A seasoned field of older females, highlighted by dual Grade 1 winner Lady of Shamrock, are poised and ready for the June 29 New York Stakes at Belmont Park.
The 1 ¼-mile turf contest drew eight older fillies and mares and is the eighth race on the card. It is slated for 4:45 p.m. EDT.
Trained by John Sadler for Hronis Racing, Southern California-based Lady of Shamrock, 7-2 on the morning line, was awarded the April 20 Santa Barbara Handicap via disqualification April 20 at the New York Stakes distance at Santa Anita Park.
The confirmed closer is coming off a third-place effort in the nine-furlong Gamely Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park May 27 when her belated bid came up more than four lengths shy of the winner, Marketing Mix.
The 4-year-old dark bay or brown filly got her first victory in the Santa Barbara since taking back-to-back grade I events last summer, the American Oaks and the Del Mar Oaks. The daughter of Scat Daddy made her seasonal debut with a second in the Santa Ana Stakes March 24.
She will enter the New York Stakes -- her first race at Belmont Park -- with a record of 7-2-2 from 14 starts, for earnings of $855,400. Piloted for the first time by jockey Rajiv Maragh, Lady of Shamrock will break from the outside post. The filly was bred in Kentucky by Grovendale Sales and is out of the Blushing John mare Blushing Issue.
"The reason why we're headed to Belmont is because this year it's become apparent she wants to run longer, and there is no race at a mile and a quarter in California," said Sadler. "I think she'll do well on the larger turf course, and she's in good form, even though she was third the other day in the Gamely."
Sure to pose a threat to Lady of Shamrock are other 2013 graded stakes victors Regalo Mia and Tannery.
A 4-year-old daughter of Sligo Bay, Regalo Mia captured both the March 30 Orchid Stakes and the Jan. 19 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park. A proven runner at route distances, she has placed in six additional black-type events, four of which were graded.
Regalo Mia (8-1), who will also be making her Belmont debut, is trained by Michelle Nihei for Steven Ciccarone. She will be ridden by jockey Luis Contreras, who was aboard for the Orchid, as well as the filly's second-place effort in the April 25 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland, her most recent start.
Tannery, 9-2 on the morning line, has the advantage of entering the New York off a victory in the May 25 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont, where she gained the lead in the stretch and prevailed by a length over New York rival Anjaz.
"I hope she runs as well as she did last time," said trainer Alan Goldberg of the filly, who will carry 120 pounds. "I wish she was carrying more weight, but she's training well, eating well, and doing well. I expect her to run a good race. I think she likes a little give in the ground, but she should run well as long as it's not too hard."
Owned by Richard Santulli, Tannery raced the first part of her career in her native Ireland, where she won three stakes, including the 2012 Kilboy Estate for former trainer David Wachman and owner Mrs. D.P. Magnier.
Since racing in the United States, she also placed the Garden City at Belmont last September. The daughter of Dylan Thomas will be ridden in the New York Stakes by Luis Saez, who was in the irons for her Sheepshead Bay triumph. The pair will break from post 4.
Starformer (5-1) was unplaced when running against her New York rivals in the Sheepshead Bay and Orchid this year. The 5-year-old daughter of Dynaformer impressed with a victory in her seasonal debut, the Feb. 16 Very One at Gulfstream Park. Before that, she prevailed in the Long Island Handicap last fall at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trainer Christophe Clement seeks third straight New York Stakes triumph, having won last year with Mystical Star and in 2011 with Giants Play. Mystical Star will attempt to return to the winner's circle for the first time since last year's New York.
Mystical Star was prominent early in the Sheepshead Bay before tiring to fifth, and Clement said he is hoping for firmer turf in the New York.
"Most of the better fillies finished far back [in the Sheepshead Bay]," said Clement, who has four total wins in the race. "She looks solid, looks well, so let's go on again."
Mystical Star, 10-1, drew the rail post. Jose Lezcano will ride the Cheyenne Stables color-bearer.
Rounding out the New York Stakes field is 5-2 favorite Dream Peace, a Group 2 winner in France who is twice grade I stakes-placed in the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine; French-bred Minakshi, third in the Sheepshead Bay; and Anjaz, who will make her third stateside start after racing in England the past two years.