival Macanga. The effort earned a career-best 78 Beyer.

Out of the group-placed Cape Cross mare Zurigha, Oversubscribed was a $481,041 purchase at the 2021 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.

Imaginary Stables and Mark Barnhart’s Macanga [post 4, John Velazquez, 120 pounds] enters off the optional-claiming score over Oversubscribed, registering a career-best 83 Beyer in victory. There, the American Pharoah bay set the pace with enough in reserve to edge clear and win her first effort for trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr.

Macanga had previously finished off-the-board at the Grade 3-level in Gulfstream Park’s Herecomesthebride in March and Sweetest Chant in February, for conditioners Fernando Abreu and Elizabeth Dobles, respectively.

Team Spoor’s Curlin’s Girl [post 2, Kendrick Carmouche, 118 pounds] will make her second start for trainer Linda Rice following a pacesetting off-the-board finish in the Grade 2 Wonder Again. The Curlin dark bay made her first six outings for conditioner Anthony Dutrow, including a third here in the Listed Memories of Silver at Saturday’s distance on April 28. Her last four efforts have garnered a 77 Beyer Speed Figure, including a fifth-out graduation traveling 1 1/16-miles over the Gulfstream all-weather-track.

Rounding out the field are a pair of stakes-placed contestants in Vino Rouge [post 3, Jose Gomez, 118 pounds] for trainer Anthony Dutrow and New York-bred Awesome Czech [post 6, Dylan Davis, 118 pounds] for conditioner Horacio De Paz; as well as the Jorge Abreu-conditioned maiden-winner Tina Ballerina [post 5, Trevor McCarthy, 118 pounds].

Value Area and Just Music are entered for the main-track only.

The Wild Applause is slated as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race program. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

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