Turbulent Descent, the only filly with grade I status entered in the TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I), will be tough to beat if the excellent form she has exhibited on the California circuit and at Keeneland carries over to Belmont Park June 11.
The one-mile Acorn for 3-year-old fillies is the sixth race on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard and has an approximate post time of 2:34 p.m.
Turbulent Descent, trained by Mike Puype for a partnership that includes Blinkers On Racing, Dave Aureilo, Robert Butler, and Joleen Coons, has never finished off the board during her six-start career.
The daughter of Congrats broke her maiden last October during the Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park, and followed that effort with scores in the Moccasin and Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I) at Hollywood. After posting a runner-up finish to Zazu in the Feb. 5 Las Virgenes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, Turbulent Descent then turned the tables on that rival when scoring a neck victory over her in the March 5 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I).
Entering the Acorn off a win in the April 17 Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, Turbulent Descent will be ridden by regular jockey David Flores and the pair will break from post 2. The bay filly was bred in Florida by Ocala Stud and is out of the Forestry mare Roger’s Sue.
“She won the routes, but they’re not her game,” said Puype. “She’s a brilliant one-turn race horse and she wins with speed to spare when she sprints. Obviously she’s got to handle a different racetrack, but outside of that, her training and her works have just been unbelievable. It’s hard to say how she’ll handle the track here, you don’t know until it happens, but in my mind, good horses don’t seem to care. They seem to get it done.”
Puype said he decided after the Santa Anita Oaks that the filly was best at distances up to and including a mile, and that the TVG Acorn was an ideal spot given his future plans for her.
“She was all out to get to the wire (in the Santa Anita Oaks) and I said after that, ‘We’ve got to go back to one turn,’ ” said Puype. “We had to leave the temptation of the Kentucky Oaks away and then focus on the best agenda of races where you’re ducking no one and you put it on the line. There’s no question you’ve got to come to this race, and you’ve got to go to the Test (gr. I, at Saratoga Aug. 6). So, we’re here to run this race and then we’ll try to show up for the Test, and then figure out what to do and how to get her to the Breeders’ Cup.”
A daughter of Bellamy Road , Victoria’s Wildcat took five starts to break her maiden, but since then she has reeled off three consecutive wins, the most recent of which came in the May 6 Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Robert Hess, she is owned by Bob and Victoria Bayer and Jonathan Metcalf. Victoria’s Wildcat will break from post 5 and will be piloted by Kent Desormeaux, who has been aboard for her last three scores.
“(The Acorn) is a grade I against a beautiful filly, Turbulent Descent, so realistically, unless she springs forward, we’re looking at second or third money,” said Hess. “On the other hand, the way she’s training and given the fact she’s a late foal, I expect a big improvement as the year progresses, and I’ve seen a big improvement since her last race. I think we’re really ready to face the challenge of trying to beat Turbulent Descent.”
Her Smile, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, will attempt to redeem her troubled 11th-place finish in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Before that, the daughter of Include came close in the April 9 Comely (gr. III) at Aqueduct when she was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Hot Summer. That race was contested at a mile, the same distance of the Acorn.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Her Smile will receive the services of jockey Garret Gomez and will break from the rail. Turbulent Descent, Victoria’s Wildcat, and Her Smile will all be racing for the first time at Belmont.
“She seems to have taken a big step forward,” said Jonathan Thomas, assistant to Pletcher. “With the style she used last time, going a mile shouldn’t be a problem. We’ve always thought of her as a real quality filly and this is the right spot.
“We’ve had her in the barn for a while now, so she’s had the chance to take to our program a little bit,” he added of the filly, who before the Oaks was trained by Leigh Delacour. “The cutback certainly shouldn’t be a problem. She ran a great one-turn mile in the Comely, so if anything it would be a benefit.”
The only other filly in the Acorn field that has previously raced at the New York track is Her Smile’s stablemate Savvy Supreme, who captured the Classy Mirage Stakes last out at Belmont May 18. The daughter of Distorted Humor is owned by Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm and will be ridden by jockey John Velazquez.
$300,000 TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I), 3-year-old fillies, one mile, race 6, 2:34 p.m.
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Her Smile, G K Gomez, 121, T A Pletcher, 8-1
2. Turbulent Descent, D R Flores, 121, M Puype, 3-5
3. Savvy Supreme, J R Velazquez, 121, T A Pletcher, 5-1
4. It’s Tricky, E Castro, 121, K P McLaughlin, 6-1
5. Victoria’s Wildcat, K J Desormeaux, 121, R B Hess Jr., 10-1
6. Snow Fall, J Castellano, 121, M Stidham, 8-1