Rachel’s Valentina proves best in the Spinaway.
Up Hill Stable and Head of Plains Partner’s undefeated Lightstream will put her three-race win streak on the line Saturday, getting back on the main track and stretching out in distance for the Grade 1, $ 300,000 Mother Goose 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Park.
“This will be a good test for her,” said trainer Brian Lynch. “[To see] whether she fits with these sorts of horses in a Grade 1 and if she handles the distance, which I’m confident she will.”
Winner of the Soaring Softly on May 21, her third straight win at seven furlongs and first on the turf, Lightstream has been a star pupil thus far as she prepares to make the jump to the Grade 1 ranks, where she will be ridden by Joel Rosario for the first time. The pair will leave from the outside post 7.
“She had a nice breeze over the weekend to set her up for the race. Rosario’s been working her and everything seems like he’s happy and she’s happy,” said Lynch. “I think she’ll get the mile and sixteenth. She’s very rideable and she’s got that turn of foot.”
The lightly raced Harlan’s Holiday filly debuted at Gulfstream in March with a 2 ¼-length score, earning an eye-catching 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Lightstream graduated in the stakes ranks in her next start, diving through an opening along the rail in the stretch to post a three-quarter-length victory in the Grade 3 Beaumont at Keeneland on April 17. In the Soaring Softly, Lightstream missed the break but regrouped with a wide chasing trip to prevail by a half-length.
“She’s been a great overachiever. Any kind of hiccup she’s had – whether she breaks a bit slow, or gets herself into some trouble – she’s been able to overcome everything so far,” Lynch said. “We’re looking forward to running her.”
Todd Pletcher will saddle the much admired Rachel’s Valentina for Stonestreet Stables in her first race since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6.
Already armed with a Grade 1 under her belt, the lone daughter of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra took the Grade 1 Spinaway by a length in September at Saratoga before finishing second to the formidable Songbird in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Rachel’s Valentina punched her ticket to the Oaks in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland in her seasonal debut, turning in a game effort to finish second, a neck short of Weep No More.
As one of three entrants from the Pletcher barn, Rachel’s Valentina will break from post 6 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard.
Pletcher will also send Off the Tracks, turning back from her runner-up finish to Carina Mia in the Grade 1 Acorn on June 11, and Mo D’Amour, who failed to menace on the turf last time out, finishing eighth in the Wonder Again on June 5.
Trainer Chad Brown will be represented by third-place Oaks finisher Lewis Bay, also making her return to the races following the “Run for the Lilies.” Prior to the Oaks, the consistent Alpha Delta Stable homebred had never finished worse than second in five starts, including a pair of Grade 2 victories at Aqueduct Racetrack, the Demoiselle last fall and the Gazelle on April 9, and a runner-up finish to Cathyrn Sophia in the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream in February.
Lewis Bay will break from post 5 with regular jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons.
Rounding out the field for the Mother Goose are Mom’s On Strike, fifth last time out in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan, for XYZ Racing and trainer Joe Sharp; and Grupo Seven C’s recent maiden winner Linda Mimi from the barn of Gustavo Delgado.
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