Emerald Beech, a grade III winner two starts back and a four-time winner this season, will carry top weight of 119 pounds for the $150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) Nov. 12 at Aqueduct.
An Augustin Stables homebred, 5-year-old Emerald Beech won the Glen Falls (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga in September for her fourth consecutive victory in 2011. Last out she was fourth to Stacelita
in the grade I Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont for trainer Jonathan Sheppard. The daughter of Maria's Mon
will be ridden by Alex Solis once again. She was pegged as the 8-5 morning-line favorite.
A field of eight fillies and mares traveling 1 1/2 miles on the turf were drawn for the Long Island. Post time was set for 3:46 EST.
Emerald Beech, bred in Pennsylvania, has produced a 5-1-3 record from 16 starts for earnings of $263,838. She drew post 6, which suits her off-the-pace running style perfectly.
“The Flower Bowl wasn’t her best showing,” said Sheppard. “She was stuck down on the inside and couldn’t really get running until the stretch. She certainly wasn’t disgraced; it was a grade I. And, I think the 1 1/2 miles is the most suitable distance for her.”
Irish-bred Mekong Melody seeks her first victory of 2011 in her seventh try. The 6-year-old Cape Cross mare won the 2010 Long Island by 3 3/4 decisive lengths for her only graded win in the U. S. She has not been back to the winner’s circle since, her best finish coming in the Dance Smartly (Can-IIT) at Woodbine in July when third.
Mekong Melody, trained by Roger Attfield for David Egan, scored her biggest victory in last year’s Dance Smartly. Rajiv Maragh will have the mount.
Red Oak Stable’s homebred Unbridled Essence won the Matchmaker (gr. IIIT) last summer at Monmouth Park but has lost seven straight since. Her best effort of 2011 came in the May 30 Violet (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth when she was beaten a nose. She has been off the board in her three tries since then.
Greg Sacco has assigned Jose Lezcano to ride Unbridled Essence, a Florida-bred daughter of Essence of Dubai.
Also in the mix is English-bred filly Hasay
, who won the Omnibus Stakes at Monmouth two starts back; and Irish-bred Musical Rain
, a decisive winner of an optional claimer at Belmont in her last start Oct. 7.
“She finally ran at Belmont Park the way we had been hoping she’d run,” said Dale Romans, who trains Musical Rain for Three Chimneys Racing. “She’s finally figuring out American racing. It took her a while to get acclimated, we gave her a little break over the summer, and it’s starting to pay off.”
$150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 3:46 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Unbridled Essence (FL), J Lezcano, 114, G D Sacco, 15-1
2. Little Often Anni (PA), M J Luzzi, 113, L J Cocelli Jr., 20-1
3. Musical Rain (IRE), R A Dominguez, 115, D L Romans, 6-1
4. Hasay (GB), P Morales, 115, H G Motion, 8-1
5. Hit It Rich (KY), J Castellano, 115, C R McGaughey III, 4-1
6. Emerald Beech (PA), A O Solis, 119, J E Sheppard, 8-5
7. Mekong Melody (IRE), R Maragh, 117, R L Attfield, 5-2
8. Akris Queen (KY), J A Davis, 108, J P Terranova, II, 20-1