NEW YORK STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 2 | 1 1/4 MILES
A sub-par performance from Starformer in last month's Sheepshead Bay on testing ground did not dissuade trainer Bill Mott from pressing on with the Juddmonte Farms homebred in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 New York at Belmont Park. The confidence was rewarded when the five-year-old mare turned in one her best races in capturing the 1 ¼-mile test over the firm inner turf.
Enjoying a perfect stalking trip behind Mystical Star and Anjaz through the opening mile, Starformer appeared full of run under Edgar Prado as she joined the leading pair approaching the top of the stretch. After seizing the lead, Starformer kicked clear down the lane and prevailed by 1 ¾ lengths. The final time was 2:00 1/5.
"She ran great," said Leana Willaford, assistant to Mott. "I think the ground was a little too soft for her the other day, so we were pretty confident going into this race. She had a beautiful work last weekend and she certainly fits with these horses. Edgar rode her perfect; he always does."
Starformer, who was sent off as the longest shot in the field at 15-1, returned $33.60, $14.80 and $7.20.
The California-based Lady of Shamrock, making her first start in New York, trailed the field of eight with a furlong to go but rallied to edge 9-5 favorite Dream Peace for second by a head. Minakshi was a neck farther back in fourth and was followed by Mystical Star, who set splits of :24, :50 and 1:13 4/5, Regalo Mio, Anjaz and Tannery.
Initially campaigned in France, Starformer won once in four starts overseas and placed a close third in the Prix Vantaux. She joined the Bill Mott barn in 2011, running third and fourth in a pair of overnight stakes at Saratoga before shutting down for the season.
Last season, Starformer won a pair of Grade 3 events -- the Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park and the Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct -- and ran second in the Waya at Saratoga. She kicked off this year with a 3 ¼-length in The Very One at Gulfstream, but was a modest fifth in the Orchid next out prior to her poor showing in the Sheepshead Bay. Her record now stands at 17-6-2-3,
A daughter of Dynaformer, Starformer was produced by the French Group 1 winner Etoile Montante, a daughter of Miswaki. She hails from the extended family of multiple Grade 1 winners Sightseek and Tates Creek.
Starformer's fourth dam was 1974 champion three-year-old filly Chris Evert, whose descendants include juvenile champion Chief's Crown. Hall of Famer and Kentucky Derby heroine Winning Colors also hails from this female family.