Trainer Chad Brown has made the $200,000 Miss Grillo (G2) a virtually private preserve, sending out five of the last six winners of the two-year-old fillies’ turf stakes at Belmont Park, and six overall. The barn’s dominance is likely to be extended in Sunday’s renewal, with devastating Saratoga debutante Newspaperofrecord and P.G. Johnson heroine Dogtag packing a one-two punch.
Three of Brown’s Miss Grillo winners went on to add the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) – Maram (2008), Lady Eli (2014), and New Money Honey (2015) – and Klaravich Stables’ Newspaperofrecord may have that kind of star quality. Indeed, Brown nominated her to Saturday’s Pilgrim (G3) versus males before sticking with the well-worn path.
An Irish-bred by Lope de Vega from the family of current Irish Derby (G1) victor Latrobe, the 200,000-guineas Tattersalls October yearling is out of Group 3 queen Sunday Times, who was runner-up in the 2011 Cheveley Park (G1) as a juvenile. Word was out on Newspaperofrecord’s ability ahead of her August 19 debut at the Spa, where she ran riot as the 3-2 favorite. If the yielding turf may have inflated her 6 3/4-length margin, her manner was persuasive regardless of conditions. It will take a special performance to deny the 6-5 morning-line favorite with a returning Irad Ortiz Jr.
LNJ Foxwoods’ homebred Dogtag, a cleverly named daughter of War Front and Diamond Necklace, broke her maiden in the P.G. Johnson. Elevated to third in her off-the-turf debut, the gray deftly cut the corner to defeat Varenka in their stakes clash. Dogtag projects a wider trip this time from post 9, but the 5-1 shot keeps Javier Castellano aboard. Note her mouthwatering pedigree as her dam is a stakes-placed Unbridled’s Song half-sister to Shamardal out of a full sister to Street Cry.
The 10-1 Varenka represents Graham Motion, the last trainer to thwart Brown in the Miss Grillo courtesy of Tin Type Gal (2015). The George Strawbridge Jr. homebred is the seventh stakes performer produced by the prolific Dynaformer mare Dynamic Cat, whose top earner is Grade 3 vixen Dynamic Holiday. Varenka remains a maiden after a late-running third in a Laurel turf sprint and her fine second in the P.G. Johnson. The Ghostzapper filly showed a nifty turn of foot to reduce Dogtag’s margin to a length at the Spa, and a reversal of trips might make the difference. So could the addition of Lasix.
Christophe Clement’s unbeaten Miss Technicality has herself displayed a potent kick in both of her appearances. The daughter of past Clement star Gio Ponti recovered from hitting the gate to get up in a six-furlong Belmont Park maiden, then reveled over a mile to turn the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies into a rout. The half-sister to Grade 3 scorer Stays in Vegas, and descendant of Hall of Famer Heavenly Prize, rates as the 3-1 second choice with Joel Rosario.
Todd Pletcher tries a surface switch with the Curlin filly Virginia Eloise, who has yet to build upon her debut conquest at Belmont. After staying on for second in the Adirondack (G2) stagger-fest, she was a non-threatening eighth in the Spinaway (G1). Added ground on turf could help the well-bred juvenile out of an A.P. Indy half-sister to Liam’s Map and Not This Time.
Stellar Agent adds first-time Lasix for Jorge Abreu, a former Brown assistant now taking on his old boss. Campaigned by a partnership including Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, the More Than Ready filly upset her Saratoga debut at 13-1. She takes two simultaneous tests here, stretching out from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles in her first try outside of maiden company. Kitty’s Legacy likewise exits a turf sprint at Saratoga, where she missed by a head in a New York-bred maiden.
Decorated Ace took a slowly run Sorority at her home base of Monmouth, and her class questions are echoed in the case of Sorority fourth No More Fast Women. The main-track-only entrant is Takecharge Mirella, best of the rest behind Brown’s exciting Feedback before just holding on in her ensuing maiden score at the Spa.
Sunday’s supporting stakes, the $200,000 Temperence Hill Invitational at 1 5/8 miles, could have implications for the Marathon (G2) on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard. You’re to Blame and War Story, the respective top two separated by a neck in the Greenwood Cup (G3), renew rivalry with fourth-placer Archanova. Jimmy Jerkens’ Rocketry is a fascinating turf-to-dirt play, in light of his fourth in the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational (G2) and fifth in the John’s Call, while Mark Hennig cross-entered Carlino here as a back-up plan in case of an off track in Saturday’s Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).