Champion female turf horse Uni did not opt for an easy return spot. Unraced since a 1 1/2-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), the English-bred daughter of More Than Ready will open her 6-year-old season in Saturday’s $250,000 Just a Game (G1) at Belmont Park. The one-mile turf affair has also attracted top-class turf distaffers Got Stormy and Newspaperofrecord.
Uni won three of her four starts last year for Chad Brown. In her final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, she smashed the course record at Keeneland while romping in the First Lady (G1) at Keeneland, turning a mile in 1:32.87. The chestnut has captured 3-of-4 starts on Belmont’s turf, and regular rider Joel Rosario will be up.
Got Stormy handed Uni her lone setback last year when taking the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga. After finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, she concluded last year with a tally in the Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar, but Got Stormy will be seeking a turnaround after opening 2020 with losses in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and Beaugay (G3). The 5-year-old mare has earned more than $1.5 million under the direction of Mark Casse, and Luis Saez picks up the mount.
Newspaperofrecord was brilliant as a 2-year-old, winning all three starts including the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) by open lengths, but she wasn’t the same performer at age 3. Brown gave his pupil the rest of 2019 off following an unplaced effort last summer, and Newspaperofrecord returned to form when coming back from an 11-month layoff in the June 6 Intercontinental (G3) at Bemont, romping on the front end by four lengths. The Irish-bred daughter of Lope de Vega is the speed of Saturday’s field, and Irad Ortiz Jr. rides.
Grade 2 winner Regal Glory, second in the Intercontinental, completes the Brown trio. The 4-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom gets a new rider in Manny Franco. Multiple Grade 2 queen Beau Recall packs a late punch and is eligible to improve in her second start back from the layoff for Brad Cox. Jose Ortiz will pilot. Fair Grounds stakes winner Zofelle, a neck third in the May 30 Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs, will also be running late. Multiple Grade 3 scorer Valedictorian rounds out the field.
Belmont will also offer the $250,000 New York (G2) for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf, and Graham Motion has pair of contenders in Mrs. Sippy and Mean Mary.
A French stakes winner, Mrs. Sippy won the Glen Falls (G2) at Saratoga in her U.S. debut and followed with a close second in the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont. The 5-year-old mare will make her first start since an unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Mean Mary enters with a three-race win skein, including the La Prevoyante (G3) and Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Brown has the duo of Fools Gold and My Sister Nat, and Christophe Clement will send out Call Me Love and Feel Glorious. Stakes winner Valiance, who will make her second start this year for Todd Pletcher, completes the seven-horse field.