February 20, 2024

Crystal Cliffs, Nay Lady Nay can prove sharper in Eatontown

Nay Lady Nay
Nay Lady Nay #6 with Paco Lopez riding won the $150,000 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park (Joe Labozzetta/EQUI-PHOTO)

Crystal Cliffs should prove much sharper making her second start of the season in Sunday’s $150,000 Eatontown S. (G3) at Monmouth Park, a 1 1/16-mile grass test for fillies and mares that has attracted a solid field for the class level.

Trained by Graham Motion, Crystal Cliffs made her 2021 debut in the Dahlia S. at Pimlico, win which she was made the 6-5 favorite. Although she opened up in midstretch, relative fitness came into play late and the filly was run down at the wire by returning rival Xanthique. The Dahlia was Crystal Cliffs’ first outing since her head loss to the classy Harvey’s Lil Goil in the Regret (G3) last June.

Another who should move forward second off the layoff is Nay Lady Nay, a multiple graded stakes winner who counts the 2020 Matchmaker (G3) as one of her two wins in as many tries over the Monmouth turf. The Chad Brown charge was fourth behind Harvey’s Lil Goil in the May 8 Beaugay (G3) in her season debut.

Brown also sends out Counterparty Risk, who’s been unplaced twice since a victory in the Feb. 6 Endeavour (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. One of those interim losses was in the Hillsborough (G2) at Tampa, won by Micheline over Morning Molly. Micheline figures to bounce back from a last-place finish in a paceless renewal of the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland over soft ground she disliked.

“We had her ready to go at Belmont Park on June 4 (for the New York [G2]) but it absolutely poured rain. So we scratched her out of that,” said trainer Mike Stidham, who said he’s prepping Micheline in the Eatontown in advance of the Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington. “Hopefully we’ll get a good firm turf course on Sunday at Monmouth.”

Other contenders in the Eatontown include Sweet Bye and Bye, who captured the Sand Springs S. at Gulfstream in her last start in late March, and the stakes-winning Vigilantes Way, runner-up to Mean Mary in the Gallorette (G3) at Pimlico last out.