A field of eight budding 2-year-old fillies will gather Thursday for the 106th edition of the $ 150,000 Astoria, one of three stakes for fillies at Belmont Park as the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, presented by NYRA Bets, gets underway.
The Astoria, to be run as Race 5, will join a pair of Grade 3 turf races, the $ 250,000 Intercontinental for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs and the $ 200,000 Wonder Again for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles, on the nine-race card. First race post time is 2 p.m.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, whose first Astoria win came 20 years ago with Jersey Girl, will send out One Last Cast and Sugar Queen as he goes in pursuit of a sixth victory in the 5 ½ furlong race.
Both fillies were winners first time out, with Sumaya U.S. Stable’s Sugar Queen scoring by 3 ¼ lengths on May 3 at Belmont and One Last Cast – whom Pletcher co-owns with his father, Jake – winning by the same margin on April 19 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Pletcher also won the Astoria in 2005 with Adieu, in 2007 with Glacken’s Gal, in 2014 with Fashion Alert and last year with Bode’s Dream.
Sugar Queen drew post position 3 under Hall of Famer John Velazquez, while Irad Ortiz, Jr., rides One Last Cast from the rail.
Expected to receive support as well is the Christophe Clement-trained Best Performance, a one-length winner in her lone start on May 17. The chestnut daughter of Broken Vow, purchased for $ 300,000 in March by West Point Thoroughbreds, will leave from post position 7 under Jose Ortiz.
Trainer Wesley Ward, who won the 2015 edition of the Astoria with Moment is Right, will be represented by Ice Wine Stable’s Zodacious, who is 1-for-2 in her brief career. The Bodemeister filly was a well-backed fifth first time out in April at Keeneland and returned a month later to win a 4 ½-furlong maiden special at Churchill Downs.
David Flores rides from post 5.
Shipping in as well are Contrarity, a maiden winner at Laurel Park; Di Maria, who won at first asking in April at Gulfstream Park, and Waki Patriot, who is 1-1-0 from three starts, having finished fourth in the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill last time out.
Rounding out the field is the Jeremiah Englehart-trained I Still Miss You, a front-running winner facing New York-breds on May 11 at Belmont.
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